It’s stupid how this works, but even an experienced author’s words can become stifled by imposter syndrome. You know, that internal voice that speaks for all the people who’ve ever done you wrong? The one that says, “You can’t do it! Even if you’ve done it before, you can’t do it again! You suck. Your work is mediocre! You’ll never be Hemingway…”etc. Of course, you’ll never be Hemingway, because you’re you, and his stories are over. They exist in the Past Simple tense. Your work, Self, exists in the present. So, get off your ass and get it done.
These are the conversations I have with myself on the regular whenever I have another great idea, a conversation with an editor at a publisher, whenever I sit down and dream of putting new characters to the page. Can you believe that? Can you believe that someone who’s literally made a career of writing still gets stuck writing? Yeah. It’s a true story.
But you know what helps me out of these slumps? Two things: Deadlines (which I love for their motivating factor) and my love of writing. I don’t know how many people will fall in love with Melinda Beaird and Jake Bernstein (the two characters of my latest novella), but I do know that I love them, and I want to share them with the world.
So, while the inner voice jumps up to hit me between the eyes every few hours, just before writing sessions, I know that this story has a home in a few hearts, starting with mine. I know that I’m not the only one who wonders what it was like to live through the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, to scratch out a living in a work camp in Southern California, to fall in love on the edge of great loss. We think we have it hard now in this horrible pandemic, but my grandparents survived the Dust Bowl from their homes in Texas and Oklahoma. My grandmother, a Jew from Brooklyn, fell in love with a cowboy from faraway Claremore, and in the pictures of her shocked beautiful face, I see red dust in the background. It’s everywhere. I see people, tired and hungry, and I see strength and beauty. Much like what I see now when I look around at all the people who’ve survived this great ordeal we walk through today.
From all of this–the then and now–came my idea, my characters: a young Oklahoma school teacher with no students left to teach, because the dust and the Depression had taken them all away, and a handsome photographer from New York City, who’s been assigned by Franklin Roosevelt to document the deep suffering in the nation’s heartland. Think Dorothea Lange, but Jewish and a man and a brilliant school teacher whose work has dried up with the water. How do they meet? What brings them together? Oh, you have to come and see this. It’s a good tale.
There is something particularly powerful about love that springs from pain, about hope that grows from loss. Inspired by my own roots and my birth state, I give you The Search: A Dust Bowl Love Story, coming the end of March 2021. It’s a short, intense read, but I think it’s just what we all need this spring. Enjoy the cover reveal. I hope you’re going to love reading this one as much as I enjoyed writing it.