Hello, I’ve missed you!

My dearests! It’s been so long! My apologies! Do let me catch you up on this lovely, fat-with-fun-and-love summer that I’m having.

Nope, I can’t believe it’s mid-August either. What can we do but fill each day to its fullest – even if the filling is lying on the sofa or sitting in a beach chair reading. I say – let’s do those things!

I’m writing from the dining room table of a small cottage in Bayfield, ON. It’s official family vacation time…yes, writing is included on this trip! So is watching lots of movies and doing puzzles, playing board games and eating way too much. We just returned from Grand Bend and a stop at a yummy restaurant where I ate way.too.much. But that included an old-fashioned ice cream sundae sloshed in butterscotch. Ugh, it was delicious. Alas, I fear I will burst soon. (I just took off my bra. Much better.)

It helps to get to the beach and swim for hours with the kids. Miller and I have been jumping big waves like we’re mermaids. Confession – we are mermaids. It’s so much fun! We’re swimming in Lake Huron, and it’s so beautiful. It looks tropical at times and sometimes feels like an ocean with its two-foot white-caps smacking us around. Beneath our feet, sand ripples like art. On less choppy days, we can look down and see our toes clearly. It’s beautiful.

I love writing in my journal at the water’s edge.

It will be hard to leave the water. And to feel that energy shift when a vacation ends and by some sad miracle the relaxation we felt while we were ‘away’ we just can’t feel again when we’re home. Even though we’re doing the same things! Swimming. Reading. Writing. It’ll all feel different. We haven’t figured out the phenomenon of this energy shift. Have you?

The Goose. Our growing boy. Doesn’t he look like Harry Stiles/Styles?!
Mermaid Meeps. She would swim all day and night if we let her! #likehermom
It’s hard for me to be serious when I take a selfie.

I’ve challenged the kids to read three novels this summer. I’m on number six. Crazy! Here’s what I’ve read so far: (My apologies for not adding links to these – I’m using a hotspot because there’s no WiFi/Internet here…!)

Jett is reading Cressida Cowell’s new book…and he started Creighton’s Jurassic Park too.

Fall by Colin McAdam

Love and Ruin by Paula Mclain

Stray Love by Kyo Maclear

Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

Ghost Road by Charis Cotter (I got an advanced copy. It doesn’t come out until September 4th! Lucky me!)

I’m currently reading The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. There were several great bookstores in Goderich, ON, where we stopped yesterday. I bought Big Fish by Daniel Wallace and Some Great Thing by Colin McAdam. Also, The Nest (another one!) by Kenneth Opal, illustrated by Jon Klassen. Have I broken my ‘don’t-buy-books-this-year’ self promise? Yes. Damnit. But no more after these purchases. I promise. Does someone wanna gift me Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, please?!

Things at Gertrude’s Writing Room are going well. It’s such a wild rush of fear, panic and joy when I think about it – that I’ve done it. That I have an office. That I have a space to teach in. I’ve decided on the classes and workshops I’ll offer this fall and Winter…and into the Spring. It’s so very exciting! Soon I will tell you what they all are! Working out a few details still. I’ll be honest, it’s a mighty challenge for me to think about the financial parts of running Gertrude’s. I’m working hard on being fair and confident with my decisions. I hope that shows through.

I finished my new poetry manuscript. It’s called ‘thimble’. I finished it on August 10th and promptly sent it out to three publishers. One of which responded already and said I’d get a response within four weeks. That’s so fast, y’all! Since I completed it, it’s left my body and my brain. Shall I explain? When I’m working on a project – any project, really, but especially a writing project, it kinda takes over me. It’s always in my body. I hold the ideas and characters in different parts of my body.

This poetry manuscript was held mostly in my heart-centre – my chest, ribs, stomach and guts. It grew there like an extra bunch of cells. I felt heavy some times. For poetry, lines and stanzas and images are constantly running through my mind like it’s a computer screen and there’s a tiny typing angel (or devil) in the Office of My Thoughts clacking away. Only when I sleep can I escape the weights in my centre or the typing in my brain. Also, while writing ‘thimble’ my soul seemed to move around when I was writing. Sometimes she’d play hide-and-seek. Especially when I was writing something difficult like facing a fear or challenging my self to let go. For much of ‘thimble’ my soul shrunk herself and hid in my dark parts. I had to do a lot of searching to find her. She’s tired now. Resting somewhere…

A thimble sketch.

I will admit that I’ve filled my centre with food these past days. Not super healthy, I know. And, I’m not always eating unhealthy food, just eating too much of whatever it is. I wonder why this need to feel ‘full’ is such a thing for me lately? I’ll keep looking at why. I think being on vacation definitely has something to do with it. Like, I’m vacationing from thinking about food outside of the very simple: I’m hungry – what’s around me that I can stuff in my pie hole? Thinking about food and eating takes up a lot of energy. I don’t love that.

So ‘thimble’ is out in the world and out of my body, but oooo baby, a new story that’s been waiting patiently to take control has pranced into the spaces where the poetry once grew. This is a novel. Women’s Fiction. How about that? With some crime. Who knew? The characters are alive and loud and jostling for position at the tips of my fingers. It’s been so invigorating giving them life. Yesterday I gave them names. Giving names is always hard for me. Is it hard for you too? There’s so much power in a name…so I hope I’ve done a good job in the naming.

I’m using Scrivener. It’s writing software that helps keep everything from chapters to research to character sketches organized. It’s pretty cool. My friend, Charis Cotter, she uses it and suggested that I try it. I have to say I’m really loving the interface, and the organizational bits. No, I don’t have a working title for this piece. No logline either. But I can tell you that it’s like nothing I’ve written before…and yet, it feels like the book I’ve always wanted to write. Is that crazy or what? Right now, it’s living in my throat, ears and knees. It makes me feel weak some days! But good weak, like, fluttery heartbeats and nervous palms weak. Like, new love weak!

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I went to Humber. Last night when we took the kids to the drive-in (yes, a real drive-in – Starlight Theatres – and go!), I was wearing the t-shirt and hoodie I bought while I was there. I felt warm and still very connected to the writers in my group, and to what I learned during the workshops. But, the truth is, I’ve not done much work on the project I started while I was there. It’s a memoir…and it’s big, big undertaking. I’ve begun gathering bits and pieces…but it keeps stepping out of line as a project for me to dive into. I can see it, a white flag flapping in the winds of my brain. I don’t know why it’s not quite ready to play yet, but I’m trusting it will take hold when it’s ready.

One of the stores in Grand Bend had a huge sewing section. I had to take photos. I’ll use these somehow in my memoir.

The colours are stunning!

I wanted to tell you that I’ve been feeling…different about bookstores. Not all bookstores, I should qualify, because I didn’t feel this way when I was in the bookstores in Goderich. The last two times that I was in Chapters I felt…sad. Is that weird? Typically, I feel excited to go to Chapters. I love the high ceilings, the home and décor stuff. I can browse the journals and card sections for hours. But I’ve been unable to stop myself from heading directly to the back to the YA section. I walk myself to the huge wall of Best-Selling and Debut Novels – they shine like gold medals. I swear a band of invisible angels sing ‘ahhhhh’ constantly to serenade the books. I find myself picking up a book, petting the cover and sighing heavily. I feel a deep sense of loss and sadness…and wishery. New word alert. Like, I wish, wish, wish my book was on this wall. I’m talking about Hangman…that YA novel I started and finished and sent out…then rewrote and sent out again. Now, it’s just waiting – defeated and shy. Ok -that’s me. I know in my heart I have to do another rewrite and then truly let it go. Whether I send it out again or do nothing with it, I know I owe it the attention of one more rewrite. I think because it was the novel I told my self was ‘THE ONE’ that would land me an agent – in the least – and a movie deal at the most (Tom Cruise would definitely be starring.) – it holds so much hope and excitement in it. Alas, it’s hiding out somewhere in my toes. Doesn’t want any attention at all. I hope that I go back to it at some point. I don’t feel completely out of wishes for it. I suppose it’s what shows up when I head into Chapters. Huh.

Willow Tree.

There’s a huge willow tree outside the door of the cottage. I love me some willow trees, yo! It’s so big and lanky…and there are loads of bunnies everywhere. I think they love willow trees too! Willow trees remind me to relax. Let it all hang loose.

I mean, how can I not be grateful for all that surrounds me?  I am! I hope you are too.

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2 thoughts on “Hello, I’ve missed you!

  1. what a wonderful holiday! wish I was there with you. Thanks for sharing your writing process, Vanessa. I’m getting such a vivid picture of how it works for you. It resonates with me on many levels. Happy rest of August! happy writing and reading! happy mermaid life…

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