Saturday, 19 September 2015

Laughter is an instant vacation. —Milton Berle

Writing takes effort. It’s pleasurable but hard work.  No different than any other job I’ve ever undertaken, I need a consistent schedule. It is the only way I can get words on the page. I like to write when I feel fresh, when my mind is free from any weight the day might add. For that reason, mornings are sacred in our house. DH understands and leaves me alone, snugged in my corner of the couch. Even the girls accept it, routinely curling up beside me in quiet support.

Yes, it is protected time. Until it is not. I will allow one thing to disrupt it. Friends. I value our friends, appreciate the effort they make to come see us and truly enjoy their company. We have a flurry of visitors over the next week or so, beginning this afternoon and I can hardly wait. I fretted for a moment about interrupted writing routines, but moved past that quickly since I know that I will adjust and write late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t sleep many hours, so it’s an easy shift to make.

However, having said that, something’s gotta give. And, it will be this blog. So, dear readers, I will be turning over my blogging shingle to the closed side. Or perhaps it should say On Vacation. Laughter, food, wine and good friends. Yes, vacation. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to tell you all about it. J

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply. —Stephen Covey

I was going to write about querying this week. I have merely dabbled in it and am now ready to go full tilt. But, as I diligently research agents, a voice whispers and demands to be heard. Her name is Lizzy. She is 16 years old and she is in pain.

Lizzy is a cutter. She does not want attention. She just wants to curl up under a sprawling tree and melt into the earth. She thinks, she worries, she feels—and, oh my, she hurts. Lizzy knows all of the things that cause her agony. She can list them as clearly and perfunctorily as her first grade spelling tests. But her thoughts are not as numbing as those lists. They’re painful. And, the only thing that eases them is a razor.

I will query Raven’s Path and Love Denied. I will also continue to write historicals. They are too much a part of me to set aside for any length of time. But, I feel that I must listen to Lizzy too. She is speaking to me in snippets and is anxious to share her story.

Jo dangled her new bracelet in front of Lizzy’s nose. Not that she’d know it was new if Jo hadn’t shoved every purchase of silver and cheap tawdry designer rip off in front of her nose since last semester. “Look, this is just like Angelina Jolie’s when she was with that ugly older guy. See the skeleton in the middle? She was so cool then.”

Lizzy gave her a quick applaud with an “Oh!” but really she was sick of it. She could clearly see the strips of purple, of yellow, of healed brown. Jo pretended she was hiding the cuts, but really she was dressing them up, wrapping them in glamour and yelling “Look at me!” She got pulled out regularly by school guidance for “the talk.” She’d return all coy and humble but she was preening at the attention. A peacock amongst swallows.

Jo cut for show. She cut for attention. Maybe she felt some pain. Who knew? But, she screamed for someone to feel sorry for her. Well, Lizzy knew cutting and she didn’t feel anything for the scars on Jo’s arms. She didn’t feel anything for Jo. As a matter of fact she didn’t give a shit about World History either.

She pushed from the desk and stood, gathering her papers and shoving them into her bag. Mr. Hobard stopped talking and stared at her, the hand that had been swirling through the air frozen, the whiteboard marker clenched between fingers suspended midair. His eyes bulged like that guy in that stupid movie her mom watched over and over, alone, laughing too loud and too much. They popped right out of his head.

“Lizzy, what’s up? You’re giving Hobard a heart attack.”

Lizzy could care less if Hobard keeled over in front of the whole class. She needed to get out. Needed to grab some air. Needed to leave the fake pain and go prick her own.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them. --Liberty Hyde Bailey

I am back in the groove. Once again, I am consistently putting aside a few hours each morning for writing, or something related to writing. I have pulled out different pieces and reread them, pondering their strengths and needs and what I should do next. I have two complete novels and three novellas, as well as a sequel, a young adult and a woman’s fiction in the works. These last two are the pieces I play with to hone my craft. It feels good to revisit all of these and ponder revision and creation.

Today we ventured into our backyard. It very much resembles a rich forest in the middle of a dust bowl. We have not touched it despite its neglected state. British Columbia has been in drought conditions for months and we did not want to traumatize the vegetation with our amateurish strokes. The rain fell freely this past week and the leaves perked up. We felt confident that it was a fine time to connect directly to this new land of ours.

We started hesitantly. Some plants looked quite nice and merely needed a clip or two. Some looked a little on the dry side and need more time to absorb the water before we decide how best to come at them. But, there were a few that were clearly out of control. They were difficult to prune as their branches were entwined intricately and to cut one did not necessarily release it. You had to trace back through the weave and snip multiple places before it was truly clear cut.

I could not help but think about how much an arborist’s task is like that of an author. I have pored through my writing this week. I did a quick edit on Raven’s Path and Love Denied and am pleased that there was little trimming to be done.  The sequel to Raven’s Path is suffering fatigue and needs to sit awhile and gather strength until I decide how best to approach it. The novellas need a good pruning, they are interlaced and must be approached with an eye to maintaining the integrity of all three—a terrific task for a rainy day.

I imagine the arborist who faces an empty lot is excited to be able to envision, design and create. That is how I feel as I look at my YA and WF. Their seeds have germinated and it is time to decide where they go. I am optimistic that the landscape of my life will be richer for their creation. Regardless of whether they become breath-taking arboretums, or rugged reminders of hard work, I know I will enjoy them. The words will be the soil that sifts through my fingers, their story the fruit of love’s labour.