By: Peter B. Giblett
Most of the work I have published on Two Drops of Ink has been about the process of writing or blogging. As a small business owner and concerned citizen, about a month ago, I undertook a volunteer role to investigate those candidates standing for election to our local city council. It was how I could use my writing skills to help.
Herein lies the panacea. My neighbour, who is a small business owner suggested several months ago that I should stand for election because people would listen to what I had to say. One thing is correct – I come from a political family. My family managed campaigns for candidates. Therefore, I know how dirty politics can be (even at a local city level when special interests come into play).
Watching what happened, is how I concluded that much of our political process is corrupt. That’s my view for what its worth. Political parties tend to support the status quo, even when members demand change. Even the opposition parties don’t wish to see change; they merely wish to be in power. The political process keeps the pockets of the politicians well greased. I didn’t say that individual politicians were corrupt – the best believe in the policies they support. It is the process of government that can corrupt, whatever the level.
Running Down the Candidates
However, my point here was that duty I had undertaken to interview those candidates for office. It makes me confront a lifelong challenge, the political process. Nominations have now closed, there are 34 candidates, of which the city can elect only 8. Also, there are four candidates for the role of the Mayor and other positions up for election, which may or may not be relevant. That means many interviews, yuck!
I say yuck because I hadn’t calculated the size of the task before volunteering. My priority was to create a list of questions that I would ask each of the candidates. Done! Then on to interviewing the candidates.
The answers to these questions could determine how the members of our small business group will vote.
Do I wish I had not volunteered? In part I do, but in part, I relish the task. With four interviews done, two call-backs next week and two unanswered calls, the week felt productive. Now, just repeat the process for week two.
It is not the prospect of making calls, sending emails, etc. which is daunting. It is having those calls and associated voicemail messages go unanswered. Having to call back time and again. I perceive this as the most significant challenge. That said, one candidate surprised me and called back after two hours of leaving a message. One way of looking at it is that currently, they need our vote. Is that the cynic speaking?
The interviews completed are diverse, three entirely different directions, very distinct reasons for standing. The one thing that unites them all a total distrust of any sitting councillor and the special interests they represent. To date, I have only interviewed those who are not sitting council members. Not hard to find the reason they are standing!
Each candidate has different priorities or different thoughts about what should be done. It is true; I volunteered myself for this nightmare, but it’s fervent ground to explore as a writer, as I felt it was important to volunteer my communication skills to the task.
Furthermore, not every task we undertake in life is going to be fun. Still, we must apply our skills, and do a professional job despite there being little reward or recognition (and in this case no pay either).
Not everything we do is for money. There are many tasks people earn money for that they would happily do without pay, while others are only in it for the money. That is the diversity of human nature. Writers are no different; they face many of the same challenges. What is boring for one, lights a fire under another. The challenge is to find where you stand and what lights your fire.
Hmm, where have I heard that before? That seems something politicians would do. So, writing and politics have become strange bedfellows. Thinkers from Karl Marx, though John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, to Joseph de Maistre have set their ideas down in writing. It is how we communicate an idea in any field.
I have talked to many people over the years since moving to this town and heard all the stories. Many likely wild ramblings while others are based on truth or the individual’s perceptions of the events.
I am confident the same is true in any place you decide to live. When moving to a new town, factors like proximity to work, housing affordability, and how likable the city is, takes priority when deciding where to live.
Candidates, Conversations, and the Correspondent
Yet it is in part correct that a writer learns from conversations that they overhear. They cannot help but listen to conversations in the supermarket queue, the doctor’s office, etc. Those snippets of communication that we overhear can be anything from Sarah’s injury at hockey practice, includes the state of the man in front’s bank balance and why he can’t get a loan, to the old lady who fell on the loose paving stone on John Street.
It reminds me of a writing exercise given when I was 13. “Be the fly on the wall in your local cafe” instructed the teacher. All these years later I understand the purpose of the exercise – it is about the random conversation, perhaps interrupting one main speaker. It allows us, the writer (listening), to get a sense of the mundane, the normal, yet make a story out of it.
The belief that their granduncle Janek’s struggle to leave a starving Polish village and travel to America is unique and intriguing. I am not judging the story, but I do know they exist in every family. In my family, there are three or four. In my wife’s family, there are many (especially about the ancestor who gave away the family fortune).
These stories are all worthy of being told. That may be just as true for the political history of this city. To which another chapter will likely get recorded. It may be full of intrigue and scandal, but why should this sleepy tourist town be any different to Toronto, or Washington? The stakes may be different that is all.
He is a freelance editor and writer with a background in business and technology management. He is also a non-practicing lawyer.
English born, now living in Canada. He’s an Alumni of City University (London) and University of West London.
Entrant and winner of National Novel Writing Month 2015, a novel he is currently editing.
He runs his own blog called GobbledeGoox, which provides thoughts on writing, blogging, words, and word-craft.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Ready to entertain, educate, or enchant us with your writing? Then consider a guest post.