Peter Thompson sells Megaphone in downtown Vancouver at Robson and Howe six days a week. His piece "Past 'n Present" (click here to read) is featured in Megaphone's 2012 Voices of the Street literary anthology. Just prior to his reading at the issue launch at the Waldorf last month, Peter shared some thoughts with us about his storytelling process:
On finding a voice through writing
I’ve been struggling along, going to writing classes. I don’t feel like a real ‘writer’ right now, but I’m catching up and doing some stuff so I can help out and contribute to the Megaphone project.
I really want to produce things that the audience wants to read, and my purpose with "Past 'n Present" is to help people get to know that all the people from the Downtown Eastside didn’t get there by choice.
A lot of them, like myself, worked for a living before, and some of us just had bad breaks. Other people have different ways of dealing with their issues. Some turned to drugs, in my case I turned to alcohol, and once I hit rock bottom there was nowhere else to go.
On moving forward from hard times
You’ve gotta pick yourself up somewhere along the way. This is the story that I brought out for [the launch] but other times I’ll be talking to my customers, and they’ll stop and we’ll talk about a lot of different issues.
Sometimes this story comes up, and I can tell them, you know, I’ve been down and out too, but this has helped me bring my life back to standards where I can respect myself. And they know I’m still struggling a bit, but they like to help out once they find out what I’m about.
On the benefits of developing relationships with his customers
I want to bring about a lot of positivity not just for myself but to the people that I talk to on a day-to-day basis. A lot of them don’t know me yet, but a lot of them who do stop and talk to me come back and I get more and more sales.
It helps because I can talk to them about not only my story, but other people who are writing stories too, and where they are coming from.
I want to be able to bring people into the magazine, so people say, “Hey, I like what this guy’s putting out,” and they keep coming back.