things writers need



As I sit the airport bar in Charlottetown, I consider my life as a writer. I wonder which glimmering cloud, which formative happenstance has allowed me to become the writer that I am today?

I know that there have been several people who have helped me get here, through my MFA, in the midst of babies and anthologies and parent teacher meetings and submission guidelines. You know who you are. You help me when I’m overwhelmed. You find me when i’m lost. Husbands and mothers, mostly.

Today I am traveling to #AWP15, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, one of the most massive writing conferences in the country. Which brings me to the topic of this post:

Things Writers Need

1. Time These are the five am wake-ups when we sneak downstairs, the late nights after babies’ bedtime and the reasons why I can’t go for coffee or meet you at lunchtime.

2. Solitude Revision is a bold, dynamic process, but it is a lonely time too. It’s the time when you are totally stuck in your own head and no matter where you go on the planet, you are poised in your mind between sentence one and sentence two. This requires immense concentration and focus, and is libel to occur when you least expect it, in the middle of a party, watching monster trucks on youtube (ESPECIALLY when watching monster truck on youtube), or whenever else. Suddenly, you are needed by your words. Listen to Liz Gilbert talk more about that here: Liz Gilbert on the Elusive Creative Process

3. Community  These are you, my dear editors and freelancers and people who have reached out to me on Twitter or read my work. Readers are the most important people in the world because when i’m sitting down here in my basement, and I’m writing words on pages, it is for you, through you and in you that I am writing for. Human connection, intrigue and wonder, neural networks of emotional intensity. That is you. And AWP! Dear organizers, thank you.

IMG_25154. Other Writers  Here i am pictured here with Cargo Lit‘s creative nonfiction editor, Melissa Matthewson. Other writers are important because there is so much life outside of our work, yet it consumes us. We are constantly in need of generative conversations, explorative undertakings, and the final pushes from writers in our circles that make words appear on pages. You are my believers, and my most critical editors,  the “you can do betters” the i hear in my head when i’m writing.

5. ENCOUNTERS WITH CRAFT this one probably should have been higher up on the list, but i love reading craft books, and my advisors have published a few, such as Words Overflown by Stars and Before We Get Started  and Showing and Telling. I love reading their books because although they may touch on similar subjects, presentations and style differ and connection happens on various levels. And what’s more is my never ending reading lists, essay, articles, novels, poems! Words, words, words. And don’t favourite bloggers, like where would i be without Jane Friedman and Grammar Girl?

6. Inspiration. You are my world, the people that I meet, the memories and the makers that spurn me on to write, the twists of fate and the mountains yet to climb. You are the language of the two year old and the convincingness of the *tweener* (did i really just use that word?), you are PEI’s north shore and my adventures and challenges being a life-long learner and mom. You are where my heart is happy, my next best paragraph, my acceptance letters, and the reason i continue to do what i do.


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