research i: overwhelmed

I’m panicking and procrastinating but mostly panicking.

This week or weeks coming soon hold a lot of finals for me: this was the last week for chiro/pt and my front end web dev class. Next week is my final week of unemployment. I’m selling my car next week or the week after. After months of studying and having some sort of purpose, my schedule is empty. My medicating shrink noted he was afraid I would get bored silly and I guffawed and pointed out I have been out of work for the last 2.5 years and if there is anything I can do is fill my time with meaningful things.

Except here I am with that time and I’m panicking.

The local job hunt remaining disappointingly unfruitful, TEH and I agreed (I was fairly pushy in the process) we are going to go to the family cabin on Memorial Day weekend and stay until Labor Day. Louisvillian summers are wretched — it’s not unusual for it to go weeks in the high 90sF with little or no rain. Spring isn’t much better. The dog, she of very little snout, starts to get woozy and pant-y around 75F. Spending the summer cooped up in Louisville is not in the cards. So I sold the idea I would find a part-time gig up north and in my downtime write a book. I accepted the challenge in December and then conveniently put the challenge away when more immediate things needed my attention.

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Jesus fuck, I’ve touted I’ve been writing a book for years, surely I can be more than talk — I can totally do this.I’ve taken on larger projects and seen them to completion.  I can do this.

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There is no more choice or shouldas or possibles, it has to happen. Now, finally, the gods have bestowed me a fairly clear mind, a place to live / fed / watered, support system emotionally and mentally, and time. Glorious and precious time.

I’m in a really good place.

Except.

Except.

I’m panicking and panicking hard. ( I keep saying this and yes, I know this means what I think it means.)

I decided today was going to be the day to begin. Pens were clicked and the book’s notebook first pages were smoothed down. A new folder was created in my bookmarks manager and I moved over URLs from the before (because there will always be a before) to the new folder. I dug through some previously read books with bibliographies and added those books to my own growing bibliography. I started to list  topics I needed to cover (general history, fashion, women actresses, women photographers) adding in broad search topics such as “belle epoque” (French version of Edwardian), “art nouveau,” “spiritualism,” “Edwardian postcards,” and “gibson girl.” I found myself on a Wikipedia rabbit hole bookmarking anything that looked remotely interesting while my chest got heavier and I clicked my pen open to close. Open to close.

An hour or two into this exercise, I got a bee in my bonnet I needed to have a Coke Slurpee which put TEH and me on a scavenger hunt around town (nearest 7-11 is 200 miles away so we settled for Speedway freezee). Then I read Facebook. Checked email. Bemoaned the state of interlibrary lending in the state of Kentucky and found a workaround which led to randomly checking to see what books could be available for me to get via ILL. Checked Facebook again. Wrote a few lines for this post. Contacted the local university (U of L) to see if they had some kind of visiting patron cards available rather than having to wait six weeks for materials to arrive at my local library. I ate Cool Ranch Dorritos, wiping finger crumbs on a damp cloth napkin, while I sucked down 44 oz of frozen, slushy Coke deliciousness. I took my hair out of the bun and shook it free, spending a few minutes combing it to let my hair “breathe.” I’ve come back and forth Facebook, rabbit hole now on non-related topics, writing here, eating something, kissing TEH.

I need to breathe, not just my hair.

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The plethora of topics may be too much. An ageing London actress (look up “london stage edwardian,” “london theatres,” “london west end,” “edwardian fashion,” and “edwardian actresses”) who picks up photography (search for “women photographers,” “history of photography,” and “victorian cameras”), and add in spiritualism (look up “spiritualism victorian”) and may be pals with Arthur Conan Doyle (find “Arthur Conan Doyle AND spiritualism”) with a dash of mystery involved.

And the supernatural. Of course.

I panic because this book has to be written — it’s been rattling around my brain for the last five years. It may not get published but it needs to be written, then hugged, and gently put to bed and loved every once in a while. It may be terrible and overwrought but it will be mine and mine alone. I feel if I don’t write this book, all I will be doing is cranking out mediocre short fiction waiting, with downturned baited breath, for the eventual rejections to arrive.

When I came across a problem with my front end web dev class, I would step away for an hour or two or the night or whatever and when I came back to the project, the answer was always crystal clear. Always. It became a pattern if I could not figure it out on my own, leaving it to simmer for a while brought forth the answer.

It never failed.

Tonight, I will post this, walk my dog, do my yoga, and watch TV for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow I will begin again, taking considertion into the previous days work. Nothing will be for naught or regretted. This book will be done and along with every other momentus challenge in my life, I will survive.

cabinet particulier the reboot

In 2012, laid up from ankle surgery, I came up with an idea to while away the time: I’d write a book. The book centers around an American actress living in England who has massive stage fright but continues to get jobs due to her extraordinary beauty. As she gets long in the tooth, a patron gives her a Kodak Brownie as a gift to keep her occupied during her downtime and she discovers she’s brilliant with a camera. After I fleshed out my character a bit, more ideas came forward: Edwardian period, magical realism, fairies, Arthur Conan Doyle, motorbikes, and a murder and you have a fantastic world in the making.

(This doesn’t mean I’ll be using all the things or anything else comes up but hey! having too much is better than not having enough.)

The name of the project is “Cabinet Particulier,” which is a term used for enclosed rooms in restaurants where men would meet their mistresses. The working title seems appropriate for a book based on a failed actress with the Edwardian version of a questionable background.

(You can read the beginning of my research notes over at exitpursuedbyabear.net.)

Months march on and in 2014, TEH and I decide I’m taking a gap year to write my book. Anyone who’s been keeping track of me these last few years know shit didn’t end up turning out that way.

(The story I’m spinning when future employers look at my resume is I took a gap year and the book stalled, which is mostly true.)

It’s almost five years (!) since the original idea smacked into my brain and I’ve decided it’s finally time to give my book the time it is due.

Let’s answer some questions:

What is the Edwardian period: Period of time begins around 1900 and ends at the beginning, mostly, of WWI (1914). The dates are a bit fluid, with dates extended on either direction but is considered the gap period between Victorian age and the Roaring ’20s. Some scholars consider it to be the tail end of the Victorian era while others, like myself, see it as a wholly different period. The period is named for the English king, King Edward VII, who comes into power after his mother, Queen Victoria (the name sake of the Victorian era), dies. In the US, the period is loosely referred to as “The Gilded Age” and in France, “Belle Époque.”

Why the Edwardian period: I knew I wanted the book to be historical fiction and I also knew I wanted the period to be close to contemporary times since there would be more research available (hah!). I tend to gravitate to periods pre-Depression era (1930s) but I wanted something different than your usual molls and gangsters of the 1920s. The turn of the 20th century was huge with big changes: Cars were becoming affordable and popular, same with radios, telephones, and electricity. Cameras and bikes were also coming into their own. People were becoming more literate, printing was cheap, and you saw the rise of mass produced books and magazines.  The attitudes were more relaxed than the perceived stuffiness of the Victorians and lifestyles was more opulent and extravagant. I also wanted it to be pre-sinking of the Titanic (1912).

In short, it was an era where anything and everything could be possible.

Influences: When I began my research, I found women, more so than men, were commercial and artistic photographers, so giving her a new job was easy. Popular travelogues of the era were written by women. There was a spike in the belief in the supernatural — The Victorians loved their ghost stories, seances, and research into the otherworld carried over to the beginning of the century. It became more socially acceptable for a woman to have jobs that would have been unseemly in the Victorian era, namely actresses and models. Thanks to telephones and postcards (yes, really), communication was easier and faster. This is also the rise of the middle class so you’re seeing a lot money spent on vacations, luxuries, and entertainment.

Research: has been sketchy. Finding material that works specifically with that period has been hard. While there seems to be a zillion blogs/websites/books on Victorians and the Roaring ’20s and forward, the Edwardian period seems to be forgotten. Much of the social commentary on WWI tends to lean towards the Roaring ’20s rather than the time before it. Since many scholars and historians consider the period to be late-Victorian, what I have been finding for resources tend to be footnotes in those works. I thought the popularity of Downton Abbey would see a rush of amateur historians coming to the rescue, but no. I’ve been expanding my search terms to find more information –  Art Nouveau is such an example.

Where are we at now: I took a fiction class in the fall of 2015 and workshopped the first chapter and it was well received. I’ve been playing around with characters, theme, and story lines so the basic idea, “failed American actress living in London,” is starting to flesh out. Since I gave away my print books on the topic, I’m starting my research from scratch. There is an accompanying Pinboard, PinterestTumblr sites as well as a RSS feed if you want to follow along. Posts, as always, will be cross-posted over on Facebook. My Scrivener files are still intact.

What’s next: Now that my meds are under control which means my focus is better, I’m going to sketch out a plan of attack. I know I need to do a lot of research and I should also work on note taking of character / plot / scene. I bought a mechanics book on novel writing to help with the basics. (I’ve found celebrated books such as Stephen Kings On Writing are nothing more than expositioned mental masturbation. The first rule of writing is there is no formula for writing. Reading 300 pages of essays from famous authors does nothing for me. That’s great you drank a bottle of gin before you sat down and wrote The Great American Novel™ but not everyone is going to be that type of writer.) I need to read, read, read works of the era and whatever contemporary works on the era I an find.

In short, there is a lot of work to be done.

WIP: January writing schedule summary / February writing goals

Dear Internet,
Italicized is the original list. Regular text is add-ons. Bold is completion and totals.
Projects for January (apparently I was overly ambitious):

  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
  • Collate notes on the 45th parallel project and continue with research
  • Research (aka read) stream of consciousness novels
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones; submit at least one a week
    • Total submitted: 3
      • To be fair, I had forgotten about this particular goal, but, I did do it and finished three in a week and submitted all three!
  • Get most of Vol 1 of secret Kindle project formatted and edited – Completed January 31
    • Huzzah! Finished this on time and started the print version. Thank the gods this first bit is over.
    • Vol 2 (year 1999) and Vol 3 (2000) started.
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
  • Query/submit non-fiction pieces
  • Continue shilling to get more submissions for so glad is my heart
    • Launch is planned for February 16!
  • Outline and begin 3rd Triangle novel
  • Blog writing count for January
    • Words written: 7,633
    • Number of posts: 13

February projects:
The above, plus!

  • Print proof The Lisa Chronicles Vol. 1
  • Finish organizing The Lisa Chronicles Vol. 2

Previous WIP

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

WIP: December writing schedule summary / January writing goals

Dear Internet,
Getting back on track after a several month temporary setback. You can get the full scoop of there temporary setback here. This won’t be as complete since I’m starting so late, but it’s a good start.
Italicized is the original list. Regular text is add-ons. Bold is completion and totals.
Projects for January:

  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
  • Collate notes on the 45th parallel project and continue with research
  • Research (aka read) stream of consciousness novels
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones; submit at least one a week
  • Get most of Vol 1 of secret Kindle project formatted and edited
    • Line edits started. Publication date set for January 31, 2015.
    • Vol 2 (year 1999) and Vol 3 (2000) started.
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
  • Query/submit non-fiction pieces
  • Blog writing count for December
    • Words written: 7510
    • Number of posts: 12
  • Continue shilling to get more submissions for so glad is my heart
  • Outline and begin 3rd Triangle novel

January projects:

  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
  • Collate notes on the 45th parallel project and continue with research
  • Research (aka read) stream of consciousness novels
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones; submit at least one a week
  • Publish Vol 1 of Kindle project
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
  • Query/submit non-fiction pieces
  • Continue shilling to get more submissions for so glad is my heart
  • Outline and begin 3rd Triangle novel
  • Blog writing count for January
    • Words written:
    • Number of posts:

 
Previous WIP

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2003

WIP: July writing schedule summary / August writing goals

Dear Internet,
I’ve been up at Throbbing Cabin since Wednesday with some of my favorite ladies for a weekend retreat, which is turning out fabulously. There has been beach time, s’mores time, lots of reading and down time, not getting out of our jimjams time, and lots and lots of drinking time. Tomorrow we are going to photograph Val walking on water for GISWSHES before heading back to our respective households. It’s been a lovely break from the world and I’m feeling recharged and maybe, just maybe, reborn.
True to my promise, here is this months writing roundup.
Italicized is the original list. Regular text is add-ons. Bold is completion and totals.
Projects for July:

  • Launch lisarabey.com finallyCompleted July 8
    • TheHusband got the website up and running pretty early on in the month, so yay!  I spent some time adding more back content and moving the Ephemera and other fiction-y sections over to lisarabey.com. There are a few bits and pieces that still need to be done, but the biggest chunk of the project is completed.
  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
    • Was not as productive on this as I had hoped, but it is the beginning of August and I’ve already surpassed last year’s totals on books read, so I’m calling this a win.
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
    • Words written: 2500
    • I knocked out the first draft of the first chapter while at my retreat a week ago and started chapter two, but then LIFE happened and things have kind of stalled. I will be kickstarting this this week.
  • Start fleshing out 45th parallel story
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones
    • Did not accomplish. Will work on next month
  • Get Vol 1 of secret Kindle project completed and online
    • This is turning out into a bigger project than I had originally envisioned. About the 1/4 of the way through and that’s already at 50 pages in the proper Kindle formatting. As I started, I realized that I was missing a lot of content to be added to the project, thus I went back and started on the back fill again. Going to shoot for end of August to have most of Vol 1 completed and edited.
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
    • My note card box grows!
  • Get LLC sorted out – Completed July 25
    • LLC was finalized and I still need to do an entry on that process. I have secured a CPA; business checking and savings accounts opened, business credit card obtained, receipts kept, and domain has been purchased and is currently pointing to lisarabey.com. There are some minor work to be done, but the process is complete!
  • Query/submit at least half a dozen pieces
    • Two completed on July 11
    • Status: Both rejected, boo.
  • Blog writing count for July
    • Words written: 22,097
    • Number of posts: 36

August projects:

  • Plow through current library loans and ARCs from NetGalley and get reviews written
  • Collate notes on the Edwardian mystery, continue with research, and get most of the structure sorted
  • Collate notes on the 45th parallel project and continue with research
  • Research (aka read) stream of consciousness novels
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones; submit at least one a week
  • Get most of Vol 1 of secret Kindle project formatted and edited
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects
  • Query/submit non-fiction pieces
  • Blog writing count for July

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2012, 2012, 2012, 2012, 2008, 1998

notes for cabinet particulier, part iv: draft of first chapter completed

Dear Internet,
It’s about 8:30PM and I’m sitting on the front deck, still in my jim jams from the night before. This is the second time today I have stepped foot out of the cabin, the first being this morning when after I woke and received a phone call from the Cedar postmaster telling me the post carrier had flagged where we can put our new mailbox and I had walked out to check to verify the location. After that, my butt was parked either at the island in the kitchen or in the chaise  (so very chic) writing and researching.
My book takes place in 1907 London that revolves around an aging actress who is  not terribly good but she is what matters most and that is she’s one of the most beautiful women of her age. I’m styling her looks after the famed American silent film actress from the same era, Maude Fealy.
maudefealy
As my character is an Edwardian London stage actress, I spent some time today gathering moar research on the theaters of the era and discovered a gem of a site that also had a handy Google map of theaters from the era, including play programs, photos, and loads more.
I also dipped into cosmetics and etiquette of the era, finding a boon of a book entitled Every Woman’s Encyclopedia, from 1910, which ran into a hefty 8 volumes and 6000 page. The book is intense. Here is a gem on how Edwardian lady should keep her eyes more becoming:
thinkingcap
Yes, let us not weary our poor optic nerves, shall we ladies?
I had the idea of how I wanted the book to open and numerous first lines had already appeared, so instead of working out a vague outline of where I wanted the book to go, I just sat down and wrote instead. Several hours later, I had 2100 words in a pretty good first chapter under my belt with ideas of where I was going.
Tomorrow I was to go kayaking with Emili, but I just texted her to beg off since I’m in the zone and needed to continue plowing through with my work. Kristin is coming up tomorrow evening for the weekend and we’ll be busy and I’m heading back to Grand Rapids on Sunday (can’t miss my Sunday evening telly). Next week is going to be busy as John is coming into town on Tuesday evening to stay at Throbbing Manor and we are heading to the Code4Lib Midwest conference on Wednesday/Thursday. Since many of my favorite people are going to be at the conference as well, there will be lots of socializing. Friday I head to Mt. P to hang with Kristin for the weekend and we’re meeting up with some of our cmmrb pals and then it’s back to the grind on Monday when I head back to the cabin for MOAR writing for a week and then the cmmrb weekend will be here and then it will be August.
Jesus fucking Christ. In the four days I’ve been up here, between blog posts, writing the chapter, and research I’ve cranked out 10,000 words. I am a mutherfucking machine!
On that note, I’m getting off the laptop and calling it an early night. I’m going to brush the fuzz off my teeth, wash my filthy body, and make a bowl of popcorn. Yes, yes I did indeed bring my beloved hot air popper to the cabin with me. I’m then going to curl up around my ipad and watch Downton Abbey, for you know, research.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2008, 2003, 1999, 1998

notes for cabinet particulier, part iii: sorting the research

View from the back deck
View from the back deck

Dear Internet,
As planned, I got up early and headed into Traverse City to get Jeeves’ tires attended to. I called the local BMW dealership and was told, despite confirmation from MINI Grand Rapids and the TC BMW receptionist, they do NOT service MINIs. His suggestion? Take my car to MINI Grand Rapids. When I pointed out a 160 mile trek on possibly bad tires was not a wise move, he suggested I head to Discount Tire (as I had originally was leaning towards) and also gave me the name of a local TC shop that specialized in MINIs and other foreign cars.
Once you get off of M-72 and start heading into Cedar and then further on to Throbbing Cabin is some of the best driving roads around, barring M-22 of course. I love this part of the drive when we come up here as this is the kind of roads where Jeeves thrives and begs to be driven on. There is a stretch of about five miles after you leave Cedar that is hairpin straight and goes up some minor hills; when you hit the apex of each hill, you can see Lake Michigan beckoning in the distance.
Uncertain to the status of the my tires, I drove ever so slowly down to TC and who am I kidding here? I was probably white knuckling it the entire way, waiting for the supposedly bad tire to just fall off and planning in my head how I was going to handle each and every bad scenario that landed in my brain.
Discount Tire was busy for 10AM on a Wednesday morning — me and all the OAPs hanging out getting our tires issues sorted. The tires are fine and the TPMS is all normalized (again). Rationally, I knew this was going to be true, but anxiety eats away at all rationality. I spent time on the deck last night staring at Jeeves as if he was a monster because I could not stop thinking of worse case scenarios of having massive car issue 160 miles from home. THIS! Despite having insurance, an incredible maintenance and warranty plan, tow truck numbers programmed in my phone, and local numbers (now) for car repair, I could not let it go until the nice man at Discount Tire told me everything was going to be fine.
I got back to the cabin several hours later than intended as I ran a few errands since I was out and about. After having lunch, I started getting settled into doing research for the book around 4PM and here it is four hours later and fuck man, I am overwhelmed.
researchoverload
On Monday night I started culling all the random tidbits I had been collecting for the last 18 months and began to import them into Scrivener. I broke each thing down to its own category for easier sorting and updated the research page for the project in the process.
Today’s work was much of the same as I found more locales where I had stored bits and bobs. I think in my head I always fancied myself to keep things neat and simple, but apparently I keep trying to find the best product for everything, test it out, and ultimately forget it and all the content I stored there. Today the culprit was Pinboard, which while it seems to prove useful for many, I need visualization to organize.
(Still sitting on Pinboard  is a good chunk of research I found for my viking and medieval lady boners which still needs to be imported over to their respective Scrivener projects. Marginalia for the win!)
Granted Scrivener has a learning curve, but once you get in the groove it starts to really make sense. Best thing I’ve ever done? Put all my notes, ideas, and everything into a single Scrivener project.
storyideas
I’ve also been reading contemporary stories while I’m up here based in the Edwardian era – of which there is surprisingly not many.  I suspected with the rise of Downton Abbey that there would have been a huge influx of lit based in the Edwardian era, but no, there really isn’t. I know of less than half a dozen mystery series based in that era and handful of fiction books written in the last five years but that’s shockingly about it. Since I’m having a hard time finding contemporary books of that era, I’m going to create a bibliography over on my author site for read alikes. Because librarian, yolo.
I’m also collecting titles of works written in the era to read to get a better sense of the period. so watch it Lawrence, Forster, Galsworthy, and the whole lot of you. I am on to you. And lucky me, most of their work is available in the open domain.
(I finally finished Maugham’s Cakes & Ale, though written in 1930 much of the book takes place in the Edwardian era. Holy fuck, do I hate this book. It was just so awful for a large list of reasons I will be discussing later.)
Additionally, there is only a handful of sites dedicated to the Edwardian era and some of them are dubious in nature while others tuck that period in as very-late Victorian without giving the period its proper due. I was distressed to find that one of the sites that I had considered, due to the breadth of research and writing, to be a fabulous resource was passing on debunked knowledge as fact.
Case in point: I am supremely disappointed to discover Edwardian women did NOT pierce their nipples to make them more pert. This is repeated over and over again in many legitimate sites but apparently there is no reference other than to a correspondence page in the back of a publication from 1899 that was more of fetishism than actual fact.
I have a draft started for a blog post quaintly entitled, Who the fuck are the Edwardians and why should we care?, which I hope to write tomorrow. Because we should care, dammit.
whiterussian
Legit writer tools.

The mosquitos are eating me alive out here and it grows late. My treat for getting work done will be a vegan white russian, dinner, and a not so terrible book.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2012, 2010, 1998

the gods ruffled their skirts

Dear Internet,
It’s late and I’ve just come back inside after hanging out on the front deck for a bit. It’s dark out; the kind of dark that is so deep and black, even the pin pricks made by the stars seem like interlopers to the night.
The kind of night made for Jason Voorhees.
(Last night was even spookier. The master bedroom is the in the loft of the cabin, I had the windows open and heard every movement by every beast in the area.)
I keep processing how geographically isolated I am right now. The nearest town is six miles down a straight road (or six miles in the other direction over a curvy road that hugs Lake Michigan) and while I have neighbors across the road who have lights on at their place, it could be for security rather than notification someone is at home. The only sounds I’ve heard all evening are the ticking of the clock in the main room of the cabin, the water heater and fridge kicking on and off, and the accordion sound of the plastic bag hung around the internal open exit of the metal chimney that used to connect to a gas stove.

To illustrate
To illustrate

(We discovered while the chimney is screened and capped outside, moths, rain, and other tiny creatures were still getting inside so TheHusband mcguyvered the bag to catch the detritus from the outside world. It works, but the downside is the bag moves when the wind moves so it blooms and closes with each movement. It’s alternately creepy to hear but also strangely soothing at the same time.)
I was feeling exhausted after my long day yesterday and put myself into bed at 8PM, with the laptop in tow. I started doing research for my book and when I eventually took a break, it was nearing 1AM. I took melatonin for the first time as I needed to get some relief to sleep without taking Klonopin, which when taken for consecutive periods, makes me feel drugged the following day. The melatonin worked as I was out within 10 minutes.
It worked so well, I didn’t wake up until nearly 11:30AM, 9.5 hours later.
I planned my day  around having dinner with my brother this evening, since I did not know how long that was going to take and I wanted to make sure I got a lot of work done before we went out.
That did not work out as well as I had hoped.
I was planning on doing more research and start working on the structure of the book when I realised tomorrow was the 16th anniversary of my online journal and I had planned on writing something to celebrate. The draft had been sitting for months as a reminder and I figured it would only take me a few hours to get it written, polished, and formatted and then I could continue with the rest of my plans.
I, regrettably, was horribly off on my time management.
I had the piece half done before my brother and his coworker showed up around 3PM and they were itching to have an early dinner. As the restaurant we were going to didn’t open until 4PM, that meant drinks until it was time to leave. On our way to the restaurant, the TPS was showing my front right tire was low on air, which was odd because I just had the tires checked on Monday before heading out of town.
After dinner, we drove to the village gas station/grocery store/pizza place/deli/butcher/movie rental place to check the pressure and all of the tires were registering at the right PSI. After picking up a few staples at the gas station/grocery store/pizza place/deli/butcher/movie rental place, I headed back to the cabin, parked, and read the owners manual to figure out what the fuck was going on. Apparently when the pressure of the tires is changed (and in this case, my tires were over inflated to 39 PSI instead of regulated 32 PSI), the TPS needs to be reset, which didn’t happen. I reset the TPS and the warning gauge finally cleared. However, my brother noted when following me into the village, my left rear driver’s tire was rotating at an odd angle, meaning it wasn’t rolling up and down but rather it looked like it was rolling more at an angle.
(The tire place I got my tires from has a store in Traverse City, so I’m going to be heading there tomorrow morning to have a check. If there is something majorly wrong, while there is no MINI dealer in the area there is a BMW one, so I should be fine.)
By the time I was done fucking with my car and getting back into the groove, it was coming on 6PM. I figured I had a good six more hours to work tonight, with maybe one MAYBE two hours geared towards finishing the anniversary piece.
That piece was finished at 10:30PM and came in at 2300 words. Then it was a break to sit outside for a bit, listen to the gods ruffle their skirts, and here we are.
Tomorrow I’m going to buckle down and start making progress on my large writing ToDo list. Right now the goal is to get up fairly early, get into town to have the tire looked at and dealt with and be back at the cabin no later than noon. Thursday, sans car issues, will be more of the same of writing. Friday I’m going kayaking with Emili, and Kristin is coming out to have bro time on Friday evening. On Saturday evening, Kristin and I are going to head up to the dark sky park to watch the stars with my telescope and camp out for the night. Sunday we head back to the cabin, and then we head to our respective homes.
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 2008, 1999

Taking A Gap Year To Write A Book

Dear Internet,
A few weeks ago, I teased there was a big announcement coming, and I am finally in a position to make that announcement:

I’m taking a gap year to write a (fiction) book(s).

Come July 1, 2014, I will officially have the new status of “writer in residence at Throbbing Manor/Cabin.”
Many of you, hell most of the population probably already knows this since I’ve had to tell people privately for a variety of reasons over the last couple of months, but I wanted something official and concrete on paper. I was holding out until I got the official rejection from the job I interviewed for in April1. I was also holding out until I could get in touch with a few close friends so they knew before it became a Facebook status update. I was able to make that last final personal connection on Friday, so here we are!
Here are some of the big questions I’ve been asked: How did I get here, what am I writing, and what is happening with library land?
How did I get here
This is all TheHusband’s idea.
Truly.
He’s known me forever (nearly two decades) and he knows the ultimate goal in my life was to write books. While he’s pretty supportive of my ideas, he also knows me well enough to know I can only handle one big thing at a time; whether that thing is a job, writing, or getting a degree. I’ve conceded long ago I’m not someone who can multitask big projects easily. Before I left my job at UUNet in 2002 to go back to university full time, I had signed up, attended classes, and either dropped or failed out of three colleges. If I wanted my undergrad degree, it had to be THE ONLY thing — I could not work full time and go to class. Once I made it the only thing, then I sailed through it with a breeze (while amping up my GPA from 1.7 to 3.3).
But you know, life happens. It always happens. I had an opportunity to write full time in between degrees, but choose not to because I wanted cash in the pocket,as I was tired of being broke, more than my dream. I had a second opportunity after I graduated from library school and I was on that dreadful job hunt where I applied for 114 jobs over 8 months before landing at GRCC. TheHusband bargained if I could not get a job within 100 applications, I could write full time. I pushed on to 114 as we had just moved to Grand Rapids and boom! Job at GRCC.
“I’ll write part-time,” I said. (Look how well that turned out.)
For the last year, I’ve been in big debate about whether or not to accept the contract when it came up for renewal. Six months ago, I found out they were not renewing my contract and if I wanted to keep my job, I had to reapply just like everyone else on the open market. In January, I knew for sure I was not going to reapply for the position. After making that decision, I started the arduous task of the job hunt version 2.0.
Even during mania, I would get crushed under the soul sucking weight of job hunting and with each opportunity came along, I did not feel elated — I felt like I was being ripped apart. TheHusband and I sat down and ran budget simulations, figures, and possible outcomes across a wide variety of scenarios. Right after I phone interviewed with the California institution, TheHusband came to me and said, “Why not take a year off to write?” His reasoning was it would be much cheaper for us to stay put while I wrote, where we could maintain our current lifestyle (with some heavy regulation), without putting us in massive debt. I lept at the chance. And mentally felt like I lost a massive weight on my soul.
Since we made this decision two days before I was scheduled to fly out for my second interview, we decided if they offered me the job and it was beyond fantastic, I’d take it. Anything else, we would not accept or if I was passed on the position then I would go forth and write.
What am I writing
I’ve got numerous projects already lined up:

  • I’ll be co-editing a non-fiction book on lib/tech/gender issues that is slated to come out next year #fingerscrossed
  • In the fiction realm (which is why I’m taking the time off), I’ve got two books in process (one of them my edwardian series I’ve been keen on for the last three years to finish), and one, possibly two, anthology of short stories based on two different cycles
  • Graphic novel
  • Other projects / ideas
  • Freelance work

TheHusband and I spent some considerable time putting together a business plan (not a typo) on how create, manage, and also make passive income while I’m writing. I still need to work out a schedule, and we’re thinking of getting space at a local a co-working joint. There is a lot of back end work that needs to be done in conjunction while I write.
What is happening with library land
Or more to the point, “What happens if you fail miserably and everyone hates your books?” Easy: I’ll go back into librarianship. TheHusband and I have not defined what it means to be successful yet, but the low bar is any kind of income I can generate from writing. Then who knows.
I’m still very much want to be on the pulse of the profession, so for many of you, it will be like I’ve never left. I’m keeping my memberships and plan to still be active. I’ve got a few projects that I will be working on, but as for the day to day stuff, I won’t be there.
This is already getting far lengthier than I had anticipated, so expect more tidbits and updates on this to continue.
But I just want to say, to those whom I’ve already told and whose support was not even a teeny bit wavering on this new path: THANK YOU! Seriously, I am floored by how supportive people have been. I love you all!
x0x0,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe:


1. I met my competitor at a conference prior to our interviews and we were in simultaneous shock when we discovered we were both being flown out to do the second round. After my interview, I was told it would be 1-2 weeks for the decision. I found out within that period, from my competitor, they had offered him the job, he had already negotiated his salary, and was in the final throes of finalizing details. I had YET to hear from the institution, so I waited. Three weeks after the interview, I emailed my contact a polite follow up request and it was nearly another week before they got back to me. So we’re a month plus past my interview and I’ve already known via the Internet I didn’t get the job for nearly three weeks of that time.

notes for cabinet particulier, part ii: History of Edwardian postcards

Edwardian postcard.
Edwardian postcard.

Dear Internet,
Today TheHusband, my MIL, ThePug, and myself spent majority of our time in the main living room doing various and sundry tasks. I curled up in a chair with a constant cup of tea near me with ThePug conjoined to my hip as I researched on Cabinet Particulier and juxtaposed the research with recreational reading. TheHusband worked with my MIL on her oral history — she literally is one of the most interesting women in the world. In between bits of cookies, tea, and reading, I gave archivist advice on documenting, curating, and archiving her stories. She, along with my FIL, are published poets and writers and there are plans of TheHusband and I becoming the family historians in the next few years to start documenting their papers and stories to save for future generations.
I have been toying with the idea of my heroine as supplementing her income as an actress by becoming an Edwardian postcard model, which was something many of the actresses of the era did, something I had come across from my initial research a few years ago. As I started falling down that particular research hole this afternoon, I came across this great paper The Edwardian postcard: a revolutionary moment in rapid multimodal communications which discusses a current project at Lancaster University co-directed by the authors. The paper goes into great detail about literacy and accessibility of writing postcards, which lead into it becoming a social phenomenon during the beginning of the 20th century.

  • Mail delivery happened in major cities up to 10 times a day, so responses were often “instant”
  • The average number of postcards written during this period, per person, is 200
  • UK Postmaster General reported to have delivered 6 BILLION postcards during the Edwardian era
  • Postcards were significantly cheaper to send than regular letters (Half penny per postcard as opposed to a full penny for a letter)
  • Postcards could be, and were, written in a very informal style which gave writers more freedom of expression

[Postcards] are utterly destructive of style, and give absolutely no play to the emotions. George Sims circa 1902

I found the above quote amusing since near identical verbiage has been given about Twitter.
The paper and the project were the source of why numerous articles in 2009 popped up about Edwardian postcards and referring to the postcards as the grandfather of social networking.
For those like me who are interested in more history on postcards, and their rise in Edwardian era, below are good points to start out:

If you’re interested in seeing examples of Edwardian postcards, Google, Flickr, and Tumblr each have a treasure trove of examples that should keep you busy for some time.
xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2012