“Go home and finish writing your new book. I want to read it!”
Barbara and I are leaving our Monday morning Bible study. She is only half-kidding when she delivers this quip. Barbara has read Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl. She is looking forward to the sequel and mentions her memory of an anecdote in my first memoir: “I remember watching Howdy Doody too as a kid!” Though she is not Mennonite and grew up in an entirely different part of the country, she can relate to many of my experiences.
My first intention for my second book was to present my Aunt Ruthie Longenecker’s teenage journal as a collection of diary entries with some added context. That project fizzled for a number of reasons.
Then, I got the bright idea to compile blog posts according to themes and publish those. “What if WordPress, my platform, blows up?” I asked. The loss of digital connection could destroy nine years of work, I reasoned. My readers met that idea with a lukewarm response. “Meh,” was the general impression. Then an author friend, Susan Weidener, scrutinized my book as a developmental editor and suggested that I explore my marriage as a topic. Thus, the title My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir emerged.
It’s been a year since I announced that a new book was in the pipeline. You can read about it HERE.
Then, a few months ago, I staged a cover reveal.
Now, it’s time for an update.
What is the status of My Checkered Life: A Marriage Memoir?
Here it is in 3 points:
- Several readers have read the manuscript, now at 42,000 words: Readers from my writing group, a friend who represents my ideal reader, a developmental editor, a beta reader/editor, and, now in process—a copy-editor. More editing and revision are coming down the pipeline for sure.
- Dr. Katherine Hutchinson-Hayes, author, podcaster, and speaker, interviewed me in her podcast using her platform of “Mystery, Mayhem, and Morality.” She was a delightful interviewer and was especially impressed at the response from you, my blog readers. (Link to this podcast will be available soon.)
- Artist Cliff has been creating magic in his studio, posing here with a study of one of the art pieces to illustrate a chapter in my memoir, “Conehead Confession.”
I kid you not. Writing is hard work. It can drain the life out of you. Thus, to keep a semblance of balance, I scheduled an Artist Date last week. According to author/writing coach Julia Cameron, an Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something new. It should “fire up the imagination and spark whimsy,” she suggests.
True confession: My artist dates happen infrequently. On this one, I went with college friends, not solo. But seeing the immersive Van Gogh exhibition did fire up my imagination and spark whimsy as well as awe and wonder. Some have said viewing the multi-media production is both calming and mind-blowing. You can see what I mean in this clip:
Finally, I was inspired reading Cameron’s The Right to Write. Even if you are not a writer, these lines can fire you up for any task you tackle today.
Use your negative feelings as positive fuel.
I do not get long hours at the keys—or very seldom. Instead, I snatch time. I work in the crannies of my life.
Writing is both the boat and the wind in the sails. Even on the days when the winds of inspiration seem slight, there is some forward motion, some progress made.
Cameron also remarked, “The reader is part of the writer’s life cycle.” So, thank you my gentle reader, for reading this post and telling me what you think.
An inchworm am I,
Moving at a snail’s pace and
Have you seen the Van Gogh Exhibition, or something similar to it?
Any other writer’s advice for me?
Good morning, Marian! Congratulations on all your dedication and hard work! Yes, there will be more editing, but it sounds like you are heading into the final stretch before publication.
There are so many different immersive Van Gogh experiences. Yours looks different from the one we saw. I enjoyed the immersive part at the end at the one we saw. There was a gallery section before that, which I thought was so-so. We are fortunate to have museums nearby where we can see original Van Gogh paintings.
The leader of our group who bought the tickets said he had seen the Van Gogh show in Philadelphia and the themes and accompanying music were different. Maybe the quotes displayed in the gallery were the same. Yes, you have access to so many cultural experiences where you live. And thanks, for the thumbs up here. You have first hand experience in book publication, that’s for sure, Merril! 😀
You’re very welcome, Marian!
I’ve never self-published though, but you certainly seem to know what you’re doing. 😊
It may appear so, but I have help! 😀
An artist date: never heard of it but we had something like that this past Sunday for our church-on-retreat worship service that I’m writing about this week.
No fair to see how warm you still have it in Florida!! We are shivering up here although enjoying our fall! Made a fire last night.
Anyway, thanks for this update and this artistic idea. I did walk through a gallery at the retirement center where we do “wellness exercise” in water. They keep splendid shows going frequently, and they’re easy to get to.
Melodie, this morning we woke to temps in the 40s, so I’m not in short sleeves today–or tomorrow. Just remember: you have fall foliage we’ll never see unless we drive far, far to the north.
I appreciate all your help in my memoir progress up to this point. Enjoy all your “Artist Dates.” Now you’ll have a name for them! I look forward to your post this week. 😀
Just seeing that clip I can imagine the exhibition must have been so spectacular 🙂
“Spectacular” is the right word for it. And the music enhanced the mood as well. Thanks, Carol! 😀
I had the privilege of visiting a Van Gogh exhibition in Munich, Germany. To say that it was awesome is an understatement. His paintings are indescribleable. I wondered back then if his unusual technique and his vision of what he wanted to see on canvas had something to do with his sickness.
Have a lovely day.
Many art critics agree that his mental illness was the well-spring of his art. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Until I saw the exhibition, I did not know what a role his brother Theo played in his development as an artist: finances, some family connection, and more.
Thanks for tuning in again, Pat. I’m glad you saw the show in Munich, so you can relive the experience here. 😀
Marian! It will be great to hear that interview. 😄 Thanks for the update on your memoir. How wonderful that Cliff’s illustrations will be part of it.
A friend in Seattle saw this Van Gogh exhibit. I haven’t seen the light show version of the Van Gogh exhibit. When I mentioned on my blog seeing it in Chicago, I meant the paintings (along with those of Gauguin) were exhibited at the Art Institute. Marvelous to see! 😄
L. Marie, I’ll probably put the podcast interview on my Facebook page when it becomes available. You are kind to support my efforts, and I’m happy to reciprocate.
I’m glad you got to see the paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago. My daughter-in-law graduated from the School associated with the Art Institute and is now practicing art therapy in behavioral health. Thanks for commenting once again! 😀
Much like Barbara, I’m looking forward to reading your sequel. I enjoyed reading Mennonite Daughter and educating myself about the culture. (I like to learn.) I like the direction that Susan pointed you in. A marriage is like a story—highs and lows with everything in between. Being married to a great lady, I’ve got an idea of what makes a marriage work, but I’m excited to read about Cliff and your adventures.
From a writer’s perspective, I suspect that we operate from the same principle—it’ll be ready when all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. In other words, you strike me as a person that is not going to rush a project just to be done with it. I respect your approach and it sounds like you are doing everything right in terms of your support team. Using Cliff’s artistic talents even makes your project more special.
Best of luck, Marian. I’ll be a customer and avid reader when it’s ready.
You are my audience, for sure, Pete. And more than that, I count you as friend. Though we are almost a continent apart, we have connections through our teaching life, our writing life, and family life too. Readers like you fuel my engine for the last laps of the journey for this book. Thank you! 😀
Wow! I can see why the Van Gogh exhibition ignited your imagination, Marion. It looks incredible…like being inside of a kaleidoscope.
I know you’re not kidding when you say writing is hard work, but when we do it to glorify the gift given to us by God, it’s so worth it.
“Inside a kaleidoscope” is the perfect description of the exhibition. Thanks for the phrase, and for the encouragement, Jill. Yes, I do see my writing as a gift from God. “Soli Deo Gloria! 😀
I’ve been dying to see the Van Gogh exhibition but haven’t yet! Love your quote at the end about moving at a snail’s pace and leaving words behind! All the best, Marian, as you move forward in writing your new memoir!
I hope the Van Gogh experience comes to Manitoba. You’d love it! Thanks for the good wishes as always, Elfrieda. 😀
I love Van Gogh!
You are making incredible progress, Marian. Yes, writing is hard work. Mark and I recently had a discussion about that, when I mentioned to him how so many authors I know manage to keep writing books, even though they are not retired. He said: “It’s their hobby!”
I replied: “I enjoy writing as well. It’s my hobby, too, but I don’t have time to write more books.”
Mark: “It’s not your hobby. You see it as work and you hate spending money on it.”
I guess hobbies, indeed, are things you enjoy, spend a lot of time on, and don’t mind paying for. To me, writing books is way too much work to be a hobby! 🙂
Thanks for including your conversation with Mark in your remark. Ha! Although our accountant may disagree, I don’t consider writing a hobby either. Right now it’s my calling, a whisper in my ear that calls me to finish. At the moment, I’m editing the “References” section before I send it on.
A few days ago, a friend wrote in her post: “If you don’t write, life is just one thing after another,” quoting Eugene Herrigel. You made sense of one aspect of your nomadic life in Plunge. I have a feeling you’ll always want to write, even if it’s not a book right now, Liesbet. 😀
Love that quote. To us, writers, writing makes sense! 🙂
Marian — I have your new book INKED (not penciled) into the February 14, 2023, square in next year’s planner. Yes, I’m looking forward to reading it.
My best writing advice to myself (and others when asked) is three-fold: (1) show up, (2) be consistent, (3) stay on brand.
You have always practiced what you preach here, Laurie. And you have developed your brand with an enormous following. So impressive! I’m enjoying Impervious with its mind-blowing plot twists. You’ll hear from me soon. 😀
It sounds like things are going well with the upcoming publication. I think an artist date is a good idea. That Van Gogh exhibition looks amazing.
I notice you’ve been having many Artist Dates at bookstores. Great!
You also sprinkle your writing life with travel. . . just for fun. Thanks for being such a good role model, Darlene! 😀
As I get older I find there is no reason to hurry. If I give myself time to tune out and simply be, somehow the work seems to get done and sometimes even faster!
You remind me of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. You have also prompted me to take the afternoon off. Thanks, Joan. 😀
This is going to be a fun book, Marian. I am so glad Cliff and his art will play a starring role. And I empathize with the work it takes! I find that sitting at a computer is a physical risk, even when I have an Apple watch to remind me to get up and stretch every hour or so. And my mouse hand is my pickleball hand. That means risking tennis elbow if I’m not careful. The joys of aging!
Yes, and yes. I might add: Aging accelerates too, so I do understand the energy required–and the risk involved. Thanks for popping in, Shirley! 😀
Thank you for the update on your memoir, Marian. The wheels of progress are turning! I guess the only writing advice I’d offer is not to rush the final stages of the writing process.
I’ve never been to an immersive art exhibit like the one in the video. I would love to.
I hear you, Liz: “Don’t rush the final stages of the writing process.” You’re right. I don’t want to have my manuscript “cast in stone” and then find colossal errors. I took care with the first memoir, and I intend to follow your advice with this one too.
I hope you get to see an art exhibit like I saw, even if it’s another artist. Van Gogh was spectacular though. Thanks for checking in! :=D
You’re welcome, Marian! The hardest part for me is the “letting it rest” for a length of time before revising. However, now that I’ve realized that, I have another project planned to work on during the “letting it rest” period for my current work-in-progress.
Good idea. . . put something else on the front burner while the other project takes a “rest.” 😀
Yay, Marian! Your life experiences make for some of the most interesting posts about things I’ve never done. I’m glad to read about the progress you’re making on your book and your podcast interview and your chance to see the Van Gogh exhibit. What will you do next?
Take a rest, Ally. Whenever I have large bursts of energy, they are always followed by fallow times, a necessity in my world. Thanks for asking! 😀
The Van Gogh exhibit has been on my list going on 2 years. It was closing in Chicago by the time I returned there for a visit and then it left Orlando before I could get there. I will see it! Anyway, I remember well that you were sharing parts from Aunt Ruth’s diary; you included some excerpts in the post. I did think that would be your next book. Marriage is such a universal topic, however, that I’m sure this memoir will sell well Marian. I admire all the work (different readers, editors, artwork etc.) you have to put in before even publishing it.
My long-time readers didn’t want a re-hash of blog posts they’ve read before, even if it was a long time ago. I don’t blame them. One of my readers, an author and editor herself, suggested a marriage memoir, an idea which chimed in my mind. I would build on previous post, add new material and new chapters. Yes, it’s all a lot of work, but worth it. One thing I’ve learned, you have to pace yourself.
Here’s to finishing my WIP. And you–seeing Van Gogh! 😀
I will definitely toast to that!! 🙂
That exhibit of Van Gogh is spectacular. I’m so close to the art museum here in Chicago ashamed to say I haven’t been there in years. I have to reconnect to art. I believe it would help lift my spirit. I’m so excited for your new book can’t wait to read it. I so loved the first one. God bless you and Cliff for how you work love and enjoy life together. Does it mean perfect? Of course not but we’re happy to be with the one we love.
Viewing art does lift one’s spirits. You and Pablo would enjoy an outing before the weather turns too cold and snowy. Or maybe go with a friend or relative.
Perfection is attained only in heaven, not on earth, where real people live. Ha! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know your thoughts about the books. The new book won’t be ready until spring of 2023. I hope it will be worth the wait, Gloria. 😀
Marian, I fully know writing is hard work and it always takes longer than I imagined. And then I think I’m almost done and a whole new idea or character shows up and won’t be dismissed. I finished my 2nd draft and now I’m working on a third while trying to stay patient with the process. I’m patient (with you) and look forward to your coming book.
For now, my artistic adventures focus on autumn leaves and the last asters in the fields. My women’s group used to do art projects together as well as reading and exploring mythological stories, and it’s a big loss we don’t meet in person now but on Zoom. I know I should be able to create art projects on my own, but I rarely do. So now back to writing about Monarchs and go through photos. We’ll get there!
You can’t enjoy fall foliage or asters in winter, so you’re smart to adjust your schedule to meet the fleeting moments of beauty now. I look forward to your book about Monarchs and a bit of mythology.
It takes as long as it takes. There are plenty of books on the market that came out of the oven too soon. Yours and mine won’t be one of them. Thanks for your reflection, Elaine! 😀
Hi Marian, congratulations are your wonderful progress with your book. I work in the crannies of my life – I love this. I am the same and writing is hard work.
No one would ever guess that you have a full-time job in the demanding world of finance. And look what comes out of the crannies of your life: yummy baked goods, poetry and prose of the finest order. Thanks for being an inspiration, Robbie! :-d
Thank you, Maria 💖🤗
I wish you all the best with the publication of the second part of your endearing memoirs, Marian. I so much look forward to reading it!
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles, where Van Gogh lived, and to visit an exhibition of his works there.
You have the biggest bragging rights of all: viewing Van Gogh’s art at its source. It’s amazing the wonderful art born of pain and psychic suffering. And many thanks for your endorsement of my marriage memoir. I appreciate your support for Book 2, Maria Fatima! 😀
Hi Marian. I missed the Van Gogh exhibit but it’s coming back and I will see it. I did however, see the Frida Khalo exhibit and loved it! <3
Debby! I just listened to two of your podcasts. Wow! You have a pleasing voice, set off with a calming soundtrack. And even though you are discussing a distressing topic, grief, I feel your impulse to comfort as you share words and feelings. If your mission is to explore “real talk” on the topic, you are accomplishing just that.
Toronto has so much cultural richness. I’m glad you got to see the Frida Khalo exhibit–and more to come, I’m sure. Thanks for popping in here once again. ((( )))
P.S. I also subscribed to your YouTube channel.
Oh, thank you so much Marian for the lovely praise. I appreciate the encouragement, it makes me want to continue doing, knowing that my words can comfort. Thanks for making my day – night. 🙂 xx
Hi Marian, I understand the need to fit writing into the crannies of life. It’s a challenge! Right now I’m reading the book DEEP WORK by Cal Newport about the need for times of deep concentration to facilitate production. It’s inspired me to create more deep work times into the mix.
Arlene, it’s so good to hear from you again. I’ve missed you! And I haven’t seen any recent blog posts from you unless there’s a stealthy ninja gremlin at work again masking them from my view.
I haven’t heard of Cal Newport’s work, but I’m glad it’s sparking inspiration for you. Thanks for reading and commenting, so appreciated! :=D
I often wonder what Vincent would think is he knew how much he gave to the world. Love the cover reveal, looking forward to seeing your book on my to be read stack of books.
Yes, indeed! The artist led such a tortured life, and now centuries later, his work appears everywhere – “Starry Night” on keychains and coffee mugs.
Thanks for your kind words. It’s great to hear you are anticipating my story, Lady Budd! 😀
You’re making great progress with your “Marriage” book, Marian! The illustration looks wonderful. Your book sounds like lighthearted with this illustration.
Yes, Miriam, this memoir is a mix of lightheartedness in the section titled “hilarity” and also some “hassles” as the Table of Contents promises. Thanks for popping in again! 😀