BETWEEN THE ACTS
If you want something done, ask a busy person to do It. Someone like Drew Hayden Taylor, an Ojibway humourist from the Curve Lake First Nations in Ontario who relaxes between writing plays and novels by doing stand-up comedy or shooting a documentary series. The prolific Taylor spoke to The Globe and Mail recently about a half-written horror novel, rotating his creative crops and the inconceivability of writer’s block.
IN HIS WORDS
I was at the Melbourne Writers Festival recently, and I didn’t sell one book. It’s Australia. I’m not Margaret Atwood. The musings of an Indigenous author-playwright from Canada rarely create any echo down there. It was what it was, and I kind of expected that. I hope it doesn’t become the norm.
When I make public appearances, I’m often asked if I ever suffer from writer’s block or creative block of any sort. I always say, ‘No, the world’s much too interesting to run out of ideas.’ I’ve written the first half of a novel on an amazing spurt. But then life complicated my creative process and I got involved in a number of other projects. But I have about 24,000 words done. I just have to go in and finish the middle and finish the end, and then I’ve got a lovely little Indigenous horror novel ready to go.
I write novels, I write plays, I’ve been known to write television series, I’ve written a graphic novel. To me, it’s like working out. You work different muscle groups, and alternate them so they have time to repair. When I finish a novel, I never want to work on another one for a very long time. So, I’ll work on a play. When I finish that, I’ll write an essay. I basically rotate the creative experience.
I did a documentary two years ago about the German preoccupation with North American Indigenous culture. They’re absolutely bonkers for it. I went to a German pow-wow. The documentary aired on CBC Docs POV and it did quite well. Because of that success, we’re doing another documentary for CBC, loosely based on my play Cottagers and Indians, about the wild-rice issue in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes. We’re travelling across the country, talking to people who’ve had problems or have overcome problems in dealing with native/non-native land-and-water disputes.
We’re also doing a 13-part half-hour series for APTN about the exciting things that are happening in various Indigenous professional communities. We’re dealing with things like architecture, cuisine, fashion – all these things you wouldn’t normally consider as Indigenous topics to explore. But that’s part of the fun. So, for example, we’re doing a show on the popularity of Indigenous science fiction.
My novel Chasing Painted Horses is out now on Cormorant Press. We’ll see what happens with that. I have a lecture tour coming up in Brazil. Then we’ll do a little more shooting on the documentary. And so on and so on and so on.