I saw this land in a dream years before I met it in person. It was made to hold me while I work. It was made to heal me when I was broken. It was made to free my wilding self so I could join my characters in a heart-thundering race through the ferns.
This land sings, it weeps, it groans, it serenades. It falls in love. I don’t know how to wake up without the lullaby of its sounds anymore. Its heartbeat is as reassuring as the slumber of a nearby lover. When I am off the land for more than a few days, there are no orienting notes. The sun and shadows forget to tell time. North and South become meaningless directions and not freckles or marks of time and space. Here, at least, South is a light, a view to the ridge, a hum of deep earthen boulders on the property edge. North is the mossy side of my roof, and the face of the sugar maple. West is the direction the water flows and easterly is where the salmon swim in to invite me to play in the creek. All other directions orient to those markers. Without them, I wouldn’t know how to tend the beehives, or when to turn the garden beds. When the full moon shines through the eastern stand, it’s time to release old injuries, and when the new moon makes a hole in the night between the alder and the fir, it’s time to put seeds in the ground. Polaris always shows the way home. Always.
Outside this land, time is just a word. Breath is just a clock. Outside this land, I need GPS to navigate, because even the bees don’t know where to go once they leave my mountain.
The creek roars. It burbles. It chatters happily during spawning season, and rages through the winter storms. Then, in the heat of summer, it offers cool refreshment and entices me to linger, dip my toes, and tell it my stories.
The trees gossip. My god, do they gossip. The maples are the worst conspirators. Recently, in the last few years, they have included me in the jokes, and on more than one occasion, they have colluded to hide me from hunters or passersby with questionable intentions. On those occasions, they then chattered about it to one another for weeks, as there was little else to talk about at the time.
The elk visit regularly. The birds swing by daily; an eagle, a mated pair of blue jays, a single great heron, and several golden finches, hummingbirds, swifts, woodpeckers and so on. Evening bats keep my nights on the deck free of mosquitos. So you see, I am never actually alone. Oh, and there are flowers, berries, mushrooms, maple syrup, wild mint, and a thousand delicacies to nibble on as I walk the trails. If I walk toward the sound of white water, then cross the foothills toward the scent of moss, I can pick food and wander through timelines filled with history, lost worlds and forgotten love stories. By the time I get home, my lips are berry stained, my pockets stuffed with pretty tumbled stones and interesting pieces of lichen, and my basket is overflowing with flowers, fungi, and frogs. Then I take a nap in the hammock and wake up to dance my way through a few chapters.
There is a notable impact on my relationships with my characters, and the saturation of my spiritual connection to the stories when I am baked on asphalt plains, or crammed into population, or stored safely behind hermetically sealed glass panels. That’s not to say it can’t be done, that I’m unable—only that it has a cost. The hours spend in traffic cannot pay for the blissful engagement of story arcs meeting their destined conclusions on the page.
The point is, I came out here to work. I left the city so I could learn to hear again. I found a cottage and settled into a slower rhythm so that I could think, feel, breathe. It can be inconvenient sometimes. Yes, there have been times when I was utterly terrified or pushed to my breaking point with unmet challenges of remote living and isolation. But there has not yet been a day when I haven’t stared out the window and felt a wash of deep love and appreciation for the land I’m sitting on, and the peace it brings my life.
And it’s only been because of that peace that I have been able to reconnect to my voice, and tell these stories.
Will I ever leave it? When the time is right. When the correct situation calls and the garden gate blows open to a new direction. Until then, the song is alive in this space, so this is where I work.
Spring has finally made it. I was beginning to worry. It’s still near-freezing at night, too soon to put the starts out. But the seedlings are looking good! I can’t help but be excited about plans to grow more flowers this year. I’m even putting in a night blooming garden, so there will be yet more delights in the woods in the evening. SO MANY FLOWERS! (And yes, all but a handful are edible) This year’s garden will be epic.
At last, after a flurry of emails, pitches, and finance meetings, all I can do has been done. My efforts have all been planted and it’s time for me to go do my own thing again. Time to get back to my books, my characters, and the great story. Chapters piled up in my brain that were waylaid by the Hollywood dance. It was certainly fun— but distracting.
The Muses are calling. It’s time to get back to the page.
Along with the rewrites for the new publishing label launch and rebranding, I’ll be adding bridge chapters to Plague of Gargoyles and Tangle of Mermaids so I can shove them off my desk and into production. If all goes well, we’ll have a re-launch by the end of the year and two new releases in 2023.
I’m so ready for spring and summer. I’m ready to be sitting on the deck overlooking the woods, sipping margaritas and pounding out chapters. I’m ready to have my hands in the garden while I listen to audio edits of my drafts. I’m ready to lie on the bridge, dangle my feet in the creek and map story grids in the leafy canopy overhead. I am ready to drift in the hammock watching the stars and night blooming garden while I shuffle through audio tracks searching for the perfect sound files.
I’m just ready to tuck in and build. See you all on the other side.
I took a few weeks away from the entertainment business emails and discussions because, honestly, it was just a bit too much. It was a fairly stark reminder that my life has been at a comfortable snail pace out here in the wilderness for so long that I’ve forgotten how to move at a faster speed. I also realized I was so overwhelmed that I was reaching out for constant clarification, explanation, and likely just annoying those people who were trying to help me as I struggled to adapt. It was clear – that is not my world. I’m just a writer.
I stepped back to decide if I even want to BE a part of that world.
I tucked into my contract work, built my team, planted seeds for my garden, literally and figuratively. I cooked and cleaned and organized my space, then sat for many hours staring out at my wildwood and wondering what the best course of action is for my work.
Some changes really do need to be made on my end in order for The Pillars of Dawn to have the best possible footing if it’s going to transition from page to screen.
That I love these stories and these characters is obvious. I 100% believe in them. I also believe in the message of the novels, and in the layers of transformation they embody. When my days of staring out the window into the forest wrapped up, I sat back at my desk and got to work.
I was tasked by the producer to “go get some attachments”. I assumed it was because it would stop me from pestering him with questions, which I now see was really me trying to affirm that I had permission to do the things I’ve dreamt of doing with this project. The “Go get some attachments” was a polite way of saying, “figure it out, kiddo.”.
Ah. Figure it out, kiddo.
I realized how annoying I must have been by constantly needing permission or reassurance that “this is okay” or “that is okay”, etc. I’m not a give-me-permission kind of gal, so I was surprised by how hard this hit me, AND it reaffirmed why I couldn’t keep up, AND why I was having a hard time trying to adapt to a world that doesn’t feel like it’s made for me.
Because it’s not made for me.
Because I haven’t made it for me.
It’s all about decision. I hadn’t decided, so I was vulnerable to the tides. Once that piece clicked into place, I got mad, then I got busy. (Which is usually how I roll anyway when I want to get shit done.)
I started making phone calls, booking more pitches, lining up meetings with financiers, and reaching out to agents, managers, and talent groups. Much to legal’s chagrin, I just began bypassing the questioning step and sending out offer letters, and requests.
Goddamn, it felt soooo much better to just do it under my own steam rather than waiting for the consultant to agree, or waiting for the attorney to suggest, or waiting for the producer to imply. Waiting for permission is a sure ticket to feeling vulnerable and unworthy. Asking for permission is a sure ticket to announcing you don’t belong at the table.
I kept thinking, just fucking get it done so I can get back to writing.
So, on that note, I hired a polishing writer to snap my pilot into better shape (The most amazing Stacy Coffee!). I sent offer letters of intent to two performers who have verbally agreed to sign onto the project. I sent out 22 requests for attachment to agents and managers for my top choices for season one parts. Then I bypassed all the usual channels and booked my own meeting with a financier. I decided the best use of energy for the waiting periods would be to boost the brand and books into a better position of discoverability – so I wrote out a business plan and booked another appointment with a lending agency to shove The Pillars of Dawn into a marketing hurricane.
I also learned to make sourdough bread! How fun and yum is that?
When I mapped out the first season, and realized it could be oh, so much more, I also called the head of one of the largest media conglomerates in the industry to verify her address and in which format she’d like a proposal delivered. Then I sent an invitation to her.
Friend: Wait, you just called the CEO? Just like that.
Me: Well, I spoke with her assistant, but yes, I just called.
Friend: Wait, you just cold-called her?
Me: It’s a publicly listed number.
Friend: But… you can just do that? I mean what did she say?
Me: Well, yes, and I spoke to the assistant, and confirmed the delivery address. Why wouldn’t I have the right to call? Especially from one woman to another, I don’t need to ask to be able to call a public number, and she or her assistant can just politely say no thanks. It’s doesn’t need to be a drama. It’s a simple offer. No is acceptable. Instead, I got an address confirmation and a request.
While I’m sure that’s potentially annoying for the attorney, the truth is, what harm can actually be done? Any more harm than letting The Pillars of Dawn languish in development hell?
So, it really came down to deciding. I had to make the choice to want to move forward, more importantly, it needed to be in my own way, by my own methods, which seems to be somewhat intrusive to some and darn rookie-like to others – and that’s absolutely okay with me. I’m figuring it out as I burn through excel spreadsheets of names, emails, and numbers.
Long story short, too late, I’m no longer waiting for the greenlight, nor am I waiting for others to catch up. These stories are headed toward development on one train or another, and that’s that. The right collaborators will hop on board, and the stagnant old ways will simply bounce off. I don’t need to keep dancing around the “way we do it around here” because I’ve got shit to do, books to write and worlds to build. (And sourdough bread to bake)
I don’t know how or when it will come together, I just know it will – and there’s an enormous sense of peace and creative satisfaction in that knowledge. And as acceptance letters and requests come back, there’s a joy in staring at those notes. It’s like looking at all the seeds in your garden sprouting at the same time. It feels… abundant? Which is a weird word to use for it, but it’s true. There’s a sense of abundance as the responses, (even the rejections) roll in.
I’ve begun to imagine it and even think of it as a gardening project. Not all the seeds germinate, right? Not all the sprouts survive. But if you plant enough volume, and nurture the conditions, the garden flourishes. When I began to picture it this way, rather than a wasteland of questions and never-ending blockades of permissions… the whole project slide into a space of warm, bubbly excitement. I haven’t been this excited about possibilities since the beginning. I just needed to give myself the greenlight, and make room for others at my table – then the paradigm tipped upside down.
My dream for these stories has always been to deliver to a global audience that can see its own diversity, humanity, courage and potential reflected in the characters and transformations therein. I believe in people. I know right now that’s a struggle for some folx to say, but I still do. I believe in humanity’s power of creativity, inspiration and connection. I believe we are capable of more. I believe we desire to be free.
I stand with the Muses, and I’ll do what I can to push them onto a platform where we all have a chance to see ourselves overcome conflict and chaos through their expressions of love.
That’s an awfully long post to say, I finally made up my mind. Turning the light on over here, and hanging the shingle: Open for collaboration.
Come build with me, we have a world to redesign.