Karen Brichoux

Current and Upcoming Books

Available Now
"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Starting Over

December 8, 2009

Winter Newsletter from the Desk of Karen Brichoux

Starting Over

I imagine this newsletter will come as a surprise to most of you, as it has been over a year since my last one. As some of you already know, my mother passed away unexpectedly last spring. My mom and I were very close and, to be honest, it took me months to even start thinking about writing after she died. For the first time, Iíve been glad to not be under contract right now. Iíve had the freedom to simply let my writing come to a halt and spend more time with my family and with my father.

However, at some point the pain begins to recede and that desire to write which seemed so lost begins to come back. The trouble is that simple desire to write a book never wrote a book. At least not for me. I am too closely acquainted now with the frustrations of corporate publishing, the form rejection letters/e-mail, the dreaded middle of the book where it seems like nothing I write down is worth keeping...And I look at all that and the desire to write turns into the desire to take a walk or pull out my fingernails.

Lest you think this is merely a newsletter filled with depression and complaining, that isnít all! Recognizing that I was seriously flummoxed and not about to embark on any new book ideas no matter how wonderful they were, I almost quit writing altogether. Almost. Until one day when I was giving it some serious thought and I realized that it was my initial writing career that was finished. My reading choices have changed, my tastes have changed, my writing goals have changed. Writing is still what I want to do, but how I write and what I write is now very different. Or at least different enough to constitute a new career. But I have been forging ahead as though all I have to do is start writing and Iíll magically enter this new phase of my life. The first thing I did was apologize to myself for expecting too much. The second thing I did was to start over. I went back to the beginning and started over as if I were writing my first novel--new research, new approaches, new books for inspiration. The third thing I did was to remodel my office.

Silly. I know, thatís what I said. Remodel my office? What a stupid thing to do. What a waste of time. And because I kept hearing the words ďsilly,Ē ďstupid,Ē and ďwasteĒ over and over, I decided that remodeling was exactly what I needed to do in order to symbolize starting over. My office was part of the old career. It was like trying to start a new job with your old boss and old co-workers and that old crappy copier youíve always put up with! Whatís new about that?

I now have, courtesy of my husband, a gigantic book shelf where all of my books can be collected in one place for the first time in history. I have new paint on the walls, a new printer (the old one never really recovered from dusty neglect), new paper lanterns, and new pictures on the wall. Iím back to writing journal pages by hand (itís amazing how things come out differently when Iím putting a pen to paper. But it had been so long since Iíd done anything by hand....Iíd practically lost the small amount of penmanship I ever possessed.). I spend lots and lots of time reading books and thinking about books. I let little ideas stew in my head. I take weekly trips to new places to experience new things.

Essentially, Iím doing all those marvelous, creativity-inspiring things I did back when I wasnít sure if I wanted to be a writer, a painter, or a rodeo clown. And for the first time in months--years?--the ideas are beginning to build on themselves and tumble around like a tangle of happy kittens playing on the floor. I love being a writer.

But I do sometimes wonder what life would have been like if Iíd chosen to be a rodeo clown.....