Please Welcome John Drudge on the Writer's Journey Blog!
I was born in Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada and at the age of 6 months, moved with my family to Freeport Bahamas, and then on to Nassau. My father is Bahamian and my mother is of Scottish decent. My father’s people have been in the Bahamas for over 250 years and my roots are deep in the islands. I did move back to Toronto, Canada as an older boy and spent much of my childhood going back and forth between Canada and the Bahamas, and I think these two environmental extremes inform my outlook on things, and has certainly fueled my desire to travel throughout my life.
I currently work as a Social Worker within the field of disability management, and am the president of a national disability management company in Canada. I have always read a great deal since my earliest of memories, but my formal training is in no way literary. In fact, neither poetry nor writing has been an overwhelming desire or need for me. Unlike most writers, it is not something that I have really chosen to do. In fact, more to the point, it has chosen me.
Although, I did write poetry quite diligently from about the ages of 12 to 20, after reading a book by WB Yeats, I consciously “quit” writing at age 20 to pursue life. I wrote a little here and there over the ensuing 30 plus years (on vacation etc.) but at 20, I felt that the cloistered self-indulgence of writing was getting in the way of what I wanted to do, so I willfully abandoned it. That being said however, I always knew I could write, and figured that I’d get back to it eventually at some point in my life, when the timing was right.
Then approximately 3 years ago, I felt the desire to write for reasons that I can’t quite explain (although a sense of my own mortality is probably a good bet). It was then that I decided to start writing seriously and concertedly again. Since then, I have published hundreds of pieces in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. I have also published three books of poetry with two different publishers, with a fourth on the way, and have been nominated for a Best of the Net, and six times for the Pushcart. I’m guessing there was probably a lot of steam built up in the system over the years - lol.
What primarily inspires me to write these days is a desire to convey what I am thinking and feeling to others, and through that process to gain a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. Through writing, I feel connected to something greater than myself, and I think story telling is a powerful and essential social construct for both personal and societal growth.
I love to travel and to live life to its fullest and it is through my varied life experiences and memories that I am able to explore my inner world of life, loss, love, and personal growth. As a rule, I rarely sit down to write, and pieces tend to come when they come. I can actively trigger a poem on occasion because I want to write about a certain subject, but more often than not, I will get a line or a phrase or a couple of lines needling around in my brain from something I’ve seen or heard, and I’ll jot them down in my phone notes or on a scrap of paper or in a notebook, and they will nag at me increasingly until I deal with them. I’ll often let them sit for a while to ferment until they become annoying and I can no longer ignore them.
Frequently for me, poems will come out all at once and pretty much whole in about 3-5 minutes and then sometimes I will have to tinker and toil at them for a day or two until they’re done. Usually, a piece will hassle me pretty relentlessly until it becomes something finished. I often don’t know what a piece is about until it’s done, and I generally write very fast with most poems coming out in under an hour, but at times it’s a bit more of a drawn out process. Sometimes I enjoy the process and sometimes I don’t, but I’m generally pleased with the results. For better or worse, I am happy to be writing again.
Finishing a piece and seeing what it has become is what I find most fulfilling. They are kind of like children in that sense and I’m never really sure what they will be until they are out in the world and standing on their own two feet. Publishing is always nice of course, but the apex of my own emotion comes for me when the piece is done and I can put it to rest and move on. I find writing both exhilarating and irritating, and in truth, I tend not to talk about writing very much nor do I think about or analyze my process at length, so as a result I find interviews quite hard to do, and find the academics of writing largely irrelevant insofar as my own work is concerned. I tend to feel that the more I talk about what I’m writing or how I write, the less the process works organically for me. My pieces tend to have a life of their own and I try not to interfere with that process too much. For me writing is not a terribly conscious thing, and probably the less I know about what’s actually going on the better. I will leave that part of it for others to figure out. Frankly, it’s not really any of my business anyway.
The one piece of advice I would offer new writers from my own experience, is to keep going no matter what, and to never take things personally. You will get rejected and you will get rejected frequently, but it could be for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with you or your work. Editors and publishers have their own agendas and design goals, and you may or may not fit into those goals at a particular time, while you may at other times; but you will never be able to predict such things however, so don’t waste your time trying to do so. Write and submit and then submit some more; and when you do get rejected, and you will, don’t beat yourself up – have a bath, read a book, and then keep writing. Poetry may be the art, but rejection is more often than not, the payment required for its success. In the end, a writer writes; and it’s really as simple as that.
Bio: John is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology. He is the author of three books of poetry: “March” and “The Seasons of Us” (both published in 2019) and New Days (published in 2020). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.