My genius of place is a god of water. I have lived where two rivers flow together, and beside the brattling noise of China Creek which tumbles past our ranch house and turns our water wheel, and on the shore of the Pacific Ocean too – my home is there, and I shall go back.
–Ethel Wilson, from Hetty Dorval
I’ve spent the past two days peering at my computer screen, reading the text of my novella, The Weight of the Heart, due out from Palimpsest Press this April. This is a pdf of the ARC and because the novella is arranged in many short sections, I needed to make sure that the section breaks are accurate, that each page follows the one before it and isn’t an interloper from somewhere else in the book. (This once happened, with my first book of poems.) Then I compiled a page of notes and acknowledgements. Because this novella pays homage to 3 books in particular, quoting from them, all of those needed to be cited. I’m hoping that the way I’ve done this—accurate but not scholarly— will be sufficient. When I was preparing the endnotes and bibliography for my book Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, my editor and publisher felt that a scholarly approach would be best. I swallowed hard and did my best. But this isn’t the way my mind works and it felt strange to impose an apparatus on a book that was sui generis at best and sort of chaotic at worst.
So I’ve been reading carefully, lovingly really, because The Weight of the Heart is a book about beloved places and writers. There’s music in it, and white water rafting, and camping on the banks of the Deadman River where the protagonist sees these guys:
My favourite pines are in it, and the road to Dog Creek, and the gate at the top of Pavilion Mountain. Everything has its place and the work of the past few days has been to ensure that those places are in order. It’s a privilege to write, a privilege to take a manuscript to the next step, and to have a team of editors and designers who take my work seriously is a gift. I can’t wait to see the book.