One Confession. Two realizations.

One Confession. Two realizations.

I went to a conference this weekend as a total imposter. I’m supposed to be a writer — I was even receiving an award — but I haven’t written a new idea in over a year, or maybe longer (!)

Is that “writers’ block?” I don’t know. I have been writing. But in the absence of fresh inspiration, I’ve been revisiting old ideas, ones that I never managed to form into a fully viable concept or book. I’ve been trying everything to find ways to keep the words flowing when the ideas just aren’t.

And then fellow creators and members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) voted for me to be one of the winners of the Crystal Kite Member Choice Award for Canada. While I was thrilled/shocked/honoured, at the same time I have to confess that, in some ways, I was petrified. What would people think if they knew that Skink on the Brink (written by me and illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo who also accepted her Crystal Kite this weekend) is one of the few good ideas that I’ve had? And that obviously no more are forth-coming.

And yet, I was invited to this conference as an award-winner. And I enjoyed all the fabulous things that come from a good conference. I heard an inspirational keynote by Caroline Pignat, received invaluable market advice from editors and agents and connected with other creators at all stages of their journeys.

But at a conference, it also feels like it’s necessary to be constantly “on” — I know my friends think this is a natural state for me, but it’s not and it is draining. This weekend, I was pushed to talk about my work to real-live-New-York-editors, a creative director and an agent. I stood at a podium and delivered a speech “thanking the academy.” And, just when I was finished, drained, spent, needing to curl up and absorb all the experiences of the weekend (and hide for a couple of days,) I began a 7 hour car drive across southern Ontario to collect my kids.

After about 2 hours of watching the road go by, I finally understood that I need to gift myself some time, to expect nothing creative of myself for a little while, to not worry about that next big idea and if it’s ever going to come. And I drove and I relaxed for the first time in over a year, or maybe longer (!)

I drove until I had to pull over. Right there. Right then-where-was-my-pen-give-me-that-paper-the-words-are-now-the-idea-needs-to-be-written. And now, looking back on what I scribbled on the back of a crumpled conference schedule, it’s still there (!) In the aftermath of a creative outburst, the most important thing is often how you feel in the clear light of day. In this clear light of day, I realize I won’t need to revisit those old ideas; today, I’ll be exploring a new one.

And I’m also wondering if it’s necessary for these events, with all the good they have to offer, to drain us. I’m wondering if they have to in order for them to be left with ample space in our spirits to refill.

Crystal Kite Award for Canada 2014. There is also one with Suzanne Del Rizzo’s name on it, also for our book, Skink on the Brink. And one for Hélène Boudreau and her book, I Dare You Not to Yawn.

18 Responses to One Confession. Two realizations.

  1. Lisa,
    I can relate to that “drained” feeling, and the frustration of wondering if something is wrong with me. I’ve also had the times of refreshing, unexpected and welcome. Blessings as you develop the next big idea.

    • Thanks so much, Ruth. It’s important to connect with others who are walking this same path – to know we’re not losing our minds!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. I, too, have felt like a fraud for being called a writer. I think, or at least hope, this self-doubt is part of the process. Good luck with the new idea.

    • I think, perhaps, it is part of the process. Maybe, ironically, this should make me feel more legit. Thanks for sharing your experiences too, Melanie.

  3. A nail has been hit on its head. You’re expressing what many of us experience, Lisa. It’s hard to succeed sometimes because it sets you up for the dreaded “What’s next? What can I do that will top this? Or even measure up to this?” Bravo for posting such an honest assessment.

    • Thanks, Pat! I’ve been nervous about having this out there all day, but I’m starting to feel like maybe that’s not so bad.

  4. You’re not alone, Lisa. We all have it – that panic that this IS IT, that we won’t be able to do it again. And then we do it. Hugs to you. Have fun with this new idea!

  5. Lisa:

    I am a fan, not a fellow writer. I know a lot of artists and am creative in my own ways. I am also an introvert. I thought this post was a lovely description of the creative process for an introvert – our fears and insecurities and our energy cycle (the discharge of the conference but the inspiration by the ideas and then the recharge of the solitude of the drive). Thank you for putting it out there for all of us to read. Congratulations on your new ideas. I can’t wait to see what comes next to my local bookstore under your name!

    – Dave

  6. Thank you, Lisa for such a brave and touching post! It is so refreshing (and therapeutic!) to have someone say out loud what you have often thought and are too scared to say yourself! Very inspirational-makes me want to keep writing!!!! (and join SCBWI)

    • Thanks, Lana. SCBWI is a great way to meet other creative types! We need these organizations in our life. After all, you and I met only thanks to CANSCAIP!

  7. I felt a tingle up my spine reading this, I have had that struggle too. You are right when you finally let go, your mind relaxes enough to let the new stuff in. 🙂

  8. Lisa – I loved your post. Like Jill I too felt that tingle when I read your words. We just need to stop and breathe sometimes. To have faith and know the universe will support us in our journey and bring us what we need, when we need it. We don’t have to always (go, go, go). Sometimes “just being” is enough!

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