Friday, November 30, 2018

Gordon Phinn: My Writing Day

     Writing is, for me, another observable behaviour pattern, one amongst many.  Perhaps because I have lived alone for many of my adult years, I almost always write in public places, cafes and libraries being the top choices.  Writers in family or extended family households often crave a quiet room to compose in, as Virginia Woolf put it, "a room of one's own".   As a bachelor, I always had that option but generally choose the cafe table or library desk.  Lucky me, I guess.
     Scribbling in notebooks for decades preceeded my leap into computer culture, rough drafts that finally morphed into fine handwritten manuscripts, then to be typed on a rented Selectric.  These days, in this not-so-new millennium, I compose on an Samsung Galaxy tablet with a keyboard that is magically connected to the screen by that little wizard known as bluetooth.  All very marvelously light and compact.
      Being now semi-retired I can easily spend 5 hours a day conceptualising, composing, and revising.  The central library in my hometown of Oakville, Ontario, provides an almost perfect oasis for these activities.  With snacks purchased from the bakery just down the block I can plough onwards in comfort and ease.
     Currently up to my neck in the narrative and numerous subplots of volume 5 of my Scottish Psychic series, a bewildering maze of amateur detective mysteries, rarely fully resolved as life, in all its charming torments, tumbles onward, I take breathers by wandering about the shelves, glancing at current issues of such journals as the New Yorker, The Walrus or Harpers.  And that's not to mention the books and dvds tempting me away from my avowed vocation.
     Poetry and blogging also take up a goodly chunk of my time.  The poem and the essay, two ancient and honoured literary forms, compete with my inner desire to perfect the template in my own style.  The competition is fierce and the longer one lives (I'm 66) the wider one's perception of one's co-conspirators becomes. 
      The musical relief provided by YouTube and headphones is not to be underestimated.  How blissful it can be to slip away from one's mental blocks into the beauties of say, a Ralph Vaughn Williams, a J.S.Bach, a Bruce Cockburn, or the roaring rock of Hendrix, Floyd or Crimson.
     Notebooks and pens, yes I still use them.  Quick drafts of poems and essays, useful quotes and references, they all get scribbled in the time honoured fashion, later to be recollected in the tranquility of the final draft.  Yeah, right.  
     One writes because one has to.  Call it a bad habit, an antiquated lifestyle choice, an obsessive addiction, a selfless vocation, or a pleasant way to pass the time, it continues to wield its considerable power.  Over the me behind these words and the many mes behind all words.  The Muse accepts no substitutes for dedication and inner conviction, although I have noticed that a ripened sense of humour often gets a pass.

Gordon Phinn:  Beginning with a first poetry chapbook, Lyrical Shifts in 1975, has issued a number, mmn say, 10-12, since then, including The Poet Stuart and the about to be released Music Amuses. His non-fiction, beginning with Eternal Life And How To Enjoy It in 2004, and continuing to the present day with a number of essay collections, including Confronting Your Immortality and Laughing At The Universe of Lies, and a novel, An American In Heaven.  His essays can be viewed at and his videos at  He is also the online curator of GordsPoetryShow.

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