An Interview with Martha Johnson

\"MarthaJohnson\"This interview was conducted by Joanna Brown, panel moderator for Paths to Publishing at this year’s WriteAngles conference.

Why did you become a writer?  

I started writing at 59 in response to huge changes in my life, among them a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Poetry flowed out, surprising me totally as I had never read nor studied much poetry. It was therapeutic and organic for me. Since I had never previously seen myself as a writer, it was ten years and two books before I really accepted that, perhaps, I actually was one. Now I write regularly, mostly to figure life out, and it feels great!

What helped you see yourself as a writer?

For several years, I participated in a Amherst Writers and Artists writing group, and learned from the other participants that my writing mattered. The facilitator respected my voice, encouraged me, and ultimately served as my editor. Beyond that, those who read my published books, found them both moving and useful. Several local published poets confirmed that my musings qualified as “poetry.” When the then poet laureate of Northampton agreed, I finally relinquished my reluctance to identifying myself as a writer.

What characterizes your writing?

I call myself a life journey guide, and notice that over my life much of what I have enjoyed is making sense of my own journey in public, inviting others to make sense of theirs, and teaching and coaching.

What are you working on now?

Two projects are calling for my attention. Different approaches to the same theme. 1) I’ve been blogging about my transition into elder hood for four years. Those posts may need to see the light of day as a Volume III of MUSING ALONG THE WAY. 2) Sitting in the middle of my third and perhaps final chapter of life has been a powerful experience. I want to encourage folks to find ways to talk about this gift of longevity in service to living fully all the way to the end.

How do you support your writing life?

Writing at the moment of inspiration supports and furthers my thinking, as does the designing and facilitating of programs, at HCC and Genesis Retreat Center, on conscious aging. I also lead an informal open discussion at the Holyoke Council on Aging on Third Chapter Conversations: Living Fully, Aging Gracefully and Dying Peacefully. I gather insights from all these conversations.

How can we find you online?

My umbrella site links to the sites that house the activities of my late-in-life mission to promote third chapter conversation and preparation. Or, for a quick look at the books, go here. I’m a solo-ager. So when I’m gone, my books let you know I was here.

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