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Archive for October, 2009

Rainy Halloween

It seems tonight’s costumes might be more soaked than spooky this year, as the rain has already started trickling down.  It is a quiet night for us tonight (except for every time a trick-or-treater comes to the door, at which point the dogs will bark and shriek until the intruder has left).  Greg will watch the World Series (unless it is rained out), and I will spend the night writing.  I dreamt about the book, and in my dream, I was told (by someone who had read the completed first draft — I wish) that I needed to plant more misinformation to lead to more questions.  Crazy talk, or insight? 

Since my desk is not ready to go, I have had to create a makeshift writing station.  I think it turned out pretty well:

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3 more days…

I have not yet come to terms with the fact that October is almost over.  In fact, I can already smell November wafting around the corner — scents of turkey and butternut squash.  There may even be a bag of fresh cranberries in the refrigerator — the first of the season.

On November 1, nanowrimo begins: my pledge (dutifully taken several months ago) to write 50,000 words of my novel in 30 days.  My enthusiasm is strong, but my optimism is waning.  With my travel plans firmly in place (10 days out of 30 this month), it seems life is sliding chairs up against my door of attainability.

But I have to assume that all great writers — at one time or another — have had life and a full-time job threaten their success.  If that did not stop them, then certainly a week of winter cold in Nova Scotia won’t stop me either! (Besides, isn’t Halifax the Miami of Canada?)

To reemphasize this new-found committment, I decided to warm up this week and practice with a few 2,000 word episodes (since that is the daily word tally I will have to keep pace with in order to succeed next month).

Monday did not count, of course, as we were driving home from the Pocs.  (Who can drive, write, AND catch a Redskins loss all in one day?)

Tuesday was a success, and I managed to throw 2,500 words against my computer screen (though what picture they finally formed I am not sure — cardinal rule of nanowrimo is not to reread what you have already typed).  Tuesday made me think this might not be so bad. 

On Wednesday we got home early after a stop at the grocery store and a quick batch of turkey and veggie chili.  There was plenty of time to write!  But I was faced with a dilemma:

Make two batches of Halloween cookies or write 2,000 words?

“What’s for dessert tonight?” a hopeful voice piped up above the Yankees game.

And so tonight (Thursday) is my second opportunity to prove my nanowrimo worth and practice with another 2,000 word bout of excellent.  I am disappointed tonight’s task will not be undertaken on my new antique desk.  It is still in the garage awaiting its new coat of paint. 

As for the paint…well, if you find crackle before me, please send it my way.  Apparently “venetian plaster” is all the rage, and crackle is so last year. 

In conclusion, if this were an imaginary week 1 of nanowrimo, I would already be approximately 3,500 words behind pace. 

 

On the plus side, the funfetti cupcake cookies were delish.

 

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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Nook.

It is a paradox of sorts, but the new Nook by Barnes and Noble bothers me.  I don’t pretend I am the only one who is fearful of the day brick and mortar bookstores give way to websites, and paper books are nothing but aged, yellow relics of the past.  And I am certain that not too far from today, I will have one device (no doubt made by Apple — what don’t they do first?) that is a phone, a camera, a music player, a movie player, a game system, and a book reader. And when you really look at all of the other items on that list, all of which my current phone does, it makes me wonder, Why wouldn’t it do that, too? 

But it pains me to think that day is coming.  I have purposefully snubbed the existence of the Kindle, writing it off as a device that would only ever catch on with subway commuters in New York (because I do understand that carrying big books around is a major PITA).  And with a steep price tag and a relatively small selection of books to download, it seemed the inevitable had been delayed.

But this week, Barnes and Noble launched the Nook.  A snazzy, two-screen reader with a modest price tag and some really cool features: touchscreen ability for adding aps in the future, free wifi functionality, the ability to browse ALL of Barnes and Noble’s books, and the ability to lend books to a friend’s Nook for 14 days.  Those capabilities alone are pretty amazing, but to really compete with the other e-readers out there, BN is going to have to price its books right.  Like $10 right.

So yesterday, as tech writers fawned over this latest addition to the digital revolution, I found myself doing something I never imagined possible.  Just as the Grinch looked down at Whoville and realized Christmas really was something he could get behind, I looked at this little reader device (and simultaneously considered the 600 page hardcover tome waiting to be transported to PA), and I imagined purchasing $10 books, and I thought…

Maybe…I want one… ?

~ * ~

I was never a newspaper person.  Mostly, it is because I am totally inept at folding newspapers and reading them in a neat and tidy way.  When I read newspapers, they are ALL    OVER   THE    PLACE.  Messy, inky, and loud.

Perhaps because of this total lack of functionality, the inevitable decline of newspapers nationwide has not really bothered me.  Has there ever been a time when I did not get news online?  It is cheaper, neater, far more conspicuous during the work day, and updated constantly.  In fact, the article on CNN.com that I am reading right now was updated Just. 6. Minutes. Ago.  What newspaper can boast that?

It seems to be paradoxical that someone who could so easily usher out the newspaper era would hold on to books — real books with paper — so steadfastly.  Aren’t those forms of nostalgia nearly alike? 

But I realized, actually, that my retention of the past is really quite selfish. 

~ * ~

When I was a little girl, I assumed I would one day publish a book.  When I thought about the big moment (as though a lifetime of writing could really culminate into just one moment), that moment was not holding the finished manuscript in my hands, nor was it receiving a letter (or check!)  from an agent accepting the book; rather, I imagined watching as a big stack of My Books flew off the shelves at the nearest bookstore (and, of course, at bookstores nationwide — I mean, a girl’s gotta make a living, right?). 

And while I still fully plan on getting a book to that published stage one of these years days, I am devastated to think that I might be too late.  What if my book is never printed?  What if it exists only in electronic form — no different from the form in which it was created — without a flashy cover and catchy cover phrase?  GASP!!!

So I think I might just wait on this device called Nook.  Not because I don’t secretly (not so secretly?) want a Nook, and not because my stalwart hold-out will stop the e-reader revolution; no, I will wait because maybe — just maybe — if I wait to buy one and a few other people wait to buy one… then that whole concept of a paper book (My Book!) being snatched off the shelves in a paper book store might last

just a litte bit

longer.

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We are headed to the Poconos this weekend for four glorious days of peace, relaxation, and fall foliage.  We go every year around this time to check on the Chalet after the onslaught of summer visitors, to return the canoe to its home for the winter, and to sit by the fire for hours on end and forget about work for the entire duration of our trip.  Most often when we visit the Chalet — particularly in the spring — I have long to-do lists for the visit.  But in the fall, our tasks are simpler, and opportunities to enjoy the season abound.

Fall 2009 Poconos Task Pad:

1. Return canoe to the house
2. Purchase salt for the front steps and deck
3. Buy a new mattress for the double bed (seriously, long overdue)
4. Plant new shrubs around the house*

*The plants we bought initially in the spring of 2006 are the exact same size as when we planted them, and after more than three years of zero growth, I am going to bite the bullet and just buy more plants.

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The other half of the to-do list holds much more excitement:

5. Read my book, all 602 pages that have been sitting deliciously on my nightstand waiting to be devoured**
6. Devote hours to my laptop and begin pouring my finally-possibly-maybe-finished outline into a real first draft
7. Go to a haunted house  (Why not?!)
8. Take the puppies on long foliage-viewing walks every day
9. Drink red wine and hot chocolate

**In full disclosure, I have read the first 75 pages.  But I promised myself I would not read past page 100 before arriving to the Pocs.

It almost seems too good to be true that we have managed to squeak out four days in the Poconos, twice as long as we can normally spare.  And although I will not be online while we are gone***, I promise beautiful pictures when we return of yellow trees, scruffy deer, and a content little house in the woods.

***It is quite likely we will spend some quality time in the Dunkin Donuts on Rt 940 where free wifi is apparently available.  Not for work purposes, writing or blogging; rather, we need to ensure that nothing — not even a few days vacation — stands between us and fantasy football victories.

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Tug of War!

Lucy cheats, but she is too cute to do anything about it.

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antiquing!

This morning we went antiquing on Craigslist.  I was looking for a desk.  You may remember months and months ago when Greg’s office merged with mine, leaving the second guest bedroom upstairs without a lot of purpose.  It became my reading room with a comfy chair, bookshelf, and fireplace.  But my desk downstairs no longer belonged to me.  Two computers, two keyboards, four monitors, and a whole lotta computer crap later, Greg’s things have taken over my craft center.  There isn’t room for my little mini puter, let alone my full size laptop.

So I needed a desk.  But not a full desk (bor-ing).  I wanted an antique secretary desk that would have character, provide enough space for my mini laptop, and look at home in the upstairs reading room.  I lucked out and found an amazing piece online — in Huntingtown, only 5 miles away!  It needs a new coat of paint (I will antique and crackle), but has a glass-case bookshelf on the left, amazing scrollwork, antique keys, and a perfect secretary drop-down for my computer.

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And in all things amazing, she threw in two other antique tables.  Yay!

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Now, if I could just find time to sand and refinish these pieces, life would be perfect.  But since I can’t type on the new desk until it is ready to move inside, I have some serious motivation to get this done.

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