Hotel Duty Manager, Writer and Friend ~ Victoria, BC
For this profile Wise Women Network Christine Goyer-Swift is interviewing our own Profile Writer, Marion Ann Berry.
Marion Ann is a local writer whose passion for writing began at an early age. She was born and raised in Nova Scotia, where her craving for a creative lifestyle began. She received her BA in English Literature from Saint Mary's University and then headed west. Living in the mountains of Alberta for over ten years in the hospitality field gave her many and varied experiences to write about. With her great love of nature, it is natural that she ended up on Vancouver Island. Marion Ann moved to Tofino, BC and became a member of the Clayoquot Writers Group. With the CWG, her quest for a creative expression through her writing was realized. Marion Ann is currently working on a memoir about her grandparents and her life as a child growing up in Nova Scotia. She currently lives in Victoria, BC, working in a hotel as a duty manager, and is the Profile Writer for Wise Women Network.
CG: You are passionate about writing. What is your process and why do you write?
Marion Ann: I don't really have a process; sometimes I go through phases of getting up, working out (I love to run long distances) then writing for an hour or two, but then sometimes I am really creative in the late afternoon and just head to a coffee shop, sit down open my laptop, and go.
I write because that is what I am passionate about, what calls to my true self. I write to share, to learn, to be. I can't remember a time that I haven't been writing at some point in my life. I have a picture of myself at the age of two sitting down at a table with a pen and a piece of paper, my mother said that I always had a pen in my hand and I liked to tell stories. My first memory of knowing I wanted to write was when I was around six or seven. My mother took me to see the movie Annie with Carol Burnett and that night I wrote a story about Annie, what adventures she would have. It was like my imagination was unlocked and I was always telling stories to my friends. I'd create plays with my friends when we would play with our Barbie dolls. I loved hearing stories and telling them. I have so many ideas racing through my mind and I love to write them down and see where they lead me. Now, I write a little bit of everything, poetry, short stories, plays (or what looks like a play) and at the moment I am working on a memoir about my maternal grandparents and growing up in Nova Scotia.
CG: There's something going on between you and Woody Allen! Will you tell our readers?
Marion Ann: (Laughing) I get that all the time! When I was younger I didn't have a lot of friends, and being an only child I had (and still have) an over-active imagination. I couldn't really relate to many people, thinking of stories, always telling a story, reading a lot. I think I was fourteen or fifteen when I rented Annie Hall, and at the very beginning there was a reference to being an only child and Woody Allen's writing explained exactly how I felt, having an over active imagination and writing. Then there was a joke, I laughed and that's when I fell in love with Woody Allen's writing. After that I rented every one of his movies I could, and I own probably half of his movies now. Just last week I watched Hannah and her Sisters for probably the tenth time and laughed at the same jokes and laughed at the ones I never got before. When I watch a Woody Allen movie, I get in this state of just wanting to create, to express just so openly. I would have to say that Woody Allen is one of my first many inspirations on wanting to write, to live a creative life and tell a story that makes you think, laugh, cry,
CG: Is there something you've gained or learned from interviewing women for Wise Women Network?
Marion Ann: Yes, definitely. I'm honored to talk to all these amazing women over the past year. I've gained this real sense of connection. I have always felt connected to the earth and other women, but when you get to connect with different women over the year, asking them similar questions and there are similar answers, I've learned we are all the same; we as women speak the same language in regards to how important it is to use our voices, to save the earth, how important family is, the real sense of family, teaching the children how to respect one another, their elders, others. I can definitely say that I am truly blessed for this amazing opportunity to be part of the Wise Women Network. To connect with amazing women that are willing share their stories, their hopes, fears, their truth, it's pretty powerful.
CG: What do you think women have to offer the world?
Marion Ann: Women are so strong. Yes, we haven't had our voices heard until recently and we still have challenges to be heard. We are compassionate, very giving and trusting. We feel so much and give so much and don't ask for a lot in return. Women are sensitive to what is happening in their environment, the planet. Women offer compassion, we offer love of the planet and want to help the planet, we offer love of our children (I don't have children, but I am aware of this great sense of love of children through my friends and family who do have children). Women are life giving sources and this is very powerful if you think about it, and we have an opportunity to teach our children about the balance of the universe, and work on the survival of the earth.
CG: Have you had a challenge in life and still were able to live with passion and purpose?
Marion Ann: I've had a few challenges in this life time, but I know that they have been more of an opportunity than a "challenge". Each opportunity has brought me closer to where I am today, and I like to think of these situations as learning experiences. I believe in stepping stones: you are presented with a situation and you have to make a choice, learn something and grow. Yet if you don't learn that lesson to be learned from that situation, it may show up again and again until you make the right choice that you didn't see before. That's one way to look at a "challenge", and the other thing I like to think of is that the universe has provided you with certain situations to prepare you for what may seem like a typical challenge, but really the situation is easier for you to deal with than if you didn't have the experiences to back you up. Each situation that presented itself has had a message ‘keep living your dream Marion Ann, keep writing, don't ever stop writing'. I've had a few situations where I would stop writing for months, even years and I would witness myself become sad and my job, relationships would fall as well. Then when I started to write, be creative again, everything seemed to fall into place. It's pretty cool to be aware of this.
CG: What inspires you?
Marion Ann: Almost everything inspires me. Movies inspire me to write more, I just saw Woody Allen's latest movie Midnight in Paris and I was so inspired to get home and write! Spiritual gurus, speakers, healers, my friends, my family, my love. Talking to my friends that I haven't spoken to in over a decade and we start talking like no time has passed by, really inspires me; makes me cry for joy, joy of friendship, joy of connection. The truth really inspires me, it may be scary at times, but it really inspires me because I am telling the truth about what I want to be doing. Writing inspires me, it shakes me to the core sometimes and to get that down on the page is an amazing feeling! Right now reading other writers' memoirs inspires me. At times it might feel like I can't go any further with digging deep, remembering certain areas of my life to complete the memoir, but after reading Mary Karr, Caroline Knapp, and Julia Cameron's memoirs, there is no holding back. I'm inspired about people who are dedicated to healing our earth. I am inspired to recycle, and to meditate to help with healing the earth as well.
CG: What would you like to share with women today?
Marion Ann: Don't give up! Don't lose sight of your dreams, your passions. If you want to write, write. If you want to paint, paint. If you are passionate about your family, that is what you do. Use the voice you have been given to express yourself and take back the power you‘ve always had and be who you want to be, because you can be! Because you can do anything!