Good Morning and Happy New Year to everyone. After such a tumultuous year, it is hard to imagine normalcy returning to our everyday life but here we go, forging ahead into what we hope is a year we can look back on with a slight smile.
2020 is hard to describe. It was many things, most of which were pretty awful. In the beginning of the year, I was wrapping up the story for The Secrets of Saint Joanna and I needed some time to finish the end of the book, which is always tough. Then came March and the world as we know it began to close. Two weeks and we’ll be back to normal was what we were told. Well, those two weeks are still going on. All of the sudden I had time, plenty of it, to finish the story, but I couldn’t do it. I had more time and less motivation than ever. I sat in front of my screen staring at a blinking cursor. It was hard to concentrate with everything going on.
I was second guessing myself on the final few chapters. I began writing alternative endings which would have entailed going back and changing so many parts of the story. I realized I was doing more damage than good, so I walked away. I took the time and stopped forcing the story onto the screen. Needing a distraction, I decided to go back and sure up some of the research for the book, particularly one part of the story.
Mason gets smuggled into France in a wine barrel, so of course, I had to know what that feels like. I ordered a wine barrel and had it delivered. Toilet paper may have been in short supply, which I still don’t understand why that was, but a wine barrel arrived in two days. My thought was to get my brothers together and stuff them in the barrel, but that wasn’t possible, so I removed the top and spent an afternoon getting in and out of this barrel until I had the right angles. Then, I completely folded myself into it. One of the most uncomfortable things I have done in a long time, but a welcome distraction from the world. At 6 feet tall (Actually 5′ 11″, I seem to be shrinking) and 206 pounds on a good day, I did manage to get in the barrel and close myself in. I know people were smaller in 1940 but I could not spend more than a few minutes inside without starting to lose feeling in my limbs. I would not have been the ideal candidate for barrel smuggling.
After going over all my research, I went back to the story and remembered what I have shared with many people at book events. So many people have told me they are writing a story but can’t finish it. Did I have any advice? I would always say, “Get out of your own way.” I went back to basics and finished up. I decided that if anything good was coming out of this year for me, 2020 would be remembered as the year The Secrets of Saint Joanna was released.
Don’t get me wrong, 2020 sucked. It is deserving of all those words we have used to describe it. I hope 2021 brings back many things I miss dearly. I am entering the new year with optimism and will do my best to stay out of my own way, I hope you do as well.
Thank You to everyone for your support and I look forward to seeing you in person in 2021 for drinks, hugs, concerts, laughs, dinners, travels and everything that we promise we will never take for granted again.