In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I have taken down the brown "butcher" paper that held ideas, photos, drawings, and my hand-drawn maps and plot outlines for the past five or six books. I've placed all those items into three-ring binders, and cleared the deck for paintings and photographs that involve courage, as I move forward in GHOSTKEEPER, the new novel set in Lyndonville, Vermont. My 1850 Vermont adventure THE LONG SHADOW is under contract with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you a publication date as soon as I know! Scribbling lots of poems, too. And there's a possible route to publication of the "Vermont Nancy Drew" novel I built on Wattpad (see right-hand column). Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Luck and Faith in the Writing Room

Old-time authors used to say the bare necessities for writing were paper and pencil (or pen). That's where I started, some 40 years ago, when I wanted to move from writing poems for myself, into writing stories and novels for others.

It wasn't enough.

And in 1984, when my home caught fire on a harsh subzero December night, one of the unexpected benefits of losing all our possessions was the ashing of a couple of really bad novel manuscripts, as well as old poems written more to please myself than to reach out to others.

Today, I'd say there are three things that keep me writing:
  1. Seeking fresh experiences. Some are small and almost routine, like climbing the ridge here and asking questions about the plants and animals and weather along the way. Some are life-shifting, like a course in how character development meshes with plot, or an afternoon spent listening to poets read their work aloud and talk about how their writing connects with what they want to give or receive.
  2. Making lists. I know that sounds odd, but there are many moments—a muggy afternoon, a frustrated morning, a tired evening—when I don't actually itch to sit down and write. Having a list of what I expect from myself helps a lot. And if I can't summon up the energy and enthusiasm for item #1, I may find it's still a good moment for item #4.
  3. A place that's intended for writing.
For me, a writing room includes scraps of knowledge that resonate for me ("Can you be grateful for everything? No, not for everything. But in every moment. It is a chosen response." -- Brother Steindl-Rast), objects that have meaning (a quilt; a special seashell), and work by others that I want to live up to. I keep relatively few books in the room with me, just the ones that seem to mean the most for this time. The rest sit in the next room, the "research room." And beyond.

My house is on the market now, because many of the outlines of my daily life are shifting. I'll carry the objects and confidence of this room with me, wherever I go. And with those, I'll tote a sort of faith that's come partly from experience, partly from determination to listen for and work with a Higher Power that gives meaning to my actions. For me, that's a combination that's effective and joyous.

What about luck?

Six full-length books came to life in this room, and five of them have publishers. (I haven't given up on the sixth and I'm still revising it.) If luck is a matter of considering the odds, this place has been lucky for me. I suspect it will give the same kind of track record to the next person who jumps into creative labor here.

But I'd rather say that "luck" is a shorthand for the results of something else: Long-term love. From the quilt on the wall to the seashells to the paintings and to the quotations treasured, and even the computer here, most of what surrounds me is evidence of love ... from my husband, sons, brothers and sisters-in-law and sister, friends, and colleagues. (And that Higher Power.)

I know there's a New Family who'll discover this house and its blessings sometime soon, and I'll move on to a smaller place and my own next chapter. Maybe they'll move here because they already love the place, its many rooms, wide vistas, ample gardens, eager apple trees.

Maybe they'll fill it with their own love. And get lucky.

[Here's the link for the house.]

No comments: