& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Writing is rewriting, review, patience, prayers...

This is equally applicable to readers and to writers

What do writers feel about the process of writing – generally most writers describe it as a very lonely thing that they do.

Andrew J. Borkowski, whose Copernicus Avenue won the 2012 Toronto Book Award had a contrary view. In his acceptance speech, he said for him writing wasn’t a lonely process for him at all.

On his website Borkowski says “writing is rewriting”.

I remember Isabel Huggan telling a group of wannabe writers the same thing at the summer program at Humber School of Writers.

My friend Farzana Doctor gave me the same mantra when I met her recently to discuss my manuscript.

Farzana’s second novel – Six Meters of Pavement – was shortlisted for the award that Borkowski’s Copernicus Avenue finally won.

She also told me to be patient when reworking on the manuscript.

I recently met Jaspreet Singh, author of Seventeen Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir, a collection of short stories and Chef, a novel (and a forthcoming novel Helium) wryly remarked that has a lot of experience in being patient.

I had gone to his reading a couple of years ago at the North York Central Library when I was new in Toronto, and nobody knew me, or took me seriously.

I don’t know too many people even now, and absolutely nobody takes me seriously as a writer.

But that’s not the subject of this blog post.

It’s about the writing process.

Some writers prefer to keep their writing under wraps and prefer not showing it to peers.

I’m sure they’re in a small minority. Most writers prefer to seek peer review and are open to making changes based on feedback.

I’ve got some exceptional feedback to my manuscript from my friends.

I think peer review is vital.

Also vital is feedback from one’s mentor.

At a lively discussion last week Anand Mahadevan and Kristyn Dunnion emphasized the importance of seeking peer and mentor review.

Mahadevan narrated his experience (re)writing his first novel The Strike, based on his mentor MG Vassanji’s feedback , and how finally when he had worked on the manuscript and incorporated nearly all the suggestions that his mentor had made, the manuscript had acquired a reached a completely different realm.

They were at the Impossible Words.

Irfan Ali and Emily Pohl-Weary curate Impossible Words. The Academy of Impossible website describes Impossible Words thus: “Impossible Words is a unique literary salon that presents culturally and stylistically diverse Canadian writers in conversation with young writers from the Toronto Street Writers. It takes place on the second and fourth Saturdays.”

I’ve attended two sessions so far, and I’ve liked the raw energy and the in-your-face quality that the young writers from the Toronto Street Writers bring to these sessions.

So, basically, writing is rewriting, review, patience, and then I guess prayers. I’m teaching myself the first three, but as an agnostic, it’s going rather difficult having to pray.

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