Spent a delightful evening at the local library (Sidney/North Saanich) listening to published and unpublished writers. The key speaker following the various works was poet and award winning novelist Pamela Porter. Not only was it a great experience listening to her read, but following the reading of her work Pamela spoke about the craft of writing. Here are my gleanings from this talk.
Writers are those of us who articulate something we see that others also see but cannot put into words. “Writers bear witness to the world,” she said. Think on this a bit. We all have stories and points of view. Writing is sharing those views and stories with the world at large. No small commission. We, as writers were encouraged to articulate our reality by writing something autobiographical, then take what is autobiographical in us and write fiction that inevitably reveals truth. To take a fact and fictionalize it reveals depth of the heart.
We were further encouraged to believe we have something to offer the world in our words; and not to give up. She shared how long the publication journey took. It was 29 years before a publisher finally took her work to the public. It took 13 years for her children’s book “Yellow Moon, Apple Moon” to reach young readers. So whatever your dream is – never give up on it.
Explore possibilities and move boundaries. Often we try to say a thing while we should only show it. Rely on the things around us that have meaning for others. “Image is emblem,” she said, gather around the image to give meaning. One tool is to try poetry even if you are not a poet. You will glean word economy. Using strong verbs at the end of a sentence in a poem is powerful.
When seeking a publisher look for a fit. Do the works of a particular publisher fit what you are writing? In your query show that you have read similar works the publisher has published. “I read ______ and have something similar.” If it is a children’s picture book you are working on, the text is minimalist in order to leave space for the illustrator’s imagination.
I left encouraged to press forward with my words and ponder on what words I may have to offer the world.
How about you?
Photo of Pamela Parker – crop from promotional poster
Yellow Moon Apple Moon – Book Cover © Pamela Parker
First published at MITM