A few days ago I finished Blackwater, sitting in the Library at Hollyhock, on Cortes Island. During my six days there I managed to edit from cover to cover the entire manuscript, input all the changes, and give it a once over for formatting and layout. Not the most glamorous part of the writing process, but necessary none the less.

Today I shipped the manuscript off to an agent for a look see. I likely won’t here back until the end of August or September.

While at the Hock, I managed to get to work on the next project.

I had intended on picking up Becoming Sand, a novella that I wrote in 1997 about Pacific Rim, lost love, transitions, and the inter-tidal zone, with the intent of adding another 150 pages to its existing 100. But two things kept me from starting on it: 1) I read what I had written on the plane going to Toronto a couple of weeks ago, and it really, really sucked. Well, most of it really sucked; and 2) what didn’t suck was so hopelessly sad, that I couldn’t face it right now. My intent in writing Becoming Sand was to pen something that felt like Blue Rodeo’s super-sad songs, complete with a lot of pedal-steel guitar. What I got was some really awful writing, with a really sad story buried beneath it.

Well, I just can’t deal with that right now.

So instead, I’m going to continue to focus on Cole Blackwater. He’s a sad dude too, so that makes me happy, and the second book in the Blackwater globally-syndicated series will be a pivotal one in terms of the development of the defining moments of Cole’s life. It’s called the Darkening Archipelago, and is set in the Brighton Archipelago, where clashes between salmon farming, wild salmon fishermen, first nations and activists are creating real world drama that Cole will find himself wading neck deep into. While on retreat at Hollyhock I was able to get 18 chapters outlined, and did a lot of the work to develop the plots and subplots. I’ve got another ten, maybe twelve chapters left to sketch out, and then I can start writing again.

Once again, Hollyhock provided the ideal location for thoughtful reflection on a creative endeavour, and I am forever in their dept for the amazing work that they do. For those who are looking for a place to spend time writing, painting, drawing, or just working through some ideas that need a peaceful backdrop to come to life, consider Hollyhock for your inspiration.

Stephen on the Beach at Hollyhock, 2008 (Jenn Hoffman)

Stephen on the Beach at Hollyhock, 2008 (Jenn Hoffman)