Friday, January 27, 2017

Rejection and looking on the bright side. Also, pie.

See this? It's a rejection:



A rejection, in the writing life, is a thing that happens when you put yourself out there, take a chance, ask for something. Like I did: I asked a number of publishers to recommend my YA fantasy project (which has been in progress for about - gulp! - ten years now) for an Ontario Arts Council Writers' Reserve Grant

As you can see, I didn't get a recommendation from this publisher, so no grant. But...

Writers' Reserve is an excellent granting program, because it's relatively easy to prepare the application, and it's available to writers who might not be widely (or even) published. And, as the amazing Marsha Skrypuch pointed out at an eye-opening workshop during CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination conference years ago, so what about the money? No, Writers' Reserve is all about getting a writing sample from your project seen by the various publishers who take part in the granting process. 

Like the publisher in the photo, above, who didn't recommend me for a grant, but who took the time to add a personal, encouraging note.

Think about it: an encouraging note from a publisher who accepts submissions of YA fantasy.

So instead of beating myself up over yet another rejection, I'm looking forward to connecting with this publisher again in the future - a publisher who took the time to encourage me.

However, rejection is still rejection, so I'm also doing this:

Hot chocolate and lemon pie. Yup. That should do it.

Visit the Ontario Arts Council's site to find out more about the Writers' Reserve granting program, here: Writers' Reserve


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Walking and talking - to the voices in my head

Here comes a confession (although I expect most writers out there will consider it less a confession and more a collegial acknowledgement).

I hear voices in my head. And often, I talk to them.

When I'm a passenger in a car, when I'm puttering in the kitchen, when I'm taking out the garbage, when I'm picking up after my dog in the yard and, especially, when I'm walking. I walk a lot.
Walking in the woods. Yup. Voices!

So while I'm stepping out along the local country roads, or up and down the beach at The Point where we spend our summers, or around the streets of my neighbourhood, the voices of characters who will find their way onto the page of my next story accompany me.

Sometimes I have complete conversations with real people - you know that thing where you revisit something that happened days ago when the words just wouldn't come? And finally you've had time to think and process it all? And now you have the words, ready and effective? Yup. That thing. I do it all the time when I'm walking, long after the opportunity to express myself has come and gone.

It's still satisfying.

But the best voices I hear are the voices of characters who speak up out of....nowhere. Magic? I don't know, but it's part of my creative process and, even more importantly, part of how I deal with the messiness of life. I walk, I talk through whatever is on my mind, and I find new voices - characters who live in the story I'm writing right now or the one that I didn't even know was coming next. Sometimes, if a story is plodding along or hits a fence, the conversations I have on my walk - and that means listening as well as "talking" - help me climb over and keep going, into the next field, down the next road.

When I walk (and talk, and listen), I just feel better.

"To walk alone in London [or anywhere] is the greatest rest," said Virginia Woolf.

I agree. And so do the voices in my head.

My favourite walk: up and down the shore at The Point,
listening to the voices of the Northumberland Strait