Peter Norman is MacEwan University’s newest writer-in-residence, and his works include books on poetry, chapbooks, and a published novel. Norman has been able to use the varied landscapes and the people he meets around the country to diversify his writing skills, and to do the one thing he’s loved to do since the age of three.
Norman will be available until the end of the fall semester to give students advice and show them some ways in which they might be able to improve their talents.
Norman has been passionate about writing since childhood. “I read a lot of books, and I just thought it’d be fun to try to make my own,” he says. “So, from a very young age, I wanted to be a writer and I just kind of always pursued that.”
After graduating from the University of British Columbia, Norman immediately began to pursue writing opportunities. He landed his first magazine article when a former classmate recommended him for the job, and his career continued to develop from there.
Now, after taking up residence all across the country, from Halifax to here in Edmonton, Norman speaks to how these changes in landscape have affected his work and made him grow and evolve as an artist.
“I mean, in Halifax, when you’re right down on the ocean, there’s a fog coming in, the ships are creaking in the docks — it’s kind of hard not to be affected by that,” he says.
Norman has a few pieces of advice to give to up-and-coming writers in the modern creative environment. First, he emphasizes the importance of having a community of friends with similar interests.
“Going from my experience, try to find an environment where you can try out your stuff,” he says, “and there’s kind of a supportive, nurturing environment with people whose opinions you respect.”
Norman notes how important it is to have a passion for the work as well. “That’s the only thing that will sustain you, because it may sometimes pay, but it very often likely will not,” he says. “If you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s gonna be a long slog.”
One final piece of advice that Norman stresses is just how important it is to continue developing your skills and honing your writing style.
“Once you feel like you’ve developed a pretty good instinct for what works and what doesn’t, just keep on working and working your writing until it starts to really get down to the bone,” he says. “If this is a passion that you have, nothing should be able to extinguish it.”
Photo by Casey Pollon