Wednesday 4 May 2011

A whole lot of words on writing, a dead computer, and a wonderful, wonderful fruit.

This past month has been a strange one; though I suppose they all are in their own way.  About four weeks ago, my computer died.  Well, it was killed.  It was killed by a bug (I don’t even want to write the “v” word in case I jinx things).

When it happened, the “v” programme on my computer detected something fishy and began making alarming warning noises like in one of those WWII submarine movies when things go badly wrong.  When I realized what was happening, I frantically set to work to see what data could be salvaged before the thing died.
No.  That’s not what really happened.  What really happened is that my husband came into the room wondering why I was pouring out every filthy, sacrilegious, paint-peeling, and in a couple of cases - if I do say so myself - rather creative expletives I could, and managed to pry me off the computer.  Then he set to work to see what data could be salvaged before the thing died. 
Not an easy task.
Over the next few days, my husband put on his knight’s mail, took up his lance, and charged through the wilds of my computer’s hard-drive, seeking the “v”.  After a lengthy search, they confronted each other.  But, with a smug grin and a final binary-destroying blow, the “v” made a fatal charge and my poor computer gave up the ghost
Luckily, not much of importance was lost.  Mainly e-mail addresses.  But, since I’m horrible at sending e-mail, probably nobody will notice.  All of my writing and all of the family photos were saved.  (If that’s not a sign that I’ve finally got to put family albums together, I don’t know what is.)  (Not that I will, most likely.)  (I am infernally lazy.)
Then we had a dilemma:  Do we spend more time and quite possibly money fixing a notebook that was already 7 years old and starting to fall apart, or bite the bullet and buy a new one.  It took a few weeks to decide, but we opted for a new computer.  (Sorry kids, but Santa’s decided to do the Christmas thing every other year until further notice...)  
Now, in the middle of the initial days of computer panic, I checked my e-mail (on another machine) and found a letter in my in-box that absolutely made my day.  My week.  Actually, I’m still giddy from it.  
I had submitted a poem to Goblin Fruit, the wonderful online journal of mythic / fantastical poetry.  To my surprise, and amazement, and delight, they have accepted it for publication in their Winter 2012 issue.  For any who haven’t seen their latest Spring 2011 issue, please do.  Everything about it is gorgeous.  One of the features which I always enjoy is hearing the poets read their poems.  
Goblin Fruit is a wonderful journal put together with a huge amount of work and enthusiasm and idealism by Amal El-Mohtar, Jessica P. Wick, Oliver Hunter, and Dmitri Zagidulin.  It's been going for 5 years now, and each issue is a pleasure to read and the artwork is always fantastic.  It is a real privilege to be included in an upcoming issue.  (I kept going back to re-read the e-mail to check that I hadn’t missed the word “not” in the “your-poem-has-been-accepted” line.)
This is particularly important to me, as it’s my first publication.  Over the years, I’ve submitted poems and short stories to various journals and have - at best - been short listed a couple of times.  When a rejection would come in, I’d mope then file the poem or story away and forget about it - rather than look at it and try to figure out what I could do to make it better.  (Did I mention, I’m infernally lazy?)
There is a prevailing idea that in order to write a publishable piece, a person simply needs to put pen to paper and write: Bob’s your uncle.  I was guilty of that thinking for years, when, as a dabbler, I would from time to time put pen to paper and write and wonder why I - and nobody else - was satisfied with my work. 
About 8 years ago, I wrote my first YA novel.  I remember how I felt when I took it to the print shop to be printed it out and bound with a plastic spiral spine.  I felt amazing.  I felt victorious.  Until I realized that the novel was complete crap.  What I had produced was a very, very rough first draft, not a novel.  (I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this, but I actually sent out query letters and sample chapters to a few publishers.  Sorry!)
Three years ago, I completed a first draft of a different YA story.  It is also very rough, but it’s not as painfully bad as the first one.  I realized that it was only a first draft, but I wasn’t in love with it enough to revise it.  Not a good sign.  So, it sits in a binder on a shelf.

Over the past two years, I’ve been taking my writing much more seriously.  I’ve been approaching it like a craft: something that must be learned, trained, and practiced.  Duh.  
When I started this blog 6 months ago, I wasn’t going to put “writer” as part of my “about me” description.  What right did I have to that moniker?  I hadn’t published a word.  But then I thought about how big a part of my life writing had become.  It was something I did almost every day, something which I certainly thought about daily, and something which I had made a commitment to.  Being a writer has as much to do with one’s attitude and commitment to their writing, as with their publication credentials.  
I’ve started two other manuscripts for stories which have both gone in very different directions from where they started out.  For the past few months, I’ve been working on just one of them.  I had hoped to have the first draft done by April 1, but gave myself an extension till May 1, but - thanks to computer grief - that’s now June 1.  (Couldn’t have it on the 8th, or the 17th, or the 22nd, could I?)  I’m looking forward to getting back to it - it was horrible leaving the characters hanging in limbo for weeks.  I’ve been almost distraught.  No, I have been distraught.  I think that’s a good sign.  
Having this poem accepted - especially in a journal which I enjoy and respect so much - is a huge thing for me.  Accepted is the key word here: accepting myself as a writer.  For me, and most other writers, the main point of it all is to create something to be shared with, and enjoyed by others.  This confirms that I seem to be doing somethings right.  So, with my brand-spanking-new computer fresh from the store, and a slightly boosted confidence, I’m getting right back at it.  


  1. Very many congratulation on your first publication; having dipped in and out of Goblin Fruit over the years I can well understand your excitment. Are you not tempted to stroke your new computer muttering 'my precious' now?

  2. Congrats Lynn! This/that is a HUGE HUGE DEAL! I can't wait to see what you've got going with the poem you submitted. As a bad poet, part of the bad poets society, I know about not working on things ... I am such a bad poet that I have pretty much put things away for forever, so I hardily give you a solid pat on the back and encourage you to keep on keepin' on ... or keep on truckin' ... or simply "YAY YOU!"

    I wondered why we hadn't been hearing from you ... knew (or hoped) that you'd come back when the time was right.

    Remind us again, when the magazine edition is published, so we can go out and get a copy.


  3. Aargh! I think I have some stuff I should go and back up! Such a relief you did not lose your writing, that would be devestating wouldn't it..
    Huge Congratulations on the poem in Goblin Fruit, how exciting!
    I miss writing, my brains just too tired and fried these last few years, but one day I shall return to it like a long lost friend from the dark...
    Best of luck with the manuscripts!

  4. Your computer saga story is funny though I pray it NEVER happens to me-- I would react the same way I think... anyway I enjoyed reading your story and your poem.

  5. Congratulations, Lynn. Goblin Fruit is an excellent journal to have as your first publication credit. Bravo.

  6. "Being a writer has as much to do with one’s attitude and commitment to their writing, as with their publication credentials."

    How very, very true! Congrats on your first publication and here's to seeing many more!

  7. Thank you, Kate. It is a wonderful journal. And, as to your last line: you have so got my number!

    Hi Jan, and thanks. The poem I submitted was one I had written a few years ago, had filed away, and brought out just a few months ago for a complete overhaul. It's good that you've got your old pieces in case one day you decide to look at them again with fresh eyes.

    Goblin Fruit is a strictly online, quarterly journal. You can check out their current issue as well as back ones, through the link in the post. I will gladly post a reminder as we get closer to the date.

    Thank you, Carrie. And do back up your files! It makes me almost sick to think of what I could have lost.

    One thing about writing, is that you can always return to it when life allows. It is difficult with young children to even get into the headspace for writing. I've been finding it easier now that mine are getting a bit older and more independent.

    Thanks, Donna. I had been lazy lately about backing up certain things. This is a lesson I will heed!

    Terri, thank you. I am thrilled, and honoured, that the poem was one of the ones that they chose.

    Thank you, Donna. I do hope that this is the beginning!

  8. If this post isn't testament to your talent as a writer, I don't know what is. Your description of your dying computer had me both horrified and amused in equal measure, and the tale of your adventures in publishing was so sincere. Simply all-round excellent! Anyway, a big congratulations on Goblin Fruit, and sorry to hear about Santa!

    Keep up the good work,

    Roisin x

  9. Thank you for your lovely comment, Roisin!

  10. Hi Lynn.... Surprise! I joined your blog.
    I sent you an email around two weeks ago to tell you this, but never heard back... Now I know why from reading this insertion.
    Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that I've been reading your words with pride –– in a 'I knew her when' kinda way –– as you always had the talents for describing things so beautifully in the written word.
    And having your work finally published... well it's about bloody time, I say.
    We've mostly had communiqués the past few years through letter writing (remember those things) but when you think about it, many great books have come from personal essay, letter, and diary writing: Anais Nin and Iris Murdoch come to mind, although their published letters/diaries were rather scandalous, but you get my drift.
    You do such a marvelous job at writing about your surroundings and thoughts, I feel as if you are still living just down the street, and we are meeting at some Toronto sidewalk café for a catch-up session... but with even more insight into your life that spoken words could never convey.
    By the way, that letter I wrote to you before Christmas was finally sent back from your old address... It contains months-old news, but I thought I'd re-send it to you anyways... I just have to go buy an int'l stamp... And you think you're lazy?!
    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I am reading this and loving every word.
    Much love, your 'old' friend Kristin xxx

  11. Kristin!!
    I'm off to send you an e-mail right now!
    Lynn xxx

  12. Congratulations, Lynn. I love Goblin Fruit, that is such fantastic news!!