We bring to you our featured writer Ken Jorgenson
with his short story:
A CONVERSATION WITH A VERY OLD FRIEND
and an excerpt from his poetry book:
AT HOME IN THE MAELSTORM
TALKING TO Ken Jorgenson
You are a well-known sportsperson and have done a lot of coaching and mentorship work for your teams. You are also a wonderful writer, adept at journalism, poetry, and prose writing. How do you see both these very different facets of your personality parallel to each other?
I see many similarities between them. They both require discipline and focus for instance. Without putting in a significant effort and many, many hours of hard work and practice, the outcome will never be as good as it could have been. They can both teach you how to manage failure as well, to learn how to pick yourself up and continue moving forward when things don’t work out like you hoped they would. Learning from your mistakes is prevalent in both the writing and sports worlds, as is providing honest self-criticism and reflection. Finding a way to continually get better and make improvements is absolutely necessary for achieving success. Finally, they can definitely both be an emotional rollercoaster! Moments of exquisite elation, fear, anger, pain and instances of great sadness are all experienced at one point or another. They will inevitably bring tears to your eyes at one point in time, and then later reveal an inner strength you never knew you possessed, producing a feeling of invincibility, at another.
Tell us the background story of your most recent book. What led you to write it?
I’m going to go rogue on this question and pick the novel I am just finishing. It is a historical novel that takes place from the 1860s through the 1880s, titled The Remarkable Tale of H. Hachaliah Johnson. Part 1 begins with a kind young man in the north of England who belongs to a very wealthy but cruel family of mining industrialists. After suffering a terrible tragedy, he decides to discover the whereabouts of his long-lost uncle, who disappeared under a cloud of secrecy 25 years earlier and has been virtually erased from the family’s past. With the help of his beloved mother and her cousin, who aided in his uncle Henry’s escape, he learns that his quest will take him to the remote wilderness of western Canada. As he travels across the ocean, and then aboard the first transcontinental railway voyage in Canadian history, he begins to unravel some of the mystery surrounding his uncle’s disappearance. His encounters with Hudson’s Bay Company executives, fur trappers, indigenous peoples, and loggers, bring him ever closer to his destination. After many perilous adventures, he is finally led to an isolated cabin deep within the Great Bear Rainforest of northern British Columbia, where he discovers a battered old journal belonging to his uncle. The second part of the story is mainly conveyed through the journal entries themselves, which reveal the startling truth of H. Hachaliah Johnson’s remarkable and mysterious life.
The idea for this novel came to me in a flash and I knew that this was a story I needed to tell.
In today’s scenario, what do you think success is? When can a writer be considered successful?
It is so difficult for writers to achieve financial success. I believe that statistics show that only about 2% of authors make a good living from their writing, so I will define success in a non-monetary way (although it sure would be amazing to get rich that way, wouldn’t it! 😊). For me personally, having a book picked up by a publisher and supported with marketing would be an amazing start. To have something I created read widely, and hopefully enjoyed, would allow me to feel successful.
What advice would you give to a budding writer?
Write! Write every single day if you can. Make it a habit, even if you only write a few lines or jot down a few interesting words that you’ve heard or read recently. Don’t throw any of it away either, no matter how bad you think it is. Put it away and re-read it a month or two later, it may feel different or stoke your imagination to take you in a different direction. Having writing become an important part of your daily life will help you improve and develop that writer’s “voice” that exists within you. You will soon find that you are making continual improvements and developing a style or styles that flow easily. Challenge yourself to explore new avenues too. I keep a notebook by my bed, in my office at work, and even one in my truck for those times when I am suddenly struck by an idea. I use the Notes feature on my phone all the time as well. You never know where that initial spark will lead you. Finally, read. A lot! We can all learn from those who have written before us.
What legacy would you want to leave for the world as a writer? In your opinion, how far along have you come towards fulfilling this?
I would be thrilled someday if someone read one of my books and felt the way I feel when reading Cormac McCarthy or John Le Carre. They each manage in their own special way to somehow make their words slow down time. While other writers may have you racing through the pages to discover what happens next, these authors make me want to linger and slowly savour each and every one. I don’t want their words, their stories, to come to an end. I will as a matter of fact experience a sensation akin to loss when there are only a few of their pages remaining. If I could create something even remotely as powerful as that for someone, I would feel very fulfilled indeed! How far along am I? I think I am about ten or twelve steps into a journey of a thousand miles. I doubt I’ll ever get there, but I am going to keep trying.
To end this conversation on a musical note, please give us a favourite piece of music that you listen to while writing.
Great question! I will more often than not listen to the violin concertos of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint George. They are bright, airy, and lively; they are euphoric at times, full of passion and hope, and they always provide that perfect little amount of distraction that I need, to concentrate while writing. For me, his music is soothing, optimistic and a wonderful source of inspiration. I guess in some ways they have become an important part of my writing process.
Thank you for the insights into your life, Ken. It was great talking to you!
I leave you to listen to the favourite music of Ken Jorgenson. I hope that it will inspire you as well!
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Choose Your Next Read
A Conversation With a Very Old Friend
At Home In The Maelstrom
Interview: Ken Jorgenson
Grains of Life
Faces of Me
Here Lies a Poet Dead
Geraldine and the Merry Widow
A Day in the Life of an Adjunct Instructor
Learning to be Rigorous With Compassion
Who am I?
The What and the Why
Share Your Thoughts