I have finished my vaccinations. i am nearing the halfway point in my quarantine with two negative tests behind me. I am ready to burst out and be the post-lockdown Laurel when my fourteen days are up. And boy, do I have plans for her!
This feeling of bursting out is bigger than that, though. In the last year I have had an amazing run of creativity that I haven’t written much about, because…well, that’s just the way I am. I feel ready to share a bit more now.
When I first started writing for mainstream adult audiences, my first book, Until Our Last Breath, was non-fiction. I found that terribly frustrating because I had to strangle my desire to imagine stories beyond what were in the historical record. What I really wanted to do, I decided, was exactly the opposite: write fiction, where I could make better use of my imagination.
What I loved most about historical fiction was the dialogue I was free to invent. In fact, my first drafts of books are heavily weighted towards dialogue because that’s how I find out who the characters are. I think my books in the end rely more heavily on dialogue than many authors, because that’s what I love writing most.
So last year, when I revisited my decision to quit writing historical fiction, I realized that my love of dialogue made me well suited to writing plays instead. Upon discovering the story of Alfred Loomis, a Wall Street tycoon who used his private fortune to fund some of the most critical research in World War II, I knew in my bones it needed to be a play. And now it is. The Glass House was written in the months before I left for British Columbia.
I loved writing a play, and immediately upon arriving in Victoria, I began writing another, about the city’s “favourite daughter,” Emily Carr. I am pleased to say that, with the support of several people in the theatre community, EX3 (Emily Times Three) will be workshopped later this month in Victoria, and from there, I hope to get it placed for production.
Something about writing these plays reawakened my desire to tell stories, and I came across a wonderful one a few months back. Novelists are reluctant to talk too much about their plans for future books for fear of being scooped, so I won’t say more, except that in the next few days I hope to write the first pages of a novel about one of the most amazing female world explorers ever. This one is too complicated to be a play, but it would make the most amazing musical. SInce that is probably beyond me, I’ll write a novel instead. Then, who knows. Anyone out there looking for the next Hamilton?
Oh, and one more thing: shortly before my husband Jim died in 2012, I finished the first draft of my fifth novel, The Intuitive. I put it aside then because I had a far more important matter to pay undivided attention to. I had lost all my enthusiasm for the publishing process, so after his death, I never opened the file on my computer. Actually, I didn’t write anything. For years. Another project since I moved to Victoria has been a huge revision of that work, and now it is sitting again, waiting for the time and circumstances to be right.
One novel rewirite and two plays in a year! I guess you could say I am on a roll. Add to that, I now have a number of cruise assignments from this fall into next summer. The idea of planning travel is exhilarating, and of course I have some great ideas for a few new lectures, also a major source of creativity for me. So, break out the champagne and the brass band—the girl is back in town!