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Pickle Me This

September 24, 2019

Preoccupations

In my blogging life, I’ve made a point of trying not to apologize for the focus of my posts. I think that a sustainable blog should be about what one’s life is about, or even that it has to be about that in order to be sustainable. So we shouldn’t worry about our blogs being all about our new babies, or our illnesses, or vacations, at least not if these are what our lives are all about. Whatever our preoccupations: we get to blog them. And for me, lately, those preoccupations have been all the things that I’m making—Blog School, Briny Books, and working on revising my novel, which is due partway through October. The novel in particular, which I’m focussing on for 90 minutes every weekday by blocking social media apps on my phone and my laptop and getting down to business. I spent most of last week making notes on my manuscript, adding my editor’s with them, asking questions, and suggesting possibilities. Kind of like marking out the space in a field where the work must be done, where to get digging, and this week that work has begun in earnest, and I love it. This might be my favourite part of the entire novel writing process (but then I think I say that about every part of the novel writing process). Still discovery, just as the first draft is, but instead of discovering plot points and twists, I’m discovering patterns and connections that I might not have seen the first time around. Adding depth and texture to the story I’m telling, and so much it seems like it’s beyond my control. As though I’m merely a conduit. Such as the part I figured out yesterday, the familiar and yet archaic word that my character ponders the meaning of. I don’t actually know the meaning either, so I looked it up, and the definition of the word turned out to be precisely one of the central images of the entire book, as revealed in the final third. I had no idea, but the book knew. And my job at the this point is just to let all these connection happen and allow the light to come through.

September 6, 2019

Book News: Waiting for a Star to Fall

It is with more joy than you can imagine that I write you with the news that my second novel, Waiting For a Star to Fall, will be published next summer in Canada and the US by Doubleday Canada.

For fans of Joanne Ramos and Zoe Whittall, and Emily Giffin, a sensationally gripping and resonant new novel about a young woman caught in the midst of a political scandal.

When political superstar Derek Murdoch is brought down by decade-old allegations of sexual misconduct, his on-again/off-again girlfriend Brooke is left to process the situation. Derek’s reputation is being dragged through the mud because of his propensity for dating much-younger women who work for him–but Brooke knows the situation is more complicated than that. Never mind that she was once his young employee too. . . .

As the public makes up its mind about Derek, Brooke is forced to re-examine the story of her relationship with him–a position made even more complicated by the fact that she and Derek are now estranged after a heartbreaking betrayal. She’s shared the reason of their breakup with no one–but now she fears it may rise to the surface.

Torn from the headlines, Waiting for a Star to Fall is a novel for the #MeToo era, an absorbing story that examines the complex dynamics of politics–and sexual politics–and questions the stories we tell about people in the public eye, and the myth-making of men.


Two years ago (or thereabouts), my friend May bought me a bought that said NOVELIST on it, a title I’d always felt strange assuming, because it seemed kind of presumptuous. even if I had just published my first novel. (Maybe it was all just a fluke?)

I’ve always been a bit wary of this idea that it matters what you call yourself at all, because it’s what you do that counts, not who you are. As a person who writes a lot, I have a certain impatience listening to writers try to justify not writing, and how you’re still a writer anyway when you don’t, blah blah blah. What if instead of having this conversation, I would think, you just sat down and actually wrote something?

Now I understand where this kind of sentiment comes from, the ways in which many women have trouble assuming authority or owning their experience, undermining themselves, the same way that Shirley Jackson was just a housewife. But it’s still putting the cart before the horse, I think, to imagine that learning to call one’s self a writer or “novelist” is even remotely the answer to the question of how to get to be a published author. (I read an old, old pre-Pickle blog post recently in which I worried that I’d spent far more time thinking about being a writer than actually writing. I was definitely on to something there…)

But even still, over the past two and a half years—as my first novel came into the world, and then I wrote two more books, and faced rejection and uncertainty about my future as a writer at all (let alone a “novelist”)—that mug served me a kind of talisman. That I was also doing the work of writing is fundamental to this story, but I came to understand how important it can be to own this little piece of legitimacy, even if it’s one that’s carved into a mug. But it mattered. It helped me keep going—and possibly keeping going is more vital to success than anything else in the world, that which can be written on a mug and otherwise.

And the other thing that helped me keep going was, as always, my blog, particularly this year, which I entered without a real sense of anything to look forward to creatively, and so I decided to delve back into the DIY blogging ethos and make those things to look forward to myself. After years of talking about creating an online blogging course, I decided to go for it—Blog School launches September 16. I also dreamed Briny Books into being, which turned out to be an altogether successful project, a triumph, even—the second round of seasonal selections will be coming your way in October.

And then to have a book deal, with the publisher/editor of my dreams, even, on top of that? More goodness than a person could ever ask for, really, and all of this a reminder that when all seems lost and hopeless, getting off the floor where you’ve been lying curled up in the fetal position is probably the best thing to do eventually.

Who knew?

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