I was recently reminded of the existence of a five year plan I’d written for a university assignment. I’m too scared to look at it – I’m not sure I even know where it is. I certainly don’t remember what was on it, but I do have the feeling that – as in many such plans – it hinged on something beyond my control. The acquisition of a certain job, an upward trajectory that wasn’t guaranteed. Successes decided by others, not by me.
In a five year plan, there’s not much room to account for chance, which is something that I feel has played almost as big a part in my career thus far as any kind of hard work or determination. While we’d like to think that creating is a solitary act, it isn’t – so often our direction leans on the input or decisions of others.
Having said all this, I’m still a big believer in planning for the things I can control. While I can’t pen acceptance letters on behalf of publications, I can create work, and send it to relevant places. While I can’t hand myself a grant, I can work on expressing my ideas clearly and pitching them in a way that makes them look beneficial to funding bodies. Planning for the things that are within my control makes the future seem more stable, less hazy. The best we can possibly do is face the things that we value, using our happiness, passions, obsessions and unshakeable discomforts as a guide.
It's also useful to use the past to your advantage - looking backwards and embracing what's been. In 2014, the Writers Bloc team grew, welcoming Emma Koehn, Amy Maynard and Anna Spargo-Ryan to the editorial crew, while Pat Tobin did wonders with our social media. We've met more of our community than ever before, connecting around the country (and the globe!) for #WriteHere sessions monthly. We were invited along to the National Young Writers' Festival, and had a blast. It's been seriously heartening to see the support people are giving to Writers Bloc, and the breadth of writers who are keen to be involved in our community. We're embracing all these things - of course, every win has also had plenty of lessons in tow. So thanks are in order, too, for your patience, while we find our groove and continue listening to what you want.
But what of the future in a societal, historical sense? What does technology do to the ways that I write? How can I write about what’s not yet happened? What’s useful and what’s just noise? This month on the Writers Bloc blog we’re hearing from writers who have thoughts about all these questions and more. We turn toward the great unknown and open our arms wide.
At the start of the year, so much revolves around planning for the future. We hope that you’re embracing the infectious feelings of hope and possibility in the air, dreaming big, and geared up for a successful 2015!
Sam van Zweden was Writers Bloc’s Online Editor from 2013 - 2015. A Melbourne-based writer and blogger, her work has appeared in The Big Issue, Voiceworks, Tincture Journal, Page seventeen, and others. She’s passionate about creative nonfiction and cross stitch. She tweets @samvanzweden.