Oh my fog!

Paula’s Post #11 — So if you haven’t figured it out by now, we 5writers have a handy-dandy little protocol for determining what day of the week to post to our blog.

We take turns.

Originally, we discussed having a more informal process, (rotating the days of the week for example), but let’s face it, we all have enough pressure right now. We don’t need the extra stress of trying to figure out whether it is our ‘blog day’ or not.

Invariably, my blog day is Tuesday.

Invariably, my blog day falls the day after Silk’s post.

Invariably, we seem to have something similar to write about!

Why is that?

Anyway, back to the post protocol and the familiar deja-vu-all-over-again feeling when I invariably follow Silk, we are once again rolling out ‘variations on a theme’.  To wit, the joys of travel on the busiest days of year; the challenges of writing on the road; the fear of things lost, physical or ephemeral.

I, too, sallied forth this past American Thanksgiving Weekend, leaving last Wednesday afternoon for a short hop, skip and a jump flight up from Palm Springs to San Francisco, accompanied by my lovely husband to attend the Canadian Bar Association Conference

Who planned this shindig, anyway?

All proceeded smoothly. We boarded the plane and discovered we had seats in the same row, across the aisle from one another. I knew this would work out well, because:

I WAS GOING TO WRITE!

I felt smug as we readied for take off. After all, some of my most prolific writing sessions were inspired by airports or had taken place on airplanes!

A tingle of excitement ran through me as I pictured pulling out my laptop the moment the ‘fasten your seat belts’ sign was extinguished. I’d somehow ended up with an entire row to myself.

But not for long.

A flight attendant tapped my elbow and said, “I’m just going to move someone up.”

Inward groan.

I pictured some harried mother with colicky twins, but no! A very handsome man appeared with an oversized dog carrier. His puppy, it seemed, did not fit under the seat and rather than kicking him off the plane (trust me, you wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything of the kind either) the flight attendant found space for him in my row. And then we started chatting. And chatting. And chatting…

Before I knew it the flight was over!

My husband had just collected our bags when he turned to me with an odd look on his face and announced. “I think I just left my iPad on the plane.”

The plane that was continuing on to Seattle!

Keep calm and carry on. We knew backtracking would be futile. Instead, we lined up for a cab and headed for our conference hotel, The Grand Hyatt Union Square, which, if not dazzling, at least is newly renovated in a city-chic kind of way with an excellent location on Union Square, the heart of San Francisco’s shopping mecca.

As soon as we hit the room I pulled out my laptop and plugged it in so the battery would be running at full capacity. Tomorrow morning, Thanksgiving Day,

I WAS GOING TO WRITE!

But when we woke up my laptop, inexplicably, needed charging. I figured I must have plugged it into an outlet that didn’t work once the lights were turned out.

So off we trekked for a Cable Car ride to Fisherman’s Wharf. But with glorious weather and holiday crowds out in droves, everything took longer than planned. Before I knew it, we’d arrived back at the hotel with just a few minutes to spare before we were due at the restaurant where I’d made our Thanksgiving Dinner reservations.

We strolled though the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel and met ‘Gentleman Norman”, the cutest little dog you’ve ever seen (next to mine of course) who has about ten times as many Facebook followers as the 5writers and is also a ‘published author’.

By the time we returned to our hotel, I wanted to write. I needed to write. But remember, my poor husband had left his iPad on the plane. He had no way of watching Netflix. Unless, of course, I lent him my laptop.

I relented.

I knew he would fall asleep in minutes anyway, tryptophan always does the trick.

But, but but…. he didn’t fall asleep. He’s hooked on The Borgias you see and was almost at the end of an episode when he turned to me and said those fateful words:

“Hey, your battery is almost dead.”

Impossible!

I’d plugged it in myself. I checked and the power cord was connected to an outlet at one end, my laptop at the other. But the little charging light wasn’t twinkling. So I tried another outlet, and another and another as the battery indicator dipped from 7% to 5% to 3%…

And then I shut it off, fearing my laptop was truly #&%%+@#? (And no, ‘truly’ in this case, is most definitely not an overused adverb).

I hoped it was only the battery, but I didn’t know for sure. What I did know was that I’d violated the Cardinal Sin of writing, I’d failed to back up my work since we’d left Canada, a few weeks earlier.

Gulp. 

The flagship San Francisco Apple store was located just a few blocks away. A store that would open at 6:00 am on Black Friday and be mobbed with shoppers all day.

Swell!

You can tell your husband really really loves you when he agrees to get up at 5am and accompany you (aka be your bodyguard) for an early morning  trek through the darkened streets of San Francisco. If you doubt, just read Silk’s post from yesterday, wherein she describes her husband pounding out an extra round trip from the Canadian border back dow to Eugene, then back up again, all to retrieve Silk’s forgotten laptop.

But perhaps my husband had an ulterior motive?

We emerged from the apple store an hour later, happy smiles on our faces. A new power cord for me, a shiny new iPad for my husband.

NOW, I WAS GOING TO WRITE!

Except it was time for the conference to start. And then it was time to go to dinner with old friends that now live in the Bahamas. And then it was time for the conference to start again. And then it was time for dinner with my husband’s partner and his wife. And then it was time for the conference to start again. And then it was the last afternoon and my husband was leaving for Canada the next day and I was not.

SO I WAS NOT GOING TO WRITE!

I was going to take the ferry to Sausalito and watch the fog roll in under the Golden Gate Bridge and cloak the city in a snowy white ermine robe. I was going to eat a great deal of pasta and gelato for dinner and get up early and head out to the airport with my husband whose flight was at 10:10 even though my flight wasn’t until 3:30.

BECAUSE NOW I HAD TO WRITE!

And I did.

The airport was fogged in and my flight was delayed. Then we had what was described as ‘mechanical difficulties’, an ominous sounding phrase, but in this case turned out to mean only that one of the lavatories wasn’t working. Whatever, tack on another hour-long delay.

So I wrote some more.

Finally we took off. And though the plane was full, I had a whole row to myself. So I wrote.

I arrived back in Palm Springs 4 hours later than scheduled, but after a pretty much wasted 5 days, I redeemed myself today. All I can say is:

Thank God for the Fog!

Pies Eaten This Week:

Hmm…. that’s hard to answer. What do you mean by ‘pies’? Technically, I believe the correct answer is ‘none’, unless you count one small pumpkin tart from the dessert buffet at the Fairmont. (Don’t even ask about the other 5 days of restaurant meals consumed).

Words Written to Date: 19,888

Target Word Count: 100,000

Words short of Target: 80,112

Pages Written to Date: 72

Target Page Count: 400

Pages Short of Target: 328

Biggest Worry To Date:

Yikes – I’m only on “Scene 7” of my laboriously plotted outline. Scene 7 out of 78 ‘imagined’ scenes.  So, even though math was never my strong suit, at my current ‘conversion rate’ of scenes into words , my current projected page count calculation looks something like this:

19,888 words divided by 7 scenes = 2,841.14 words for each converted ‘scene’.

2,841.14 x 78 scenes = 221,608.92 words.

An ‘epic’ YA novel? I don’t think so.

There’s no way I’m going to be able to pump out 200,000 or so words by February 5th and we all know I can forget finding an agent to represent me or a publisher to publish.

Hey… wait a minute. I’ve got an idea. Maybe it’s not one novel…. maybe it’s three or even four.

What was that series called? Twilight? Or maybe I’m thinking of The Hunger Games.

12 thoughts on “Oh my fog!

  1. Paula, why does your book have to be 100,000 words long? That, unless the market has changed significantly, isn’t the average length for a YA – you’re way too long. Which isn’t a bad thing – you can always cut if you do write that much. But aim for a shorter, tighter book – it’s not only going to be better, it takes the pressure off. And remember – you guys didn’t promise agent/publisher ready novels. You promised rough draft, so if it’s not agent ready, but it’s done, you win.

  2. That’s so true Bev! For me, 100,000 words was just a working ‘target’ I set, but I can see I’m more than a little verbose and will have to cut, cut, cut to get in most of the ‘plot’ I have outlined.
    As you say, the goal is to get to the finish line (and, fortunately, we all know it is easier to take out than put in)!

  3. Perfect example of the ‘Hero’s journey’! You’re sure a magnet for trouble! What happened to your computer in the end? Is it toast? But I take my hat off – 72 pages written is fabulous (I assume that’s the net number, not what you’ll be left with after you decide to cut, and cut?)

  4. Glad you gave your husband a shout out. Silks’ husband was an unsung hero in her post, and we’re an endangered species, having become demeaned, one-dimensional comedic devices for sitcoms and commercials. You didn’t explicitly articulate an underlying dynamic that I know to be true (having found out the hard way): When you tell your family that you have to write, and do it, in spite of everything, you pay dearly for it.

  5. Paula, we really are living parallel lives. Maybe there’s a book somewhere in THAT! Great post, and sounds like an interesting sojourn in SF, my old stomping grounds. And Mr. Soffer, I feel properly chewed out for not praising my patient and long-suffering spouse, who endured 14 extra hours on the road to rescue my forgotten bag. However, he’s not much for publicity. He may give me “The Look” just for mentioning him in my blog post. But after 45 years of marriage, we just kinda work things out.

  6. Ah, for all our faithful readers, a brief update… forgot to mention that:
    1) Alaska Air actually found John’s ipad and notified him just before he was about to take off for his 10:10 am flight on Monday, leaving me lots of time to pick up his ipad at the check-in counter, once again head for the long, long line snaking through the security check; once again haul off the over-the-knee boots I’d thought were such an ever so clever fashion necessity for San Francisco (forgetting of course that they absolutely did not fit in my carry-on luggage and would have to be worn at all times, and settle back into my writing ‘chair’ in the Alaska lounge with only 44 minutes of valuable writing time lost.
    2) The problem with my laptop did, indeed, seem to be just a power cord issue, (replaced under my apple care warranty) so I am now back in business. As soon as I got back to the hotel I used the memory stick the CBA gave out loaded with conference papers to download my novel’s StoryMill back up to said stick… so, I hope I am now protected! But darn, I must have written 10,000 words since Friday, all not backed up!

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