March 27th, 2006

View from study (sunny)

Kitchen cupboards

I decided this morning to tidy the kitchen cupboard.

No, let's backtrack a bit. I need to explain about the iPod.

The reason for buying the iPod was to a) provide music in the car and b) enable me to play music while doing housework. Listening to music while doing tasks like ironing makes them so much more doable, but I don't have a CD player in the kitchen. I have had a personal CD player for a couple of years, but it's too large to wear comfortably, also it's not entirely impervious to movement. Fine when you're sitting quietly, but not when you're trying to enliven the housework by dancing round with a duster.

I was part way through my target of having music wherever I wanted it. The long awaited gadget for plugging the iPod into the car's cassette player arrived last week and works brilliantly, so I transferred a few more CDs to the iPod. However, before I could start bopping around the house I needed some way of wearing the iPod. Now you can buy expensive holders that strap on your arm, but I reckoned that just putting an eyelet in the little pouch it came with it would enable me to wear it on a thong round my neck.

Which brings us back to the kichen cupboard.

Somewhere in there was the eyelet kit for making nice eyelet holes in leather and fabric.

Before I started on the long road to de-clutterdom, I used to have an annual binge on the big cupboard in the kitchen. I would pull everything out into a huge heap on the table and floor, scrub the shelves and then slowly sort the stuff and re-stack it neatly. Gradully, over the weeks and months, it would all merge once more into a melange of dusters and tools and washing powder and shoe cleaning stuff.

Reading Julie Morgenstern's book introduced me to the concept of containerizing. Since then I've not had to do the big binge tidy on the kitchen cupboard, but the left hand side of the bottom shelf had become rather un-containerized and hence messy. But I knew that was where the eyelet kit was lurking.

It didn't actually take long to find and I have now containerized the stuff that had outgrown its original small container and found containers for the things that didn't previously have a container and so, once the shelf is dry, it will all be put back neatly.

I might get the hang of this housework lark one day. *g*
View from study (sunny)

10 Things I *finally* learned about writing

Everyone's doing it all around the blogosphere, so here goes...

Disclaimer: These apply to me and my writing quirks. They may not apply to you and in fact it's possible that you need to do the opposite in some cases.

1. Write the first draft as though you are fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e. just keep going, don't look back! The resulting draft will be neither as brilliant as one hopes nor as horrid as one fears. It will have good bits and bad bits, but can be revised. Beware the Endless Revision Loop!

2. Neither writing a synopsis upfront with a detailed plan of the story nor "writing to explore" works. Aim for the Middle WayTM, that is have a general idea of the overall arc of the story, but leave the detail to be discovered en route.

3. I need encouragement; I need to feel that someone wants me to finish the novel. But if I let people read the novel, I either want to go back and change the things they comment on or, if they praise it, I freeze with performance anxiety because I'm convinced that the next bit will not live up to the part they just read. Posting snippets of the good bits to LJ lets people know I'm progressing without the danger of falling into the Endless Revision Loop or succumbing to writer's block.

4. Never, having let someone read the opening of a novel, continue to write the rest as though the changes I need to make have already been made. Therein lies madness. Just don't let anyone read a novel until it's finished. It's much easier for everyone concerned.

5. Writing short stories is a waste of time. So many people are so much better at it that it's just not worth trying to compete. Far fewer people have the sheer stamina required to finish a 100,000 word novel and then go through it several more times while revising. I can do this, others can't. Having said that, short stories can be used to try out something new, e.g. omniscient viewpoint.

6. I should play to my strengths. Rather than constantly struggling to keep the tone of a story serious, write comedy! Leave angst to the youngsters. They do it so much better.

7, Having said that, it's good for me to push myself into new and unfamiliar areas. For example take a poetry course.

8. If I get stuck, try going back to writing by hand, with a fountain pen.

9. Whilst writing rituals can help to get the writing flowing when I'm writing at home, I can actually write almost anywhere including cafes and trains. In fact long train journeys are good for writing.

10. I must not overplan scenes in my head. Get words down on paper as soon as I know what's happening. However sketchy they are, they can be worked up into something better.

There are more, but I think those are the most important ones.

Off now to pick some more nits out of the final draft...