It's rather hard to believe that I haven't written in my blog since September. September 6th, to be precise.
In my defence, a great deal has happened since summer, and I had felt a bit shy about discussing most of what has gone on. Also, I have been quite busy. I've been trying to get some perspective on my life, a better view of things. Something like this fellow imagined by Giotto, and painted in Padua's Capella degli Scrovegni sometime between 1304-1306. It's from the fresco Christ Entering Jerusalem. I highly recommend the chapel, it's spectacular.
But back to me. First of all, in August I left my job as a speechwriter. I felt annoyed all the time that I was at work, and as 2010 was the year I turned 50 (which really did happen, yikes!) I decided that I didn't want to waste any more of my life in a work situation that no longer fit.
I also decided that I could afford to take a few months away from gainful employment, and really think about what I wanted to do with my life. Besides travel to Italy. Or, live in Italy. Those are two things that I know I want to do, but they're not necessarily practical. At least, they don't generate an income for me to live on.
I didn't really want to return to life as a reporter – I loved that work for 20 years, but it no longer fit. So, as summer blurred into fall, I tried to think hard about what it is that I really wanted to do.
Actually, I came to realize that I knew the answer all along, and all of the personality and aptitude tests that my career coach gave me simply buttressed that knowledge. I'm a writer, I love writing and I want to become a better writer.
This really came as no surprise, given that I have always made my living -- and a pretty good one at that – by writing, in some form or other. I came to realize, however, that the style I'm most interested in developing is writing fiction.
Based on this, I felt justified in using most the 15 or so weeks of blissful unemployment that I enjoyed from August through November to finish my first novel.
There, I've said it publicly. I've written a novel. And now, I'm starting work on a second novel to keep myself from being too anxious about the first work; and about how I'm going to get an agent and then a publisher and then sell the first novel.
Both are works of historical fiction and both – naturally – are set in Italy; the first, in Perugia. Naturally. Anyone who has ever even glanced at this blog will know how Italy and its art and its history fascinate me. Umbria, and Perugia, in particular. So the past 18 months or so of research and writing my first novel have been a true labour of love.
Now, the real labour (or the climb, as depicted in the above fresco by Giotto) begins: first, finding a literary agent who is interested in my project and me, and then helping that agent to find a publisher for my Perugia novel. I believe the odds of success are greatly stacked against me, but what the hell! They always have been, it seems. And it has been such a pleasure to work on this project that it has been worth it.
At the same time, to keep the wolves from the door and my Internet connection paid for and intact, I recently began a new paying gig: a short-term contract position in strategic communications that's quite interesting, but also has a wonderfully temporary feel to it. It's a bit like dating, I suppose, and I've become very wary of being tied down.
All of this has meant that I haven't had as much time or energy to keep up with my blog. Truth be told, I also found it hard in the past few months to write about anything aside from what has been happening in my life, particularly the novel. Yet because I wasn't ready to talk about all of this, it became a kind of blogger's block. When you can't speak about certain things, it sometimes means you can't speak at all.
But now, perhaps, that block will dissolve....
Some of my blogging friends have suggested I revamp this blog to now focus more on my fiction writing, and the business that surrounds it: from research to writing, to finding an agent, etc. Natrually, Italy would remain a big part of it, since that's where my research and my heart are most engaged.
I like this idea of a re-oriented blog, but I haven't quite figured out what form it will take (it might no longer be appropriate to use SlowTrav's blogging software) And what to call it, how to position it. I think that will come.
To be continued, at some point.