Archive for August, 2014

Finding the Time to Write

Underwood

Have you ever told someone about a project or hobby you’re working on only to have them reply that they wish they had time for something like that?  As a budding writer trying to learn my way around freelancing, I do a lot of things on my own time, in other words, not during “real work” hours.  I might get up extra early, stay up a little later than I would like, or even have the occasional middle of the night break-through that rousts me from bed, but I find these stolen moments.

I have done exercises with people who claim they’re too busy for things that they’d really like to do.  I start by writing “168” at the top of the page.  That is how many hours all of us have in a week.  Subtract out a good 56 hours for sleeping and 50 hours for working and commuting, give or take, and you still have over sixty hours a week to do with what you please.

This is over-simplified of course, but it’s meant to show you how to find time to write, read, or whatever it is you like to do.  It helps to take a calendar and actually block out your obligations.  Once you have what you need to do mapped out, you’ll find little pockets or blocks of time. You don’t need to deprive yourself of exercise, socializing, or leisure, just schedule them in your calendar.  This can also be a real eye-opener since most people do not realize how much time they spend in front of the TV.

November brings National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo to those of us crazy enough to compete.  This challenge has people writing a book of at least 50,000 words in 30 days.  I met this challenge in 2012 but didn’t commit last year.  I have been pondering whether or not I can do it this year with a new job, and a move to a new house in a new city.  But I really want to.  I mean really want it.  So this year, armed with a calendar and small blocks of time, I will try to hammer out a couple thousand words a day.  I will start out with a solid outline, adequately developed character backgrounds, and a well-stocked treat drawer.  Because if you have the time, and the right treats, the rest somehow falls into place.

 

On Being a Writer

As a writer, every now and then you have to take a leap.  When someone asks you to write something, and then you do, it is like being a kid again.  You post it.  You wait, hoping someone is reading it.  And then, with breath held as you stare at the screen, you watch for a like.  You think, “Oh please, at least one.”  And you’re hoping the critiques aren’t too harsh.  “Maybe no one will be interested in that topic.  Oh, why did I publish that?”

And then it happens; a like, and another, and another.  You’re elated.  People like me!  People think I have valid things to say!  Someone out there actually wants me to write to them about what I know!  Okay, this may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but still fairly accurate.  Being a writer means pouring out something that you hope someone will want to read.  It’s a big leap of faith.  Every time.

I think the hardest things to write are the pieces you’re paid to write on topics with which you’re unfamiliar.  There’s always that voice in the back of your head, you know the one, telling you that other people who really know this topic will hate what you’ve written.  It is stressful, but you just need to do your research and trust your gut.

As writers, we spend most of our time “in our heads” having private conversations about whatever task is currently taking up residence.  Or mulling over a scene we just wrote, or are struggling to write.  This can be very difficult for other people to understand.  They find us odd as we mumble to ourselves about conversations no one else can hear.  I guess you’ll just have to be patient with us until the conversation hits the paper.  And please, don’t let the critiques be too harsh.

The Best Vacation in Minnesota

cozy tent

Nestled deep into the trees on the Minnesota/Canada border, this is where we spent our vacation last week.  After you’ve been in the hotel business for a few decades, this is the place to go to get away from it all.  No phones, no technology, and only the people you want to bring with you.  Yep, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is just about heaven.

Corissa Fishing

We spend most of our days (and some nights) fishing for walleye. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much good luck catching as we do up there.  At one point in the canoe with the Hub and the Caboose, we caught four fish in less than two minutes.  It was crazy and we loved it.  There is nothing better than fresh fish right out of the lake and into the pan.  My mouth is watering just remembering it!

Tea and GrishamI take a day or two the week before to cook and freeze our other meals.  This helps to keep the jugs of ice and cases of frozen water bottles cold.  It also makes it easier to cook up there, and I’m all about relaxing, not cooking, when I’m on vacation.  Since I’m the first one up, I even get quiet time with my vanilla chai tea and a little Grisham.  I realize we’re roughing it, but a girl needs a little pampering.

The ClotheslineThe campsite we were at this year was great for swimming.  This worked out splendidly since it was very hot and we needed to cool off at least once a day.  We string the clothesline up between trees and dry our suits and towels.  The kids did a lot of diving but the Hub and I did a lot more lazing in the water.  Circle of life, I guess.

HammockAnd if the slow pace takes its toll, you just hop in the hammock and watch the clouds go by.  Or watch your eyelids, it really is a great place to nap.

Basswood SunsetIt might seem like a lot of work, but when you see sunsets like this every night after supper, it makes it all worth it.  The BWCAW…over a million acres of paradise.

 

Girls can be Gearheads, too!

Girl Gearhead

Now that the Caboose has bought her very own vehicle, she’s getting a first hand taste of the reality of ownership.  Last week she and the Hub had to work on something to do with brakes…or calipers…I don’t know, I’m definitely not mechanical.  Usually when something breaks down I think about what Andy Griffith suggested to Aunt Bea, “Call The Man.”

But apparently the Caboose is following in a long line of gearheads.  Last fall she helped change the brakes on Big Frieda, our F150.  She is just an itty bitty thing, so she had some difficulty manuevering the tires.  In her defense, they are huge, but she stuck it out like a trooper.  Naturally when she started having issues with her first ever vehicle, the team of Hub/Caboose rode again.  They jumped into action, made numerous trips to the auto parts store, and rescued Vincent the Jeep from sticking calipers and smoking brakes.  Or something of that nature.

I think it’s great that she’s got an aptitude for mechanics.  She already owns (and reads!) mechanics’ manuals.  And as mama, it makes me smile to see them working together on our vehicles.  It’s also wonderful to know that if/when she has to take a vehicle into a shop, she won’t be at the mercy of an unscrupulous mechanic who may try to buffalo her into something she doesn’t need.  I sometimes wish I had her car smarts.  But let’s be honest, if the Hub’s not here, I’m just callin’ The Man.

Help, I’m Moving!

 

Moving.  That one word can strike fear or create excitement in just about anyone.  I mean, when you think about it, it’s a pretty big deal.  You’re taking everything you own, trusting it to a well-meaning moving guy or loyal friend, loading it up, and transporting it by less-than-smooth-riding truck.  Then you unload it and trust those same people to gently put it in a new place.  No wonder moving is one of the most stressful life events.  Who has that kind of trust?

We are getting down to the end of our year of small-town squatting.  It has been wonderful and we made so many awesome friends.  But now the future is knocking at the door of the rental house.  The real estate website has become the king of my browser history and I wander around mumbling about square footage and commute times.  Ah yes, reality is setting in.

On the one hand I am excited to get into our own house and have painted walls.  I am not a colorless-house person.  I kind of feel like I live in a hospital; all white walls and light tan carpet.  Meh.  I can’t wait to pick out colors, change what I want, and for Pete’s sake, hang stuff on my walls.  Right now the only thing bringing color to this room is my crazy long Pothos plant, Vivian.  She’s climbing all over my living room wall courtesy of some “invisible” hooks.  Thanks, 3M. 

On the other hand, I am nervous that the list of houses I’ve assembled will be filled with garbage.  What if they’re junky and just had good photos taken?  What if the house’s “bones” are bad and they did just enough cosmetic work to hide the structural flaws?  What if it’s a great house but in a terrible neighborhood?  How can you know that before you commit?  It’s that kind of stuff that keeps a girl up at night.

I guess it’s kinda a leap of faith.  I’ve spent days (seriously, days) on realtor.com, looking at the proximity to the Hub’s office, the Caboose’s potential schools and ski hills, and where I’d like to live and work.  I’ve narrowed down the communities, made a comprehensive list…and then made another list, and come up with some houses to present to the family for discussion.  I’m sure there’ll be a nice sunny window for Vivian and her siblings, Trey, Silas, Roger, Lily, and Geri.  Now, if I can just find a mover that I can trust with my 120 year-old piano.