Thursday, May 2, 2013

A writer's update

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this:   "I have nothing original to say.  Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to."  This, however, is not a good argument for not writing.  Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived.  Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well.  Writing can be a very creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others. 
We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told.  We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.
-- Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, April 29

What with dealing with Shadow-the-puppy (who has an eye infection this week, oh joy), planning the planting of this year's vegetables, and working on the history of L'Arche Edmonton, I haven't had much time for books of late. So on Monday evening when my husband and I made a grocery run to one of those big bulk item stores, I made the mistake of wandering around the book tables, just to see what's new.

I call it a mistake... because I find that when I'm faced with big piles of bright, brand new, shiny books, that's when I seem to feel the most discouraged about my own writing. With so many books already on the market, why bother to write? Though people tell me I am a good writer, and I'm presently working as one, my chances of being published are pretty slim, and experiencing any kind of commercial success is like winning a lottery, really.

I came home from the book section feeling quite deflated... and found Henri Nouwen's April 29th commentary (above) in my inbox, one of those little God-incidents to keep me on track. It reminded me that I'm not writing for fame and fortune, but simply to share with others who have similar interests and dreams... that our world can emerge from its present plague of harried consumer complexity that creates injustice and inequality to become a place of simplicity and joy. In fact, I have another novel about that whole movement percolating in my head... and seemingly endless moodlings!

But first, I have this huge task of completing the L'Arche History. Back in September, our community leader and I sat down and looked at the project and set May as a potential deadline for the first draft to be completed. As it turns out, that deadline was rather unrealistic, because we've reached the deadline, and though I've been working fairly steadily, I'm only almost finished writing about the first ten of the past forty years! Other versions of our history have been somewhat slap-dash because our community has been too busy living L'Arche to write about it for the most part, but on digging deeper, I'm finding too many fascinating tidbits that I don't think should be lost (like the story I posted on Moodlings for Easter Sunday). The way I see it, I have one chance to do our story justice and get it down properly, and it might take another year at the least. Of course, if the community wants a more hurried version, I'll have to try to do that, but it goes against the kind of writer I am (and, I suspect, against the kind of story the community really deserves to hear about itself). 

Besides my L'Arche writing, I'm also awaiting a response from a local publisher about my first novel. The last time I checked the website, it told me that my manuscript is "under review," which likely meant that there are a few people associated with the press who are reading it and deciding whether it's a story on which the manager may want to take a chance. I have all sorts of reasons that he should dream my dream along with me, but this morning I went to look again, and discovered that my manuscript tracking page has disappeared with the redesign of the website, so I'm not sure what's going on. I'll send an email shortly to see what I can learn... In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that my dream will come true!

You Haven't Changed A Bit--Stories by Astrid Blodgett | Canadian literature | Scoop.itWhile I'm on the topic of getting published, I'm going to put in a plug for a writer friend of mine whose dream has come true... Astrid Blodgett's book, You Haven't Changed a Bit, is a collection of short stories that has been published by the University of Alberta Press. She'll be launching her book on Thursday, May 16th at 7:00 p.m. at Audrey's Books, and I'm sure she'll be happy to sign copies for any and all comers. Three cheers for Astrid!!!

Thinking about Astrid's success has put a bit of the wind back into my sales, and thanks to Henri Nouwen and others around me who know the joy of writing, even if some dreams may fade away, I refuse to lose heart. I've been writing since I was young, simply because I love it, and because it helps me to sort out my soul. I have "redeemed" a lot of my personal struggles, including with writing, by, you guessed it, writing. I'll leave the last word to Henri, again, who sums it up well: 
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write. 
Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.
-- Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, April 27 


Laeli said...

I KNOW you will get there. What's that quote that's been floating around?- "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen" I believe in this fully. Heck, I've experienced it many times and I know you will too. When I buy your book, will you autograph my copy?

Maria K. said...

It will be my pleasure!