That was the diagnosis last night, from Sue Goyette. You’re ankle deep in it, she said. Before you know it, you’ll be swimming.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’m totally ready to swim again, but hey, if the water’s rising, what choice do you have?
I have yet to make actual sentences. But all I think about now is Becks, and guilt, and religion, and the body, and my gosh, there’s a book there, soon to swamp my kayak. I have started staring out the window. Always a harbinger of sentences to come. I have even made a plan, a little schedule. A work-back.
Next weekend, The Common has a mini-retreat in Hubbards. Becks and I will get to know each other a little better there, I am sure. It’s possible her name is actually spelled Bex. I’ll find out and report back.
People keep asking me if I’ve started another novel and the truth is, I have. I have five hundred terrifying words I wrote in November and have been backing away slowly from ever since. I am bone tired, if you want to know. The last twelve months took everything I had to give. Between writing, rewriting, editing, proofing, waiting, launching, promoting, travelling, and talking oh the talking, not to mention my full-time job, trying to keep the house from falling into the sea and maintaining my primary relationships, you know, it’s been a time. A time of not much rest. Very little staring out the window. Many many weeks of never doing what I wanted, only what I needed to do.
I have been sick three times since the launch in Halifax for Fallsy Downsies. I have travelled to Toronto and back by car twice. I have let my fitness and flexibility disappear. And now it’s February and I feel like I might be waking up. Maybe. I wouldn’t want to rush to call it that, but maybe that is what’s happening.
I am thinking about Becks, this character who thrust herself into the front of my mind in November. I have been thinking about her and thinking that eventually I will have to make and keep a date with her. And then another. And another and then before too long, she and I will be an item and it’ll be back into that dark dance.
Not yet. I am making my way through a stack of New Yorker magazines that piled up on the piano over the last several months. I am lifting weights and doing push ups and swimming and playing tennis. I am staring out the window. I am waking up.
Or just one, really. The infected one. Yes, the raw throat I developed on tour developed into a sneaky cold, then a hugely painful earache that was the harbinger of my current misery: an ear infection. What am I, four years old? Feels like it. Nothing like an earache to make you cry for your mama.
Book tour is well and truly wrapped, with a small but mighty event last weekend in Fredericton and what should have been an event at Box of Delights in Wolfville but instead became a big snowstorm during which I stayed home in my pajamas and tried to hear out of my blocked ear. Do I know how to party or what? Sorry, I can’t hear you.
We will reschedule the Wolfville event at some point in the new year, and I’m hoping to schedule a south shore reading as well, perhaps in Mahone Bay or Lunenburg. And hey, if you want me to come read in your town, just let me know, and I’ll see what I can do! Meanwhile, there’s this: http://seaandbescene.com/2013/12/stephanie-domet-at-home-here-in-nova-scotia/
Voice is one of those things you have to find as a writer. Find your own voice, find the voice of your characters, the voice of your story. All that feels easy in comparison to preserving my voice on tour.
The first night of my southern Ontario book tour was raucous and fun, and I definitely did a little too much talking over loud music after the reading and Q&A. I could feel a corner of my throat bruising. Then I went to a party afterward. And then I knew for sure I’d injured my voice.
I use mine a lot, in my day job as radio host, so I know all the things you’re not supposed to do: whisper, scream, talk in a loud room, make funny voices. I have pretty much done all those over that last five days, coupled with not getting quite enough sleep and not drinking quite enough water. Add to that the nightly demands of being on tour: reading for twenty minutes, answering questions for another twenty or more, spending another twenty signing books and chatting in a loud room…every night. I don’t stand a chance.
Two more nights of tour — which I love, and which is so hard on my voice, but which I love — a long drive to Halifax with my bestie (I’m sure that won’t involve ANY talking at all, oh no) and then a big annual holiday party at my house with a huge crowd, a noisy room and lots of live music.
If I see you and I don’t say much, don’t take it personally — that’s just me, trying to find my voice again!
I grew up in a part of Mississauga known broadly as Clarkson, Sheridan Homelands on a more granular level. (Now that I’m an adult with critical thinking skills and an awareness of Idle No More, I am mortified that those Homelands are rightly the homelands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, and that I lived there in blissful ignorance, probably occasionally cheering on sports teams called the Mississauga Indians, god help me.) Aaaaannnnnyyyyyhow. I grew up there. It was the seventies and eighties. I am doing my best now.
And let’s be honest, from the time I was about six years old, I was determined to leave behind the burbs for the city, and that’s what I did the first opportunity I got. In Mississauga, I saw little evidence of the kind of life I wanted. I never encountered an artist, never saw an example of that sort I could follow. My parents encouraged me, and that paired with my insatiable drive to write, propelled me along my current path.
But Mississauga holds a place in my heart, of course it does. It holds the surviving members of my family of origin, for one thing, the home in which I grew up still the place to which I return several times a year. Despite the many other homes I’ve found in my life, Sheridan Homelands is still my home.
So it was a strange kind of thrill to see this on Friday. Probably one of my first childhood goals, met.
We hit the road at seven in the morning yesterday and drove across the landscape Lansing and Evan and Dacey travelled in the pages of Fallsy Downsies. We pulled over between Sackville and Moncton, where Lansing developed a hate-on for journalists, to take a call from the radio station in Guelph about my launch there on Tuesday night. We encountered just the merest bit of bad weather and traffic tie-ups, and with a second wind each, we decided to press on, doing the drive in one straight shot. Eighteen and a half hours later, we pulled into the driveway at my mom’s in Mississauga and I exhaled the way you do when you get home.
And in a couple of hours, we’ll head down to the Belljar Cafe in the Junction for the Toronto launch of Fallsy Downsies. I am excited to see friends and family and others, and to introduce them to Lansing, Evan and Dacey. And I’m almost blacked-out with excitement about wearing this amazing charm bracelet made by my equally amazing sister:
If I’m not the luckiest, I’m sure I don’t know who is.
The other day I raced from the office home to pick up my reading copy of Fallsy Downsies and put on some mascara. Then I whipped over to my publisher’s house to pick up him and a box of books, and set out for the Keshen Goodman Library to make a seven pm event. “How was your day?” Robbie asked.
“I feel like it was a little hectic,” I said, “but I don’t really know why.”
He nodded. Robbie has this way of letting your words just hang there till you hear them. Finally he said, “Is it because, you know, you’re kind of rushing around right now?”
Uh. Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is.
I have been Rushing Around Right Now for weeks, it seems. I’ve had all of five nights off this month. Here’s something I’ve discovered: that’s not enough nights. On the one hand, I love launching this book, taking it hither and yon, reading from it, meeting readers and booksellers and librarians and living that life. On the other hand, full time job that’s absurdly demanding.
I am a stuttering, stammering, rough-voiced shell of my former self.
But I couldn’t be happier, to be honest.
Fallsy Downsies is in the world, Lansing Meadows lives. Next week, I get to take him on tour, where he’s meant to be. We go up to Ontario and back in a week and a day. In mid-December, we hit Fredericton on December 14 and Wolfville on December 15. I am so grateful to those who have asked me to come read in their space, and those who have eagerly agreed to host me when Invisible has floated the idea.
My house is a mess — there are no fewer than three bouquets of dead flowers on the main floor alone — the laundry is undone, I eat dinner at 10pm not because I’m fancy but because that’s when I get home. I am exhausted, every minute of every day.
And I am so, so happy. Thank you.