Archive for the ‘First Time Writer Stuff’ Category
My apologies. I’ve been out of touch for weeks. First, there was the maddening illness, and then (more significantly) came revisions to a book proposal I was working on. Book proposals are strange creatures: you have to imagine an entire book which is not yet written, and then convince an editor that this not-yet-written book is worth her time.
Happy news! Editor liked the not-yet-written idea. This means that my next book is sold, and will be published at the beginning of 2014. (Note: this is for Canada only. US and UK rights have to be sold separately.) The book is really a follow up to Lonely. It will look at what we can do in *response* to loneliness. This is something that I didn’t spend much time on when writing Lonely. This was for two main reasons: 1. There wasn’t a lot of work available on the subject, and 2. My interests were really elsewhere. But now that Lonely is behind me, I feel like I have some unfinished business. I need to know what a person can do, on their own, to answer the loneliness in his or her life.
For this, I’m going to need volunteers. With Lonely, I worked with a core group of about 20 people, but I think my approach this time around will be more diffuse. I want to talk to various people about various things. So please keep your eye on this website. Some topics might interest you quite a lot, and you might feel like sharing your thoughts. I’ll be posting calls for volunteers on this page, and also on my seriously defunct Twitter stream.
Thanks for the notes and messages about my health. I’m all better now, and am looking forward to connecting with some of you in the months to come.
Many thanks to those of you who have written in the past few weeks to ask how I am doing. It has, obviously, been a quiet time for me. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and thinking, and writing for myself, but not writing with the goal of publishing anything.
It has not been a bleak time. It has just been a very private and quiet time. I do keep a journal (I’m sort of obsessive about it) but I don’t keep what people call a “gratitude journal.” (A gratitude journal, as the name implies, is a book where you record daily or weekly the things that make you happy.) But I’ve noticed I’ve been keeping something of a gratitude journal in my head.
Here are the things that have put a smile on my face in recent weeks:
- Seeing small dogs in cute winter jackets
- Drinking too much tea (for the record, it’s Tetley Orange Pekoe)
- Taking the train to Ottawa and watching the landscape roll by
- Kicking my way through orange and yellow autumn leaves
- Having dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages
- Reading. Reading. Reading. (Specifically recommended: Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean, and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett — both of these books are superb.)
- Toying with the idea of getting an 8 year old border collie
- Long talks with Hodgie
- Fiddling with notes for Book The Second
So it has certainly not been all bad. I think the change of seasons has helped enormously. The separation from D happened at the start of summer, and then summer hit and all that heat and humidity was just oppressive (and it had the visceral effect of reminding me I was no longer in cool, misty Newfoundland). Now that fall is here I feel as though I’ve made some progress.
I *will* make the effort to blog more. I like being in touch — it’s just been a strange and difficult season. More to follow….
Greetings people, or at least those of you still remaining after my long silence. I have found it absolutely impossible to write lately. I had done a lot of thinking (and some writing) earlier on the subject of loneliness and creativity, but I’ve never experienced anything like this. I stare at a page and the words don’t come. I think about blogging and my mind goes blank. I try to do research for Book The Second and my brain just fizzles.
Never before have I had such trouble getting thoughts done on paper (or on the screen). I think this has a lot to do with post-separation isolation. Writer’s block was one of the things that scared me when Danielle announced that she was leaving me. On top of everything else I was facing — the separation agreement, the chaos around the house, the goodbyes to all the pets — at the back of my mind I thought, “I’m not going to be able to write.”
That was three months ago, and I’ve barely written a word since. I can journal, which is a relief and a blessing, but I can’t think about publishing anything. Publishing feels so exposed, so risky, so…public.
If I had any doubts about the relationship between loneliness and creativity, they are over. It is hard (impossible?) to be creative when intensely lonely. I can read, and I can journal, but I just can’t write. I know what the problem is: I need a sense of emotional security in order to feel creative, and I just don’t have that right now. I feel vulnerable and insecure, and those feelings choke out anything that might be interesting, fruitful or new.
I am, however, going to make a renewed pledge to blog. A blog is a nice mid-point between a diary and a published piece of writing. I figure if I can blog at least once a week, that is a sign of some progress, and I think I have to be measuring progress in very small steps right now.
So please stay tuned…more blog posts to follow as I try to work my way through through isolation and towards (hopefully) the ability to write once more.
OK, so there was an unplanned hiatus with this blog. My apologies! I think what happened was this: I submitted my book proposal, then waited to hear, and then–while waiting to hear–I sort of went on autopilot. Didn’t write anything, including this blog.
Figured, this morning, that this drifting had to stop. So I just started writing Book The Second. Just sat down and wrote. This is my first major piece of work post Lonely, and I felt a bit rusty at first, as though I didn’t have a clear map of where I was going. But soon enough old writing habits settled back in and I found that I was enjoying myself!
Will keep you all posted re next book, as it materializes (I know my editor likes the idea, so I’m feeling hopeful). And, the blog is re-activated. About Twitter, I don’t know…but the blog will be happening once more!
Greetings, folks. I realize I’ve been silent recently, but there’s a reason for this. Two weeks ago, I submitted a book proposal (yes, sticking with the program), and I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher. This means I’ve been in a state of something resembling suspended animation…just waiting to hear, thinking through the next book, and keeping fingers crossed. There’s something sort of mesmerizing about waiting to hear from a publisher…you wait, and talk to the cats, and wait some more. (The cats, by the way, have been very supportive.)
Am now snapping out of my reverie, and will start blogging once more. Also, if you posted to the blog and wondered why your message didn’t appear, there was a technical glitch — I wasn’t receiving notices that new notes had been sent. I was wondering where everyone was! I now know that the glitch is there, so messages will be posted once again. Thanks for your patience!
If you’ve written to me and haven’t heard back, it’s because there’s a technical glitch with my email program. I can read emails, but I can’t reply to some addresses. I’m sorting this out, and will get back to you soon!
This weekend was the second annual “Sparks” literary festival here in St. John’s. I was invited to read, and initially felt a bit apprehensive about it. All of my work with Lonely has been conducted in the safety of my office. To be out in the middle of a big group of people, reading and talking about loneliness. Well, that was going to be different.
I’m happy to report that the day and the reading went well. There seemed to be a responsiveness among people when I mentioned the words “long term loneliness.” I know that not everyone in the audience had experienced such loneliness, but there seemed to be a real willingness to listen as I talked about what had happened to me. People applauded at the end, and that was just the best.
The reading felt like something of an anniversary. Lonely came out almost exactly a year ago. That means I’ve spent almost twelve months talking about loneliness, either through blogging, or interviews, or editorials. The reading was sort of the crowning achievement of my year. I realized that, after 12 months, I was calm talking about loneliness. I was ready. And that’s an accomplishment. It’s not anything, six years ago, that I thought I’d ever be able to do.
A quick post to say that Lonely is now out in paperback in Canada, and will be out in paper in the US on January 18th. It’s exciting to have the paperback version in the world, since this is the version that will “last” in bookstores (hardcovers are only in circulation for the first year or so).
I hope that everyone had a good new year, and I look forward to building this site and continuing our discussion about loneliness in the coming year.
Another quick house-keeping post. Lonely will now have the same cover and subtitle in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. The paperback will be published in January 2011, and all editions will feature the birds-on-a-wire cover, with the subtitle “Learning to Live with Solitude.”
I still have some problems with the whole “Solitude” issue, but I’m pleased that the book is going to have a single name and look as it moves into paperback phase. It’s a bit confusing, as a writer, to have one book with different jackets and different subtitles. (I spend a lot of time saying, “It’s the same book!”).