Earl Large never saw himself as creative artistically.
Even when he was disrupting the business world in the 1960s and ’70s, convincing organizations big and small of the value of incorporating the power of computers, he was more about getting the work done and inspiring others to do so than taking time to hone his creative writing skills.
Despite the focus on business success, of which the 85-year-old Victoria entrepreneur has enjoyed a considerable amount through the decades, something was going on in Large’s private moments, day by day, month by month, year by year.
He was writing poetry.
The product of that creative work, which drew on his life experiences, his observations and philosophies on life, emerged this fall in Living Large, a colourful coffee table book filled with broad inspirational messages.
The two-year book project not only features Large’s poetry on a wide range of subjects, but each entry also includes an interpretation of the poem, a life lesson if you will.
“The thing with the book that made it unique was the little story underneath,” he said. “What I was doing was I was really writing to my great-grandchildren, saying how do you deal with resentments, how do you deal with anxiety, how do you get courage and (deal with) fear?”
Large began journaling many years ago, recording his thoughts and ideas, writing out his goals and taking stock of his emotional, physical, spiritual and financial health along the way. He wrote them by hand in ledger-sized books – not surprising as he’s a chartered accountant by trade.
He eventually began a new routine: including a monthly poem in his journal.
“I found that I had to take my mind off other things to concentrate on my little poem, so I kept working and I did one on the first day of the month for over 30 years,” Large recalled in a recent interview in his Fairfield office.
A couple of years back he was thinking again about his poems and decided to send a random year’s worth to two PhD poets he found on social media. Both encouraged him to put them in a book, he said.
“This was pretty personal stuff,” he recalled of his writings, which to that point he hadn’t shown anyone else. “I was really frightened at one point, I didn’t want to do it.” Then he said to himself, ‘Earl, you talk about conquering fear, so just do it.’
The initial idea was a small paperback, but he soon expanded his thinking. It went from a larger format paperback to a hardcover book.
The positive-thinking Large solicited original pieces from artists around the world to illustrate the book, and likewise, received dozens of written commendations. The book has not one, but five forewards, all of which give the reader the sense this is not your typical first book.
“It’s actually been a great journey,” he said of bringing the book to fruition.
“It’s not a self-help book, it’s not an art book and it’s not a poetry book … It’s a book of experience, of learning to live in one world. We all have things in life that are very difficult to overcome, there’s addiction, there’s heartbreak, there’s separations, there’s a gambit of emotions.”
He’s already heard from numerous readers who’ve told him his words have resonated for them or brought back fond memories.
“What really made me want to do it was I thought this could be helpful for my own family. So, expand that into a bigger family and the same principle applies.”
Living Large is available on Amazon, but the author invites locals to stop by his office at 607 Vancouver St. where they can pick up a signed copy and perhaps chat with Large.