Looking Back to Move Forward

Euf, I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately—sorry. I wasn’t off in a corner sulking about the poor economy or worrying my ring around my finger, wondering if I was just deluding myself with the whole you-can-be-writer-if-you-don’t-give-up-thing. Or at least I wasn’t doing those things much.

I was prepping for the Surrey International Writers Conference, then I was attending it, then I stayed on in Vancouver visiting family and friends for a bit. Then, upon arriving home to a very sick husband, the fallout of a “surprise” electrical upgrade emergency for my home that I learned about just prior to flying out, plus playing life-catch-up, I just didn’t get here.

Anyway, while I was away, I discovered a deep well of affirmation/inspiration. Of all the great things Surrey has given to me over the years, this year’s gave me perhaps the most important: the knowledge that whatever the future carries, I write and will keep writing, not because of any dreams about what my writing might become financially or end up being to someone else, but because of what my writing is right now, what it has always been: My guts. My search for connection. My way of making sense of the world (or attempting to). Therapy (Thankfully, I’m a big fan of play therapy—it’s not all angst-ridden and dreary). My way of celebrating, appreciating and critiquing . . .

Past conferences have always motivated me in the business-side of writing—get an agent, get published, make $$$ so I can write more . . . This year, listening to all the solid advice from agents and editors and great inspirational wisdom from publishing writers, I decided that approaching creative writing as a business is bullshit (in a positive, warm, energizing, not negative way). Writing is about the writing. The other stuff is just other stuff.

I still want an agent. I still want to share my stories—at which point, they’re not solely mine anymore, I realize. I still want a few regular dollars, so I can afford the hours I write without feeling like a burden on those I love. But in forty years, if I’m still writing with only the few odd acceptances here and there, I will still be writing.

This sense of “whatever” about publishing has freed me up in some way. It is time to start putting my stories out there in earnest, because it doesn’t matter how they’re received. I would prefer, kindly. But rejection won’t stop me. Anymore. And maybe that’s why I’ve been hesitant in the past. While writing, I’d remember what it’s all about, but I’d forget when faced with the idea of having my work “judged.” Now I don’t care. I like what I write. I write what I like.

Editors and agents have to think about marketing and bottom lines, blah. If someone ever likes my stories enough to take them on, I will think about those things too—and will work hard for them. But those elements will always be after-writing-concerns.

There is a lot of value in living and working with an eye on what you want to accomplish next (not to the exclusion of enjoying today, of course, but that’s another post), but if a writer writes because they love/need the writing itself, looking back—and being awed by how far you’ve come and how much your writing has done for you—will be a huge part of moving forward.

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About Ev Bishop

Ev Bishop is a writer, editor and workshop facilitator, living in beautiful Terrace, British Columbia. Her works appear in a variety of publications and she writes in many formats and genres. She loves Barbara Kingsolver's belief that "There is no perfect time to write.... There is only now," and has modified it to be her own motto: Write here. Write now. View all posts by Ev Bishop

8 responses to “Looking Back to Move Forward

  • Ang

    What an insightful post. I’m so glad that SIWC was so affirming in such a wonderful way. You’re 100% right – writing is about the writing. The other stuff is just other stuff. What a great way to say it.

    Happy Writing!!!

  • cherilaser

    Hi! After reading your post, I think you might be interested in my new blog at http://www.cherilaser.wordpress.com. If you start at the Blog Launch posting on November 4, you’ll catch up quickly. And then I would welcome your comments and input. Take care.
    Cheri

  • Jen Brubacher

    This is a great post to read, Ev. Thank you. It’s especially nice because I recently read Declan Burke’s decision that these sacrifices were no longer worth it for him, his fiction writing was at best a happy distraction, or some such thing – all fine, all his decision, but discouraging for me, who feels more like you, that it really is about the writing no matter what else is going on.

  • Laura Best

    It sounds as though you came away from the conference with a great deal of enthusiasm. You’re correct about not letting rejection stop you. We all have our share of rejections. It’s just a fact. Best of luck!

    I’m still waiting for the Cleavage anthology to come in. Sometimes it takes quite a few weeks. I rechecked with the bookstore to make sure they had ordered and of course they had.. Guess I’m a bit impatient..

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Ang,

    Thanks for your kind words–I’m glad you identify them. :)

    Happy writing to you too!

    ~Ev

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Cheri,

    I did check out your blog and I do like it–thanks for the invite.

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Jen,

    Funny that you brought up Declan–it was one of his posts (the one you tweeted) that inspired me to move from thinking about this post and _writing it_.

    I relate all to well to his angst on some levels and not at all on others. I feel badly that he’s feeling bad, but honestly if he feels his writing is only a meaningless, if fun, diversion, perhaps he should either a) go a lot deeper in his work than he’s been doing so far, or b) yes, move on.

    I don’t mean the above harshly though . . . Dreams do change, but then embrace the change with joy not sour-grapes. (Easy to say when you’re not published though and still see becoming so a wonderful thing! ;))

    I’m really happy you found my post encouraging–Cheers to writing for the writing!

    ~Ev

  • Ev Bishop

    Dear Laura,

    Thank you very much for the luck!

    And yes, re: coming back from the conference full of enthusiasm. I think that might the most valuable thing about conferences–how they fire you up for another year.

    >>>Guess I’m a bit impatient.<<<

    LOL–well, it has seemed to take awhile.

    Happy writing to you. Let me know when the book arrives!

    ~Ev

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