For local poet E. Lloyd Kelly, the writing process takes place whenever inspiration strikes. Kelly, who operates the inter-campus shuttle between the downtown and Macdonald campuses, is also an author and poet who has published five works of literature under his name.
Kelly’s works, four books and a poetry anthology, are uniquely connected to Montreal. Lloyd was first inspired to write poetry during a hectic drive down Sherbrooke Street, which inspired, “Welcome to Montreal,” a poem that describes the chaos and confusion that can arise on streets and highways throughout the city.
“I was coming down [Sherbrooke], just about to cross over the light, but then a group of protesters suddenly blocked the street and sent us back [to take another route],” Kelly said. “Instead of getting mad at this moment, I used this to inspire me to write a poem.”
Kelly’s journey as a writer has been unconventional. He initially aspired to be a singer and wrote several original songs; however, he noticed that many of his lyrics could be published as poems, which motivated him to write for an audience. In 2016, Kelly self-published his first book. The publication of this work allowed him to jumpstart his writing career, but the financial cost of publishing proved a significant setback.
“I ended up spending quite a pretty penny,” Kelly said. “Looking back, I should not have spent so much. The company was dishonest [and] they made a pitch as if it was very easy publishing. However, at every step, the cost increased.”
Kelly’s early publications were dark tragedies that explored themes of death and despair. But, after receiving feedback, he added more optimism to his work. In his poem collection, “Waters of Silver Springs,” Kelly explores more lighthearted themes such as love, family, and nature. This balance between dark and light subject matter has allowed him to connect to a wider audience.
Although his day-job can be taxing, Kelly manages to set aside time for writing. He does not consider driving to be an obstacle, but, instead, views it as something which complements his writing.
“Every writer needs a muse,” Kelly said. “I think my muse is driving. I always have my notebook and keep it next to me. Sometimes, when I am going down the highway and something comes to my mind, as soon as I get a break or slowing traffic, I jot down those thoughts. This way, that little spark becomes a flame. [The notes don’t] necessarily take any particular form. I just write. When I sit down later, I start editing. It is then [that the notes start] mushrooming into something.”
Though he divides his time on-the-job between the bustling downtown area and the more peaceful Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Kelly prefers Macdonald campus’ bucolic environment, which he finds more conducive to writing.
“I usually get a 30-minute break between each ride. I use the break at Macdonald campus to work on my writing,” Kelly said. “Macdonald is a lot quieter. I have a place where I park the bus, and no one bothers me. It is where I do most of the writing. I get inspiration on the streets and in the city, but I do the writing at Macdonald.”
One piece of advice Kelly gave to aspiring writers in the McGill community is to start writing without thinking too far ahead.
“Just write,” Kelly said. “[You don’t] have to see the end result from the beginning. Sometimes, you have an inspiration, sometimes, you will have to inspire yourself [….] What I do to reignite the muse is to go back to what I already have there and start reading what I have already written.”