May 9, 2015

Saturday, May 9

Yes, I know a few days have passed, and I have entered no updates. This is what happens when most of the time in the office is spent cleaning out drawers, closets, boxes, and files. The best I can say right now is that I can open the closet to get to supplies and/or manuscripts without being knocked unconscious. We have enough paper to compost the garden for twelve years.

And I’m not finished. Sigh.

Light a candle. Say a prayer. I’m eager to have this chore completed so I can concentrate fully on writing once more.

April 29, 2015

Wednesday, April 29

This week has been dedicated to cleaning and organizing my office. When we moved into this older, cottage style house nearly three years ago, the room I chose to be my office had a teeny, tiny closet. (How in the world was it EVER used for clothes storage?) I had deadlines to meet during that move, and after, so I shoved things into the closet until such time I had the nerve to tackle it.  At this moment, my neat little office isn’t so neat.

I’ve found so much old stuff. Old ideas jotted in old notebooks or on old scraps of paper, old short stories (some completed, some left undone for a good reason). A file folder bulging with carbon copies (yes, carbon copies) of query letters. Oh, my, I wish someone would have taught me how to write one back then. They are truly awful, but I’ll keep them to show new writers I made the same mistakes they make now. Maybe they’ll derive some comfort and hope. I have also unearthed enough writing tips to fill a book, discovered several packages of manilla envelopes, new and used file folders, and plenty of dust.

Then there are all those early book manuscripts. The ones where I was just beginning to crawl as a writer. The ones where I was finally able to walk as a writer were marginally better. By books five and six, I more or less knew what I was doing but still needed a lot of work and practice before I could even consider of entering any marathons.

I’m not finished with this cleaning/organizing task, but I know one thing for sure. Never, ever throw away book or story manuscripts. They might be old and dusty, yellowed with age, but they hold a lot of gold. Some of it can be mined. The first April Grace book, In Front of God and Everybody, proves that. It was an old book, chucked away for years.

I have a book coming out soon that was written nearly twenty years ago. It’s been polished and revised, brought up to date, but still, it’s a story salvaged from my desk drawer. Dare I say, it’s really good. I think so, anyway. I hope so.

The Best Place to Write

Ah yes! The perfect writing spot. A mountaintop overlooking rivers and valleys. Or along a rugged shoreline where the ocean spews its powerful mists. For someone else, the penthouse view in a bustling city is ideal. Perhaps you prefer the dark, mysterious quiet of the forest. Any or all of these spots is perfect for writing. In fact, when we close our eyes and imagine our ideal writing space, more than likely one of the above images come to mind.

In reality many of us write in less than ideal places, surrounded by family, pets, noise and clutter. We may write at the dining room table. Or a little corner of our bedroom. Some might have a writing nook in the basement where we never see the light of day. There are those of us who are lucky enough to have our own office, away from distractions.

I once had my own writing space: a spare bedroom which I turned into a lovely office, complete with bookshelves, a nice desk, a stereo, and a big, south-facing window. I got a tremendous amount of work done in there. Then my mother, God rest her soul, shamed me into turning that space into a bedroom for my younger daughter – who by the way, really, really did not want to sleep in it by herself and preferred sharing a room with her sister. That was 25 years ago, and I’ve never had my own writing space since.

I miss an office of my own, where no one else’s clutter-piles hide my works-in-progress, or where my computer isn’t “borrowed” for half a day, or where I can find my pens and paperclips and dictionary without a search party.

I write where I can find a place to park myself. And guess what? I’m still productive. An office isn’t absolutely necessary, though it would be lovely to have. I would get a lot more work done in my designated space, and I would probably be a more pleasant person to be around. However, I haven’t let lack of privacy, space or convenience stop me. And you shouldn’t let it stop you, either. Don’t wait for the ideal conditions before you start writing. If you do, you may never begin.