Compass Season mixes powerful images and experiences in a rugged landscape with insightful glimpses into problems we all face. My work as a marriage counsellor and canoe guide weave the grandeur of nature and the beauty of the human spirit into a memorable read.
Are you looking for a read that showcases the interaction between nature and the human spirit? Then, sit down as I take a few minutes to catch up with John Bragstad, author of the impactful ‘Compass Season: Find Your Bearings Through Nature’s Inspiration’. John, there’s so much to be said about this book, but I think the best way to introduce it to readers is to start at the very beginning. What originally inspired you to explore the thoughts that became this book?
By a set of essays, I wrote to capture my experience of nature. “I wrote this book for entirely selfish reasons. I wanted to recapture, back in my city life, what I had experienced in the wilds. I wrote to preserve these memories, much like the person who takes a photograph.
As I attempted to describe my experiences, other thoughts intruded. I began to learn more about life, my life. I realized nature was not merely this inert place I was traveling through. Instead, it was my teacher, and it provided me with all sorts of new perspectives on routine and unimaginative thinking.” (from Foreward / Compass Season)
So, it’s fair to say that this book really is largely built upon your personal experiences in nature?
Absolutely but more than this: my experiences were just the catalyst or bedding ground for current ideas about a subject.
Tell us a little more about this subject of nature. After setting up yourself with a little of that catalyst, you could have found yourself exploring one of a thousand different directions. How did you arrange your thoughts for both yourself and the readers?
Chapters are arranged by seasons: West: Autumn Shadow, North: Winter Cold, East: Spring’s Arrival, South: Summer Warmth. Once these were set, essays and blog articles filled in.
That’s a great way to set out your ideas for such a huge topic. So, when you were in the midst of each of these essays or blog articles, what did you try to keep at the top of your mind as you wrote?
The subject of what I am writing about. I hold it in my mind, whether it is the fog we have been experiencing down on the lake this summer, merrigolds (Merry Golds) along the side of the road, the “rousing wake-up chorus, notes interspersed throughout the dawn” of birds in my yard (Morning Birdsong) or the uncommon sound of loons (Warbling up great canyons, drifting over silent spaces of time, when the moon fills, when the night is soft, loon laughter transforms, wildness into song.”) from Loon Laughter.
And over all of these subjects, we can see them tied together by the North. Why did you choose the North as a theme?
I love its rugged qualities, how it puts me in proper perspective, how “the banshee snowflakes in my headlights, moving east on Highway 61, care little for a reason I went to town. It is humbling for me to know I cannot outrun them.” (Compass Season)
Perspective is something that very clearly runs throughout this book. Upon reflection, what was the most important thing that you needed to share from the perspectives that you reached?
From the Foreward to Compass Season: perhaps just as true now.
“As a counselor, I would occasionally read some of these passages to those who would visit my office if I thought they would apply. They would often have quite busy and overly-complicated minds. They might shift that person’s thinking. These articles were the stuff that would take them from current problems to places where, for at least moments, the wild birds would sing. It was my deeper satisfaction when people would take what I had written to extend it to something in their own lives and then, they would make it their own.
Perhaps that is what will happen to you. Whether you enjoy nature or not, these are metaphors you might find helpful in your journey. They might point you to truths you intuitively know.
As moonlight opens up the world again to the wilderness traveler, so might these extend what you can see and cast a singular beauty all their own.”
Such poetry! With literary finesse like that, it’s clear that your writing and author voice have become strong. Do you personally feel that your voice has progressed as you’ve kept creating new poetry?
I wait and am grateful each time something appears. I don’t expect to hold onto it too tightly.
I love that you’re so grateful! Do you find that this gratitude is also accompanied by an energizing writing mood, or does it get a tad overwhelming and perhaps exhausting?
Oh, it energizes me as I watch for originality and lessons my writing might teach me. I am amazed these occasionally might come to me.
What was the greatest area of learning for you when you were writing this book?
The hardware part: formatting, submitting to Amazon, Kindle promotions, book creation, the importance of reviews.
All of those technical book components can be tricky to pick up, especially when you’re just fresh out of writing mode! As you’ve brought ‘Compass Season’ to the readers, have you decided to return to writing mode with a follow-up work?
Yes, a book of Northern poetry. Excerpt from Soft Moon / June’s Persuasion:
of the night,
casting its light
into an ever
It sails across
colors of starlight.
It watches and waits.
We must be willing to say,
we cannot tend her,
this frail moon.
With this new poetry book in the works, and an obvious desire to share it with those who could benefit from its wisdom, have you started to consider how to tie your work together through an author brand?
My work is diverse. I also plan on writing books on retirement (more than leaving work, retirement income, e.g. planned trip around the world) what happens to the relationship, our sense of self, etc. Also, another book to explore why we lose 20 pounds, why we are at the pinnacle of success, and then we proceed to gain back 25? There are understandable reasons for this.
Wow, that’s quite a list! I can’t in good conscience keep you here chatting with me when you have so many new projects to work on, so let’s get readers moving to Amazon to explore, by sharing your favourite line with us from ‘Compass Season’.
It is interesting to me, that even on days when trees are bereft of their leaves, undiscovered lakes can be seen where once they were hidden.
Oh, that is indeed an interesting thought. And for our curious readers out there, this thought and many more are waiting for you in the pages of ‘Compass Season’, so go ahead and pick up a copy today!
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Compass Season: Find Your Bearings Through Nature’s Inspiration ( ASIN: B07DQSDQYS )‘.
Want to find out more about John Bragstad? Connect here!