Sunday, March 14, 2021

A Year of Writing in Lockdown

How has “Lockdown Life” affected your writing? Have you written more? Developed/honed new writing skills? If so, please tell us about it. Or have you found yourself off-track, lacking motivation, or otherwise sidelining your writing? If the latter, how have you handled that?

Brenda Chapman here.

As we pass the one-year anniversary of the W.H.O. pandemic declaration, this is a good time to reflect on the state of my writing career.

Have I written more? The answer is yes, but whether I've written anything worth reading is another matter. I completed a manuscript last summer that I was hoping would be a thriller, but in the end, it turned out closer to a psychological suspense. I got input from readers and an agent, but in the end, never got any offers to represent or to publish it. I've set the manuscript aside for now and may or may not get back to it. I was experimenting with tense and genre so maybe I'll chalk this one up to growing pains. I went for a walk this week with my friend who'd read through the manuscript twice and said she really likes the story, one positive voice that might have me looking at it again and giving it an overhaul.

Since then, I've been working on another in the police procedural vein and am almost through the first draft. I've been writing more consistently lately and even managed 6,000 words last week. I stalled with the plot for a while but managed to come up with solutions. I'm going to spend the next while editing and pulling it together before running the manuscript past some readers. Still a long way to go.

I've done other work related to writing since the start of the pandemic. I decided it was time to volunteer my time for something and so agreed to be Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) representative for my Ottawa/Eastern Ontario region. This has involved a lot of Zoom meetings since I also joined their marketing working group, and I've been interviewing authors from this region for posting on Youtube.

I've also discovered the fascinating world of webinars. In addition to CWC, I'm a member of Capital Crime Writers and the Writing Union of Canada, and recently joined Sisters in Crime. All of them have lined up some interesting guest speakers with varied subject-matter related to writing. This past week, I sat in on talks about taxes and writing, psychopathic killers, showing and not telling, and an author interview with our very own Catriona McPherson. The presentations originated from all over North America and were there for the cost of a yearly membership. They are a way to stay connected and to stay motivated.

Another aspect of writing is reading, and I've been doing a lot of that. Reading good writing and even not so good writing helps with my own craft. I belong to a book club that chooses widely and we recently read The Push by Ashley Audrain, and are now reading Trevor Noah's Born a Crime. My own list now has me reading a book by another author from this blog, Deitrich Kalteis's Triggerfish, a riveting story in the thriller noir genre in the style of Elmore Leonard. An eclectic variety of subject-matter and writing styles to keep my interest.

They say when a door closes, a window opens somewhere. I'd say the pandemic closed a lot of doors this past year, but we learned to prop open windows and find new ways of doing things (usually involving Zoom)! I'm eager to get back out in the world, but I haven't been bored at home. My writing, the writing community, and all the various learning opportunities have kept me chugging along nicely. 

For those of you new to my Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series, the first is Cold Mourning and a good place to start discovering Officer Kala Stonechild and Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau. I recently completed Closing TIme, book seven and last in the series, so you can follow the lives of my main characters from start to finish.


Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm glad you're writing more, Brenda—best of luck with your thriller/psychological suspense novel. And it's good to know you're reading a lot, too—thanks for adding Triggerfish.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich and thanks for writing Triggerfish!