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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