#126–Home is my writer’s retreat . . .

As a writer, I’m very fortunate. My home is my writing retreat, and I have the time to write. Many writers have to use the kitchen table or a very cramped space in a room meant for another purpose. And they have to write very early––before the kids get up––or very late––after everyone has gone to bed. Or squeeze it in an hour here or there.

I live in a quiet area a few miles from town on a road with little traffic and neighbors spaced far enough apart that we are not in each other’s space. I’ve lived in apartments and townhouses in town. And this is the best place I’ve ever lived for writing. It’s the kind of place writers go to for a writing retreat.

And since I retired from being a magazine editor, I’ve had the time to write. But sometimes between the marketing of existing books and writing new books, I get crazy busy. This year I promised myself, my mom, and all of you in a previous blog that I would try for “a less busy” year. This last week was about as perfect as it could get from my point of view. It was not too busy, and I got a lot done.

First of all, you have to realize that I’m a Type A who likes to cross off accomplishments on a daily list and one who likes to work out in the yard when the weather is cooperative.

Each day this past week, I did not have to be anywhere. I got up early––cause I wanted to, not cause I had to. After breakfast and some daily exercise (the daily part is new this year), I spent the morning on my new animal book. Then after lunch, I worked in the yard. The weather was cool but sunny and not too windy. Actually, one day, it was too windy to work in the yard. So I used the time to get groceries and run errands in town.

Shasta Daisies in summer.

Shasta Daisies in summer.

I was able to make some headway in the yard. Only one other time in the 28 years I’ve lived here have I let it go so badly. That was 1997 when I was working full time and was caregiver to my husband on chemo. This time, nearly all yard work was put on hold the entire time I worked on the Florence book and until after I returned from my Christmas trip three weeks ago––from July through December.

Shastas in winter––half pruned. Notice new green plants just getting started.

Shastas in winter––half pruned. Notice new green plants just getting started.

It’s bad. The tomato plants are coated with gray mold or mildew in the greenhouse and the bush beans and pole beans as well as the Shasta daisies, nasturtiums, dahlias, and yarrow have died back, and the dead growth is waiting to be cut off or pulled out. The barberry, rugosa roses, Russian sage, and ivy all need pruning. And the flowerbed at the end of the driveway has weeds taking over.

I’ve kept the main areas in front under the trees raked where the rhodies are and small branches fall every time it’s windy, and I’ve kept the driveway swept and the drain in front of the garages cleaned out. All the other flower beds and all gravel areas need weeding. And a few of my railroad ties that I put in more than 25 years ago are starting to go bad and need to be replaced.

I did get all the dead plants pulled out and the pruning done this past week. And if the weather holds, I’ll get more done this afternoon and this coming week.

This photo looks just like Pepper, the English setter that I write about.

This photo looks just like Pepper, the English setter that I write about.

But what I’m most pleased about is the progress on the animal book. I played around with titles and the working title for the moment is Unlikely Pets: Rescue animals that come with baggage.  I went online and researched dog breeds––English setter and Standard Poodle––and bobcats. I also found some photos online that I may be able to use for the stories that I no longer have photos for.

This is the wrong coloring, but the right pose. Pepper looked like this when he was not running.

This is the wrong coloring, but the right pose. Pepper looked like this when he was not running.

I finished going through the stories for a fine-tuning. Then I wrote the introduction to the book and the back-story and background on the breed info that will precede the first three rescue animal’s stories. And I went through those three animal rescue stories another time. The word count at the moment is 8, 650.

This bobcat looks a lot like the cat in my story of Devil Cat.

This bobcat looks a lot like the cat in my story of Devil Cat.

As I got into the project, I discovered aspects of it that I didn’t anticipate. Decisions that I made one day, I changed the next. And in the middle of one night, I figured out a way to make things work and got up and spent some time at the computer. It’s all part of putting a book together. You can never anticipate everything.

Asa my Standard Poodle had a reputation as "too much trouble" before we got him.

Asa, my Standard Poodle, had a reputation as “too much trouble” before we got him.

With this book, I’m literally putting it together, since the main sections are already written. I’m writing only the connecting stuff. With only two more stories to go, I may get it mostly done this next week. I’ll do more fine-tuning for the next few weeks, and I’ll meet with the illustrator. I want to figure out just how many illustrations, I want and what I want them to portray before we meet. I also have to decide on whether I want an illustration or a photo on the cover. Decisions, decisions!

Jetson was truly an amazing cat.

Jetson was truly an amazing cat.

This week was not the norm; it was atypical because the weather was cooperative just when I had nothing scheduled all week. This may not happen again for months

Next week is more typical. My schedule is full on Monday (two appointments and one luncheon), one appointment each on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday I should make calls to Eugene and then go to Eugene on Friday to market my bridge books and get out info on the Florence book. And the rain is expected to return.

But I should still be able to fit in the two last stories in the book and get some more yard work done. Wish me luck!

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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