Easter weekend and I'm stuck inside. It's lovely out with all the rain and the grass turning green. The flower boxes filled with daffodils welcome me onto the front porch, their sunny faces trying to enjoy whatever scraps of sunshine Nature sends their way.
And I'm sick. I thought, no problem, I will get a lot of writing done. Foggy brain isn't good writing. Okay, so I'll write a blog entry and hope that motivation will defeat the fog. So far, not so much.
Fresh flowers in the office offer a bit of cheer.
I should be in bed resting, but my mind will not shut down for a proper nap and I do not do idle well. Digging in the dirt sounds fun, but for the rain and cough. I am tired thinking of doing household work today. Sarah E. Ladd's new book, The Governess of Penwythe Hall, is beckoning me to return to Cornwall, and when my imagination gives out completely today, it is to Cornwall I will go. The book thus far is lovely. Such a wonderful author.
I tend to read a genre opposite of what I'm writing at the time. Inspirational fiction is a great companion to romantic suspense, in the sense they are far enough apart on the spectrum that when I need a break from one, I can retreat to the other and full be with whichever one is presently occupying my thoughts.
I have a stack of manuscript papers from my beta reader—the first ten chapters of the new Kyndall book—and that might be all my brain can handle today. She loves the book, which is good. She always loves the books, but I often get some long-suffering sighs about why I did this or that. My mother is my initial beta reader. I can trust her to be honest, yet suffer no embarrassment if I really messed up somewhere, and she gives me a reader's perspective. She reads the first, raw drafts, so I often mess up somewhere. She's kind of brutal. It works. She's loving the manuscript and wants more.
Good news for the Kyndalls and me. I want to give her more, but not so much right now because of foggy brain. When she made a note about reminding me to mention a case from the prequel, I drew a blank. Nothing. I couldn't remember the bad guy's name or the events which led up to him being a bad guy. I could not recall a single detail and had to look it up. As soon as I did, EVERY detail rushed back to me.
It happens. I like to think I remember every word I've ever written, but no. I have a good memory for many things, and not so much for others. A good deal of the knowledge I've gained so far in my lifetime seems to be there when I need it, rather than when I want it.
Take languages. Two years of Spanish and three years of French, and I can barely remember the basics in either language. Sad. I want to learn Gaelic and give French another try. When I wrote Clayton's Honor, I relied on a friend's connection at an Irish language institute to make sure the Gaelic was correct. Such a beautiful language.
And I digress. Foggy brain syndrome. Back to remembering.
What I always remember most from my own writing are the emotions the characters and their stories evoke. I will never forget the first meets, the first kisses, the first hurts, the first births . . . those firsts are as powerful on the page as they are in real life.
Whenever I start a new book, it's rarely with a great plan in mind. I know the beginning, most of the end, with the middle as a white canvas ready to be painted. With what, I won't know until it happens. Until my fingers glide across the keyboard, tapping away at the fading keys. It's my third keyboard in five years. I'm not sure what that says about me as a typist, but it does not matter. I always remember where to press down, when to let up, and together fingers and brain create the memories so dear to me.
Right now Donovan and Meaghan are experiencing a first in their story. The Kyndalls are a wonderful bunch of siblings, close-knit and loving, and Meaghan is getting her first glimpse of that interaction. There's nothing romantic going on, no big welcome to the family, yet she is experiencing a moment so few ever have or will. That is a first I will remember, and so will Donovan and Meaghan.
I start each new book with a lot of excitement, a bit of head scratching, and a multitude of faith. Faith that I have another story in me. Faith that once started, I will be able to finish the story. Faith that people will like what I write. Faith that I will never stop loving what I do.
We don't know what comes next. After this day, or this year, or this decade, we cannot know. We hope, we wonder, we have faith, and that is how we move forward. That is how I believe what I do matters. The books an author puts their hearts, souls, breaths, and tears into are acts of faith based on the hope that what we're writing matters to someone. That those minutes, hours, and days of entertainment will awaken an emotion within the reader.
My chest aches from all the coughing and the fog is still deeply embedded without an eagerness to go away anytime soon, and yet I do believe I will manage a few words today. The window is open to welcome the scent of rain on grass too long buried beneath a harsh winter, and the soft music in the background is making me think of my cozy bed waiting for me take a much-needed nap.
I will need to rest soon, if only to be well enough to make my cast-iron carrot cake for tomorrow's Easter dinner. Until then, for the next few minutes, or hour if I'm lucky, will be about the words.
Beautiful blessings on you.