It’s been a while. Thank you for not forgetting about me. Aside from my open letter to McDonald’s (which, if you’re listening McD’s, I am still really pissed about) I haven’t posted anything in more than six months. That’s a long hiatus, but… BUT I have some exciting reasons as to why the absence.
First of all, after my last post back in August 2016, I started a project which would have a significant impact on my writing career. I renovated the basement bedroom of my house and turned it into a writing room. A friend of mine down in Boston, Richard B. Wood, did this earlier in the year and dubbed his new creative space The Lair. Being a homegrown lad from The Great White North, the name for my space needed a Canadian touch and after much deliberation (entirely too much, some would say) I decided on Lair North, Eh? though around the house it commonly goes by The Writing Room.
Having a dedicated space to go and have uninterrupted time to create was of paramount importance. If I was going to make the leap from being a writer to being a published author I was going to need to take it seriously (more seriously than I had been) and give writing its own time and place. The room needed to be comforting and inspiring and filled with all the tools to help me bring my ideas to life.
I still need to put a few finishing touches on it (I need a small end table, a few pieces of art, and some blinds) but the transformation was extensive.
Everything in the new room has a purpose:
- The little half-sized guitar is there because I occasionally write lyrics (really the only form of poetry I am capable of).
- The is some art that’s there and more to come because the presence of art pleases my muse.
- I have my NaNoWriMo victories on the wall hanging above a photo of my aforementioned friend, Richard, pointing his finger at me with the heading “Shouldn’t You Be Writing?”. These are great motivators.
- What was once a door to get into the circuit breaker panel is now a chalkboard (and also a door to get into the circuit breaker panel) for keeping lists and scribbling random notes.
- There is my wife’s BA (Political Science) and my B.Sc (General Science) from the University of Waterloo. These are accomplishments that we are both very proud of.
- There’s a chair for reading, relaxing, napping, and thinking (Winnie The Pooh has honey and I have my La-Z-Boy).
- A lamp because… well, we had an extra lamp and nowhere to put it.
- Books. There are lots and lots of books. The whole family has books on those shelves. I just wish I had more room for more books.
- Finally, to the left of me when I’m sitting at the keyboard there is my shelf of inspiration and usefulness.
- The top of this little bookcase sits books that my friends have written, music CDs they’ve created, and one bottle of beer that my friend Jon crafted (links to all the stuff below).
- Underneath that shelf are reference books, how-to books, Stephen King’s On Writing, a space pen, a Rubik’s Cube, an Oxford English Dictionary (because Webster can kiss my butt), and some golf balls from my brother-in-law’s memorial golf tournament (Ryan passed eight years ago today – also my birthday – and I miss him every day).
The rules of the room are simple:
- Closed door = Do not disturb.
- Don’t touch the laptop (it’s super finicky and on its last legs).
- If you’re done with a book, put it in a bookcase (alphabetical by author last name, or on the shelf of inspiration ordered by height).
- If you want to read a book, take one (just bring it back when you’re done. See rule #3).
So, what has happened since the room became a usable space?
Well, as some of you may know, a couple years ago my daughter had surgery to correct a severe case of scoliosis. My wife, not finding much helpful information for parents going through something similar, started a family blog so we could share our story and hopefully help other families. The blog was a great success, with families from all over the world finding the site and learning from our experiences.
Wanting to bring our story to as many people as possible, and always with something more to say, I compiled all the blog posts and sectioned them off into various phases (waiting for a surgery date, preparing for a second opinion, pre-op, surgery, post-surgery, etc.) Before each phase, I added my own take on what was happening at that time. I also added an introduction bringing everyone up to speed on our daughter and what life was like before the diagnosis, a question and answer section, and a lessons-learned section at the end.
It was a lot of work, but it was work I was able to accomplish, uninterrupted, at Lair North, Eh? over the course of a month. Once that was done, I got right into NaNoWriMo for the sixth year in a row and every day over the course of November you could hear the sounds of me typing and talking to myself. I am happy to say that for the fourth time in those six years I managed to write more than 50,000 words and win NaNo!
Then, a break for the holidays where I fiddled here and there with a few things and tried to figure out what to do next. Come the new year, however, something was brewing. I was showing the scoliosis book to a few trusted friends to get feedback and it was suggested that I get it in the hands of one of their publishers.
I won’t go into details (to protect the innocent and all that jazz), but suffice it to say that the manuscript for Bent But Not Broken: A Family’s Scoliosis Journey made it into the hands of Oghma Creative Media and a few weeks later I signed a contract to have the book published!
Well, the first step was to get all the words in the manuscript looking good for the fine editors over at Oghma. The next step was to provide all the images that would be used and place an image tag in the manuscript so the formatting people would know where stuff goes. Then, I need to caption all the images (close to fifty of them) and secure permission to publish any of the images that were not either a family photo or a medical image from my daughter’s personal medical record.
Once all that was done, off to the publisher it went. There, an editor will look it over and the process of fixing and re-writing begins. A lot of the book was blog posts and I’m hoping there won’t be any substantive changes made to those since they were written in-the-moment. I expect the narrative parts that I wrote will tighten up and give the book a nice pace.
At some point down the road, once we are all happy with the words there will be copy edits, formatting, and cover design.
When it is all said and done, at some point in the first half of 2018, we should have the book in stores and available for download, and who knows, maybe later on next year you’ll see another title from me hitting the shelves as well.
Who’s on my shelf of inspiration?
- A picture book my daughter wrote with the babysitter
- Orange Karen: Tribute to a Warrior (various authors, including me!)
- Wrath and Bones by A.J. Aalto
- The Prodigal’s Foole by R.B. Wood
- Sephirot by Gordon Bonnet
- Vision: Complete Trudy Harper Psychic Investigations by Jane Sharp
- Rebel Soul by J.C. Hannigan
- Soul Discovery by S.J. Cairns
- The Key to Everything by Alex Kimmell
- Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth
- What Was That Number Again? by Neil Hedley
- Old School New School Mom by Sarah Fader
- Monsters by Gareth S. Young
- Wolves of Dynamo by Gareth S. Young
- Can’t Dia.beat. us: The Highs and Lows of Raising a Type 1 Diabetic Child by Trina Licavoli Gunzel
- Bigger Than Jesus by Robert Chazz Chute
- The Idea of North by Alex Kimmell
- The Darwin Awards III: Survival of the Fittest by Wendy Northcutt (I have an anecdote in there!)
- Kill Switch by Gordon Bonnet
- Lock and Key by Gordon Bonnet
- More Than You Know (The Harrisons) by Jennifer Gracen
- Out Vile Jelly CD
- Brad Sandlin CD
- Bottle of Competitor IPA made by the ZēLUS Beer Company (and my longtime friend Jon Goldstein)