Saturday, July 24, 2010

Yes to This Man

John Scalzi, a writer of many things (including movie reviews, science fiction, and books), has also blogged about becoming a professional writer.

Here are two excellent things he says, culled from about, oh, a million:

Writing professionally is actual work, for better and worse. If you can accept this fact, you’ll be better off mentally to do well as a professional writer.

Yes!! Writing is work, like a job.

Also, he says this:

EVERY WRITER GETS REJECTED. You will be no different. ... If you can’t handle the idea of rejection, you’re really in the wrong line of work. It’s just part of the business.

Ah, rejection, which I have written about here before. The fact that rejection is ubiquitous doesn't make it fun. However, work isn't always fun (see above) but it can be rewarding in a character-building way. I personally drip character.

Plus I don't think it matters whether you're doing "professional" or "creative" writing, aka "writing for money" or "writing whatever I want." Both points above apply: it's work, sometimes, and rejection happens.

Many thanks to The Rejectionist, whose wise and witty blog gives me food for thought and laughter.
Sunday, July 18, 2010

Creativity on Vacation

Not that kind of vacation, the kind of which myths such as writer's block arise. The kind where you're sitting at a desk on deadline and can't think of words of more than one syllable.

The other kind. When you have visitors, or are in a different physical location supposedly "relaxing," or are doing something else that other people think constitutes "time off."

When do people who do creative things ever have time off? You might have time off from "the man," if you work for someone else, or from your own paid work, if you're able to create a hole in your schedule.

Of course, in today's economy, many self-employed find more holes than work in their schedules, but that's a different "problem."

And I use the quotes on purpose. Not really knowing what it means to take "vacation" from your creative self is a luxury born of privilege. It is something those of us who aren't in active earthquake zones, those of us whose livelihoods haven't recently been spoiled by tar balls and oil plumes, those of us who aren't facing retirement with suddenly 1/3 less money in the bank have the opportunity to complain about.

And really, who wants to take a vacation from creativity? Perhaps "vacation," in a world and life of relative wealth, is simply an opportunity be creative in a different way.

I'm taking a break from my (ir)regular life while my sister is here. We're messing around at our camp ("cottage" in southern Ontario, "cabin" elsewhere), focusing on the business of daily living (woodstove), going out in the boat, swatting flies.

Occasionally I have thoughts or even, dare I say, insights about a work in progress. Sometimes I write them down. Sometimes I trust that they'll come back when paper and pencil are handier. I am trying to document life less (less time behind a camera, less time mentally writing scenes) and live it more.

The nicest part: I enjoy the company, I like my sister, I like how she fits into life here. And I like my regular life, too. As I say: my "problems" aren't really problems.

So I also remember those who will be creating new work from pain. The pain of living in war or natural disaster. The pain of life as "collateral damage" to a company's negligent attitude toward safety, its workers, and the environment. The pain of losing a loved one and hardly being able to process that fact, because here is another aspect of the disaster coming to smack you in the head.

To them, I wish the peace necessary to make the art that will feed their souls, and, eventually, ours. And over here, I'm grateful in my life.
Sunday, July 11, 2010

In Ten, I Have One

The Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association runs an annual short story contest.

This year, the 11th anniversary of their contest, my story "Thirty-Two Faces" was honourably mentioned. Ten stories total, including mine, will appear in an anthology that will come out in October.

It's worth clicking through the link above just to see the cheerful woman in the photo. That's how I feel, though rarely (if ever) how I look.

Thanks to Canadian Authors Association for holding the contest! It takes hard work to provide an ongoing opportunity for writers. We appreciate it very much.
Friday, July 9, 2010

Language Casts a Shadow

Felt & Wire, a website brought to us by the people who create Mohawk papers, has a bunch of interesting features. Interesting to people who are interested in creativity, that is.

This one in particular, an interview with Stephen Doyle of New York design firm Doyle Partners, looks into the interplay of content and form. A sampling of quotable quotes:

"Books are where ideas come from."

"I started taking out the binding and the pages and setting the words free."

"Remember, metaphor means to carry something from one place to another."

"I'm just building my own little world out of language, to see what happens."

Go thou and do likewise, and by thou I mean I.