A Return to the Beginning

T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding. These lines:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Circles. Wheels. In Indigenous spirituality, in Pagan spirituality worldwide, as well as in mystical forms of all major religions, this form has a particular meaning. Seasons of earth, of time, of nations, of self.

As those of you who know me understand… I am a woman of Winter. Born in the autumn I become increasingly more alive as we move into the dark time when the world is born again and the light returns in late December.

However… It is 103 Fahrenheit or 37 Celcius today, air quality alerts are out and everything, including me, is a big bag of droop. Happens most every year.

Another circle: I’m working on a new novel, and usually, when I’m getting that first draft down, I make sure the manuscript goes forward by 1,000 words a day. Right now, though, given the aforementioned droop, I can only manage about 500 words forward a day, keeping the rest of day for effort-consuming tasks like breathing.

(I’m not really complaining. I don’t have to deal with the horror that is Penn Station this summer, and I have air conditioning, unlike many people, including many incarcerated people. I can’t imagine.)

 

The other thing I’m doing is mentoring. If you’re not a Canadian writer you probably aren’t aware of the awful in-fighting among Canadian writers this past year. One of the accusations younger writers made against older writers (like me, I assume) is that we don’t care about young writers, and worse, that we want to keep the gates locked against them. So, although I’ve always mentored beginning writers privately, most of them haven’t been in Canada. The Canadian writers I’ve mentored have been through programs like the one offered by Humber College. So this year I asked my friends in Canadian academia to recommend some writers who might be interested, and was delighted to find someone to work with.

As all mentorships are, it’s a great gift and privilege to watch a writer develop, to watch her find her voice, her themes, her point of view. And this, too, is a circle, reminding me and returning me to the delight of pre-publishing writing. Seeing it through someone else’s eyes, witnessing their process, is a marvel.

One of the joys of being a writer is the life-long process of learning who you are, what really matters to you, what feeds your soul, and how you can contribute… to life. Publishing is a business. Writing is a way of life. Publishing is external, demanding, and often entails disappointment, criticism, heartlessness, as well as a rollercoaster ride of ups, downs, and unexpected twists and turns. For me, even though it can be fun, and rewarding — hearing from readers for whom your work has mattered is such a blessing — it’s also exhausting.

I am, like most writers, an introvert and accepting that and giving myself permission to simply live the writer’s life, moment to moment, is a balm, especially as I grow into my own new circle of aging. In this period of my life, I turn down social invitations I know will drain me, I am grateful for the people who understand and support me, and I live each day in relationship with the written word, and to the world around me, right here, right now.

Seasons of the year, of relationships, of work, of life. … I’d love to hear where you are these days.

8 Comments

  1. Samantha Knightly on July 22, 2017 at 10:32 am

    hi Lauren, thanks for this inspiring essay. It’s wonderful to see how you navigate this troubled world … “I live each day in relationship with the written word, and to the world around me, right here, right now.” I regularly find nuggets of wisdom in your essays and appreciate your clarity of thought. How fortunate the Canadian writer is that you’re mentoring, no doubt it will help that person’s career blossom.
    kind regards, Samantha

    • Lauren B. Davis on July 22, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Thanks Samantha! I’m glad you found something useful there. And as for my mentee… Oh, I think she’s going to do very well, and no doubt would have done so with or without me! Warmly, L.

  2. Gwen Rickter on July 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    DearLauren, it’s enlightening and so interesting to learn about the “writer’s life” from you. Thanks for being so candid and willing to encourage your readers as well as other writers. Since reading The Stubborn Season many years ago I’ve been a fan of your work, and I’ve enjoyed the range of themes and characters you’ve developed in each of your books. Can’t wait till your next one. All the best, Gwen

    • Lauren B. Davis on July 30, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks very much, Gwen. I’ll keep working to live up to your praise! Look for a new novel coming in the fall of 2018!

  3. Joel Berger on September 14, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Hi Lauren. I am writing a young adult novel in a world that is based upon Anglo-Saxon England. In a few years, after I have a few drafts under my belt, I may seek you out through Humber College. In the meanwhile, can you recommend any favorite resources on the world of the Anglo-Saxons? I am going to pick up Sally Crawford’s “Daily Life in Anglo-Saxon England” from the U of T library. Can you recommend any other resources?

    • Lauren B. Davis on September 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Good luck with your writing, Joel! I’m afraid I’m not teaching with Humber any longer, but I’m sure you’ll find someone great to work with. As for books, you might want to check out the bibliography I posted on the page for AGAINST A DARKENING SKY. That should get you started. I think there are a hundred or so books on it. What can I say… a writer must do the research. I also traveled to England and spent time with anthropologists, archeologists, museum curators, and historians. Have fun! http://laurenbdavis.com/books/against-a-darkening-sky/bibliography/

      • Joel Berger on September 14, 2017 at 6:06 pm

        Some of these books are familiar to me. Did you read all of these books before you started writing? Or, was it more a matter of going back and forth between researching and writing?

        • Lauren B. Davis on September 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm

          Well, yes… Snort. Some I read before I began. Some I read halfway through. Some I kept reading and going back and forth as I wrote. You’ll find your on rhythm, I’m sure.

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