We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with John Drudge, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of August 2020.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
Being selected as Author of the Month is very humbling and I am truly honored. It is also extremely helpful to any writer to know that one’s work is both reaching and being appreciated by a wider audience beyond one’s self. I personally never know which pieces are most appealing to people until I receive feedback from them.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
The life experiences that I have shared with my friends and family have influenced my writing greatly from travel to issues of personal, interpersonal, and emotional growth. In particular, my wife Katrina and my two children, Sarah and Jacob, influence just about everything I do and there is no question that I am the person that I am because of them.
What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write primarily 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. I think story telling is a powerful and essential social construct for both personal and societal growth.
What was your writing catalyst?
I wrote poetry diligently from the ages of about 12 to around 20, and then I consciously “quit” to pursue life. I wrote a little here and there over the ensuing 30 years or so, on vacation etc., but at 20 I felt that writing would get in the way of what I wanted to do in life. I was not interested in a life of isolation, torment, and poverty so early on in the adventure (ha!), but I always figured that I’d get back to it eventually at some point in my life. Then about two and half years ago, I felt the need to write for reasons I can’t quite explain (although a sense of my own mortality is probably a good bet). It was then that I decided to put my money where mouth was and started writing seriously and concertedly. Since then, I have published somewhere around 300 pieces and two books of poetry, with a third completed and ready to be shopped. I think there was probably a lot of built up steam in the system so to speak over the years, and poems have been flying out of me like rice from a broken pressure cooker ever since. I think I’m hitting a nice reasonable groove now though, and am finding a balance with it all; but we’ll see – Pandora’s Box has been opened, and I’m really just trying to catch as much of what streams out as I can.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
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. Sometimes poems will come out all at once 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. The thing will hassle me pretty relentlessly until it becomes something finished. I generally write very fast with most coming out in under an hour, but at times it’s like blowing a bowling ball through a straw as well. Sometimes I enjoy the process and sometimes I don’t, but I’m generally pleased with the results. For better or worse, I’m happy to be writing again.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
I think probably finishing a piece and seeing what it has become is what I find most fulfilling. They are kind of like children insofar as 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.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Yes, quite often. I think imagery helps me to more succinctly and more deeply convey a thought or emotion in much more powerful ways than simply describing that thought or feeling factually. I’m a very visual and experiential person for the most part and enjoy exploring the world of images around me.
What is your favorite reading genre?
My favorite reading genres are probably biography and history. As a student of psychology, I am always interested in knowing what makes people and cultures tick; however, I also read very eclectically with regard to both topic and genre. I love everything from Elizabethan fiction to heavy philosophical stuff to the very oddball and Avant Garde. My brain generally bounces around from one thing to the next so quickly that I am usually all over the map when it comes to my interests and what grabs me.
What human being has inspired you the most?
That’s a very difficult question as there have been so many. But I read my first book by Hemingway (Islands in the Stream) when I was about 12, and I have been hooked on him ever since. I enjoy his rhythms and his ability to convey extremely complex psychological concepts in very simple ways. I also love his sense of place. There have been many others of course, but Hemmingway was the first writer that I read who made me want to write. In terms of poetry, I started reading WB Yeats around the age of 13 and then stumbled onto Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and the French Symbolists around 14 or so, and they all influenced my sensibilities greatly at the time as well.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
I guess I would like to convey my sincerest gratitude for the support of course, and I would also like to convey to those writers who may have voted, and who may be just starting their journey, to just keep writing, and above all to write for yourself. Stay true to what you are doing and to who you are, and never try to write for an audience. As writers we are usually pretty terrible at predicting just who our audience might be, and who will respond to our work. Chase nothing but the truth of who you are and stay focused on your own voice.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
Personally, I try to never think about my legacy as such things are entirely up to others and beyond my control. In the simplest terms, I’m really just enjoying the ride, right here, right now.
AUGUST 2020 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords Press
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.