Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Lake in Winter

I've spent the past week up at the lake in an intensive effort to finish Why Maidens Mourn (still trying to get used to that title), number seven in the Sebastian St. Cyr series.

My last several writing retreats haven't been particularly successful, although this one wasn't quite the disaster of my November expedition. That one started with my car breaking down. Then about an hour after I finally arrived at the lake, I experienced a plumbing disaster that flooded the main bedroom, a storage closet, and half the kitchen. The entire first day was consumed by such productive exercises as rescuing boxes of papers, books, and photos, pulling up soaked carpet, and mopping (plus doing a lot of swearing). The second day was spent with a shovel and a Roto-Rooter man, digging up the yard in a forlorn attempt to find the clean-out valve for the septic tank (after uncovering the entire line, we discovered there was no clean-out valve). Then, because these things always come in threes, a horde of red ants evidently disturbed by the flood invaded my house and attacked Huckleberry's food bowls. Because my porphyria makes bugsprays as deadly to me as to bugs, the only thing I had to fight back with was Restoration Hardware grapefruit counter spray and pepper.

This time, I only had to contend with the rain and the cold. My sister Penny recently moved to McCall in the mountains of Idaho, so I've added McCall to the weather app on my iPhone and amuse myself occasionally by looking up her temperature and snickering when I see it's, say, -15 degrees in McCall and a balmy 65 in New Orleans. Well, last week it was a balmy 35 degrees in the mountains of Idaho and a bone-chilling 22 at my lake house. Who's snickering now?

Did I get much done? No. I spent one entire day writing a sentence, or maybe a paragraph, and then crossing it out, and crossing out the next one, and then tearing the page from my notebook and throwing it in a crumpled wad across the room. In the end, I produced less than half my normal retreat output. But several [nippy] walks around the lake helped me finally realize what the problem was. I came home, spread my plotting cards across the dining room table, and reorganized my plot. Hopefully I'm now good to go.

Or I'd better be. This deadline is barreling down on me fast.


Steve Malley said...

OUCH. I've had those sentence-scratching days too. They're awful. Glad you got the problem sorted though!

liz fenwick said...

It was a successful week then...I don't what it is but walking and plotting go so well together.

Charles Gramlich said...

Some days it's 1 step forward, fall on your face and roll back down the hill, get up and realize you're a ways back from where you started.

cs harris said...

Steve, Yes, those sentence-scratching days are nightmares. And they always seem to come when I'm already behind.

Liz, well, I hadn't looked at it that way, but you do have a point!

Charles. definitely feeling battered and at the bottom of the hill at the moment.

orannia said...

Sorry to hear the beginning of your retreat was so messy, but YAH for realizing how to solve the problem! I call that a win!

I think when I see Why Maidens Mourn on the cover (especially if the cover is statuesque - I just associate the title with a marble statue a la the Pride & Prejudice movie :) it will work.

Pax Deux said...

Joining in the well wishing, and especially hoping that you find a nice level path to the finish from now on.

cs harris said...

Orannia, things are finally progressing nicely, thanks.

Pax Deux, hopefully no more problems!

Nathan Riley said...

Just as when you’ve decided to give yourself a writing retreat, this mess happened. I hope that it didn’t totally ruin your writing momentum. You’ve got to make sure that whatever err that brought that plumbing disaster is now completely fixed, so it won’t ever get in between your time for writing.

Nathan Riley @ Stanley Steemer