One Lowly Writer in the Sea

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Fresh back from a Writers Festival weekend, I am glum.

You’d think being in the company of so many stimulating authors or author-wannabes would be creatively inspiring enough to sustain me. But alas, there is something about being in that environment that can help and hinder the writing process.

First you have the well-established, weathered and worn, successfully published actual “Authors.”

Its easy to bask in their glow of genius. They sit on high, safe and comfortable in the certainty that they are secure. We look at them and can’t help but admire their successes. They have gone and somehow done it, have fulfilled that very dream we all struggle to attain.

I listened attentively; deeply focused on any rare gem of inside information they could provide so as to help myself and my writing. I took diligent notes, frantically making sure that no golden nugget was neglected. It was quite thought-provoking.

Then there were the editors or “insiders” who helped guide and teach through various workshops how one lowly writer, such as myself, could actually obtain the magical key to unlocking the unfathomable: having my manuscript sit front and centre on their desk (and not in the slushpile).

Extremely informative, they spoke of everything you needed to know about how to polish your manuscript into the best possible shape. There were tidbits on the most appropriate narrative format for your subject matter, how to tighten and execute solid story structure, and being ever-conscious of your target audience.

And so… by end of day, I strolled out of the fest fully armed with all the weapons of effectiveness I could assemble. Yet, I still felt… disheartened.

There is something about these functions that always leaves me wanting. I mean you look forward to these events as a chance to pick the brain of the well established success stories and to see if you can connect and network in a meaningful way. But most of the guests are there to share their expertise, in a detailed overview and then send you on your way. They do not enjoy lingering.

Don’t get me wrong, I can completely understand the need for these authors to protect themselves from the desperate or frantic struggling writers. No one wants to be harassed time and again. But I don’t think it would be detrimental for them to at least put out there, should you choose to quietly go and speak to them as they are readying to leave, that maybe they could be available should a question or two need an answer, in the future?

And so the “wanting” I feel is that we are sent out into the great big world of creative competition, handed a life jacket and a boat and then expected to survive. So if the boat springs a leak, well, from what they told us, there’s got to be a way to plug it. Should the weather turn menacing, well then hopefully we’ve prepared enough provisions to survive.

Its easy to become overwhelmed. You can’t help but suddenly regard your own work as perhaps unworthy of attention. You start to second guess your main character or the way he walks into a room (or is it meanders?). You begin to wonder if this has been a meaningful venture at all.

Well, I’m going to resist that urge.

I’m going to fight the temptation to throw in the towel. I’m going to prove to myself that, in fact, one lowly writer can reach the top, clawing and determined and fulfill the unimaginable… And hopefully, I can stay afloat the whole way.

peekiequeen Thoughts, September 30, 2013

Image: Man in Boat from