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)

Confession Time

Reflective Chimes - F. Guenette photo

I admit it – I’m plagued by multiple, silly frustrations this morning. I want to be reflective like the chimes in the photo above, but I fear I am not. I want to be writing my next book and I know I am not.

The weather hasn’t been conducive to outside clothes drying for a few days. Today the sun is out and the sky is blue. I did two loads of laundry and filled the line but ran out of clothes pegs at the end. Seven forlorn socks stared at me from the basket. No problem. For years there has been a round pail full of clothes pegs stored in the back room. I brought them home from my dad’s place when he died. Though I’ve never had to access this resource, whenever the clothes pegs have run low, I’ve always congratulated myself on having this bucket tucked away.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this story. When I went to get that bucket of clothes pegs, it was no longer where I had seen it sitting for years. A futile ripping apart of the back closet was fruitless or more accurately, pegless. They had disappeared – and not even in plain sight.

The case of the disappeared clothes pegs resulted in a pointed accusation directed at Bruce. He must have moved them because I sure didn’t. I caught him in the middle of trying to pump up a flat tire and get to work. Oblivious to my need for these particular clothes pegs, he said, “I don’t know where they went. I can’t deal with this right now. I’ll buy you more clothes pegs when I’m in town.” You can imagine how highly unsatisfying that reaction was.

His response brought out my inevitable rant over dissatisfaction with limited storage space and our differing approaches to storage. I look at storage from the perspective that less used things should be buried in the back and the more frequently required items should be easier to access – a logical and common sense approach as far as I’m concerned. Bruce looks at a limited storage space like he’s building a jigsaw puzzle. If a particular item or box (whether we need it once a year or every ten years) fits in a certain spot, that’s where it goes – be it front, back or centre.

To be honest, I’m not sure where a bucket of clothes pegs that has not been required in the last five years should be stored.

Brothers in arms - F. Guenette photoAnd what of this irritation about not writing? We have jam-packed a mini social whirl into the last four days and, don’t get me wrong, it has been wonderful. We had a family guest who arrived Friday afternoon and stayed for dinner and overnight. I picked his brain for all sorts of interesting details about his work. I stored those away for future use. We said goodbye to some dear friends who are leaving the area after forty-five years. They made the trek out here for lunch yesterday. And last night, we had a riotous visit with our nearest cabin neighbours. The wine and conversation flowed. The laughter bounced off the walls and out over the lake. At one point, I’m sure all five of us were talking at the same time.

Brit and Emma at the beach - Francis GuenetteIt’s vital for a writer to be out in the world with other people. Inevitably, this will take time from one’s passion for writing and thus we come, full circle. I’m frustrated I’m not making progress on the new book but at the same time I want these other experiences, too. I’m frustrated with social media because I want to be writing the book but I also want to connect through the blog. And how can I deny my pleasure at checking into Facebook and seeing my granddaughters having fun at the beach, a picture posted not five minutes ago. And finally, I’m frustrated at the loss of clothes pegs that are really just things, no matter the satisfaction I imagined I would derive from using them. Oh the sweet dichotomies of life.

With all that off my chest, I’m off to write. And as you can see in the picture below, the dilemma of seven forlorn socks was solved by double pegging.

Double pegged - F. Guenette photo