Writer’s Workspace: 8/14

Welcome to this writer’s workspace.  Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk:

What I’m working on:  Well, my “desk” this week is actually the kitchen counter in my parents’ house on Vashon Island, Washington.  I’ve been out here about a week.  I was supposed to travel home to New York today but, of course, because this month has decided to crap on us, there’s a highly contagious stomach flu tearing through my family (introduced, naturally, by my sister’s wee ones ;).  Anyway, to avoid getting violently ill on the plane or carrying the virus home to my husband, I’ll be staying out here till Saturday (hopefully not – but probably- doubled-over in gut-wrenching pain…).  In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy the gorgeous weather and good company of my family.

The Fremont Troll

I’m also trying to get a little work done.  The semester starts back up in about two weeks, so I’ve got syllabi and such to prepare. And, as always, there’s writing to do!  While out here, I’ve done a little research for Project Awesome, which is set in the Pacific Northwest.  I visited Greenlake, a neighborhood where the protagonist’s family lives, as well as the Fremont Troll, a spot that will feature heavily in some of the darker scenes of the novel.  I’m currently working on a section of the novel set in Pioneer Square.  Here’s…

…a snippet from the screen:  “I parked the Ramirez and Sons truck on Yesler and headed down the hill toward 1st Avenue, nerves scrabbling in my gut.  I’d tucked my rat in the pocket of my raincoat.  He was curled in a tight ball.  Like me, he could sense Kin all around us.  Kin behind storefronts and Kin on park benches.  Kin sizing me up as we passed on the sidewalk and Kin moving around underground like cockroaches.  I tried to swallow, but my mouth was dry.  Full dark smothered the last of the light as I rounded the corner.  Down the block, the windows of Bitter and Dark shone with a lantern-light glow.  With the sun gone, cold drew in around me.  I hunched my shoulders and headed for the coffee house.”

On the iTunes: Wallflower by Uncle Earl  —  my mom is always introducing me to fun new bluegrass and folk bands.  Uncle Earl is an awesome all girl band, full of spunk and perfect for a beautiful summer day.

In my mug: I’ve converted my parents to the dark, steamy joy that is Yorkshire Gold, so they’ve got a massive box in their house now too 🙂  I’m doing my part to help them tear through it.

Keeping me company: In lieu of Mr. Ramses, I’ve got my parents’ Havanese, Scout, to keep me company while I work.  He’s much lazier but also a lot sweeter (and therefore much less likely to bite me).  I still miss my fuzz-monster, though.  With so much travel this summer, I feel like I’ve barely seen him.  He probably knows the pet-sitter better than me these days 😦

Out the window:  Well, here’s the part where you’re really going to hate me.  My mom has a world-class 16-acre garden, so the view from the porch (or out any window) is pretty much a paradise.  I’ve included a few photos to share the joy.

Well…that’s about all from here.  Time to get in a bit more writing then go help my mom in the garden.  Gotta earn my keep, after all!

Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day more interesting, here’s an image to start the morning with:

LIFE Magazine, 1955; After an Atomic Bomb Test

Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day a little more interesting, here’s an image to start the morning with:

Why I write

Well, it’s been a hell of a week and a half around here, but I’ve found (as I have in other hard times) that writing can be a pretty good balm for unhappiness.

Since returning from my father-in-law’s funeral in New Orleans, I’ve been slowly trying to reestablish a (small) sense of normalcy.  Writing has been a big part of this.  I’ve continued work on my newest novel project, Project Awesome, which (coincidentally) addresses issues of loss, and I’ve started revising one of the shorts I wrote during my story-a-week experiment.

The Olympics have helped, too – nothing like a multi-week marathon of excellence and victory to lift your spirits (or, if you watch too much, numb you to everything).

This summer has also been one of travel for me.  In fact, out of the 11 weeks since the semester ended I’ve spent over half (6) of them on the road.  And…I’m leaving again on Tuesday for a week-long visit to Seattle.  I thought this might have a negative effect on my writing productivity, but I ran the numbers and I’ve actually written a respectable amount.

Since the summer started, I’ve drafted 15,000 new words on Project Awesome.  I’ve read and processed feedback on ABSENT and devised a plan for revising that novel.  Finally, I’ve drafted four new short stories (totaling about 8,000 words).  I didn’t write at all in Spain, or last week in New Orleans, so excluding those three weeks, that’s about 3,000 words a week (not counting the revision work on ABSENT).

Not my highest weekly average, but not bad for such a topsy-turvy few months.  More than anything, I’ve been reminded through all of the highs and lows of this summer that writing isn’t just something I want or like to do, it’s something I need to do.  Writing gives me a sense of purpose and strength.

Do I want to be successful?  Do I want to sell books and make money?  Of course I do, and I believe with hard work and patience, those things will come.  More and more, though, I’m realizing they are not the reason I continue to write.

I write because it is the most fun thing I’ve ever done, because it provides me with challenges and puzzles and stretches my imagination and brings me joy.  I also write because it’s the best way I can find to make sense of life – especially when life hands me a bucket of really rotten lemons and I have no choice but to drink their bitter juice.

Like right now.

So, if you will excuse me, I think I’m going to make some tea (the other balm for my soul) and go write.

Some sad news

I’m sad to report that my father-in-law passed away unexpectedly last week.  I haven’t posted much here as I’ve been in New Orleans with his family until today.

Surinder Suri was a larger-than-life personality and he left us far too soon.  I’d like to share his obituary, as well as two pictures from his wedding to my mother-in-law.  I think they capture him well — proud, smiling, and full of life is how he would want to be remembered.