This weekend May 23 to 26 is The Writers’ Union of Canada general meeting and I went to a workshop
entitled “Everything I wanted to know at the beginning of my career”. There were a few interesting things that came out.
How at the start Nino Ricci’s creative writing instructor W.O. Mitchell thought he should quit. Nino actually grew more determined.Another speaker said that you might have a great story inside you but you really needed to hone your craft.
Paul Quarrington spoke about how arbitrary awards were. So awards now act as reviews used to–if you don’t win or shortlist
your book gets pulled from the shelf after a couple of months. And yet these same career building or killing awards are handed out with a fair bit of randomness. He also talked about humility and how you always found yourself next to a writer with a long line up of fans while you yourself had none or few, or how you had readings or signings where no one turned up except the librarians or booksellers.

I think what’s humbling is when a writer starts out way after you and suddenly vaults to the top. Writing is subjective so everyone can say, well that writer’s better and so deserves the quick rise. But I think we all have to accept that for whatever laws of the universe sometimes you’re not the flavour of the month and, point of fact, sometimes you never will be. Despite whatever promotion you do or how hard you work. Another amazing truisim, to me anyway, is that I work just as hard at a book that gets rejected as one that wins an award.

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