Life Happens in the Barren Writing Land

20210124_131710I hung that note on my storyboard this fall.


See for yourself the fade to nothingness that is happening to the 5th offering in the Crater Lake Series. A strange phenomenon, really, – not the fading – that makes perfect sense!The book started with such gusto in the early days of 2019. Barely a few weeks into the writing, I had eighty pages. Going back now, I am still enthralled reading those early pages. That – Damn, this is good – feeling often seeps through me.

Even now, two years later, the characters speak to me daily; more like yell at me with megaphones in their hands. Yet I do not heed them, I do not return to them. Why did I abandon them? I am not posing these questions to build your suspense. The truth is, I haven’t anything like adequate answers. I have circumstances, which are not the same as answers. Oh, yes … circumstances, I have many; answers, but a few (or none).

I embarked early in 2019 on a self-improvement project – get healthier, be more active, drop some weight. Not much different that what I would embark on every January. By March, I was enjoying a good deal of success. In some ways, that success took over my life. I’m not sorry for the time spent on such a worthy endeavour, but it did push writing aside. Sitting in front of the keyboard for hours on end was not longer on my priority list.

The further I got from the writing, the harder it was to find my way back. And so the time went by.

Over the summer months, an active, healthy lifestyle paid off with multiple engagements. My favourites with these two wonderful granddaughters Smile 

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There were several guests to our beautiful lake home.

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We took up kayaking in a big way.

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Everyone kayaking (2)

Our garden was a sight to behold.

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Come fall, there was canning and food preservation to consider.

Jar room majic

(This pic actually comes from Oct. 2020 – but 2019 was similar – maybe less tomatoes and more beans.)

We took a fall trip to see family and enjoy some beautiful BC and southern Alberta scenery.

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Hiking the Old Kettle Valley Rail Trestle Trail near Kelowna



Sheep River Provincial Park, Alberta.


Me, riding a bike with my BFF’s. First time in years and proof positive that healthy life style choices pay off.

Time passed. Then it was Christmas – the first Christmas we had planned to spend at home in ages. We decorated a tree, we baked cookies. Life was good. So went 2019.

Tree at night          Sugar cookies

Along came January of 2020 replete with many Crater Lake intentions. Before I could get organized to break the ice on the frozen pond of writing, I was following news stories from China and worrying that my worst fears about a global pandemic ending humanity were about to be realized. (Have you read Emily St John Mandel’s book Station Eleven. If not do, it’s superb, but then again, during our own pandemic, maybe not.) By the middle of February, when The Diamond Princess ocean liner was docked and quarantined in Japan, I was cancelling travel plans and we were stocking up on groceries.

Well, there you have it. That’s my writing hiatus in a nutshell. As I said, many circumstances but few explanations. I recently heard a podcast interview with one of my favourite authors, Robert Harris. He took the isolation of a pandemic as the perfect opportunity to pump out a brilliant book, “V 2”. Throwing in the towel on writing was clearly not a pandemic given. Well, though I have no answers for my own writing dilemma, this post gives me the chance to shout out two great books!

            Station Eleven          Robert Harris V2 (3)

8 comments on “Life Happens in the Barren Writing Land

  1. noelleg44 says:

    Francis, you are living a live that many would envy. I am so glad you are active, enjoying life and your family!

  2. MariHoward says:

    This parallels a little with my problem with my present WIP : set in 2007, my 3rd in the Mullins Family series similarly came to a halt. Life took over. The altered life of dealing with life when you are restricted to your home and buy everything on-line, do all business on-line, go to church and hold meetings and meet family on-line…Hopefully, I’ve got into that story again, or rather, toa slightly altered version… I hope so much your next Crater Lake story takes shape! Keep up the exercise though…!

    • Here is something I am wondering about and I’d be interested to hear if you’ve found this with your series – with each book, the ante is up for the characters. I know them better, everyone knows them better, there are less options in terms of where they might be going, what they might be doing next. On one hand, limiting is a plus, on the other, a big challenge.

  3. Behind the Story says:

    Congratulations on all the things you did instead of writing. I’m amazed at your successes–losing weight, kayaking, bike riding, canning, baking. Although you weren’t writing, you had lots of fun with granddaughters, family and friends. Fantastic photos. When the time is right, I have faith that you’ll get back into book 5.

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Some beautiful photographs there Francis. Hey, the muse will return or it won’t. I assume you don’t rely on the income to eat! Maybe I’m done with book creation too though I’ve slipped into helping others with their writing projects which is every bit as satisfying.

    • I love the inevitability of your words, Roy – it will or it won’t. There is a truth to this that I’ve often felt and not just about writing. A door opens or it does not. Simply willing something into being doesn’t seem possible. Sure, you have to put in the hours and want it but if it doesn’t want you – for whatever reason – I’m not sure anyone can conjure up something out of nothing. Nor would I want to. I bet helping others is satisfying. Okay, gotta go and contemplate my closed door – LOL.

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