Hello dear readers, and Happy Holidays!
I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of Diana Gabaldon’s latest tome in the Outlander series, Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone. In spite of loving every blessed minute, and immersing myself daily in Davina Porter’s impeccable narration, it took me weeks to get through it. I have difficulty finding enough hours in my life to sit and wade through a thousand-page novel these days, so audiobooks are a godsend. Listening while driving to and from work, while on the treadmill, doing housework, or fighting holiday traffic, I was swept away in the action, adventure, romance, history, and sheer complexity and genius of the plot. Then again, I’m a detail person and love lengthy prose about mundane musings—as long as the writing is awesome. Which it was! Fans may have been disappointed with some aspects of the storytelling (much of the story centered not on Jamie and Claire, but on familial struggles on the ridge, politics of the time, and the trials and tribulations of childrearing in the eighteenth century), but I was fascinated with every subplot and minutely detailed description, and the story wove together beautifully in my opinion...resolving some questions but leaving enough threads to carry through the next installment.
When I finally reached THE END, I was filled with a myriad of emotion…both good and bad. Gabaldon’s writing is always top-notch, and I loved the ending, which—without giving anything away—was a mix of resolution, cliffhanger, and promise for so much more yet to come in book 10! At the same time, I hate good-bye's and was sad to leave behind Claire, Jamie, and the whole awesome cast of characters for another three-year hiatus. It seems all the best books leave me bereft when I turn that final page. My only saving grace is that season six of the STARZ series begins in March!
Because for me, the best part of any ending is the excitement of a new beginning—the unspoken promise that if you close a door, an open window will surely appear.
Ms. Gabaldon’s writing simultaneously makes me want to sit down to write the next world-renowned sensation, and yet makes me painfully aware that the bar has been set far beyond my talents…or ambitions. I think of the three years it takes Diana to write one of the Outlander novels, the painstaking research involved, and the work it takes to then sell and promote the books, and I feel more than a little overwhelmed. I haven't even been able (or willing) to finish the last novella I started at the beginning of the year, and frankly, it feels as if my inner young adult has little left to say at this point. She gives me an eye-roll and says, “blah, blah, blah” every time I sit down to write. It makes the exercise seem pointless, somehow, and leaves me feeling…hmmm.
The word I have chosen that depicts my inner angst is “squidgy”. That nauseous feeling you get when you know you don’t want to tackle that next big mountain and that maybe you’re looking in the wrong direction if what you’re seeking is an easier, less painful path. That’s kind of where I’ve been with my writing for a few years (one leg in and one leg out the door—which is an awkward and uncomfortable limbo I don't recommend), but the perfectionist in me—the one who hears her mom saying, “you can never give up”—pushes on, tries harder, and runs toward the pain, hoping that the spark of joy and the compulsion to write will return and the proverbial brass ring will be worth it in the end. Having said that, I’ve learned to listen less to old tapes and listen more to Mr. Squidgy over the years—and in fact, have made my worst choices when I listened to the crap in my head and ignored my gut. And that gut feeling has been telling me to let it go—for now.
When I finally listened to my intuitive self and stopped trying to hold on to something that was not working for me, Mr. Squidgy took his leave and I now feel lighter for having made the decision. I can’t say I won’t return to writing in the future, but after fifteen years of constant works in progress, deadlines, and to-do’s, it feels freeing not to HAVE TO write. And who knows, maybe that great American novel is percolating under the surface and will burst forth when I least expect it.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying spreading my creative wings by taking an art class and doing some woodworking projects, and I’m finding joy in expressing myself in this new way. Hey open window! It has lightened my spirit and that may be all it will take for the muse to resume her post, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the break and follow my heart—which always seems to point me in the right direction.
All this to say, this will be my final post for YA Outside the Lines blog. It's been a great year getting to know you and I hope you've enjoyed all I've shared. I may pop in for a guest post now and then and I’m always around if anyone needs me, but I’ll say my version of “THE END” and leave you with my sincerest thanks for allowing me to be part of such a wonderful, dynamic group of writers, readers, and friends.
Seventeen-year-old Samantha Owens has had some hard knocks in life. It’s not like she tries to find trouble, but it seems as if trouble always finds her. When she’s forced to do community service helping with the Christmas pageant at the local church, Sami is surprised to find a spark of hope that her luck is changing—that spark being the smart, awesomely cute, and way out of her league, Travis Vance. Her track record with guys being less than stellar, Sami is afraid to hope that this time, things will be different. But maybe this Christmas, her wishes will all come true.
Write on, read on, and may you find peace and joy on the other side of whatever door or window you choose.
I hope all your dreams come true in the new year!
In addition to her contemporary YA lit, Ms. Sharon’s YA dystopian trilogy, The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael, which RT Book Reviews calls “An action-packed read with a strong female lead,” is a sci-fi/fantasy adventure inspired by her fascination with “prepping” and her passion for environmental causes, as much as by her love of romance and the unending “what-if’s” that haunt her imagination.
PJ has two grown sons, a growing brood of grandchildren, and lives with her brilliant engineer of a husband in the Berkshire Hills of Western MA where she writes, kayaks, and plays in the dirt as often as possible.