Hello dear bee readers,
Not quite sure who is even reading me at this point, given I have been absent from my blog the past year.
Well hello, it's me ;)
Did you think I had given up? That I let my blog die? Why I never…
I wouldn’t do that.
Or at least, not without a dramatic and never-ending goodbye.
December 21st and here I am, back at my battlestation, AKA home office, AKA studio which houses my triple monitor setup complete with a rainbow-colored keyboard and let’s not forget my loyal drum kit, silently sitting behind me. I am back from a great beach vacation (the airport? What a shit show) and couldn’t be happier to be home in my cozy and illuminated office, tucked in the corner of our basement, away from the cold and away from the madness that is ripping through the world at the moment. I sip my coffee and listen to yet another great Christmas jazz ambiance video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW5-QMnF6PY , a war could be breaking out and I wouldn’t know of it. I really am in another world down here.
Partly because it is underground, partly because I feel for the past year, I have been focused on a special writing project. 82 000 words to be precise.
Which explains my MIA status with the bee blog. I had to set it aside to concentrate on this enormous endeavour of mine.
Those who know me well or, if you ever bothered to read my homepage introductory spiel, know I have always wanted to take my writing to the next level and actually write a book. A semi-fiction novel, that is. And while I have been publishing on this blog for years and writing poetry on the side, I realized this has all been a great warm up for the endeavour of scripting the story that had been percolating in my mind for years.
November 2020, I signed up for the 50 000-word NANOWRIMO challenge (National Novel Writing Month, it’s a whole thing and community which provides a fun platform, tools, and all for free, I recommend it) and used the momentum to start this unbelievable undertaking. I realized just how deeply I enjoy writing…it turns out I am a bit of an Alice in her Wonderland. I jumped into the rabbit hole without questioning how far it would go. I spent hours writing and not seeing the hours fly by.
Writing is quite a solitary thing and I learned that I am quite happy being by myself. Although I was developing imaginary characters who were very much alive in my head, so really how alone am I? (said the weird hermit).
The story line, set in the 1940s, and the research required to better know this period made me travel in time for free. I created 37 characters that were very real in my story and that I came to know and love. Ideas of plot twists and cliff hangers fought for first place in my head. I became completely immersed by this project and spoke of nothing else, and while I only hit 21 000 words at the end of NANOWRIMO, I blew past that deadline and kept on going. I soon realized 50 000 words wasn’t nearly enough to encompass the story I was writing.
I would need more. WAY more.
While the world around me was either crumbling into pieces or finally reopening, I was like a sniper on its target, I kept my focus and worked silently on hitting my writing milestones, one after the next. The pandemic moved slowly but surely and so did I.
Forward and onward.
Perseverance is one of my strongest personality traits, so I gave myself up to it entirely. Locked and loaded with coffee (or wine), I typed away, day after day. Writing as though the story was already finished in my head.
To be clear:
This was pure writing. From thoughts to keyboard. Swording through the self-publishing jungle, one chapter after the next.
In fact, I did all the work: the research, the recording of my nonna’s voice (circa 2005!), the reading of her diary, contacting the Italian military archives, taking writing workshops and God knows what else. The intensity was both grueling and addictive. There is nothing quite like the delicious satisfaction of creating something of your own and expressing it is like a thundering yes to being alive. And it’s yours, no one can touch it. The vision of me holding my very own book, the one I had written, in my own hands, kept me going through many battles.
In the world of me, writing a novel is a bucket list item. So this is huge.
I contacted Canada's oldest independent publisher and things got real. I submitted my synopsis and my first four chapters and a few weeks later, I agreed to a deadline (which was moved three times because I was never quite finished) Finally, in August, I wrote the following two words “The End” and submitted my first draft for editing (I have been incredibly lucky to have been paired with one of the most fantastic editors out there! You’ll have to wait and see to find out who she is!) and after seven rounds of editing, I have finally come to the finish line. Or at least, it’s in sight and I wanted to update you all on that or, the few that still care about the tiny bumblebee.
Everyone has been up to something during this pandemic. We have all survived in our own ways. I am happy to say this was my way, my path. The one I consciously chose over everything else. A passion project that grounded me while making me soar in a parallel universe of people I never met, family members I wasn’t born to ever know but that I somehow brought to life, with the written word.
If you have read up until here, you have picked up on the cookie crumbs of clues as to what I have written about.
I have written untold Second World War stories. The ones where my grandfather is the main character.
This is is my legacy.
To anyone out there who longs to write a manuscript here's my unsolicited advice on how to get started: read a lot but most importantly, just write.
Stay tuned !
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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