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Creative Avoidance

In 2001 I began writing a historical novel (I can never decide whether it should be 'a' or 'an', because the 'h' in historical is silent as used here), about a 13-year-old girl in rural Saskatchewan during prohibition. It's called Closer to Faraway and involves a family tragedy, bootlegging, strained relationships, and the power of love. I finished the novel in a respectable time and sent the opening chapters to a publisher who asked to see the whole manuscript.

I never sent it. Something in my gut said the story wasn't quite right, so rather than have a publisher point that out and reject it, I decided to hang onto it and fix it. It's taken 22 years for me to get around to doing that. I cut about a third of the story, added another third, and reworked the rest to make it fit together. All this I was able to manage in about five weeks.

Then I reached the last chapter, and though I knew exactly what scenes to include and how they were to unfold, I stopped halfway through. Why? (This is where it gets very psychological.) Short answer: I have no idea. Long answer: Perhaps subconsciously I wasn't ready to close the book on these characters? I'm going to have to send the manuscript to publishers and see if it was worth salvaging? The ending isn't as brilliant as I think it is?

Whatever the reason, two weeks later the last chapter remains half-written. But I'm not one to abandon a project (said the writer who left the manuscript in a drawer for 22 years), so in an effort to motivate myself to finish the job, I sent the opening chapters off to a publisher. With the manuscript begging to be read, I'd have to finish writing it. Right?

You'd think so.

But apparently I wasn't quite finished procrastinating, and to legitimize my avoidance of the task, I decided to create a series of paintings. I might not have been doing what I should have been doing, but I was doing something. It's logical ... sort of. Having seen a cool vintage bike on a decorating show I'd watched on television, I decided on a Bikes & Trikes theme for these paintings.

And away I went. Because I used ink as well as watercolour, the paintings are more like illustrations, but I'm fine with that. I used photos to help me draw the bikes and trikes accurately (more or less), but I altered them and added my own backgrounds and flourishes so that the images embodied a story and mood. (I'm all about story!)

It was a fun little project and has filled the time I should have been writing. But they're done now, so I can no longer put off finishing my novel.

Today is the day.

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