Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yikes to the Millionth Power

I was all set to write a post today about this past weekend's yard sale and the trip to the new house I made afterwards (because I found honeysuckle growing all along the back border of our property and was whooshed away by the scent like I was Proust eating a madeleine), and I wanted to head over to the Tea And Madeleines site to put in a few thoughts as I've somehow emerged from the end of Swann's Way, but - BUT...

Our move date was just changed - from one and a half weeks away to tomorrow and Thursday.

My first reaction is to go hide with Proust and my laptop somewhere no one can find me.

It's going to be a whirlwind of a week, folks. Fortunately, Neil's boss is the person selling us the house, so he automatically has been given these two days off...but I'm not sure if he can move our gigantic furniture with only my help. We're going to need to enlist recruits.

I've cleaned out a lot of the clutter we're not taking with us (and we did sell the dining room table and chairs that we wanted to leave behind), but as for the rest of it? I've packed maybe six or seven boxes.

So, yeah. Yikes.

I guess I better head off to make sure we're going to have electricity in the new place and other such necessities...hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spring Training - It's Not Just For Baseball

At the Relief Journal website, there has been an amazing forum created for writers. There are critique groups, blogging abilities, chat options....it's just getting started, but it already has a good dynamic. The forum runners are sponsoring a spring training for the Nanowrimo project, which takes place in November and challenges those participating to write 50, 000 words in one month. I've never participated in Nanowrimo, but I'm thinking that I'll be all done with the current wip and awaiting replies from agents by November, so a jump start on something new will be good. Anyway, the challenge over at Relief is to write 10, 000 words in seven days (the week of June 3rd). I'm going to participate because I feel like my wip will be done by that date and I'll need some major separation from it before going back to make it into a second (ie, better) draft. Plus, it'll be a fun goal to push towards - and knowing that there are others doing the same thing is good motivation. Writers don't often get to feel like they're a part of a team sport, and this gives a bit of that feeling.
For the first stage of this process, we were encouraged to get our writing gear together - our computer of choice, needed notebooks, pens, etc. I'm sharing here the list I put together...(it was a fun list to make, by the way. I definitely encourage all writers to examine their own routines every now and then just so they'll know what they need and have it handy. But, as so many of the great ones have said, don't use an obstructed routine as an excuse to not write. Even if it's with a napkin and a crayon at Ruby Tuesday's, sometimes you just have to do it. Just write. The list is just my own ideal conditions.)

Digital Capture -
I type all of my drafts on my trusty laptop, which has been with me for many moons. It's like a favorite pair of jeans - once you get it broken in, you hope that it lasts forever. I am, however, in the process of convincing my husband that I need one of those sweet Alphasmart devices for the ability to write anywhere and everywhere on a couple of AA batteries (it seems only fair, since he just bought a Playstation 3 :) ).

Software -
Word. Again, I like it because it's familiar. I do back things up with Google docs - even though those files can only hold so much text and I have to split larger projects, it feels safe to have an extra copy online. No matter what happens to the laptop, Google will still stand (I, um, hope.)

Analog capture -
Cheap notebooks with fun covers. I've never been able to freely write in expensive and elegant journals - I can't stop feeling that the better the covers, the more perfect (i.e., inhibited) my writing must be. I also go through a lot of notebooks, because all of my initial drafts are hand-written for the most part - I do my best rewriting as I type. Plus, it can be dangerous to tote a laptop around when there are toddlers catapulting through the air. I also have bound index cards, for random thoughts and scene ideas.

Magic Pen -
This depends on the project. I go through moods. I inserted all of my new scenes for the novel in fine-point magic marker. It just felt like it should be green. For the training session, I picked up a couple of simple ball point pens. Okay to lose, good ink flow if I manage to keep track of them. For the notebook and pens, I have a snazzy white leather purse. It's big enough for the notebook to perfectly fit into it and small enough to throw over my shoulder when I'm leaving the house.

Other things I need to gear up for a good writing session :
At some point in the process, coffee is always a good bet. I think it's more about the routine than the actual coffee itself...there's something comforting about that hot mug in my hands while I'm staring at the screen. It says to my brain - 'Start.'

When my brain slows down and I need some inspiration, I turn to the shelf I've designated for my favorite books, both novels and writing guides. I've found that reading even one chapter of a fabulous novel or a book on craft will get the flame rekindled. (I adore Natalie Goldberg's books on writing for this purpose - even though I don't agree with all of her theology, she puts a fresh spin on aspects of the craft and does it in short chapters. Some of these actually have suggested exercises at the end, which can whip writer's block out of the way.)

And, of course, there's the handy-dandy iPod. I like to use this when my kids are watching a DVD, having one of those contests where they attempt to out scream one another, or Neil is playing aforementioned Playstation 3 at top volume. I generally prefer silence, but to combat noise pollution I have playlists waiting for action.

If you feel like making a list of your own and are willing to share (I like peeking into the writing routines of others - fresh ideas can always, always improve my own process!), let me know - I'll be more than glad to provide a link from here to there.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 18, 2007

To Have and to Hold, To Let Go and Move On

How do we accumulate so much stuff? It astounds me - I've been storing things in a corner of the garage for this weekend's yard sale, taking things out of the house as I've cleaned and packed...the pile gradually grew, but it didn't seem overwhelming. Until yesterday, that is, when I actually began to spread it out and looked through all of the stuff already in the garage that I need to go through. And this is after the gigantic donation we made to the Salvation Army before Christmas.
I have to admit that this is mostly my fault. I'm a pack rat. Always have been, probably always will be (at heart, at least). This is partially an inherited thing, as my dad is the exact same way, but it might also be a result of lots of moving. Maybe clinging to my stuff was (is) a way to feel like the new place is really my home...I can take things with me, even if I can't take people or places or that swing on my Nanny's front porch...objects come to life for me because of what they represent. (Living hours away from any of my family probably doesn't help this attachment-condition I have.)
I laugh at myself because I get so emotionally attached to material things - the Book-It pins from an elementary school reading program, that pair of pajama bottoms my grandmother bought one summer, the quadrillions of Cabbage Patch dolls and stuffed animals I can't bear to part with (but that rabbit was an Easter gift! that teddy bear was from Christmas '99!)....and now it's not just my stuff. Now it's that lamp that was in Sean's room when he was a baby...that park guide from a trip with Neil...a Winnie-the-Pooh outfit that Christian looked so adorable in...ah. I know that these things are just things...and yet...I love going through a box and having each item bring up a dormant memory. I love that I still have notes from high school friends that we wrote to each other during classes and diaries dating back to second grade...
I guess the issue is that I cannot possibly keep every little memento from my life. I need to do the grown-up thing and prioritize. Sean and Christian's christening outfits? Okay to keep. A bottle of shampoo from the hotel we stayed at on our honeymoon? Not so much.
So here's a goal for this new move: lighten up!
And a goal for my life in general: remember that the people you love are close to you even if you don't see them every day or keep the candle from that birthday cake fourteen years ago....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

This and That

I've been a bit m.i.a. over the past little while...somehow, I've gotten wrapped up in my work-from-home job, the world of my novel, and house de-cluttering. So by the time I've done all of that stuff and think to myself, hey - isn't it time for a little quality world wide web time?, it's actually b - e - d time.
But here I am, and while I'm here I'll share a few of this week's thoughts...

Gilmore Girls is officially in its last season...which means next week is the series finale. Sad. Sad. Sad. I've been watching this show since it first began, and I have the fondest memories of Tuesday nights - a night that takes a witty, lovable show as an excuse to build up routines...coffee and brownies with Carrie, dancing to the theme song with the boys, mid-episode and post-episode squealing with my mom/sisters/Betsy/Carrie...I don't know. It has just been an hour to relax, guilt-free, and let someone else do the entertaining. I'll miss it.

I'm on a roll with the novel. Really getting that draft fully worked out and typed up...but I. Hate. Writing. A. Synopsis. It's particularly driving me nuts because my novel unfolds through the alternating perspectives of four characters whose stories end up intertwining. Attempting to explain this in a catchy, well-written, one page query? It's making me throw things, people. It's making me dangerous.

So Christian's latest habit has become a dangerous one. We're mid-potty training, which is just one of my least favorite parenting activities. Once it's over, I'm sure it'll be the greatest thing that ever happened, but in the meantime...I spend way way way way way waaaay too much time in the bathroom. He has started to become really uncomfortable in his pull-up if he wets it just a teensy bit - which I know is a good thing, but the instant it happens he just rips it off. Which means at random times of the day, a naked two year old will run by me. He thinks it hilarious, of course, to conduct high speed naked chases through the house. My biggest problem with all of this is that when you have a spontaneously naked kid, there are inevitable naked sort of accidents. I'm sure you understand.

And Sean? He has recently discovered a liking for water guns. My husband has recently discovered a liking for filling those guns for water and laughing while our three year old stages sniper attacks (on me. of course.). Best moment of the month? Stealing one of the said water guns and squirting Neil right in the face. Hee!

The biggest news is this: the Lamberts are relocating. Yes, that's right. We have bought a new house and are moving...um, down the street. Literally. So a lot of the house de-clutter has been pre-packing prep. A yard sale looms in the near future. I'm extremely excited and thankful for this new blessing...I feel like we have plenty of room in this house to grow and spread out...so it's a happy happy God-thing. But, as moving always is, it's also a bit overwhelming and difficult to manage with Neil at work 12 hours a day and the boys eagerly unpacking whatever I pack ('cause that's a fun game, you know). But....new house. Yay!

That's going to be it for now, specifically because Christian just crawled into my lap and fell asleep, so I'm typing one-handed. Goodnight, moon!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dropping the Blogging Ball

I've sort of lapsed in the update department...life in its general messiness has interfered with the usual schedule, but things should be getting back to normal around here soon. The rebound begins tomorrow...and hopefully, there will still be people around to witness it.