My Kind of Crazy

I have been a writer for twenty-three years. When I was fourteen, someone read my work, believed in it and encouraged me to take it seriously. I can’t remember if I’d even shown anyone anything but this woman (to whom I dedicated my first published novel) pushed me to go forward. I haven’t exactly looked back since and I hope she knows that she changed my life for the better. Sometimes it just takes one person.

I went to hear Joseph Boyden speak at Carleton University in Ottawa recently. I’d read his first book and it was beautifully written. Going to hear him speak, I was unsure of what to expect, maybe a lecture about the importance of historical research?

Instead I came “face to face” with a genuine man. It was an amazing experience and I wanted to share it with you. I want to talk about influential people and how they can make a difference. Boyden’s talk was personal, even in a room of several hundred people. I never felt like it was a crowd or that it was something he’d done too often. He spoke from the heart and about his words.

I’ve been afraid to talk too much about my writing process, or even too loudly about my books. I suppose for fear that my ability to write would fade or vanish. Boyden spoke about his process and I sat on the edge of my seat. He could have been speaking about mine. The movie in his head that he transcribes from shows a different program than mine but I am not alone. He talked about the characters in his head that spoke to him. Mine have long been loud and demanding, sometimes to my dismay. I also have no control sometimes and the best-laid plot points have to be quickly rewritten. But I do not speak of this because I am afraid of negative reactions from people or even the characters themselves. I am afraid that people might tell me I’m doing it wrong, or worse, that the characters might become silent altogether. Boyden assures us that this most likely won’t happen. There are no guarantees in life. But his ability to speak of it and continue to write brings me hope. He recommended ignoring our critics who say that we can’t or even can’t do it again. They can’t know. We need to be true to the work. His whole talk brought me hope, made me fall in love with words all over again.

One of things he spoke of hit home in an entirely different way. He told the story of trying to get a date with a young woman when he was in university. After two years of effort he finally asked, ‘why not?’ She said that he didn’t take his writing seriously. My first thought during that story was, do I? By her standards, no. By mine, I’m not sure. I’ve accomplished a lot, written four novels, almost five, in ten years. That’s not to mention short stories and poetry and all the editing that’s associated with being a writer. It’s never ending and sometimes overwhelming but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t write every day, finding it difficult to make time with a part-time job and going to class. But despite two degrees, a diploma and learning a second language I think I’ve done okay. I am doing my best to stay true to those words, to the characters and to the essence of being a writer. I’m here to tell their stories, whatever they might end up being.

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A Taste of Things to Come

Normally I want to use this blog to talk about writing, about some of the things I think about, the words and maybe even hints of my process.  It has been a little empty lately and for that I apologize.  I think what comes in November will be worth the wait.  In the meantime, there will be a new blog post very soon about writing.  To appease your hunger and perhaps whet your appetite, please see below:

Here is the first sample from Pure Red Sand: Uncomfortable Truths.  (Book two of the trilogy)

Sven emailed the last of his corrected papers to the head of the department to look over and started for the door. The teaching assistant thing wasn’t in his plans but since nothing else had been, he’d agreed. He was getting very good at agreeing to things. He just didn’t know if that was something to be happy about or not. No, it didn’t matter. He pushed it forcefully out of his mind and started back to catch the shuttle. It was nearing midnight by the time he got home but he knew that someone would be waiting for him. Not obviously but if his parents suggested someone should wait up then someone would. He thought for a moment about trying to sneak past them. But no, what was that going to accomplish? Better to be quiet, silent even. He reached the gate and a slight draft whistled past his ears, ruffling his coat and sending him back. For one moment, he could smell the dry, clean scent of Mars. He could feel the heat burning through his shirt and into his shoulders, filling him and holding him upright. Nadine behind him. Her voice, the way she frowned when deep in thought, her smile. The wind died down and his nose filled once again with the dank smell of the street and he opened his eyes to reality. Taking a deep breath, he looked down at his hands carrying the books and his bag, the edge of the dark blue shirt peeking out from the sleeve of his coat and then up at the gate. Reality. Hunching his shoulders slightly, he passed the gateposts and walked into the courtyard.

He was greeted by no less than four employees, all polite and offering assistance, as he made his way to his apartment. It was hot inside, just the way he’d left it and as soon as he closed the door, some of the tension slipped off of his shoulders. He hadn’t been the same kind of warm on Earth since he’d returned except for some enforced vacation time in the south. One of the people he’d come back with said that the desert was the closest comparison but he hadn’t been able to make it that far yet. Dropping his things on the floor just inside the door, he slipped out of his jacket and the pants, shirt and tie, went in to the bedroom and pulled a pair of shorts and a t-shirt out of his dresser. The main room was still spotless and almost empty when he returned, scuffing bare feet on the carpet as he walked. The desk was pushed against the wall on his left but the bulletin board above it remained empty. He had tried using the space, reclaiming it, when he first returned but that had been before he realized they were watching. They were always watching now.