Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Success - what a strange concept!


It's another meeting of the IWSG!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Before I decided how I defined success as a writer I had to look it up in the dictionary. I looked it up in the online ones - always a pathetic trip down a stupid lane. Then I hauled out the second volume of the enormous Oxford dictionary we have with its attendant magnifying glass. Too tiny still and overly complicated. At last I went to where I should have gone first - my favourite dictionary The American Heritage Dictionary. It gives me four meanings:

1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.

2. a) The gaining of fame or prosperity. b) The extent of such gain.

3. One that is successful.

4. A result or outcome.

None of these satisfied me in terms of defining success as a writer. I think I'm going to be a renegade here and say that, for me, success is none of these things. When I was a teenager success would have meant having a small volume of poems published. As I got older I wanted to write the Great Canadian Novel. Or I wanted to be an award-winning journalist. Or have a play on Broadway. Year by year those things morphed and changed. I hung on to the idea of it but the heart changed. I thought that being a published writer would satisfy me, but now I know that isn't true. Don't get me wrong - I will be ecstatic next year when I hold a novel with my name on the cover. I still want those outcomes but my notion of success has dissolved. Now I know that being successful as a writer means to me that I have a thought and as I write it and work on that thought it becomes something another will understand upon reading it. Or perhaps not even another - but that I will understand what seemed incoherent and buried - that the act of writing it out will bring the idea to life. 

So that means that sometimes I succeed and sometimes I stumble. If I don't know what success means to me, I certainly know what failure would be - stopping. Giving up. Falling down and staying down. 

Further to that I believe the most dangerous notion of success I could hold would be 2 a. I would then be putting success in the hands of others. Only the market or public opinion would make me. Gah! Again that doesn't mean that I don't hope my book becomes a runaway best seller - it simply means that nice though that might be my armour of joy and contentment comes from satisfying myself.

I'm glad I wasn't a runaway success early on. It could have ruined me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Calloo Callay oh Frabjous Day!


Dear Everybody - Before I get to this month's question - which I am most excited to answer - I have an announcement to make. I wrote my first post on this blog (on any blog) on April 3, 2008 - so that's thirteen years and change. My main reason for writing this blog was to set goals and keep myself accountable in my writing life. I have been writing all my long life and although I have had essays and poems published, and plays produced, my lifelong dream has been to have a book published. If you look over my journals or this blog - that has never changed. Every year in my journal I write it as a goal - or at least the goal of pursuing publication.

Crooked Knife, a mystery set in Labrador, will be published in 2022 by Boulder Books, a publishing company based in Newfoundland Labrador. 

Writing that here makes it more than real for me. The IWSG has been absolutely one of the main factors that kept my bum in my chair - writing. Those of you who have met your goals know the value of community and those who sense it but haven't gotten there yet - keep on! Keep on writing - keep on longing - keep on making your goals known. I know that promising others on this site to keep on meant, fundamentally, promising myself. No other insecure writer was going to call me up or shoot me a message saying "come on Morrison - get with it - a promise made is a debt unpaid!" but still, for me anyway, declaring my secret desires gave me the oomph to keep on.

The monthly meeting of the IWSG is now in session:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August 4 question - What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 4 posting of the IWSG are PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!

Now - best craft books on writing - Wowza - I cannot pick one. So here are a few of my well-thumbed books on writing:

For inspiration:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
On Writing by Stephen King (also for craft - he is a master of both!)

for craft:

Writer's Workshop by Stephen Koch
The Art of Fiction by John Gardiner
Write Away by Elizabeth George (and not just for mystery writing either!)

for different times:

On Writer's Block by Victoria Nelson
Write for your Lives by Joseph Sestito

and definitely the book I could not live without:

The Artful Edit by Susan Bell - geared obviously to revising but so inspiring and so many essays by writers and creatives I admire - it is inspirational and challenging and packed to the gills for excellent ways to consider your work.

Hope all of you are doing well and well enough! See you next month...

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

 It's another meeting of the IWSG! (the insecure writer's support group).

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

July 7 question - What would make you quit writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Hello dear insecure writers and those who adore them,
As I write this I dwell in complete insecurity - I'm still waiting to hear the final word from a publisher about whether they are going to publish my novel, Crooked Knife, or not. 

It has been such an intense time and most of it not about my writing. A bit over a week ago a friend of mine died, myself and two other pals at her side. The four months since her terrible prognosis seemed to take place outside of time - either things felt dreadfully speeded up or tortuously slow. We were glad that we managed to keep her in her apartment and that the three of us were with her as she died. Now we are disposing of all her things, sorting, phoning etc... 

During her short brutal illness my newest grandchild was born. I could only see him a couple of times because we were in a tight lockdown. That has lifted and my time is slowly becoming my own again.

None of this, I hasten to say, do I have any regrets about. I regret my friend was in pain and died of course, but I didn't regret a minute of time that I spent with her. It was an honour.

But it meant that when I got an email during this same time saying that my book was being considered for publication it wasn't the thrill that I dreamed about since I was a wee sprout. I was excited but in a less exuberant way.  I suppose I have had a very intense course in putting things in their proper perspective. 

And that brings me to this month's question "what would make you quit writing?". 


Writing is how I make sense of my life.
At the end of this month I'm going off for a solitary retreat. I will practice the dharma and write a collection of poems about my recent experience.
Writing is how I know who I am. Why would I not want to find that out? It would be like giving up on myself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Twas brillig


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Yes it is that day again! The IWSG meets! Click the link to sign up...

My topic for the day is waiting. Some days I feel like a writer and some days I feel like a waiter. I'm so skitty right now that I'm not even going to share what I'm waiting for - though long term readers of this blog will have some idea. Let's just say I'm waiting for news. While I wait I'm keeping busy. I'm working on a submission of poems for a chapbook contest, which has been quite interesting. I took part in what is called Poetry Lab through Frontier Poetry and received all sorts of helpful information on getting poetry published, as well as a juicy letter from a poetry editor who gave me a critique on nine of my poems. I've written poetry since I was a string bean and I love it in a very different way than I love writing fiction. I have utter confidence in my poetry. I believe in it. And, although to get positive feedback, especially in the form of publishing, is wonderful, my confidence in my poems never wavers. It doesn't mean that I think they are perfect or don't need revising, but I just don't ever feel like it is hopeless or that I'm lost in it (or if I am, it is in a good way). is a great antidote to the waiting game.

My real life, as opposed to my crazy writing life, is very challenging right now. We are still (the week before this is posted) under a strict lockdown. I miss seeing my newest grandbaby who I've only met once. I miss hanging with my best pals. I miss restaurants and live music but I can live with that. My flexible time goes to a sick friend. There are only three of us taking care of her and so I'm stretched in a new and intense fashion. I work my waiting, writing, gardening, and socializing (virtual not actual) around the time I spend with her. I'm not complaining - it is choiceless and an honour to spend her last precious days with her. It puts everything into its proper perspective.

And it gives me the added reminder that for all of us time is finite. If I'm waiting, I need to remember that I think it is worth it - what I'm doing creatively or socially or even in terms of distractions.

One precious life...

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

the insecure writer's support group and me


Dear insecure pals;

Yes, it is another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group - tap the name and signup or find others writing about writing.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

I've got lots of things I want to say this month so I'm not answering the monthly question. I have had a complete rollercoaster of a ride for the last couple of months. I think it had begun last month in my writing world when I was asked for two full manuscripts - one for a slightly older YA called Bright Angel and one for my most current novel Crooked Knife. The first call for a full was the absolute direct result of teaming up with fellow blogger Liza from Middle Passages. We had both been feeling the blahs about the submitting process with our queries and decided to hold each other accountable to keep sending out those arrows of intention. I had Crooked Knife out to a few places and didn't want to send another query out until I'd heard from one or two of them. So I sent out Bright Angel to a new publisher in Nova Scotia. About a week later they asked for a full and then so did one of the Newfoundland publishers. The Newfoundland publisher promised a response within a month and I didn't know about the NS one. Well, a little over two weeks ago I heard from the wife of the Nova Scotia publisher with terribly sad news. He had died suddenly and it being a very small company they had to tell anyone awaiting news that there probably wasn't going to be anything happening in the foreseeable future. Naturally this was shocking news - the publisher, who I'd researched before sending, was just my cup of tea - a really interesting guy who had moved to Nova Scotia with his wife after decades of a full professional life doing something that was not publishing. I love these third acts - after all that's where I am at - so...

Two days later I heard from the Newfoundland publisher. They are seriously considering publishing my novel AND I have a revision to do - the plot needs work. They said nothing that was too outrageous and I agreed to work on it for a month - half of which is nearly up. It is all plot problems so I have undone my ending and am rewriting it. It is HARD. But I'm doing it and I am, of course, thrilled with the good possibility of getting a novel published. 

Of course regular life continues apace as well. I have a good pal who received a very dire prognosis about a month ago. She is in palliative care and there is myself and two other women who are supporting her through this time. To further complicate matters of course there is covid. It makes all the procedures take longer to happen - all the appointments difficult. Luckily she can still have two visitors a day on the unit even though the province is now in its most severe lockdown of the pandemic - we did so well and then the third wave hit with a vengeance. 

And I have a new grandson - a little pandemic baby born two weeks ago today. I've seen him once and hoped to be spending lots of time there (in between revising bouts) but now I'm going to wait until this phase of the lockdown is over. 

My sincere hope is that for next month's meeting of the IWSG I will be able to report that I have a book deal. I have been part of this gang for a very long time and I have been working towards being published as a novelist for even longer. I know that it won't solve world peace (whirled peas?) and that I'll be the same person I am now - but still I want it!!

I hope all are well and that those of you who continue to work towards your goals keep on keepin' on! Now I must get back to that pesky plot...