Monday, September 17, 2012

Losing your W.O.O. by Widdershins

(Contest information at the end of the post)

I’m rather fond of windows. To gaze winsomely out of; to peer avariciously into; (I’m talking shop windows here) to make my computer function as it ought.

Windows are gateways. Portals.

For writers, they’re devices to move our characters forward, figuratively, metaphorically, and literally.

Windows are also opportunities. (W.O.O. = window of opportunity.)

A writer's world today is the most exciting it’s been since Gutenberg’s time. We are no longer the lowly garret-dwelling artist of Dickensian straits, churning out our soul’s work for a publishing corporation. We can, if we choose, control every aspect of our art and craft, from inception to sale, and beyond. What we cannot do is afford to ignore, or not recognise opportunities when they come a’knocking.

When I started out writing as a career, and I determine that point as the moment when I had the temerity to call myself a writer, which was the first time I completed a story from ‘T’was a dark and stormy night,’ to ‘The End’. (I’ve never used that beginning, but it’s such an evocative one, dont’cha think?)

Anyway ... When I started writing, my naiveté astounded even me. But like most of us – Let’s be honest here shall we? – I thought I’d write the ‘Great Australian Novel’, (I lived in OZ at that time) in a few months, and be filthy rich and obscenely famous a few months later. Hands up anyone who hasn’t had some variation of that dream? Hah! I thought so.

Turns out I wrote the Great Canadian Lesbian Science Fiction Novel, but that’s another story.

Behind my brash naiveté lurked a rather shy and unsure young woman, who doubted she had any idea of what she was doing. My brash self sent out a short story (not that first one – it’s only claim fame was that I got to ‘The End’ in one piece) to a famous novelist that lived a few towns over. No, I’m not going to name names – she might still remember me!

Although I waited by my letterbox from the moment I calculated she would’ve got my letter, read the story and being impressed beyond speech by my talent, and immediately pen a polite request for me to co-author her next blockbuster, I never heard anything back. Anyone who’s ever waited to hear back from an agent/publisher/editor etc, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Eventually, my shy and insecure self sincerely hoped my MS and it’s accompanying ‘polite yet confident’ note had accidentally fallen out of the mail truck prior to delivery – never to be seen again.

In the meantime I threw myself into learning all I could about writing, and continued to write. The incident receded into the back of my consciousness until I only felt a mild embarrassment on the rare occasions I recalled it.

That was, until I ambled down to my letterbox one mild Autumn evening, cup of tea in hand and feeling at peace with the world in general.

I fanned through the pile of papers.

Flyers. – meh ... Bills – of course ... Hm-m, what’s this?

The next thing I remember, I was sitting at my kitchen table, peering at the card my shaking hands had carefully placed on the table – The famous author thought my story showed promise and invited me to join a workshop she was holding!

... I broke out into a cold sweat.

... I checked the envelope. Yes, it was indeed addressed to me.

... I suddenly remembered all the house cleaning I’d been putting off. (chores – the epitome of writerly procrastination)

Sad to say, I did not make the workshop. I can’t remember the reason I gave for my absence, but I knew in my heart that I was afraid to make the most of this opportunity that miraculously crossed my path.

I don’t to that anymore. I might take my time making up my mind, I might choose not to engage, I might want to run and hide, but mostly I laugh at my Self and enjoy the ride.


P.S. And, I might temporarily misplace it, but I’ve never lost my W.O.O. again.


“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at the sun’. We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground” - Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960 - folklorist, author, and anthropologist.

Widdershins was born in England, grew up in Australia, moved to Canada in 2004 and married the love of her life the same year. She is a writer and a shaman, a bicyclist and a feminist. She’s been an architect, a seamstress, an athlete, and a field hand.

Writing is her passion and her profession, novels specifically, short stories occasionally, and always with lesbian characters.

She writes under the pseudonym ‘Widdershins’ because she is, if nothing else, contrariwise.

She blogs about all things Widdershins-and-writerly, at Widdershins Worlds, and can be contacted through the links on her ‘About me’ page.

Her Great Canadian Lesbian Science Fiction Novel, ‘Mortal Instinct’ (the first book of the ‘Gallery’ Series) is available as a eBook from her publisher, (in all sorts of eBook formats) Amazon, and in paperback from Amazon, and your favourite neighbourhood bookstore.

If you leave a comment, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a paperback copy of ‘Mortal Instinct’ – To be drawn in The Writers Chatroom chat on Wednesday, November 3, 2012.

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At 9:30 PM, Blogger J Q Rose said...

Outstanding post on W.O.O. How many times do we look back with regret at lost opportunities? Hopefully, like you, we learn to grab the ring and hang on. You certainly inspired to be ready for the next W.O.O. and go for it! Thanks!!

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous SageDoyle said...

I've had those moments when you look back and think 'what was I thinking?!' Funny how our choices change in time, and our priorities are constantly being reshaped.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger widdershins said...

@ J Q - Make sure you fasten your seatbelt. It can get a little bumpy sometimes.

@ Sage - How boring we'd be if they stayed the same ... and we'd have nothing new to write about.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's great you eventually did hear back from the author. I never heard anything back from several agents. Crawling through the W.O.O. can be scary. Glad you've pledged to not let others just pass you by :)

At 12:51 AM, Blogger widdershins said...

@ Janna - sometimes I think the scariest part is standing at that crossroads just before the decision is made to choose a particular path.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger London Mabel said...

Good message, Ms Widders!

[No need to enter me in draw - already have the book!]

At 12:51 AM, Blogger widdershins said...

@ London Mabel - Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest. I wonder what that says about us 'oomins?

At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Zada Kent said...

It's reassuring to know that other writers fear opportunity as much as I do. Sometimes I worry about rejection. Sometimes I stress over the possibility of acceptance.

Your honesty in this post convinces me that avoiding W.O.O. can only turn into regrets. And life as a writer is much more satisfying crawling through as many WOO as possible. Thanks!

At 12:35 AM, Blogger widdershins said...

@Zada ... isn't it ironic that we fear success as much as we fear failure? One of the funniest (with hindsight!) emotional processes I went through when I signed with my publisher was a huge meltdown about, 'What if my book is a success?' ... which was, again with hindsight, really about my fear of change. Once I figured that out, the rest was a piece of cake! Hah!

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Toffeehead said...

I read this and smiled at every line.
Are you me? Did you jump in my head?

I was with you all the way and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Super shiny.

Lots of squeezes and grins, TypoToffee

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insightful ~ is the fear of success really a fear of failure? I can empathize with your journey and am inspired by your success!
Write On!!

At 4:35 PM, Blogger widdershins said...

@Toffee - I think each and every one of us has a story like this hidden somewhere in our past ... thanks for the 'super shiny'.

@kate - It could be. Perhaps we fear what might become of us if we're 'successful'. The media is certainly full of stories about celebrities - of one sort or another - imploding. Or perhaps it's the fear of losing what we have now, the people and things/beings around us who care for us.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Peter L said...

Definition of LIFE: You create a W.O.O., then decide what to do with it.

You created a WOO by taking the time to write to the author, then decided not to take it.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger celiaboop said...

I like that you share your struggle as a writer. We all struggle with our dreams to write and eventually be published. Why it's so hard, I don't know because I truly love to read. Your story inspires us to forge forth and never give up. Sincerely, Celia
from the Writer's Chatroom

At 5:06 PM, Blogger celiaboop said...

I love that you share your struggle as a writer. We all deal with the initial insecurities when attempting a career at this wonderful craft. But confidence builds with time. Thanks for the words. sincerely, Celiaboop, your friend at Writers Chatroom.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger widdershins said...

@Peter - exactly ... learned my lesson, I did!

@celia - Thanks Celia :D

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Toffeehead said...

Thank you once again Widd! I just walked away from Naive City and I'm walking the OMG Valley towards the land of Wooah.


At 2:46 PM, Blogger widdershins said...

Congratulations Toffee. I hope you enjoy the book.

Take care


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