In My Element

Ahhh. That’s my contented sigh you hear. For the first time in weeks I’ve had a morning at home with little else to do but write. My house is cleaner and straighter than every before, waiting for the first potential buyers to walk through the door. So I have nothing else clamoring for my attention except my characters.

They’ve been frozen in time for so long now that it took a while to get them warmed up again. But after they moved their stiff limbs, spoke with stiff mouths, things began to flow. I have missed them. Missed their quirks, their meanness and their kindness. I’ve missed knowing what happens to them, visiting with them each day, recording the events of their lives.

So my satisfied “Ahhh” comes after a morning of becoming reacquainted with old friends—and old enemies. Of transcribing the movie in my head. Of pouring out their lives on a page. Of releasing all the bottled up words in my head, letting them slip from my brain through my fingers and onto my computer screen. I am energized, enthused. And I am in my element once again.


The Worst Room

I’ve been cleaning out rooms and closets, getting our house ready to sell. When I set upon the daunting task of the upstairs, I had to work myself up to the worst room. I began with my middle son—neat, practical. The baby boy followed—a bit of a messy, more of a pack rat (I never imaged he could accumulate so much stuff in just eleven years!) I shuddered as I entered the teenaged daughter’s room, with its closet piled waist deep. But even that, I managed.

Then I hit my study. It’s a time consuming thing to sort through stacks and stacks of paper. Blank paper. Labels. Printed words. Handwritten words.

How do you let go of something you’ve written, even if it’s been slashed by a red pen? I have a hard time doing that. I need some time before I can let go. For some things, the time had come and without a thought I could toss them away—things like others’ comments on my first novel, the one that has morphed through three re-writes and is currently undergoing a fourth. Other things, like comments on my second novel, were still too fresh, too raw to toss aside. I labeled the box and set it in the pile to go to storage, reams of paper with words that I hope to someday revise, make into something better than they are now.

I sorted and stacked, relived and recycled, until four boxes ended up in storage, one more remaining nearby for the time being. When I finished, I had a tidy room and closet and  a sense of accomplishment. Not only had I completed my task, but I realized the sheer volume of work I have created over the past three years, work I never imagined I was capable of actually finishing.

So the worst is over. Just a few more days of fixing things up and sign will rise in our yard. Then I get to look for a new house, one closer to my kids’ school. One that will hopefully restore some sanity to our lives and provided more time for me to write. One with a new study—fresh and clean—ready to receive the old and inspire the new.


Evaluating 2005

I spent yesterday creating a spreadsheet to chart my writing productivity in 2005. Last year, I logged my writing tasks on a calendar beside my favorite chair. Yesterday, I plugged that mostly accurate information (including word counts for each new piece created) into the spreadsheet, inserted the SUM function and presto—my word count for the entire year.

58,501. A pittance. A spit in the wind.

Now, granted, I spent seven months revising one novel, so that doesn’t get counted in the word count total (in fact for this year I added a new column—number of pages of revision or critique so the volume is more tangible.) But considering that my first novel was 50,000 words written in less than a month, you can see why 58,500 in a year was less than noteworthy.

On the other hand, it was quite a successful year all around. I came out around $50 in the black (not counting the cost of a writing conference). I sold two pieces and had two others published without payment. I sent tons more queries and contest entries than past years. And I critiqued two entire novels for friends.

This year my goal is to fill in more of the blank spaces on my spreadsheet, to write even little bits, such as this blog, on a more consistent basis. My plate this year is full of house selling and house hunting and moving, kids’ sporting events, library volunteer hours, friendships, and family. But maybe with more demands on my time, I’ll actually get more done.

At least now I have a tangible tool to hold me accountable!