The Scribbler presents Part Five of the New Brunswick authors series with a 4Q Interview.
4Q is fortunate to have Gwen Martin as our featured artist this month as we celebrate New Brunswick Authors. Gwen is much more than a writer. At present she is also the Executive Director of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. She lives in Yoho, New Brunswick (I didn’t know where it was either until I met Gwen). A lively and very positive lady, Gwen is a charm to be around. Watch for her link below.
4Q: Please tell us how your work as the Executive Director for WFNB came about and what you are up to.
GM: My relationship with WFNB has changed over the years. I’ve been a member since the mid-1980s. For several months in 2009–10, I served as a funding consultant, which involved writing three grant applications and getting to know the Federation’s inner workings. In June 2014 I became a WFNB director. When the then-executive director suddenly left in October 2014, the other directors asked me to become interim ED. What with one thing and another, I agreed to stay on until May 2016, by which time we will have hired and mentored a new ED.
The answer to “what are you up to?” spans three timeframes. The daily work involves answering numerous member emails, encouraging members to renew, fielding organizational requests, book-keeping non-stop, updating the website with member bios and news – and, of course, producing our newsletter, InkSpot.
The medium-range work includes organizing workshops and readings for the autumn, writing grant applications for 2015–16, planning ahead for the 2015–16 writing competition and mentorship program, fundraising (also nonstop)… and trying to boost membership through our regional rep program. We also are about to launch a new section of our website called TeensWrite…a place where we publish short stories by young New Brunswick writers. I’m really excited about that program.
We have several long-term goals. Top of that list is our decision to launch the New Brunswick Book Awards, which will happen in 2016. We already have a committee dedicated to planning and fundraising for that long-awaited event.
4Q: What do you enjoy about writing and what have you recently accomplished as an author?
GM: The most profound thing about writing is that it can help you to receive ideas, analogies, images and linkages between real or imagined people and events. I believe that, on the deepest level, almost everything that ever happened or will happen is already out there in some non-tangible form.
Thus, when we enter the writing zone (or the zone of whatever is your passion … be it music, carpentry, car repair, pottery, painting, farming), we are simply tapping into that dimension and channeling the patterns or connections that already exist. By reflecting those patterns through our stories or art or plumbing or carpentry, we create beauty or a sense of meaning or both. It is all magic.
This sounds bizarre, but in concrete terms, I know it happens. The best stories are ones that embody a narrative arc with utterly believable people and events. We are transported beyond ourselves, because the story is universal. Ironically, the things that move us the most are the things that cause us to leave ourselves behind as we unconsciously feel a sense of belonging to a larger pattern. That’s why good ol’ Uncle Shakespeare has lasted for hundreds of years. He could do ‘universal’ like no one before or since, except maybe John Steinbeck.
I have accomplished nothing recently as an author (unless you count grant proposals!), because the ED position takes 60 hours a week.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.
GM: The story that comes immediately to mind is the time I decided, at age 11, to handle a canoe myself in a high wind. One summer we visited a cabin on a wide, strong river that flowed eastward for a quarter-mile before cascading over a dam. On this particular day, Dad told me not to go canoeing, because the wind was too strong. I headed out anyway. The wind caught the canoe bow and immediately torqued the boat broadside so I could not control its direction. At the same time, the river current carried me inexorably toward the dam. As I struggled to control the canoe, I saw Dad at the end of the dock, watching. He kept watching as I drifted downstream. I had to slowly inch my way forward in the canoe so I could paddle from the mid-section and gain some directional control. Finally, after what felt like hours, I reached land far along the shore, just before the dam. As I gingerly hauled the canoe back over cobbles and sunken logs, I saw Dad in the distance, still standing rigid on the dock. Only when I got within earshot did he turn and leave. He never said a word about it, and neither did I.
4Q: You will be leaving the position of ED next year. What will Gwen Martin be doing to fill her days in the future?
GM: Writing, hiking, playing my piano, and spending time with my nearest and dearest who have been sorely neglected since I became ED.
Thank you Gwen for sharing your thoughts.
You can discover more about Gwen here: http://wfnb.ca/member_profile/gwen-martin/
The continuing presentation of NB authors continues into September. Watch next week when Joseph Koot of Dorchester Cape is featured on the Scribbler.