November 28, 2021
A Call to Action
Since the inception of this blog, I have had many ideas for how I wanted it to be used. This is why posts float between writing advice, state of the industry, and topics concerning students.
But from the beginning, I have wanted this platform to be more than my platform.
There is a reason my name only appears twice in the selection of posts. While everything presented here has been my opinions or ideas, that was always meant to be temporary.
So here is my call to all writers.
Tell your story by submitting a guest blog.
- What (writing) advice have you learned that you think is worth sharing?
- What lessons have you learned as you developed your writing?
- What fascinates you about writing or reading?
If you are interested in submitting a guest blog to share with the community in the coming months, email me your post along with a short author bio as a docx. Or Google doc.
Why We Write
While this idea has been on my mind for some time, it was spurred on by the letter from Robin, AWCS Executive Director, sent out last week (at time of writing). The letter was about understanding your “why” for writing (and for joining AWCS). It is that first part that I wish to explore, and invite you to share your thoughts here as well.
I’ve done a post in the past about for whom we write, but never really why.
Sure, there will be overlaps among writers of a specific genre, but I believe that we each have our own story.
I am also sure that for many of us, this question is troubling during times when we lack motivation.
And I believe there is some benefit in reading each other’s stories.
Here’s mine, not from the beginning, but from my current perspective.
For longer than I care to admit, I have had little motivation to write, or to read for that matter, and I believe the two are intrinsically linked.
There are a few reasons for this, but the large one is that, prior to this funk, I was really playing the publication game. I was writing letters and applications and receiving rejections or in the one case, a request for full manuscript followed by rejection. There were some successes which I am probably undervaluing, but ultimately, I was exhausted.
Perhaps more significantly is a content problem.
Of course, literary trends come and go, and chasing them is, in my opinion, a bad idea unless you are a successful commercial writer, which I am not. That being said, the current trend in literary fiction seems to be leaning towards impactful stories from oppressed peoples.
Take the small sample size of the 2021 recipients of the Giller Prize, Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and the Booker Prize
- What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad won the Giller this year. This novel tells the stories of a nine-year-old Syrian refugee and a teenage girl who is displaced in her own homeland.
- Tainna by Norma Dunning won the GG Award for Fiction. This short story collection deals with the alienation felt by and racism expressed towards Inuit peoples living outside of their homeland.
- The Promise by Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize. This novel is a family saga set in South Africa and can be read as an allegory of the failings of post-Apartheid South Africa.
Please understand that I think all three of these books are intriguing, and are at the top of my TBR list. I believe these books represent important voices that have been underrepresented in the literary world and I am glad for their recognition.
As a writer examining my work of existential struggles fused with the fantastical, I can’t help but feel trivial. What contribution can I possibly make?
One thing I love about writing—one of my biggest whys—is language. I love playing with images and phrases to challenge expectations and depict distorted reality. It is one (of many) reasons why I decided to devote more time this year to learning to write poetry.
(Side note: AWCS offers some amazing poetry classes, including Poetry Basics 1, starting in January, 2022.)
Beyond language, I also enjoy compelling stories with complex characters that will hopefully resonate. Still, I keep coming back to the idea that what drives me to write has nothing to do with sharing stories that have been unjustly ignored.
I have to keep reminding myself that I still can provide a unique perspective, and there are plenty of stories worth being told, and that I enjoy creating them.
This is all to say that recognizing your why for writing is important. It is important to distinguish your reason for writing from the industry’s, or even fellow writers.
If, like me, you are stuck in the mire, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this and, if you want, share your thoughts.
Meanwhile, as always
Thanks for reading.