Month: October 2017

Writing a Quilt

I’ve been hanging out in the NaNoWriMo starting gate for about a week now, and the starting gun will go off in 3 days, on November 1. So it’s time to stop hanging out and get poised for a good break from the gate.

I’ve been mulling over how to approach this project, and now it’s time to stop mulling and get a plan in place. The novel I’m going to write has been in my head a long time. I have an outline. I have 3 chapters completed, for a total of about 3,000 words that will not count toward the 50,000 challenge. So now what? Do I just proceed in an orderly, linear fashion and start chapter 4, then chapter 5, and so forth?

While I do have an outline and know where this story is going (at least where it’s going right now), I also have a lot of subplots, peripheral characters, locations, that have popped into my head and may or may not be part of the finished product. It reminds me of putting together a patchwork quilt. A patchwork quilt is made up of a lot of individual squares, each put together separately, and then assembled into a finished quilt that, hopefully, will be pleasing to the eye.

It has occurred me that one approach to this project is to think of all those chapters, subplots, peripheral characters, etc., as individual squares, and my project for November could be to design those squares and baste them together (basting, for the non-sewing reader, is to temporarily stitch something together, so the stitching is easy to remove later if need be). Get them down on the page, whether or not I know how they will fit into the finished product. But get them out of my head and onto the page!

Then, at the end, it will be time to take those individual ‘squares’ and start laying them all out to see if there is a finished product in there somewhere. I anticipate that I will be changing the layout of some of the squares so they fit better into the finished product. Maybe the finished product won’t be what I think it will be. And maybe some of those squares just won’t fit into this quilt, but could be the start of an entirely different quilt later.

So that’s the plan. At least, that’s the plan at this moment. There are 3 days to go, so the plan could change! But it’s always good to have a direction in mind at the start of any journey.

NaNoWriMo–Now I Know What It Means

There is nothing like a massive wildfire in your county that killed many and displaced thousands more, many of whom you know, to make you take stock of your life. All those things that you plan to get around to someday take on new importance. If you aren’t going to do them now, when are you planning to get around to them?

Take writing, for example. This is my “writer’s blog”. That’s in quotes because, in reality, I rarely write. I’m running a business, maintaining property, caring for horses and cats. I have a life, damn it. I love to write but it seems like a frivolous luxury compared to the other things that need to be done.

Truth be told, though, I do have time to write. But every time I think about it, I get the disheartening feeling that nobody really wants to read what I would be writing. I don’t tend to delve into the deep, dark thoughts. I’ve had a shocking lack of angst and torment in my life, so there is very little fodder for an earth-shattering exposé, or words of wisdom that might help someone through their darkest hour. My non-fiction writing has leaned toward human interest, and my fiction writing toward light romance.

But people do write about this stuff, many of them quite successfully. So I really need to get something down. I’ve heard success defined as a series of small, daily actions and decisions that move you in the right direction, one foot in front of the other.

You need to pay attention to what shows up. A friend who knows of my writer-ly ambitions mentioned that someone she knows is a member of our local writer’s group. Yeah, but, I don’t really write anything… Nevertheless, I looked them up online. Wouldn’t you know it, they meet on Sundays. I go riding on Sundays with a friend. So that’s out. Now wait a minute, is it really? I don’t go riding EVERY Sunday. I don’t need to attend every meeting. I could just join the group and see what happens. Upon further browsing of the website, I stumbled on their October newsletter, which had an article on NaNoWriMo. I keep getting emails about this from Writer’s Digest and have been scratching my head about it but haven’t bothered to find out what the heck it is.

Now I have looked it up, and it is National Novel Writing Month. This is a non-profit group that sponsors a project that takes place every November, where writers are challenged to write a novel in a month. You can’t start before November 1, and you should have written 50,000 words by the end of the month. Now that is ambitious—1,667 words a day, and I have probably averaged less than 5 words a day (that would be zero words a day if you are looking at my actual novel writing efforts). But I have signed up. And with this blog post, I have formally announced my intentions to the world (or at least to the maybe 3 people who will actually read this). So with the words of Yoda in my head (“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”) I enter the starting gate, where I will hang out for the next 10 days. Then on November 1, the starting gun will go off, and the race will be on. Wish me luck!

Coffey Park Memories

Coffey Park Brochure

The wildfire storm that is currently devastating our county and neighboring counties is affecting all residents in varying ways. I know people who have lost their homes and are grateful to be with family and friends. Some are dealing with it by relentlessly helping others. I have, blessedly, not been directly impacted. My home and animals are safe. I haven’t even lost power. Briefly, I was hit with “Survivor Syndrome” (“why everyone else and not me?”) but decided instead to be grateful for my incredible good luck and my ability to, hopefully, help those not as fortunate.

My biggest impact has been that the home I bought after my divorce, my big move toward independence, was leveled during the firestorm. No, I don’t live there any more. Someone else’s live was disrupted by this event, and my heart goes out to them and to everyone else in the same situation. But still, that home was a big deal to me, and the loss still hurts.

I got divorced in 1987, and the big bright spot was that I got to buy my home, my way. I shopped around a lot for older homes, but it was a seller’s market that year, and the cute little “charmers” I found were quickly snapped up by higher bidders. Reluctantly, I dropped in to view the model homes at a new development, “Coffey Park”, and was surprised to find myself won over by the compact and workable floor plan of the smallest model, the “Annadel”, 1250 square feet of livability. (Notably, I had forgotten the name of the model until I just now found the brochure). With HSA financing, I was able to afford it ($106,000, a huge stretch!). In July of 1987, I moved in. I was on the far north end of the development, only about 5 or 6 houses on Dennis Lane, our backs to the rest of the subdivision. I think I was the first on the street to move in, followed quickly by the families on either side of my house. Everyone moved in at the same time, so there were no “newcomers” and it was like settling a new frontier. We all got to know and like each other. Bev, also recently divorced, moved in with her daughter, and we did some traveling. We saw the elephant seals at Año Nuevo, Hearst Castle and Italy together.

After 6 years or so, my feet got itchy. I was doing a lot of hiking at Annadel State Park and had also bought a little sailboat that I sailed at Spring Lake, which adjoins Annadel. I liked the east side of town by those parks, and finally decided to make the move to be closer to the recreation sites.  I moved me and my sailboat (and by then, my new family members, kitty Smudge and Cocker Spaniels Byron, Sofie and Bart), to a 1975 ranch house on Fernglen Drive, just off Parktrail Drive.

Eventually, I sold that house, too, and moved to country property where I could keep horses, and that’s where I am now. I often thought that, had I stayed on Dennis Lane, I would have paid off that house and been living carefree. Until a couple days ago, when the firestorm hit, and it seems that, instead, I would have had to evacuate quickly in the middle of the night and lost everything. That’s what happened to Bev and so many others. Life is a series of chances. Who would think that a subdivision in town would be more at risk than country property?

The fires are still raging. Ironically, homes from Parktrail south are under evacuation as Annadel State Park (now Trione-Annadel State Park) is at risk. The home I bought on Fernglen is just north of the evacuation zone (maybe 500 feet north).

Yes, I was incredibly lucky. No, I don’t own that house any more. But that house was the first home I owned on my own, my claim to independence. I decorated it, I had Thanksgiving dinners there. My Cocker Spaniel, Sofie, had puppies there. I had a little Tupperware-bagging business there in my garage to bring in a little spare cash. So, while I can’t compare it to the loss suffered by those who lost the homes they were currently living in, there is still a little part of my history that has been dashed.

Here are some of my memories, between 1987 and 1993

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