Adam MacDonald - Writing Between the Covers

One time when I was in Grade 3, my mother asked, “Is there anything you want to tell me, Dear?” I searched my mind, unsuccessfully, for anything I’d done that warranted confession. Nothing. Turns out, she thought I was afraid of the dark, after seeing me hiding my flashlight under my bedcovers the previous night. I explained that I had been reading a Hardy Boys book after bedtime, sneaking in the last chapters.

I always loved reading, and I always loved the idea of writing. I waited for years to be inspired by the writing muse, but she never came. Instead, I kept on reading, and worked my way through university. Then I moved to Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where I did some substitute teaching. During a day off, I sat down to write about one of my teaching experiences. One story led to two, led to three, and three led to the idea of writing a book. That was when I learned that writing begets writing, more than any muse does.

Later I got regular teaching work, and my writing became less frequent until 2006, when my girlfriend and I drove across Canada in our VW Jetta.

Enter Fernie. We intended to stop for a one-day visit. On day two, we attended the ski-hill job fair, just to check it out. On day three, we went apartment hunting. Last year, we bought our first home, Fernie’s smallest three-bedroom house. I now teach elementary school in town, and by the time of printing, that “girlfriend” will be my wife.

With new starts, come new goals. When we chose Fernie, I committed to making more time for writing. I saw an ad for a writing class offered by a guy named Keith Liggett. A key ingredient in Fernie’s writing community, Keith introduced me to the Writers’ Conference and he has since become a great friend.

Writing moved up my priority list, and I re-tackled my old book idea about teaching experiences. I finished the manuscript and then was overwhelmed at the idea of re-writing it. I felt stuck. I wanted to make a regular commitment to writing, but I knew that the big blocks of time conducive to a novel were unlikely. That is when my idea for a daily poetry blog occurred. One poem every day, for a year. I was more concerned with regularity than with quality. By the time the year ended, I had committed to continue to 500. I figured, even if only ten percent of the poems were decent, that could be a chapbook.

Lots of people ask me about what is important to my writing process. Surrounding myself with supportive people and being involved in Fernie’s growing writing community, help me a lot. Also, staying physically active. If I don’t get outside for a bike or a run or a dog-walk or a snowshoe or something, I find it hard to stay positive. My writing goes down, but so does my general health and happiness. Fernie’s a great spot to be for outdoor pursuits. In Fernie, friends tease you for being lazy if you drive your car downtown and restaurants offer discounts for walkers and bikers. Also, I find that staying active within the community, through teaching and through a variety of interests, helps to supply me with poem ideas. Sometimes it’s just some neat little thing I see or overhear on a walk, something very ordinary. But I try to be alert enough to see something special in it, and to put that moment into words.

Another question I’m asked a lot is, “What do you like about writing?” I like having a creative outlet that I feel good at. I love getting lost in my writing only to “snap out of the moment” and realise that time passed while I was writing. I like putting thoughts and feelings to paper. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from pushing myself to share my writing.

So I kept writing a poem almost every day and one day, I had 500. I selected the top poems, printed them out, and spread them out on the living room floor. I sorted and resorted the poems. I edited the poems and had a few trusted people read them too, which led to more editing. Then, I connected with Brina Schenk of Two Owls Collect, and she, along with Keith and Salmonberry Press, became an integral part to seeing my first book of poetry (questions of home) come to fruition. The support of friends and fellow writers and artists in Fernie, plays a huge role in my writing.
So where am I with my writing now? I’ve committed to return to my novel by Christmas, and I plan to write another book of poetry, but that is a couple of years away. For now, I write a poem per day (my blog is nearing 1000 poems), and I continue staying up too late, reading good books under my covers.

Adam’s book, “questions of home” is available through him or at Polar Peek Bookstore. Check out his blog at www.13adam.blogspot.com.