This isn't the first time that someone has 'borrowed' the title A Writer's Notebook from author Somerset Maugham. After trying and discarding a number of possible headings for this opening page of my blog, I kept coming back to this one. The reason is simple. It succinctly sums up what these pages are all about.
At a time when newspapers and other hard-copy publications are dropping by the wayside with alarming regularity, those who survive in the writing business not only have to branch out into unfamiliar territory but also must be ready to showcase their talents as widely as possible.
This blog is one way of demonstrating the various types of writing that I do. Much of it reflects my life-long addiction to travel that began when our family boarded a train to head from Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa after my father came back from Europe at the end of World War Two. Dad had discovered upon his return that his pre-war position was no longer available. An uncaring employer shipped him and his family off to Wawa, Ontario where he was given the low-level job of timekeeper at the Helen Mine. This was about ten steps down the corporate ladder from where he'd been when he'd volunteered to fight For King and Country. He often wondered aloud why he had made the sacrifice.
Our family saga had a happy ending, with Dad eventually working his way back to a prestigious position in Ontario's court system - as related in my book about those times: To Wawa With Love. And that first train trip on the Algoma Central Railway ignited a spark that is still burning as I continue to search out faraway places with strange-sounding names.
While travel writing has played a large part in my professional life, I have also written a number of books about Canada's military heritage and I've been editor and/or publisher of a number of newspapers and magazines along the way. Political speechwriting for provincial and federal cabinet ministers as well as corporate executives and diplomats has also been part of the mix.
It's all here in A Writer's Notebook. I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will enjoy reading the contents even half as much as I've enjoyed writing them. World War One buffs might wish to have a look at another blog that my wife Gail and I have produced. It can be found at www.worldwar1risingfromtheashes.com.
And by the way, Jamais Arriere is the Douglas family motto. I've heard some interesting translations over the years but to me it sums up the determination my father demonstrated when circumstances knocked him for a temporary loop: Never Behind!