Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Smelling good

stormy, 10-15 cms of snow, windy, mild, highs minus 1

Quite a change from yesterday when it was clear blue, blue skies and bitterly cold. Temperatures around minus 14. Then overnight the temps soar and the snow moves in.

I woke up in the middle of the night - not sleeping so well in the last few weeks. Not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with age, hormones and the moustache that's appeared on my lip. And the communication cables sprouting from my chin. Wow, is it ever a good thing I'm already married. Got a lock on Michael. He, poor man, is accompanying his second wife through menopause. I advised that next time he needed to choose a woman in her 20s or 60s. He didn't disagree.

Anyway, waking up at 2:30 I heard the storm and got up to put water in the bathtub. This far out in the country we have our own artesian well, with an abundance of lovely sweet pure water. But if the power goes out so does the water. Being anal I find this thought horrifying. So a tub gets filled just so we can flush.

Power, miraculously, stayed on.

The workshop at the high school went well - no thanks to me. This was definitely thanks to the generosity of Charles Benoit and the patience and tolerance of the workshopees. I really am rubbish at this. If I'm ever stupid enough to agree to give another one, and you're in the position to sign up? Run. Flee. Take your children.

This particular workshop was to teachers, and it ended up being me talking about my process, the things I've learned, mistakes I've made, things I wished I knew before starting. (silly little things like how long a novel is. 80-100,000 works is the recommended length for a first crime novel - though there are always exceptions). I blabbed on, stumbled to a stop, and they back-filled by asking extremely intelligent questions. Like: Do you have an outline before you start? Now, you'd think I'd think to talk about that myself, but nooo.

As always it was just loads of fun meeting people. I'm actually quite shy and always prefer to stay at home. I think people scare me a little. But once out I always have a great time.

Writing going well, except Monday morning when I turned on the computer I discovered 3,500 words were missing from Chapter 3.

Oh oh.

I stared at it, willing the words to appear, which isn't as effective as you might expect.

I think what happened is that was exactly the place where my laptop froze when we were in Montreal last week. And I switched to Michael's desktop. Soooo, I'm thinking (hoping, praying) the rest of chapter 3 is still in Montreal on his computer. Of course now in my mind it's become the pivotal, most brilliant part of anything ever written (except, of course, this blog). We'll find out Sunday when we go back in. More doctors appointments. We all have to have a hobby, and sitting in waiting rooms appears to be ours.

Went to the office yesterday where Lise sorted us out, even instructing us on the Valentine's gifts we should give each other. (but stopping sadly short of buying them) Wrote 1,500 words (and saved them!!!) then met my good friend Cheryl for lunch. Place we'd decided on was closed so we went to Le Cafetier. We'd just settled in, and the order had just arrived, when Michael appears. He'd tried every restaurant in the village (not actually all that many, but it was cold and felt like more). He had a call from my agent Teresa in London. So Michael sat with Cheryl, drank my cafe au lait, while I went into the bitter day to speak to Teresa. I didn't want to stay in the restaurant, since I'd disturb everyone.

Not only was it terribly cold, but suddenly every huge truck in Quebec arrived and was either going forward or backing up with that Beep, Beep, Beep. It sounded like one of those Monster Truck Rallies. Teresa kept saying, 'Louise, Louise, where are you? Are you all right?'

She was in central London and it was quiet as a mouse, I was in my tiny Quebec village maelstrom. We talked for about 30 minutes while I looked through the bistro window like a waif, then I saw Cheryl get up. To go. I hung up on Teresa, rushed in, but she had to go back to work. I felt horrible.

And Cheryl even paid for lunch.

But I did get to tell her something quite lovely. While I was at the high school for the workshop I went to the washroom, and there written on the walls of my stall was only one sentence. It was clear and simple. 'Evan Matthews Smells Good.'

Evan is Cheryl and Gary's son. Isn't that an amazing co-incidence and a wonderful little sentence? So gentle. Not that he looks good (which he does) not that this girl who wrote it wanted to kiss him or anything like that. Nothing rude. Just that he smelled good. It's almost heartbreaking in its simplicity.

Nice day at home today - writing by the fire again.

I'll try to write more tomorrow.


Elizabeth said...

Dear Louise,
I heard you last week on "Sounds Like Canada" and rushed out to buy "Still Life". As a Canadian who has recently returned to Ottawa after almost 16 years in Washington, D.C., your writing has special poignancy. Good thing I didn't discover you while living in D.C. or I would have cried with home-sickness. I almost cried anyway, the writing is so beautiful. This morning I am making carrot soup while the snow is settling onto the pines outside my window. I am bursting with pleasure, both at being back home and at the prospect of starting "Dead Cold". Thanks.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Elizabeth,

How kind of you to write - thank you! And it's so deeply moving to me when a reader connects with the books the way you have. Thank you for being so open and honest and supportive.

And welcome home. Today (Thursday) is a particularly splendid winter day here.