I’ve realised my writing life works in seasons. They are long, rambling seasons that are only evident when they have begun and I am in it enough to recognise what is happening, and after they’ve ended. They are loosely a year or two long but they can be longer. The no-writing season went for about ten years.
Last year and the year before that my motto for the season was ‘so what? Write anyway’. I have a sign on my desk that reminds me.
It is written like that because it is the answer to any excuse I might have:
Too tired…so what? Write anyway.
No ideas…so what? Write anyway.
Want to stay in bed…so what? Write anyway.
I realised, when I started this ‘writing seriously’ thing, that I needed some way to keep me going. I thought I could apply the mantra I used with my students when they wanted to give up and do nothing in class ‘so what? Keep going!’ I say to them, usually waving my arms around and grinning manically. So I made this sign and looked at it every morning. I used to have one on my bedside table too to help me get me out of bed.
And it worked. For all of that season I said, ‘so what? Write anyway’ so many times that I don’t even think about it anymore. I just write.
So with that taken care of (for now), I moved into a new season. It has taken me a while to recognise it though. After applying and being accepted to two retreat/residencies last year: the Margaret River Press Writers Retreat and Katharine Susannah Prichard Fellowship (the KSP Fellowship is happening this year, I was accepted last year) I thought I should perhaps keep applying for things.
My motto for this season is ‘send the writing everywhere’.
And I’m kind of taking the same approach:
No chance I’ll ever get in/win/be successful…so what? Send it in anyway.
Reading between the lines they are looking for certain people to apply…so what? Send it in anyway.
Totally impossible to take time off work to do that thing…so what? Send it in anyway.
This goes for giving my writing to people for feedback too:
Ask writers to read my work even if I’m terrified…so what? Send it anyway.
Friends ask to read my work even though I’m terrified…so what? Send it anyway.
And this approach has had some success. I applied for The Novel Masterclass with Kate Corbett at Varuna even though it was during school term, and got in. I said yes, thank you, I will be there and booked my flights before I asked for leave without pay to go (and got it!). I am also learning how to let go of the so-so feedback and use the useful feedback and keep going regardless.
I’m also applying for other residencies, fellowships, prizes, opportunities and anything else I can find. It is slowing down my writing a bit because I still only have the same hour or so to get stuff done in the day but I have decided it is worth it. And I can reuse applications or parts of applications so that has helped.
I haven’t gone completely crazy though. I decided applying for this, where you get to stay in a treehouse in Switzerland, would be a step too far…