spring/deep of winter 2009:
I saw an ad for a contest: The Great BC Novel and Novella contest, sponsored by MotherTongue Publishing. For months I’d been studying fiction in my spare time, reading, parsing my favourite novels, breaking down the plot structures of The Old Man and the Sea, Heart of Darkness, Of Mice and Men. I was exhausted but excited. I felt like I’d put poetry behind me after the publication of soft geography (though I was secretly still writing poems, so secretly I didn’t even admit it to myself) and years after I’d finished my writing degree I was learning to write fiction. So I thought about that contest. I thought, ‘if I sit down for an hour a night for three months, I bet I’d have almost 30 000 words. A novella is anything over 10 000 and under 30 000.’ I had a deadline. I sat down in March. In May I had a first draft.
Insert montage of years here and everywhere: crazy and mundane, kids, work, trips, canoe travel, winters, summers, caterpillar invasions, new jobs, birthdays, happiness, tears, etc.
I made the shortlist for the contest! So exciting. But… what to do with a novella? Who publishes novellas? Not most magazines, not most publishers. Despite shout outs in the media about the novella (Ian McEwan http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/10/some-notes-on-the-novella.html) it’s not a publisher’s favourite thing to publish.
Mothertongue Publishing sends out a note: have you done anything with your novella? Have I? Rewritten it twice, lamented about it, wondered about its worth… you’d like to publish it? Yeeha!
editing, editing, editing with Jack Hodgins, writer and editor extraordinaire. I send him the draft, he says ‘great draft! Here are 30 pages of single spaced notes.’ I cry, edit, then send it back again. Him: ‘Great draft! Here are 25 pages of notes.’ repeat 7 or 8 times.
A box arrives in the mail. Grayling. It’s gorgeous. Cover by Annerose Georgeson, publishing credits to Mona at MotherTongue Publishing, book by yours truly. Oh my.