2011 felt kind of formless at the beginning of the year, but with January coming to a close it’s starting to take shape. There are travel plans on the horizon, some within Canada (mostly of the East Coast variety) and some much more far flung. I even have birthday plans in April – tickets to the Pixies, who are coincidentally playing in Montreal on my actual birthday. Writing-wise I’ve been steadily working on the novel, but was starting to feel like I was maybe too deep into the project to see it clearly. There’s something so daunting about large amounts of words. Often when I’m feeling stuck on a story, I’ll send it to a friend for an outside opinion, but with a book I feel like it’s too much of an imposition. Also, I’m just shy about it, how unpolished it is, and clunky and unclever. So, I’ve been working in my own little bubble and crossing my fingers. I was pleased, then, when I found out that I’d been selected to participate in a mentorship program I applied for back in the fall. For the next few months I’ll be working with a writer who will help me whip my work-in-progress into shape and I won’t feel guilty bugging him with my drafty draft sentences and plot lines because that’s the whole point of the program. Some people, when I’ve told them about the mentorship, think that I’m taking the mentor role, which is funny to me. I know I just published a book, and while I feel relatively comfortable with short stories, a novel is still nebulous, uncharted land. I’m grateful for a guide.
When Andrew and I went to Greece last year, we rented our apartment in Montreal to the sweetest couple. We trusted them with all of our possessions, just emptied out the closets and drawers so they would have somewhere to store their clothes. In a moment of self-consciousness I also packed up my collection of journals and notebooks and stored them at my parents’ house. There’s nothing especially damning or even interesting in these books, mostly to do lists, cryptic paragraphs and miscellaneous notes. Maybe that’s why they’re embarrassing – if someone opened them up expecting to find something juicy, they’d be disappointed. Anyway, when I returned to Canada I didn’t bother lugging the notebooks back to Montreal, but this past weekend when I visited Toronto, I flipped through a few out of curiosity. I found one from early 2009 that was mostly wedding planning details and musings, but also had a fairly lengthy series of notes about the novel I’m still working on. I don’t remember thinking about it so seriously back then, and at first I was disappointed to realize how long I’ve been working on it. Eventually the sting dissipated – 2 years is nothing in the novel-writing world, right? I’ve had other distractions along the way too, and anyway, I’ve simply needed all that time to get to the point I’m at now. Maybe one day I’ll figure out some novel writing shortcuts, but for now I just need time and patience to write and rewrite and make missteps or the occasional breakthrough. Maybe it’s apt that my first novel notes were in the same journal as my wedding details: I guess I’m in it for the long haul.