Gone Fishin'

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What have I done? What have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE???

Okay, here's what I've done.

From the top: In 2001 I left Canada to try teaching English in Japan for a few months. I stayed for four years. During that time I met a cute Irish journalist who was in town for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and we got married. I thought it might be fun to try living in Ireland for a while. Nine years later, I'm still here. During that time I ended up with a graduate degree in creative writing and a published novel. Yay!

After that, I did some publicity for Cinnamon Toast, started this website, got two sloppy and formless drafts of a second novel done... But I found it mysteriously difficult to get a third and non-horrible draft off the ground. Meanwhile, I started to realise just how much time had passed since I'd left Canada. My parents weren't getting any younger and neither was I.

Then I had a brainwave. Hey! Why don't I take a semester off work and come back – to live this time, not just to visit? My dad still lives in Bridgetown, N.S. (population 949) which is the town where I grew up and sort of the setting for Cinnamon Toast. Quite a few years ago, Dad bought a house which came with an outbuilding the size of a small house itself. Originally it was in a falling-down way, but after a few years of renovations it's become a charming place to stay, big enough for one or two people and snuggled right by the river's edge. (That's the view off the deck, above right. And below left.) The best part? This house has 19177 254425871046 1651164 nno phone, no TV, no internet, and the old railway tracks are a two-minute walk away, meaning you can have a stomp through the countryside any time you want. As a writing lair, it's ideal.

So I started making plans. I asked my boss for a semester off (officially we're calling this a 'sabbatical' though privately I'm dubbing it 'childless maternity leave'). I booked the flights, made the arrangements, and in less than ten days I'll be leaving my Irish home to spend three and a half months in my Canadian home and native land and the bosom of my family.

Perfect plan, right? So why am I going into a bit of a panic here?

Well, the thought of having no money coming in for four months is starting to intimidate me. Plus I haven't Btown sign winterstayed in Canada for more than a flying visit in over thirteen years. Every time I come back I get disoriented. The money changes. The slang changes. Nothing's where I left it. There's some fairy tale quality about it all – one of those scary fairy tales that involve spooky enchantments and getting frozen in goblin goo or stuck at a leprechaun cocktail party for a hundred years and then you go home to find several generations have passed and your aunt is really your grand-daughter. Or something like that. I'm not sure how I'll function in Canada now or how I'll ever be able to readjust to Ireland when it's time for me to go back in August.

Then there's my poor fella, wandering around our Dublin home with only the dust bunnies and the cat for company. Whatever will become of him?

But here's the real reason why I'm getting a bit nervous as the countdown to Canada ticks on. Think of it: no job, no distractions, nothing to do but write. It's ideal. But...what if it doesn't happen? What if after three and a half months, I'm left with nothing to show for that time? Except perhaps something like this:

Seriously, that's my biggest fear. That I'll be left to write under ideal circumstances and nothing will happen. And there won't be anyone I can blame for it but little old me.

But all this could be just a load of old moaning. Today I found out (through the ever-informative Wikipedia) that the motto of my hometown is 'Palma Non Sine Pulvere'. No victory without struggle. I've decided it's going to be my motto as well. And if I end up spending a season just staring at the river, well, worse things have happened.

By the way, this will be my last blog post until the fall, though I'll probably continue with Literary Love Fest and might stick some nice pictures up here from time to time. I love this site, but as I've said elsewhere, in terms of word count, there's enough up here for a novel, and it's time to get some real writing work underway. Wish me luck, everyone, and do come visit!

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