Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hijacked by My Muse (Again)!

As 2014 melted into 2015 a few months ago, I felt certain that this new year would be all about this new "Birthing Your Book Guru" I had become...that the coming 12 months would be focused on more actively sharing all I had gained through 11 books and more than two decades of teaching, coaching and mentoring...that I would be coming out of the partial retreat of the past four years and returning to a more vigorous regime of workshops, webinars, classes and clients.

Not for the first time, I was wrong.

Not for the first time, my Muse hijacked my assumptions and pointed my in a familiar direction: toward a new book.

To be honest, I have had some resistance to Sara's Year, the novel's working title. "Hebrew Scripture," A Wrinkle in Time author Madeleine L'Engle once wrote, "is full of old men in long beards saying to God, 'You want me to do what!?'" Well, my beard is not prophet-long, at least not yet. But I have been thinking a lot about that quote recently.

As I wrote here a few weeks ago ("A Novel Experience"), this fourth novel is like nothing I have ever written. It's not epic fantasy like my Q'ntana Trilogy. And it doesn't take place in a mythical time and place.

But it is epic in scope: It's a tale of my hometown that spans the 50 years between the 1930s and 1980s. And it has felt so far beyond my literary skill that I frequently second-guess my Muse with a L'Engle-inspired You want me to do what!?

As so often in the past, though, resistance is futile.

Whenever I question, hesitate, doubt or procrastinate (often), my Muse reminds me not only of the title of my memoir (Acts of Surrender) but of one of the book's chapters, the one titled "All That Matters Is That I'm Writing."
So I'm writing. As I write, I'm letting myself be challenged by the breadth and scope of the story and by the unfamiliarity and distance of its setting (I wasn't alive during the first half of the story's timeline; I haven't lived in Montreal since the 1980s; and I now live more than 2,000 miles away, in a different country). And I'm trusting that if these characters chose me to tell their story, then I must either have what it takes to write it or will grow into whatever it takes through the writing of it or, more likely, some peculiar blend of both. (This is counsel I offer in all five of my books for writers, so it's not surprising that I'm being forced to heed it!)

What does this mean for my Birthing Your Book Guru plans? As Yhoshi notes in The MoonQuest, quoting the oracle O'ric, "a forced change in plan is opportunity disguised as irritation."

Whatever irritation I might feel toward my Muse, Sara's Year is an opportunity for me to stretch and build up my literary muscle. It's an opportunity to deepen my ability to journey through difficult emotional territory through my craft. And it's an opportunity to continue to live what has so long felt to be my primary passion and purpose: writing.

In practical terms, it means that my top priority for the next months must be Sara's Year. My next priority, of course, is my existing coaching clients: I know you're reading this, so know that I will always make time for you!

In whatever open time remains, I will take on a limited number of coaching/mentoring clients, by application. And while I will also work toward offering new online classes and coaching groups (also by application), none are currently scheduled or planned.

Another teaching idea, to be executed in what ever interstices of free time I can finagle, is to create a series of downloadable classes that you can follow in your own time and at your own pace. I'd love to be able to say that those are imminent. With Sara's Year now my primary focus, it's hard to say when that project will come to fruition. But as I launch into it, I will be sure to keep you posted.

I will also keep you posted on my progress on (and resistance to) Sara's Year, as I have done with other of my writing projects, in the hopes that it will inspire you to keep writing through your own challenges.

And as always, I encourage you to share with me (publicly or privately) not only your comments on my experiences but your experiences, with your own books-, screenplays-, poems- and stories-in-progress.

And now for the photos included here: Part of the fun of Sara's Year (and, some days, too easy a distraction) has involved Googling for relevant images to help me with my descriptions and to connect with the feel and flavor of the eras involved. Here's a selection...

#1 – A wartime trolley on Rue Ste-Catherine, downtown Montreal's main shopping street

#2 – The Westmount Public Library (the first public library building in Montreal and one of the first in Canada)

#3 – An important reminder!

#4 – Baron Byng High School, where many Jewish Montrealers of my mother's generation went to school

#5 – One of the book's opening scenes takes place in a fictional cafĂ©-bistro something like this one

Can't wait for Sara's Year? Check out my existing books – from most Amazon sites, from my website, from select online booksellers or from your favorite ebook store.

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