In His Own Words by K.L. Toth
Today’s post is all about John Geddes – author of “A Familiar Rain“, blogger (at johngeddes.ca), and inspirational tweeter (@JohnJGeddes). Read on for the low down on this amazing man in his own words:
“I was always a writer. If I had my way, I would have published books under a pen name. I wanted so badly to write and communicate with readers, but preferably at arms length, with little or no attention shown to me.
A defining moment occurred in university when I finally got up the courage to show Raymond Souster my poems. Ray was a well-respected Canadian poet and a recipient of the Governor General’s award. I admired Ray’s style and looked up to him as a role model.
We sat in his front room with his gracious wife and one-eyed cat, while he read my poetry. At last, he put down the poems and said to me, “your poetry is more literary than mine, but I’d like to edit and help you publish. I’d also like you to come to a few parties and meet some Montreal friends of mine.” He mentioned Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton and several other published authors. I was flattered, but afterwards, panicked. Sad to say, I saw my own shadow and ran. I saw Ray once or twice afterwards, but never took him up on his generous offer. Recently, I found out he passed away. I still consider him a mentor and influence on my life.
A few years later, another Governor General award winner, Earle Birney, chose one of my poems in a poetry contest. A friend pushed me into asking if he would care to see more. He was obviously inundated with similar requests and gave me a stern, “No!” That monosyllabic reply caused me to retreat into myself for a few more years. Such is the effect of a frosty reply to a sensitive spirit.
If I could give any advice to young writers it would be to accept yourself—very often a gift is bound up with weaknesses and vulnerability—with me, it was an exquisite sensitivity that enabled me to create, but made me fearful of sharing my gift with others.
I’m often asked about the inspiration for my writing and how I deal with writer’s block. Let me begin by saying, I don’t think writing should be forced—that will definitely lead to feeling blocked. Writing should be a spilling over of creativity that has its origins deep in the soul. I often allow my subconscious to mull over things and do all the heavy lifting—then, when I sit down to write, I find most of the story has already been worked out.
I don’t use music to inspire or motivate me and can write anywhere—even in noisy dentist offices or crowded restaurants. The idea of a writer’s den sounds appealing, but for me, it’s unnecessary. I have a very nice office/study I rarely use and prefer the dining room table or curling up on the sofa with Muse Cat at my side and Levi, my pup, at my feet.
I think I’m comfortable with the writer I’ve become. I’ve always gravitated toward authors who are authentic—I especially admire Frost and Pasternak, Dickens and Hardy. Among modern authors I’d list Jack Finney. The point is to find someone whose work you admire and someone who can mentor you. None of us develop as solitary artists—we need the example and advice of those who have gone before, on whose shoulders we can stand, and whose ideals we can espouse, and perhaps even emulate in our own art.”
© 2013 – 2015, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.