Recently, I was at the Totally Unknown Writers Festival. It was held at the Rivoli Club in Toronto. A capacity crowd filled the hall behind the restaurant bar. Organizers, readers and listeners rubbed shoulders as they packed every seat at the tables and all the benches along the walls. By the time the first author went up to the stage, it was standing room only.
The stage was the only well lit spot. The dim yellow lighting created an ambience akin to a retro-style bar, except this one was, thankfully, smoke-free. The air was festive. Everyone was in high spirits. Before the readings began, the drinks flowed while the guests hobnobbed and networked. I bumped into an unexpected old acquaintance I hadn’t seen in over thirty years, and also discovered that one of the featured authors was related to my husband…the world is definitely round and not very big.
Ten unknown writers. Each waited their turn to go up to the stage for their moment of glory. I’m sure they must have been nervous. Yet when they got up to read, I did not hear any tremor in their voices. Each read slowly, enunciating their words carefully.
Some connected with the audience more than others, engaging and entertaining with ease. Their work had been edited many times until they were perfect or near perfect. No half measures here. The personal narratives were unique to each author. I know, because one of my stories has been accepted by Life Rattle Press
, the organizers of the festival.
An eclectic group of writers, unknown for now. Some will surely move on to embrace the writing life.
I was on a book buying spree this past week. Why? Because all the right conditions were present just like the perfect storm, a rarity.
Ever since I got an iPad from my boys last Christmas, it has an invisible chord attached to me right next to my BlackBerry. I can’t believe how easy it is to browse and download ebooks in minutes. The virtual store is denting my wallet faster than the bricks and mortar kind.
My novel has been in hiatus because I’m focusing on my short stories…or perhaps that’s just an excuse. It occurred to me that a how-to book would help me re-focus. So, I started the week with Bob Mayer’s “The Novel Writer’s Toolkit”. Then came Writers Digest’s bundled deal, a few days later, for “Start (and Finish) That Book Kit”. Hmmm…that seemed like another sign to get me going again. No ebooks here, but I have nothing against traditional books that I can physically hold in my hands. And yes, I could do with a couple of webinars too.
By Friday night, after a couple of @mentions and direct messages with a fellow tweep, Rick Bylina’s “One Promise Too Many” became part of my Kindle collection before I could finish saying “Boo”. Finally, I wound up the week with my first Kobo purchase, “The Accident” by Linwood Barclay. When he was a humour columnist at The Toronto Star, his section was a must read for me.
To sum up, this week has been a productive one for books, someone else’s writing, that is. I’m glad I have a paying job.
To reject is to discard as useless or unsatisfactory. This is one definition of “reject” on Dictionary.com. How crushing is that? But writers are a resilient group. We know that J.K. Rowling did not take rejections to heart, nor Stephen King, Anne Frank, George Orwell, and many others. Imagine what we would have missed had these writers thrown in the towel the first time they were rebuffed.
If I had started writing when I was very young or made a career out of it, would rejections disillusion me? Starting late has its advantages. Now, I’m comfortable in my own skin. This comes with experience and the knowledge that I’ve already accomplished many goals. Writing is my hobby and passion, not a money-making scheme. Being turned down is akin to shoring up the foundations for success. Recognition will come – persistence and good work will triumph.
Recently, a publisher made my day when he sent me a note telling me to try again. He actually hand wrote encouraging words on the standard form letter, and enclosed a free copy of his latest publication in my self-addressed return envelope. Never mind that I had put only enough postage for my manuscript. He added extra stamps to send me the book. That was a wow moment for me.
A few weeks later, another publisher accepted my short story about a man who was abused as a child and became known as an idiot. I was ecstatic. This is affirmation that writers crave…that we’re not writing in a vacuum.