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Friday, January 21, 2005

NETWORKING

"TO PURSUE WHAT WE DESIRE, THAT IS WISDOM." I Ching. Hexegram 3

As the old saying goes: "writing is a lonely art", it seems imperative, even if it's not your nature, to get out there and 'blow your own horn'. This has become particularly necessary in the dog-eat-dog world of the publishing business. We spend hours alone in front of our computers, sequestered away from family and friends, spinning our tales that might or might not ever seen the light of public life. It's up to us to make sure they get out there. No manuscript ever got published that is left sitting in a desk drawer or filing cabinet.
But, for most of us, me anyway, being assertive and indulging in blatent self-publicity doesn't come easy. I'm learning though, and networking is one of the most important activities one can get involved in.

Many of my friends are writers, actors, dancers, artists or musicians. In my own family, my daughter is an artist and my son a musician. But for all of us it's the same problem -- self promotion. And one we must overcome. Belonging to a writer's group has been one of the best sources of inspiration and encouragement for me. Without my Scribblers I might not have progressed so far with my novel. I also belong to the B.C. Travel Writer's Association, which allows me a chance to meet with other travel journalists and is also an excellent source of networking markets. I also joined the B.C. Federation of Writers, just to get my name out there. And recently joined the "Play Centre" which allows me access to various theatre activities.

Yesterday I got the good news that, for the second time, the Fed has accepted my application for their "Off the Page" program which will allow me to go into a school classroom and talk about writing to the children. I did this last year and, though the class was a rather lively and somewhat inattentive one, I think I did make a hit by producing a copy of one of my very first manuscripts (hand written), an excerpt of which was published in a Girl Guide magazine when I was twelve years old. This time I may try to get into high school class.
And today, I went to a playwright's forum at the Play Centre where a group of Scottish playwrights are presenting forums and readings this weekend. That proved to be a bit of inspiration that I certainly needed!

Last Fall I was accepted into a playwright's workshop at the PC which was a huge thrill for me as I'd be working with the director of the Centre as well as five other playwrights. I was anxious to develop my new play "House of the Muses", based on the life of the lyric poet Sappho. Unfortunately for me, it hasn't been a successful project (yet!) but today I talked to the Director and he assures me that he is planning more meetings. So hopefully I will pick up my wounded pride and redo the work I'd so laboriously slaved over (only to have more-or-less trashed. Ah...the life of a writer! All those rejections.)

That episode was a crushing defeat for me at the time and I decided to put the play aside and resume work diligently on my novel, which is the main priority right now. However, if I am able to continue working with the director/dramaturg and other playwrights to salvage my brilling idea I'd be a fool not to. Try, try again...as they say.

I was taking stock last night of unwritten and unmarketed travel articles too, and it's that time of year to get things in the mail or e-mail. So much work to do...But in order to keep my status intact as an active travel journalist I'm expected to send stuff out and (hopefully) get it published.

So tonight, all fired up from the acceptance by the Fed and the interesting input of the playwright's forum, I shall forgo my usual Friday night frolick at my fave neighbourhood bistro, and stay home to work. Perhaps I'll indulge in a movie later as I have a shelf of unwatched videos. I'll make sure it's something inspirational.

"He (the writer) must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed -- love and honour and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice..."
William Faulkner: speech on receiving the Nobel Prize, Dec. 10, 1950.

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