What’s Up and What’s Not: A Writing Journey Update

Welcome back! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but once you read the first two sections below I think you’ll know why. That said, after seeing how time had passed, I figured I should do as promised and update you all on my current writing journey.

Let us begin with the telling of the first harrowing tale of disappointment…

The Hole:

From alexiuss.deviantart.com

From alexiuss.deviantart.com

First off, I literally dropped out of writing. Mental and physical fatigue from working hard at it for so long and so intensely, as well as the onset of a full-time work schedule and the kids going back to school disrupted things so much that it became just impossible to do any serious writing. It hurt. It made me quasi-depressed. I worried that I’d loose the skills and all the momentum I’d built over the years. But this is life: we are called to make tough decisions all the time. So I sucked it up, gritted my teeth and trimmed the fat, as it were. Still, I am hopeful the break will be for a short time only, just long enough for things to fall into place and me to catch my breath…and sanity.  

On to harrowing tale number two…

A Warning:

Please take the following to heart: for those who write a lot, you might have come into contact with a terrible, terrible problem that few people write about, elbow tendonitis and/or neck pain. I have both. The neck pain has been around for a while but got increasingly worse because of an old habit of writing in bed. As I write these words, I realize how stupid that was, but at the time, I didn’t think about it: I wanted to write where I felt the most comfortable and, consequently, the most inspired. Nothing felt more sterile to me than writing at a desk. It was only when my leg would go numb from being bent for so long that I finally ‘got it’. So I changed sites, only to encounter another problem: even while seated at a table, tilting my head to look down at my laptop still caused pain. Worse, sitting at a table high enough to accommodate my neck meant messing with the angle of my hands on the keyboard which led to yet another problem (hello wrist and elbow pain!) I’m still trying to find a better solution. 

So, writers, be careful! Think ergonomics! Protect your body to ensure you have a long writing life, one that isn’t hampered by chronic pain. For those who have already succumbed, I found some videos with some great info: check them out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csb91xr0x00 : This shows a massage technique I like a lot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3GoDQ9ylZY: This video shows some good exercises

http://youtu.be/TTRcXeJ22ds: Despite the rough opening, she has good suggestions for posture, etc.

Do you have any tips/suggestions about this? I’d love to hear them.

elbow-tendonitis1

On to the final tale of horror and disappointment…

 The conference in Ontario: Fail

I had planned on attending CAN•CON: The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature in Ottawa this fall, only that didn’t pan out. And really, it’s because of a stupid reason: I’d intended to share a table with a fellow writer to sell books but it cost too much to print and ship them to Canada! See, 2 years ago when I was looking for a company to publish my book, The Purple Morrow, there didn’t seem to be many suitable Canadian options so I looked to the US. I had them printed but knew nothing about duty fees and provincial taxes so the total cost was more than expected, but I managed. This time around, even though I was asking for a reprint, the quote was ridiculously high– even the publisher agreed. So no books, no conference. Note to Canadian writers:  keep this in mind when choosing your publisher: if you can, go local. 

But the sun rises! Here follow positive testimonies…

The writing group: Score!

This has been one of the biggest pleasant surprises yet. After hearing other people’s experiences with writing groups which were less than satisfactory, I had no idea what to expect when I joined one in July. The writing scene in Montreal (and Canada), at least what I’ve come into contact with, is largely literary—that seems to be where the action’s at. So it felt weird that I, mostly a genre writer, would set foot in this camp, even joining a writing federation (more to come).

I’ll be honest: the group was a culture shock. Online, where most of you know me, I’ve been in contact with other genre writers. It’s comfortable, and I see myself and my writing journey reflected in a lot of you. However, the women I met in the group more experienced (in life as well as in writing), and–doggone it!–better than me. Okay, ‘better’ is subjective, so how about…more adept in producing the kind of writing I’d like to one day. Weeks later, I admit I still have to check my confidence. Which piece do I submit? Will they think it sucks? And it’s hard to get feedback face to face. But it’s because they are so smart, so experienced, so passionate about what we do that makes the group work for me. They analyse everything, see meaning in things I never had. Some are poets, a true gift, which enables me to see the world through different eyes. It’s downright stimulating. If you can get into such a group, by all means at least try. 

From ballerwives.com

From ballerwives.com

Luckily, the women are welcoming of my contributions, even if my pieces seem to come out of left field. As much of my writing has a literary or lyrical feel to it, I find reading their works and listening to our discussions challenging, refreshing, while still somewhat familiar; I am embracing and assimilating whatever I can. I just hope they are willing to put up with my space ships and warring clansmen a little longer. 😀 

alien

The Writing Federation: Score!

Being a solo writer is hard. Not having the right ‘connections’ or access to resources  can be discouraging. Without support it’s hard to ‘get out there and get known.’ So I joined the Quebec Writer’s Federation in the summer around the time I joined the writing group. In July, I attended their Schmoozer event which was a great experience (you can read about it here). I met some neat people and got an introductory feel for what the local writing culture is about.

The Federation provides opportunities to network, as well as other things like workshops and mentorships. I’ve signed up for a workshop on how to break into the publishing market, which is scheduled for December. The best part is that it’s animated by the owner of a publishing house. Score! I haven’t yet heard anything about the upcoming mentorships but my ears are open.

There’s something else. Every month I get emails listing publications looking for submissions, which means I don’t have to look myself, a very time-consuming activity. Because of that, I’ve submitted to four different publications. I’ve had one rejection (which was expected since their preference was short stories over novel excerpts and I had submitted the latter); and one acceptance! It’s for the CAA Anthology of Montreal Writers VOLUME 6, the first publication featuring my work that people have to buy. I mean, it’s an actual physical publication, something people can hold in their hand and put on their shelf. *Happy sigh* That’ll be out in December. And yes, I’m thrilled. 🙂

Anyway, that’s all the big news for now. Hope you enjoyed reading about my ups and downs, hopefully feel inspired and motivated. Please drop me a line: How is your journey going? Successes? Lessons learned? Please share!

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About Dyane

Dyane Forde’s love of writing began with an early interest in reading and of words in general. Writing has been a life-long passion and she writes all types of things, from short stories, novels, flash fiction and poetry. Dyane writes to communicate, meaning that writing becomes a means through which she seeks to connect with people on a level deeper than intellect.
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20 Responses to What’s Up and What’s Not: A Writing Journey Update

  1. It’s wonderful to hear that you are finding a place for you and your writing. Congratulations.
    And I will heed your wise words of caution. I don’t write in bed but maintaining correct posture while writing wasn’t high on my list–to be frank. But it is now.
    Thank you for sharing your writing journey with me.

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      Hello!
      Thank you 🙂 It’s a long, tough road but there are bright moments, thank goodness.
      Oh, I’m glad! I never thought much about posture or any of that until it was too late, of course. I hope more people begin paying attention.

      Happy writing and thanks so much for commenting!

      Like

  2. WendyStrain says:

    I experienced much the same problem (writer burnout) that you did at about the same time and for mostly the same reasons – too much output, not enough input in the form of rest and play. I’m also working my way back, finishing up a ghostwriting project and getting started on another project that will actually have my name on it 🙂

    Regarding the physical hazards of writing, I hear ya! A few years ago, docs were telling me it was either surgery for carpal tunnel or I would have to stop writing. We all know stopping writing was not going to happen, but after doing some research, I discovered the Dvorak keyboard. It’s designed to be more ergonomically friendly, although it does force you relearn how to type. Once learned, it can be used on any computer simply by changing the input language – it’s a pre-set option in the Windows operating system and I bet others as well (though I haven’t actually had the opportunity to check). I went from requiring wrist braces every day in order to do anything to never needing them even when spending an entire day typing. Keep in mind, I’m referring to USA doctors here, who mostly seem to have become pill pushers and surgery addicts so they likely overstated the severity of my case, but the change has been incredible for me. I’m also thinking about getting the Dragon text to type software just to give my eyes a break from staring at a fixed distance.

    Congrats on the acceptance!! I hope I can find a writer’s group like you have found in my own area. Attending an event tomorrow that may hold promise in that direction. Glad to see you’re back. You’ve been missed!

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      I’m thrilled that you are also on your way back, Wendy. I know how frustrating it is to want to do so much more than our bodies, brains, and our lives will allow. Keep at it! And I’m super excited to learn that you have your own project in the works!

      I’ll have to look up that keyboard. It sounds like a marvel. Thank you for mentioning it. 🙂

      Best of luck with the event! I love being connected online but finding support and resources locally is indispensable.

      And it’s good to be back. I hope to blog more often but I have to pace myself.

      Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your story!

      Like

  3. erikakind says:

    Sometimes we have to change priorities. The more conscious we do it, the easier we get through it. Our time to follow our passion will come again. And sometimes the breack might be sent only for being even more motivated, inspired, and enthusiastic when we finally can take our time again and dedicate ourselves fully to our passion. Also we will cherish even more what we had to wait for!

    Like

  4. Congrats on getting on an email list and on your being accepted! So happy to see you chuggin’ along you are a writing engine that DOES! Not just could 😉 if you get the reference. The elbow and neck strain are something to seriously tackle in the physical sense. I would recommend chiropractic help for your neck and get an at home TENS unit for the elbow. I wrote an article about wrist pain but as you are telling it, it is not limited to that part! I find myself so busy lately, my real challenge has been to focus on writing. Life gets so complicated sometimes. Great to read you as always, thanks for sharing.

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      🙂 Thanks! I did get the reference lol
      I think I have a TENS unit for the elbow but I’m not sure I’m using it right lol
      Keep chugging along! It is a frustrating road at times but the payoffs do come 🙂
      Always happy to hear from you, Rebecca. Take care 🙂

      Like

  5. jazzfeathers says:

    I’m happy to hear the good news, sad for the less good ones. Sometimes I get strained by my position while writing, but it has never turned into something serious… at least so far… maybe because at work we’re taught how to sit correctly. Usually, if I feel like I’m not ok in a position, I change it and do some exercixe… I mean, even cleaning my house helps.

    I wish I could get into a group like yours, but that’s extremely unlikely. Still, I did have some experience of face-to-face critique and it is very different and very valuable. That group of yours sounds awsome 🙂

    Keep up the good work. I know, it’s frustrating when you’d like to do a lot more than time and life allows you (I here you clear and loud here), but as you said, even when you don’t write, there are other thing that help you improve. It isn’t like writing, but it’s good anyway.

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      Hi! So glad to hear from you 🙂
      Yes, I think I was a bit due for a break. Sometimes you do have to stop and smell the roses, take time to breathe and figure things out. So I’m working at finding that right balance.

      Hope things are rolling along on your end as well. 🙂

      Like

  6. Katie Cross says:

    Actually, I’ve started to get neck pain, and back pain, because I have a really cheap computer chair that I sit in, so I’ve rigged up an alternative standing desk that really helps a lot, but I’m going to need to get a better chair so I’m not constantly rigging up a partial solution.

    Like

  7. Welcome back … thanks for sharing :-0

    Like

  8. Sounds like a rollercoaster ride Dyane – very glad to hear there were ups as well as downs. And I love the idea of you throwing “space ships and warring clansmen” into the midst of a literary writing group; I bet that’s broadened their horizons 😀 It would be very interesting to see if, over time, the genre-shock has any effect on their own writing…

    Like

    • Dyane says:

      It has been a roller coaster ride! And boy am I happy for the ups because the downs…lol
      I like to think the differences in writing styles and backgrounds have had some effect on the group, lol It’d be nice to know that the ‘stretching’ goes both ways because I know I am being challenged.
      Nice to hear from you, as usual! 🙂

      Like

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