Raising the Dead
I am thrilled to announce I have signed a contract with my publisher, Austin Macauley, to internationally publish my second book, Raising the Dead. I will keep you all updated on the date of publishing and my book launch, most likely in late 2022 or early 2023. Raising the Dead was much more enjoyable and satisfying to write than Writing in Wet Cement. I didn’t have to drag myself over the coals of pain and through the fires of remembrance as I had in my memoir. There were also many joys of my life described in candid, detail. Raising the Dead is fiction, so I could allow my imagination to run wild.
As with all writers I have been asked, “How do you write a book? How long did it take? What’s it like to be a writer?” In this Food for Thought I will do my best to be honest in sharing my personal experiences, as well as those of other writers and readers. I confide that it took me many, many years to call myself a “writer.” I never felt worthy. Now, I do.
Writing a book is horrible and wonderful. From my constant incrimination to the fright of failure I am often daunted. Writing in Wet Cement was a memoir I had been writing for most of my adult life. From start to publishing it was about ten years in birth. Raising the Dead took me about two years to write and edit. This novel grew from the encouragement of a dear friend who always loved my letters, that antiquated method of communication. Finally, I followed her advice and began writing, seriously.
I recently heard from a fellow writer. She has books in her head waiting to be written but struggles with motivation. I replied to her as I sat on the couch, watching crime shows, PBS and eating chips. Motivation, I thought as I scribbled notes on my ever-present companion, my yellow legal pad. I initially write in longhand. Writing with pen on paper is a more direct connection to my imagination, memories and brain. Transposing and editing is done on my laptop. I am not an expert. These are my discoveries.
Motivation and writing? Hmmm, I wondered, could this be a new Food for Thought? Maybe, I thought, as I dipped into the Sour-Cream-Cheddar-Ridged-Potato Chips bag. I put the bag of chips aside, grabbed my legal pad and explored the subject.
What exactly is motivation which leads to a story, a blog, or a book? Is hoping, waiting for motivation to arrive laziness or percolating? I choose to believe it is percolating. Contemplation. Writing first, second, many drafts, editing over and over and over again. Publishing is a long, hard journey. For myself, it has been a road filled with potholes of doubt, fallouts of fear, cliffs of self-condemnation, agonizing second thinking and eventually, hopefully, success. After our long labor we give birth to our book and send our baby out into the world. It's frightening.
Once you are motivated, there are victories in everyday writing. I’m not one of those writers who strives to write 500+ words a day. I used to think, ‘big deal. 500 words. That’s about two typewritten pages.’ But those words and pages are hazards to any writer’s sanity. Every once in a while there will be one sentence that sounds or feels perfect. There will be a turn of phrase that is poetic. There is a word, a twist of meaning, irony, alliteration, or fantasy that I achieve. I can’t always pull off those victories. I keep trying. I write voluminously in my journals.
One of my greatest forms of motivation are my dreams. Words, stories and characters wake me up, nudge me, argue with me, remind me that ‘you’ll forget this in the morning, Jayne.’ They force me out of bed, to my legal pad and my favorite pen. I scribble for hours or minutes, but at least I’ve tried, and sometimes succeed in writing something of value.
My greatest satisfaction in writing is connecting with a stranger, fellow writer, reader or friend. Someone who “gets me,” who understands the point I am striving to achieve. Best of all, this reader then shares a memory of their own. We are all on a transport of words, memories and stories. We get on the train, look out the window, collect our visions and put them on paper. Sometimes a fellow traveler waves to us, chats us up, and confides her own tale. That’s a happy trip.
Words, how I adore them. I belong to two wordsmith sites which provide me with new words every day. When a word strikes me I write it down in my little personal dictionary. Today’s word was carnaptious, meaning: “angry, argumentative, snappy.” I collected that word for future stories, I know I’ll use it. Today, I shared with my dear friend and fellow writer the phrase, “bunny boiler” meaning a vengeful woman, as in the movie Fatal Attraction. She loved the phrase, wrote it down. I know she’ll use it as soon as she can sneak it into one of her stories or posts.
Anne Rice had ladders reaching up the walls to the vaulted ceiling of her writing studio in New Orleans. She wrote words up and down her walls, color coordinated for nouns, verbs, action words, weird words, any word that struck her. I love that idea. I would utilize it myself were it not for my bookshelf lined, antique, art and kitsch filled walls which allow no space for words. Although Anne Rice is no longer of this earth, her words are. I hope they are still decorating the walls of her writing room. This is connecting with another writer, another reader, another mind. Through words and the ways in which we use them we become one. We touch.
Tim and I love to play Bananas, a game similar to Scrabble but without the board. I hate it when Tim uses all his letters before I do. I have been known to stop playing or to throw a tantrum, throwing letters all over the table. I hate to admit it, but in those moments I am clearly carnaptious.
To all you esteemed readers and writers out there, keep collecting your words, stories, thoughts and memories. From Beowulf to Raising the Dead we all strive to touch one another. Not just on media posts or messaging but on legal pads and in first drafts that might eventually become books.
That’s motivation. Share those connections. You never know when you’ll strike a resounding chord, or word, with another writer or reader, or more importantly, yourself.
My first book draft, 1975, South Pomfret, Vermont. Of course, plans for a cookbook.