1. Read (more books)
Last year, I read a few less than 50 books from cover to cover. I didn’t follow the awards season, or the new releases in spring or fall. I currently have no idea what is happening with our national treasure Jian G. and Canada Reads. (Luckily, I still have time to rectify this.) I had the attention span of a goldfish in 2013 and, as a result, ended up reading a lot of news headlines and magazine blurbs. Concise writing, certainly, but maybe not the best model for a novel-length writer? I’m blaming it on a slight shift in the earth’s magnetic field (and nothing at all to do with binge-watching Sherlock, The Hour, Luther and The Shield on Netflix.)
Make time, Erin. Don’t make excuses. Don’t let the blank page win. Fill it up. Then follow with a good dose of #3.
And not just for spelling mistakes. Ever read something you wrote five years ago? Ever remember how you thought you were a genius when you wrote that thing five years ago? Perspective is that voice that says, “Really?,” in that very annoying, condescending way.
If ever I think I’ve written a great paragraph, or an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime sentence, I hang on to it. I put it away somewhere … a deep dark drawer would be ideal, but more often than not, it’s a mis-labelled folder on my messy desktop. In three to six months, I read it again. Is it still amazing? Usually not. In 2014, I want to lose things I write, and then find them, and then lose them for sure a little more.
4. Submit your writing.
Of all my resolutions, will this be the toughest for me? Rejection is difficult. But maybe I could give myself a break? If I set a goal, say, to make two submissions a month, disregarding the outcome, at least I can feel good about keeping my resolution? Why is almost every sentence in this paragraph a question? Get some confidence, Erin.
Our second word in the series sounds like something I'd want to drink on a hot July day. The real meaning is something just as refreshing.
noun 1. a cool walk
noun 2. a shady place
Etymology: from Old High German, frisc, meaning fresh.
source: Collins Dictionary
A theme day! Everybody loves a theme day! Especially a writer who needs some structure to make sure she posts to her blog on a semi-regular basis. Also, there has to be some way of fighting back against all of the ugly words out there these days. (Selfie, I am pointing my finger at you.)
So, from now on, Wednesdays are devoted to beautiful words you may not yet know. Here's the first one...
adj. 1. having changeable lustre, twinkling.
noun 2. a gemstone with a changeable lustre.
Similar word: iridescent
Etymology: first used late 18th Century, from the French chatoyer, to gleam like a cat’s eyes.
source: Collins Dictionary
Just in time for gift-giving, or after-Christmas gift-card spending, here is my top-ten list of the many Best Books of 2013 lists out there, in no particular order. Happy Shopping! Even Happier Reading!
I had this big idea. I started thinking it in grade two, just after I had a handle on reading and writing, as I filled page after page of half-scap paper with phonetically-spelled words and finger spaces. I would be an author.
At seven, I had no reservations about that word. I'd never heard of self-aggrandizement. When my teacher sent me to represent my grade at a regional writing conference based on my profound book, I Like Summer Because ..., I was convinced I'd made it. My Dad even laminated and coil-bound this first masterwork; of course I was an author.
I kept writing. My books got longer, more pages stapled together, now on full-scap, not half. I discovered dialogue and story arcs and conclusions that weren't The End. I wasn't very good at any of them yet, but I had a kind and encouraging audience.
In grade eight I won the English award at my public school. I had been wanting to win this award since grade five. I thought if I won it, then people would definitely have to say I was an author. The self-doubt had crept in, apparently, and the idea that I needed evidence if I wanted to call myself an author.
Promptly, I stopped writing stories. Maybe because I had to bear-up now. I knew what pretentious meant, I even knew how to spell it. I discovered I was an excellent writer--essays, exams, letters--everyone said so, and nobody needed any more proof than my wide vocabulary and correct spelling.
Still, I held onto this one big idea. I would be an author. At sixteen, I made a list of fifteen-year goals. #3 Write a novel and have it published. With this in mind, I started to write stories again, in secret, in notebooks that I hid on the top-shelf of my closet. I snuck back to read them later, scratching or tearing out everything I’d written down.
At home, at school, with friends and family, I talked and talked about authors, books, about writing, poetry, song lyrics, any kind of creative writing. I knew I wanted to be in the world, but I didn’t want to go out on any limbs. People might notice me, way out there, teetering on that wobbly branch. They would point, maybe laugh. I might fall.
And then people offered to catch me. They told me to try. I had this big idea and they were maybe sick of hearing about it. I set up a little desk in the corner of my apartment, right out there in the open, and started writing. Less and less was scratched out (or backspaced), fewer pages were torn out (or moved to Recycle Bin). Over time, pages became chapters became a first draft, a second, third. I enrolled at a creative writing school and worked with an Author (she had three real published books and a significant award to her name) who gave me fair and constructive criticism.
Slowly, slowly, all these drafts became a novel. I wrote a book.
Soon, I'll be starting another. Because I still have this big idea. One day, I will be an author.
Erin Bedford, writer.