Staying the Course

My intention for this blog has been to take readers along with me as I work my way toward publication. It wouldn’t be fair of me to only present one side of my journey. If I pour it on too thick and only trumpet my successes, I run the risk of readers wanting to reach through their computer screens to grab hold of my neck and choke the very, show-off life out of me. On the other hand, there is nothing more depressing, or off putting than to read a poor-me post. So, in fairness to you dear reader, I’ll admit, today I’m feeling a bit disjointed.

Last week, Oprah brought her Life Class to Toronto and I’m thrilled to say, I was there. The experience of being in the same building as the woman I’ve admired for most of my adult life and hearing from the four inspirational speakers she brought with her was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I lay full credit at Oprah’s feet for helping me identify my life’s purpose and for giving me permission to go after it. At a time when I was still knee-deep in childrearing, Oprah’s book club reminded me that once upon a time I loved to read. Before finishing her first book of the month selection, I remembered in addition to reading, I loved to write.

The first show was about gratitude and the second (which I attended) was about forgiveness. I’m so grateful that I’ve found my life’s purpose and that I was able to share my Oprah encounter with my sister. By the time the show began, I’d already forgiven the nutcase who thought asking 9,000 people (mostly women) to make their way downtown and line up for general admission seating was anything but a really, really bad idea. Lining up and dealing with the nonsense of said 9,000 people, who were held for hours like cattle, was nothing short of insane, but all is forgiven.

So why the yuk feeling?

Two days before my big Oprah experience, I was riding a writer’s high. At our WCDR (Writing Community of Durham Region) breakfast meeting, I received a Len Cullen Scholarship and saw my first poem published in the Word Weaver.

Two days after Oprah, I felt the air had been sucked from my chest, when I received the long awaited critique from my U of T instructor, who wasn’t completely blown away by my brilliant (my adjective, not his) 75 page submission. Although he was very kind, and very likely correct, hearing a great part of my work requires a significant overhaul, was a bitter pill to swallow.

While reading his comments, the horrible little devil on my shoulder set into his predictable rant. See, told you not to get too big for your britches. Followed of course, by imagines of my well meaning mother reminding me I should have listened to her and kept my head low and set my sights even lower.

But wait.

Having my Oprah experience sandwiched between two successes and one, maybe not full on failure, but certainly huge disappointment, could not possibly be an accident. Could it? Nope. I know there’s a lesson in here and I suspect the lesson is – DON’T GIVE UP. There will be ups and there will be downs along my journey. I believe everything that matters to you will be tested. Holding your dream and your vision steady will not always be easy, but will nevertheless serve you well. The good and the bad are all part of the whole picture.

So I’ve taken the weekend to process last week. Then I reached out to my trusted tribe. They know my novel well and have alternately held my hand and kick my butt as need be. Not being people who will sugar coat anything, they agreed with some of what my instructor said, disagreed with some and added their own take of what is working and what isn’t working. Now it’s up to me. This is my novel and my dream and I have no intention of letting go of either.

One mile at a time!


Filed under Writer's blog, Writer's journey, writing,

13 responses to “Staying the Course

  1. Have you concluded yet exactly how you’re going to publish?

    • Still focusing on finishing my novel, but assume I’ll try the tradional route first. Fingers crossed the stars will line up and that part will be a walk in the park – no harm in draming.

  2. Hope this week is better. I’ve been in that place a few times. It never really gets easier, but knowing what to do about it does. Keep on trucking!

  3. So reminds me of a post I wrote not a week ago:

    How easily we are taken down by criticism and how easily we can forget all the amazing positives!!

  4. I am so glad you aren’t quitting. Your novel is great. Your teacher is only helping you to make it even better. It will be a bestseller.

  5. The reason brick walls are placed in front of us are to see how bad we want it! Victory will be so sweet, Love you

    • Thanks, sis for standing in the cattle paddock with me through all those hours down at the Convention Centre, and for listening to me rattle on for the past X decades. Yeah – gag, gag. Sorry, couldn’t let a perfectly sappy moment go by.

  6. Keep plugging away, Sharon. Critiques are like apples, you can’t use the whole thing, take what you need and leave the rest.
    Part of what I feel makes a good writer is the ability to see that there is always room to improve, just like you have. Reach for the sparkle and then reach higher.

  7. Heidi Croot

    Great comments, all. Especially like Dale’s apple. Sharon, you’ve got courage spilling out all over and a novel brimming with potential. The critiques are pushing you to mine for more gold in a place that’s loaded with it. You inspire us all.

    • Thanks, Heidi. Last night someone told me he thought the structure of my novel was ‘a mess’. Rather than getting upset and taking it personally, I was able to chuckle and knew he was talking out of his butt. Although I recognize I still have work to do, I felt brave enough to stand behind my writing and acknowledge I’m exactly where I want to be – in the middle of creating something of value. With the support I get from my tribe (you being one of my favourite tribe members), I know I can see this project to the end.

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