Saturday, July 2, 2011
Every year around the Canada Day weekend, my daughter Lisa and I head out to pick strawberries at a farm just out of the city. We've been keeping up this tradition since she was in grade school - through the turbulant teen years and after she moved away from home. We pick when it would be easier to sleep in and buy berries from the market. We pick when the skies are threatening rain or the sun is beating down on us in a morning sauna.
This is the first year, Lisa picked me up in her car as the clock struck eleven a.m., no longer an early-morning event. Buying berries appeared a more viable alternative than ever before, but we carried on past the stall with the already picked baskets to the fields at the back of the property. We each paid for an empty basket and made our way down the rows to kneel in the straw and dirt beside the rows of plants. It took but a moment to settle into the rhythm of lifting leaves to find the reddest and juiciest berries as the sun and heat and smell of ripe fruit filled our senses. We talked and laughed and relived other berry-picking mornings. When we drove home, we no longer stopped at the Dairy Queen as we had when Lisa was younger. Instead, we went out separate ways right afterwards, but happily our tradition has evolved to include a different part two. Lisa returned with a friend in the evening for a BBQ and homemade strawberry shortcake. We sat outside talking and laughing long into the evening, and it seemed to me that there is a need for simple traditions. They are the ties that bind; the memories that mean the most.
Writing went so well last week, but has stalled a bit as I question the direction of my story. I've been mulling it over and trying to sort out what my characters are up to. I'm into the home stretch, which is frightening but exciting at the same time. This is the point where I wonder if the story will hang together or if the logic behind the mystery needs work. Did I give the murderer enough reason and opportunity to kill their victim(s)? Did I manage to give my characters the same hair colour from one end of the manuscript to the other? One of my weaknesses (as my friends can attest) is remembering people's names and I often mix up character names as I write. Luckily, I've cottoned on to this quirk and reread with an eye to names although we missed one in In Winter's Grip, as I discovered after publication. (Did I mention that editing is hard work?) In any event, I figure I'll have the first draft of this manuscript finished by the end of my summer holiday and then the editing work will begin. I'm looking forward to several days in a row of writing time at the end of July. Check back to see how much hair I have left in August.
July 30th, I'll be at Collected Works on Wellington Street for an early afternoon signing from 1:00 to 3:00. All of my books will be available and I hope old and new friends can stop by. It's a fabulous independent bookstore and one of the few left in the city. Visiting bookstores is another tradition I believe it is important to keep, even if they too are evolving. Neighbourhood bookstores are another of the ties that bind.