Some of you know I’m in a writing group, and yet another of my fellow writers has published a novel. Nancy Hartney is an incredible writer–she’s already published two short story collections–and this is her debut novel. Read on to learn about it in her own words.
Ever stand on a cliff precipice and look down? Feel the exhilaration and fear?
When I finish a book—be it a collection of short stories or now my debut novel—those feelings take over.
And then, when a publisher selects the book for publication, my thoughts and feelings intensify as the process of editing, revising, formatting, design layout, and cover selection begins.
If You Walk Long Enough, my debut novel, is scheduled for release February 24, 2021.
The title is taken from a conversation between The Cat and Alice in Wonderland. Alice is lost and asks The Cat which way to go. She says she really doesn’t care where she goes, she simply needs to get someplace.
The Cat responds, “You are sure to get someplace if you walk long enough.”
Returning from Vietnam, Reid Holcombe, the main character in the novel, cannot decide what direction to take. Old ghosts…
We speak of passion with great enthusiasm, as in “pursue your passion.” I agree, finding joy in life is a good thing, and finding fulfillment and purpose is a treasure. But too much of a good thing has its drawbacks.
I cringe a bit at the word “passion.” It connotes a drive to do something at the expense of other, necessary tasks in life. There can be a lack of balance when you’re passionate about cause, a skill, a person…anything. Of course, sometimes, that lack of balance is part of what gets the job done. For a period of time, letting your passion drive you is a good thing.
Political candidates and those who campaign for them need to be passionate, for example. When you’re in love, you’d better be fully engulfed in your feelings for that other person, or forget about a long-term commitment.
It’s also a term that’s thrown around fairly easily, one that plays on your emotions but isn’t always easy to define in practical terms. I enjoy knitting. I’m an avid knitter, and I always have a project or two in the works. I love to share and compare with other knitters, encourage them in their projects and pursue the next big undertaking with vigor. I have dozens of knitting magazines (including every Vogue Knitting since 1982, which isn’t as many as it might sound like — for years they only published two issues annually). I dabble in design.
Yet I would not say I am passionate about knitting. To me, that would imply some sacrifice, a devotion that goes beyond what is appropriate for my favorite hobby. I have several friends who own yarn shops. I’ve asked them if knitting is their passion, and they laugh and say no. They love it, love their work and are dedicated to the success of their stores. But there is a balance in their lives, and their passion, if they can name one, is more likely their grandchildren.
For years I was also a devout reader. I read as many books as I could get hold of, and while circumstances dampened my enthusiasm for reading (something I never would have thought possible, and I resent those who caused it), that flame likely will never be fully doused. I still enjoy the feel and promise of a new book, and today, when I order one online, I can’t wait to open that box and just hold the book.
So I’m an avid reader as well as knitter. Perhaps there is a little more passion there, for I will firmly say, “you can’t spoil a child with books.” (I know, I know, some of you could provide solid examples contradicting that statement, but look at the heart of what I’m saying. And if a child throws a fit because he or she doesn’t get a new book every time the family goes to Walmart, that has nothing to do with books.)
The one thing I will say I feel compelled to do, even when I have nothing to say (hence the need for a blog haha), is write. That might come close to being a passion. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if I could write for a living…the jobs I’ve found for writers, however, generally are for someone younger, more entry-level. I’m not sure that’s the kind of writing I want to commit myself to on a daily basis.
I have found a way to make room for all the things I can get lost in doing. If any one of them became a job, would I leave behind my joy and what now brings me peace? Let’s face it, too much of anything is going to hurt you in some way.
That goes for the body as well as the mind. As I grow older, I’m increasingly mindful of the toll everyday activities, no matter how seemingly benign, can take on our bodies. Anything we do for an extended period of time has its price.
I just spent months nursing a thumb injury my doctor and physical therapists believe was caused, at least in part, by knitting. When I posted a story about that, one of my blogging buddies commented how she’d hurt herself reading paperbacks.
Yes, find what you love doing, what re-energizes you. But remember, our bodies and minds need variety to stay healthy. We may not love everything we do with the same fervor, but the balance is what keeps us alive, physically and emotionally.
When I was young, I would hurt sometimes so badly I would panic, then hide in my room, wrapped up tight in protective clothing, deep beneath the covers. I fled the pain I could not bear by burying myself in the stories told in multitudes of books.
Some stories so deeply resonated with me I read them over and over, and I realize now these tales provided a solution to the same loneliness and isolation I was feeling. It was fiction, of course, and I couldn’t follow the same path my erstwhile heroine would, so I lost myself in fantasy.
It was a lonely life, but a safe one.
Today I still like to lose myself in novels, but it isn’t the same. Life has taught me certain realities, and one of them is that rarely do events follow in a logical progression as they do in storytelling. Nor do problems resolve them in a straightforward manner.
Yet if the books don’t provide some sort of conclusion, I’m frustrated. I still want to end with resolution. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it should be a logical one. The story should be told.
I cannot flee my pain, but I can find respite from it in certain escapes, and I look for particular qualities in those methods of safety.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
About the Quote Challenge (you’re invited!):
Thank you, Dede, for inviting me to take part in this challenge. If your life has been turned upside down and you’re determined to make it good again, visit her site.
I struggle a bit with quote challenges, so this is a compromise. It’s a three-day challenge, and I should nominate three people each day to take part in the event. Choosing those select people overwhelms me. So if you want to accept this challenge, please do so!
Three quotes over three days. Thank the person who nominated you, and nominate three new people each day.