The writer

By S. John Thomas

Sometimes I wish I smoked, that I was heavier, even that I was the picture of a walking heart attack. I wish I had that edge, someone exciting, someone who looked old school, acted old school and was respected because they aren’t part of the establishment. Picasso, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Hemingway. All mavericks. I was wish I was not so health-conscious, so sensitive, so tactful, so appropriate, and so vanilla. So sensible.

I am not a writer, but I write. I am not a journalist, but I journal. I am not an editor, but I editorialize. I write what I see; I write what I feel. I muse, I ask questions, I observe, I write per my emotions. I write what I am passionate about. I am 50 years old and am quite ordinary, mundane, and quite human. My thoughts are not unique, new or earth shattering; but my thoughts should resonate with others because of those reasons. I try to capture the frantic fragmented pace of my thoughts and tell a story.

I’d love to write my own article, with an edge, about what I wanted. I’d like to have the ‘dirt’ on the editor and be un-touchable. To get called into the Editor’s office and to have the hard conversation about how such thoughts, such a story could never be printed, yet see it in the paper the very next day. Because it resonates – does anything else matter? I’d write about tough things like poverty, mental health, waste we see every day. I’d write of compassion, I’d write to rally and to share. I’d write to make people feel guilty, to shame them into action; to donate money at the very least. I’d be hard on politicians, not because they are bad people, but because they need to work together to make a difference for all. United we stand, divided we fall. So much power, so much responsibility, so much opportunity. I’d write of the good, those making a difference, the down trodden; I’d find them and place them on a pedestal. It might be a teacher, a policeman, a mother, a child, a volunteer; it might be you.

I wish I had the autonomy to scribe the stories of goodness and be a refuge from the deluge of bad news. I wonder how to make people be part of the solution, not glorify the part of the problem. And malaise is just as bad as vindictiveness. I wish I could write and magically weave stories to inspire and paint vivid pictures in people’s minds. I would do this as others struggled with words, with phrases and political correctness. I would do all this as the ashtray became full and overflowed, leaving ashes on the desk.

I am not eloquent, nor articulate or emotive, but I can be clear, concise and expressive. My style is short, choppy and perhaps confusing, but I’m trying to be short, choppy and questioning. I challenge myself and expect no less of you. I write like that because that’s the way I think, that’s my style and that’s the way I am. And if one gets too verbose, too loquacious, too garrulous or effusive no one wants to listen anyway.

My office would be the streets; my place of worship, Hamilton. The streets and the people; Hamilton is different. Perhaps there are other places of hope, of suffering, optimism and brokenness, but Hamilton is my home and of that, I’m glad. I am not a writer but I could write something unique, something distinctive each day. For a real writer, Hamilton has enough fodder to keep one entertained, enthralled, dejected and exulted.

There are so many stories in this city. Buy fruit for a man sitting outside the market and you’ll find a man who only wants ‘chicken and rice’; offer to buy coffee for someone and find out all they actually want are three Big Macs. Take a moment to talk to a stranger and you’d be amazed at what makes them tick. This is the life of a mission worker, a journalist; someone who’s interested. Everyone has a story. Those who go to Africa, to the four corners of the earth are to be applauded, they have a story, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write your own; today, right here in Hamilton. My streets are full of great people, great opportunities, great stories; the challenge is to string everything together. I’m not a writer, but if I could weave those daily adventures into something that stirs people I would be content.


S. JOHN THOMAS spent four years in England before moving to Hamilton and has been living within a 40 km radius of downtown ever since. While most of these years were spent on the fringe, he recently moved to the ‘core’ where he is immersing himself in the city with his wonderful wife.

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