Monday, March 29, 2010

Swabbing the Decks

I've taken two weeks off of working on the current WIP in Revision. It has been lovely to read great books, relax with my family, and romp with my friends. But today I faced the first part of my next pass through the WIP. How? How did I face this enormous, gigantic, overwhelming muddle of a mess?

I avoided the task.

I cannot start a new project, or new anything, till I swab my mental decks. And man, my mental decks were super cluttered. I had the following on-going stuff to deal with:

*organize the online coordinator files on the computer and via hard copy
*print out all my online class files for a plotting class I couldn't participate in this past month with the serious hope they will help me revise this mess
*email thank you notes to my critiquing author and the coordinator of the event
*clear out and file papers

And those were the easy things to do today. I tend to go crazy whenever I gear up for a new challenge. Once I started digging through old papers, I decided to truly haze the closet. My poor writing closet was in very sorry shape. My DH keeps promising to put in shelves for me, but now that he's in recovery from his hip replacement, I can't ask him to drill holes. Yet. Meanwhile, I have empty printer paper boxes filled with the contents of three manuscripts, a portable file cabinet with folders older than my fifteen year old daughter, a box of GH entries I judged and must keep till after the GH Ceremony, a wire shelf brimming with envelopes and more, and finally old bags from other conferences I haven't tossed or repurposed.


With shovel in hand, I hunkered down next to the closet and brutally, cruelly dug all the papers out of the hole. Once the dirty pages piled up to the size of a small hill, I hauled them out to the dumpster. Gone are the old story ideas from 1990. Gone are the toxic email exchanges between me and my mother (negative energy can hide in dark corners--I want LIGHT). Gone are the ancient files with titles like "child's orthodontist info." Gone are the multiple drafts of all three MSS I have slaved over. Now there is one MS per sweat and blood and tears of effort.

I also hit the "rejection letters." I used to tuck them into the boxes with the manuscripts that matched the rejection. Now I have a "TRYING TO BE PUBLISHED" file filled with all the rotten (sorry--I meant to say encouraging words to keep on slogging away at this crazy dream of mine) letters and postcards. I don't have a suitcase of them, but gosh, I wish I had started paying myself for rejections a long time ago. I'd be able to afford that gorgeous Golden Heart ceremony gown I've been eyeing for the National Conference.

Ah, bliss. I have a sense of peace in my heart. I feel like the room is airy and light and happy again. I feel like I am in control (an illusion, but I prefer to believe it will be permanent).

But clearing out the room wasn't enough. No, now I had to tackle the email INBOX. It's not quite done yet. It fills up rather quickly and I can't keep up with all the info. But that's an ongoing battle and one I tackle on a regular basis. Red Flags help.

Still to do? Oh, the usual myriad of "put off until I can see more than one domino at a time" stuff is waiting for me to address their summons for replies, reading, critiquing, judging, etc. But I have a plan now. I also spent an inordinate amount of time organizing my calendars: computer and wall. Now I have a clear vision of when I can and when I cannot write. This is a good thing.

My calendar is my road map. I do a massive update every quarter. And lo and behold, right before I rip out the guts of my current WIP, I realized I have to update again because it's almost April. Woohoo!! Now my personal and my professional worlds and all the demands I'll be meeting are clearly set down. Yay!

(hey, this creative avoidance thing is great for de-cluttering the mind and the house)

A few more mental clutterbugs to sweep off my to-do list exist. I must read my writing friend's world building history because I am so very curious about it. I must catch up on all my newsletters that the chapter newsletter editors sent this week because I know they have a lot of great information in them. And I must begin judging the contest entries I received over spring break. I can't wait! Good karma out equals great karma back at me.

And best of all, as I look toward tomorrow I see a sparkling ship. The outer decks are clear and bright. The sun is reflecting off of the bow. I can see the blue waters of creativity swelling in the distance. And I feel a bit of wind billowing my writing sails.

It's time to set my course and go back out into the ocean of possibilities!


MaryC said...

Can I hire you to come do mine?

J/K but I know how you feel. I had intended to do the same this week so that next week when I'm off I'll have plenty of time to write and no excuses to keep me from doing so.

Alas, my story took hold of me yesterday so I've been writing instead of decluttering. That can't really be a bad thing, right? *g*

Congrats on everything you got done and good luck on the next round of revisions.

KarenG said...

I so need to be doing this very thing.

Christine said...

Hi MaryC: writing is better than decluttering. But I had reached a good stopping point. And I was also really not ready to go back into the old MS again -- something cathartic about tossing old stuff out, too.

And I have neat office now. Woohoo. But back into the real mess tomorrow for me. Le WIP calls.

Christine said...

KarenG: I like doing this between revisions and new stories. You're revising now, so you can wait till you get through this round. Give yourself a day, a garbage bag and reward yourself afterward with something special for decluttering.

Anonymous said...

I think I need to do this again. I'm so inspired by you! I've been slowly clearing out the To-Do list and it's down to a managable size now so all I need to do is clean out the 400 emails in my inbox... yikes.

I'm cheering for you!!

Are you going to Moonlight & Magnolias this year? I'm thinking of that one instead of Nationals...

Gwen Hernandez said...

Love the seafaring analogy! I'm so jealous that you have a writing room and closet. I had to procrastinate, ahem, I mean swab my own mental decks by cleaning the bathroom. Ugh.

Maybe after we move I'll have my own space. Good luck with the revisions!

Christine said...

Hi Martha: Yes I am going to M&M--I still have to sign up for it, but I wouldn't miss it. It's a very easy and accessible conference to attend. I'd love it if you came to GA for it!

Christine said...

Hi Gwen: I know--today was tough for me--sun is out FINALLY and I'm sitting inside reading my MS trying to figure out how to even out the tone. Oh joy.

I bet you find the perfect space for an office after you move. I used to write in my MBR. This is a gift for me to have this space. I treasure it.