Tuesday, May 15, 2012

French Fries or Yam Fries? - M. Laycock


I began writing when I was very young. It was as natural as walking, as enjoyable as eating my favourite food when I was hungry. My parents encouraged me; so did my teachers. My first publication was in a high school anthology. I'll never forget the feeling of seeing my name under that title, in print for the first time. But it was many years before I was to feel that tingling again. In fact I was in my thirties when I sent a short story to a magazine and a cheque came back. I was thrilled. My husband said, "Hey, do you think you could do that again?"

So I started looking for markets. I joined a writers' organization and entered their contests. My writing won prizes. The readers of my column asked me to do a book. So I did. Then another, and another. I got a day job that allowed me time on a computer so I wrote a book. That won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award and was published. Now the sequel, A Tumbled Stone, has just been released.

Then a friend gave me her fantasy manuscript to critique. I loved it, enjoyed it, got lost in it. And I realized something. Somewhere along the way I'd lost a little of that "natural as walking" thing and a little of the joy of writing that I'd had in the beginning. What I'd been writing wasn't so much fun anymore - it was primarily market- focused. Reading my friend's fantasy reminded me that at one time that's what I wanted to write. But everyone said no-one would buy fantasy. So I stopped. It's not that I didn't enjoy writing the two contemporary novels that are now in print. Once I got going I did lose myself in the stories and the characters, and my readers tell me they do the same. But it wasn't quite satisfying. Kind of like eating regular French fries when what your taste buds are screaming for is Yam fries.

So I did a crazy thing the other day. I dug out the fantasy novel I wrote several years ago and sent the first 3,000 words to an agent. I'll be meeting with him in June at Write!Canada. I'm scared to death, but excited - more excited than I've been about my work for a long time.

What does all this mean? Well, you can keep on eating regular French fries and be quite content. You might even have some success. But those Yam fries ... they're going to give you what you really long for. And there's just no substitute. Life is short. Eat Yam fries.

Write what you love to write, the kind of work that gets your heart racing and your blood pumping. Maybe no-one will buy it, but you'll be satisfied just in writing it. Maybe it's what you were meant to do.

3 comments:

Peter Black said...

Hmm. A candid and up-to-the-minute reflection of your writing life, Marcia. Yam fries. Had'em a couple of times, enjoyed'em and know what you mean. :)
All the best for your revived phantasy aspirations.

violet said...

I bet I know whose novel you read! All the best as you step into your new reality:)

Glynis said...

Love Yam fries, and your description make them extra appealing to me! So excited for you as you meet with the agent in a few weeks. Looking forward to seeing you, too! x

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