Wednesday, February 1, 2023



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Yay! It's another meeting of my favourite group! And I'm on time and everything. To sign up go here IWSG.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

I'm not that interested in today's topic as I am traditionally published so I get some input into my cover but ultimately it is up to the publisher. I am lucky that I totally loved the cover for The Crooked Knife.  You can see it here on the left of the book signing poster. The crooked knife in the photo belonged to my father-in-law - we have three of them from various places and I took the photo so...

So what do I want to talk about? Trust. I want to talk about trust when it comes to writing, or probably any venture. The kind of trust I want to explore is self-trust. I lost that for awhile in the fall. I love all the to-do with having a book published but it ate up a lot of time. Constantly being on the hunt for ways to promote a book is extremely exhausting and although it can be a real adrenaline rush from time to time it isn't the same as writing. By November I had about fifty thousand words on the new book, tentatively named Butter & Snow but I was unhappy. The story wasn't exactly there yet. It was just a bunch of folks in a situation and I wasn't sure where it was going. So I started thinking it wasn't going anywhere. I started to believe my monkey mind. That I was a one book person and that if I thought I could do another I was crazy. That I only had the one story to tell. I went so far as to turn my writing space into my painting space. Made my desk the holder for my pastels and did any writing I felt like out on the kitchen table. Demoted my writer self and promoted my artist self. Told everyone I was now an artist and not a writer anymore - mostly facetiously, but with a kernel of truth. Then I stopped wanting to paint. Oh oh. 
In the turmoil of that tiny room one thing arose that saved my writing bacon. I had to organize the room and we'd painted the living room before installing a wood stove so there was a lot of decluttering and shifting of books and papers going on (still actually!). When I was organizing my office bookcase I came upon a journal I kept for part of my revising process of The Crooked Knife. What do you imagine I discovered there? I discovered that even when my book was accepted by the publisher I didn't have a proper ending - in fact I had to rewrite the last couple of chapters before they'd send me the contract. I found that a couple of years before that I didn't have a story. I was reminded that actually that is my process and while it might make some people crazy (for instance I know it makes Elizabeth George out of her mind) it is how I roll and I know it works because I have a book that has a complete story and a plot too. A pastel teacher I follow says that every painting has its ugly adolescent phase and that about covers it. After I woke up with this reminder I did another thing (besides reinstate my writing space as writing space).  I got out the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and read a chapter a day until I finished it. When I set up my bullet journal for the year (no fancy illustrations - just a system that works for me) I wrote that my writing goal for January was to have 80,000 words for Butter & Snow by the end of the month. I hit that three days ago. Every time my conviction faded I read my journal or Lamott's book and then went back in. It is a hot mess but I know I can wrestle a novel out of it. I have to trust my process. It isn't blind trust, but a measured and well considered trust.
This month for me will entail going into my manuscript and using tools like mindmaps, beat sheets and character studies. My achievable goal is to have a good enough second draft by the end of March. I will also write a plot treatment that is sort of like when you ask a teenager how a movie is that they saw and they tell you the whole movie in mind-numbing detail. That.
Hope your writing is going well and would love to know how you deal with moments of doubt.

p.s. Butter & Snow is the name of a tiny settlement near North West River in Labrador where the Nell Munro mysteries are set. It is a real place.


Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

This is amazing -- and just what I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing!

Ronel visiting for IWSG day Strategies to Be a Successful Author

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you found a way to get reinspired and made your 80,000-word goal this month.

Bish Denham said...

Wow! Good for you and discovering the inspiration to reach your goal. Which makes me think maybe I should reread Bird by's been a while.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Jan! I'm glad you're back on track with your writing. I know from watching my sister that promoting a published book takes a lot of time and effort. I'm so sorry I didn't get to connect with you in Nova Scotia. My husband and I had to cut our visit short because both of us had unexpected medical challenges. I'm still not sure how we managed to get back to Colorado. Fortunately we are both doing much better now. 2022 is a year I'll happily forget. Wishing you lots of success as you revise your novel!