Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The writing life – when it all comes tumbling down

On a walk on the shore this week, I came across this pile of sandstone rocks, piled on a driftwood stump by some anonymous beachcomber. A lighthouse, a carefully stacked pile of rocks. It made me smile.

Because it reminded me of my writing life right now.

You know when things have been bad, but they’re starting to look better? When you start to have a bit of hope that the gate’s going to open and let you through? 

Yeah, that.

I just found out that the gate, which had opened briefly, has clanged shut. 

It’s been tough for Canadian kidlit authors during the pandemic, but we’ve carried on. Writing, drawing, creating. Online book launches and readings, webinars and professional association meetings, reaching out to kids, parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and more. 

But also, so many opportunities lost. (My YA novel, LARKIN ON THE SHORE, launched in January. Maybe it’s now on a shelf somewhere …?)

When I finished my latest work-in-progress early in the shutdown, I sent it off and expected nothing. To my delight, it was enthusiastically received – with the caveat that the process would be slow because of, you know, the pandemic.

Slow became full-stop. Full stop became Feel free to send it elsewhere. End of project. Not likely to happen. 

Basically, it all came tumbling down, like a pile of rocks. 

But here’s the thing about being a writer: I have a job, and the bottom line is that I have a job I love.  

So, I will keep working to build it all up again. Send the queries. Cautiously nurture hope. Expect and deal with rejection. 

That scene on the beach reminded me just how much I love my often frustrating, recently disappointing, creatively fulfilling writing life. It reminded me that I have to build those stories as if I’m building a simple pile of rocks. I have to pursue my writing and publishing dreams by staying on course, guided by my inner lighthouse. 

Get on with it. Pick up some rocks. Write.