Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Running the Race--Carolyn R. Wilker

Carolyn R. Wilker

If you’ve ever engaged in any kind of sport, you know that just going out and doing it produces one result. If you were to prepare for the sport, warm up your muscles, learn the right way to do it, and get in a lot of practice, you may get a different result—perhaps success. 

When I was a young school girl, I found running races and doing the high jump challenging. My legs were shorter than many of my classmates, and I didn’t have the same amount of energy. With practice, I ran faster and jumped higher and further than before. I gained strength and became a better runner, more able, for example, to make it to first base in a game of softball, without being tagged out.

For those who don’t write, such comparisons may lack meaning. “Can’t you just write?” they ask. And my answer is that writers pay their due.
Linda Hall, novelist from New Brunswick, practised on shorter news pieces first, probably writing words in the thousands and honing her writing ability even further before beginning a first long work. Likewise, N. J. Lindquist, author of young adult fiction and mysteries, began writing as a young girl, submitting stories to the newspaper. And perhaps Jayne E. Self, winner of the mystery category in the recent writing contest sponsored by The Word Guild, has always read mysteries and later began to write Murder in Mum Harbour.

Coming to writing a little later in life, I discovered that there’s much to learn, which helps me understand why an author can be preparing for many years before sending out a first book-length manuscript for publication. Just like practising piano or learning to hit a ball and run fast so I wouldn’t be tagged out. Getting the muscles in tune, warming up, and focusing on improvement.

Soon after I attended my first writer’s conference, The Word Guild came into being and made it possible for members to learn all they can about writing, using gifts given to us and being responsible in using that gift by presenting our best work.

Being part of a writer’s organization, I met other writers, had access to learning tools and workshops, conferences and mentors—writers who may not have necessarily known they were mentors. All good models for a novice to learn from. 

The Word Guild has grown too and expanded its writing contests, stressing excellence in writing, that we as Canadian Christian writers may be taken as seriously as our writers south of the 49th parallel, and that we as Canadian Christian writers in our own country have as much opportunity to share our messages as our fellow Canadians, whether we write for secular or Christian markets.

In 2011, after much writing practice, editing and revision, my first book, Once Upon a Sandbox, was published. I cannot say I’m done running this race, if one can even call it a race; there’s always more to learn, and yet in submitting my book to the Life Stories category of the contest, I sucked in my breath and let my book go into the nether regions to be judged by people I did not know. To see where my work stood among so many others. I was delighted that my book was shortlisted and to be part of that anticipation on the gala evening.

Whether we call it a race or not, we’re developing our writing muscles and focusing energy on our craft, as a pianist or a ball player would work toward the best use of their talents. Using gifts we were given and developing them further, we strive to do our best so that our message reaches the world in its best possible form.

So if you’re a writer, exercise those muscles; sit down and write. The world waits. 

The Word Guild Awards Gala, June 13th, 2012, Mississauga, Ontario-- shortlisted books

Author of Once Upon a Sandbox
Editor of and contributor to Big Ideas for the Big Stage


Peter Black said...

Carolyn, thank you for sharing this interesting, encouraging and well-rounded article.
It is a worthy introduction to non-writers, offers encouragement for aspiring writers, and provides timely reminders to those who're already well into the writing life.

Carolyn Wilker said...

Perhaps another post, I may include you on account of your encouraging comments, Peter. Thanks so much.

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