Hal J. Friesen: In "The Library", you talk about the hours spent in your Aunt and Uncle's library. Do you try to model your own home library after theirs, or after another library?
Timothy Fowler: My library mirrors my Aunt and Uncle's with the soft light, big chair, and favourite books on dark wood floor-to-ceiling shelves. Thick carpet under sock feet helps make it very quiet like theirs was. Sometimes guest's children get rocked to sleep there. And the kids books are on the lowest shelf so they can choose which books they want to read, or have read to them. I have my own childhood books on the lowest shelf.
Like their house, from the library you can smell dinner underway. I started my career in culinary as as apprentice then journeyman chef, now manager. Roughly a quarter of my books are related to food, collected over decades of kitchen work. Many meals are first conjured in the library. My uncle had a collection of food related books on the shelf, and I think of him often in his hotel kitchen.
My library feels like an extravagance, and I suppose it is.
Now I keep a special shelf for writing books, and borrowed books. I now apprentice as writer.
HJF: You've been writing on your Scribbles and Snaps blog for a year and a bit now. How has that project evolved from when you started, and where would you like to see it go?
TF: For many years I have been quietly writing, but mostly keeping outputs to myself. "Platform," Michael Hyatt's book helped me decide to launch scribblesandsnaps.ca, and write in a public way. I write to entertain, and encourage readers to think about life experience in a new way. I hope the blog posts do this.
My goals for 2015 include submitting 52 pieces for consideration to be published. "The Library" is one that will be published in 2015.
Participating in the Edmonton Writers Group gives me candid feedback, caring coaching, and firm encouragement from fellow writers. Joining the group is one of the best things I did to accelerate my writing apprenticeship.
HJF: Did you start with writing or photography first? How does photography play a role in your writing?
TF: Since sharpening my fat red pencil and spelling my name with letters in the right order I have been marking up pages with stories. Recently I bought a LAMY fountain pen, and find writing longhand with a real pen and real ink on real paper, a sensuous pleasure. I am saving my money for a Sailor fountain pen with a gold nib.
Now I write by hand in a notebook every day.
After my sixteenth birthday I bought a Pentax 1000 35mm SLR. Before turning twenty I travelled the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand making hundreds of photographs. I read Freeman Patterson's great book "Photography and the Art of Seeing" and work hard to see.
We writers spend a lot of time wrestling words, showing over telling, but before any of that happens we need to "see." So for me making pictures and writing are very much tangled up. I experience them together. I picture what I write, and I hear stories looking through my viewfinder. Metaphors are literary viewfinder for readers.
This is how I landed on www.ScribblesandSnaps.ca.
I explore the question of "Why?" for both writing and photography on my blog. I find them both rewarding, but recently have been focused precisely on writing.
HJF: Who has inspired you as a writer?
TF: Mark Twain's "A Dog's Tale" and "A Horse's Tale" had a profound effect on me, teaching me about voice and story point of view. He tells gut-wrenching stories within stories. The story is not the story at all. And it is.
I know Stephen King is cliché-popular but his storytelling ability influences me today. He just jumps off the first word and tells the story. Recently Alberta's own Fred Stenson's "Feigned or Imagined" has been great fun and his writing started me on several stories of my own.
The truth is we are influenced by whatever we read, and now more than ever, I read constantly. Precise language and particular personalized description is such a pleasure to read, and a tremendous challenge to write.
HJF: What do your children think of your writing aspirations? Are any of them following in your footsteps?
TF: Both my boys are great storytellers, but neither has put pen to paper in a serious way. Both have a keen interest in photography. And both, if I may say, competently maneuver in the kitchen.
My whole family encourages me to write—at least to my face.
Check out Timothy Fowler’s story “The Library” in Between the Shelves, available now on Amazon and Createspace! And be sure to join us May 6 from 7-9PM for the official launch party in the Centennial room of the Stanley Milner Library.