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

WIP: July writing schedule

Dear Internet,

It’s mid late Sunday afternoon and we’re still up at Throbbing Cabin. TheHusband and I are teaching ourselves how to relax and he’s doing a fine job of it at the moment if his snoring is any indication by cleaning the gutters and other yard work.

Me, on the other hand? I‘m actually working but it’s the kind of work I love to do so it is actually fun, not work. Following him around the perimeter of the cabin with the shop vac on my shoulder so he can suck up all of the last years worth of leaves from the gutters.  And isn’t this what the whole adventure was to be about in the first place? 

Fuck. I was tricked into doing yard work.

Moving on. I am not allowing myself feel guilty for not getting much writing work done my first official week into this new venture. Domesticity had to be done and so it was and now that I have a sort of rhythm going to my day and making heavy use of my calendar, I’m sort of figuring out what direction I’m going in.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. When I’m not being tricked into doing yard work, that is.

Today’s writing task was to sort through all of my scraps stored on Google Drive and Dropbox, consolidate them and remove the duplicates, then import non-journal based things into a Scrivener project I manage for such works I titled Story Ideas. Story Ideas is my launching pad for all of my fiction writing as any idea, line, scrap of something lands up here and organized into one of seven main sections, Book Ideas, Story Ideas, Stories in Progress, OuttakesResearch, Scrivener Projects (projects with their own Scrivener project file), and Completed.

Most of this is pretty self-explanatory except perhaps for Outtakes which is chunks of writing I’ve removed for whatever reason and did not want to trash and Research, which is links to things I want to dig into more but not sure what for just yet.

This task turned into the rabbit hole of all holes as I have folders inside of folders in various places across Dropbox and Google Drive. I’ve now made a ToDo item to dig more to figure out what each piece is (journal entry? prose? short story? something else entirely?) and sort it out later. Everything that could easily sorted today got moved into Scrivener to keep it all in one location.

Right now the stats are

  • 46 story ideas (various states)
  • 16 book ideas (mainly first few chapters, synopsis, and related material)
  • 8 short stories in progress (most are near completion)
  • 8 notes in Research
  • 4 completed short stories
  • 2 existing Scrivener projects

This does not include all the notes I’ve made in paper journals or index cards not yet transferred, notes made in SimpleMind for an Icelandic saga cycle I’m working on, or what other treasures are still lurking on my drives.

(If this all sounds impressive, it is and isn’t. I had no idea the sheer amount of prolificness BUT  a lot of it is dreck. I’ve got NaNoWriMo projects dating back to 2001 (and novels started as far back as 1999) that are very clear indicators of what I was into at the time, which isn’t the same as I am into now. 95% of this will probably never see the light of day as it’s pretty bad, thank fuck.)

The big thing I need is accountability, because this current organization in its natural chaotic state is a hot mess.

At the beginning of the month I’ll put up my writing plan and at the end, summarize what I did. I’m not going to do word counts (yet) because I have no idea how to apply it realistically. From June 28th – July 5th, on the blog alone, I cranked out 9, 724 words over 13 blog posts. That’s not including work I’ve done on note taking, story editing, and anything else since I don’t have those numbers. So word counts are out (for now).

Additionally, TheHusband wants to see some kind of timeline of my work progress so he knows when he needs me to crack the whip or for me to calm the fuck down. All very civilized in our household.

Behold! Projects for July:

  • Launch lisarabey.com finally
  • 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
  • Start fleshing out 45th parallel story
  • Finish or shelve in-progress short stories and submit completed ones
  • Get Vol 1 of secret Kindle project completed and online
  • Continue note carding ideas / quotes / etc for future projects

Is this a lot? It feels like a lot but at the same time it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I feel what needs to be done.

When I check in 25 days, we’ll see how it went!

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2003

Conversations with TheHusband on Writing

Dear Internet,

TheHusband is a snob.

So when he asks me what I’ve written lately, and I give him the word count from EPbaB for the day, he turns his nose up at me. “That’s not real writing,” he says. “That’s just your blog!”

This conversation goes back and forth every couple of months, with me defending and him objecting. Finally, it comes out to him, real writing is fiction. Preferably long fiction, a novella or even a novel. Short bits, flash, and other work such as writing a diary online are not “real writing.” But it would count, he says, if I got paid for what I did. (Which is a whole ‘nother entry.)

Writing fiction is hard work. You have to be an exceptional liar, because something you’re creating is false; a lie upon itself. You also have to have the witheral for isolation, tendency for physical solitude, and the ability to create at the drop of a hat. Doing all of this without going insane.

At least that’s my interpretation of it.

For years, when I come up with a story from my past that I was planning on working into a diary piece, he stops me and says it would make good story period. Why not turn that into something else?, he asks. Use it as a jumping off point for a bigger story concept. In the past, for whatever reason, I’ve chosen to ignore him because where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my writing seemed to be so opposite of where he tries to gently push me.

Something today clicked. I was thinking of something, which leads to another, as it often does, when I recalled an event from my childhood that upon my nearly 30 year removal from the incident, seems quite extraordinary. I was indeed going to write about the incident in its natural form for EPbaB, but something stopped me – the idea that this bit from my childhood would indeed make a grand launch pad into a fictional world. Why attempt to explain what happened and why when time has eroded the more fragile of the concepts of the period? Instead I could create another world where I can fill in the details as they were meant to happen or as I wanted them to happen or as I thought I had remembered them.

In short, make shit up.

This dawning of clarity of how this world works came to me at 4:45PM as I was in the bedroom taking my afternoon pills. When the dust cleared from this acceptance of truth, I checked the clock for the time so I could recall it back to TheHusband for I wanted this moment to be ingrained.

And just like that, the beginning of something came and within an hour, I had slightly over 1200 words (or the equivalent of 43 tweets) committed to paper in some kind of coherent series of events. When I told TheHusband I had committed 1200 words on fiction today, I got a “That’s nice, dear. Is that about two pages?” I huffed and corrected him on the page count.

It was the first time since the beginning of the year I have written anything resembling a fictional story.

A couple of years ago, I purchased Scrivener and last year, I started organizing my work. I have roughly over 40 story sparks, ideas or lines that could be the basis of something, which also includes a couple of ideas that are formatted for novel length. In addition, I have five pieces which are in progress and more than a dozen completed. With the exception of the odd submission here or there, none of this has been shopped around anywhere.

It’s always been painful as I could come up with ideas, I could take notes on these ideas, but getting those notes into a fully formed idea has mostly failed. One thing is for certain, I keep collecting ideas and my tenacity to see them through exists regardless of past experiences.

Another truism that has occurred over the last couple of weeks, as my come down from the drugs has taken place, I’ve started to seriously wonder why I haven’t been using writing as a way of my own escapism from this chaos in my head. Isn’t that what I’ve done before? Why is it so different now? And why wasn’t I exploring a fictional world to give some peace to the conflicts that keep occurring?

I have no answers.

If one thing is for certain from going through my archives in the last year, I am my own worst enemy.

x0x0,
Lisa

P.S. The one thing I do know, is when I was able to do what I did today, the first thing I wanted to do after telling my husband was to tell you.

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