I write this as I reach the final week of my co-op work term in a web communications team and struggle to write anything longer than 25 words. I want everything to be short. Fancy vocabulary needs to go. Sentences should have one idea, and one idea only. Want to make a paragraph longer than two sentences? Cute.
This is a problem when I need to write a 15-page paper or a short story. Flash fiction, at 500 words, seems long. I hadn’t written fiction in over a year, but something changed that.
I stumbled upon the English blog archives and read a post by Alicia Haniford. Alicia mentions how everything she writes is long. This is nothing against Alicia, who is a good friend and former co-op supervisor. But most recently, she (along with former English student Paige Pinto) has been the reason why I have broken my fiction hiatus.
Alicia and Paige are co-editing an anthology of romance stories by a group of current and former members of the English Lit. Society’s Emerging Writer’s Circle. This idea formed during a breakfast at Elgin Street Diner. When Alicia said she always wanted to edit a collection of romance stories to two excitable people (Paige and myself), of course this became a reality.
And this is where the title of my blog post manifests. Nevertheless, through the encouragement of a strong and talented group of writers, I managed to write eight pages of scattered prose.
I was terrified of sending it to the group, whose work was surely leaps and bounds beyond mine. Writers like Julia Lye and Megan Waldron seem to have an infinite capacity to write. Or Ren Iwamoto and Cosette Penner-Olivera, whose writing is always so evocative and rich. Or Paige Pinto and Browen Matheson, who overflow with such interesting ideas.
I felt my work paled in comparison. I was ready for a pile of rejections and steeled myself for a full rewrite.
I shouldn’t have worried.
This group of writers knows how to critique. They know how to uplift your work and give suggestions to make it stronger in the same breath. I haven’t written fiction in over a year, but this group of writers makes me want to get back to it.
From the Emerging Writer’s Circle, we have become the Eighteen Eleven Collective. If you’re in the English department at Carleton, I’m sure you can guess at what this means. It’s been a couple of years since this exact group watched the sun set once a week in Dunton Tower, but we have fallen back into the comfortable excitement of surprise Timbits or the continuation of a story. I know characters like Seren and Dominick, or Helen and Mouse, or Jester, Oracle and Mute as though they are intimate friends.
And I don’t think I’ve laughed harder than when Paige introduced a potential title of the anthology (taken from the title of Browen’s story) as You Hit Me With Your Car and Other Love Stories.
After writing all of this, I rescind my titular statement. Web writing makes me a better writer. Instead of writing four-line sentences full of nonsense and hoping the TA will think I know what I’m talking about, I fill my essays with actual thoughts. I don’t bury what I actually want to say under fluff. My co-op work term may not help me write novels the length of Game of Thrones, but it does help me make each word count.
With this said, here is my goodbye as an English blogger. I’m excited to see where the rest of the year goes. Since my first blog post of 2019, most of the things I wrote about have already happened. I’m finishing up my co-op work term, my chapbook, Paper Doll, has launched and is going into its third printing, and the “secret” project I mentioned has a website.
Thank you for following my adventures through university, Ottawa, and even Toronto at times. Have a great summer!