It’s a Manuscript!

Last week I printed off the first complete draft of the manuscript for my book. Then I read it from start to finish, red pen in hand, looking for obvious holes, inconsistencies, wordiness, typos, etc. It’s now in the capable hands of my mentor and I am anxiously awaiting his feedback.

I feel a bit like I’ve just given birth after a long, hard labour. The gestation period for this baby was longer than that of an elephant mama. The seed for my book was planted about eight years ago, but I didn’t start to write it with intention until after my retirement in November of 2014. The book is a memoir, a slice of my life that I hope readers will relate to and find funny, poignant, and heart-warming.

I have a few unlikely people to thank for the impetus to embark on this project.

First, there’s my friend Wendy who laughed at the e-mails I sent her to relieve my stress during one of my parents’ ten-day visits a number of years ago. I discovered that it was easy to get hooked on making people laugh.

Then there’s David Suzuki. And what did this iconic environmentalist, social activist, and media star have to do with my creative pursuits you might well wonder?

In May, 2014 I decided to participate in the David Suzuki 30×30 Nature Challenge. The purpose of the challenge was to encourage Canadians to get outdoors and explore the natural world for at least thirty minutes a day throughout the month of May. Participants were encouraged to post something on social media everyday to track their experiences. On the very first day I hit the jackpot. I stepped out my front door at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, my dog in tow, to see a mama raccoon and three babies waddling across my front lawn.

After sharing that vignette on Facebook, I got all kinds of positive reaction. I warmed to the project and started taking my phone with me to add photographs to my posts. My Facebook friends shared my posts and before I knew it I had a following. When we got to the end of the month, many of my readers commented that they were sorry to see my daily posts come to an end.

I have to say a special word of thanks to an old friend from elementary school in Lachute, Quebec with whom I’ve re-connected via Facebook. Ron Lilly is almost always the first to hit “Like” on my posts. He lives in Calgary now. Severe health problems prevent him from getting around very easily. He wrote one of the most touching comments I’ve had to date. Here is what he said:

I love your writing. Your descriptions are so good that I feel like I’m going along on your walks with you.

I’ve made a cozy space for writing; I have my loyal muse, Ceilidh, who lies in her bed under my desk; and Bill makes sure the coffee is ready first thing in the morning to fuel my creative energy. What more could I possibly need?

There’s still a long way to go, a great deal of editing and revision, but the first leg is DONE. The words are out of my head, onto the page, and in someone else’s hands. (And yes, I know it’s not the accepted convention to spell a word out all in caps for emphasis, but I don’t care.)