Backing Up and Moving Ahead

“You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can’t, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don’t give up.”
–Chuck Yeager

 

Another Monday, another blog entry. Not feeling it today, but discipline and practice are both important, and I find that putting order to chaos satisfies me, so here I am. Morning spent doing housework with help of Housemate. This often consists of her sitting there and letting me chatter at her, as it was today, with me sitting cross-legged on the floor, the box fan in front of me, as I took apart the covers both front and back and cleaned that sucker with grapefruit-scented all purpose cleaner and paper towels. Odds are we aren’t going to be needing that fan for a while, as furnace keeps us toasty warm, and it is January, after all. So, into the newly reorganized closet for our biggest fan. I promise I only do this to mechanical fans, not readers. No reverse Misery-ing here, and, besides, readers are good to have around during all seasons.

The great Christmas ornament harvest of 2016 went well this morning. Good crop, and we hope for an even better return next year. As much as I love the whole process of decorating for Christmas, and will inspect the placement of garland and ornaments (the fact that we use a pre-lit tree is probably best for all involved, lest I get nitpicky about light placement as well; I have in the past.) taking things down is a much quicker and more ruthless process. Down come the lights, coiled, tied, boxed. I pluck ornaments from the tree like ripened fruit, in a matter of seconds. It’s all over in a handful of minutes. This year’s crop is planted in the storage boxes, labeled, and can now germinate for next year. Maybe next year will be the year I finally go for a second tree, which would have black and white ornaments only. Supplemental tree, not replacing the traditional one; I have to have my tradition.

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When I’m at a loss for what to blog about, my guiding phrases of “clean sweep” and “more layers” push me in the right direction. Taking down the Christmas décor and making better use of the closet space fits both of those criteria, as does yesterday’s library trip. Yesterday was a tough day, tired, emotionally drained and frazzled at the same time, and I strode through the library doors with one specific purpose in mind. I was going to grab an armful of romance novels.

I’ve written, recently, about how it’s been difficult for me to read a lot of more newly produced work (part of this, I am certain, is due to my reluctance to jump into the middle of a series of linked books; have to start at the beginning, for me, and there are a lot of series.) This time, I knew what I needed; romance. Historical romance. That’s my reading and my writing home. No matter what happens between Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After, I know I am going to get that Happily Ever After, so pretty much anything is fair game in between those points. I did end up plucking a current release from the shelves, Cold-Hearted Rake, by Lisa Kleypas, which I started reading as soon as I got home.

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That’s the whole haul, for those who were curious. I’d gone with a vague hope I might find one of the Russian-related historicals on my list (and did, with Forever in Your Embrace) and fingers crossed for a Georgian (but not Regency) setting (When You Wish Upon a Duke delivers on that front) but, apart from that, nothing more specific than wanting a good grounding in my favorite genre. Carla Kelly always delivers on the emotional impact, so that was enough to put the book in my hand, and it had been a while since I’d read a good time travel, so The Last Cavalier fit that bill. If I could hit the snooze button on the calendar so I could snuggle beneath my fuzzy duck blankey and read them all, with endless cups of tea at hand, I think, at this point, I would.

Life, unfortunately, doesn’t work that way, but I can make sure I get some pages read every day, the same way I make time for my morning pages and have to at least touch one of the current fiction projects every day. As K.A. Mitchell, whose wonderful workshop on character relations this past Saturday gave me even more layers to slather on Her Last First Kiss, has said, open the file and change your seat. I have to open the file, or open the notebook. When I do, well, it’s right there. I have a pen in my hand, or the keyboard is right there, too (usually both, in most cases; that’s how my brain works best) and who would it hurt if I took a poke or two at things, hm?

Thanks to a talk with a new writing friend, who listened to me whinge about how hard it’s been to find where I should (note that should, there) including roundabout analogies and a diagram drawn on a napkin with rollerball ink, I am getting the chance to do both the clean sweep and more layers things at one with Her Last First Kiss. What, she asked, was the moment that changed my heroine’s life forever? What permanently took her off the path she always thought she was going to walk in life? Huh. Well. Had to think about that one, and then the answer came out all on its own. When her father left.

Sure, she was seven then, and I didn’t want to start that far back, but darned if the whole scene didn’t play itself out on my walk back home from that meeting. I sat down at my secretary desk, with notebook and fountain pen, and out flowed the whole thing. I didn’t have to yank any teeth. Didn’t have to force anything. Huh. I…remember how to do that. Don’t write a book. Tell the story. Remember back when I didn’t know all the rules, but blithely wrote down the movie in my head? Yeah, that.

Clean sweep. More layers. Easy enough when I don’t think about it.

 

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