In the Works #8
A new novel, a host of amazing writers for you, and my creative fantasy sabbatical comes to an end
As of this month, I’ve been doing this Catch & Release for 9 months! For the uninitiated, this “In the Works” series is a considerably less formal post where I chat about things I’m working on and things I’m excited about or inspired by. You can read here or watch the video if that’s more fun. In the videos, I tend to go on a few tangents and explore things as they occur to me.
I will talk about my stuff in this one, but I also plan to shine a light on some other fantastic writers I think you will enjoy. So, let’s get to it.
In case you missed my announcement last week, I’ve made the plunge and decided to publish “Harmony House,” the novel I’m currently working on here as a weekly serial. I had quite a bit of trepidation about committing to publication before I had the ending worked out, but the thrill of writing as you’re reading was just too good to pass up. I can’t wait for you to read it, but just as I did with my other novel, “The Memory of My Shadow,” you’ll be able to listen to my audio narration if you become a paid subscriber.
Other Rooms, Other Voices
Many of you have no idea that I write on a platform called Substack which is an antidote to what the Internet has become. The dumpster fire that is Twitter, the vast desert of emptiness that is Facebook, and the twitchy self-loathing scroll of TikTok and Instagram have numbed us online. Substack is a platform that holds up the writer and encourages actually reading, not skimming or scrolling.
On Substack, I’ve met so many amazing writers. I want to share just a few of them with you here in hopes that you will check out their work. You can subscribe to most of them for free and the Substack app delivers their weekly publications right to your phone.
Lovely, Soul-Nourishing Voices Across the Pond
Chole Hope’s Death & Birds is an English writer who writes these beautifully wrought, whispery pieces that are largely about her life, past and present. She’s an end-of-life doula and volunteers at a wildlife rescue where she takes care of birds. It sounds odd. Why would you want to engage with this? Because her writing is so immediate and intimate. She shares herself freely. It’s rare to get a glimpse of such openness. Start with the piece below and be sure to listen to her audio narration.
David Field’s Visible from Space is another English writer who mines a similar vein as Chloe. He also writes much from his life experience. He was an incredibly successful A&R man for several major record labels and he worked with many artists you might know including Radiohead. When he suffered a traumatic accident — the victim of a hit-and-run, he spent some time in a coma. When he recovered, he was changed. He could not go back to the work he loved and was forced to find a new way. Start with this piece of his and listen to his audio narration. It’s lovely.
Because You Could Use a Laugh
Troy Ford’s Ford Knows
I metwhen he graciously volunteered to become an early reader of my novel, “The Memory of My Shadow.” He gave such generous and honest feedback, I felt seen. Troy is an ex-pat who lives in Spain. He’s unapologetically gay. He’s an excellent writer with a razor-sharp wit. His fiction he keeps pretty close to his chest, but weekly he shares these fun romps that will make you smile.
Meg Oolder’s Stock Fiction is not just funny. Funny is hard enough. Meg’s fiction is also insightful, tender, romantic, and weird in the best possible ways. The premise for many of her pieces of short fiction is that they are prompted by a stock photograph. None of her pieces require you to pack a lunch and stay the day (like me), so take four minutes and give her a try.
Other Writers Who Deserve Your Attention
Adam Nathan is part of a network of people I’ve discovered by magic through Substack. He writes these well-constructed, beautifully written series that range from fiction to memoir and all stops between, often blurring the line between. I love his tagline: “Feel something twice a week.” That’s what he delivers. This piece is a great intro into his work:
Claudia Befu’s Story Voyager writes climate fiction. Her stories are set in the future in a world post-climate-crisis and they are richly told. She creates compelling worlds and delivers on both characters and plot. You will be engaged, especially if you enjoy science fiction. Do yourself a favor and start with this story that is part one of a two-part series.
My Creative Fantasy is Coming to an End
I’ve had the incredible privilege of basically not working a real day job for the past ten months. As you may or may not know, I started Catch & Release after getting laid off in November of last year. My lovely and supportive partner, Paradis said, “Don’t go back. Take a year and dedicate yourself to the thing you love.” I did and many of you have been here with me since I started the journey. But all good things must come to an end eventually.
As much as I would have loved to be a financial success story here on Substack, the truth is that most people aren’t willing to pay to read my work each week. I don’t take it personally. It’s a huge commitment of time to read and there’s so much out there competing for your attention and hard-earned money. The percentage of people who can earn a living wage solely from their art is very small.
So, as we move into this last part of the year, I will be transitioning back into the day job role I’ve done for more than a quarter of a century. I will still keep Catch & Release going. I’ve committed to the Harmony House serial for this very reason. But I won’t have the luxury of the space and time I’ve enjoyed during this sabbatical so I likely won’t have the bandwidth to deliver the wide-ranging kind of work with the frequency I’ve given you up until now.
I’ve enjoyed a quiet place to sit and watch the world go by, to quote myself. Now it’s time to get back out in it so I can pay the mortgage and student loans. Thanks, friend for being on this journey with me.
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