Things are well with the Jones family. We had a holiday get-together with 4 of our 5 kids and their significant others up in the Cascades. The snow was 50 inches by the time we left and the driving was precarious at best (the pass was closed the day before and after each journey over). Thank God for tire chains. But it was a wonderful time, only wishing our Minnesota son, his wife, and our only three grandkids could have been there. It has been good that Denise has had two weeks off from school, making a lonely lakehouse, not so isolating. But then I think of friends who are spending their first holidays without their significant other, and I just can’t imagine that pain.
I am consumed these days with the launch of my new novel, The Stones of Yemen (expected out in 3-4 weeks). You just can’t imagine how much work is involved at the end; proofing, graphic designing, and now producing an audio version of the book. It is always scary launching a new book. Your private words, those chosen while alone in my sauna, (where I did much of my early writing), deep in my imaginary world of Yemen, will now be in the hands and minds of people all over the world.
I try to be an honest person and that carries over to my own self appraisal. My writing has evolved over the past twenty years. I know it is much better now, so much so I cringe when I think about my early books. But is it enough? This time, I have had some very positive feedback from professionals, editors, publishers and etc. So, I’m feel more confident in my work.
My goal in writing has always been as a creative outlet for myself, and to bring joy to the readers, not as a scheme to make money. Writing this story has been emotional draining. The characters, each of which become very real to me and deal with some very difficult issues. I wept with each of my 25 re-writes and edits. I love asking the hard questions of life, those which society likes to avoid. But I feel depleted after this three-year process (if trying to stay alive from cancer wasn’t enough). It reminds me of Dow Mossman, who went insane (maybe overstated) with the writing of his brilliant debut novel. It depends on the public’s response, but this could be my last novel, however, with the loss of my career (which meant far more to me than I realized) the writing has been life-sustaining, literally.
Thanks for asking. Tomorrow I get my next cancer labs. I will not post about them unless there is a sudden change. I don’t have much to complain about except exhaustion. It is from the new chemo program. It is far better than in August, but I am still not at the level I was in May, before I started this new program. Exhaustion makes me feel guilty. I accomplish just 50% of what I want to get done each day. I have to keep reminding myself that there is a difference between chemo-induced exhaustion and laziness.
I want to write a narrative about building my stone cottage, but for now there is not much to write about. I finally got the county permits (after 2 1/2 years), but then discovered that the water supply line to our house was not where we supposed, but ran directly under the footprint the cottage. I had to go back to the county to ask for a revision of the “site plan” to move the footprint 14 feet to the south. I have had two foundation people come out to give me estimates. It is hard finding skilled work here. I think they alway prefer the big lucrative jobs. So, I am waiting on their estimates. I hope to break ground in January, if the estimates come in and the county approves the new location. But between working on the cottage plans and the book, my mind is so occupied that there is little space left for anxious or thoughts of self-pity.
I hope it is your best holiday ever!
P.S. Denise wants me to write a Christmas letter, and I will, but that is not what this was meant to be as these posts are just about my thoughts.
2 responses to “Holiday Hodgepodge”
You indeed have a wide variety of God given gifts and are using them in creative ways. Hope the completion of these projects bring you much joy! Thankful your stable health has allowed you to have extra strength to accomplish these goals.
Hi Mike, I love the cover photo of your upcoming book! I hope this photo is the final, chosen one. I don’t believe this will be your last book though. Those words should not have been written. 😉 It’s been a long time coming..we’ve all been waiting you know. It’s ok if you take time off of writing to build your dream cottage. 😉 We’ve been trying to build in Whidbey for several years..just a small cabin. The county and permit process have been beyond frustrating. Then the pandemic hit and it was a virtual standstill. The loss of your career is truly sad..many of us miss you so much. But perhaps with this new book and all the positive feedback with so much more to come you’ll find solace in continuing to write. Life is a lesson and I think you are acing it. Please continue..