Maybe it isn’t such a good idea to take a writing holiday, or I should say a holiday from writing. I have begun to feel as if my novel is complete, that the work is done, and my characters are off on their not-so-merry ways living their own lives without my assistance. But even if they are doing just that, I am not done with them. Hopefully, they will have lived a few weeks without me meddling in their lives and come up with some stories of their own to share when I return to the keyboard. I will position my hands over the keys and they will tell me what to write.
In the meantime, I am considering things such as grants. This notion of “second draft” or finished novel (!) has me a little intimidated. I have shared here that I once believed this part of the process to be a little clip here, an adjustment there, and we’re done, but that now I recognize the dedication and attention required to construct this puppy. As I weep and wail and tear my hair, crying, how will I manage such a thing with a teenager to wrangle, a business to run and a household to maintain?
I gaze longingly at various author’s notes of gratitude to Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and other foundations for assisting them. I wonder at Isabel Allende who retires from family duties for months at a time while she writes her books. Some of the grants available to writers actually seem to be within my reach, if not my actual grasp. One step at a time, there Missy. The definition of a professional writer is someone who has received monetary compensation for their efforts. Hmm. I have been paid for every piece I had published… in copies. Unfortunately, copies of quarterlies and anthologies have very little nutritional value, and landlords shake their heads sadly… So now, I am researching the market for publications that pay for short prose. It’s time to polish up some of my shorter pieces and write some new ones. It’s just hard to shake my head free from Simon and Beth and Katie, my Weather Vane characters.
However… I do have an idea for an ersatz memoir that has me excited. A fictional memoir of lovers with a modern twist. It won’t be dewy-eyed and tremulous, I can assure you, but I can’t divulge the “twist” just yet.
I used to have a friend who was extravagantly talented, had dozens of brilliant ideas and truly remarkable creative gifts. But for years, she wandered through these ideas, dabbling and fretting, unable to focus on one thing long enough to land and see any project through to fruition. I don’t have the kind of talent that woman has, but I am grateful to have it clear in my mind what thrills me, and how I want to use the abilities I do have. The other day I noticed two stunning paintings hanging for sale in a local cafe. Painted by this woman. And I did my little internal happy dance for her, hoping that this means she has landed… and knowing that she did land, at least long enough to produce these two works. Whether you balk or leap doesn’t seem to matter if, at last, you put your hands to the task and get ‘er done.
I may not have the luxury of days alone in which to research and write, but write, I do. And if I make the effort to send out what I’ve written and keep doing that, even as I fill a box with rejection slips (in my twenties I papered an entire wall of my apartment): sending and waiting and resending, I am certain that compensation will come, grants will come, an agent will come, publication will come… It always comes back to the writing, though. The end won’t arrive without the means. And the money means is useless without the written means.