Daphne Gordon is a Toronto-based writer, editor and writing coach. She got her start as a journalist working at daily newspapers, but now works independently as a freelance writer, editor and instructor. Recent credits have included Liisbeth and Toronto Star. Daphne wrote and self-published a novella called Walking With Walser in 2015, and is currently working on a new novel. Find her at daphnegordon.com.
I’ve always been motivated by the idea of making a physical object out of the ideas that come from my mind. As far back as I can remember, I’ve created mini books from paper, illustrating their covers with collages or pencil crayon drawings. Imagining the physical manifestation of my ideas is part of their genesis, and the prospect of making a thing motivates me to keep writing.
I’ve also found that by experimenting with process, I’ve created habits that help me move towards completion of my writing projects. For example, I’ve learned that by starting with a pen and notebook for a rough draft, then moving the scrawls over to a computer with a light edit along the way, helps me strike a balance between creativity and productivity. It’s not the only way to cross the finish line. But that’s how I get there.
I encourage writers to understand their unique motivations and discover the specific processes that help them move toward completion. Because getting started on a writing project is easy, but finishing is not. Polishing an article, story or a novel requires a linear commitment to a non-linear process.
To honour one’s commitment, sacrifices must be made. But when a writer can hold a clear vision of why she forgoes the glass of wine, the Netflix binge, the birthday party, the walk in the park… well, I believe the sacrifices (almost always) seem worth it, and the writer is able to keep moving toward completion, submission, and eventually, publication.
Unfortunately, though, in the ups and downs of living a creative life, a writer’s vision can go blurry. Sacrifices don’t seem worth it. That’s where a community must come to the writer’s rescue.
It’s a myth that writing is necessarily a solitary experience. In my experience, the best writing emerges from collaborative communities. A group of compassionate colleagues can, as needed, act as a sort of round table of editors, readers, publishers and cheerleaders for an emerging author. Every writer must be received in order to feel real.
As an instructor in the Sarah Selecky Writing School, I aim to create that compassionate space for authentic connection and mutual support. The time will inevitably come when every writer needs a helping hand in order to keep going on her long path. I’m aware that the crucial moment may not come during the course I’m teaching. It may come much later, and it will recurr at various times over a writer’s life. My goal is to create a community that endures, and I trust Sarah to matchmake groups of colleagues who will be there for each other long after the course has ended.
The Sarah Selecky Writing School was an integral part of my own development as a writer. I figured out my process and discovered my motivation in the company of like-minded literary folk. Some of them are now my friends, and I’m so grateful for those relationships. I’ve had an encouraging community to turn to when I need a (gentle) kick in the pants or shoulder to cry on. Recognizing how valuable that’s been for me, I hope to provide a creative catalyst for transformative relationships for others.