Leaving it all behind

The kids have flown to their own lives, we want to live leaner, and now it’s time to let go of our beautiful big house that has sheltered us so well for 20 years. The new dream house is a place in the country with a little land around it, no more than an hour’s drive from Portland.

Big order. I looked at the map and saw all the wide open spaces around Portland and thought it would be easy to find a couple of acres with a view. Something with an elevation so we’re not living on soggy bottom land. It turns out a lot of people want the same thing, so our choices appear limited.  Our search has been cursory, though, we need to get serious and settle on an area and engage a realtor.

And we have to do this while my husband works at his stressful job and I pack up our goods and work on the interior of our house to get it ready to sell.

Ah, packing. I’m astonished at how much of my stuff I really don’t care about, how easy it is to let it go. It’s not downsizing as much as shedding. Room by room: a big box for Goodwill and one for a garage sale, a trash bag, and boxes for the things that make the cut.

A corner of the basement is stacked with boxes of items we’re taking with us. Lord, just the idea of hauling these boxes to a storage unit, carrying them into our new forever home, and then unpacking and finding a place to put everything makes me want to chuck them all.

More writing advice

A writing friend sent me Wired for Story, which is another book about writing. I have a stack of these books; some are filled with helpful advice, others have at least one good thing to say. Wired for Story said something I’ve heard for years, but in a way that I finally understood, and that is every story must have the hero’s journey, an internal goal, and that the journey isn’t part of the story, it is the story. When the journey or goal is missing, the story has no focus, no direction, no heart; ultimately it’s lifeless.

Another point from the book is that every story has a moment when the story begins for the main character, when he/she decides to enter the story. Everything that happens before that moment is background/ scene setting.

Becoming a character

I’m watching old episodes of the Sherlock Holmes with the incomparable Jeremy Brett and found an interview he gave about how was able to create such a memorable Holmes. He said, “I’m like a sponge, I squeeze the liquid of myself out and draw in the liquid of the creature I’m playing.”

It’s the same with writing: becoming a character allows that character to live and the story to come to life. This immersion requires uninterrupted time with no distractions. Pacing around is ok, talking to myself is necessary, but no wandering into the kitchen to look inside the fridge, the cupboards..oh, popcorn, I’ll make popcorn! And no checking the devil email.

I’m a showoff

I’ve spent the last few months training to become a tour guide in the city’s Japanese Garden. It required hours of classes, giving a lot of practice tours, doing outside research, which I love, and many, many hours practicing my guide talk in my living room.

I’m not a great public speaker. I tend to freeze at the mic, but my inner showoff is emerging and leading tours is going to be fun.

Next time, I’ll proof the proof!

Oh, lord, why did I ignore the advice to read the proof for my book thoroughly before approving it for publication. All I did was admire the title page and flip through the book to make sure the page numbers were in sequence.

After I published Anthra’s Moon, a sharp-eyed reader found a few typos from a last minute revision I made. I’m disappointed because I wanted this book to be perfect, perfect I tell you! But it’s not.

Lesson learned: Don’t be in a rush at the end. Take the time to read the proof and get another pair of eyes on it.