Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Then There's the Baggage

Instead of making an appearance in the office, I'm on the road. 

Rourke is settled into his fave sleeping position and the journey begins.  The trouble is leaving with minimal baggage

Why is travel across provincial borders so much more arduous than longer distances?  Not in the actual journey but in the packing.  Is it that I pack more stuff just because I can or is there something else?  After all it's a journey by car and there is no security rifling through my bags or luggage weight allowances.  I don't even have to carry the bag far.  So with no restrictions, the baggage expands.  I'd never get that suitcase hefted on my back in a backpacking trip - where packing light is not only the norm, it's a necessity.  But baggage is forgotten as the landscape sweeps by - the road falling behind as the unknown looms ahead and the past falls behind.

A section of the Trans Canada highway was washed out near Maple Creek last week because of heavy rains.  I don't think anyone expected that the country's number one highway would turn into a river.  But now much of the damage has been repaired although for the moment s short section is no longer a divided highway as crews continue working.  There's a lake too, lapping on either side of the highway.  A lake that, if it existed at all before the storm, was no more than a slough. 
Like a trip with a backpack - life is so much easier without the baggage.  Stuff, emotions, issues, we all have it.  The trick is to scaling it down and eventually traveling light.  I've spent the last few days scaling down - work clothes that are no longer needed - gone, paper - the next horizon, and the rest - on the to-do list.  

What have you done lately to lighten up?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Reality Nips At My Heels

One more celebration last night to commemorate this new reality.  And despite thunder claps made to frighten even those unafraid of storms, a massive downpour of rain, hail almost the size of ping pong balls, and a moat built around our house complements of road construction and the storm, it was a good time.  I don't know about you but I'd rather see ice cubes like that floating in a drink than landing on my deck.

So this morning I woke up and realized this is my life.  The job is behind me and it's time to stop staring out the window and get on with it.  Besides, there's no Gradall to watch today.  So after a walk with the dog - the plot glitch has nicely ironed out as it always does.  Of course, this time I can't give the dog all the credit, my agent and his suggestions have made me reassess my plot which wasn't as solid as I so blithely thought only a short week ago. 

But it's just not writing that is the reality today.  Getting it together and getting it done seems to be the theme.  The washing machine is running in synch with the dryer and the computer is humming in synch with my thoughts as I edit another chapter while the machines take care of the laundry.  Today is a day of juggling tasks and moving forward into this new phase.

This is a big curve in the road but I like to think of it no different than all the small curves that came before.  All that is required is a change in thought and a firm step forward.

And I know for all you parents out there - there's some big changes happening this week - school's out.  I saw evidence of that on my walk as I passed a school with the happiest looking kids I've seen in a long time.

Any changes in your life or is it just one step at a time?


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is This a Job for a Romance Writer?

Today, while mulling over plot issues and musing about the weed situation in my flower bed - I discovered the best job in the world for a writer.  The answer was sitting right outside my front door.

Gradall Operator!

For those of you considering what that might be - here it is, the machine that has 
been ripping out concrete and pavement on my street. 

Picture this - sitting in your cab, King of the World and all you survey.  After all, no one does this better.  And the supervisor has wisely remained behind at the office - don't annoy the man hefting slabs of concrete big enough to annihilate your existence on the planet.  Like an over-sized Tonka - dip, scoop, lift, dump.  It is a rhythm that is made for considering other things, like the intricacies of story lines.

I consider whether, as he easily maneuvers that bucket, he's thinking; "If Alex killed Josh with a single shot to the head - what kind of gun would he have used?  How much blood?  Where?  Who found them?  How will our heroine ever link up with the hero if she thinks he was the one holding the gun?  And when she's finally cornered will she run or shoot the villain with the 45 Glock she's hiding in her coat pocket?

Yes, as I said, if I were in the employment line Gradall Operator just might be the perfect job - at least for someone in my line of work.   Of course, there is the issue of whether or not the hard hat comes in a more appealing pastel.

The perfect job - what's yours?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Quit - Moves to Last Day!

The last day on the job was longer than I anticipated.  It seemed in the morning like the never-ending day, as if there was something that needed to be completed and I couldn't think of what.  But there was nothing, only the uncertainty of uncharted territory.  There were many good byes and a few last minute things to finish up.  The actual leaving, once the goodbyes were done, was amazingly quiet. 

Someone asked, what's protocol?  Do you just walk out?  Now I can say, "Yes, you do." 

I'd notified everyone that needed to be and everyone that mattered to me (at least I hoped I contacted all the friends I've made through the years.  And just as when I changed departments through the years, I keep in touch with the friends I've made.  I don't think this will be much different - at least I hope.)  So me and a good-size yucca plant navigated the gray concrete stairwell for the last time, emerged into an alley that has always reminded me of a backstreet in Bangkok, there is that same worn out and littered look to it, took a deep breath of air (as a good friend had advised) and headed for home. I only looked back once to where the building loomed, a nondescript, weathered slab of concrete.

Change is here and it tastes good.

But it's not over yet.  I'm just beginning to adjust to my new reality.  Because I nixed the customary going away event - thinking I'd much prefer to celebrate with friends rather than colleagues, I've been celebrating freedom for over two weeks.  And there's been some fantastic surprises.
The last day?  It ended with - more surprises - and one of my fave foods - homemade spring rolls.  

I've always loved change but I'm beginning to like surprises as well - lately they've been nothing but good.  Even the power outage that had the good grace to occur after supper and forced a candle light ending. 


Monday, June 21, 2010

Pen in Hand

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.   Aristotle

This is it - in a little more than eight hours I will be unemployed.  I'm not sure how this day will play out.  I do know that at the end of the day ends a chapter in my life.  This is bigger than the chapter of any book I've ever written - this is real.  What comes next is whatever I write.  I'm holding the pen in my hand but I'm not sure where to begin.  Maybe that will be tomorrow.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Be Early - Change the Game

 Tomorrow is D-Day or to be cliche ridden - the first day of the rest of my life.  Tomorrow is my last day of employment as an office person.  A pod job, if you will.  Tomorrow I bid adieu.

Don't be on time, be early.  

That was one of the lessons that Dad taught me.  He might not have said those exact words but for every activity he ever took me to as a child - we were early.  Not just early, but the first to arrive.  It was like a silent mantra throughout my growing up years.

There's something to be said for being early.  It takes some thought and a plan.  Late - that's a snap, that's what happens when you don't plan.  In everything from slogging through a job day after day, to daily life and meeting your obligations, you need to plan or risk tardiness. 

So now as I'm left with one last day of employment, I realize that the ability to quit my job now was also a lesson from Dad. 

If the playing field no longer fits - find a new game.  

As the result of a plan and a life-long lesson to be early, tomorrow is the last day before I make an early exit from what had become more job than career.   

To lessons learned and new beginnings.

Cheers Dad - Happy Father's Day!


Tomorrow June 21 is also the last day to enter my
Summer Solstice Contest.  Enter to win a package of goodies designed
to keep you entertained through the lazy days of summer.  
Enter here - refer a friend and get two entries for the price of one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup "Match"

When I was in Portugal, I used to find the British Tabloids pretty entertaining. It was amazing the spin they could take on news events.

Take the FIFA World Cup match between Britain and the United States.  Apparently it wasn't just a two country match, according to some of the British papers Canada was in there too.

The romance that lost a game - or did it?   Check it out.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Synopsis a Necessary Evil

Synopsis a necessary evil, rather like mosquitoes.  Wait, is there anything necessary about the mosquito?  All I know is that they're here and in record numbers.   

 But back to the synopsis.  First off a  synopsis demands answers when I have none.  I have no idea who may have shot the handyman or who vandalized the vineyard.  My hero refuses to tell me who died in that car accident from his past that seems to have skewed some of his perceptions of the present.   Still, with a little effort I know I can find those answers.  It's just that I'm used to writing stories that were like a loose knit sweater and when I finished I went back and began plugging holes finally sewing the whole thing up in a neat little package.  It worked.  It was what I knew.  Okay, so it worked but it was slow and inefficient and took too long to finally tie the whole thing up in a tight and solid the end. But like a kid at Christmas I was always surprised at the end.

So I didn't convert immediately to the idea of a synopsis as not only a means to sell a finished book but as a way to map a plot.  But I tried it and was pleasantly surprised.  The synopsis didn't give all the answers, there was still the element of surprise.  The synopsis was only a map drawn with large brushstrokes and plenty of room for unguided travel.

Despite what I now know, I still dodge the task.  Right now I've got three clean chapters I love and a general idea in my head, so a synopsis shouldn't be a problem.   Is it a mental block that has me writing this blog post rather than wrestling with that synopsis?  But see, there it is  - I said I was wrestling with it - like an essay about an unwanted subject rather than a concise run down of a story I want to tell.   Synopsis and me - I don't think we'll ever be easy companions but we're learning to accommodate each other. 

So the next time you pick up a book - be gentle.  Someone had to sweat over that darn synopsis before they ever got to the good part and wrote that fantastic story.

And for anyone else that might be engaged in the same wrestling match.

Synopsis, love ‘em, hate ‘em, can’t submit without ‘em!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Freedom to Work

I'm back tracking a bit but it's a time in my life where as I reach both an ending and a beginning that thoughts and reactions repeat themselves.  This job ending thing isn't as easy as I thought.  I hadn't thought much about reactions but they're there, unanticipated or just not considered, they have begun.

"I quit my job, Mom," I said sensing that she should expect this as this as this has been a plan  that has  been churning for years.  Apparently, I hadn't prepared her at all.

"How will you live?' My mother asked trying not to look horrified.

"Well in five years I may be living in your basement," I told her cheerfully and was met with a relieved smile.  I don't think my mother would ever be adverse to one of her children moving in with her.  But that's not going to happen.  At least I hope not. 

There were other reactions and they ranged all over the map.  Somehow I hadn't expected this kind of diversity.  Maybe, I just hadn't expected anything at all.

"I'm jealous."

"You're just a couple of teeny boppers."

"That's fantastic."  And of course the inevitable - "Whoo Hoo!"

Maybe, like snow in late April, it was just unexpected.  But some reactions were rather subdued as if I had told them I was going to the mall in the afternoon or something equally as mundane.  Maybe it's because they can't contemplate doing it themselves.  I mean who quits their job unless they are proper retirement age?  But I did.  It's time. And I'm not so rare, I've been stumbling on people here and there who have quit, retired early, changed course, veered and even packed up and moved.  I'm not alone in this venture.  

Quitting doesn't mean you'll never earn another nickel as long as you live.  It just means that the rulebook just got tossed out the window and now you're the one writing the rules.  Quitting just means the freedom to work or not work, travel or not travel, write or...  Wait - was that a choice?  Of course I'll write, and more than likely I'll write more.  After all there's places to see, things to do and events to journal for future books.  It's the one job I can't quit - something in my soul just won't let me.

But back to reactions - my favourite reaction "Blown Away" which was so good as to merit its own post.  If there's anything to thank my "soon to be" last boss for it's that.

"Thank you."


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Spin on Tradition - Alice for the IPad

I've got to admit that while I don't have one, I find the concept of the IPad intriguing.  But I didn't know how intriguing until I stumbled on this video.  Watch while the traditional story takes a 360.