A Chat With Jodah: Interview Yourself Writing Challenge
Availiasvision aka. Jennifer Arnett recently issued a challenge for other hubbers to interview themselves (see: Interview Yourself:A Writer's Challenge)
Although I thought this was a great initiative I myself was tentative to undertake this challenge as I (like a number of others have said as well) have never been good at talking about myself. Public speaking has never been my forte and I generally like to quietly sit in the background and not be the centre of attention.. well unless something really riles me, then I can change in an instant like the "Incredible Hulk".
Well, as you see I chose to accept the challenge. Please grab a cup of tea or coffee and sit back and relax for a few minutes while I interview "Jodah."
Hi Jodah, in your own words, please tell us a little about yourself.
Well where to start.. how about the present? I am born and bred Australian, aged somewhere between 50 and 60 (it's a bit like the Hubber Score...keeps you guessing). I am happily married to Kathleen and have been for over 30 years. We have three sons and one daughter, and at recent count 14 grandchildren (one born this month). I should add that three of these are honorary..but that's a long story.
We live in a quiet rural area of the South Burnett region in South East Queensland, Australia on a forty acre property with four dogs, four cats, and a selection of poultry. (for more on that see my hubs "Life on the Block" and "In Search of Self-sufficiency")
Our move to this location is a long story, but basically we had to move south from Rockhampton (where I had first been employed in the railways and then in the Library of the University of Central Queensland) due to the ill health of my parents. My wife was already employed in the caring field and moved first. I stayed as our youngest son was in his final year of school there and didn't want to change. After he graduated I too moved south to be with my parents.
Unfortunately, it was less than a year before my father passed away and my mother a year later. My wife was working in Brisbane at the time and injured her back at work, resulting in a permanent back injury, then suffered another traumatic experience which resulted in depression and an anxiety disorder. I had to give up full time work and become her carer. We needed to find a quiet place to get away from it all. Hence, we came to live where we are now.. "on the block". We call our property "The Haven."
If you'd like to know a little about my childhood please read : "There's a New Kid in Town."
Questions from "Inside the Actor's Studio"
What is your favourite word?
My favourite word would have to be thanks, or thank you (but that's two). It just doesn't seem to be said enough these days. People expect things and take everything for granted rarely bothering to show gratitude. A heartfelt "Thanks!" can really make your efforts feel worthwhile and help brighten your day.
What is your least favourite word?
Pedantic. For some reason I just hate it. I can handle fussy, choosy, particular etc but pedantic gets my goat. My wife thinks it strange that I proudly wear a t-shirt with 'Procrastinator" emblazoned across it, yet can't stand the word pedantic. I guess I'm just a little weird.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually, and emotionally?
Hmm, that's an in-depth question. It requires a rather lengthy answer, sorry. I used to love to sketch and draw cartoons. In fact I was drawing as far back as I can remember. Good artists inspire me.
I always wanted to be able to sing and dance since watching musicals like "Annie Get Your Gun" and Elvis Presley movies from a young age. Unfortunately both those skills have eluded me. Perhaps I can dance slightly better than I sing..but then again..maybe it's the other way around.
Poetry has always inspired me from the first Dr Seuss book I had read to me. Now I find it a great vehicle for expressing my opinions and views on the world in far less words and a slightly gentler, but equally effective way as writing lengthy articles of cutting prose, protesting, or waving placards. Poetry is also less likely to come over like a sermon.
I am inspired by stories of people doing good deeds. Helping the poor, saving abused animals, risking their lives to save someone else's. These things turn me on. I know it sounds cliched but I want to stop all wars, abuse, and inequality.
What turns you off creatively, spiritually, and emotionally?
I hate most of the political correctness in society today. It has just been taken too far. For example in most western countries today we have to embrace multiculturalism (which is good) and embrace other culture's rights to practice their own religions and beliefs, but this has come at the expense of the freedom to openly embrace and demonstrate our own, chiefly, Christian beliefs. In many places it is now considered unacceptable to say "Merry Christmas" .. it's replaced with 'Happy Holidays." Evolution" is taught as fact in schools and "Creation" almost never discussed and dismissed as simply a fictional religious theory. That really irks me, and I hate how any open discussion of Christianity or the Bible leads to a heated argument (even here on Hub Page forums).
What sound or noise do you love?
The pitter patter, then symphony of rain on the roof after a long dry spell or drought. Anyone laughing spontaneously (not the canned laughter that pervades tv sit-coms and the like), and especially a baby's laughter. You know that is real.
What sound or noise do you hate?
The voice of unwelcome tele-marketers when you pick up the phone. Nothing else compares to that.
What is your favourite curse word?
I very rarely swear (I used to at one stage when I worked in an all male environment) but I usually say something like "FAR OUT!"
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
When I was at high school I wanted to be a commercial artist, now I would love to be called a published writer/poet. As a younger kid I wanted to grow up to be a secret agent like 007. Lots of kids say they want to be a firefighter, well I have already done that. I was also good at most sports so I would have liked to have been a professional sportsman, possibly a tennis player, though it's much too late now.
What profession would you not like to do?
I'd hate to be a politician (no one likes them), and I don't think I would make a very good teacher. Although I am generally laid back I tend to stress out under pressure and sometimes lose my patience. I don't like having to attempt something over and over. I like to get it right the first time.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"You did your best. It wasn't perfect, but thanks for giving it a go."
Challenging Questions (set by Availiasvision)
1. In the film version of your autobiography who would you choose to play yourself?
Well, Mel Gibson and I are the same age and both Australian, but I pass on that one. Though he is an accomplished actor I don't think our personalities are anything alike. Another Aussie (well Kiwi, but don't tell anyone) is Russell Crowe, once again a great character actor but not really a matching personality. If I could choose a slightly younger Robert Redford than I think I'd pick him to play my character. He seems humble and more similar to my personality, though I look nothing like him (I wish). I can really relate to his movies as well.
However giving this more thought, I really think Sam Neil (another New Zealander) but terrific actor, probably most well-known around the world for the Jurassic Park movies. I think he’d do me justice.
2. What quality or talent do you wish you could cultivate?
My writing and art. I would really like to write and illustrate my own childrens picture book, possibly with rhyming verse but not necessarily. I have written the text for two children's books so far, but for a different author who doesn't have English as his first language. He gave me the outline of the story he had in mind and hired me to write the text, one in rhyme, one in prose.
3. Who's your favourite fictional character ever?
Well that has changed over the years. As a child it would have been Zorro, Batman, or James Bond. Now, probably Jason Bourne from Robert Ludlum's ''Bourne Identity' and others in that series, John Smith from the 'Covert One' series by the same author, or Jack West Jr aka 'Scarecrow' from a series of books by Matthew Riley. All of these characters are very similar action hero types. I guess that is my secret unfulfilled desire.
What is your opinion of challenges like this?
4. If you could have the career of any author, who would it be?
Difficult one, there are so many I admire. Well, my favourite author is probably Robin Cook, but if we are choosing successful careers, then probably James Patterson. Alex Cross made him an almost household name (who hasn't heard of James Patterson?) Now he is so successful and churning out so many novels a year he has to hire co-writers to assist him. He has however recently turned his hand to writing a series of books for children in the hope of encouraging them to read, as well as donating money to libraries to promote childhood reading as well.
5. What inspires you?
I think I answered this earlier in Questions from "Inside the Actor's Studio" but I'll add to that. Anything that has the potential to make the world a better and fairer place. People who go out of their comfort zone to help others without asking for accolades and credit. Certain songs, book titles, a phrase I hear, or a place I visit .. may inspire me to write. Or these challenges.
6. When did you first realise you were a writer?
In about 5th Grade at school. We had just moved to a new town because of my dad's job, and I wrote an essay about that which included some of the local characters we had encountered since moving in. The teacher was so impressed she read it to the class and said it looked like she had discovered another promising English student.
Around the same time I wrote a poem about a haunted house called 'The House on the Hill," which I have since improved and added to and turned into a Halloween hub.
I wrote another free form poem while at school also that had me thinking I may be a writer. I had forgotten to do my homework, which was to write a poem. As the lesson started I quickly jotted down some random thoughts in poetry form. Nothing rhymed. Just my luck, the teacher chose me to stand and read mine to the class. I was packing it (Aussie slang..if you want me to interpret ask in comments). Unbelievably the teacher loved it and pinned it on the wall. My brother is eight years younger, and I visited him in that same classroom years later. That same poem was still pinned to the wall.
My Own Questions for Jodah
Who is the writer or writers who have inspired or influenced you the most?
Thank you for that question. Most definitely Leo Tolstoy. He is most famous for 'Anna Karenin' and 'War and Peace' but when I was working in the University library I came across a book of his short stories. They actually turned out to be parables. Honestly these stories changed my life and how I looked at my fellow man and the world around me. I never considered if they influenced my writing, but I'm sure they did subconsciously.
What person in the world (other than a writer) has inspired you?
Without doubt I would have to say the Dalai Lama. He is incredibly wise and humble, but has the craziest sense of humour. I feel that humour is important in every aspect of life, and not taking yourself too seriously.
You refer to yourself primarily as a poet. What other poets have inspired you?
Three off my favourites growing up were also Australians believe it or not, A.B.'Banjo' Paterson, Kenneth Slessor, and Dorothea MacKellar. I also liked Edgar Allen Poe (both his poetry and stories).
How long have you been writing on Hub Pages?
Well I recently received my "Five Year" accolade, so yeah five years. Though for the first three I wasn't really active or part of the community and only wrote three hubs. I think I've more than made up for it in the last two though. I think I'm up to around 160 hubs now. I love it here. I have joined a couple of online writing sites but this is the best I have found. The community here is wonderful. I was blown away when I was awarded the accolade of "best poet" for 2014 in the Hubbie Awards this year. There are so many great writers and poets here that I never expected to win.
Well, that's all the questions. Thank you for taking the time to let the readers know a little more about you.
To tell you the truth I was nervous about this interview. Thanks for going easy on me. I hope the readers didn't find it too boring.
© 2014 John Hansen