August 18, 2019

Like A River - Gloria Guest


Writing has often not been easy for me. I’ve felt blocked and held back more often than not but not wanting to completely dry up like a dry old river bed, I carry on in small ways. The topic for this months blog got me thinking more about what writing actually means to me in spite of the obstacles though. It reminded me of a blog I’d actually written about motherhood a few years back and got the idea of comparing it to a river. I thought, what better way to help my words to flow and break free than to write about a river….in comparison to something near and dear to my heart, something that has definitely challenged me but brought me much more joy than I could have ever imagined; changing me even while allowing me to discover myself….But for this blog I decided to adapt it to being a writer with its many changes and challenges as many of the same feelings fit. How amazing and revealing is that?? My writing is like a life force deep within me that teams with creativity and promise. flowing forward with expectant hope. 

Like a River

Writing can been compared to many things, such as a budding flower or a mountain to climb, but for myself, thinking back over my over my writing years, I see my experience as being more like a river.

My middle name of Lynn, means cascade or waterfall so perhaps that is why I have always felt an affinity to water, rivers and water falls. But I’m sure it’s also due to the fact that I spent my formative years in Fergus, Ontario where the beautiful Grand River runs through the town first named Little Falls because of its scenic water falls downtown. [1] From there it travels through the quaint town of Elora where I spent my Junior High School years and spills into the Elora Gorge with its 22 metre high cliffs and where many a school truant spent their afternoons diving from the high rocks and swimming in the gorge’s deep blue waters.

My high school years were then spent in Athabasca, Alberta  where the fast-moving Athabasca River originating from the Columbia Glacier rushes through the town. Flowing along ice fields and through gorges, its banks home to many wildlife habitat [2], one can almost envision the fur traders that once traveled by canoe up and down its dangerous current.

To me, rivers are life-giving, steadfast, fascinating in their ebb and flow and determination to move forward no matter the obstacles in its path. Ever changing, the river flows from a source often larger than itself ; sometimes rushing, diverging and then converging again; other times cascading gently over small rocks and through gully’s to eventually turn off into a babbling brook running through the woods or even become the tiniest of rivulets breaking through a crevice. But always, whether it’s a mighty force or a small stream it flows onwards towards a definite course; winding gently around obstacles or grinding them down with its powerful current; the river simply never stops until it reaches its destination; a channel, lake or sea.

As a writer, I too have garnered my determination and adaptability from a source larger than myself, with God being my greatest source and the underlying current that has kept me moving steadily forward. However there have been other sources given to me by God to help me along the way; diverging streams that have joined eventually with my own, adding their energy and life-giving strength to my own, teaching me, guiding me with a wisdom that can only come from their own experience of being authors and writers. 

I think of my high school English teacher who determinedly dogged me in the hallways until I entered a writing contest which I eventually won. That one experience was the seed that stuck with me and eventually compelled me to further my interest in writing.

My opportunity to be a news reporter seemed to come out of the blue (twice) and fulfilled a wish that I had had years earlier to have that experience. It was also life-changing and very confidence building as I had so much exposure to many people from all walks of life. It also gave me a glimpse into the editing world and the understanding of making each word count.

A recent source of encouragement came from Canadian historical author Ted Barris [3] whose work shop I attended at the 2019 Festival of Words. He has many years of experience in the publishing world and so when he encouraged us over how much experience we actually do have if we’ve even been published once, it was something to take note of. I left feeling like someone who does indeed have the ability to get more of my work published.

Fergus Falls
There can be many other sources larger than ourselves that we come to rely on for a season; anyone who comes alongside us as writers and flows and bends with us through the curves of the river of life can be part of that underlying force that carries us on through those rough spots, teaching us how to persevere and either adapt and flow around a particular obstacle or grit our teeth and find a way through it. Eventually we will come out the other side, wiser, stronger, perhaps not as we had envisioned, but always moving forward, through the rocks and boulevards, steady, streaming, onwards towards our destination where we join with generations of others who love the written word, just like ourselves. From there, with God as our constant source, we can flow into other streams and rivers; joining and supporting them along their path as writers……like a river.


[1] Wikipedia.org – Fergus, Ontario

[2] http://www.grandriver – GRCA – Park – Elora Gorge

[3] Ted Barris is a Canadian writer, journalist, professor and broadcaster His non-fiction works focus on Canada's military heritage. Barris has authored 17 books. Wikipedia.
Adapted from Like A River (an essay on motherhood by Gloria Lynn Guest – May 13 2014 – Gloria writes from her community of Caron, Sk.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for this descriptive and lovely entry. (I was in Caron recently visiting my niece. Someday we'll have to meet up!)

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    1. Thanks Tracy. Yes, we will have to do that sometime. I just live two doors down from her.

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  2. Gloria, I so connect with the comparison to a river. I love rivers and water falls. Many songs about rivers hold a special place in my heart. Your line of feeling "blocked and held back more often than not but not wanting to completely dry up like a dry old river bed, I carry on in small ways." rung true for me. This line also resonated with me: "My writing is like a life force deep within me that teams with creativity and promise, flowing forward with expectant hope" Thank you and may the river keep flowing!

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    1. Thank you Jocelyn. May the river keep flowing for you also!

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  3. I love the way you use a river as a metaphor for your writing life, Gloria. It’s amazing how well that aligns with your life in general--living around rivers and waterways for much of your life--and with your writing. This, I’m sure, puts new light on your writing experience and gives us another point of view on ours.

    I appreciate your saying, "As a writer, I too have garnered my determination and adaptability from a source larger than myself, with God being my greatest source and the underlying current that has kept me moving steadily forward.” I too feel blessed to have InScribers and members of our local writing group who “come along side (me as a writer).

    Thanks for taking us along in your "writing canoe."

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    1. Thanks Sharon for your insights and I like the 'writing canoe' comment :)

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  4. I loved your metaphor of a river, Gloria. I too, pondered your comment on God being our creative source when you wrote, "As a writer, I too have garnered my determination and adaptability from a source larger than myself, with God being my greatest source and the underlying current that has kept me moving steadily forward."

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  5. Thanks Sandi. It's nice to see that there are fellow water/river lovers on here. I really enjoyed writing this post the first time (when I compared a river to motherhood) and the second time! I learned more about my writing life even as I wrote it. Love it when that happens.

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  6. Hi Gloria. Well, I must say I'm a river guy. I've lived close to rivers or other water bodies most of my life. The mighty Fraser River has been a companion for over fifty years to date. A movie called, "A River Runs Through It," came to mind as I read your post. Perhaps as Christian writers we can say, "The river runs through us." I'm glad your high school English teacher convinced you to enter a writing contest. From that living seed come words you now impart to the rest of us. Keep on writing my friend.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your river story and how you see it relating to your writing life.

    What a blessing it was, Gloria, to have that school teacher dog you about your writing, surely the start of something beautiful in your own life that you would share with others in this old world we live in.

    The message you got from Ted Barris about how much experience writers have even if they've been published once -- like you, I take courage from knowing that we 'indeed have the ability to get more of my (our) work published'.

    Wishing you continued joy in your journey with words.

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