The community.

November 12, 2023

Thorsby, AB

Hello and welcome, reader.

I’m grateful you’re here and want you to know it. For me, that’s a big deal. Because, sadly, I’ve often been told I can be a selfish jerk in private life. And that such behavior sometimes intrudes upon my public one, as well.

My claim, of course, is that’s what comes with the writer’s turf. Though it’s true, I’m at times distracted to a rude degree. As, likewise, I remain wholly unrepentant.

But I write this stuff because I want you to read it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t publish it. Whether it’s my latest novel, a magazine column, or a blog post that brought us together. Why, even if it was a note left on the social media that brings you, I’m glad you found me.

Because a gig’s a gig. That’s what my late partner-in-crime, Kenny Holmes, would say. After all these years, I remain sure he was right, too.

Anyway, I’ve long made a habit of holding up my end of a deal, nefarious or otherwise. So, when the lights go up, whatever you’ve paid for is what you get, every time. Because I’ve spent my life on the stage, not in the crowd.

After all, it’s not called the write-what-you-know ‘school’ for nothing. Because if you ain’t done, then you can’t know. None of it. Not one bit. I can say that much for sure now. And knowing is another of the dubious prizes you get for being a high-mileage unit.

I’m not so sure writing what you know is a selfish act, either. Though I’m not claiming a higher purpose than entertainment for it. Around here, with art, intent counts as much or more than anything else, anyway.

I also know there’s no accounting for taste, too. Not only that, but to me, entertainment ranks among the highest aims of art. Although, despite, or maybe because of, my own picky nature, I’ve never been much concerned with what’s popular.

My guess is, because you’re here, you’re a little like that, too. Or maybe a lot. Whichever it is, thanks for stopping by.

Now, let’s hope I can make the visit worth these five minutes of your time.

Over the last month or so, I appeared at a couple of local Author Fairs. There, I had the good fortune to meet a few dozen Alberta writers. I met authors of fantasy, self-help, and science fiction, through those of memoir, literary, and romance novels.

For me, getting to know a little about the varied approaches and outlooks of the writers behind the many styles was a treat. After meeting readers and selling books, the highlight of both events was getting to know a few of them.

It was great fun. And much like being a member of the writer’s guild, the events made me aware of the community of writers to which I belong. Though, because writing is a solitary pursuit, I often forget about that.

So, here’s a public thank you to the good folks at the Spruce Grove Public Library for the reminder, and the invite. And for putting on the most recent well-attended event. I will look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Meantime, I hope to attend more events like it in the future. Because I’m a recluse, not a hermit. And, so far, at least, meeting people who either have or want to read my books has been more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

I met several aspiring writers, too, both young and old alike, at each event. For me, more than anything, it’s a privilege to help others get started, or keep going. So, I hope the recent Author Fairs inspired and supported their writing as much as it has mine.

Likewise, the chance to meet fellow published authors, and talk a little about writing, is big fun. I’m not sure, but maybe that’s because we’re all chasing something different. Despite the unique focus of each writer, however, our shared devotion to the lonely craft somehow forms a bond between us. Though we are surely strangers, and remain so, afterwards.

By now, after spending most of my life chasing this solitary mirage I call a vision, it seems I’d forgotten about that, too.

Well, I’m now reminded. And so, plan to do a better job of sharing, and giving back, to this lifelong pursuit of art for art’s sake.

Because my chasing this writing thing has made me a life. Not of ease, but opportunity. It has challenged the depth of my commitment and imposed a harsh discipline. While showing me that, like everything else, one gets from it exactly what one puts into it. No more, and no less, either.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I have loved living it, too. Why, I love it more today than I ever have. And, because I’m old, and have been doing it since I was a kid, that’s saying something.

Next, I’m going to throw in a plug for the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Because the WGA is the writer’s community to whom I belong, and they do plenty of good for writers in Alberta. If you’re a writer in the province, published or not, I encourage you to join the Guild.

For despite each of us pursuing a solitary craft, all of us belong to a family of writers with roots beyond our own time. In places like the WGA, they help preserve those roots for writers of the future.

What I know is, there’s always plenty of good things for writers happening at the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. Not only that, but they create plenty of opportunities for writers, too. I encourage you to check them out online.

Now, to further support the theme of giving back, I’m going to prattle on for a minute about writing and opportunity. For the writers, I’ve used a mix of metaphor and simile as motifs with which to show my point. While trying not to either mix the former or stretch the latter.

Because it’s sometimes hard to see when it shows up, and not just for writers. For most of us, we’re often unaware of things until after they’re gone. Another hard thing to learn about that is, most times, we don’t get a second chance.

So, this one is for the young and old aspiring writer alike. When or if you see a chance, take it. For, much like when a train leaves a station, the first job is catching it. Leave the worrying about where it might go for when you get there.

That’s a long-winded way to say you’ve got to write the words when they show up. Because the right ones will be long gone if you go looking for them later. And though the time is never right, it’s always time to write now.

Recall, too, that writing is iterative. Which means it’s just fine when a first draft sucks. Because without it, there can’t be a second one. So, instead of letting them fade away, use your smartphone to jot down a first draft of your thoughts when they happen.

Meanwhile, the voice of experience calls a warning. Of how the pain of a missed chance is far worse than that of any failure.

Here, this writer’s life is a roll of the dice and enjoy the ride, anyway. I mean, as near as I can tell, I’ve little control over much beyond saying yes or no to it. And that, by the way, is another way of saying I control my attitude, and nothing else.

So, as a writer, speaking to those wanting to be one, the best thing I can say is get on with it. I’m not saying it’ll be easy. In fact, it’s likely going to be quite hard. And, no doubt, often lonely, too. But once you start, you’ll figure out the rest, including when, or if, to publish it.

Ain’t life grand? Thanks for teaching me that, Jim, and rest in peace.

As usual, thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing this, and the new website, with anyone you think might like it.


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