Whether it’s at Christmas or at any other time in the year, when I tell people I’m going to Port Colborne, the immediate question that follows is: where’s that? I tell them it’s not far from Niagara Falls and, unless they’re familiar with the area, they nod accordingly. It’s clear, though, by the stunned look still twisted into their faces that they really have no idea where it is. And that’s okay.
If I hadn’t met my partner, I wouldn’t have known where Port Colborne was on a map or that it even existed. It’s a city where, usually around major holidays like Christmas and schedule permitting, I get to escape the hustle and bustle of life in Toronto. It’d be unfair to say that there’s not a lot to do there. There are various events and activities throughout the year, and I’ve discovered Lucy’s Café — a wonderful Italian restaurant where the likes of Pierre Elliot Trudeau dined. But I don’t do much when I’m in Port Colborne. Not because I don’t want to, but because my partner and his family love routine. And heaven forbid anyone dares to break it.
So when I’m in Port Colborne (like I was over Christmas), it’s a time when I can disconnect from the world. My body decides to almost conk out. While I can never manage to nap in Toronto, there I spend the days trying to keep my eyes open. I’m convinced that, away from city life, my body tries to get me to slow down. And I resist at every turn.
But while I was in Port Colborne this last time, my body went into slow-mode. And I found myself thinking about the year that was.
The Year in Review
2017 was a big year for me. The journey was long, and at times uncertain, but a good year overall.
Actually, it’s been a phenomenal year as I ventured into the self-publishing world with the launch of The Flowers Need Watering back in February. Becoming an indie author, I’ve learned a lot about the self-publishing industry and myself. I know the journey is far from over. In fact, it’s only just begun.
With The Flowers Need Watering published, I then turned my attention to the rewrite of another novel-length manuscript, Freestyle Love (more on that below).
I tried hard in 2017 to do the things I love because, as Lauren Vanderkam reminded us, “When we focus on what matters, we can build the lives we want, in the time we’ve got.” So I spent a lot of time honing my culinary skills, creating mouth-watering dishes for me and my partner to enjoy. Admittedly, my partner wasn’t too keen on everything I prepared, so I just started telling him it was chicken or beef. (Imagine, now, his unknown love for venison and bison!)
I also upped my running game — increasing my distance, improving my pace and running my first 10k race since 2010. While I didn’t achieve a personal best (I came close), I felt energized. I stayed active this year, running at least two times a week (often more). I kept pushing myself, and it paid off.
Yes, 2017 was a big year for me because I kept writing — despite the jet lag, despite the doubt that tried to silence me, despite when life interrupted. I wrote. Every day. And that proves that I’m still heeding the call of what it is I feel compelled to do.
2018: Looking Ahead to an Exciting Year
A ‘New’ Book: I’m gearing up for the rerelease of Freestyle Love, which was originally published in 2011. I learned a hard lesson with Freestyle Love, one that, thankfully, I wouldn’t repeat with The Flowers Need Watering: the importance of a professional editor. In reviewing the manuscript for The Flowers Need Watering, my editor hit on all the big-ticket items — character and plot development, structure, continuity, story arc, theme development, repetition and plot holes. He didn’t only point out what wasn’t working, but also what worked well. Through that process I realized something else. Maybe Freestyle Love, despite what I thought at the time, wasn’t my best effort. Now I knew I could do better. So I decided to try.
The release date for Freestyle Love has yet to be finalized, but I’ll keep you posted.
Twitter Fiction Tuesdays (#TwitFicTues): I’ll be continuing my popular Twitter Fiction Tuesdays series that explore the short story in 280 characters (or less). Join me Tuesdays at 12:00 pm (EST) by following me (@MMarcusALopes) on Twitter or by searching the hashtag #TwitFicTues.
Flash Fiction: In November, I began publishing short fiction pieces on my website. Appearing at least twice a month, these short fiction pieces make for a quick, intriguing read in 1,000 words or less. This series will relaunch in January. Stop by my website – www.marcuslopes.ca – to check them out.
A Final Note
As 2017 draws to a close, I want to thank you all for being a part of my creative journey. The road has not been easy, but I am grateful to you — everyone — who has supported and encouraged me along the way. I am where I am because of you, and I am eternally grateful.
Once again, thank you for being a part of my journey. From my house to yours, I wish you a Happy New Year filled with peace, joy, love and happiness!