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Writing Report: Success!

Last week, I threw out most of my old journals, around 140 spiral-bound notebooks. I'd filled these notebooks with hand-written scribbles for the last thirty years or so, and it felt good to purge my shelves, and my soul, of all those musings. Inside one of those notebooks was this little slip of paper, a note to me from the great Madeleine L'Engle, one of my literary heroes and a major influence on my life in so many categories, not the least of which is writing.

When I was just beginning to write seriously, I valued every word that, by some miracle, came out of me and made it all the way onto paper, but I'd begun to wonder if holding onto all those spiral notebooks was a bit like hoarding. I know that in doing so I was thinking I'd never produce another piece of writing, ever, so I'd better hang onto the proof that I'd done it at least once. Even if no one else valued my writing, the thought process went, at least I did--and the proof was in those boxes filled with notebooks filled with pages and pages of my writing.

I'm guessing that I took this drastic step of clearing my shelves last week because I was also on the verge of taking another big step: signing another publishing contract, this time for my second novel, "Fearless." Just a month ago, I'd made the decision to publish my first novel, "Belle o' the Waters," through a hybrid publisher, as described in this post. This new contract, though, is with an honest-to-god traditional publisher, New Meridian Arts, a small press who loved my book and offered to help me bring it to the world. I was thrilled to receive this news, but also surprised, since I thought it was going to be years before I found a publisher for this or any of my books. I was glad to be proven wrong! "Fearless" is likely to be published later in 2018, or early 2019. I will post more information about it as we get closer to the publication date.

One more thing: Madeleine apparently often signed autographs with the phrase you see here, "tesser well," which is an odd phrase, and you won't find it many other places. It is based on a concept in her book, "A Wrinkle in Time," that had such a huge influence on my life. The phrase invokes her idea of a tesseract, used by the characters in Wrinkle to travel through time, so to "tesser" means to move from one point in time to another in an extraordinary way. She believed that to "tesser well" required a certain type of inner strength. I don't know if I have what she meant, but I like to think I do, or that I at least keep trying even when there's no reason to believe success will ever come. Because, actually, sometimes success really does happen!


  1. Lovely post, Raima. It expresses lots of heart and encourages me in my own quest for publication. Thanks!

    1. Margaret, I believe you will be the next one to be making an announcement like this. Tesser well!

  2. (I received this note by email and am reposting it here! - Raima)
    I am a new reader of your blog through serendipitous circumstances. 😉I have kept a daily journal since November 1967 — all in hardbound books of various sizes. In my case, even the thought of parting with any of them would be like losing a dear confidante.

    As part of my daily quiet time I look at the journal entries from that date 10, 20, 30, 40, and now 50 years ago! — and also the previous year. This year, I am reading the thoughts of an awkward 13-year-old; a whimsical 23-year-old small town girl making her way in the big city often times with hilarious results; a 33-year-old young mother of two who is working full-time as a reporter; a 43-year-old mom of a low-maintenance teenage daughter and high-maintenance grade school son; and a 53-year-old who decided it’s not a completely foolish idea to earn an MA in Writing so she could write a book like a writer and not like a reporter.

    And, because my short-term memory ain’t what it used to be, I like to read what passed through my head exactly one year ago today.

    Some say journaling is a form of prayer. I like to see it that way. It’s also like that proverbial onion, pulling back layers one at a time and sometimes you weep.

    Anyway, those are my humble thoughts about why I’ve been keeping a journal all these years.

    As for your journaling, it sounds like you had a different purpose — perhaps more as steppingstones that lead to where you are today. And the way you got there is extraordinary!

    1. Thank you for trying to post this! And thank you for your thoughts. I totally agree and understand about the feeling of losing a dear confidante if I lost my journals. I felt like that for years. I think the switch in attitude happened when I helped clean out my mother-in-law's things this past summer when she died, and thought (yet again) about whether I wanted my journals to still be around when my kids had to do this for me. I really didn't want that. Plus, I'd already started to use throw-away paper for my daily morning pages, so my journaling had taken on a new form. I did keep a couple volumes of my old journal, actually, including the last two year's worth, for the same reason - I always like to look back to a year ago and see where I was then. My plan is to keep throwing those out as the years go by, since it's more the act of journaling that's important to me than the resulting words on paper.


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