Vaughn Hardacker here: As many of you know, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Truthfully, it’s been a long time since I’ve done any serious writing. We’ve all known that this past year and a half have been tough on most, if not all, of us. I am by nature a closet hermit. I have always had a tendency to isolate to the extend I used to say: “I can be all alone attending a sporting event in a sold-out stadium.” The pandemic has allowed my isolationist tendencies to run unfettered.
It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve come out of hiding and started to actively participate in group activities via Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Last spring, I joined an online writer group with a number of local writers who are also members of the MW&PA, but only attended sporadically. Most weeks (we meet online via ZOOM at 3:30 PM on Thursdays) I did not attend, primarily because I was not writing and as such felt that I truly had nothing to contribute. I was also a off-again, on-again attendee at the weekly Thursday Night gathering (again via ZOOM) of writers published by eNcircle Publications, an open forum in which the publisher/editor and those of us who have published with him discuss writing with an emphasis on networking and marketing. Unfortunately, none of this was firing up the old muse.
Then along came family… Early in the summer I was contacted by Jill Sutherland, a cousin of whom I had no previous knowledge. She is an artist known for her paintings and portraits of animals. She told me that another cousin had told her about a cousin in Maine (Jill is from Connecticut) who is a published author (yours truly). She met me at a local event called Thursdays on Sweden, a sort of craft fair held in Caribou in which live music, food vendors, and crafters can set up booths at no cost. A few years back I blogged about this event and the success I have had selling my books there. In short time, we became close.
She read my novel, Wendigo, and started telling everyone she knew about it. Suddenly I was invited to family functions which quickly turned into book signings (what truly surprised me was that not a single person asked for a freebie–they all bought books!). Since returning to Aroostook County, I have been living with the belief that all of my family had either died or fled the area. I was astonished to learn that was not the case. I was stunned to learn that most of these relatives were the descendants of my father’s side of the family and grew up within a quarter-mile of me! I had known of their mother (my grandfather’s youngest sister, Marie) but had never met them–come to think of it, I don’t recall ever meeting Aunt Marie!
So, you ask: “What does this have to do with my year-and-a-half struggle with writing?” These family/book signing get-togethers made me realize what was causing my funk. The answer (although an epiphany) was simple. READERS! Being able to meet with readers and to do so in person was the missing link. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not putting down online meetings they have their purpose–but, will never be able to replace person-to-person interaction.
I have now become a writer again! I have written 60,000 words on Ripped-Off! a new crime thriller; the first draft of Loup Garou, the sequel to Wendigo is currently approaching the half-way point; and I have started writing everyday again. Hallelujah!
Oh, yes. In the past I have written that the nearest book store to me was in Bangor…No longer true! Two small independent bookstores have open up in the county and I live in between both. I have visited and am establishing relationships at Bogus Books in Fort Kent and the most recent (only been open for a week) Neighborhood Books in Presque Isle. If you either live in Aroostook County or are considering visiting please stop by and say hello to Heidi (Fort Kent) and Laura (Presque Isle). Don’t forget to tell them “Vaughn sent me…” You probably won’t get a discount but they will definitely appreciate it.