Last month I joined a small group of writers in a salon at the BARN with Martha Salinas to share work from Intention Tremor. I also had a wonderful time reading with Mary Gilliland and Max Vandersteen for the Cultivating Voices LIVE Poetry New Books Showcase hosted by Sandy Yannone.
What a way to end a stretch of literary events! The virtual book tour celebrating the release of my first book, Intention Tremor, is now officially complete.
This doesn’t mean I won’t be doing any more events! With any luck, I’ll continue whenever and wherever possible. I’m:
- hoping to score some opportunities in live venues this fall and into winter. Bookstores, libraries, reading series. If you have connections to any of these and they need readers with new books, let me know.
- still participating as a guest in podcasts (two coming up in the next 10 days, stay tuned for links!). I’ll report on these as they go live.
- happy to pop in online to read virtually with or for anyone who asks. (Want to read together? email@example.com.)
A quiet ending
As for the end of the tour, I’m more or less satisfied with how it turned out. I know so many writers who didn’t even try to promote their books during the pandemic. In fact, the only writers I know who really did anything were established authors with marketing support from their publishers. So what can I say? It is what it is: a challenging task to take on even without a pandemic to create more hurdles.
I’m mostly relieved. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say my brain is mostly relieved. I just can’t organize my own events anymore. MS symptoms are a hurdle, palpable to me if invisible to everyone else. I’ve been a marketing and promotions department of one since January and let’s face it: my resources (money, time, energy, brainspace, and social capital) are simply tapped out.
If you’re a writer with a new book and a marketing budget and team to help you out, consider yourself privileged. I know the sales aren’t there for your either, but you gotta admit, you had some help and weren’t alone in your efforts.
Meanwhile, I still have some signed copies of Intention Tremor available in my personal stash; please consider buying yours now while they last. I’m gearing up to send a fundraising check to the Accelerated Cure Project soon; it would be great to include your investment in my book as part of that donation.
So… now what do I do?
Soon (?), live meetings may be a thing!
I’m psyched to learn that poetry series venues previously forced into Zoom thanks to COVID-19 are starting to re-open live.
(At least right now; how the Delta variant shapes this future is anybody’s guess. Will the mandates return? They probably should, but I don’t see how they can be enforced.)
This is also true for writing groups and meetups which used to meet live but had to go virtual for safety’s sake for the last 18 months.
This is another source of relief for me, too. Like many creative folks (musicians and dancers totally get it), I could really use some face-to-face camaraderie with my writing pals.
Dear Seattle-area writers: If you have a live reading coming up somewhere, or a live writing group looking for another member, I’m willing to come to you. Hit me up! firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a process…
Fiction writing has eluded me for far too long. I miss it!
This was no idle threat! Thanks to the writing sprints offered by the Clarion West Write-a-thon, an informal writing conference at a friend’s home in Discovery Bay, and a couple of generative online workshops, I’ve spent some time hammering out a new story for that book, “Eminent Domain,” which may become a novella.
Once it’s done, I’ll finish up two other stories, polish my manuscript, and begin the process of building my indie publishing strategy for Trust Fall. Oh, and I’ve also started thinking about a cover design.
The Write-a-thon really did help kickstart my creative writing life (you can read my progress reports here). Its accompanying Slack community reminded me of the crucial need for creative community, as well. And I’ve begun to look at process more closely than I have in a really long time.
Change isn’t bad, but it can still be hard
It has been challenging to reclaim my writing life, which has fallen a bit to the wayside during what I’m now calling “the transition years.” This is the period of time between 2013 and now when I faced multiple major life changes:
- a new MS diagnosis
- seeing two children graduate from both high school and college (and the adjacent empty nest)
- a new career path
- downsizing to a smaller home
You’ll notice this doesn’t even mention the pandemic or the stress of the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Meanwhile, somewhere in there,
I wrote and published a book.
I often believe it’s important to not look back, to keep your eyes facing forward, because you can get caught up in the past. But this is one time when looking back has truly helped me frame my perspective.
I’ve “gone through some things,” but my writing life—even if it’s run fallow—isn’t gone. I love the term, “filling the well,” and doing the Write-a-thon has helped me recognize just how empty it had become.
These days, I’m finding myself thinking more like a writer, spending more time doing more “writerly” things (including, of course, writing!), and I’ve even found a new manuscript critique group that I have trialed and find I like.
It has been about 10 years (?) since I actively engaged with a writing group, but this one (currently meeting in Zoom) shows a lot of promise and I hope to be sharing some of my work with them soon.
In the meantime, I’m back to critiquing others’ works, which is its own kind of inspiration and an important asset to my writing process.
Being around people (even virtually) with their swirls of ideas, their points of focus, their questions, their creative energy is really a much bigger part of the process for me than I’ve thought, and I miss it—that sense of community.
This group is versed is science fiction, fantasy, speculative, and horror writing. To be honest, it feels good to be hanging around in this neighborhood again. Refreshing. It’s a different space from memoir and poetry, for sure.
I’m also getting better at journaling, note-taking, researching, reading, and incubating ideas. These were things that seemed to come naturally for me when I was young. I’m a bit rusty now—maybe it’s an age thing? or I’m just out of practice.
I do wonder if maybe I am better off retooling my “writing life” entirely rather than trying to reproduce what it used to be. After all, so much has changed in the last eight years. I’m older and my brain works differently. So I’m back to experimenting with process, trying new paths, reconsidering the value of old habits that may not be particularly productive for me now.
For instance, I used to “just write” short stories without outlines. Let them be the product of discovery. Now I feel like every piece needs an outline, even if it’s an informal timeline. There’s no reason for me to eschew this process strategy; just because I didn’t do it before doesn’t mean it can’t help me now. Even while cleaving to an outline, I am still enjoying points of discovery along the way.
What I’m looking forward to, post-tour
I’m so psyched to be heading out to another solo silent writing retreat in September at a historic landmark near the coast, and anticipate my return to Kauai in January 2022.
And! After I publish this post, I’m booking another retreat for November to make up for time lost to the pandemic. So exciting!
I also have that post-apocalypse novel (The Flare) brewing in the background. Its constant nagging from characters, settings, and concepts inspired by current events has fueled my desire to complete Trust Fall to the production stages.
At that point, I can free up brainspace to build that novel. If the stars align, I may even use November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) opportunity to launch that effort.
I hope to write more for this blog and for Medium in the months to come, as well. It’s all a matter of working out the dynamics of time, brain space, creative energy, and resources.
Meanwhile, thanks for joining me on this work-in-progress that’s my writing life.