I finished writing Holding Fast a year ago. It's hard to believe how much has happened since, from publication in October to book-signings in favorite bookstores to a feature in the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper; not to mention connecting with so many readers, which has been awesome. While I was writing, post-it notes covered the wall next to my writing desk: ideas for scenes, inspirational quotes, themes. As I begin work on my next book, two notes from Holding Fast remain.
It took some years, and many writing workshops, before I understood that a main theme of the book was leaving conventional life behind. Once I put that note up, it never came down. If whatever I wrote didn't pertain to it, it couldn't be in the book.
Jerry Saltz, in How to Be an Artist, says "Find your own voice. Then exaggerate it."(p. 49). When I asked a writer friend for feedback on the initial draft of Holding Fast, she said, "I want to see more of you in there." At the time, John, Kate, and I were living in Florida. We had enrolled Kate in a regular school, and Kate and I would have the "normal" lives we craved after three years on the water. We had a pretty house in a suburban community with a vibrant downtown and a gorgeous white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean.
Yet I was miserable. I was away from family and friends (John didn't want to return to the Northeast). I had little in common with the neighbors and hated the locked gates of our development clicking behind me each time I drove in. I cried each night. While writing, I imagined myself on a rosy version of Laughing Goat sailing in ever-sunny seas. I wasn't sure what my friend meant about putting more of myself in.
I gained more insight as time passed and eventually, I was able to reflect back, to find my own voice. I love Saltz' notion of exaggerating it: for those of us who come late to expressing ourselves, what seems like exaggeration is most likely simply an acknowledgement of truths already there. It was hard work but has opened up my life up in ways I could not have imagined, for which I'm grateful.
Finally, if you've read the book and haven't left a review, please do so. It helps with Amazon's algorithms. Simply click below, and scroll down the page to "write a customer review." One sentence or a couple phrases are fine!
I also wanted to let you know about a wonderful new website, Shepherd, which Ben Fox started and as he says, is like wandering around your favorite bookstore but reimagined for the online world... along with notes from authors pointing out their favorite books. Here is a link to my page, where you can also buy my book!