April has a certain literary weight to it, doesn’t it? Regardless of what Chaucer or Eliot thought, one thing is clear: April has come and gone too fast for my liking. This in-between month has lived up to its reputation here in North Carolina, however, and we’ve had lots of rain and a very cool spring. The skies finally cleared today and it’s been a bright afternoon, crisp and blue-skied, with the promise of more to come. My first cosmo bloomed. I’ve been cataloguing wildflowers in the forest.
Writing has been going well. A few weeks ago I finished the first draft of Glassmere. For those who might not remember, it’s the Narnia-meets-Downton-Abbey-with-a-Pinch-of-The-Neverending-Story book I’ve been working in on and off for the last almost 8 years. It started as a novel about sisters across generations in a world about to change, and has evolved into something a bit more complex that speaks to privilege, colonialism, and the price of world-shifting.
On the other side of the spring, though, Rock Revival will show up. This is a totally different kind of story, and one that’s rooted in other personal experiences. But unlike Evelyn and Julia who have each other and their family, Kate is absolutely an island (thought much of this is her own making). Rock Revival was written not long after I started working on Glassmere, and though their settings couldn’t be more different, they’re still accurate representations of who I am as a writer and as a woman. I love blasting Led Zeppelin with the windows down just as much as I like hunting for flowers and herbs in the forest floor and, I admit, still hoping deep down I’ll accidentally stumble into Narnia.
And of course, Masks & Malevolence is on the way, as well. Fret not, fans of Nerissa and Vivienne.
When it comes to non-fiction, I’ve been writing more at Glittersquid. Much of this has to do with my fight for my son’s mental health care, but I’ve been broadening my essay skills a bit, too. Make sure to follow me on Medium to keep up with that.
And then there are books. I count myself so, so lucky to be able to read books by immensely talented writers, and then again because I know them. Currently I’m finishing up Fran Wilde’s Bone Universe series, and it’s very hard to write a spoiler-free set of thoughts. I’ll say this. It’s a series that has made me consider perspective and scale in ways I never have. I think, in my mind, when flying on a plane, it’s the kind of thing I consider in passing. But Fran’s exploration of the whole series could be summed up with a kind of mind-altering exploration of size: width, depth, height, and even velocity. And then there’s her use of language. Most of my reading happens on my commute (which is a reason I never mind it) so I get to savor language in a way I don’t often when reading the old-fashioned way.
Fran is also poet and it’s so clear that she values the quality of sound in her writing. Names, places, sentence structures, all eddy and whorl as the story unfolds. Even some casual conversations feel honed in ways that poetry often does. To say nothing of the emotional component. As my next novel project is full-on secondary world, I’m considering a lot of these bits in my world planning. People talk about world-building a lot, but what I think Fran does is world honing. You are constantly sheered away by its blade in the process of consuming the book.
Personally… well. That’s another post for another day. Sometimes things are just effing hard. What we endure, on the most basic level of being human, shapes us, but the process is not easy. And it’s different for everyone. I’m trying very hard to be kind to myself. I’m making sure yoga and walking happen. I’m trying to remember to breathe. I’m trying to recognize feelings and confront them. Which reminds me of Aunt Lucy in Glassmere and one of my favorite passages. I’ll leave this there until my next update.
“Speak your frustration, my dear. I will not judge.”
“It was a horrid thing for him to do. I trusted him with well, everything. For years. And now I have nothing. I feel like a ghost, Aunt Lucy.”
“It is a tragedy. But if this Edward of yours was such a good friend nothing would have come between you, not even Julia’s limpid blue eyes.”
Evelyn tried to fight her tears. “It just hurts to feel it. To feel so angry all the time.”
“It’s because you hold it in. I believe that our passions make us stronger, and allowing yourself to feel things properly is the only way to let them go. Experience it, embrace it, like an oncoming wave, and then let it dissipate and touch the shore. Yes, there will always be another wave, but in experiencing the trauma fully you will be able to navigate the waters better later. Fighting against the tide will only lead you to exhaustion.”