Before and After the Month that Vanished
Trees. The ocean. Early walks with the dog. Leisurely breakfasts with the family. More walks with the dog
Breathing in the scent of the trees.
Breathing in the scent of the ocean.
Laughing with my family.
Hugging my parents.
It’s February. Somehow, January disappeared somewhere in the slowly lightening days.
I think I blinked and missed it.
Not a great loss, though. The first month of the year often seems long, dreary, and tiresome.
It’s time to look forward to the rest of the year and keep an eye out for the first signs of spring. I already have snowdrops in my backyard, the daffodils are ten inches tall, and the hyacinth leaves green and glossy.
Spring will be here before we know it.
Looking back, I got through a lot last month. You know, the one that vanished.
I beta-read a couple of books – giving as much feedback to the author as I could – proofread another one as well as a few blogposts and essays, and alpha-read some unfinished manuscripts.
That was for other people. For friends.
While doing all that, I’ve carried on the edits of the next book in the Bound by Conviction Series. It is now with my beta readers, and I look forward to their comments and impressions — while biting my nails, of course.
It’s always a scary thing sending your bookbaby to strangers. You’ve spent countless hours filling the pages with the story, making the characters come alive, laughed with them through their happy times, cried with them when their worlds came crashing down around their heads, and grieved for their losses. Their lives become intertwined with yours, and you feel as if they’re your friends, your partners, your children.
Creating a world with living, breathing individuals, and suffusing the pages with their emotions, their history, and their dreams for the future is an exhausting experience, and somewhere along that process, you need breathing space.
During those walks in the woods and along the shores a Christmas, I had to remind myself to stop, take a deep breath, and fill my lungs with the fresh, invigorating air, and spend a few minutes just existing.
To feel the space around me. To breathe the air, smell the trees and the ocean,
to hear the silence — to exist in the moment.
I’m very fortunate to have this place, this slice of tranquility to go back to where I can refill my senses.
The new month is here, though, and it’s full steam ahead with editing, outlining, world building, and crafting. Oh, and arguing with my characters over their harebrained ideas. Or are they my crazy ideas? No, they can’t be, so they definitely belong to my people. My imaginary people. Crazy, I tell you. Just you wait.
One of my characters has suddenly decided to open his heart and tell me what his story is. He’s told me the beginning, the middle and the end, now I just have to coax the details out of him. I’ll get there — eventually.
I love when that happens. When someone who’s been tightlipped for a long time suddenly opens up and confides in me. I hear their past, their present, and what they hope will come next in their lives. They tell me things they’ve never told another soul, what makes them dream, what makes them laugh, and what — or who — they love. They also divulge their greatest fears, and fervent prayers.
Jealousy, envy, empathy, sadness, grief, joy, and scorching love. My characters give me it all. Sometimes it’s a tidal wave, sometimes only a trickle, but eventually they lay it all bare. And for that, I thank them.
So, why am I rambling on about all of this? Well, I think it’s because I’ve finally been able to return to my little haven, and it’s truly hit home how important that is for me. It’s not just about taking time for myself, but about taking the opportunity to do it in the one place that will benefit me the most. It calms the chaos my mind usually contains, re-organizes the clutter, and allows my imagination to flow freely. I can hear the voices, feel the happiness and the pain, and fill the pages with my characters' lives for others to experience.
I’m not an introvert, but I definitely have a deep-seated need for solitude at times, and it has a greater impact — and benefit — if I can immerse myself in the quiet among the trees by the ocean’s edge.
This is what I encourage you to do.
Find your solitude. Find your breathing hole. Find yourself. Enliven your soul.