Reflections on my ‘Not Writing’ Life

Image courtesy Mystery Fanfare

Image courtesy Mystery Fanfare

Paula’s Post #60 –

I’m not writing.

There. I’ve said it.


Actually, I feel pretty good, getting that out in the open.

Despite the best of intentions, the truth is, I am not writing. At least not much. Sure, I’m still dutifully pounding out my 5writers blog post once a week, but fiction? Stories? Rewrites?

Not happening.

In this year of upheaval, my life does not seem ‘settled enough’ for me to sit down and write. Something ‘else’ always seems to be happening (or just about to happen). And while I regret I am not writing, I’m not as bothered by what I think of as this phase in my writing life as one might think. Rather, I feel like I am in transit, waiting, waiting, waiting… on the writer’s equivalent of a subway platform, (or perhaps an airport departure lounge is more apropos). Waiting to arrive at that ‘settled place’, where my old friends creativity, productivity, enthusiasm and hard work will be lined up in the arrivals lounge, waiting to greet me.

Realistically, I do not think my train will pull into the station until at least mid-May of this year. Perhaps even later. But May is when we move into our new home in Gibsons, British Columbia, after almost a year of rootlessness. So, for me, May stands as a bright beacon on the horizon, a place where boxes will be unpacked, pictures will be hung, crockery nestled onto pantry shelves pet beds laid in the corner of our new kitchen and my ‘writing corner’ set up with iMac and printer, writing books and photos of my dogs and my husband.

Only then, do I believe I will feel ‘settled’ enough to start writing again.

So, instead of getting discouraged about this, waiting for the pages of the calendar to flip over to May,  I’m trying to be philosophical about my own personal episode of writer’s block.

Not writing does not mean that I am not actively engaged in ‘The Writing Life’. Whether actively engaged in the process of writing a novel or not, I am still a writer and that means that even when I am not writing stories, I can still work on my craft.

So I am enjoying reading (something I often find difficult to do while in the midst of  working on the first draft of a novel). I’ve just discovered Louise Penny, the author of the award winning Inspector Gamache series.

How the Light Gets In

How is it possible that until this year, I don’t actually recall being aware of this author? I must have heard her name before, I’m sure, but not until her latest novel, How the Light Gets In came out in the autumn and debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List did I get around to googling Penny, only to discover she is:

– Canadian

-A former journalist with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

-Winner of multiple awards for fiction, including the British Dagger, American Anthony, Canadian Arthur Ellis and 5 – count ’em – 5 Agatha Awards.

-Translated into 25 different languages.

Discovering a new series author is a delicious experience. For all of you who are fans of Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell, Elizabeth George, Michael Connelly, or Ian Rankin, you’ll know the joy of discovering someone new to follow. For me, I hope this may be Louise Perry, especially since How the Light Gets In is actually her ninth in a series which starts with her debut novel, Still Life, number one in the Inspector Gamache series. Nine lovely books to look forward to. Much as I’d love to find out what all the buzz is about with How the Light Gets In, I’m of course starting right at the beginning of the series.

So if, like me, you’ve somehow missed Louise Penny, I invite you to explore this author and her books. She has a lovely biography on her website, under the heading ‘about Louise Penny‘ that you can read for yourself, but I wanted to reproduce a small excerpt from that page where Penny writes:

Since I was a child I’ve dreamed of writing and now I am. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I can dream pretty wild) the Chief Inspector Gamache books have found a world-wide audience, won awards and ended up on bestseller lists including the New York Times. Even more satisfying, I have found a group of friends in the writing community. Other authors, booksellers, readers who have become important parts of our lives. I thought writing might provide me with an income – I had no idea the real riches were more precious but less substantial. Friendships.

Well, I haven’t won awards, don’t have a world wide audience and have not, as yet, ended up on any bestseller list, New York or otherwise, but I can say that Louise Penny’s words resonated with me. I, too, have found a group of friends in the writing community who have become such a very important part of my life.

So be patient friends, I promise I’ll get back to writing soon. In the meantime, please allow me the precious time to indulge in exploring new authors, new genres, new characters and new ideas.

I have a feeling that in the end, I’ll ‘come back a better writer.

7 thoughts on “Reflections on my ‘Not Writing’ Life

  1. There’s more to being a writer than the writing part. There’s the reading and learning, researching and mulling. Admittedly, I’m one who believes to keep the skill honed it’s important to write every day, but some days my writing is only what goes into my journal.

    I made the delightful discovery of Louise Penny only recently, too. There are so many wonderful authors and books on my mental TBR list. I don’t think I’ll ever get caught up!

    Wishing you a refreshing, rejuvenating hiatus. 🙂

    • Thanks Carol! Thanks for the good wishes. I appreciate the support. Isn’t it interesting about undiscovered gem Louise Penny? I was speaking with my 5writer colleague Helga this past weekend and she hadn’t heard of her either! Makes we wonder what other ‘jewels’ are out there, waiting to be mined?

      • All Louise Penny’s books seemed to turn up on at the same time a couple years ago, making me wonder if they might have been previously published. But she was new to me, recommended by a friend. Happy reading. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the reco of Louise Penny! Yes, like you I was not familiar with her work or her accomplishments, and I’ll be starting with book one of her series as soon as I can. Don’t worry, Paula – you WILL get back on the writing train. I promise. I’ll even pack you a lunch!

  3. You touched a nerve here, Paula. I seem to go through a similar phase right now. This makes me feel a bit like a failure, but when I am analyzing it objectively I realize that it may have more to do with conditions beyond my control. We are not robots who can perform at the push of a button. The writing will come back, we both know that. Look at the number of posts each of us has written for the blog. That too is writing. That too takes creativity and commitment. So the new novel will follow as sure as I’ll be having a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc with dinner.

    • Thanks Silk and Helga,
      Wish I was up with you now, enjoying that glass of wine and catching up, (or perhaps better yet, that you were here in the desert, where, as you may have heard, we are enjoying temperatures far above average for the past few weeks!)
      Whatever, wine and talk about books sounds good to me!

  4. Pingback: Conflicted… again. | 5 Writers 5 Novels 5 Months

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