Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Post? Author Sandi Johnson

I thought I was born to write. Considering the hurdles and 
delays, the challenges in finding time to write, I’ve 
sometimes wondered if it’s in this lifetime. Given a three
hundred year life expectancy, I might be brilliant and 

I first published with the Winnipeg Free Press. In the early
1970s I was taking a course in magazine article writing at 
the University of Manitoba. The course instructor Chris Ladd
gave me the opportunity to write a full page column titled 
“Art and Artists” in which I interviewed the major Manitoba
artists for the Saturday Leisure section of the newspaper. 
In approaching the interviews, I intuitively understood that
I had to find the creative centre of the artist and write 
from there.

For me, art is a way of making order in the world. I write 
in several genres, poetry, drama and fiction. I also review
books, the arts and entertainment. The centre of the work
is its meaning. That seed provides the themes which are the
grid for the writing.

Published by Beach Holme in 1992, “The Comfort of Angels” 
is a fictional work based on my experience of working in a 
managerial capacity with Ojibwa Indians in northwestern 
Ontario. Set in an Indian Friendship Centre, the book is about 
the least, the last and the lost. The book itself asked to be 
written. I had other plans, an easier book. It’s about people 
who are hurting and it was painful to write.

A big challenge for me is how to handle my material. I wrote
“The Comfort of Angels” in prose poetry to express the spirit
of people struggling to endure. The underlying rhythm is the 
sound of the human heartbeat, or the drum, the pivotal symbol
of the culture. 

Writing is about discovery and learning. Reading’s an 
essential component of that learning. It’s a meditative 
process where I’m asking who, what, where, when, why, how, 
and in the case of  “The Comfort of Angels”, why me? 

Published by Beach Holme in 1994, “The Wonderful 
Naked Man” is a book of poetry and line drawings. 
I wanted to learn to use my imagination. The wonderful
naked man, a luminescent, purposeful champion of the
everyday possibilities in life, is fighting in the war against
inhibitions. The book quickly entered a second printing. 
It was produced with great success by Active P.A.S.S. 
Theatre, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

I’ve most recently completed “People Like Us”, a script for 
theatre. Commissioned by social activist Maggie Schubart of
 Peace Works!, Salt Spring Island, it’s the story of a Canadian 
military policeman’s return from the 1991 Gulf War. This was 
very difficult material to handle; the research was gruesome. 
It is ultimately about the human qualities that help the couple
endure as they lose everything that matters to them.

After working in the health care sector for more than a decade, 
I’m just beginning to market my writing again. I retired from 
Home Care in May 2010 and concluded my work as a medical 
office assistant in November 2011.

I think clear communication with potential readers is essential 
to marketing. To assist me in marketing I recently attended a 
seminar, ”How to be Your Own Publicist”, sponsored by 
The Writers’ Union of Canada. I’m also a member of the 
Playwrights Theatre Centre, Vancouver.

I’m interested in imaginary work that’s socially relevant. 
Ultimately the expression isn’t about the self; it’s much bigger
than the self. It’s an act of inquiry with the Mystery. It comes 
from my guts, but it’s really about the universe.

                                                                                                                                             Sandi Johnson