I’m Still Here.

How’s your 2020 going? I’ve picked up some new hobbies.

I cannot believe it has been so long.

It is less than ideal starting a blog post by having to reassure you, wonderful readers, that I – Owner of Said Blog – did not, in fact, hop a ship and sail off into the sunset, fleeing from the burden of expectations and broken dreams.

That was melodramatic, I know. (And full of commas.)

But it’s gotten to the point where I feel viscerally anxious when too much time passes between blog posts. When much of my life – my non-writing life – is broken down into obligations that squeeze every spare second out of my day, every day. This time it has been nearly twenty-four full months between posts. This blog has been collecting dust and cobwebs while the outside world has kept me distracted at best, and had me almost drowning at worst. (Sorry about all the nautical metaphors, but that’s nothing if not apropos.)

And then… THIS YEAR. This year to end all years.

You’d think with a raging global pandemic going on, we’d all have a lot more time to write our novels and update our blogs and such. I can absolutely assure you the opposite is true. It takes every ounce of courage and fortitude to sit down and find the words, when your mind is wracked with worry about your family members and friends with pre-existing health conditions, when your eyes and ears are constantly bombarded by grim statistics on the news. It becomes almost an obsession, seeking out and finding fleeting glimpses of the Life Before COVID-19, in virtual family dinners and picking up take-out from your favorite restaurant, in setting up a home office for the indefinite future. In Wine and Skype Nights with your best friends.

This year has been a lot to take in, to fully process. And I don’t think I ever will fully process just how much we lost. People lost their people this year. I’m fortunate in that I have not experienced that permanent of a loss, but all the same I’m grieving the loss of a year’s worth of time I could have spent with my aging grandparents, a sentiment many hundreds of thousands of people share… it’s a year we all can never get back.

But…. we’re here. I’m here. And I’m trying desperately to find the courage to seek out the words again. While I collect my creative fortitude and get my act together, I did want to share a rundown of some recent notable developments:

Geeking out over the proof in my hands

The first exciting bit of news isn’t just mine to share, but I want to speak on behalf of – and in praise of – my local writers group, who collectively have finally published our first anthology! It’s called View from the Shore: Selected Works of Waconia Writers – and it is the culmination of two years of hard work.

This book became a possibility in 2018, and has occupied much of my time since. But while I volunteered to spearhead the formatting and the work of getting the book print-ready and onto our publishing platform, the countless hours undertaken by fellow group members is astounding and incredibly admirable – so I want to mention them here. Barb, Mary, and Claire (the editing Dream Team); Brenda and Laurel (the creative art duo); contributing authors Beth, Dorothy, Mona, Carol, Jillian, Gudrun and Lollie (without you, we had no book!) – truly a team effort, yielding a beautiful product that we’ll get to enjoy forever. If you want to check out more about the Waconia Writers Group and what we do, visit our website or by clicking the logo. View from the Shore is available for purchase here.

Building the book from printed hard copies and dreams, circa 2019.

Stormriders is in publishing limbo at the moment. I’m revising my publishing plan as I write this, but for now we’ll just call its status “in a state of perpetual edits.” That’s to be expected. I want this book to be good. Like, readers-can’t-put-it-down good. I’m devoted to that mission. I’ve been shopping for editing services, but the pandemic definitely put some of that on hiatus, as I’m a gregarious in-person networker but not as adept over email. I’m also not super keen about sending my work digitally to a stranger I’ve never even said hello to in person. But I’m working diligently to get the book into a place where I’m proud of it and am ready to discuss its merits with someone in the industry. In the meantime, I’m developing some Stormriders-themed merch for my Patreon members; more to come on that!

I’ve also been collecting, curating and editing a selection of my more recent poetry, essays and short fiction pieces. I’m hoping to release this collection, “Wordsparks,” in the next few months or so. My work on the WWG Anthology has inspired me to get more books out into the world, now that I’ve been through the self-publishing process firsthand and know how it works. A lot of these pieces came out of writing prompts, an optional tool we used as a group every time we met, to motivate us and provide a direction for our writing during the weeks between meetings. I’m dedicating this one to the WWG, as that group of writers inspires me every time I read their pieces or meet up on Zoom for coffee and a check-in. I’ll let you know as soon as Wordsparks drops.

I was similarly inspired by my work on the WWG anthology to re-release my own poetry chapbook “off the page (a story in poems)“! This is in the proofing process, and the second printing should be up on my Amazon author page in paperback form in a week or two. It currently exists as a Kindle e-book.

The rest of my writing life is fluid, almost casual. Ideas for novels and other projects come and go. I’ll write pages at a time some nights, and others only a few sentences escape onto the page. But it is a marked improvement from earlier this year, where my motivation gasped and stuttered like a flame in a rising north wind. I mainly just wanted you all to know that I’m here, and grateful to be. I wish all of you the best of health and hope your families are doing well. I wish for you the means to cope and write and be inspired. Here’s to a brighter and more promising 2021.

Thinking of you,