Writing World: Snook

“Ol’ Snooky … ends up on the cover of his very own,
professionally published, book …”


You’ve been churning out columns for us for a while now. Where did the inspiration come to put the best of the best together for a book?

The notion came up right from the get go, because a reader wrote me to say, “Hey – love the stories in The Herald. In case I miss a few, what about a book-full of them once you get enough written?”

Now then, I think to myself. The wheels turn so rarely, they may have made a noise. Pick up the phone and call the Flanker crowd, and they say “Yes, boy. Sounds good – let’s talk.” So we did. And there you have it, ladies and gents.

Ol’ Snooky – never given much hope of accomplishing anything – ends up on the cover of his very own, professionally published, book. Take that, Principal Mullett …

 Take us back through some of your favourite ‘HowYaGettinOn’ columns?’ 

I like the columns where I get to wax-on about real stuff I did growing up. We had so much fun because we were so free back then – no real danger, and very few rules, truth be told. The parents practically insisted we spend most waking hours outside the house. Never a fear sending us off into the fray.

That’s why we got to invent crazy games like “high country,” and make demolition carts all summer long. It was a time of adventure and dare-devil challenges, and we took it to the max. I also like the unusual experiences, like when this guy Senzo Simelane showed up from Swaziland, of all places, and we gave him a royal intro and welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador. There are times and things that stretch a person, and those are fun to remember and finally write about. I’d say I have enough stories for a good few books (if not a few good books), but this modest publication will do for now. I’ve far overshot my ambitions already.

 When you sit down to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), what is your process? 

The deadline is most often the parent of ideas. When you got to have something to the boss in a couple hours, and you’ve put it off more times than a dental appointment, you get creative. I like to write stuff with a pen, first. Long-hand they call it. And with the cursive, not printing, because it’s almost like writing in code nowadays. Not only do the young people not learn it in school anymore, but the state of my penmanship means I’m the only one can pick it out anyway. It’s a slower way to write than on a keyboard, and slow is good – gives you time to edit in your head so what goes down in a first whack at something is already better than otherwise. From there I type it in on the old, crooked computer I got from Dougie’s sister. It barely works, but get me there, and then I know if it’s long enough and, with spell-check, how few words I’ve spelled right. If I have time I’ll read it out loud a few times and make some changes. After that I press ‘send’ and count on the pros at The Herald to clean it up – they never let me down.

 Inspiration comes easy here in Newfoundland and Labrador. It must make it easy for things to rant and roar about on a weekly basis?

There’s always tons of whatever going on every week, but there’s lag time between when I send it in, and when that edition of The Herald it comes for sale. So, I can’t really write about anything too glued to one week. Stuff gets old, and forgotten, really fast. I try to keep it a little timeless, mostly. Whatever has been floating in my noggin’ for a long time, and has never had a chance to get out. It’s often a relief, to write about such stuff. It means I can clear out that RAM-space in my brain because the material is in hard copy somewhere… 

 What do you hope readers take away from when they read How Ya Gettin’ On? 

Holy – that’s a tough question, buddy. First of all, I hope they just take away a book – period. If they find it mildly interesting, or occasionally amusing… wicked. If they find it to be the right thickness to stop the table from wobbling, that’s good too. Maybe they will send one to friends and family away, and some good nostalgic emotions will get fired up – who knows? Perhaps if they hate it altogether, they can send one to enemies to ruin their day or something. I don’t care really. It’s just stuff I wrote and it’s going out into the world without me, so good luck, stories. Hope you land in keen hands.

 Big question, How is Snook Gettin’ On these days?

Snook is always wicked because he never has much in the way of expectations – so it’s all bonus. A “What Odds? attitude can be a wonderful thing, a lot of the time. It can get in the way too, sure. But for the most part, taking one day, one hour, one minute at a time has served me well, and I’m far too old now to give changing much thought.

Here’s how I feel about life in general:  it’s not about who has the most toys, or gets to decide most things. For me, it’s about who has the most fun, and who shares it with as many people as they can. That’s why I like the idea of having a book out there, right? Feels like I’ve used my life, somehow, and had a wicked time doing it. Being an ‘author’ is just about the last thing I ever expected, so calling it a bonus would be one of them ‘understatements.’ Maybe that’s what I’ll get Dougie to put on my gravestone. “Here lies Snook, he wrote a book. Write on.”

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