Images: Isaia McMath (L), Chief Dan George (R)
A youth opinion by: Isaia McMath
Working people love their favourite tools. A plumber might have a magical monkey wrench, a chef a silver spoon that is used for everything. I’m a writer, and the classic BiC pen is what I use to make things happen. What I want more than anything is a career as a professional writer.
Writing is in my blood. I am a seventeen year old male First Nations student, and I grew up in Merritt; a small town in B.C. Outside of spending a lot of time with my friends, there is not a lot to do in Merritt. I’d mostly spend a lot of my free time writing – sword and sorcery stories, stories on First Nations life, and Haiku poems. Lately I’ve wanted to know more about a career in this field. I think I got my writing prowess from my late uncle, Chief Dan George who was an actor and author himself who is a big inspiration to me.
My incredible, and amazing English teacher Charles McKaig encouraged me to do an informational interview with a magazine, so I reached out to the founder and editor of MUSKRAT Magazine Rebeka Tabobondung. I was more than a little nervous at the idea of talking to her but she proved to be kind and knowledgeable.
I want to be not just a writer but a writer who focuses on Native issues.
The conversation with Rebeka was illuminating and exciting as she shared her journey to becoming the owner of the MUSKRAT Magazine and how she put her knowledge of Native history and her love for writing into one amazing magazine that I think many people enjoy.
Have you ever had a life changing experience? Talking to Rebeka was a life changing stepping stone in my own journey into writing and this interview has boosted my confidence more than I thought it would have. The writers and editors at MUSKRAT Magazine are great, influential people who have inspired me to go further, to test my limits, and hold nothing back.
I see writing the same way I see acting. Where there are auditions, or submissions and people see your effort and time. For example, in acting you pour out your heart and soul into learning your lines, and when you audition for a part, you give every bit of energy you have and they either like it or don’t like it. I see writing to be a similar process. You can write and write, but people will choose if they like it and to contact you and give feedback, or give you different tips to make your writing stronger for next time.
To me writing takes a lot of weight and stress off of my shoulders and lets me focus on being the writer I know I can be—allowing my pain from the past to wash away for however long I am writing—whether it is an hour or even three hours at a time. Writing makes me happy, and calm. If I can crack out a story idea and make even just a couple of notes on the idea to save until I have more time to write, that just makes my day.
Like a lot of First Nations youth my life can be incredibly chaotic and often overwhelming. My plan going forward is to develop the writing habits necessary to pursue this career; something to express truth through my writing is my way of finding my place in the world, and walking my path in the world.