Early on in my writing, when I was submitting, someone I'd send my manuscript asked if I'd ever considered writing category romance. If you're not familiar with the genre, these are the stereotypical "romance novels", virtually synonymous with Harlequin. There are dozens of imprints with several titles in each, and they're released each month.
They're also short. I'd be passing my own halfway point, and they'd be finished. Writing short is too much of a challenge for me.When I wrote my mystery, my target was to finish in 80-90,000 words, which is what the smaller presses are looking for. It came in at over 100,000, so I had to cut. Of course, every word was brilliant, but if I was going to try to market it as my first straight mystery, I couldn't exceed the guidelines. In short, I had only so much space for my words.
Now, assuming the house we've got under contract will actually be our new home, I'll have to take another look at downsizing. But this time, it won't be words, it'll be "stuff."
Our Orlando home with its 5 bedrooms (granted, they were small), large eat-in kitchen, family room and formal dining room, which we lived in for 22 years, during which time we accumulated stuff, will be replaced with a 3 bedroom, 'great room/open kitchen' home. There's a full downstairs, which we hope to configure into at least one more bedroom and a den type room, but we're sacrificing a lot of space.
In addition to space, we're giving up walls. The main floor has an open floorplan. Everything is in one room. Furniture will break it up, but all the stuff on my cathedral-ceiling height dining room no longer has a home. Nor will a heck of a lot of the stuff hanging on the walls in Florida. I think it took the movers as long to pack the wall stuff as it did for them to pack all the rest of our things.
No real dining room (there's a space with a chandelier of sorts, which I assume is where a table would go) means all the stuff that was in my china cabinet has nowhere to live. We sold the dining room set (thank goodness) but did bring the "good stuff" that it held.
The master bath is spacious, but only if you consider the large closet as part of the room. Double sinks, big counters, and lots of drawers. But very small drawers. A standard tub/shower. No real way to expand the square footage because if you try to push a wall back, it's in the stairwell.
Since we got rid of as much stuff as possible before we moved, we're virtually starting from scratch. Our budget isn't vast, so we will have to decide which stuff is worth replacing. Definitely a bed for the master bedroom is a #1 purchase priority. Once we see how much room that leaves us for the peripheral bedroom accoutrements, such as night tables and dressers, we can move forward there.
Kitchen. We have the major appliances that come with the house, but I got rid of all my pots, pans, dishes and flatware. Quick purchase of a coffeemaker comes to mind. The setup includes a breakfast bar, so a couple of bar stools will be handy.
My office will be one of the upstairs bedrooms. I'll need a desk, because the little computer stand we bought so we could work in our rental isn't going to cut it. The third bedroom upstairs will be a guest room at least for starters. We'd like to create complete guest quarters downstairs, but we'll have to see what we can fit into the space. Will I have to give up getting a recumbent bike? That was something I enjoyed at the Y, but there's no fitness center nearby.
Bookshelves. We'll need lots of those. We're thinking about making a good portion of the downstairs into some kind of library.
Hubster will also want to get a TV and DVR fairly soon after we move in. He also needs some sort of office arrangement, although we agreed that it would be unwise for us to both work in the upstairs bedrooms. The challenge will be configuring the space so the downstairs bath which now includes a washer-dryer in an unfinished area can handle laundry as well as give access to both the new bedroom and the existing den area.
What we need is a good "editor." Someone with an eye for taking open spaces and turning them into comfortable living space. Upstairs, it's a matter of arranging furniture, if you don't count that we want to put in new flooring. Downstairs, it's a remodel job.
Other sacrifices, more on my end. Hubster has his binoculars and camera for wildlife observations, and there are lakes for fishing in the community. He's already planning his bird feeders. As a matter of fact, when I mentioned our potential new address to his sister, her immediate response was that we'd be close to the Florissant Fossil Beds. "Take pictures," she said. Hubster will be happy out there communing with nature. I'm not a big-city gal, but I'm not sure I have the same enthusiasm for spending days on end in the great outdoors.
We're going to be isolated compared with our lives to this point, so our community is downsized as well. Homes aren't within shouting distance, which was one of the hubster's main requirements. Until we move in, we won't know what kind of neighbors we'll have—whether they're the sort who like to chat over coffee or prefer to keep to themselves. We're about five miles from "downtown" Divide, which isn't bad. But there's not much there. It's more of an 'on the way to somewhere else' place.
I'll have to find out how to hook up with a writing group, and where the nearest library is. Get better organized when it comes to shopping. Be prepared to stay in when the weather and roads are bad. I'm pretty much a loner, so I don't think it'll be a tremendous sacrifice, but I do enjoy being able to talk to writers from time to time. After all, we're the only ones who understand what we do.
With writing, the big question is always, "Does it move the story forward?" I guess my question for the house will be, "Am I really going to use it?"