It always amazes me, and makes me green with envy, to see how much some people manage to pack into their time! However, it’s very inspiring as well. Zena is an great example of someone who has not only acheived a great deal in a short amount of time when it comes to their writing, but has also managed to do a lot of living on the way. Well travelled and well rounded, Zena is definitely qualified to talk about enjoying the journey, not just the destination!
Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life
Thanks for inviting me over here, David! Wednesday Writers is turning into a great place to read about other writers’ journeys. And we all have such different writing journeys! It’s been fascinating reading what everyone has to share about theirs. Me? It feels premature to write about mine, since it feels as though I’ve only just started. But then that’s because I’m always looking forward, planning where I’m going next, working out how to get there and what I’ll need to take with me.
That there is my bad.
I’m a big traveller – I’ve managed to visit almost fifty countries to date – and if there’s one thing I’ve finally realised after all my years of travelling, it’s how important it is to enjoy where you are. I remember sitting on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, in 2001, flicking through a Lonely Planet guide trying to decide whether West Thailand or Malaysia should be my next stop. Three months later, after I’d finished with South East Asia, which do you think was my favourite place in the region? Koh Samui. How long did I stay there before getting itchy feet and letting my curiosity tempt me away – three days! It was the same in Costa Rica in 2004. Should I go to Guatemala or Honduras next? Silly me, I shouldn’t have been so keen to leave where I was – I loved Costa Rica! I should have enjoyed it more.
But how does one temper a drive that’s so good at getting you where you want to go?
So far, mine has enabled me to experience a fantastic array of lives in just one. And, as far as writing goes, while I may consider myself at the beginning of my journey – others consider me well on my way! When I think about it, I have achieved a lot over the past few years. I just don’t spend the time I should appreciating that fact – who does! But I’ve:
- found my voice
- won lots of writing competitions
- been published in short story anthologies, with two more coming out later this year (maybe more)
- created a critique group for writers (the Northern Beaches Writers’ Group)
- written a novel and outlined two more
- established a fully integrated online presence
- published a legal volume on trade mark law (not terribly exciting for someone who loves writing fiction, still it does make me a published author)
- AND decided on my dream destination – on the shelves of Big W and Target, Berkelouw, Shearer’s and Amazon, selling to the masses! Ahhh… that would be a dream come true!
But what’s my primary thought about all of the above? How to reach my dream destination of course! I want to:
- Find a publisher for my novel and finish writing my other two novels – isn’t that obvious!
- Sell so many copies of my debut novel that my publishers will be as excited as I will be to publish the other two – definitely!
- Enjoy my present – What the?
It’s against all my instincts, and yet I know I must. Otherwise I might find myself in Hawaii wishing I’d stayed longer in Costa Rica!
Okay, so that’s never really going to happen, Hawaii is awesome – and it will be even more awesome to have my novel published and being read by, you know, readers! Still, I think you know what I mean.
Pushing yourself forward can help you achieve, but it’s also important to stop and smell the odd rose. One of my father’s favourite mottos is ‘don’t worry, be happy’. Now, I don’t exactly worry about my writing journey, although I do often feel anxious about meeting my self-imposed deadlines and targets. But I do need to rejoice a little more. Believe it or not, but Facebook and Twitter are helping me with that – when I sell a short story or win a competition, I squee about it (yes, Alan Baxter, I am the type to squee!). And when I receive congratulations for such things, it slows time down for me a little – makes me appreciate my present. So I thank you, friends and followers, for helping me control time (and yes, I believe that man’s measure of time doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of how our time actually passes)! I don’t want to temper my drive, but I do want to enjoy my journey a little more as I travel it.
What about you? I bet you could enjoy the achievements you’ve made along your own writing journey a little more often – if you were to give them the appreciation they deserve. So I say to you, so I say to myself: live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, lest you come to die and discover that, though you lived, you missed the whole and genuine sublimity of it.
Thank you, David. I’ve enjoyed my visit.
Zena Shapter is an emerging fiction writer based in Sydney. She has won multiple awards for her short stories and was published last year in both Winds of Change (CSFG, 2011) and A Visit from the Duchess (Stringybark Publishing, 2011). She has two further short stories being published later this year; leads and is the founder of the widely attended Northern Beaches Writers’ Group; blogs about contemporary book culture at http://www.zenashapter.com/blog/; enjoys a successful online presence through her website at http://www.zenashapter.com/ as well as social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Goodreads; and is currently editing her debut novel. With a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Birmingham, England, she also edits.
An adventurer at heart, Zena enjoys travelling in search of unusual stories and uncommon sights, and relaxing on the beach with a good book, a glass of champagne and a bar of chocolate.
Read more about Zena on her website at http://www.zenashapter.com/ or follow her writing journey by subscribing to her blog at http://www.zenashapter.com/blog/. Find her on Twitter as @ZenaShapter, at http://www.facebook.com/ZenaShapter, or on a host of other social media also as Zena Shapter.