Tag Archives: creativity

A Village

Every once in awhile, I think I should, must, no other option available, quit writing. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, it’s that I think I can’t write well enough, basically that I suck. On my really dark days, I worry I’m like one of those contestants on a reality talent show who thinks they’re the next Adele only to be told they’re delusional and shouldn’t leave their day job

Recently, I had one of those days after having submitted my latest work-in-progress to my critique group. When word came down—go back, it’s not good enough—no hyperbole, I was DEVASTATED, CRUSHED, a snivelling, whimpering puddle of pathetic doggy dodo.

Never before have I worked so hard to come up with—what I believed I was hearing—such a shitty piece of writing. How could this be? How could I have gotten it so wrong? I’ve quit my day job to give myself the time and space to create literary masterpieces for GD sake.

Then something wonderful happened. My writer friends rallied around me—more than one carrying a sharp stick happily aimed at my ribcage. Some of the very people who were (politely) telling me they weren’t feeling a connection to my characters and didn’t care to turn the page, were the very people who sent me private emails, called me on the phone, offered to look at my re-writes before I re-submitted and took me out for tea. They helped me realize that when I thought I heard, it’ll NEVER be good enough, you loser, what was really being said was, it’s not good enough YET. Who were these wonderful folks? They were my tribe, my peeps. I’d reached out my hand and they’d pulled me away from the cliff. My tribe believed in me. Maybe I didn’t suck

People, all people, need connection in the same way as they need food and water. Connection is a necessity not a luxury. Every one of us, not just writer, but I think especially writers who by the nature of the beast spend a lot of time in their heads, need to know they aren’t alone. This week, I was reminded I’m part of a village.

So, to those of you who are at the early stages of your writing careers, I would suggest you join a writing group and work on building your own tribe. Step away from your computer and introduce yourself to your village. Because if you’re serious about becoming a writer, you’ll absolutely have a dark-night-of-soul somewhere along your journey, and you’re going to need that village. It’s going to take courage and a spirit of adventure, but I promise you will get back tenfold what you give to your tribe and your village.

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Ants, Chopin, Newborns and Windows

I had ants in my office this week. I’m happy to report they’ve finally, FINALLY, vacated the premises, but not before their sheer creepiness drove me from my desk for two days. As I setup a makeshift office on our dining room table, I decided to look at my new surroundings as the change I could make instead of the rest I would have liked to take—yup, I’m still polishing those 75 pages for my final project at U of T. So instead of closing the door to my closet-sized office, and disappearing the world outside, I was forced to work among the masses—it’s not a stretch when I call the other six people, one dog and four cats that I live with, the masses. Have you ever tried to write the great Canadian novel while a darling, two-year-old created her unique interpretation of Chopin a mere five feet away from your work station? Trust me as adorable as it—as she—can be, not much work happens during the ensuing thirty minute performance. But plow through I did. To my great surprise, I did manage to rework a tricky section in my latest chapter and was able to send off twelve crisp pages of prose to my bi-weekly writing circle. Not bad.

As it happened during my week of the ant invasion, I also paid a visit to a dear friend and Doctor of Natural Medicine, who over yet another cup of Vanilla Roobios tea, heard all about my continuing struggles to produce writing that guarantees to soar to the top of any bestseller’s list. Three minutes into my rant, she suggested she could ‘fix me’, claiming she had a suspicion of exactly what was at the root of my woes. Feeling I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I agreed and scheduled an appointment. Basically, her intention was to tap into my subconscious and help me identify my true attitudes particularly around writing and to help me change any self-limiting beliefs that may be holding me back. As with many alternative methods, this latest treatment at first seemed odd, but after an hour with her, I believe I made some inroads toward understanding and dare I hope, overcoming my fears. (Sorry, as much as I’d love to, I’ll keep the specifics of what we came up with to myself.)

On the morning of day two out of my office (one day after seeing the good doctor), I had what I can only describe as a surreal, out-of-body like experience. As I glanced around the dining room table, I saw pages and pages of my work spread about. On those pages were words, lots of words, and those words were strewn together into sentences, and the sentences were arranged into paragraphs. They were my words. They were words that had never existed in precisely that configuration before. I had created something that hadn’t existed before. Whether those words, in exactly those sentences and those paragraphs, are ever published didn’t matter in that moment, because those little darlings were mine and the gratitude I felt overwhelmed me. They had given me the greatest gift I’ve received in a very long while. Those pages, with all those words on them, gave me hope and filled me with immense pride. They represented a window into my future. Just as when I peered into the wrinkled faces of my newborn babies, I saw the path I will walk for the remainder of my days. I can never stop being a mom now that my babies are here, and I can never stop being a writer now that I’ve sat at a computer and pounded out so many newborn pages filled with newborn words.

This weekend I moved back into my office and it seems, just as my ant problem has disappeared, I feel I’ve banished some old and useless feelings that have weighed me down for too long. The words are definitely flowing more easily and I’m able to ‘stick to it’ longer.

So, thank you ants for forcing me back with the masses, for showing me the benefit of toddler style Chopin and for words scattered over a teak table.

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