Thursday, December 29, 2005

Last Blog of 2005

Christmas is over, done, gone, finished. December 26 is the end of the holiday season, as far as I'm concerned. I want the tree down, the decorations packed and stored. And I'm almost there. The last bits will go to the attic, where they'll have to wait another year before they can escape their boxes. My poor children - they probably wonder why they were cursed to have a mother who wants to wave a magic wand and have all the Christmas mess disappear.

It's probably because what I really want to disappear is all the chaos. I want my routine back. Like a baby, I need a schedule. Writing is a discipline, and the holidays are a month-long cherry bomb set off in my attempts to keep an orderly writing life. It's just once a year, I remind myself as I cook, bake, decorate, clean, entertain, clean again, cook some more, scrape up candle wax, vacuum pine needles, replace the wilting magnolia leaves, shop, wrap, shop yet again (heaven spare me from a grocery store the week before Christmas), and finally, put it all away. The good china, the silver, the crystal, the decorations, home again in their respective places. I can breathe once more. In my office. At my desk, enjoying the best gift of all - quiet. The complicated people in my imagination are starting to speak to me again....

Saturday, December 03, 2005


My dream, my desire, my ultimate goal is to be organized. Perfect cubby holes built in the exact spots where needed, shelves with labels, drawers with nothing stashed and forgotten: Nirvana. Everyone who knows me may now stop laughing.

The best I can do for today is a closet filled, top to bottom, with husband-built shelves, groaning under the weight of too many research books, and filing cabinets I periodically dare to open. "Dare" being the operative word here - because usually they crash over from the weight of the extended drawers. I swear I'm not a packrat, but you just never know when you're going to need the phone number for Military Records in D.C., or a copy of the original map of Ft. Larned, Kansas.

The one thing I can control is my writing's organization. I plot. Re-plot. Play with the plot some more. Move a pink character card into the space for Chapter Three and out of Chapter One. On a wall covered with thick rubber mats (the sort used by cashiers), are hundreds upon hundreds of thumbtacks, all holding storyboard cards. I love the ease of moving story elements around on 4 x 6 index cards. Nothing's permanent until the galleys, and then it's too late. Sometimes I play with the plotting so long, an entirely different story emerges than the one that originally popped into my head. And that's just fine. I need to know where a story's going to end before I start it. The final chapter may be the first one written, giving me a bulls eye to aim for when I start the first chapter.

Now if I could organize the rest of the house. . . .