This writer’s tool box

Paula’s Post #63 – So, once again this 5writer is, uhm, over-extended.

No, I do not mean that my credit card payment is overdue (although that is entirely possible, too, as I’ve abdicated responsibility for paying bills to my lovely but occasionally forgetful husband). No, I’m overextended in life, yet again. This week’s highlights:

1) Three house guests – My husband’s sister and two of her friends, down to the desert for a two week visit, bringing our quiet house to life with food and wine and music and laughter. All lively and fun, but harder than ever to find quiet moments to just write;

2) The Sochi Olympics – Oh, admit it, you’re watching too. And why not? This is required watching for writers. To quote the famous opening to ABC’s Wide World of Sports: “The Thrill of Victory… the Agony of Defeat’. And while Vinko Bogataj  might not be a household name, who hasn’t held their breath and bit their lip, watching the hapless ski jumper’s spectacular wipe out at the foot of the launch hill. Now, that’s emotion!

3) My Long Distance Renovation – Yes, a gazillion emails, a baker’s dozen phone calls, and countless hours pouring over design ideas on Houzz and Pinterest and we still have weeks to go before the old home in Gibsons is ready for habitation. My bet? April Fool’s Day. How fitting.

4) My Ascendant Athletic Career – Still in full swing, er, pardon the pun. Though my Ladies over 55 3.0 Team may now be firmly established ‘cellar dwellers’, my Couples Invitational Golf Foursome cleaned up last week with a come from behind win in lowly flight four to capture what is perhaps the ugliest trophy I have ever seen. But I like to think even in ‘fully distracted from writing mode’ these recreational pursuits provide writers’ fodder, something to learn about life and emotion. Case in point, yesterday’s pre-match tennis clinic with Coach Greg, an amazing guy who despite teaching tennis all day long, all week long, still maintains his love of the game, sense of humour and enthusiasm. Yesterday, we practiced a new skill: returning a deep lob with another backhand lob. Sounds simple, for sure, but picture eight women of a certain age, jaw’s set, bouncing in anticipation as the lob sails over their head.. back-pedal… back-pedal… back-pedal… racquet up… high over head… watch it… watch it…  ‘whiff’! Damn! Missed it! We’re panting, we look ridiculous, we’re making spectacles of ourselves, and all I can think about is what in human nature makes us want to do this? What makes the eight of us want to compete, makes us want to master this skill even knowing we look ridiculous. Why? I’m still not sure, but I know, someday, I will harness that I-will-not-give-up attitude and use it in my writing. I will remember these determined women, some closer to 70 than 55, and remember that youth is a state of mind, my team mates real life inspiration for characters yet to be written.

5) Work – let’s not even go there. Suffice it to say that after yet another week of showing at least a dozen homes to buyers, I still have not elicited an offer. But hey, must stay positive. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen this week. There’s a new development that just opened, one community over that is getting a lot of buzz. This afternoon, after a morning at the office, I’m going to head off to Trilogy at the Polo Club and preview the model homes for some of my buyers. But again, let’s not focus on the negative (how much time working is taking away from writing) let’s focus on the positive. Once again, I’m grateful for the opportunity to study human nature. To watch the non-verbal communication of house-hunting couples, to discover how often we say we want one thing… but really want something else. Writing is about character… and I’m meeting a lot of them.

6) Housework – let’s not even go there.

Bottom line? Over-extended or not, I’m having a great time studying character and emotion, filing away real life experiences to use in my work at some future date. Just as my 5writer colleague Helga is ‘mining’ her life’s experiences for setting and character to use in her fiction, I like to think of this over-extended, highly distracted phase of my writing life as the hunter-gatherer stage. I’m gathering up emotions, experiences, settings… I’m hunting for characters… and when I do find some quiet moments for writing, my writers tool box will be full!

At least, that’s the plan!

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5 thoughts on “This writer’s tool box

  1. It’s a great plan! Even when there are times that pull us away from writing, you’re so right—we can still stock up the writer’s toolbox with our thoughts and impressions of what’s going on around us. Writing involves so much more than setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. And making the most of these “down times” is probably a hallmark of good writers.

    • More fodder for this writer’s toolbox today – played 18 holes of golf in the morning, then 1.5 hours of tennis with some really sharp ladies, now I know what my P.I. feels like when she is dragging her ass through the desert, baking under the mid-afternoon sun, throat parched, lips cracking, the sun so bright she must squint, her tired legs feeling as if she has weights strapped to each ankle.

  2. I love that pic of the old typewriter! Is it an Underwood? I learned typing on one just like that, at the ripe age of 15. That’s why to this day I hammer the keys on my laptop like a woman possessed. (For full disclosure, I won the silver medal in speed typing in Vienna; not quite as glamorous as an Olympic medal, but I made my parents proud nonetheless). Sadly, my typing speed helps little when I rack my brain WHAT to write.

  3. Thanks for the comments – Don’t know if that is an Underwood or not – just liked it! Wow! Do you still have your silver medal? I can imagine some interesting story lines involving a naive young woman, fresh from victory… hired by a top secret cadre of elite cold war agents… or, or, or – oh – have fun with this!

  4. That’s a great way to look at things when life becomes too busy – it’s easy to feel that it’s a distraction to writing, but instead you seem to be maximising every experience to use in your writing.

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