For Love Of Words.

Explore Michael's Writing...

so much depends


upon a red water


under the dark


far from


It Took Many Years To Call Myself A Writer

Even more to have the label stick. It wasn't just a matter of identity. It was a question of self-worth. A question that could only be answered after spending thousands of hours writing, with nothing more to show for it than reams of unpublished work. Work I never even attempted to publish.

I recall in 1978, Ms. Fine, my grade nine art teacher, saying "A painter is going to paint wether they get paid or not. Even if they have to live in the street to do it."

Her words stuck with me that day as I completed a creative writing assignment for Mr. Humphrey. My grade nine english teacher. The assignment was to simply "Write 500 words about anything you like."

I wrote a story about an Eskimo who couldn't sing. It was called Ootnik and The Polar Bear. It was the first thing I had ever written that didn't feel like writing. It felt more artistic. Like painting. Or even sculpting. Creating abstracts of reality.

To a 14 year old boy who had often felt powerless against his father - unable to speak up or defend himself, the Poet in me says my earliest self-expression through work came as revelation. Meanwhile, the Philosopher in me, ever waxing reason, argues I was rebelling against oppression. Then there is the Joker. The voice in my head probably closest to God these days. The Joker is now sniggering at my own entendre of a teenage boy getting off on the work of his own hand.

But writing didn't just make me feel good physically, mentally and emotionally. I always felt there was something spiritual, even magical about the way that words aligned. The way, with astonishing precision, words made things manifest. The way a person could just make something up in language...and presto! Suddenly it was real.


In this collection, amongst the more recent prose and poetry, I have included the story of Ootnik and The Polar Bear. Today, more than 40 years after writing it, I am reminded not only of Ms. Fine, but also author Natalie Goldberg. In her book Writing Down The Bones, for me she summed it up in just three words: A writer writes.

For you, Dear Reader, perhaps, I can do even better. Narrow it down to one:


Mike Highstead

Kelowna, 2023

Ut loquimur, ita creatur.

Pathfinder Series

Private Talks with Michael to Help You Find Your Way

© 2023 Michael Highstead