I’ve been working from the cosy bright nook of my kitchen since August, when my youngest son’s friend moved in with us for a few months to complete a co-op work-term required as part of his University degree. The location change plants me directly in the hub of household activity. It’s not ideal. And I’m making do.
That’s a major theme in My Own, due out in November of this year: making do in less-than-ideal conditions. Adapting. Moving forward despite every reason to plunk down and give up. Fall into hopelessness. Bitterness. Blame. And this time of year, when the sun is waning and the cold and damp gaining strength, it’s even easier to fall into that mindset, the desire to do less. Wallow more.
I find the only way I can cope, is to keep moving. One foot, one task at a time. No matter how slowly. Like a shark, for me, inertia is death of productivity. Action and focus the remedy.
When I first started tackling edits of My Own I didn’t expect I’d end up with a major overhaul on my hands. But the more I delved into Editor’s head (via her comments) the more I realised I needed to not just revise, but write new, some major scenes. And initially, that incited in me, paralysis–I couldn’t write. Edit. Revise. I panicked, and like a terrorized rabbit, froze, flattened to the ground while a huge hawk-shaped shadow circled the ground all around me.
But, like the rabbit, I couldn’t stay that way forever.
Muscle-fatigue and adrenaline-exhaustion eventually takes a nasty toll, and one either slumps unconscious to the ground, or scrabbles enough coherent thought together to choose a direction, and… GO.
After two weeks of waffling, I sat down, stopped thinking about HOW TO FIX ALL THE THINGS, and focused on the small changes first. Used them as stepping-stones to the massive echo-chamber of grey mist where I knew monsters lurked. And along the way, a funny thing happened.
As I neared the top step leading into the endless murk, I realized, that in fashioning a spiral-staircase of small fixes, I’d honed enough creative muscle to help me see past the first couple feet of terrifying blankness. And honestly, that’s all I, and anyone needs, to keep moving forward–an idea where to step next. That, and gratitude.
That is what is ultimately powering me onward. Gratitude. How awesome it is, that I can even do this, write, and publish a book. A feat made possible by good editors, proof-readers, supportive friends and family, desire. And, of course, electronics and Internet, two benefits that either did not exist, even in consciousness, or were not within easy and affordable public access, during the time-period in which I write.
My Dear One was set in 1912/13. My Own opens early in 1914. Just before the outbreak of WWI. A time when electricity is a rarity in most homes. Telephones reserved for a privileged few. TV is unheard of. Newspapers and dailies the primary source of information for the masses. And horses, or one’s own two feet, the most common form of transport, though rail travel was popular, especially for long distances, and automobiles had begun to nudge their exorbitant way in to the societal fabric of the upper crust. Long-distance communication, however, was the same for almost everyone the world over:
Unlike my newsletter that magically lands in readers’ in-boxes within seconds of the auto-delivery date/time I set, the majority of people in the majority of the 20th century, and especially in the early decades, relied on the postal service to convey information to distant recipients via letters, parcels, or post-cards. The length of time between Send and receipt of Reply, depended on the distance between locations. The weather. Whether the post journeyed by train, coach, or horseback. And regardless of how the mail got to its destination, the miles separating one’s doorstep and the post-office, determined how often one went to collect it. The subject of a birth announcement might be three, or six-months old, before uncle David finally read the note advising him he had a new niece.
The poignancy of such deliveries was heightened after WWI broke out in July, when the contents of letters, and/or parcels, became more precious–or terrifying.
No man on the front lines wanted to receive a Dear John letter; no mother or wife, an official-looking letter from a husband or son’s commanding officer. All recipients looked forward to good news, and the soldiers to warm socks and reassurance everyone at home was fine.
The speed at which personal news was exchanged, especially overseas, slowed considerably at this time, as merchant and passenger ships, under constant threat of being torpedoed by German U-Boats, were forced to detour, delay, or cancel sailings. In 1915, 1100 civilians lost their lives when the luxury ocean-liner RMS Lusitania sank, after being torpedoed six-days out of New York, on route to Liverpool, England.
The empty space between Send and receipt of Reply is another major theme of My Own. As is communication. And trust.
In the spirit of communication, and trust, I want you to know I am working on getting My Own to you in early November. Which, in terms of poignancy, is a month befitting this story.
Watch this space for My Own’s exact release date.
If you need something to read until My Own is available, and love animals and enjoy contemporary small town and/or cowboy romance that tugs your heart strings and makes you cry (at least that’s what happens to me whenever I read her books), check out my USA Today Bestselling friend, Roxanne Snopek. Her latest is:
If you prefer Historical Romance, I recently read Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes and really enjoyed it:
Hope is patience with the lamp lit. ~Tertullian