I love a good December retrospective. I love looking back on the year and creating a highlight reel—favourite books, best swims, most listened to songs, best cake I made, best TV show I watched...
But, as I was sitting down with my mulled wine, reflecting on my writing year, I stared at the blank sheet of paper and started to feel discouraged. I hadn’t put out a book this year. I’d gotten a few pieces published, and a small grant, but far more rejections. What had I accomplished? Was I even a writer? I went into a full tailspin, until I realized I was lumping together publishing and writing.
Getting publishing deals and grants and residencies and awards is amazing, and it’s easy as a writer to tie our self-worth to these external accolades. But we have very little control over publishing.
We do, however, have much more control over our writing, and so, I sat back down with a topped up mug of mulled wine and decided to look back over the last year, just focusing on the writing wins.
My list so far:
- writing poetry! I used to exclusively write poetry, but then I started writing novels and couldn’t switch lenses, but I found my poetic voice again this year.
- completing a huge rewrite of a novel manuscript. It was a lot of work, and I learned so much about structuring a story, more than I maybe ever have in my writing life.
- meeting with my writing group almost monthly
- doing my first in-person reading in YEARS (and read from a section of my book I’ve never read from before!)
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- working on two picture book manuscripts
- writing more non-fiction than ever before
- investing in a three-day writing retreat
- almost completing a *very* rough first draft of a new project. It’s an absolute mess, but oh, how I love a messy first draft
- reading more poetry (and falling in love with Shannon Webb Campbell’s Lunar Tides collection)
- working with a dance artist friend, creating a hybrid way of working on poetry and contemporary choreography together and got really excited about the possibilities
- taking time away from writing in the summer
And when I look at that list, I realize what a full year it’s been and it makes me excited to find out what 2023 has in store…
The views expressed by Open Book columnists are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator and the creator of the internationally acclaimed Love Lettering Project. After studying contemporary dance, she received her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto. Her writing has been widely published in Canada and the U.K. Since 2001, she has been teaching creative writing workshops in schools and communities. Her hand-bound books are housed in the permanent collection at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto. As the creator of the Love Lettering Project, Lindsay has asked people all over the world to write love letters to their communities and hide them for strangers to find, spreading place-based love. Lindsay also writes children’s books. Because of The Love Lettering Project, CBC Radio has deemed Lindsay a “national treasure.” Letters to Amelia is her first book.