Paula’s Post #44 – The lazy days of summer are indeed upon us, as Helga pointed out in her post of last week. And while Silk muses about the difficulty of making our protagonists as compelling as our secondary characters, some of us are in full retreat from the writing life.
I’ve checked out.
Period. Full stop.
At least until my house-hunting quest comes to an end. Six weeks to go until we move and still no destination in sight. So, while others haul out their manuscripts and start their edits, my days are spent hunched over my laptop, checking out each new listing that hits MLS (Plan A) and trolling through Craigslist in search of a rental house that is both, 1) bigger than a breadbox and 2) not shared with bedbugs and cockroaches (Plan B).
Okay, so maybe it isn’t that bad, but it seems that way as tick, tick tick….every day brings us closer to our late August moving date.
Characters? Plot? Pacing? Forget it, baby. I’m sorry to say these are not the thoughts foremost in my mind.
No, I’m staring in my very own mystery novel. The one entitled: Where are we going to live next!
I do not want to suggest that I have abandoned the writing life entirely. One fascinating thing about house hunting is the almost impossible task of using one’s imagination to project oneself into the future, to imagine oneself actually living in the house one is contemplating purchasing.
Is there a place for an office? Where will I put my big iMac? What about the view? Will it prove distracting or stimulating? Will the office be too hot? Too cold? What about room for chairs for colleagues and collaborative work? And let’s not forget the dog. When I’m writing, my big Standard Poodle likes to pad into the room, hop up into an easy chair and curl up into an impossibly small ball. The office absolutely must have room for a comfy dog chair.
And never mind the dog, – let’s not forget the group! My 5writer colleagues are like my family. Now, when looking at a particular house, I find my mind turning not just to bunk beds for grandchildren, but to my colleagues, hoping that they will make the trek up the coast for a day meeting or weekend retreat.
I don’t stop there.
Soon my imagination is in full flight and I find myself thinking how nice it would be to host the group at my new house (as soon as I find a new house). Will there be room for everyone to sleep over? I hope so, but maybe I’ll need to purchase my friend’s Airstream trailer, and park it out the back?
When you think of it, buying a house is about the craziest thing we ever do in life. I mean, seriously, you spend more time test driving a car than test driving a house. The decision to purchase is often a courageous leap of faith, interspersed with a healthy dose of instinct and emotion.
Lots of emotion.
I’ve seen some lovely homes during my search. Many, sadly, out of our financial reach. A few have fuelled some idle speculation about the possibility of defraying some of the cost by turning one of these beautiful homes into a seaside writing retreat. A place where creative delinquents, like myself, can submit to ‘self-incarceration’ until discipline is firmly reestablished.
My imagination wanders and soon I’ve got the whole curriculum planned, not to mention the panel of esteemed instructors. Morning classes on the ‘ABC’s of CSI forensics for Authors’ could be followed by a collegial lunch with lazy summer afternoons devoted to individual pursuits, like dreaming up villainous villans while kayaking or paddleboarding or just swinging in a hammock.
I hear the crabbing and prawning is pretty good up the coast. I’m starting to picture dinner now. Lots of crisp white Sauvignon Blanc, the clinking of glasses and hum of conversation, some crusty sourdough, warm drawn butter and Dungeness crab, fresh caught in our trap. I’m a bit squeamish about preparing the poor wee beasties, but I suspect a few members of our group have the experience and fortitude I lack. But I’ll make up for it with my wicked recipe for crab cakes with pear-cranberry chutney, courtesy of local chef John Bishop.
Here in the north, it stays light until almost ten o’clock at this time of year. Plenty of time for another glass of wine and more discussion of a favorite novel or author; a plot pitfall or sagging middle.
But of course I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t found a house yet. Back to work. So I’ll cut this post short and pack another box full of linens, another box of old books. But I can’t help but wondering, whether the boxes are headed for storage, or for my for now still a dream, beach retreat.
I wish I knew.