And Now Here We Are

My dear friends,

The length of time it has taken me to post here with my promised memoir update was unintended. And now here we are, bruised, battered and staggering to the end of another year with yet more uncertainty.

In September, knife-like stabbing pain in my jaw and sinuses from a tooth abscess rendered me useless. My dentist isn’t local, I have never had a root canal before. The mere mention of it filled me with dread because I have a phobia of dentists. But mercifully, the treatment and antibiotics did the trick.

I enjoyed a lovely birthday with my family a week away with hubby and my mother to Norfolk.

September By The Water

Then began long-delayed but urgent repairs to our home in October.

First the chimney, then the kitchen, stripped down to rafters and brick. This revealed more extensive damp than we realised on the single, non-insulated outer wall. And no insulation in the ceiling made from plywood. Hence it was freezing in the winter and salt turned rock hard in the cupboard.

But six weeks without a kitchen is no joke.

And it is true: as with any major renovation, it takes twice as long and costs twice as much as budgeted. But we are grateful to at last have it finished. It is warm and beautiful and damp-free. The cleanup, however, is major and ongoing.

And now here we are.

Almost Christmas.

During this time behind the scenes, I must tell you I have worked on submitting my memoir to literary agents. This meant months of preparation on my query letter with pitch, hook, comparative book titles and bio. A synopsis too, and because it is a memoir and required by some agents, a full proposal with a chapter outline and market overview.

I took agent feedback on the first 5,000 words of my manuscript. Same on my query letter. I spent months going over my agent list, researching each and everyone who might want a story like mine.

I was ready.

Kitty is ready for Christmas come what may

My plan, my hopes, my determination? To submit in November.

It didn’t happen.

Due to unforeseen problems, the kitchen took twice as long and cost twice as much. The disruption grew more intense in the last grand sweep and it was impossible to focus on anything. Christmas got closer and closer and by then, a few of my chosen agents had closed to submissions until January.

Put it down, I told myself. Wait until then.

But here comes my panic.

Every story is unique, but the key is to pitch that unique selling point if you are taking the traditional publishing route. Have I missed the boat? I ask my husband. Is my memoir right for the industry right now? He tells me as he always does there is no right time. I need to submit and get it out there and that is all there is to it.

I read once that what we really need to snag an agent is a big sprinkling of fairy dust.

Maybe Santa will bring some. We could all use it, submitting or not.

Sherborne Abbey

More than anything, I want Christmas with my children. But Covid has struck my family, despite being fully vaccinated, boostered and staying vigilant. Omicron is rife in the UK. We don’t yet know enough about it and we are extra careful. We must stay clear with negative lateral flow tests in the coming days, or that will be it for our Christmas.

The threat of last-minute restrictions remains. Will they steal Christmas away like last year? I cannot bear to think of it. In Table Talk, my end of year Memoir Across The Pond post at Carrot Ranch, I did not dare mention it.

And so here we are.

Thank you for reading and sending smiles to the Summerhouse for nine years and counting. May your Christmas be merry and bright and to better days ahead for 2022 for us all.

Love, Sherri x

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri's work is published in magazines, anthologies and her blog. As a young mum of three, she emigrated from the UK to California and stayed for twenty years. Today she lives in England's West Country with her family and two beautiful black kitties. A keen walker and photographer, she is working hard on her memoir. Her 2021 entry to Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize was shortlisted and also received a special mention at Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. She was also a Page Turner Awards finalist.
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35 Responses to And Now Here We Are

  1. restlessjo says:

    I just don’t think we can afford to be negative, Sherri, or our lives are stolen away in front of us! Unless we’re talking negative tests, of course. We’re flying into the teeth of danger for a very brief Christmas in Leeds. We couldn’t do it last year and next year is a long, long way away. They have a friend’s wedding on 27th so we will already be gone on 26th. Sorry about all your grief, hon, but I hope you will still have a cosy, merry, family Christmas. The new year will be what it will be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Jo, these are challenging times and I know what you mean. We have to take life by the horns and make risk assessments. Keep safe and well on your flights and have a wonderful, brief, Christmas in Leeds. We are holding tight here for our Christmas all together… Happy Christmas, lovely Jo, and thanks so much for keeping in touch all this time, means a lot… Hugs πŸ™‚ ❀

      Like

  2. denmaniacs4 says:

    What a litany of setbacks and sorrows, Sherri. I offer little but my sense that we have no choice but to rely on the human spirit, our human spirit, to guide us…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Bill. Thank you so much, always a pleasure to hear from you. I have not been able to get to the Ranch much, but I do appreciate keeping in touch around the web! Happy Christmas to you and your family and see you in 2022 πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lyn Buckley says:

    I was excited to read your post! I want to see pictures of your kitchen!!! πŸ™‚ My cousin in Fresno Is going on three months without her kitchen being completed. So I consider six weeks a huge success! And the best news is that your book is finished!! Please someone print it…..I will be the first to buy it! Of course I’ll want it signed πŸ˜‰
    I pray your Christmas is a beautiful one. And that your children will be there with you. ❀️ Merry Christmas from your old friend. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Lyn, my “old” and very dear friend, you’re great! Your encouragement and support means the world. It will be my absolute honour to sign a copy of my book for you! The very thought fills me with joy! The push begins now to gaining agent representation and publication. Keep praying! And I hope your cousin soon has her finished kitchen…yikes, that’s an awfully long time. Six weeks was bad enough! Thank you so much for your prayers. We are holding tight and making it happen and and I pray also for you and your family and wish you a truly wonderful Christmas filled with joy and blessings and much love ❀ πŸ™‚ ❀

      Like

  4. Liz H says:

    Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
    Yet let your glide into the New Year and beyond be true! Sending you best wishes and good health from the other side of the pond, and across a Midwest prairie! ❀🐧❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a beautiful message from across the pond and Midwest prairie! Thank you so much, Liz, and I send you the very same from England’s West Country for a happy and healthy Christmas. And here’s to a true and faithful glide into 2022! ❀ πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. purpleslob says:

    Sherri, man alive, you’ve been thru the mill this year! what did you do without a kitchen that long?? So glad your dental issues are all sorted. I hate that too!! Oh no!! Vaxxed, and still sick?? That’s awful!!
    I pray blessings of peace and joy over your family.
    God has His reasons. Next year will be the perfect time to submit your book!!
    ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been a trial, Melinda, for sure! It wasn’t easy, but we set up an area in our living room, kettle, microwave etc and somehow managed! Yep, it’s crazy isn’t it, all of this? But getting better and here we are, Christmas! Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement throughout my friend. Means a lot. And likewise prayers for peace and joy for you and your family and a very Happy Christmas to you! See you in 2022!! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tom says:

    Sending sprinkles of magic dust your way, Sherri. It’s been a shocker of a couple of years, but we’ll be out of this tunnel in no time. No Christmas restrictions (just announced!) just stay wary… New Year’s a week away and things could change by then (that’s not been announced), but just keep on keeping on with the biggest smile possible. πŸ™‚ ✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Tom! Great to hear from you and I hope all is well in your world. Oh I do hope so…looking for that light at the end. Smiling and keeping keeping on! Happy Christmas Tom, and see you on the other side! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Sherri, it’s good to hear from you. Your husband is right and your determination will get your memoir published. I hope you’ll be with your children for Christmas. It’ll just be days away. Omicron hit hard in California also. We’re vaccinated, boostered, and very careful of not going anywhere. We’re flying to Oregon to spend Christmas with my daughter’s family. They came for Thanksgiving. I missed my grandkids every day.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Genny Nau says:

    Merry Christmas to you and the family! Saw pics of your new kitchen. It’s so gorgeous! Hope you have a happy new year. Love and miss you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merry Christmas and loads of love to you and yours, dear Genny! Aww, thank you, it was worth it in the end! Here’s to a happy, healthy New Year and an end to this pandemic! Love and miss you tons! ❀ xxx

      Like

  9. Denise says:

    I haven’t heard of any memoirs with a similar theme to yours, so I think there is a market for a lovely warm, funny delicately written memoir which I am sure yours will be judging by the stories you have told here. If it’s good and compelling, it doesn’t matter what the theme and the market is. You’ve always had avid readers here. Merry Christmas and lovely to here how everything is going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your words are a Christmas gift to me, Denise. I value your insight greatly. I do so hope to meet up again. We will have much catching up to do! All these years…and here we are πŸ™‚ Thank you so much, and a very Happy Christmas to you and your lovely family xxx

      Like

  10. TanGental says:

    Small steps forward. You’ll get there even if the Hub has to stand over you and make you press ‘send’.
    Have a lovely Christmas however it pans out and see you on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mike Matthews says:

    Your posts are so wonderful and always deeply engaging. I am so proud of all you have acomplished this year dispite the constraints you have faced you have progressed on your journey. Thank you for a beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sue says:

    All the very best for Christmas, Sherri, and best of luck with the memoir

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sue says:

    Thank you, Sherri!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours Sherri, wishing that Santa brings you some fairy dust for Christmas πŸ™‚

    Like

  15. dgkaye says:

    Sounds like not too many were unscathed this year Sher. We’ll all be glad to kick this year too, out on its hide. Let us hope for a better next year and and end to this virus madness. Happy New Year my friend. ❀ xxx

    Like

  16. My best wishes for your family’s health.
    I think your husband is right about the memoir.

    Like

  17. Life does tend to get in the way of things, doesn’t it, Sherri? All you can do is keep going. Hope Christmas was, at the very least, tolerable – which is probably the best most of us an hope for in these interesting times! Love and best wishes to you and Mike for a better year ahead x

    Like

  18. Hi Sherri, I hope you ended up having a lovely Christmas . The world has changed for all of us and it is missing these family gatherings that hurt the most. I guess you are planning on submitting your memoir sometime in the New Year and I wish you luck. The whole process is so subjective but I have no doubt that you will get there unless your priorities change in the meantime like mine did. I am hoping to slide quietly into blogging but I am not going to put any pressure on myself. I still have Roger coping with chemo. My mother died just before Christmas which leaves a huge hole but will eventually give me a lot more time. Look forward to catching up again and may your New Year fill you with joy. xx

    Like

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