What's the good of writing a blog if you don't post it?

Last month I wrote this blog but forgot to publish it. That’s my life in the constant ebb and flow of travel. Also I’ve been editing my novel Outback Promise when we’ve stopped long enough to set up my computer for more than an hour at a time.

Here’s what I wrote in June. I’ll write this month’s and put it up later in a week or so. It’s important to stay in practice. But more about that later.

June 8th, 2015: I’m in Australia for five months. In the past week alone my husband and I have driven over 1,800 kilometres, visited a dozen national and state parks—more or less—and spent nights in five different locations. This is a holiday right?

Yes and no.

Yes because I’m seeing exciting places that I may never see again.

No because I can’t stop working. My work, of course, is writing.

Writing is also my obsession and compulsion.

And here’s what happens if I let it slide for a day or two: I lose track of my characters. They wander off and have conversations without me. When I get back to the keyboard, they’ve clammed up.

“You weren’t here to listen? Did you expect us to wait until you were ready?” they ask.

Then I have to tease them back to life, work with them until they’re ready to share their secrets again.

They don’t arrive on the page, fully formed. It’s up to me to perform the small acts daily that bring them to life.

What happens when you step away from your keyboard? What takes you away from your work? What brings you back?

What moves your writing?

After five months of waiting, we’ve finally taken delivery of our worldly belongings. My husband and I have gone from living in a construction site to coping with the chaos of organizing the contents of over a hundred boxes that were unloaded into every available space in our house. The challenges go on.

Over 200 messages have stacked up in my inbox. A three-foot high pile of paperwork needs filing now there is a place for it. In every nook and cranny of our house, boxes loom like muggers waiting to catch us unaware. I carry a cleaning cloth in one pocket and a knife the other. Things stored for months in a warehouse arrive dusty with the packing tape is baked.

While demolition and construction phases often involved unexpected twists in the road, I naively thought unpacking might be less problematic. Ha! There are still surprises in store. Even though we’d worn a path from our old house to the SPCA thrift store before we shipped things to storage, we still have too much of everything. As we unpack, there are many moments of why did we keep this? Soon our car will be able to find its way to the WIN donations centre unassisted.

My desk is in place now which inspires me to work again. It’s so much more comfortable than sitting at a folding camping table. The house is quiet; no more builders, electricians, and plumbers bustling around—as wonderful as they all were. Once again I can control the volume of my life.

For two weeks, I’ve barely touched my novel. To keep fit during the last weeks of mayhem, I’ve written weekly flash fiction. I’ve jammed my iPhone with notes for my work-in-progress. But before all my writing life settles again, I must first make one more trip to the donations centre. In life, as in writing, there is always more culling to do. Have you downsized recently, either your life or your work? What were the most difficult and most rewarding parts of that process? 

What is your hummingbird?

There is one major problem with our new home. Hummingbirds. They come to feed on the fuchsia plant hanging outside my window. When they do I am lost. I have no hope but to sit and watch them dart in and out of the flowers.

Then I have to go online and read about them or watch videos made by local Eric Pittman Hummingbirds Up Close. And we all know what happens when a person when you start searching the next.

Word Count: 449                                                               Reading time: 1-2 minutes

While I’m on the subject of things that distract me at this new house, I’d like to add the following:

  • Cats. There are a few of them in this neighbourhood and it’s entertaining to watch them face off on the street out front or cadge a pat or two from someone walking by.
  • Raccoons. Aren’t they meant to be nocturnal? So what are they doing, cavorting in the driveway across the street, forcing me to lift my eyes from my work?
  • Dogs and their walkers. At least a dozen different breed and mixes of dogs walk past this house everyday. My favourite is what Aussies call a bitsa, bits of this, bits of that. His top half looks like a lab with a long, golden body and a handsome head. His legs are basset hound short. His winsome face charms me from thirty feet.
  • Deer. There were lots here in the spring but they seem to have found greener pastures now that we are close to summer. Just as well. I have work to do.
  • Characters. Different people in wonderful outfits parade past every day and often I want to do nothing more than watch them.
  • Cooper’s Hawks. Granted, I’ve only seen one (once) and that was just this week, but I hear them all the time so I’m on the constant lookout.
  • Lastly there is an occasional rabbit and I have to stop what I’m doing and wait to see where it’s come from and where it’s going to. I’m always in the mood for a tea party.

Sometimes it’s good to lose myself in the passing tide of life, to meditate while a frenetic green bird drinks nectar. Other times the imaginary world I’m creating blinds me to all but what is on my screen or in my notebook.

Where do you write? What are the distractions flicking into view that take you from your work? Do the distractions also serve as real life reminders of the magic you are trying to create? Does the man sitting across from you in the coffee shop figure into that scene you are writing now? Or does his image hover and dart out of view?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Annas Hummingbird, Calypte anna in flight by Calibas