From Failure to Finding That Creative Writer Inside of Me


I have never thought of myself as a writer. During high school I had the darkest period of my life with the death of my dad when I was 15. I was grieving from my loss, and to make matters worse, my 17 year old brother and I tried our best to keep our 300 acre farm going without our dad.  At the same time we were trying to get through high school.  The only time I had to study and work on assignments was from when school ended at 3:15 until 4:00 when I loaded the bus. I tried to study the 30 minutes each way on the bus, but felt sick, and used that time to catch up on needed sleep. A lot on the shoulders of a 15 year old, and needless to say, my grades plummeted, failing 4 subjects in one year alone. Most teachers were awesome.  They knew my situation, a couple teachers even raised my marks a few percentage points in order to give me a pass. Not so my English teacher. When I couldn’t get a book read in the time allotted, and complete the important book report, I got an automatic fail. Lazy, unmotivated, a failure were my descriptions on my report card for English. I took that report card very hard and personally.

I still miss my dad so much. This is a newspaper photo, taken when they discovered he was helping a neighbour who had a heart attack (but survived) get his hay crop in. This took place before my dad got his own crop in. Four months later my own dad had a heart attack, and died. He was 47.

 

I loved writing, and as a younger kid I used to write my own lyrics to already established songs. It was my dream to be a songwriter when I grew up, which looking back is unusual, particularly because I could never read music. A fireman, a farmer and a professional hockey player in the National Hockey League were three other of my Canadian boy’s dreams. When I was 26 I took a year to travel, backpack, volunteer and take a 3 month course in mountaineering.  No regrets here. It was the best year of my life.  I only had a cheap Kodak Instamatic for a camera, which eventually got fried on my friend’s pickup truck’s dashboard in Death Valley. I only shot about 3 rolls of film, and only about half those pictures turned out, so I ended up writing about my adventures. I loved plunking out these creative stories on my mom’s manual typewriter. I made copies and shared them with my friends and relatives.  Instead of clicking a button on social media like we do nowadays, I would mail them or hand them out in person. And sometimes my friends and relatives would make copies and give to their friends. Who would have thought this would become commonplace with social media? There were even a couple of people tell me I should be sending my writings to some major magazines. I didn’t think so. I was not a writer. I reminded them I was a nobody who flunked English in high school. I had no confidence in myself that my writing was magazine material. Writers were scholarly people who majored in English in University. They went on to be writing professionals in various fields.

I did not take many photos during my year of backpacking, climbing, and volunteer director in a youth wilderness camp in Alaska. Picture of me dated November 1984, climbing in Northern British Columbia.

The next 25 years I got busy with the societal norms of life. Working, providing for the family. All the things we are supposed to do. I struggled with anxiety disorder. I struggled with depression. I felt like I was on a hamster wheel with no way off. Then at 55 years old, I was talked into joining a running club at the job I now work at. I hated it at 1st, but stuck with it because I had enrolled for a half marathon.  We were raising funds for a charity called Dekpor School in Ghana, Africa.  The more I ran, the more I found it helped me mentally, and after 25 years I found myself back in enough of a mental frame of mind to actually begin writing again.  I wrote some stories to try and raise some funds for my charity.  This time I didn’t have to make copies and hand them out.  There was this thing called Facebook, that made it much easier.

That 1st half marathon was life changing. If it wasn’t for the water situation in Ghana and for the charity Dekpor School, which I was running for, I probably would not have stuck it out with my running.

A friend saw my Facebook page and suggested I should have a blog. She had her own blog and mentioned that you could do so much more with it. I am not tech savvy, so I kept putting it off, but one day I took the leap. Using an established platform like WordPress, it was not all that difficult setting up and maintaining it. If I could do it, anyone can do it. I was now a “blogger” (not a writer). A blogger was a term I was much more comfortable with. WordPress Magazine mentions a new blog is created every 30 seconds worldwide, and there are over 152 million blogs on the internet. That is a lot of blogs. There are so many great blogs and bloggers out there, and it blows me away that people sign up for e-mail updates for my blog. I am amazed they would want to follow me and read what I have to say.

Blogging has been very therapeutic for me. It has been a release.  And the many blogger friendships that have come about are all a huge bonus.  I will be soon turning 60, and after working pretty much in physical labour for 40 years, I get pretty weary somedays.  During a preshift meeting during what seemed like a particularly long week working in the warehouse, I asked my supervisor if there was any chance I could do a bit of blogging for the company.  My company has some bloggers working in the marketing department. Having failed high school English, and no post secondary training in writing, I was expecting a big NO!  I was so shocked when the answer was a yes. What has blown me away the most happened a couple of months ago. The human resources lady handed me a nametag with my new position on it. It said “Carl Wright…Creative Writer”.  And I could not be any happier.

From “Failure” to “Finding That Creative Writer Inside of Me”. Could not be any happier with where I am now at. 🙂

It has been way too long since I have written anything on my regular running blog. I have so many exciting races coming up in 2018, and I can’t wait to run them and write about them. But for now, I would like to share the links with the articles I have written in my new position that includes a little introduction to each post. . The articles are predominantly to do with the environment, something I am very passionate about.  And I have discovered these kind of topics sometimes can get quite heated and controversial with readers.  So I have to be careful I don’t sound like an environmental Nazi.  I work with a great team in marketing. Not only do they edit, they encourage me, and kindly point out some lines that might need toning down a little. So these are not just my articles, they are our articles as a team, from the marketing department at Busch Systems.

Header Photo for Article #1 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #1: What It Takes To Be Sustainable In Coffee Cups. Originally Published November 29, 2017

After over 40 years of physical work for a living, it was so strange to go into work and head to a desk and computer.  And boy was I nervous.  The 1st topic I was given was about all those throwaway coffee cups. What happens when we throw them out? Although I don’t any access to any of the blog traffic information on the web site dashboard, to my understanding, this has been one of the most read and shared articles to date. And for my 1st post, this makes me very happy. 🙂

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Can anyone pick me out in the photo?

Article #2: The Mo Bros and Mo Sistas of Movember. Originally Published December 1, 2017.

This was such a fun post to put together. My work participates in a lot of charity fundraising initiatives throughout the year. One of them was for the Movember Foundation, raising funds and awareness for men’s prostate and testicular cancer and men’s mental health.

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Header Photo for Article #3 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #3: Environmental Impact of a Fake Christmas Tree. Originally Published December 22, 2017.

Writing has always been very therapeutic for me. This article brought out family Christmas tree memories buried for many decades that I had forgot were even there. A couple of times during writing this article the memories had me quietly weeping.  It is a long post, and have so much respect for my editors who were sensitive with how deeply personal this article was to me…..and left it’s length virtually untouched.

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Header Photo for Article #4 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #4:  The Carbon Footprint of Christmas. Originally Published December 25, 2017.

Anyone ever receive an orange in your stocking at Christmas? I did. Most people my age did, and the orange in our family has quite the significance. During the Great Depression my mom was a little girl and her Christmases were very meagre. But she received an orange and a few other modest luxuries in her stocking. She never forgot it and passed that tradition on to my generation.

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Header Photo for Article #5 Provided by Busch Systems.

Article #5:  The Dirt on Diaper Waste.  Originally Published January 1, 2018

Starting a family means big changes, and each family dynamic is different.  My wife really wanted to be a Stay At Home Mom. I struggled with this, as I only had seasonal work during this period, and my hours were always hit and miss.  But she was willing to do whatever it took to make it work. That included using cloth diapers to keep the diapering cost down. We managed fine.  And I also discovered that doing so, we lessened our impact on the environment.

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Header Photo for Article #6 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #6:  What’s The Most Sustainable Method of Heating Your Home? Originally Published January 31, 2018

In Canada, home heating eats up quite a large percentage of a family household budget. There are several types of home heating available. But what is the most environmentally friendly? What is the most energy efficient? What is the most sustainable? Your questions should be answered with this article.

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Header Photo for Article #7 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #7:  The Importance of Wetlands. Originally Published February 2, 2018

It is only been these past few years that there has been an importance placed on our wetlands. For decades they were regarded as wasteland and were drained and filled in. Since 1900, half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared.  They are some of most beautiful and tranquil places on earth, and offer so many tremendous benefits. A touching compliment came from Mandy, who ran the final edit of this post when she said, “Thank you Carl, I just want to go out now, and hug a wetland”.  🙂

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Header Photo For Article #8 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #8: Are The Olympics Sustainable? Originally Published February 9, 2018

The 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games are now officially over. The cost of hosting these events often run into the billions of dollars.  And after a few short weeks, the Olympic torch is extinguished, athletes return home and host countries are left with massive debts and the struggle of finding ongoing uses for the extensive venues.  This article takes a look at the sustainability of the 2018 Olympics and how they measure up with a few previous events.

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Header Photo for Image #9 Provided by Busch Systems

Article #9: The Evolution of Environmental Charities/Advocacy. Originally Published February 26, 2018

This was a very academic title I was given. But once I figured out the direction I wanted to take this article, I had so much fun writing it. It took me back to 1985 when I was backpacking and climbing in California’s magnificent Sierra Nevada. I walked in the very footsteps of environmental pioneer John Muir.  The article was also important to me, because I was given the honour of introducing a new environmental initiative our company is pioneering called RISE. You can read all about RISE in the article.

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Header Photo For Article #10 Provided By Busch Systems

Article #10:  Hollow Legs and The Carbon Footprint of Eating. Originally Published March 12, 2018

If you have ever had teenage boys in your home, you likely understand the “Hollow legs” part? Where on earth do they pack away all that food? It must be a pair of hollow legs. And looking back in time I was the very same way when I was a teen. Everyone living leaves a carbon footprint on earth, and the food we eat (and don’t eat) is a big one.  Up to half of all manmade emissions in Canada and the United States are from food.

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Header Photo For Article #11 Provided By Busch Systems

Article #11: World Water Day-Everyone Has A Right To Safe Drinking Water.  Originally Published March 22, 2018

I take water so much for granted here in Canada. I turn on the tap and there it is…clean and refreshing. Not so in many areas around the world. There are 844 million people in the world who lack a basic drinking water service.  One of the areas I focused on in this article is the country of Ghana, Africa. Busch Systems has made a huge impact with the charity Dekpor School Development Organisation in Ghana. Their director Carol  mentioned to me that women and children used to fetch contaminated water for up to 8 hours a day, balancing 20 kilograms on their head which caused head and neck problems. But no more. It is so exciting to be a part of making a difference through my work. Pictures within the post of the contaminated water and the clean pure water were provided by charity director Carol Sheardown. And more photos and information can be found on the Dekpor School World Water Day post.

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Already training in situations I will be encountering this year in my races. My biggest races ever, and I’ll be turning 60 on July 7th. They say age is just a number. Life begins at 60. I am so excited.

Forty years is a long time to have feelings of failure and inferiority eating at me from the inside. My running and writing has given me confidence that I have never had in my lifetime.  It has been very liberating. This will be a huge year for my running. I am looking ahead to running some big events in 2018 with a mixture of fear and excitement. And also looking forward to meeting some really amazing people that I have been in contact with and yet to meet.  AND I CANNOT WAIT!  🙂

 

 

Categories: EnvironmentTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

60 comments

  1. Congratulations! What an achievement. It’s funny how life comes together. I look forward to reading your work articles. Keep up the great work! And let us know how the running goes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t it cool how we eventually get where we need to be? I am so glad you found running and through that you started writing again. You tell great stories and I love how your honesty and sincerity shine in your writing. I hope we get to meet at a cool running event one of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Angie for taking the time to read and share such a generous comment. It really has been an amazing journey. Who would have thought? I really hope we get to meet at a running event as well. We’ll make it happen. I’m pretty filled up this year, The Summit Run, I think was around the summer solstice, and I will see what else there is out west.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Jane Bwye and commented:
    I just love reading your blogs, Old Fella; it is good to get to know you a bit better, and you are an awesome writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Inspiriing! Great story. I will be coming back to read your work articles as well. It’s cool that you are still writing. You are one of a handful of the first people I followed when I started on WP

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are still going strong, and I think that is awesome. So tremendous you are still writing as well. Must be about 4 years ago we 1st started following each other. Thank you so much for all your support over these years. Always have such kind things to say. It is deeply appreciated. 🙂

      Like

  5. Carl, it’s your authenticy that shines through in your writing. And congratulations on becoming a paid/professional creative writer. 🙂 Your dream has been realized is a way you probably never imagined. Funny how things like that happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First off I want to say Congratulations! You have many accomplishments and much to be proud of. I too am at a crossroads in life I’m approaching retirement at my current job and I will turn 60 next year. However as I’m not old enough to collect Social Security I have been pondering over what to do next. At this point in my life after I retire from the Museum I want to do something I want to do. A job where I can help people and that I really enjoy. Plus obviously make money! Recently I was injured at work which gave me lots of time to reflect. Everything happens for a reason and perhaps getting hit in the head (it was an accident) was a wake-up call! Yesterday on Palm Sunday as I was walking to church I saw an ESL banner outside a school which is nearby my house. A light went on!! I called the number listed on the banner and after speaking with the friendly staff I got the number to the Director of ESL education. I just sent off my resume! Hooray!!

    Please keep me in prayer and keep on running for the Lord!! Hallelujah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much DeBorah Ann for taking the time to read and for sharing such a wonderful personal reply. We are pretty much in the same situation. Pondering retirement, but also looking for something that is really fulfilling in this stage of our lives. I am praying for you in regards to this job prospect. In Canada, we are able to collect an early retirement pension at 60 years old. However there is a penalty of 0.6% for every month before 65 that you collect the pension. So, it is a matter of figureing out how long you think you will live.The break even point I have read is 74 years old. 🙂

      I sincerely hope and pray you are healing well from the injury. Head injuries can be so scary.

      Thank you agfain for taking the time to read and share. I appreciate your camaraderie and support over these years. 🙂

      Like

      • Thanks. We also have early retirement penalties in America. I’m thinking that my eye injury will allow me to go on permanent disability. Navigating the subway stairs and riding on trains was difficult before now worse. I can’t go out in snow, sleet and freezing ice storms. Therefore my life is changing. I must accept and adapt to my situation. Being single without immediate family I depend solely on myself to get through. It’s a true crossroads but life goes on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely a lot of different adjustments for you. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have an eye injury.

        Like

      • As another blogger so eloquently phrased it, My Left eye has broken off diplomatic relations with my brain. I operate with one headlight like an old beat up car.

        Like

  7. I LOVE this Carl! I was surprised to hear you didn’t enjoy running at first! It just shows that sometimes the best things for us need a little getting used to. I love the photograph of your dad as well! A live action shot of a hard working man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Chelsea for reading and sharing. The running has been a journey. With 35 years of not running, that 1st year was quite brutal. That half marathon seemed so out of reach, and it seemed like I was so sore all the time. I did not think I could ever do that distance. The body is amazing, in that it does become conditioned.
      Thank you for your kind words about my dad. Have very few photos of him, but the one shared on the post is my favourite. Depicts him in his true self! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, thanks for sharing Carl! What an inspiring writer you have become and I enjoy all your blogs. Thanks again for sharing. See you on the trails… Gene

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for all the links!

    And I, for one, am excited to hear about all your running this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How very cool to learn your history Carl and how you came about to the blogging world. Thanks for sharing and being so open about your life.

    I love visiting your blog, it always make me smile! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Carl what a heart tugging read and i appreciate you making yourself vulnerable in sharing the loss and challenges in your life.To lose your Dad at such an early age and to carry so much responsibility must have been extremely hard. Most inspiring though is your perseverance through your decades and illustrating that new chapters and doors are available to all of us. We just need the courage to open them. Clearly your new job is going brilliantly! I didn’t read all the articles but from what I did read you are producing great content. Congratulations!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue, thank you so much for reading and sharing such a generous comment. It has been very dear people like yourself who has always encouraged me and supported me in the 4 or so years I have had this blog. That has helped me build confidence. It has enabled me to become vulnerable knowing I won’t be judged. So thank you so much for being a part of the journey that has brought me to this new position. It means so much to me. Definitely some new chapters ahead. And it is very exciting! Thank you again! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Congrats on your achievements, your new job and finding it in you to be a writer. Your work sounds very encouraging and supportive, and good on you for taking this opportunity. You have come a long way and things seem to have come full circle. Never stop fighting and believing.

    Like

  13. Carl – Couple brief thoughts here: (1) You have a wonderful “voice” in your writing – clear, succinct; there is a real talent in being plainly spoken but with message, and you’ve got it. (2) You are the only person I know who is employed as a creative writer. That’s quite an accomplishment! Also, the opportunity you have to write about the environment and justice is, really, a very positive reflection on your company. (3) When you arrive in Rochester for Sehgahunda, the train station will be immediately adjacent to Kodak world headquarters. Who knows? Maybe we can get you another Kodak camera! Carry on, brother, you’ve got the right stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kodak World Headquarters. That is so amazing Daniel. Kodak had such a huge slice of the photography market at one time. I was thinking a little while back how they are managing with all the new competition and technology. I have not seen one of those pocket 110 Instamatics in about 20 years.

      Thank you so much for your extremely generous comment. You are very kind. I am so very grateful to my company that they have given me this opportunity. The title “Creative Writer” is beyond what I could ever imagine.

      I am so looking forward to our meeting and running Sehgahunda with you in May! Thank you for everything! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Carl, this is SO inspirational! I am very happy for you and I have no doubt your sincerity and passion will fuel the success of your new career. I think it is the beginning of a new chapter for you. 🙂 Congratulations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post, I really enjoyed reading about your journey with writing. I write a lot for my work in communications, so I sometimes find it hard to get motivated to bog. Looks like you have a great new job. Good luck with your races.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing Maegan. When we do a lot of other writing it really is tough to find that motivation for our own blogs. I guess that is why it took 3 months to get this new post completed. My new work has been really wonderful, and I do love it! Thank you for your encouragement! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. You have certainly come a long way. Your story will inspire many children facing similar circumstances to yours. Helping people overcome their FEARS isn’t easy. It is a mission that requires constant reinforcement to create new foundations for children (and adults) in order to build more fulfilling lives.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really appreciate your comment Dr. Jonathan. It really has been quite the journey, and has given me much empathy for those who have had to face similar circumstances. I try to use my story to help build (and rebuild) the lives of others. Thank you for taking the time to read and share, as always your words of wisdom and encouragement! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I don’t think the circle is complete for you 🙂 Given your life experiences and how you have managed to make the most out of them (at times, from the looks of it, unconsciously) I believe there is so much more you can do! Running has perhaps contributed in your holistic perception of people and environment 🙂

    Good luck for 2018 races. Can you share a few with me?? I wouldn’t mind exploring them and see which ones I can join (I am moving to Canada!!! I need to speak with you about a few things. Can I get in touch over e-mail??)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Prajakta. I so appreciate your support, for reading and your generous comment. They keep me from looking back and keep me looking ahead. I
      Big news, and very exciting that you are moving to Canada. My e-mail is carl.58.wright@gmail.com Feel free to contact me.
      I have had 8 races booked, one is in the bag with 7 to go. My 3 big ones are sold out, my 50k next week, a 42k trail marathon in New York state, and a 3 day 155k staged race in August.
      The other 4 races are 2x15k and 2 half marathons. They are with a series called http://events.mec.ca/node/193521 with locations found in the link. They are very reasonably priced. I think $20 and $25 a race. Still might sign up for some others but have not committed yet. Hope this helps! 🙂

      Like

  18. Congratulations to you…didn’t realize this, but I actually started running in my 20’s to help with anxiety and depression…has carried me all the way into my 60’s…bad knees so am doing elliptical machines and weights…but still working out every day. Just wanted to say…you never know where life is going to take you. Keep the faith and enjoy what He has in store for you!! My best to you!!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Thank you for the follow. I am sorry that you had to go through that. Your father sounds like a wonderful man.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Carl,
    I was so pleased to see your comment on my blog. I have been remiss in keeping up with yours, please accept my apologies.
    This blog was so interesting and encouraging!
    I am so sorry to hear you lost your father at such a young age.
    I read several of your work articles, you have a gift for bringing a story alive while informing one of necessary cautions, too. Not an easy thing to do!
    I have never been able to get into running. However, my husband LOVES it. Work has slowed him down and he isn’t able to run as often as he would like.
    Have a great weekend!
    Blessings~

    Liked by 2 people

    • Always appreciate your generous comments Robbye. Thank you so very much. Also thank you for checking out the work articles. It took me awhile to enjoy running. Having that charity I was running for certainly kept me from packing it in. It has been quite the journey. So awesome to hear how your husband loves running. I find myself as well, that I don’t get as much running in as I would like with my work.
      Hope you have a great weekend yourself! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Very inspiring and real Carl. You have a great writing style. Keep on running, writing, and living life to the fullest!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That’s a hell of a journey you’ve made. Hats off.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dear Carl, reading about your early childhood struggles and how you juggled the responsibilities with your high school and reading about your passion for running, really makes me think that yes, age is just a number if you have the willingness to do all it takes.

    Liked by 1 person

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