Arriving home in March from an idyllic ten days in rural Costa Rica to quarantine and this relatively closeted life required a substantial mental and emotional shift. Before Covid, my memoir, Fearless and Determined, was selling exceptionally well with fifteen readings booked between March and October. All now cancelled. I rationalized and hoped that, in a few months, normalcy would return. As we all know, this has not happened.
Without consciously deciding, writing simply stopped being a priority. With spring approaching, our country property provided ample yard work as well as exercise I was missing at the Y.
One bright spot appeared. In April, my niece, Program Co-ordinator at a Toronto Seniors’ Centre, asked me to give a ZOOM reading to her afternoon group. Talking and reading about my memoir proved so successful that subsequently each month, I have given readings. Each time, during that one hour, I felt like a writer again. One day a month, however, could not sustain my writing zeal. I returned to yard work and, more recently, an accumulated-belongings purging in our century home.
Two of our children now own this place and our Naturopath son said he would move back in several years to look after things. “No old people’s home for you,” he had said vehemently. “I’ll be here to care for you.” In April, he announced he was moving home next June instead of remaining in Calgary as formerly stated.
Since then, we have been cleaning out the third floor storage room for his bedroom and a back bedroom for his office. The storage room, containing forty-five years of stuff, must be empty by January to start renovations. I have been ploughing through endless forgotten things: boxes of children’s elementary and high school work; a heavy cardboard box containing a grade eleven architecture project complete with plaster of Paris base, house, garage and pool, all landscaped and mouse-eaten; tinker toy and Meccano; too many old suitcases, framed pictures, bed frames and four old trunks, one containing seventy year-old tap-dancing and ballet costumes for children’s dress up; a plywood sheet with a train track, mouse-eaten trees and landscaping; several antique non-functioning lamps, outdated computer hardware and software from our closed computer store. And the list goes on. It brings to mind Plum Johnson’s delightful book, They Left us Everything. I would retitle it, We Left Ourselves Everything!
By mid-July, major furniture moving and room reorganizing was complete. My office included my grandmother’s beautiful old, three-drawer desk. The storage room was half empty; we sold some unwanted things; recycled seven boxes of clothing; moved furniture and reorganized bookcases.
This abruptly changed, however August first weekend. I felt as though a proverbial veil lifted; a door opened; I was a writer again.
Appearing at Let’s Talk Books on August 1st weekend was the catalyst. I didn’t expect to sell books but just being there and chatting with people made me feel like a writer. The amazing thing was I sold 6 memoirs and one picture book!
Over a hundred Facebook friends responded to the report of my event, many with positive comments. With readings cancelled and few sales, this was such a boost. Emails and letters continue to praise my memoir, some who remember, others fascinated with its social history. This spurs me on.
I now have three projects in mind: a memoir about my unorthodox childhood and equally unlikely road to becoming a writer and two grandmother-related historical fiction possibilities.
Given, I’ll be eighty in a few days, I’d better get writing!