May 30, 2014

Getting There - by Susan Barclay

Drinking in the view at at the end of the day. Who could fail to be inspired?

I planned to work on this post while my husband and I enjoyed a cottage rental this week. Pffft. And when we returned home on the 30th, I thought I could get it done that evening. Pffft again. We arrived to find computer issues that needed attention. So I am writing this June 1st and back-dating it. 

We were asked to showcase a work-in-progress, so that’s what I’m  doing. In fact, I used part of our vacation to work on my WIP. I spent the mornings writing while my husband read, then we took the afternoon to explore the area, and watched a movie together in the evenings before heading to the beach to catch one of God’s glorious sunsets.

I call myself an eclectic writer. I write children’s picture books, personal essays, short stories for adults, poetry. But my focus this year has been on the novel I started ten years ago. It’s a work of contemporary fiction that deals with family dynamics, and particularly the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter. Themes of understanding and forgiveness are also explored. The idea was sparked when I threw together a short piece for a critique group that was meeting for the first time. One of the participants that night thought the nugget contained the makings of a novel. 

I gulped. It did?

So here I am ten years later, still working on it. Granted, I’ve taken long breaks since beginning, the longest stemming from writer’s block. I’d come to point B and knew where point D was, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get to point C. Thankfully, the block has broken and I am moving forward. I don’t work from a detailed outline and tend to go with the flow, an approach that has both its challenges and its joys.

Over the holiday, I worked on revisions for the first ten chapters. I still have a number of chapters to edit before I pick up the story and work my way through to the end. While I had hoped to complete the novel by the end of June, it looks like I'll have to extend my deadline to the end of the year. The main thing is to keep pressing forward.

Here’s a teaser from early in the novel to whet your appetite for more. In this scene, the mother and daughter are having a tense telephone conversation. The story is told in first person, from the daughter’s point of view. 

 I felt sick to my stomach, but somehow I couldn’t stop myself. I wasn’t like this with anyone but Mom. “Nothing’s eating me,” I said. I tapped my fingers on the arm of my chair. “I’m tired, that’s all. Tired of pandering to your emotional insecurities.” Mom drew in a sharp breath, but I pressed on. “Ben and Jackie wouldn’t have asked you to go if they didn’t want you. So, go. Enjoy your grandchildren and have a good time. Is that so hard? Does it have to be such a big deal?”

“Somebody got up on the wrong side of bed,” she answered. “Maybe I should talk to you later when you’re feeling more reasonable.”

“I think this is as good as it gets today, Mother.”

I heard the phone click. “Mother?” I held the phone away from my ear and looked at it in surprise, then brought it close again. "Mother?” The dial tone sounded an accusation. “She hung up on me!”


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  1. OOOOOH I hate it when people hang up on me in a snit! Such a coward's way of handling conflict!!! Well, you elicited a definite emotional response from me with just that little piece so I can't wait to read the whole thing when it's ready! xo

  2. This passage completely resonates with me. The almost split personality that one experiences: a part of you that sees what is happening like a third person however is unable to stop the train's momentum! I also love the surprise at her mother hanging up on her; complete shock...probably something her Mother has never done before.

  3. Ten years? That's nothing! It took me 16 to write my first novel! I feel a kindred spirit with you since I'm also a bit eclectic. Persevere my friend!

  4. Anonymous2:01 pm GMT-7

    Good things come to those who wait...and I can hardly wait to read your book! Great post and sample; hungry for more. Kathy

  5. Anonymous2:01 pm GMT-7

    Good things come to those who wait...and I can hardly wait to read your book! Great post and sample; hungry for more. Kathy

  6. I like the voice in your sample. It's real. And the mother - gotta love her for hanging up! ha ha!
    Pam Mytroen

  7. Anonymous6:43 pm GMT-7

    I am a fan of short, to the point sentences, which is why I appreciate your writing. I believe it was Hemingway (a favourite writer for the reason stated above) who stated "Writing is rewriting." While this is true, the more you write, the LESS you will have to rewrite. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, another great mind, often removed two or three words from his Sherlock Holmes short stories...that's it.

    With your kids getting older, you will have more time to indulge in your passion -- your novel -- and the ones soon to follow. Anything worthwhile is a discipline, and in my view, not engaging in an activity such as writing is an effrontery to God.

    Head down, keep writing, and remember what inspiration there is the seeming ordinary things we see every day, Susan, because those little moments all somehow fall into place.

    Best wishes always. ~Robert H.

  8. A great teaser. And it is encouraging to me to know there are others out there like you who return to projects years later. May God give you strength to persevere.

  9. Keep at it. I'm sure you'll get there. Thanks for the sneak peek.


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