Thursday, February 18, 2010

Narrowing the Focus

What I'm reading: The Laird Who Loved Me, by Karen Hawkins

Note: This post is more about my 'real life' than my writing life, but I'm a guest at "The Writing Bug" talking about Beginnings and Endings if you're looking for a little more meat.

After reading Marie's Tuesday post on procrastination, I'm looking at our upcoming move. I know what she meant when she talked about things being overwhelming. I've tried to force myself to compartmentalize, because when I look at "moving", it's enough to make me want to give away everything we own and start from scratch. Kind of like thinking, I have to write a 100,000 word novel and all I have is a screen that says, "Chapter One." For me, prep for the move would be easier if we knew where we were going to end up. "Colorado" is a pretty wide target, just like thinking about "The End" when I start writing. I know in a romance, it'll be the HEA, and in a mystery, the crime will be solved, but that's about it.

I was going to illustrate this post with pictures of what our house looks like now, but I decided to spare you that.

We've narrowed our move down to two general vicinities, but can't really do serious looking until our deal is closed. Each step forward gives us more confidence; our buyers have already forked over some bucks for inspections, etc., and are looking for finance options that will skirt the need for an appraisal. Those are good things. But nothing is for certain until after we close.

However, since our Realtor has scheduled the day and time, we're assuming it's all a go, and have our "to-do" list. And a peek at the calendar says it's less than two weeks away!

Last week, for me it was primarily workshop prep. Not only the one I did in Jacksonville, but I have a panel to moderate and one to participate in at SleuthFest, and another workshop at Written in the Stars. And of course, they're all different. Needless to say, getting a contract and a closing date on the house in the midst of this wasn't on the radar when I accepted these presentations.

We finished our required repairs. The guy we hired to fix fireplace liner showed up about 2 hours after he said he'd be here, didn't have the right sized replacement part, so he said he'd be back. Took 3 days before he returned, but the job is done. We've got one major piece of furniture we're trying to sell on Craigslist. We got rid of the bedroom set (which means we're now sleeping in the guest room, with its full-sized bed instead of our king, and all our clothes are in laundry baskets or just piled on the floor in the back bedrooms).

When the stress levels rose, hubby stepped in and dragged me back on track. He told me to ignore everything but the workshops. Then, this week, it's all Garage Sale. So when I stare at the disaster area and maze of boxes, I try not to think about what we'll pack in the vehicles when we hit the road, or how many years of tax receipts we should save, or whether it makes sense to keep the VCR. I'm not even thinking about what I'll take to SleuthFest. I've put my handouts and other promo materials in one place, but I'm not going to deal with the basic packing until next week.

The challenge of not having "The End" in sight: It's quite likely to be 2 months before we find a house and can move in. So, survival goods for those 2 months have to fit in our vehicles. The questions as we look through closets, drawers and shelves: "Do we need this? Do we need it with us? Is it worth the cost of moving it? Can we get rid of it here and replace it once we have another house?"

We have a garage sale on the 20th. POD will come back on the 22nd and is removed on the 24th. Movers will pack us on the 24th. (And that also happens to be my birthday, but we'll postpone celebrating, I think.) We leave for SleuthFest the 25th. We return the 28th. Movers show up on the 1st to take away everything they've packed. We close on the 2nd and begin the journey to Colorado via the Written in the Stars conference in Shreveport March 5th and 6th.

Does this impact my writing? It might, but I'm not working on anything new for reasons that have nothing to do with the move. Normally, I use writing as an escape from pressure, and maybe the stress levels are higher for me because I'm not writing. I do have the ancillary materials files for my next Five Star book. Normally, I dread coming up with jacket copy, cover request forms, and all the other details. But right now, I think it'll beat sorting, schlepping, and packing. And there's the added distraction of the Olympics, which gives my brain something else to deal with. And I know I'm more relaxed when I'm writing. One of my crit partners sent the first pages of his new novel, and the act of reading it with a critical eye sent a long-missing sense of calm through me.

Tomorrow, it'll be another Friday Field Trip.

Like this post? Please share.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think I would be really tempted not to write if I had all that going on!

Waiting for workmen is probably one of the most stressful things around.

Hope you can find some time to just relax...but looking at all you have on your plate, I'm not sure you can!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Caroline Clemmons said...

oooh, what a stressful time for you. Glad to hear your husband is supportive and helping you keep on track. Moving is a chore, although we used to move frequently and I didn't mind it too much. Now I have accumulated so much junk, um, I mean good stuff, that a move would be a major undertaking.

Terry Odell said...

Once there's room in the garage to store the garage sale stuff, I'm hoping things get easier. We already had to reschedule the POD pickup to sync with the movers, which shouldn't have been a problem EXCEPT they're closed on Tuesdays, and that's the day we have to have the POD empty and out. But they worked with us, so that worked out okay.

Lynne Roberts said...

Moving is so stressful, not knowing exactly where you're going... ack.

My thoughts are with you!

Carol Kilgore said...

Been there. Those stress levels are high. But you'll get through, just like you do with a book. Word by word. Box by box. And mile by mile. Don't forget to take time to breathe and laugh.

Maryann Miller said...

I second Carol's recommendation. When I have been faced with that appears to be overwhelming circumstances, it has helped to keep focused on the day to day instead of the big picture. The big picture can make us run screaming from the room.
And do breathe. My daughter keeps reminding me of how important that is when she notices the stress tightening up in me.

nancyjcohen said...

Where is your stuff going if you don't have another house yet? Into storage? I'll have to be in this house at least another ten years with all the junk we've accumulated. Good luck with the garage sale. Even that's a lot of work. See you at SleuthFest.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Lynne.

Carol -- good advice. Have to find something to laugh about first, though!

Maryann - I'm breathing. Promise

Nancy - yep, the movers will store it until we tell them where we want it delivered. I can't wait for SleuthFest - it should provide a needed break, and get my focus on writing again.

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh dear. This took me straight back to our moves. And every time I beg myself never to do it again.

Terry Odell said...

Sheila - I swear, the next time we move, it's to The Home.

Terry said...

Lol, about The Home.

The temptation to throw things away willy-nilly because you're moving so far is tempting. When we moved from New England to Florida, I ended up tossing more than I should have. And my husband's company paid for the move. I just hated packing and unpacking.

Terry Odell said...

Terry, I have pretty much succumbed to temptation. The trash bags are filling.