In The Writer's World

December/January Newsletter

The state of things

Tomorrow I am closing down my storage unit. Everything in it, the final leftovers of a life of sorts, will be sold within the next two weeks or given away. I’m not really certain what’s out there as I haven’t been able to get to it for a while. Books, for sure. Book cases. Bits of things I thought I’d have room for when I made my pilgrimage to the suburbs more than a year ago. Close a door, hope a new one opens. Somewhere.

We’ve had real winter here in the greater Portland area. Snow and ice. Beautiful frosted trees. The stuff Christmas carols are made of. My life from early fall until December 25 was consumed with getting things done. And now it’s over. I am always, these days, glad when it is over. As for 2016? Can’t wait to say goodbye.

And yet…

What about that fabulous Nyssa Class of ’66 reunion in June, and three weeks with my dear friend Margie, followed by three weeks in which I wrote a huge chunk of my next novel?

And an incredible journey of discovery to Joseph, Oregon, in August with more great friends. Wynne stayed with me when she was “homeless” and we had some great times. My friend Toni came to stay for a few nights and we did fun stuff. It is so great to have a guest room. I put Omar on a diet and he’s gone from pudgy pussy to a reasonably sleek version of a long-former self. I learned to become a better worker among workers. There were book group get-togethers, and wonderful dinners with my traveling companions, birthday lunches, walks with friends, and even a couple days lolling at the pool during our non-summer. There was an amazing trip to Ft. Worth for Renie’s birthday party. And plays. Dozens of wonderful, inspiring, thought-provoking, and often hilarious plays. And books. Whatever would we do without books!

The state of the novel

Many changes are in the works with the Columbia Gorge mystery. I have been sidetracked into changing the narration from third- to first-person. While I finally feel at home with my main character, this has meant a lot of work with (in my opinion) very little to show for it. I mark progress in pages.

Then, in the middle of it all, I re-read Daphne DuMaurier’s Jamaica Inn. And here I thought I knew how to write about place. I thought Elizabeth Strout knew how to write about place. And Larry McMurtry. Stand back, folks. You don’t know place until you’ve read Jamaica Inn. A more tortured landscape cannot be imagined. Every rock, every rivulet of mud, the wind and the sky. And I remember years ago when I first read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca. Life. Changing.

A co-worker asked me the other day if Daphne was the reason I wrote mysteries.


The path forward

The past is no longer. We don’t know what lies ahead. That leaves the present. May you enjoy good health and good humor, friends, food, books, and all things that bring you joy in the present. For me, I must remind myself daily to be the best person possible, no matter what and always falling short; to not take myself so damn seriously; and to embrace each moment. It’s a tall order. All the best for 2017.


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  • Nadine Luther says:

    You always write so eloquently and mirror so many of my feelings. We never know where paths will lead us and what lies ahead, do we? Putting my myriad of Christmas boxes away reminds me that I need to continue to pare down but my procrastinating self says maybe I’ll need/want those things. Sigh….next year. Have a wonderful new year. We need to find time for coffee again.

  • Rebecca says:

    The novel, Rebecca, also changed my life. I haven’t read Jamaica Inn, but I’ll have to do that now.

  • Margie Hurle says:

    ‘Twas a year to savor indeed. Adventure, growth learning, all there. And yes, paring down, stripping away….. I’m planning a garage sale once the weather here cools down. As for the new novel, a first person presentation will be interesting. I see An Unholy Alliance as being so close to Judy’s voice that it was virtually first person, anyway. Looking forward to number 4.

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