I am not sure what I used to do before I started writing/rewriting Fallsy Downsies. The last three weeks have been given almost entirely to rewriting. Every evening and all weekend. Thousands and thousands of words. My editor made gentle suggestions, asked probing questions and just generally made a better writer of me. I decided the best way to rewrite it was to rewrite every single word. All 87,000 of them. No problem.
The rewrite also involved a pretty serious redrawing of one of the major characters, so every single scene in which she appeared needed to be rewritten which encompassed, in the final two thirds of the book, basically every single scene. Heh.
But I was amazed at how well the work progressed, how much fun it was, really, to be cutting through my own bullshit and making the sentences better, how capable I turned out to be of writing several thousand words each and every day without excuses. Let that be a lesson to me.
It is with my brilliant editor again. It will come back to me before the weekend for a final look at minor changes. And then before long it’ll be off to be made into advance reading copies and then we’ll really be on the path.
Meanwhile, guess who created a file on her computer desktop called “new book”? Yep. This glutton for punishment. That’s right.
So, I got out of the weeds, in the end. I got out of the weeds and I wrote and wrote and wrote, and then I wrote some more. And all the writers in town conspired to keep me fed and watered, dropping off meals to my door and stuffing my mailbox with candy. And somehow, against the odds, I finished my first draft and then wrote the second draft in the space of week, evenings and weekends, typing till my vision blurred and my arms quivered.
And I sent it off to publisher and editor and I waited. I sent it also to Kev who read it in the car, while on tour with Stephen Fearing, and that was cool to think about — my book, about two musicians on tour in a car being read by two musicians on tour in a car.
I felt euphoric when it was done, and also a little lonesome. I missed my characters and I worried about whether I’d done right by them.
I read the manuscript over a week or two ago. Parts of it are pretty good. Parts of it are just dreadful. Pretty much what I’d expected. Last night, my brilliant editor sent her notes my way and they are…they are just fine. The things I hoped I was communicating, I communicated. The things I was pretty sure I was not nailing — yup, I was right about that. I have a lot of work to do to make it better. But having written it the first and second times, I feel pretty sure I can go for three. It is daunting. My god, it’s daunting. I have a month, and the guardrail of an editor. And I know where it starts and where it ends. I just have to get the middle exactly right.
I am pretty sure that if I can do this, I can do just about anything. Stay tuned.
Oh god, the weeds. Every writer gets in them. Somehow, knowing that doesn’t help when you get there yourself. The point at which you look at your stack of paper with all your sentences all written out by hand over the last however many years and you think: God. Who’d want to read that pile of garbage? What is this even about? What made me think these ideas and characters would be interesting to anyone? Why did I sign that stupid contract with that ridiculous deadline. OH GOD WHY ME WHY ME WHY ME.
It’s not an attractive time in a writer’s life.
I didn’t go through this with Homing. There’s a benefit to writing it fast. You whiz right by the weeds, chopping their heads off blithely as you go. Whee, it’s November! I’m writing a novel! In thirty days! Who has time for self-doubt? Whee!
This one? This one is not going like that one did. This one is stupid. Who would want to read this one? What is this one even about, anyhow?
No, seriously. If you know what this godforsaken stupid project of a novel is even supposed to be about — and why anyone would want to read that anyhow — by all means, drop me a line.
BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE.
It’s just the weeds. I’m just in them, and some day soon I will be out of them.
I wish that was remotely helpful to a writer in the weeds. I hereby regret every time I’ve archly said that to one of my weeds-dwelling writer friends. You’re right: IT DOESN’T HELP.
I will give you fifty dollars to just write this damn thing for me. For real. It’s not even that hard, so long as you steer clear of the weeds.
Fifty dollars. Any takers?
Okay, not delivered, not yet. But I have signed a contract with Invisible Publishing to bring out Fallsy Downsies in the fall of 2013. Which means I’ll need to deliver them a manuscript on or around March 15. No problem, right?
Cue panic attack.
No, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Just fine.
Stay tuned for more!
The writing retreat in Tata was a huge success.
Well, the reading at Fables was—let’s call it an intimate affair. Usually on the Friday night of our retreat, we Common members would read to each other that which we’d accomplished that day. And so it was at Fables that night, but with a few extra people listening in. We were up against the annual celebration of Bob Dylan, an event we would all have loved to have gone to, so we weren’t too bothered. And Chuck and Hanna at Fables treated us like royalty and we would go back in a heartbeat, even if no one came to see us read.
The house we rented was amazing. A proper cottage with a wood stove and a wrap around verandah and an unobstructed view of the sea. We watched a huge orange moon sink into the ocean alarming fast after midnight one night and it stunned us into awed silence. We ate delicious food and shopped at the farmers’ market and did yoga on the lawn of our house and made roaring fires in the evenings.
And we wrote. Or at least, I did. I wrote five thousand words, which is what I strive for at these things. Five thousand pretty decent words, too. It was terrifying, because as I’ve mentioned before I got all my characters together in one place and then abandoned them for several months, but I managed to pick things up where I’d left off, and it was fascinating to travel along with them, watching the shifting dynamic now that they’re three on the road, not two and one.
I have been saying this for months, but now it’s almost true: the book I’ve been editing will soon be finished. And when it is, look out Fallsy Downsies, I’m coming for you.
In other news, piano recital is next Saturday, and running continues to be a thing that I do. I’m no longer blogging at the Bluenose site, but I think I will add a running page to this website, because writing about it was a really key part of my process, and enough people seem interested in what I’m up to that I might as well keep all y’all in the loop. I can’t promise I’ll get to that soon, but I will get to it, so stay tuned.
This has been my least productive year as a fiction writer since I learned to hold a pencil. So far, anyhow. Since January I have been so busy with everything but writing that I occasionally forget that it is, as Sue Goyette frequently points out to me, my true work.
Instead of writing I have been running, and writing about running. And I have been struggling to learn to play the piano well enough to play it in front of a bunch of strangers at a recital in June. And I have been editing a book for a publisher on the South Shore, one that’s taken up a lot of my time, but has been an edifying project for a variety of reasons–though it has taken me MONTHS more to finish it than I thought it would. And I have been mentoring a young writer through the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Again, satisfying work to be engaged in, but it all takes time from my true work. And I also wrote an essay for a McGraw-Hill Ryerson e-text-book for use in high school English classes. Which I was definitely not going to turn down. Even though it meant several hundred more words written that had nothing to do with Evan and Lansing and Dacey.
Who are, by the way, finally all together in one place. I got them all together and then abandoned them to work on these other things.
This may not be coincidental. In the past, I have stopped short at important places in whatever I’m writing, usually to give myself time to figure out what the hell is going to happen next.
I’ll find out this weekend. The Common is taking its show on the road, travelling to Tatamagouche tomorrow night. We’ll spend a few days in a beach house in River John, writing and hanging out, and on Friday night, we’ll read en masse at Fables. We are very excited about this! We’ve never done an event together before.
As for me, I love these retreats. Generally, I get a tonne of work done. Last fall, when we went to Windhorse Farm for a couple of days, I managed about five thousand words. If you think your manuscript overall is going to be around eighty or ninety thousand words, five thousand is a pretty significant chunk. So I’ll be hoping to get much, much deeper into my story this time.
And when I get back to Halifax I’ll be working as hard as I can to land the plane on all those other projects so that I can get back to my true work without needing to leave town to do it!
Oh hello! Thanks for dropping by! It seems there’s a spate of interest out there about some of my activities beyond writing.
The rumours are true, I am learning to run. I am training for a 5K at the Bluenose Marathon, and you can read all about my adventures in running here.
Also, lots of people curious about my marital status. I am indeed married. To this amazing man.
And some people are wondering how they can contact me about matters related to public broadcasting. I can be best reached in that regard at stephanie dot domet at cbc dot ca
And yes, it’s true, Homing is being made into a movie! Trish Fish is writing it, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Better her than me!
We now return you to your regular programming — infrequent updates about the ongoing interminable process of writing a second novel.
This is the method I’m currently using for getting stuff done. I’m editing a book for one writer, and mentoring another and still trying to finish my own first draft. So I am cramming in bits of writing where I can, and trying not to freak out. The good news is I just booked off most of a week in February for writing. The bad news is, that’s still three weeks away.
Figured I might as well address all the most recent web searches that have brought people to this website. Every couple of weeks, some very flattering search turns up like Stephanie Domet rude or Stephanie Domet is fat or, this week, Stephanie Domet sucks. And there is perennial curiousity, it seems, about my little husband.
So let’s take these one at a time. Fat. Well, duh. Moving on.
Rude. I suspect it depends: on the day, who you ask, what you said to me first, how many people before you also said it to me that day. If I have been rude to you, I do apologize. I get a little ragged and snappish sometimes. Who doesn’t? It’s just, most people are able to get ragged and snappish and be halfway anonymous. Me, not so much.
Sucks. Well now, surely that’s subjective. What a thing to google! I mean, if you think so, do you really need the internet to shore you up?
Is married to Kev Corbett. Who loves me despite all of the above. Imagine.
Well, May, here you are, halfway gone, you complicated month, you. May is one of the most crowded months in our family calendar, and one of the most reviled. There’s mother’s day, Jeff’s birthday, Chris’s birthday, Chris and Em’s dating anniversary, Em’s birthday. It used to be a whirlwind of cake and celebration. But then Chris got sick, and added to May got less noble anniversaries like the day Chris slipped into a coma, the day the doctor told us we had to unplug him, the day he died, his funeral. Less cake and way less celebrating. Stupid May. Month that both brought Chris and took him away. Month that made Mother’s Day a complicated joke of a holiday. Month that gave us all so much sadness only heightened by all those years of May gladness. Stupid May when everything is in bloom but all our thoughts are witheredy death. Stupid.
So then you think, how am I supposed to live? Honestly, how am I supposed to go on, in the face of such sadness, but more importantly, how should I comport myself in order to truly honour the memory of someone who wanted so much to stay on this earth? I made a decision, early on, that I was not doing anyone any good by being in perpetual mourning. That if Chris couldn’t be here to live, then damn it, I was going to have to do it for both of us. The sadness helped me up to a point, and then after that, being sad and angry was kind of holding me back. So I cut it out, by and large. Writing a book from those feelings helped too.
And then eight years ago, Jeff and Michelle made the excellent, brave and healing decision to hold their wedding on May 17, Chris’s birthday, the most confusing day of them all. The other sorrowful anniversaries were straightforward. But how could you be sad on Chris’s birthday? It just didn’t make sense. So Jeff and Mich made it make more sense by turning it back into a day of cake and celebration.
And here we are again. May 17. My amazing older brother would have been 43 today, and doubtless king of the world. He was so smart, he was kind, he was funny, he could play guitar and write songs better than you. He had two gorgeous daughters he’d be in awe of now. Today he’d be sitting back with his lovely wife, watching them go out into the world, making sure they came home in time for cake and celebration.
May 17 and Jeff and Michelle celebrate another year together, their two great kids, the life they’ve built close by family and friends. Cake and celebration. There’s not much more that’s needed in this life.
As for that book, in honour of Chris’s birthday, here’s a piece from Homing, a piece of fiction loosely inspired by Chris and his guitar. Happy birthday, brother.