querying: finding light in the dark ages

So i’ve ripped and i’ve torn it , shaped it and , formed it ~ and for the moment, I’ve  finished my memoir.

Whew!  Twenty months of writing, eight months of revising and a pile of edits and rewrites have finally gotten me to this most critical stage: Querying.

Sending out letters of interest and inviting others to read your body of work can be a daunting task, especially for an emerging writer. In a way, it feels like I’m sending a child into the world, a reckless teenager who grew  into her own, and i’m left hoping and praying that  she learned enough along the way to stay level headed in what can be a cold and chaotic world. In my office at home, with my cats and my characters, i’m alone with my work, for better or for worse.

Now, I’ve played a waiting game or two in my life: the time i wasn’t sure i was pregnant or not, the time i went for lunch at the right place but on the wrong day, or that awful 5 hour lineup in the Frankfurt airport on the way to Singapore that didn’t know when to quit. But the writer’s query: this is a different thing altogether.

And so with some sense of urgency, I’ve kept writing. I’ve also been doing the things that i love, and i thought i would write a little about that here today, before i get too caught up in the panic of visualizing my manuscript sitting in an office somewhere, waiting to be devoured.

writing workshops, i love you

This past weekend the P.E.I. Writer’s Guild put on a number of smaller events, which kept me writing and dreaming for a solid 72 hours. It all started with a workshop with Donna Morrissey (check out this little video that about her life as a writer called  Nova Scotia Come to life: Donna Morrissey).

She started with voice in writing. Write a rant, she said, about something you’re still not over. Be angry. I wondered what the middle-aged group would come up with, folks my parent’s age, but each one was more pissed off than the last! Curse words flew out and donna smiled, as we shared our stories.   Next we wrote in our antagonists voice, and then, finally, created a dialogue between them. Confront your antagonist, it’ll do ya good.  I loved hearing about her journey into writing, into trusting herself.

City Book Club: a meeting of authors, books, and wine

This was just a fantastic event. Sponsored by the P.E.I. Writer’s Guild and organized by Bonnie Stewart and Mary-Lou Griffin, Charlottetown’s first “City Book Club” event hosted the maritme’s own, wonderful, Ms. Christy-Ann Conlin. The discussion centered around her first novel, Heave. It was a great chance to ask Christy-Ann questions about this book and her writing process, and the audience of 35 ended up hearing a lot of funny stories along the way.  

Memoir speaks

The next day, Christy Ann Conlin led a workshop “Introduction to Memoir and Life Writing”, also sponsored by the Writer’s guild and organized by the tireless Yvette Doucette . This was amazing for me as I’ve completed my first memoir and am promptly diving into my second , a travel memoir about our year in Asia after the loss of our daughter,  which i am nicknaming Barefoot Beaches and Broken Backpacks until it slowly works its way into my psyche, and onto my pages.

The workshop really helped me think of the book in terms of vignettes, themes, and narrative, which are much more manageable chunks of writing to do in terms of “our year in Asia with a two year old”. Christy Ann also gave us lots of practical advice for painting our pictures of locations and memories, planning our works, and using the resources we have. She also recommended several great works that will help us  -memoir writers -along the way.

a spectrum of readings

To top the whole literary weekend off, there was a reading with four amazing Maritime women. Kate Inglis of sweetsalty.com  and The Dread Crew read a portion of her new novel, and  Bonnie Stewart read from her recent publication, Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011. Christy Ann also read from her new novel, Dead Time, and Yvette Doucette played the poet’s part, reading several beautiful pieces. Needless to say, everyone went home with an armful of books, signed and sealed until the next reader’s circle.

So there’s plenty for me to spin about now, as I turn to China, to my suitcase unpacked, and my anxious little lady who’s never sure what her mother’s gotten her into this time. For the next five weeks Leila and I will be meeting Mitchell and roaming through China, where I’m sure they’ll be a few more stories to tell.

5 Comments

  1. it was so good to catch up with you, Mo, before you head off on this next great adventure. travel safe, and keep us posted. 🙂

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