Last week, I had enormously wonderful and profound experience at the Glen Workshop West, which not only uplifted and rejuvenated me in a variety of needed ways, but also allowed some insight into things I need to be thinking about as I move forward with my writing.
Here are some nuggets of wisdom I gleaned:
1. Validation Comes From Within
Along with all the great feedback I got from my fellow workshoppers, one theme kept coming up among all of the responses: to own my abilities as a writer and to realize my potential. Case in point: The main reason I wrote my second book was in the event the first one didn’t sell. And while it’s good to be prepared for contingencies, I shouldn’t necessarily doom the first book to the trunk (or doom any other venture I pursue). But this belief has to come from within–you can’t expect others to sing your praises. You must be able to sing them on your own.
This sort of validation is not only handy for aspiring writers, but can also be useful for those of you on the other side of the publishing coin.
2. Equip Your Mental Well-Being
You know all those little mental demons we fight in our day to day lives? Here’s what I found out: they will be ten times magnified during the process of bringing a book to publication. So do what you can to get in the best possible mental place in the meantime–therapy, yoga, faith, community–whatever works best for you. Because not only does your skill level have to be ready–your mind has to be also.
3. Patience is More than a Virtue
I know that many of you are in a place where you just want to get published, already. I totally get that. But there is definitely something to be said for things that come in their own time–when they’re meant to happen. And you may be surprised that if you wait, that the place you’re at when you do get published is a much better one than if you’d rushed yourself into it.
4. Never Lose Hope
The movie The Shawshank Redemption explores a lot of great themes. I’ve always used the analogy about “becoming institutionalized” when I refer to working in libraries. While I’ve worked with a lot of great librarians, I’ve also encountered a few who depend on the library for their very existence and well-being (and think everyone else should too). I’ve vowed never to become one of those people–and I finally figured out how: to never lose hope, especially when it comes to my writing. I think the below clip from Shawshank demonstrates this perfectly (particularly the last part, which nicely sums up the feeling I had when leaving the Glen):
And, finally, I’ll leave you with a Bible passage that helped me weave everything together: