This is my last post with Open Book. I tried to approach my residency by writing about things that writers might find useful, or at least semi-entertaining. And I find it amusing that just like being an author and not sure if anyone’s actually reading your books, I have no idea if anyone’s been reading these posts (aside from the lovely people running it, who are the most wonderful humans. Oh, and my writer friend, Marisa! Hi Marisa!).
Anyway, it doesn’t matter if there are only a few eyes on these posts or hundreds — as writers, in addition to ourselves, we write for that one person who, if something you say suddenly makes things clearer or resonates with them, or elicits some semblance of an emotion, then you have done your job.
Newer writers often think that getting published is the hardest part. But the truth is, that’s only half the battle. What you really want to be (or at least I do, anyway) is a published author who sells books. And this second part of the equation can often be the more difficult of the two. There’s just so much out there competing for people’s time and attention.
In addition, if being published is really your end game, good news, my friends! Technology allows anyone to be published. If that’s really your dream, if you want to get your book out there (no guarantees anyone other than your friends or family will read it, but hey, that’s the same as traditional publishing) you can do it yourself. Join some indie writing groups and fly att-er. Pay a good freelance editor, buy a decent cover from a designer, (they’re not expensive), put it up on Amazon. TBH, I think I know more self-published authors supporting themselves solely with their writing than those who are traditionally published; both equally work their tushies off. Which brings me to one quality you'll need if you want to be a writer: Grit.
Everyone says this but writing for a living is often a long-haul game. You may decide it makes more sense to put your time and energy somewhere else, and you might be right. Or you may decide that you don’t care so much about being published and write for the joy of it. This is also wonderful. But for me, part of why I write is to share something with the world, a piece of myself.
I’ve come to realize you can’t write thinking about the past or future, about finding an agent, getting published, selling books, succeeding or failing.
In that moment, it should only be you and the page, and this must be enough.
So now I'll get back to the story that's been waiting patiently for me this month while I've been doing this gig. I set out to relate some of what I know but I've been the one to learn much in the doing. Things like embracing my voice, letting go of perfectionism and taking this whole writing thing day by day, just like life.
If you write, you too will gain so much in the doing. Try not to worry about all those other things and focus on the present moment. Breathe, keep an open heart, and no matter what, you will be a success.
When I finish a yoga class I often say Namaste to my students, a beautiful Sanskrit word that means (approximately), the following:
My soul honours your soul.
I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides.
I honour the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me.
In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.
So, thanks for sharing your screens with me this month.
Namaste, my friends.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Alisha Sevigny is the author of YA novels, Summer Constellations, (winner of CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2018), and Kissing Frogs. Her historical adventure series, Secrets of the Sands, launches January 2020 with The Lost Scroll of the Physician. She holds a degree in professional writing and sociology from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent, hot yoga lover and avid traveller. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, she lives in Toronto with her family. You can follow her on social media @alishasevigny.