This has been an interesting few weeks for me: first, the inevitable shock and awe at my computer crashing, and facing the possibility of books and collections lost; then, the joy of saving the work, and getting a new computer [MacBook Pro – still adjusting]; then a weekend at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and the Vancouver International Writers’ Fest, where I was forced to consider and articulate my own work; and the publication of my first piece of non-fiction with Prism International. It’s had me thinking about words, and strangely being unable to actually work with those words.
It’s been a slow couple months for me, in terms of my own writing. I assumed this was because of my heavy teaching load this term, and because – of course! – I could scribble in long-hand [as I always do] but not transfer onto computer. This should not have presented a problem, but it did. It was, I now see, a convenient reason not to write. But the better question was: why did I need an excuse at all?
I’m in the throes of trying to finish a draft of a novel, and at the same time am falling slowly in love with the idea for a new novel. I’m in limbo. And, as anyone will tell you, that is not a good place to be. Do I need to commit to one, finish it through? Or can I give myself permission – and the gift – of allowing myself to write what is inspiring me at the moment? To write in hot, fervent flashes of prose that might be good. Or might be complete rubbish.
I heard myself tell 30-ish other writers this weekend that the important thing was to write the story you are passionate about. I heard the words, and then I wondered, why I am not taking my own advice? Perhaps because writing is a craft, it’s work – I know no one wants to hear this – and if I never made myself finish one project before starting the next, I would never complete a chapter, nevermind a whole novel. Passion is wonderful – essential, grand, breathlessly wonderful. But hard work and perseverance, however dull they may sound, really are the thing.