Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Twas the Night Before NaNo rhymes about what's all through this house (the actual apartment or the dollhouse-that-got-moved-instead-of-stored-but-looks-so-good-on-top-of-this-dresser-that-is-in-dining-room-we-don't-mind) but as NaNo does indeed begin tomorrow, I have only in the last 24 hours decided to be a rebel and work on the current WIP, which is to me a new book in many ways, that's what I've got this morning.

The cafe from which I wrote the most recent entry here has been closed for several days, not sure why, so new home away from home is here. No fireplace, but I love the brick walls, the fact that it's in a basement, the comfy chairs gathered around tables, the helpful staff (extra kudos to the nice German gentleman who recommended honey for my lost voice -physical, not authorial) and the fact that they have chai.

New writing routines are still working themselves out. Linda is back in CT for one last haul of her stuff, DH and I are both in the grips of Martian Death Colds, which manifest in different ways for each. I lost my voice completely for a few days but can now croak out a few words. He wouldn't appreciate my sharing his worst symptom, so I'll skip that, but we're both hopefully on the mend. I have found out that when the heat is cranked up the slightest of notches, my office is the snuggest, most comfy place in the whole apartment, and the actual officey stuff is taking shape.

In a way, I like not having things set up yet. My new desk, actually one I coveted as a kid, is about half the size of my old one, which did not make the move with us (by choice.) This means no room for clutter, only what I absolutely love and need. This is also true for books; I brought my absolute classic must haves, and the rest are in storage. This also includes new titles that I have bought but not yet read. Those are all in neatly labeled boxes, and I can pick up one at a time from the unit, read through, trade in/donate those that aren't keepers. (More on that later.)

It's along those same lines with writing. What do I really, really love? Historical romance, heavy on both, thanks. Love that is worthy of record, characters who are people of their time (or times, with time travels, which in my mind count as historicals, at least the way I do them) and taking the hard road to happily ever after. That's enough. NaNo starts tomorrow? Bring it on.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

And so it begins...

P1011749, living room from doorway All the furniture is off the truck and hauled upstairs. Our friends who helped us move have all gone home. Skye kitty is hunkered down under the far corner of Linda's bed. Boxes and suitcases fill the dining room area. I am at the cafe across the street from our new apartment, on a comfy couch, across from a fireplace. It is quiet but for the whirring of oscillating fans. When the sun goes down, DH wants to take a date night and show me some of the sights of our new neighborhood. That will be soon, and at some point, Skye will venture out and investigate her new world, possibly after I've flopped on the bed to play Sims 3 for a while, filling the new space with familiar activity.

The old secretary desk from my childhood home is now in my new office, beneath a mirror I will have DH take down in the next couple of days, as I don't want to look at myself while writing. I have told everyone that tomorrow is for not hauling things up or down stairs, not putting things in boxes (but taking them out will be a neccessity)and not venturing hither and yon in various vehicles. I have told DH that tomorrow, I will not get out of bed unless absolutely neccessary, and the fall I took down the front steps (moving one's belongings from truck to upstairs apartment in the rain is exactly as fun as it sounds) says that may be a good idea.

And yet (because you know there had to be an "and yet") - I. Want. To. Write. In. My. Office. Nothing is set up yet. The desk still has one drawer off, sitting inside the storage area. My chair is in the dining area. The bookcase is empty, and only a milk crate full of art magazines graces the rest of the space. Still, it's mine. This space knows me only as writer. This space has no baggage. This space knows we are all moving in here - me, my characters, their stories. Their worlds fit within these sage green walls, stand upon the boards that still smell of varnish. This, more than any other part of the new apartment feels like home.

Picture above is from our first viewing of the apartment, and is not of the office, but camera is not unpacked yet. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Holding on and Letting go

Moving week is finally here. By this time next week, we'll be ensconced in our new home, taking stuff out of the boxes we're filling now. The picture above is one load of donations to a friend's library sale. A lot of these books came from library sales to begin with, and more than a few of them are returning to the sale from whence they came.

Though our apartment is a good size, there's no way to bring all of the books. For me, moving the books is what makes the move real. Books are the first thing down and first thing up (second, if one counts bookcases) if I have any say in the matter, and the process of deciding what to bring and what to release into the wild is an adventure all on its own. Some decisions are easy. Research books purchased for a project that is now long completed, interests that have changed, or duplicate copies are like that. Others are trickier. Have I read that? Am I going to read it? Really? If read, will I reread it? Can I get rid of the paper version and replace it with electronic?

I've fished more than one rescued book out of the DH's discard pile because he does not understand the neccessity of an obscure title, but I leave his picks of his own stuff alone. There are books I can't part with, because they have fused with me and it would be like excising a body part and sending it off into the unknown. Others have had their time with me and I like imagining someone else idly browsing the romance section of the sale and finding an unexpected treasure. They don't know it yet, but they have just touched their favorite book for the first time. Kind of exciting there.

Other books will go into the storage unit, either for a short time or until we make our next and hopefully final move. The rest, though, the special ones, those we count worth the trouble of packing and hauling down the stairs, onto the van, out of the van, up the stairs and into their eventual homes on whatever bookcases will fit.

When I last moved out of a college dorm room, many, many years ago, I divided my books into books I would be devastated if I lost and books whose absence I could bear. It hasn't become any easier to move, but the criteria is still the same. Thankfully, for those that are staying with me, it's only a short parting. I'll see them again in the new place.

How do you decide what books make the move with you?

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Personal Archaeology

dining room, Dining room from doorway Our family is getting ready to make a much-anticipated move (that's our soon to be dining room in today's picture) which means that we are now in the decluttering and packing phase.

We've been in the same place for double digit years now, so there are a few time capsules to be found now and again. Today was one of them. This morning was rough, and I needed some time before I could face the keyboard, so to the boxes I went. We'd put this stuff away to look at later, and from the dates on the magazines, it looks like this was from slightly before my father's Alzheimer's diagnosis. I found a print galley of a favorite author's second book. Two spiral notebooks and one composition book with black pages, for writing on in white ink. Letters from friends. Printouts of pieces I'd written for fan publications. A big black binder with the printout of my first novel, My Outcast Heart. Handwritten notes from a talk a visiting rabbi gave at our church. Magazines for interests that I still hold and some that I no longer do.

I sorted. I read. I relived, all under the watchful eye of Skye kitty. I sorted into trash/donate/pack. I remembered how fun it was to write the fan pieces, how exciting it was to type THE END on my first novel. Then I signed up for NaNo. November is going to be a big month.

Monday, October 01, 2012

On the nature of talking....

A friend asked me what I've learned from the blog entry challenge this week. As a word of warning, this may get ramblier than other posts, but rambling can be a good thing; I'm writing this entry in Write or Die's web app so that i can't fall into the trap of self editing myself into oblivion. See, right there, the two instances of "self" in the same sentence. I would go back and get rid of that but Very Bad Things will happen here if I don't so that will come into play later.

Back to the original question. I didn't know how to take that at first. I didn't set out to make this a teaching tool, but hey, unexpected opportunities. What I'd say I recognized the most is that I am a talker. Talking and thinking are linked for me. If I can talk about it, then it's real and I can do it.

So, my friend asked, does talking about writing translate to writing and finishing stories? For me, yes. It does. Think about having the best racehorse in the world. Now don't feed him. What's going to happen? How is he going to run? Not very far or long after missing enough meals and the running he can do isn't going to be up to the usual standard. Kind of the same thing here.

While there are awesome writers who will go from initial idea to finished first or second draft before they breathe a word to anybody, I am not one of them. Everybody has their own right way to work, and for me, that involves talking. My friend did ask if the talking works if nobody replies; this is after I mentioned that blog entries seem to count as talking to my writer-brain so that there will likely be more entries in the future. (Since I also seem to do very well with accountability - if I tell the internet, then I have to do it- there will also likely be more challenges in the future. It can be a thing.

Best of all is sitting down with another writer, one on one, and talking about writing. Talk about their stuff, talk about my stuff, some back and forth, give and take and I'm good to go. Give me a beverage of choice, often some form of black tea with milk and sweetener in this autumnal weather, perhaps a nibble or two, and let me run, because I'm fed. So if that can be something learned, then there's that. It works for me, and it doesn't have to work for anybody else, because we all have our own best ways to go about this business of making the voices in our heads pay rent.

Is it a magic pill that will make everything all betters all at once? No. I don't think there is such a thing. It's a process. It is difficult for a talker to work when there isn't someone else to talk to/with; it can be done, theoretically, but it's a whale of a lot harder and will take a lot longer, and our talker is going to be worse for wear by the time it's done.

Already over my projected length for this entry, but in short, it's a process. For me, talking works, and I can talk here, so I will. You have been warned.

What have you learned about your own process over the years?