Wall Construction Nearly Complete

My book on walls is, for the most part, complete. I handed in my final draft a few weeks back and the manuscript is now in the able hands of a copy editor. After four years of travel, research and writing, I feel altogether strange about this project being finished. I’ve slowly removed my travel journals and research materials from my desk and shifted the kilograms of paper that made up the early drafts to the bottom of my office closet. I’ve yet to cancel my Google Alerts, though. Everyday I still get the emailed results from automated searches of terms like “border fence,” “border wall,” “belfast +peace lines,” and “west bank barrier,” among others. Though my research of these walls might be complete, my interest in them has yet to wane.

There is, of course, much work left to be done on the book. Aside from the copy edit, a cover needs to be designed, early reviewers found, and marketing plans conceived. Even the book’s title is in flux. Turns out there are already a few books out there called In the Shadow of the Wall. My book will drop the shadows all together and stick with a more emphatic Walls: Travels Along the Barricades. (I learned a lesson from my first two books, Harmattan and Poets and Pahelvans: putting a foreign, unfamiliar and difficult-to-pronounce word in your title does nothing to help a book’s sales.)

The book comes out in the latter half of September. Watch this space for details.

Until then, my time will be taken up more with teaching than with writing. Currently, I am in the second half of a residency with Calgary’s Alexandra Writers’ Centre. I also lead a monthly nonfiction writing session with clients of The Servant’s Anonymous Society, a nonprofit that provides support to female victims of sexual exploitation. I’ve never met a group of more heroic women. Their stories are heartbreaking and inspiring.

In June, I will return to the Middle East, first on assignment in Dubai for a magazine, then to Birzeit, Palestine where I will be installed as the writer-in-residence for the Palestinian Writers Workshop. I will run a creative nonfiction workshop for Palestinians in the West Bank and, via Skype, in Gaza. Upon my return to Canada in July I will be an instructor at Wordsworth, a creative writing residency for youth at a summer camp just outside Calgary. The Wordsworth webpage is billing me as being “fresh from Palestine.” We’ll see how fresh I am come July.