I don’t think I’m the only person doing some serious contemplating during this strange time of illness, panic, isolation. Everything appears so uncertain, unknown. And, of course, with so many now stuck quarantining at home–days once jammed-packed now jerked to a halt–there’s a sudden excess of time to think.
I’m not sure about anybody else, but my brain is not always a safe place for me to wander alone.
Yet, I find myself facing a sudden shock of revelation–in this time of upset, I am not as “upset” as I’d expect. Despite everything, I’ve mostly felt at peace. And it’s because of the strangest thing: old heartaches.
To explain: Those who follow my blog will know that I married into the Foreign Service. The lifestyle offered by my husband’s job has afforded us many wonderful adventures–amazing things I never imagined I’d do: Cuddle baby tigers. Climb castles made of ice. Sleep in the heart of the rainforest. I wouldn’t trade it…. I don’t think.
And the uncertainty on that point comes from this: the Foreign Service life has also caused me a lot of pain.
So here’s some exciting news: I’ve just had a short story accepted for publication in an upcoming literary anthology.
This isn’t my first short story rodeo. But this one is particularly fun, since my tale, “Moonshine,” will be appearing in the inaugural edition of Keep Texas Salty. The debut publication for new Texas press Quartermarch, Salty is to be a collection of poetry and short fiction paying tribute to the Texas Gulf Coast.
And as anybody who reads my blog will tell you, that sort of theme is right up my Texas-surfer-girl alley. As they say, you can take the girl outta Texas, but you can’t take Texas outta the girl. You can, however, distill it into a work of fiction or two.
A gothic noir (many thanks to the husband for helping me quantify this strange little story set in Prohibition-era Texas), “Moonshine” isn’t what you’d call a polite tale. But it should fit in just fine given Quartermarch’s aim for the anthology:
After a multi-year hiatus–peppered with rare, stolen moments of work–and half a year of concentrated effort, I’ve finished the rough draft of my speculative novel, NIGHT GARDEN.
Emphasis on the word “rough.”
A quick glance at my Track Changes application shows 119 comments sprinkled throughout the manuscript, indicating spots where I need to weave in world-building elements, affirm timelines, research further, fill in creative pits, and shore up plot points and character motivations. In addition, I have notes scrawled on napkins, sermon notes, and Post-Its–whatever I could grab before the thought fled.
Then there are the two notebooks (including one of those ultra-sexy yellow-pads) full of the most poorly organized notes imaginable.
I’ve got just a wee bit of work to do before this baby’s ready for prime time.
Still, it’s a major accomplishment, just completing the beast. I typed 112,632 words. I wrote 35 chapters. I hit the point where I could legitimately pen that final flourish: “The End.”
I should be skipping. Dancing. Celebrating with a glass of wine.
I won’t lie: The past few days of writing have required a healthy, heaping dose of courage. Why, you ask?
Because I’m finally returning to NIGHT GARDEN, the novel I started way back in 2015.
I know–that doesn’t sound particularly terrifying. But between now and then, my novel-writing life has been a roller-coaster-y one. When I started NIGHT GARDEN four years ago, I’d just finished writing and editing PROHIBITED, my 1920s novel. NIGHT GARDEN was meant to be my work-in-progress while I shopped PROHIBITED for literary agent representation.
There was just one kink in my glossy little plan. At 700 pages, PROHIBITED was literally twice the size it should’ve been. If novels can be likened to sharks, PROHIBITED was a whale shark instead of a sleek, speedy mako. 🦈
(Somewhere out there, at least my brother Hunter gets this metaphor.) But if you’re not so into sharks, here’s a visual: PROHIBITED’s first draft.
Ah, the twin hazards of being a freelance artist/writer: procrastination and performance anxiety.
As soon as I sit down at my watercolor block and pick up my brushes, I find myself convinced that the writerly muse has suddenly, decisively descended and I must return to my novel RIGHT. FRICKIN’. NOW.
The minute I pull up that chapter I’m re-writing for the secondthirdfourth fifth time, my eyes sneak back toward my painting. I mean, is it really wise to give up the last good natural light of the day?
I think I might need a personal assistant. Just to set off the shock collar every time I think changing up activities every five minutes is a good way to be productive.
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