We had our first real snowstorm here last night and through into today. In general I really do like the changes of the seasons and how they each feel different from the last. When I lived in England, although I loved it, I did miss a winter that felt like winter and a summer that felt like summer. Without the change of season I think things could very easily start to feel all much of a muchness.
The change of season is also, of course, a reminder of time passing, and that got me to thinking. (Which is not exactly a hard thing to do, as you will know if you read this blog very much) Somehow it is not just November, but the end of November, and (cliche though it may be) I find myself wondering where the year went, again. I can’t help but look back and wonder if I could, or should, have done more with it.
I mean, I think I did all right. I finished writing a book and got it published. I shared my stories with some people who hadn’t read them before. I met some amazing, delightful people. I got to teach again. I read some truly amazing tales that I will treasure forever. Heck there are a lot of different artists who I experienced for the first time, or who I ran into new work from, that I feel deeply lucky about that. I started off on a new project that I’m very excited about and will probably have a title for one of these days. I got plugged into some new opportunities that seem as though they might be really exciting.
Can’t help but wonder if there was more I should have been doing, though, and limiting this only to thinking of ‘as a writer’ things (because otherwise it gets Too Big in a hurry). Should I have gotten some more stuff written? Maybe some short stories. Could I have figured out better ways to promote my work to get more eyeballs on it? Were those times when I was tired or shy or both and couldn’t quite hack shaking a few more hands or introducing myself to some more people opportunities that I’ll never get back? Did I write the wrong stuff? I know I missed some chances – how much will those haunt me?
One of the great things about the internet is that you can see how many wonderful, amazing voices there are out there, how many outstanding writers writing outstanding stuff and it is exciting and uplifting and (for a reader especially) tantalizing. It is also a little scary at times because there are so many writers, and of course on some selfish level I do really want people to read my stories, and I wonder if I am doing anything near enough to give that the best chance of happening. The crowd of artists is wonderful, but being lost in the crush, perhaps not so much.
I try to take a deep breath, look at the snow, and give myself a break. First of all, it really is wonderful that there are SO MANY stories out there for those of us who love to read them. I wish I had unlimited time so I could read every single one. As for myself, I’ve done what I can. It’s probably not according to an ideal plan, but I did what I could based on what I had time for (it being, alas, not unlimited), what I had energy for (that not being unlimited either) and what I felt like was the right thing to do at the time. In terms of writing, I don’t know any way to do it other than to write what I’m excited about, and if that’s not the perfect thing in terms of marketability, so be it. I remind myself that I mostly write because it makes me happy, and so I may as well do that.
Hopefully some other people will enjoy it too.
I recently saw a series of tweets from Daniel Jose Older, a writer who seems to be a pretty wise individual, saying that writers (and artists) have to allow themselves to fail. Every project isn’t going to work out, everything can’t be the best thing you ever did. It’s ok. It’s like how I had to learn from my coach that even if you work really hard in training, not every race can be a personal best. Nobody does that. You do the best you can, and it goes how it goes. You write what you have in your soul to create and see what comes of it. Better to spend your energy working on the next thing than picking over the bones of what you might have done differently. If it wasn’t great, there’s probably a lesson you can use next time. Or at least, you Tried a Thing and now you know how that thing ends up.
There is probably always going to be more that could perhaps have gotten done in a particular year. There’s probably always going to be those moments that could have been handled better. There’s probably always going to be ‘what if’s. Part of that comes from (again) having a good imagination, being able to see all those alternative ways things could have broken. Part of it, I am sure, is just being a person.
Time spins on.
We do what we can.
Although I can’t attend (Real Life being what it is), Renaissance Press will be at the Creative Ottawa Nerds Holiday Craft Fair this Saturday, from 10-5. Admission is $5 or 2 cans of food, in support of the Ottawa Food Bank. This is a great cause to support, you can get a copy of Bonhomme Sept-Heures if you want to, and I do incidentally love that the church is named after Julian of Norwich. Details here.
In an amazing act of bilocation, Renaissance will also be at the Ottawa ComicCon Holiday Edition, out at the EY Centre. Admission there is free, and you can pick up all the amazing stuff from Renaissance as well as a lot of other awesome vendors. Details here.