Usually, out of guilt, I begin these articles lamenting about how long it’s been since I last posted. To hell with that. Life happens and things get in the way. As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “And so it goes.” In the meantime, I’ve received my permanent Canadian residency visa, imported my Jeep, played golf, gone camping, and enjoyed life with my husband and our friends. All time well spent. I’ve not neglected my artistic pastimes however. In fact, just yesterday I finished a fifth automobile portrait and started on the next one. My goal is to have seven completed in the series before I approach a gallery.
Perhaps I have been a touch lazy with my writing, but there’s a good reason for my delinquency. As of this coming Tuesday, I will be re-immersing myself into the lives of the characters from DARK EARTH, my first novel. Like most creative weirdos, I get much more work accomplished under pressure. My deadline for finishing Book Two of the trilogy? March 1st, 2019, six months from now, the reason for which calls for a bit of backstory.
Last June, I attended the Writer’s Guild of Alberta conference in Calgary. It was both enlightening and exhilarating to mingle with my fellow scribes, and I learned a great deal. We had the opportunity to submit a sample of our writing for critique by a published Canadian author. Of course, I went for it!
On the last day of the conference, my brain a little foggy from the previous night's shenanigans, I sat down with Angie Abdou, author of THE BONE CAGE and IN CASE I GO, among other books. Things began well when she pulled out the chapter I had sent and said, “Oh! I really enjoyed this one.” She proceeded to point out things I could improve on, and commented on the prose that worked well.
I liked Angie, and appreciated her honest feedback. “Are you mentoring anyone?” I asked.
Angie told me about a few of the writing classes she teaches at Athabasca University, and then paused. “I don’t tell a lot of people about this if they’re not one of my students, but you may be interested in my English 491 course, Directed Studies in Literature.”
So, in a few days, I will once again be a college student! Angie waived the course prerequisites, and I will be writing Book Two of my trilogy (working title: BLACKEST DEPTHS OF NIGHT) under her tutelage. Every two weeks, I will submit chapters to her online. She will offer critique and encouragement, and at the end of six months, I should have a decent first draft. Then I plan to take the second course in the series, and either finalize that novel or write Book Three. Woohoo!!
[A side note: I chose to stick with the DARK EARTH trilogy because Angie will have to read the first book; yes, she’ll have homework too. My hope is that she enjoys it so much that perhaps she shows it to her agent or publisher. Not out of the realm of possibility!]
I’ve been signed up for the course for three months now, and while I could have started writing more chapters ahead of time (I already had six finished), I didn’t. Oddly enough, I feel like that would be cheating. I did mention the term ‘creative weirdos,’ right? Instead, I put together a tentative outline of where I think the novel will go, although I have no idea whether the characters will agree with my plans. I also scanned the first novel, getting back into the chaotic scene in Nelson, B.C. I’m psyched, I’m excited, and I’m ready to dive back in!
I realized the other day that I have two longtime dreams that are becoming tantalizingly close to my reaching hands. But what to do with those hands? Paint or write? Both, I decided. The writing under deadline will of course be the priority. But when the words get tangled or dry up in my head, I always have my art to refill the creative well.