Clear Skies and creepy webs

I talked to some of my NYC peeps today (big YAY) and I’m relieved everyone seems to have fared well through this last brutal winter storm. As I read reports and watched the news, this was definitely one of the moments where I was not missing the Big Apple.

Instead, I spent my time outside in my backyard, enjoying the breeze and clear blue sky with Theo. Tonight when we went for a walk, the bright blue sky turned into a deep indigo. It was still clear–better than HD, and the inky background was punctuated only by the stars. I felt like I could see each and every breathtaking one. I wish I knew more constellations, because I’m pretty sure they were all out tonight. As it stands, I can only tell the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, and Orion’s Belt. I’m certain my nephew knows more about them than me.

I digress.

It never fails to amaze me how much a clear sky (day or night) helps to clear my mind. It happens to be one of the things I don’t take for granted–every time I look up at it, I’m reminded that it’s not always like this, that sometimes you look up and all you see are barriers and dirty stone structures and there isn’t anything but slight glimpses of blue in between the gray. No proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps that’s why my Texas sky does wonders for me.

I’m able to see beyond.

The reason this is important tonight is because I had a major breakthrough in my writer’s block!

There are lots of terms for things, writing lingo if you will, that I’m now learning. New labels assigned to old behaviors or feelings previously unidentifiable.

I must say it does help this whole business feel less abstract.

Again, my tangents…anyway, in writing lingo, there are Plotters and Pantsers. Plotters outline meticulously and you guessed it–everything is plotted out. They’ve just got to write the story.

Pansters fly by the seat of their proverbial pants. (Now that I’m not working in corporate America and I’m working from home, mine happen to be of the pajama variety, yay!)

I’m a pantster.

I love when the story comes, it flows out of my brain through my veins into my fingertips which then fly over the keyboard. It’s exhilarating, scary, and wonderful all at the same time. With this last book (i.e. current), I tried to become a Plotter. I went through my writing software (Scrivener, a real writer’s Godsend), and I thought out the entire story (six weeks ago).

Then I started to write. And write. And write.

And then I got blocked.

It didn’t make sense to me. Honestly, how could I be blocked when I knew what I was going to write? I had blurbs and mini-blurbs and bullet points galore, but I was still stuck.

I knew Liz and Mark (my protagonists) were moving into the next stage of their relationship and finally getting to admitting their feelings, and I even had a bar scene planned out, but I couldn’t write it. It was frustrating to say the least. I didn’t feel connected to my story any longer.

So I stopped and over-analyzed (as is my wont). Then I really stopped. I stopped analyzing, stopped thinking about the story, and just let my brain breathe. I stopped stressing and focused on recovering from these damned infections which had lain me low…and something else happened–the weather got warmer.

This meant I was outside more, walking around, lounging in the deck, always staring at the sky…and then it hit me! What I needed to do in order to bring my characters together…

It completely deviates from the plot I’d had written out, but I’m energized and once more enthusiastic about what I’m writing and that’s what is most important to me. Long story short, I’m definitely a Pantser, although I do think it might be helpful to outline incrementally as I go.

So once again enthusiastic…and that’s a big part of this game. My heart has to be into it for me to love what I’m writing, and if I don’t love what I’m writing, then I’m writing crap.

In summation, I love clear skies and I’m a Pantser.

Also, the internet is a creepy place. In my last post I blogged about refurbishing an old Banker’s Chair.

Guess what images now pop up for advertisements on Overstock.com on 50% of the webpages I visit???

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Can I barbecue an apple?

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Four minutes from when I’ll have started writing this post will mark the 24th day of my residence in the Lone Star state.

I knew leaving the Big Apple would be hard, but for some reason, today has been especially heart squeezing for me, and that’s what’s prompted me to start the blog–a way of documenting my memories, my new journey, and hopefully keeping those who care abreast of my activities.

When I lived 1500 miles away, I missed my family something fierce. By the time I’d decided to leave to pursue this writing business, I knew it was the right decision, but I also knew I’d be homesick for NYC.

And tonight, it’s hit me hard. I miss everything–the crazy days at work, the people with whom I worked, my really good friends, people watching, the smell of hot dog stands and roasted honey cashews on nearly every corner, the rude baristas at the Starbucks I used to frequent…

If I’m pushed hard enough, I might even admit that I miss the subways, buses, and fearing for my life every time I sat in the back of a crazy taxi driver’s cab (this was far too frequent according to bank records).

New York is everything and nothing all at the same time. A city mired in history but full of transplants and strangers. Prada in the Bloomingdale’s storefront windows on 60th street and the middle-aged homeless woman wrapped in nothing but dirty white sheets in the freezing cold on the corner of 59th. Every brilliant shade of every single color of the entire f’n spectrum…

So completely different from the cookie cutter neighborhood I’m in now. At Starbucks, I now go through the drive-through and the peppy, blonde high schooler scanning the payment app on my phone is a far cry from the disgruntled, overworked kids who schlepped in from Queens to make coffee for corporate America every day. I kid you not, I even wrote two, maybe three, letters expressing my dissatisfaction with the location at 59th and Lex a few times.

Somehow, I doubt that’s happening here.

Everything looks the same, most people dress the same, everyone drives a car. The elementary school my nephew goes to is a ten minute walk from my house, but either my brother or I drive the 15 minutes (there’s a shortcut with a walking bridge if you walk) to drop-off/pick-up. The other day when I dropped him off at school, there was an orderly line into the entry driveway and a fifth grade school patrol guard was lined up in a collared shirt, khaki pants, and a tie to open the passenger door so my nephew could exit the car. The kid was ten and looked like he stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalogue.

I guess the point of this long-winded post is that I miss New York. I really miss it.

In terms of my actual writing I am sad to report that I am only 50% done (rough draft) with my current work. I feel the pressure to get it finished though, and quickly. Readers are fickle and especially in my genre, if they’re not consuming you, they’re forgetting you–essentially, this means authors need to be prolific. Feed the beast, so to speak.

So why am I behind schedule?

First, I felt the dire need to remodel the bathroom I’m using. Trust me, it needed it. I did the paint, re-finished the cabinetry, and even did the flooring all by my lonesome! It’s this pretty ice blue color, and I’ve selected accessories that are either sparkly, nautical, or black and white.

I also had to get my new writing space set up. I ordered this leaning bookshelf/laptop desk from Overstock.com and assembled it pretty much by myself. My seven year old nephew asked me if he could have one of the bookcases to store his stuff (previously it was on the floor of the game-room). I told him he could have half of a shelf, so he picked a few stuffed animals and figurines to help decorate. He declared the other day “I really like your plans to decorate” (referring to the bathroom and my office space). He’s a great little helper, and tons of fun to be around, but now he’s said he needs his own “office” so I’m setting something up for him near my space.

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Here is what my new workspace looks like – lots of pictures and some Eastern and Greek inspired decor in addition to baskets to help keep things organized. Right now I’m using a standard office chair, but I’d like to find an old banker’s chair and re-upholster it in something cool. (BTW, it’s still a little disorganized because I’ve neglected to get something to organize my file folders).

Image-1Here’s another picture – you can see where my nephew has taken over his little shelf. He’s also plastered a battered Minecraft poster to the wall adjacent to the shelf (my ‘office space’ is in the game room, in case you haven’t yet figured it out.) For fun, the pic at the bottom of the collage is of these creepy dolls collected by my mother (seriously, ick) and our popcorn ceilings (ick again!)

I’m still working on getting my new bed–I’m building it in an alcove, how cool is that? (Yes, I have been watching a ton of HGTV.)

This is a pretty lengthy update. It feels cathartic, but now I also feel guilty that I wrote 900 or so words for a blog and not my manuscript–which also reminds me that the other reason for my delay is that I’ve had a terrible bronchial infection+sinus infection. This has resulted in several days of staying in bed and doing one of three things: sleeping, reading, or watching backlisted Dr. Phil episodes on Youtube. Today I managed to drag myself out of bed, and I made some of this delicious creamy chicken noodle soup. I love this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and I’ve made it several times. Even my picky-eater nephew loves it too, and he only eats Domino’s or Chik-fil-A!

It’s now two minutes away from 1 AM CST. If I were back in my old apartment, it would be 2 AM CST and I’d probably be cursing the drunken revelers who’d woken me up with carousing and shouting in the courtyard right outside my bedroom window.

Still miss you New York.