Kenny Jorgenson is a poet and novelist, and one of the treasures of the writing community over on Instagram. Here we get to know his backstory, the origins of his relationship with nature, and his creative process. He shares brilliant advice to novice creators, too. Read more of his work and connect with him on Instagram: @kennyjorgenson.
I would say I had an idyllic childhood growing up, with very supportive parents and three siblings to keep me busy. Both parents were musical, my father was also a scientist who traveled the world for work, bringing home lots of coins & stamps for my collection. I played pretty much every sport I could year-round, usually with kids two or three years older than myself, which taught me how to be tough and protect myself.
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I had a neighbour, Mrs. McPhail, who was a retired teacher. We would sit on the front lawn and describe what we saw in the clouds or go for nature hikes and collect specimens such as owl pellets for later study. That summer we also raised three baby robins together, first feeding them with pablum from an eye dropper, to eventually cutting up worms and using tweezers to feed them, to simply providing a supply of live insects for them to feast on! They learned to fly and eventually, when they were ready, we brought them to an arboretum for release. She told me that the first robins I saw next spring would be them visiting me to say hello. She instilled a love and wonder for nature in me, and to this day I still remember all she taught me. I use a lot of references to nature and wildlife in my poetry, the symbolism and feelings of wonder they evoke still runs strong.
On Dominant Themes in His Work
There are a couple of dominant themes in the work I create - love and loss being a major one, but also guilt and regret for things I have done in the past.
I tend to use mythological references and the beauty of nature in a classical way, the feelings and emotions I need to let out seem more comfortable when expressed in this style, there is a semblance of separation that makes it easier to convey.
I want my writing to build up and convey these deep feelings with vibrant, visual imagery that the reader can connect to, and I want that process to feel special, to leave an intensity behind.
In general, I find it difficult to be happy, I'm a bit of a loner, although I wouldn't say I'm unhappy. I just tend towards solitude. There is an overwhelming sense of isolation I have long felt, even when participating in team sports as a player or coach, or when I was in school groups. Even at work now, I tend to self-exclude myself from socializing. I don't understand why this is, I have just accepted it, and this lack of belonging does seem to appear in my writing quite often. A sense of otherness. Not quite fitting in.
On His Advice To Aspiring Creators
The best advice I could give is to just get busy creating! Write, draw, paint, sculpt, do whatever you feel needs to get out and don't worry at all about how good it is. You'll find your "voice" eventually, and become more comfortable and competent as you fine-tune your process.
The second thing I would definitely advise is to learn how to accept creative criticism. You need to toughen up a bit and accept that not everything you do will be quality work. Accept and learn from those who are trying to help you develop. Ignore the ones who want to drag you down with cruel or unfounded, hateful criticisms though. There are lots of people, especially on-line, who get off on hurting people. Know the difference between those who are just trying to be helpful and those who aren't.
Listen, learn, evolve and do what makes you feel content creatively. Enjoy yourself, because when you are finally able to release what needs to come out, it is a great feeling.
On His Creative Dry Spell
When I was young, I was very creative. I'd draw my own comic strips, write short stories, and just have fun with it. Even as a Science student at university, I was always taking as many literature and creative writing courses as I could.
Unfortunately, I later went through a very difficult period where I completely shut down creatively and focused on pursuing as many self-destructive behaviours as I possibly could. This period in my life left me very damaged both emotionally and physically, for many years.
About five years ago, some of the high school kids I was coaching rugby encouraged me to go on Instagram as I had zero social media in my life. I began to gravitate towards the many wonderful writers I found and my creative spark was reignited. I didn't realize just how much trauma I had buried deeply within, and once I started letting these thoughts and feelings start to come out again my outlook towards everything improved greatly.
On His Creative Process
I keep notebooks everywhere now, on my night table, beside my desk, in my truck, and when I get an idea, even just a couple of words, I jot them down immediately. The poems I write tend to be written very quickly, with little to no editing. I prefer them that way, their rawness is a great record of exactly how I was feeling at that moment in time.
When I am writing fiction, for instance with my recent novel, I prefer to write early in the morning on weekends, from about 4:30 - 9:30. I started this process out of necessity, as I am quite busy with my full-time job, and it just seemed to work. It became a 'ritual' and without any distractions (other than listening to classical music), the words seem to gush out as fast as I can type them.
On Play & Its Link To Creativity
Having some form of escape is so important to the creative person and I have found it definitely stimulates ideas or even just shapes for ideas. Even visiting a museum or an art gallery is a fantastic way to motivate oneself or regain that spark. There must be an outlet in life to bring everything into balance. And a means of bringing new energy into your life.
On His Upcoming Work
I am working on writing a sequel to my first novel, The Black Horse Diaries, which I wrote in collaboration with two colleagues of mine. It was a rewarding process, one that honed my skills and hooked me with the process. We are also in the process of creating a pilot script for developing a TV show based on the book. I hope to publish a poetry collection in the near future as well. Finally, I have been conducting research for a much more serious historical/adventure novel that will hopefully be bursting with mythology, science and intrigue! I'm really looking forward to starting on that project.
Don't forget to connect with this lovely @kennyjorgenson.