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well, hello again.

November 18, 2014

i haven’t been writing proper posts lately because i haven’t really been writing. so awful, i know. i’m hoping that by putting this out on the internet, i’ll chasten myself into whipping my ass into gear and writing more and more often.

(hello to the new readers. also, hello to those of you who have been creeping. that’s the plus about wordpress – i can see who is searching/clicking/what country you’re reading from! i can see you…)

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you know, if you’re a writer, and you take a break from writing – do you stop being a writer? is being a writer defined solely by the act of writing? of active writing? or of writing and then being able to take breaks? can you take a hiatus and be a writer? can you be a writer if you never get anything published? to all my writer readers and friends – when someone asks you your profession, do you say “writer” or do you say whatever else helps pay the bills? (me, i say “copy editor,” “sports copy editor” if i really want to impress. which is usually followed by “…. huh?”)

i really don’t like to talk much about rejections because so many writers mewl about their rejections and … well, i don’t need to add my voice to that. i remember in my masters poetry class, rhea tregebov, our instructor, did probably the most helpful thing anyone could have done during that program. she invited us all over to her house, and we all brought wine and dinner, and we sat around her living room coffee table and she told us how to submit to magazines and how to deal with rejection and how to nudge publishers into taking a better look at our work. it was great. and the thing she said that has stuck with me the most is this: “i could wallpaper my house many times over with the rejection letters i’ve received.” that made a big impact on me, because at that point i don’t think i had had anything published, and i certainly was too terrified to send things out. but to hear my instructor say that, to peel back the veneer on the writing industry, was powerful. so many of us go about our day-to-day lives pretending that we’re perfect. now multiply that for writers, many of whom like to pretend that they’re not anxious and that everything they pitch is accepted. (of course, for every person who likes to maintain their glossy facade, there are many of us who say ‘screw it, i’m telling it like it is.’) i’m well on my way to wallpapering my apartment with rejections, and when i can afford a house, i’ll wallpaper that, too!

there’s nothing wrong with rejections. some are easier to shrug off than others, and some are terse, perfunctory and, to be honest, rude, but some are great. i just got two rejections from agents whom i had sent my manuscript to. (yes, ontario arts council, i am making headway on that project you funded!). the second rejection letter had a readers’ report attached to it, and i thought “oh no, oh dear,” because it’s always tougher to read your negative reviews. so i put it off and put it off and put it off for about two and a half weeks, but today i finally settled down with a cup of tea. and it was highly positive. it was constructive and positive and much easier to read than i thought it would be.

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i tend to be really hard on myself, because a lot of my writing friends are older than me and i forget that. not that this is an excuse, but i was one of the youngest in my program, and totally frigging clueless, and also a shit writer at first (and maybe still occasionally? or often?) and now many of my colleagues are getting accolades and i think “oh, shit, should i be doing this too? hurry up anna hurry up!” (it’s funny – i don’t feel jealousy for my MFA ’11 classmates and their accomplishments, and that’s not bullshit. i think it’s because a] i’m getting less jealous as i get older {also seen in my dating life} and b] i love ’em all so much {most of em} and our writing is all so different and a vote of confidence in them is somehow also a vote of confidence for me… if that makes sense?)

but really, i don’t need to hurry up that much! god, sometimes i see writing and submitting as a chariot race, and the chariot card in the tarot deck is NOT my favourite – it’s victory, but victory at the cost of others. in order to win, you have to definitively beat others. and i’m not sure that’s the stage i’m at right now. anyway – of course i need to keep writing. and reading that readers’ report will help kick-start that, i think. (i had so much fun writing that mss, especially the portion at banff with all of the other wild artists and creatives.) but maybe i don’t need to be so damn hard on myself. i’m 27. i have a piece in the walrus. and an mfa. and two manuscripts (one of which is far better than the other) that i can go back and work on. and tons of friends who i’ve helped, in some way or the other, to make it to the next step in their writing careers. so all is well.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 18, 2014 1:27 pm

    well done anna

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