REFLECTING ON MY WRITING LIFE IN 2008
A time for reflection, both backwards and forwards.
December is the time to take a look backward. This was done in my Christmas letter written to family and far-distant friends, which I dared post on Christmas Eve (CHRISTMAS LETTER 2008). A response to that risk brought a celebration of my writing life to a glorious end for 2008 when I received an immediate, surprising response. More on that later. I think tonight I will focus on the writing aspect of the past year, since it that is where I have concentrated much of my effort.
Publication was NOT in the cards for me in 2008, although I did manage one article on the bear presence in Laurel Mountain Borough, PA. First, my husband woke me up at 5:30 one morning to view the bear balancing itself against our window frame with his one paw while his other paw gently patted the birdfeeder, suctioned to the window, with his other paw. His full face was visible through the window. Not long after, I had a day of interrupted writing, as I moseyed over to the neighbor’s yard to observe and photograph a baby bear high up in a tree. This was my only published story, except for publicity items for the Beanery Writers Group. However, I did have a success with a photograph that became the cover of Ligonier’s 2009 calendar, available from the Ligonier Chamber of Commerce.
Stories I did not write include one on an alleged heart disease symptom, depression. After my nephew died an autopsy showed that his arteriosclerosis was advanced that it produced a chemical that caused depression, in his case so deep that he commit suicide. He was unaware that his health was in such jeopardy. Could more heart problems be discovered if depression were considered a symptom of heart disease rather than a result of heart disease treatment?
Part of my writing commitment involved facilitating the Beanery Writers Group. I am so proud of most of my writers, but especially of Joe F. Stierheim and Chuck and Sally (Charles R. and Sara Mitchell) Martin, who self-published their books this year. Joe’s included Americur, a fantasy, and The Finding of the Blue Feather, while the Martins delved into history with Warpath, a saga of the Pennsylvania frontier family of John Martin, based on true events during the French and Indian War, 1755-1764. The group also published a booklet with stories commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Ligonier Valley. It is available at the Second Chapter Bookstore on E. Main St. in Ligonier or by E-mailing the writer’s group at beaneryblog at yahoo.com (with the word “BOOKLET” in the subject line.
Another activity emanating from the writers group is collaboration. Joe took a story I wrote, re-formed it into a coloring book genre, and gave it to Diana, who did its artwork. The result is titled Bonnie Wishes for a Bubble.
The Beanery Online Literary Magazine (www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com ) is my special focus, a place for me to become more computer literate. Even though over-scheduling held me back from giving it the necessary attention, it grew steadily this year.
Events this year interrupted my writing—after all, life exists, and its happenings cannot be ignored, although, I must admit, I did not give them the attention they deserved this year. I was only present minimally for my sister during her time of grief and health problems. My daughter’s June wedding was wonderful, followed by travel preparations and the actual travel (research and vacation), during which posting was difficult. What really consumed my time, especially after my return from New England, was completing a major submission. Then came the trio of holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (although by this last one I was released from my journal article, since it was submitted December 23). In the midst of these holidays was a pause to celebrate a major birthday for which my husband surprised me with a wonderful birthday party. I expect to give this online magazine more of my focus this year, especially since it is drawing submissions from Missouri, Florida and Chile, with interest from India. I will reinstate its newsletter, also.
In addition to the Online Magazine, I am also learning how to maneuver my way about the computer with my personal writing site, www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com , and I expect to begin a separate site for my historic romance novel this spring. Watch for it!
The major project for 2008 was the completion of a historic article for a major New England journal competition. The work absorbed me at times, especially after returning from the research/vacation trip to New England via Philadelphia in September. Although the work was complex and took possession of me, the people I met along the journey were wonderful,. Moving forward to other projects will be helpful now, distracting me from watching the mailbox or waiting for the phone to ring with word that I either won or did not win.
When I dug myself out from this project, that had to be so accurate and detailed, with its many endnotes, I wrote THE WRITING LIFE: There’s a World Out There? and THE WRITING LIFE CONTINUES (posted in the JOURNAL category). I plan on returning to my novel writing January 15.
I return to the response I referred to, in the first paragraph, about my Christmas letter. Within six hours of posting it, a native of Corinth, Maine, emailed me. My husband Monte had only briefly mentioned in the letter that we had stopped in Corinth to purchase shingles. James is exploring and writing a history of Corinth while he lives in Wisconsin, where he teaches French (and Spanish) at a technical college. We had a delightful conversation sharing about Maine, and the article I wrote. He has actually eaten at La Procope Café in Paris, which has been in continuous operation since the late 1600s (PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS: Part 1—Finding photographs: An International Adventure & PROCOPE CAFÉ, PARIS Part 2 & PARIS CAFE’s). He’s certain to comment on the scene in the novel where my characters meet at that restaurant (in 1789-1791). It seems we will be able to share our resources, not only on the historical aspect of the Penobscot River region (THE PENOBSCOT NARROWS BRIDGE AND OBSERVATORY & THE SPECTACULAR PENOBSCOT RIVER A Natural Wonder in Maine: Part 1), but in genealogy. Some of my ancestors are from Exeter, Maine, which is adjacent to Corinth.
To end the year, I met with Lois and her friend from China. Lee is here volunteering to teach Chinese. We stopped in a Ligonier coffee shop, where there we met a student studying Chinese at Grove City College. The two spent at least an hour in animated conversation, teacher and student, while at times Lois and I were bewildered at their speaking Chinese. This, I hope, will be my first published news article of 2009. And no, I do not plan on doing journalism in 2009, unless I uncover a story that MUST be written.
My writing life is not over. What has ended is the absorption in a genre that requires such attention to detail and accuracy as the historic journal article demanded. Although the novel, based on the same information as the journal article, will be historically accurate, not having to footnote everything will be a blessing.
Thus endeth my writing life of 2008. I hope the writers reading this post had a productive year. I’d love to have you share your ups and downs with me
It’s time, now, for us to look forward to writing in 2009. And stay tuned to this site to learn the results of the journal competition to which I submitted an article!