A typical conversation in our house:

Kid: “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom!”
Mom: staring blankly into space, out a window, at the floor, for minutes, hours….
Kid: “Moooommmm!”
Mom: “Shhhh. Mommy’s busy.”
Kid: “Oh! Sorry! I didn’t realize you were writing again..”

Writing vs. Typing

Not The Ending I’d Planned

I had a video post all ready to go for yesterday morning, but I changed my mind and cancelled it.

After missing my January 31st deadline to finish the draft, I’ve been going full speed trying to catch up. There comes a point for me in the writing of a novel where the story takes on a life of its own; and that’s pretty exciting. But then there’s the point where it snowballs into something huge bearing down on me, and no matter how much time I devote to it, I simply cannot type fast enough.

I hit that point two Fridays ago.

The only response to this full on creative assault is to put life – and I mean everything in my life – on stand-by and let the book come to its finish. In the ten days before yesterday’s video release, I put down more than 37,000 words. In writing terms, a good day is somewhere in the realm of 2,000 words per day, and holding that rate for ten days straight is outrageous.

But the story was telling itself and I did my best to keep up. To heck with the laundry and the banking and the cooking and cleaning and, though not all, I’ll admit to most of, the showering….

Sunday was the day. It was a spectacular 5,000 word sprint to the finish. I hit save, sent the file to printer, tortured to have missed the deadline for same-day printing by an hour. I’d have to wait til the next day to hold the first copy of my manuscript in my hands. I decided to go celebrate with the family with the intention of coming back to shoot a new, and very exciting video to post for the next day.

Portrait of My Dog Henry

Henry Brown, 2010-2019

That’s when I found Henry.

He was lying on the floor right outside my office door where he always does when I won’t let him in. Excited to see me, wiggling all happy. And completely and totally unable to get up.

Two hours later, I was sitting on the floor with him in the emergency vet clinic hearing the words no dog lover wants to hear. And an hour after that, I said my last goodbye.

Henry had been mine since he was ten weeks old. He just turned 9. But over the last six years since my husband’s passing, he has been on guard for me so that I can sleep, so that I can feel safe, so that I can come home and know that everything’s alright. He has been my shoulder to cry on, the ear to bend, and my greatest cheerleader since I was left alone. And without him, I know I would never have made it to now with my sanity intact.

There is a huge part of me that wants to throw the book in the trash and walk away. Was I so focussed on it that I missed all the signs? Were there signs?

But the more rational side of me is itching to get into my first real read-through of the entire story.

I wrote this book as an exploration of the processing of grief. It’s the story of one woman’s journey from absolute despair to pure joy. And I wrote it to help people who, like me, were struggling with the healing, the guilt, the regrets, and the pain of loss.

The fact that I will actually be my own first test subject is an irony that is beyond my current ability to understand, let alone describe. Suffice it to say that, right in the middle of one of my greatest tragedies – and if you’re not a dog person, I’ll just ask for your indulgence here – has come one of my greatest achievements. And I can’t put that all together just yet.

Talk About Getting Sidetracked!

Well.

Two things in life that have absolutely NO respect for one’s schedule are babies and the weather.

And this weekend, I got swept up in both. It’s been a very long time since we’ve had a good dumping of snow in the Hamilton area. I remember as a kid building forts and trails and toboggan runs from November through to April, save for the week of my birthday at the end of January when everything would thaw and all my winter birthday party sleigh ride plans went out the window… My kids have no idea what real snow is.

Until this weekend. We got about 16″ on Saturday. Not the worst I’ve ever seen. (Yes, I’m old enough to remember the blizzard of ’77.) But certainly respectable by all Canadian standards.

Of course, at 11:30am on Saturday, my daughter sends me THE text.

“NOW”

Oh no, not now. Have you looked out the window???

Yes, now. In fact, so ‘now,’ that by the time I dug out and drove as fast as I dared and met them at the hospital about 1:00, I barely had time to get settled before meeting my first grandchild at 3:15!

Things get a little misty after that.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a crazy weekend of shovelling and snivelling. Hand holding and hand warming. Tears of joy and tears of ice.

It was supposed to be a writing weekend. Snowed in, stocked up, and hunkered down.

Instead, it was a weekend full of creating the memories that fuel the writing. Seeing a brand new person arrive into this world. Feeling more hope than I’d expected to. Watching my daughter become a mom with a strength and determination that was both fierce and formidable, but not at all surprising. Becoming a grandmother myself, though I’m still deciding on a name for me – I haven’t found anything that feels a good fit. At the rate I’m going, Baby Laylah will beat me to it.

So while I managed to record countless minutes of video this week, none of it is the online kind of stuff. It’s all the intimate and personal moments that make up a family. The secrets and stories we keep to ourselves, the inside info that connects us on a level that lasts through generations. The experiences that give our lives meaning.

Not everything has to be shared with everyone.

Next week is soon enough to get back on track. Thanks for listening. We’ll talk soon.

Alex.