Solar Powered

It hasn’t been a great month for writing. It’s not that I don’t want to write. I do want to, but to write, it helps if one can think. The trouble seems to be that I’m solar powered. When the sun is up, so am I. Going to bed isn’t so much of a problem. I’ve always been an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ kind of girl. The problem is, this time of year, dawn breaks about 5:00. Sometimes I can push wake-up to 6:00 if I have the black-out curtain and the window closed. One ray of sunlight, one chirping bird, and that’s it, buddy. It takes a little getting used to after the dark silence of winter. I’m trying out some herbs, and they seem to help somewhat. At this point, melatonin is my BFF.

The other day it occurred to me that maybe May isn’t a great writing month in general. This isn’t the first year May has done this to me. Add in the start of gardening season (or, in the case of this year, weeding season) and the start of summer activities, and I’m not as bright eyed and bushy tailed as usual. Seven years of record keeping have proven me wrong, based solely on word count. It’s not May. It’s me.

My plan is to start using the piazza for work. The furniture is out, I just have to schlep out the umbrella and figure out how best to place stuff. I’m sure that will be an on-going thing this year. It takes me a while to figure out the feng shui of a new space. I’ve lived here 2 1/2 years and still haven’t figured out the living room. That’s a whole different story.

As far as writing, I’m polishing up a new short story about a writer who chases his muse around Europe, and I’m making slow progress on the next draft of Dawn Before The Dark. The plan is to pitch it at the final conference (for me) for the year. There’s also the new anthology release I teased you about last week. More about that soon.

 

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After pictures

The Piazza is finally (mostly) finished. We have some clean-up to do and a couple more plants on their way, but the worst is done. I won’t say it was a painless process, but it could have been worse. The schedule was delayed almost a week when the guys found the reason we lost power to our garage a few months ago. Turns out, the wire was buried in the yard, and the stump grinder cut it when they took out the spruce tree. Now the hard part is keeping everything watered. We’re still trying to find a sprinkler configuration that gets all of it so when we leave town for the weekend we can set a timer and not come home to dead plants. The proper set-up has eluded me so far. Hopefully Eric and I can figure it out tonight. Here’s what it looks like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Record Keeping

Ever have one of those days? You’re especially tired, or a deadline creeps up on you? Maybe you have another in what seems like a long line of headaches? Or your pants won’t stay up, and you realize you’ve dropped five pounds? (Me neither, but I hear it happens to some lucky people.)

I’m not naturally gifted when it comes to record keeping. I tend to overthink things and gravitate toward the complicated systems that will be a pain to keep up. And really, what’s the point?

Easy. Accumulation of empirical data.

Case in point: My family jokes that I’m solar powered. When it gets dark early in the winter, I’m ready to go to bed shortly after dinner and sometimes fall asleep on the couch. In the summer, when it’s light 16 hours a day, I can’t sleep unless I go to great lengths to darken my bedroom. Until recently it was a theory.┬áLast February, I got a new Fitbit and it tracks my sleep. The amount of sleep I get has dropped steadily since May, so now I have definitive proof. To say I’m looking forward to the shorter days of fall is an understatement.

I’ve amped up my writing records, too. I used to track just word count. That’s the important number, really, but not the only number. I think it was Tim Grahl who gave me the idea to track word count and time as well as the location, project, and applicable notes. Since then I’ve discovered I do my best writing in my office, but sometimes I need a change of scenery. I plot better in coffee shops. Hotels are also productive as long as I’m not in a place where I want to go forth and see things. That’s why Vegas works for me. I’m looking forward to finding out how the new back yard affects productivity. (More on that next week, I hope. For now, I’ll just say I’ve renamed it The Piazza.)

The real beauty is when you take empirical data from multiple sources to reach a conclusion. If you look at my word counts over the last few summers, they’re lower than the rest of the year on average. I thought it was because summers are full of distractions, and they can be, but now I realize a lot of it has to do with the lack of sleep. If I can’t sleep, I can’t think, and therefore can’t write. Now that I have a concrete reason and I know it’s not just me being crazy or lazy, I can take steps to fix it. Or try to, anyway.

Like maybe by buying a hammock for The Piazza.

Record keeping. It’s your friend.