Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I bid you adieu

By R.J. Harlick

When I headed out on this writing adventure more than twenty years ago, twenty-three to be exact, I had no idea where it would take me. I only knew it was time to see if I could fulfill my lifelong dream of writing a book.  I had reached a significant birthday and decided it was now or never. 

I sat down in the screen porch of my log cabin on a hot summer day and started plunking away on my computer with little more than a rough idea of a main character and an unfolding storyline.  That it would be a mystery novel was a given, along with the setting, the Quebec woods where I still spend more than half my time.  And since I love reading mystery series, I intended it to be the first of a series.

My first goal was to see if I could write a full length novel. I quickly learned that I could and miracle of miracles that I loved doing it. My next goal was to see if I could get it published. Again, miracle of miracles I did, but not without significant perseverance.  I was a very determined and stubborn woman, who wouldn't take no for an answer. 

After eight years and countless rejections, Death’s Golden Whisper was finally revealed to the world.  It introduced Meg Harris, an escapee from the urban turmoil of Toronto and a failed marriage, who drinks too much, and whose only companion in her wilderness home is Sergei, a standard poodle.  While waiting for a positive response from a publisher, I wrote the second book in the Meg Harris mystery series, Red Ice for a Shroud, which came out two years later.

So began my journey with Meg.  It has been a fabulous journey, though sometimes trying as I, a pantser writer, tried to figure out what Meg should do next. I often found myself knocking my head against the proverbial brick wall. But invariably perseverance would win out and I would leap over it. 

Through eight books, I have enjoyed watching Meg evolve and grow to become a more confident woman, better able to handle life’s challenges. I fell in love with Eric as she too fell in love with him. And I enjoyed my travels with her to far flung Canadian places like Baffin Island in Canada’s Far North or the western edge of Canada, to the sunken mountain tops of Haida Gwaii. 

I loved creating her world and populating it with intriguing people with no little amount of murder and mayhem thrown into the mix. Each time I started a new book, I felt like I was returning home.  I’d always had an interest in the indigenous peoples of Canada, so enjoyed learning as much as I could about the indigenous people populating Meg’s world. 

This writing adventure also opened up a whole new world to me, one populated by fellow mystery writers and fans, many of whom have become good friends.  I’m a traveler, so soon found myself flying off to mystery conferences two or three times a year where I would totally immerse myself in the mystery book world. I often selected the conference by its location, like Hawaii and Santa Fe.  

I never tired of chatting with readers met at the many store signings undertaken over the years. As my books became better known, I was invited as a guest author to literary events and readings, which gave me an opportunity to talk about my favourite topic, Meg and writing, and of course, to meet more readers. 

From the start I told myself when the fun goes out of this writing adventure, when writing becomes a chore, it would be time to stop. As you probably suspect by now, it no longer gives me the same pleasure it once did.  So I say it’s time to retire. 

Writing novels is equivalent to a fulltime job.  It takes up a lot of time, particularly when publisher deadlines are looming. I want to be able to join my husband, now retired, on trips to exciting locales without the worry of deadlines. On a trip to France during the writing of the latest book, Purple Palette for Murder, I dragged along my computer and spent my mornings working on the manuscript while my husband went exploring. I was not a happy camper. Writing is also hard on the body.  The long hours sitting in front of a computer does it little good, particularly the knees. Six months from now, I will be the proud owner of two new knees. 

Though my time writing about Meg is over, it doesn’t mean that I won’t stop talking about her or about writing. I did a recent workshop on writing mysteries and loved it.

It is also time to bid adieu to the blog. I’ve enjoyed the last five years sharing with you my biweekly thoughts on crime writing. I’ve also felt very honoured to be part of such a fabulous group of crime writers. 

Many thanks for your readership. I wish you, happy reading and for my fellow bloggers, happy writing. 

25 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Sorry to see you go, Robin. I hope you have fun on your adventures with your husband and in general! Paul

James Ziskin said...

Sad that you’re leaving, Robin. But let this be an au revoir, not an adieu. Hope to see you again very soon. Happy trails!

Jim

Art Taylor said...

Sorry to hear this, Robin — but I certainly understand. Congratulations on the great career, and best wishes for fresh adventures and fun times ahead!

7 Criminal Minds said...

Robin - so sorry to hear that you're giving up writing novels but wish you many new adventures and trips to new locales. We'll miss you on the blog. All the best, my friend.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Sorry to see you go, too, Robin. I hope you'll come back and guest blog soon. All the best.

Cathy Ace said...

You're an inspiration! Enjoy your next chapter...and your new knees 😁

विकास नैनवाल 'अंजान' said...

Sorry to hear this,Robin. Enjoy the new chapter in your life.

RJ Harlick said...

Many thanks, everyone, for your kind thoughts.

Beth Groundwater said...

I fully understand, Robin. When my husband and I moved to Summit County, CO was the beginning of the end for me. He was out enjoying the retired lifestyle and I was stuck in the basement at the computer trying to meet deadlines. I wasn't making enough money from my writing for that deprivation to be worthwhile. Enjoy your new freedom! - Beth Groundwater

Barb Goffman said...

Enjoy your retirement, Robin. And your new knees!

Betty Webb said...

Even writers deserve a break. Enjoy your new life, but remember --- you can always change your mind.

Terry said...

Happy trails, Robin. But honestly? I wouldn't be a bit surprised if after a break you think, "Hmmm, now there's an idea. Let me just write a few words down." And you'll be off! Meanwhile, enjoy your adventures.

bookguy said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your last novel( Purple palette) -it was layered and literary with a very intricate well worked out mystery. Congrats on that and your well deserved retirement. When it’s no longer fun it is best to stop as you said ( unless of course you cannot live on the huge sums of money the books bring in in royalties :). ). Wishing you all the best! Cheers. James

bookguy said...

That should be without the huge sums...:)

Risa said...

Hugs. Thank you for writing. And you need to do what makes you happy. Good luck with the surgery.

Susan C Shea said...

This is as brave a decision as deciding to commit to your goal of becoming a crime writer was. We will miss you here and in the new books section of the bookstore, but wish you every joy.

catriona said...

I'm sorry to see you go, Robin. Enjoy "retirement" (I don't believe you). Cx

Alan Orloff said...

Best wishes on your future adventures, Robin!

Carol Garvin said...

I seldom comment here but always read, and have enjoyed your many contributions (and your books). Thank you for all you've given to the writing of both. I hope you enjoy your retirement (and your new knees) and will be back with guest posts in between all your new adventures.

RJ Harlick said...

Thanks, everyone, for your many kind comments. I'll miss you all.

Don Longmuir Scene of the Crime Books said...

Robin! We will dearly miss you. The Canadian writing scene won't be the same without you. I hope you stay in touch.

Phyllis Bohonis, Writer said...

I have enjoyed your writing tremendously, Robin. I wish you a happy retirement and lots of travelling with your new knees. You will be missed in our writing community.

Patricia Filteau said...

Wow Robin. I’m stunned but understand your reasoning.
Your books will live on and be read over and over by many readers.
Congratulations on your contributions to the writing world.
I hope to see you soon s big changes are occurring in my life as well.
Warmest wishes to you as you adventure forth for great experiences with those you live
Patricia

dru said...

Enjoy your retirement.

Helena said...

I wish you all the best in your upcoming adventures. I know they will bring you and others joy. <3