Little has changed since my last post. Caregiving continues. The Day Job sputters. But I now rise at 2am—allowing myself three hours to work on my eternal novel project undisturbed. Or, mostly undisturbed. There’s always the cat.
I know it sounds crazy but that part of every day is mine. I plot out my schedule so I can be in bed early and not sabotage the tea and solitude with sleep. Every other hour I am running from task to task trying to keep loved ones fed, medicated, transported and comfortable.
It’s a strange role for me. I’ve never had kids so being responsible for others at this level is terrifying at times. And this path takes only one direction—from heartache to heartache.
But you have to find a place where you can set it all aside and still be you—if only just clinging to one tiny thread. If you can’t or don’t, you’ll diminish to the point of disappearing. And no longer be the fighter that your loved ones depend on.
The paying gig has been slow this quarter but family needs have taken up all slack. As a result, my big goal for completing a second draft of my novel by the end of June is pretty much DOA. This week I am finishing up some unpleasant tasks (read: 2018 taxes) and other odds and ends with a view to getting back to The Book by next Monday.
In the meantime, I have been toying with flash memoir to hone my writing skills. As long as I am slogging through the construction phases of my Main Project, I don’t get the chance to put much practice into word crafting. I hope that by drilling down on these very short pieces, I will be more prepared when my longer works are ready for the final polishing.
I’ve written more about this on my writing blog here.
My first two flash memoir items are here and here.
Mr. Grackle in snow – Picture by: Lausanne Davis Carpenter
The best remedy for surviving a twelve-hour day in cubicle-land is to spend my early mornings on my own goals. I have posted on LDavisCarpenter about the challenges of writing historical fiction and am starting a Flash Memoir side-project while chipping away at my novel.
I am reasonably confident in my non-fiction abilities but creative writing is – whew. I know how long it takes to develop any new skill so I want to use my life experiences as material for word-crafting practice – before I am faced with final edits of my long fiction. Flash Memoir seems like a good choice for distilling memories into words that transport a reader to another’s time, place, thoughts and senses. I also think it will be fun to capture snippets of my own crazy life in this form.
Meanwhile, you can see last summer’s mural on the Marsh Hawk Studio blog. I still plan to do a process post showing the steps to creating it but those pictures are on my other laptop which an Office update recently corrupted and can no longer access the internet. (Yes, thank you very much.) I will soon update the Long Ago & Far Away blog with notes on Conn Iggulden’s Genghis Khan series.
If I can ever get my blogs up to date AND have a day off – I’ll be back to writing my novel.
***About Mr. Grackle – just a fellow at my feeder on a snowy morning back in VA. Those eyes look like I feel most mornings before tea.
There’s a certain martyr’s pride we risk when forcing ourselves out of bed in the wee hours to get our writing done.
I’m back to the Day Job – the traffic, the hours (the paycheck! old friends! new friends!) Thankfully, this time I have a shorter commute which is allowing me to find a few minutes in the morning to think about writing. So far I’ve managed to read some research material and scribble a couple of posts on my writing blog.
I could get up even earlier but, working six or seven long days every week, less sleep would reduce my ability to help the people who depend on me at the office. They depend on me for training in order to stay in their assignments as long as possible. But, my sense of responsibility goes beyond their urgent questions. My employer depends on me to keep our people in their roles because that’s the core of our business. Our client depends on our people to serve their customers well, in support of their brand. Those customers depend on our people to be professional and accurate during their time of need and sometimes great stress. And, my people have others in their lives depending on them to bring home a paycheck.
Six months delayed. Cost overruns. Losing buckets of $$$$$ because I quit my day gig too soon. The house was supposed to be ready early March – originally December, but I knew that was laughable – so I stopped working at the beginning of January in order to help my parents pack, move and settle in.
Is the end in sight?
The insulation isn’t even in yet, much less drywall and fixtures. My husband and I will have to DIY the flooring, cabinets and painting to save money.
The good news is: the wait has allowed me to write. Writing is portable while I’m trying to be in two places at once.
Meanwhile, I’m having serious cravings to paint – particularly with encaustic/wax processes. But painting isn’t very portable (not the way I paint anyway, and especially not with the encaustic set-up). So, I write.
Is there any wonder I’d rather just sit here and read?
Summer is officially over if you consider Memorial Day and Labor Day the boundaries – rather than looking to celestial events. Neither work here in Florida – it feels very much like summer from April through October.
As for what I did: two months of Day Job in hot, dry Colorado. Then one month in hot, humid Tidewater, Virginia troubleshooting various challenges for my parents. I have now been back in my own home for three weeks.YAY! The laundry and housework are caught up, the new storage barn’s rafter tails are primed (note the evidence of oil primer in my hair) and tomorrow morning I start another round of Day Job.
This next assignment is a new role for which I am very thankful. The hours will be brutal, as always. However, I was able to complete a lot of research this summer so I hope to scrounge some minutes before work to convert story ideas in my head to scenes on digital paper.
I missed cross-posting a prior blog entry from Long Ago & Far Away to here so that will follow.
I was so exhausted by Penman’s Plantagenets that I searched for something in my To Be Read Pile that would be light and fun. So, of course, I settled on Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies.
Really, I did. My other options were to start this or that series and I didn’t want to embark on another long-term commitment. Bring Up the Bodies was at hand, not nearly as massive as the three Penman tomes I’d finally completed and it is the 2nd in a trilogy I’d already started. So it took priority over starting something else.
The good news – I zipped through it in less than a week. It was strange reading more Henry stuff but this is No. 8, rather than No. 2. My brain wanted to merge them together for a while but I finally left the Plantagenets behind and caught up with the Tudors.
The first book in the series, Wolf Hall, started off as a difficult read. Mantel has chosen an unusual point of view – 3rd person present tense – all from the head of Thomas Cromwell. It took me about one hundred pages to get the POV and voice to sink up with my brain – sort of like trying to read Shakespeare after many years away from it. Once I found the right groove my only problem was the occasional confusing pronoun reference. Mantel’s writing is so immediate and nearly stream of conscious that it was easy to lose track of the “he” references in Wolf Hall.
Delving back into Thomas Cromwell’s head in Bring Up the Bodies was a synch. And I was thrilled to see that Mantel had found a device to solve the pronoun reference problem without tampering with her distinctive voice. In a given paragraph, if there is a risk of the “he” pronoun reference being unclear, she now writes, “he, Cromwell, blah, blah, blah”. Like the rest of the book, it is unusual but it works.
As to the story – Oh, my. Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell is a disturbing enigma but how else do you explain the contradictions present in this singular human being? I flew through the book even already knowing the historical outcome.