Saturday, November 12, 2005

NaNoWriMo Progress and Projection Report


Well, I’m probably not going to make the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo yet again this year. Have only got 5000. The fact that I generated most of that in a single day leaves room for hope. If I can only string enough days like that one together between now and the 30th. But if I couldn’t do it the first two weeks it isn’t likely I can in the last two. Sometime between now and Thanksgiving, I have to spend a day or more gathering my stuff and packing for the trip back to Phoenix. The trip itself will use up another day. Will probably be riding back with my brother’s wife who is planning to drive down to Gerber, CA for a Bible Conference over Thanksgiving weekend. Her kids and my Mom will probably be going too. Unless we are traveling on Thanksgiving Day itself, there will be another day commandeered by the traditional family get together of my husband’s family.

And once I am back home there is the unpacking and that means confronting the mess I made in the rush to pack the week I left. (September 19th) Then there is the issue of creating a workstation in our room there. That will take me several hours, probably most of a day. Will have to do some significant reorganizing of space. Nor do I know how it is going to work out trying to stay focused with two cats prowling the room. Especially with one of them most likely insisting on sitting on my lap. Or shoulder. She would sit on my head if she could stay balanced up there! That’s Gremlin. So aptly named. We have never been separated this long since we got her when she was tiny--twelve years ago. So she is apt to be very demanding once she has me back in her clutches. Merlin is a bit more laid back but gets his share of attention by being a clown. He likes to chase balls, bugs and blanket wrinkles. If there is nothing else to chase, he will chase the flickering shadows on the walls or the crawl on cable news channels.

But once I do get a workstation set up in our room, it will increase my options for working. I am no longer tied to the graveyard shift to write or work with my files. Will still depend on those hours for online access until I get the phone line issue worked out in some fashion. Besides a new workstation in our room, I will have to figure out where to work with my laptop out in the front rooms--kitchen or living room--for those hours when my husband is sleeping or when I need to go online. The options are not many and since it isn’t my home, I don’t feel comfortable just commandeering a spot. Don’t know where I will be able to hook up to the phone line either.

Then there is the issue of my husband’s grandmother who I had been sitting with several evenings a week. She hurt her back the week after I left and was in the hospital for a couple days. She can no longer be left alone even after she has gone to bed at night so my father-in-law has essentially moved in with her. I am hoping to relieve him of some of that burden again once I get back down there but I have no idea what will be needed or accepted from me. So I don’t even know what my daily or weekly schedule will look like.

I have been here long enough now that going back is going to be as hard as leaving was. That change issue again. I have a good deal going here actually. Now, anyway. Didn’t get off to a great start. The first ten days I was here I set up my laptop in my Dad’s office where his computer and my sister’s computer were networked together. My nephew does his home school lessons on their computer. My sister uses my Dad’s computer to keep the household books as coached by Dad. They all play games, read and write email, on either of the computers. And as co-executor my sister was responsible for going through the papers relating to the church books as my Dad had been Treasurer and Secretary of the church I was raised in until the weekend before he died when he officially transferred that responsibility over to one of my cousins. Even though that church had not existed as a congregation since the late nineties, it still existed as a legal corporation for managing the money from the sale of the property.

The point of all of this being that it became obvious even before Dad’s internment on October 3rd, that I could not count on productive work sessions in that room. My presence during my nephew’s school work hours distracted him as his did me. My Mom and sister were in and out of the room looking for this or that, the phone rang every few minutes. When I worked in there at night, I disturbed my Mom, sleeping in the next room and my sister, sleeping in the room below with the sound of the chair’s wheels on the wooden floor. Doubly disturbing--as the sounds I made while working were so similar to those my Dad used to make.

But from my first night there, I had prowled all 2000 square feet of the two story house for a better alternative and could find nothing. The best option I found that first week--the second evening I was there--was to hole up in the basement bathroom with the laptop actually on my lap. I just absolutely had to write in privacy and the house was full of people that week. Had not been able to journal in depth since learning of Dad’s sudden turn four days earlier. It had been after midnight the previous night--Wednesday, the day I arrived--before I had my new laptop up and running and by then I had been without sleep since Monday afternoon so that journal entry had been fairly perfunctory. So when I woke up Thursday, I was desperate for some serious face time with my journal. No one knew I was awake yet so I had a couple hours which is about the limit of the battery. There was nowhere to plug it in without a lengthy extension cord which I could not impose on anyone to hunt down for me then, even if I had wanted to let anyone know that I was awake.

I discussed this dilemma with my sister the night of October 5th as she was heading to bed and I was getting ready to start my work session even though I was already exhausted. And, lo, if she did not have a solution by the time I got out of bed Thursday afternoon. She had cleared a couple of shelves in the basement laundry room, brought in a twenty foot heavy-duty outdoor extension cord long enough to plug in behind the washer and wrap all the way around the room to the far side of the shelves, and dug out my Dad’s old knee-chair. With the phone dismounted from the wall just outside the door, my laptop’s phone cord could plug in there. As it turned out, the knee-chair did not work for me. I had one in the eighties with my first PC and loved it. But my knees don’t tolerate them anymore. Of course it didn’t help that the week before, while visiting my brother’s family in Portland, I stepped wrong off the penultimate step in their stairwell and fell to my knees on the concrete floor. I futzed around with the setup in the laundry room for several days but that was just details. From the very first day I was double if not triply productive. And besides that, I now had a role beyond hug dispenser to fulfill for the family--I took over the laundry.

Most of the time it is a nearly ideal setup for me. At least an ideal jerry-rigged setup if you reserve ‘ideal’ for a dream office, or a room of one’s own. Sometimes there are issues. Like, whenever anyone is walking or working in the kitchen over my head, I begin to feel like I am inside a drum. If I crowd loads of laundry too close together my glasses will steam up from the humidity unless I open the door which then creates a chilly draft. But there are elements that are closer to ideal than what I left behind in Phoenix or even what I imagine is waiting for me upon return. For one thing, I am able to go online for brief tasks all through the day so I don’t need to crowd it all into the late night or wee morning hours. If it wasn’t that I missed my husband and cats so much….

Well this took off in a rambling way that went in unintended directions. I was planning to discuss my progress on the NaNoWriMo front, even divulge a bit of detail about plot and character and theme and such. Was even considering leaving a snippit of a scene which is in less disarray then most… but that will have to wait until another time now.


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