Gary Doi served as Superintendent of Schools for eighteen years in three school districts in British Columbia. Previous to that, he was a teacher, consultant, school administrator and university lecturer. Since retiring, Gary has pursued his interests in writing, photography and volunteer work. In 2010, he created an online network of writers and photographers from around the world. From that collaboration he created a magazine blog and published an anthology of short stories called Inspiring Hope with proceeds dedicated to a school library in Guatemala. His second book for charity, Fly Like an Eagle, (released in November, 2014) will benefit SORCO, a raptor conservation organization for injured birds of prey. Books are available for sale from Amazon.com/ca/uk.
Carrie: Can you tell us a bit about the new book you have coming out entitled Fly Like An Eagle?
Fly Like an Eagle includes a collection of real-life stories by 26 writers from different parts of the world. They are the kind of stories that lift your spirits and brighten a cloudy day.
For example, a sixty year old grandmother who struggles with weight issues describes her first-time experience competing in a grueling athletic competition, the triathlon. A young teacher in Muscat, Oman who underwent successful surgery to remove a mass on the brain reflects on how that changed her perspective on life. A high tech manager in San Francisco asks and answers the question: What makes this city so great? A retired country doctor shares a remarkable story of how, as a fourteen year old, he underwent a blood transfusion to save his mother’s life. A librarian on a study trip to Central America describes how greater access to books is helping vulnerable children in Guatemala. A Nova Scotia mother writes a “Dear Jon” letter—a heartbreaking tribute to her son who died while on tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Carrie: What motivated your desire to create this book?
This is the second book in the Inspiring Hope series—books designed to spread hope. Something we, no doubt, could all use more of. As a former school superintendent, administrator and teacher, my educational focus was to spread hope to young people. Now that I’m retired, I’m still trying to do that—except, this time, for grown-ups.
Carrie: What has been something that has surprised you about this project?
Even though I shouldn’t be, I am still surprised how the creative process works. What starts out as a vague idea, does over time, take shape and form into something quite special and interesting. It is just a matter of “trusting the process”.
Carrie: Collaboration has been an integral part of your creative experience. Can you speak to the nature of your collaborations and how you feel they impact your creativity?
To me, collaboration is everything. It is how I operate and how I get things done. Sometimes, it is a groupthink (a form of consensus). Other times, it may be more strategic, relying on the talents, skills or connections of particular individuals at particular times. It really depends on what the needs are and what the project warrants. The Inspiring Hope book series is based on a global network of like-minded writers and photographers interested in spreading hope. It is from that broad talent base that I am able to create these books.
Carrie: What do you hope people take away from the work that you do?
My work career has always been dedicated to ‘making a difference’. I still like to think that I’m doing that in some small way. Here’s what CBC journalist Belle Puri said about the latest book Fly Like an Eagle: “The stories are nuggets of wisdom that encourage thoughts and ideas. By sharing their experiences the writers teach us, a single thought or idea can change the direction of your life.”
Carrie: You seem to always have a project in mind or in progress. From where do your ideas come?
I’m the type of person who likes to look forward and dream of ways to create, enhance or contribute. I am project-oriented. Probably to a fault. It’s something I’ve done since I first started teaching all those years ago. I’m just fortunate that I can draw on so many other people (young and old) who are much more talented than I am.
Carrie: Speaking of projects, what other projects do you have in the works?
Well, I am planning the third book in the Inspiring Hope series and am beginning to sign up writers for that. I also joined the Board of the Okanagan Raptor Centre and am devoting a fair amount of time helping to redesign their website and assist with their marketing program.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Many things inspire me. As an amateur photographer I find inspiration in the photos I take, whether that be hiking in the mountains or travelling to new places. I am definitely more motivated when my learning curve is stretched. Thankfully, with photography and writing (my two current creative pursuits) I still have much to learn.
Carrie: What is one piece of advice you have for struggling creatives?
I know it is a cliche to say “follow your passion” but it does make conceptual and practical sense. If you are truly passionate about and love your “work”, you will dedicate extraordinary amounts of time and effort to create something special. In other words, you will excell. Maybe that’s why it’s called–a work of art. You have to work at it!
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
It has to be my computer. It’s what I use to write, plan, design, process images and collaborate with others online.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
To me creativity is closely linked to imagination. It is the ability to think of and create something new or different. Often times, it is called “thinking outside the box”. Today, more than ever, imagination-creativity is fundamental to anyone who strives to be successful. Of course, I am not just talking about artists. Everyone–whether they are in business, politics, science, healthcare, education, volunteer work–needs to be creative, to be the kind of person who can imagine solutions to the complex problems of our day. Our very future depends on it.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: If you want some inspiration consider purchasing Fly Like An Eagle on Amazon. Purchases will benefit SORCO, a raptor conservation organization for injured birds of prey.
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