GTA Mentoring Program: Process
January 30, 2019
Based on my past mentorships, I have seen that an opportunity to work with a published, successful writer brings insight and knowledge into both the process and craft but also into the larger aspect of seeing a project through to its final incarnation. I look forward to this process resulting in a finished manuscript, as my manuscript had been in earlier stages during my past mentorships. I greatly admire novelists who have produced a work through many stages and over years; it has seemed an insurmountable mountain for me to climb thus far, but I’m excited to finally reach that pinnacle through this program.
When I get up in the morning, my impulse is to write. I find my mind most focused and fresh for what comes onto the page. That’s really the only identifiable and consistent process I’ve had over the years and I don’t see that changing. Everything else is determined by deadlines and finding the time necessary to do whatever work is at hand to produce something. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about process and everyone seems to still be looking for the magic answer of how to write because it’s so unstructured – and lonely- and different from other creative endeavours, but I think you either have to just do it or not. It’s discipline and hard work like anything else. I’ve spent a lot of time reading and watching YouTube videos with great writers about process but they all seem to say the same thing: just keep going and work hard. Reading the greats is part of that too, and reading attentively when you don’t write. I spend a lot less time now watching interviews and making sure I just do it.
I started this manuscript many years ago with a simple idea that I had a story that needed to be told. While my other career took precedence and prevented me from devoting time and work into the project, I also needed to acquire more life experience and let enough time pass to really see what the story is that needs to come to life. I have a university background in journalism but never studied creative writing as rigorously; but I’ve always loved literature and had the dream of being a novelist. A few years ago I came back to the project after a life-changing workshop at the Banff Centre, after which I did a couple of mentorships with writers Shyam Selvadurai and Cary Fagan to help develop the story and direction of the novel to where it is now.
If I could have one author write about my life I would choose John Updike. He makes the ordinary extraordinary and vice versa in a way no one else does. And I love his prose.
In a perfect world, of which I was the ruler of all, I would make sure that a writer could receive a yearly salary to simply be who they are and write. Of course there would have to be some accountability — like submitting a certain amount of pages by the end of the year — but I think it would be great to not have to hustle all the time and just be who you are.
In ten years, my goal is to have a novel published. I’ve also discovered new writers and the worlds of other books. The lowest point to getting to that place would probably be feeling like I don’t want to write, or not having either the mental or physical capacity to do so — we take so much for granted sometimes. As for highlight, I used to fantasize about meeting authors I admire who would tell me they liked my writing, but my greatest fantasy is to be on the other side of the world and find a book I’ve written on the same shelf as the writers whom I admire. To know that a story you’ve written is reaching and touching souls in other corners of the world and is just as accessible as any story you’ve ever read — that’s the great power of art and the lasting power of literature and has been my inspiration for being a writer. So that would definitely be my highlight.