The writing workshop: results

Good Monday to you! Whew, what a weekend. Totally exhausting. I’d say it was about 65% interesting and 35% frustrating, but that had more to do with the teachers rather than content. One of my teachers was brilliant, the other a little scattered – and so the result was a very productive start with a petering finish.  But it’s better in that order. No matter how much I wanted to vent and rant (and this opinion may be quite singular because other people seemed to find Sunday very productive – like very productive – but it wasn’t my cup of tea) there was the feeling that, yes, overall this weekend was valuable.


It’s exciting to be in a room with other writers  – feels like camp (the musty smell in the building contributed toward that atmosphere) where we’re all there to play games, learn about ourselves (our writing) and take home priceless memories (aka tips on finding an agent). And the opportunity to meet and chat was really helpful. Actually, I even met a fellow Canadian – so there you go! And she has an agent, is on her way to publication, and is crafting the second draft of her novel. Apparently she had gone to the Winchester’s Writer’s Conference and attracted her agent’s attention with just a synopsis and a thousand written words. Hello! That’s lovely.

So we were asked a question this weekend: why do you write? This wasn’t something to answer aloud, but to ask yourself. And I thought about it  – about the project I’d been working on (having shelved it for almost a year) before my breast cancer diagnosis, which is the same project I’m coming back to now . . . why am I writing it? Well, originally I began to write this story because I wanted to get pregnant. I had planned (for the fall of 2010) to start trying for a baby. That was the plan between Zsolt and I, which frankly left me feeling nervous as heck. So – what to do when nervous and uncertain? Write it out. And so I began this lovely story of nine women across nine generations. It was like I could pull on their strength  – their representation of those who have been there and done that – and this would make everything okay once it was finally my turn. Anyhow. Why did I write it? Because it was a coping process.

But now I can’t have children for at least two more years, and that’s assuming my ovulation resumes – and so far, no clear signs indicate that having happened (fingers crossed, please). Giving birth has become a question mark, but not becoming a mother. That will happen no matter what.

So . . . eleven months later (according to my blog archive of entries) and here is the question again: Why do I write?

Maybe I’m writing to heal (certainly blogging to heal, but this goes a little deeper). Plus, I take such pleasure in this story, it’d be an incredible shame not to grow the characters to the end. I guess they’re my responsibility now, so it’s time to step up and support them.  And besides, one day – someday – I’ll be a mother, so there’s still a reason to wade through the uncertainties of that change.

I think other writers sometimes read this blog (you know who you are!) . . . so it’s a good question to ask yourself: why do you write.

Actually, it could be expanded to any kind of project, couldn’t it? Maybe we often do things without realizing our internal motivation? Who knows. Why do you do what you’re doing right now?

This past weekend was really interesting and helpful in defining my story. It helped me create an overall understanding of the work – because this is a novel, not a short story collection. My fuse was shortening come Sunday, mostly because it was what I had feared (all exercises, all the time) and less tailored to our own work/style. But, there you go, not every workshop is perfect. It was certainly something to remember, however, if I’m ever asked to teach.

Wanna hear my one line pitch (still to be perfected)? “I’ve got a story about that uncertain time between pregnancy and motherhood, a coming of age across nine months and nine lives.” Add some explosions and fireworks, and that’ll be a real winner.

Anyhow, in the meanwhile I have a pile of clothes beside my bed asking to be sorted, Zsolt is still loving the post-thesis (pre viva) life, and the weather here had dropped from warming to cool.  Now it’s back to work for one more week and then… and THEN…. HOLIDAY IN FARO!!! Watch out Portugal, we’re coming to support your economy with our tourist dollars. Woohoo!

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2 thoughts on “The writing workshop: results

  1. Hi Catherine,

    Interesting question… why do I write?

    For me, it’s therapeutic to write. I do my best writing when I’m sad. The words flow effortlessly without needing any editing… they come from deep inside and with much love.

    Then I went a little further and asked, why do I paint?

    I now realize that I paint when I’m happy. I feel like I’m in heaven when I paint… the visons, colours and inner peace that occur when water, pigment and paper inteact with each other in a magical way. I have never painted when I’m sad.

    I took up painting when I decided I wanted to illustrate my own stories.

    It seems that writing and painting give me the best of my sad and happy emotions. Go figure!

    • That’s lovely Francoise – I know what you mean about painting (I draw instead) – it’s uplifting. I think the creative arts are incredible outlets. They really feed the soul.

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