The Road Ahead
by Liz Jansen
For months I’d been looking forward to attending renowned Ojibway author Richard Wagamese’s writer’s workshop at Batchawana First Nation, near Sault Ste. Marie, in northern Ontario. As I was recuperating, reflecting, and recharging over the winter, I may not have known my trajectory explicitly, but I was confident writing was a major component. I enjoy it and want to hone this art, and so was thrilled to learn of this opportunity. Four days before it was scheduled to start, I learned it was cancelled. To say I was disappointed was an understatement.
Earlier this spring, I’d registered for another workshop with a Toronto-based author, this time a little closer to home in Haliburton, Ontario. Part of me questioned attending two similar sessions, but I rationalized that each would teach me different skills and was worth attending. When that one was cancelled because of low enrollment, it was disappointing, but I shrugged it off, knowing the Wagamese event was just down the road.
Still, a big part of me wanted to get going, so I asked my teacher (author of multiple best sellers) for a recommendation. She suggested someone she’d heard good things about. They happened to have an upcoming writer’s retreat that worked with my schedule—but it was full.
There was one other course I’d discovered during my research, and trusted so when the Wagamese workshop was cancelled, I contacted them. By that time, the course had just started and enrollment was closed.
Now I may not always be the quickest to identify a trend, but this one had become unmistakable. I know it’s not because I’m a perfect writer so I was perplexed. Why did these doors close? I brought it up with my teacher.
As a writer, sometimes it’s important to just write, especially when learning to express your own voice. Workshops are valuable, but it’s easy to unconsciously adopt idiosyncrasies and styles from experts, and easy to be decimated by unsubstantiated and unqualified feedback from other participants. Choosing such workshops requires prudence and skill.
So I’m going to write. Which begs the question, “About what?”
For months I’ve questioned which direction I’m heading in. For months, the answer has been to sit still and wait. I still don’t have the clarity I once would have insisted on or made happen, and I’m OK with that. I trust the process.
I’ll let my heart rather than my head lead the way and inspire what flows from my pen. We’ll all have to wait to see what that is. I’ve also decided to resume my studies and practice in energy medicine. The common thread that weaves through both of these canvases, is exploring how culture shapes us into who we are, studying my ancestry and indigenous cultures. The two seemingly different tactics lend a delightful synergy to a common theme and I’m excited to turn my attention to them. I expect there’ll be other activities that pop out around these, but they too will become apparent if and when the time is right. It’s the same leg of the journey I started on a year ago, only now seen through a wiser lens.
What a gift to be taking this journey on a motorcycle, enriching an already profound experience. Whether on life’s Road or tarmac, we accept the challenge, never knowing for sure what’s around the corner on the road ahead.