Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heather Barbieri: Starting Again

“Does it get easier?” That’s a question that often comes up at author appearances, in reference to writing a new book. But it could just as well apply to any aspect of our lives. Change isn’t always easy, on or off the page, is it?

Sometimes, we’re prepared for changes and challenges—or think we are—sometimes not. When I was writing my latest (third) novel, The Cottage at Glass Beach, I found myself navigating without a map, much as my main character, Nora, was. I’d been blindsided by the sudden loss of my 73-year-old mother to an insidious, untreatable condition called cerebral amyloidosis. While struggling to make sense of what had happened and support family and friends, I was also working to meet the agreed-upon deadline for Cottage.  (The book deal and her death came within two weeks of each other.) Those months brought other unforeseen challenges, and there were days I wasn’t sure I could write the book, days of plodding along, putting one word in front of another, one foot in front of another. And yet I came to realize the grief process and the creative process are intertwined, springing, as they do, from the depths of our subconscious. The most difficult paths can bring the greatest rewards, if we’re willing to follow them.

Now, I’m home from the summer book tour, that heady, busy interlude meeting readers and booksellers, a writer’s public time, a welcome respite from what can be a solitary profession. Another autumn approaches. It’s time to start writing again, a daunting task, at least at the outset. It’s like jumping off a high dive, really, in the early going. We stand on the edge of the board and think it looks like a long way down (though it isn’t really; heights can be deceptive, viewed from above). And yet once we push off, it’s exhilarating, and we wonder what we were afraid of. Even if we flop—and it can sting, yes—we can pick ourselves up and give it another go, not so much starting over, but starting again. The important thing is the willingness to fully, compassionately experience whatever life brings and learn from it, to take the plunge, as writers, as readers, as human beings.

I’m not sure exactly where the new book will take me, but with a little help from the imagination and a good deal of determination, I’m excited to find out. It’s time to take a deep breath and dive in, meeting whatever the next year will bring.

What challenge(s) have you met this year? Where has your journey taken you, and where would you like to go? Let’s put some positive energy out there and cheer each other on! I'm giving away two copies of my book to two lucky winners!

The Cottage at Glass Beach (Harper) is the story of a political wife who, fleeing scandal, retreats to a remote island off the coast of Maine to protect her young daughters and come to terms with the childhood tragedy that still haunts her. “A wonderful, subtle, transporting story.” (Booklist, starred review.)

Heather Barbieri is the author of two previous acclaimed novels, The Lace Makers of Glenmara (Harper) and Snow in July (Soho). She lives in Seattle with her family and is at work on her fourth novel.  V
isit Heather on facebook or at

***Heather's winner is Lory Lee!  Congrats, Lory!  Please an email with your mailing info to  Thanks!***


Mary Preston said...

My Father is not well. Old age has finally caught up with him. The thing is that there are a lot of us, so we support each other. It's not all doom & gloom because we remember the good times & have a laugh.

Lory Lee said...

Probably, the toughest challenge I've been through so far is studying and working at the same time. It's really hard juggling the two specially every time I have exams, projects to make and activities to do. But so far, I'm handling every thing well. Good thing I have a supporting boss and a co-workers. :D

Karen H said...

Actually, my life has been running smoothly for the past several years. Guess I shouldn't say anything for fear I might jinx myself! My only challenge in life today is trying to find and repair a coolant leak in my 15 year old car! After having mechanics look for this phantom leak (why is there a puddle of coolant under my car?) with no success, I guess I'll just have them add coolant when the dashboard light comes on. That's the last thing the mechanic told me that maybe the problem is a faulty sensor making the light come on...again I ask...why is there a puddle of coolant under my car?...sigh....

petite said...

My life changed drastically in March of this year when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. It has been a journey for me and a total transformation which required a great deal of strength and patience. I have developed a new outlook and perspective on life. Empathy, and understanding. I have adjusted to my future and it looks bright.

traveler said...

Many challenges throughout my life have been difficult but my upbringing taught me to have the determination to keep going and succeed. When I read about your mother's death, it brought back memories of when my mother's untimely death occurred which was devastating, but I had to be there for my family and continue to function. I decided to assist at a home nearby. Giving and helping eased the pain.

Chrisbails said...

I would have to say that it would be to lose weight and excercise. I workout after work 4 nights a week. I just started a couple of months ago, so a slow process so far, but hopefully it should be soon to see some results.
Thanks for the giveaway. This is a new author for me. Always looking for new authors to check out.
christinebails at yahoo dot com

Pat Cochran said...

Like so many folks, age and illness are
making their way into my life with tests
upcoming on Monday. I am so determined
they are not going to have a chance to
win out. One's attitude can make a big
difference in life!

Pat C.

Kathleen O said...

It is so hard to loose are loved ones. I thought it hard when I lost my dad six years ago, but I still had my mom.
Then last year I had to sit by her beside and watch her leave me and my brothers, nieces and nephews.. It was three of the hardest days of my life.
I love your book The Cottage at Glass Beach.. I was first book I read and I want to read more...

Na said...

I really started thinking about my future and how my life was going to be like a few years and a decade or two from now. I started challenging myself to live a healthier life. I eat healthier and try new things. I am trying to experience as much life as I can and enjoy it too. It's easy to let time slip by and now I want to use time wisely.

erin said...

Thanks for a great post and congrats on the release! Definitely going to add it to my wishlist :)

I started re evaluating my work schedule and realizing that while I'm an awesome employee, my personal life is suffering from working too much. So I've been gradually cutting back hours and the world didn't stop spinning :)

Linda Henderson said...

Probably my biggest problem this year has been health problems, I've been sick a lot. It's been rather disheartening. Just when I start to get better it seems like I get sick again. I've got a new doctor now and hopefully he can help me get well and stay well.

Eli Yanti said...

i dont know where this is a challenge or not but i'm happen because finally I can arrange time and fund to meet with my book's friend and go to travel :)