Peaceable time is not like regular time.
Time stands still around here, especially in winter. That’s why I try to keep at least one long-term project going all through the slow months -- I need something to keep me alive!
I work long hours, but it doesn’t feel like I am achieving much. It’s a lot like walking across the Meseta – you’re walking forever and you never arrive anywhere. Like a treadmill. The scenery doesn’t change, but you sure can tire yourself out.
We can go for weeks around here without seeing a single visitor, and suddenly WHAM! The house is packed, the phone’s ringing, the joint is jumpin.’
Writing works the same way. It’s just a lot more solitary, and less fun to read about in a blog.
In November “Holy Year,” the memoir about Peaceable life, a book I’ve been writing for years, really shifted into gear. I finished the draft at the end of that month.
In December I researched and co-wrote (with Scottish-American author and San Anton hospitalero Robert Mullen) “San Anton: A History of the Mystery,” a fundraiser booklet for the albergue in Castrojeriz.
In January I re-wrote both of them. (Any book worth its salt needs to be rewritten and severely edited at least once.) I had a couple of trusted people read the manuscripts and tell me if and how and if they worked. I also sent “The Moorish Whore,” my first novel, to be professionally translated into Spanish, to give that book a new lease on life.
And now, as February winds up, all the birds are flying home to roost.
“Holy Year” is finished.
“San Anton” is gone on to the graphics department. Kim is making it beautiful. Melissa West, printmaker extraordinaire, might do the artwork. It will be the first English-language document of its kind, and any money it makes will buy food for the pilgrims who stay at Albergue Convento San Anton this summer. (You can help offset the up-front costs by donating via the PayPal button above.)
“The Moorish Whore” is now also “El Capricho del Rey.” Ella esta en las manos de la redactora de traducciones en Paris… ella va a afinar (y afilar, tambien!) el texto y (ojala) muy pronto voy a tener una novela de éxito aquí en Espana, y en las países Hispanohablante de todo el mundo.
Paddy and I are going over “Holy Year” together, word by word. I am reading it aloud to him, because his eyesight has gone back to bad again, and because reading aloud is a superb way to hear the rhythm, or lack of it, in a piece of writing.
I am happy with several parts of “Holy Year.” A couple of more parts still need some hashing-out. And once a real editor gets hold of it, I may have to rewrite the whole thing at least once more!
It is not a Camino book. It is much broader than that. It’s along the lines of “Driving Over Lemons” or “A Year in Provence,” but it’s set along the Camino. Yes, there are tons of pilgrims in there -- It’s a story of what happened here in 2010, the last year we still cared for all the pilgrims who passed through Moratinos. I describe pilgrims and the pilgrimage, and dogs, but I also delve deep into village life, too – how we came to be here, how things changed. It’s funny and thought-provoking and very sad, too. And it has a lovely ending, very redemptive.
I just need to find a publisher for it. I may be a professional writer with a successful novel and decades of experience behind me, but I might as well be a raw amateur where that part of the process is concerned. I feel I am staring down a long, black tunnel.
Maybe that will be the next long, silent project, after all this rush and noise dies down? (If you are a book agent, or a publisher, or you know one of those, do get in touch. I want to make you very happy!)
I didn’t mind publishing “The Moorish Whore” myself, it was a first novel. But “Holy Year” is in another class. It deserves the full professional treatment.
I feel a lot more hopeful about finding a home for “El Capricho del Rey,” even though I’ll be dealing in a second language, in a publishing environment I know nothing about. Spain is a smaller country, it loves historical fiction, and the book’s already sold thousands of copies in English. The translation work’s already been done for them. And I know a couple of people…
I know this is all pretty dull reading, and I apologize. I want you faithful Blog readers to know where all my energy’s been going, and where it will be going in the future.
Books, and San Anton, and another big FICS camino project that’s still very hush-hush.
And my dogs, of course. And the Asociacion Cultural – we are planting flowers all over town, starting with Holy Week.
Come and see us. We are lonesome!