Freehold Friday: A new office!

Has it been two weeks already? I’ve been so deep into editing Alea Jacta Est 2 that the passage of these frozen days seems to be a blur. I am currently 2/3 of the way through the book and have finished the design on the cover as well. Progress! I don’t have a definitive time when the book will be 100% ready, but I am hopeful that it will be soon. We’re talking weeks now.

At the same time, I’m dictating chapters of the sequel to Apache Dawn in my down time during the day. For example, at 10:30am, my one-year-old son goes down for his midday nap. At that point, I take our five-month-old puppy — a vizsla named Princess Trinity — out for a brief walk in the sub-Arctic weather and back inside for some ball throwing and tug-of-war. She is finally reaching the point where I’m able to sit and throw ball across the room and she will run and fetch it, then chew on the ball for a few minutes before bringing it back to me. I repeat the process again, and in this way I can have a couple hours to myself to write. At the moment, Trinny is content chewing on one of her toys next to my chair. Luckily, I dictate most of my writing now and Dragon has progressed in its capabilities to the point where the loud obnoxious squeaking from her toys are no longer registered on the microphone. I don’t know if it’s something I did or something the software did or if she’s just far enough away that it can’t be detected, but thankfully the squeaking is not transcribed.

Sometimes though, if she’s in an especially calm mood — which seems to be about every other day or so — I’ll actually be able to sit with my laptop and edit AJE2. I’m noticing as I progressed through the story that the later chapters are much quicker to edit — these were the chapters that I started writing using DNS. The earlier chapters, have taken me much longer because of the multitude of spelling mistakes mostly. Dragon does not misspell. Ever. It sure does give me some amusing occurrences of improper words, but they are never misspelled.

As far as the sequel to Apache Dawn is concerned, I get the bulk of my writing accomplished while waiting in line at my daughter’s school. I learned that a certain grandmother shows up approximately 15 minutes before the kids get out. I have an understanding with the teachers that my daughter will be the first one out so that I can race across town to pick up my son at 3:30. Of course, this understanding came about back before my son started riding the bus. However, since the teachers have been so accommodating with me, I haven’t had the heart to tell them that she no longer needs to be the very first child ready to go. In order for me to be the first car in line to pick up my child, I therefore have to have a daily race with the unknown grandmother and get to school approximately 15 to 20 minutes before she comes out. The bad news, is that I also have to get my one-year-old son ready to go 15 minutes earlier than normal. The good news, is that the 15 minutes that I now have sitting in my car can be used to dictate the sequel to Apache Dawn! It’s fantastically efficient and so far the combination seems to really work.

I tested this process throughout the month of January and was able to bring home an impressive 72,000 words. Now keep in mind the 72,000 words written in January includes approximately 65,000 words to wrap up AJE2. Last 7000 words I wrote in January went towards the sequel to Apache Dawn. And the 20,000 or so words that I’ve written so far in February are all in Apache Dawn 2.

Which leads me to the next topic of this blog post. I was averaging something along the lines of 15 to 20,000 words a week in January. Why the disparity with February? For starters I ended the month of January with a nasty intestinal bug, that quickly rate made its way through the entire family. Then we had the baby’s first birthday party at the end of January, followed by visits from relatives and friends and family. Then we had preparations for my daughter’s 4th birthday, this week. I can give you a whole host of excuses as to why I didn’t get as much done as I needed to or wanted to, but other main factor was that the space that I have to work with in my house has been completely lacking. And so I have been focusing the last couple of weeks on cleaning out an area in the basement and carving out an office just for myself.

When we moved into this house my wife commandeered the dining room as her home office. I had no objections over this, as she is the sole breadwinner. However, the room that we then established as our dining room (after laying down hardwood flooring and ripping up the nasty old carpeting) became my office. We purchased a small desk some time ago that I made my writing workspace. Trying to work in the middle of the dining room, which is in itself near the middle of the house and in the main walkway between the garage in the kitchen and the back deck, proved to be nerve-racking to say the least. Interruptions were almost by the minute. With 3 small children and be in the house I got almost no peace. When I started dictating in the car in my daughter’s school, and editing in the basement with the puppy in the mornings before everyone got up, I saw my productivity skyrocket. That led me to the conclusion that if I wanted to get some work done, I need to stay in the basement.

As luck would have it, we had an area of the basement — two thirds of which is finished — that we simply called the hobby area. In this room, I had grand plans of setting up my studio/home office/model workshop, to satisfy my various and sundry hobbies and pursuits of downtime. Ah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, isn’t it? Within a month of us moving into this house — now for almost 3 years ago — my hobby area quickly became the storage something ground. Anything that we brought into the house, or discovered in storage that we just simply could not find an immediate use for or place for, was dumped unceremoniously into my hobby area. This included my stuff of course, the kids schoolwork that was brought home (we had grand plans to sort all of their stuff get rid of the busywork and keep things with memories attached or things that were uniquely theirs because oh my goodness, the schools send home a ton of stuff with our kids!), Sets of weights unused picture frames, piles and piles and piles of family pictures are growing collection of wine, and the wine fridge. Keep in mind this is on top of all of my astronomy gear, my genealogy research and family history trunk, some exercise equipment like the treadmill, etc., etc., etc.

2 weeks ago, I decided I had had enough. This was supposed to be MySpace, my man cave, my personal retreat in the house. And it had become a disaster area. I decided to draw line in the sand, and reclaim what was supposed to be mine. So for the past 2 weeks, instead of writing and editing is much as I possibly have done, I decided to spend what little free time I could scrape together between feedings and dog walking’s, diaper changes, and shuttling kids back and forth to school, and clean out the hobby area once and for all. It took an entire week just to sort through all of the kids schoolwork! I ended up throwing away almost 3 garbage bags full of stuff, and kept the best for posterity. That said, I still had to sort through everything else. Well, I can tell you now with some satisfaction that I am finally finished! I have taken back what is mine!

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in this blog entry is being dictated sitting at my brand-new unfinished desk, in my still somewhat cluttered, but well on its way to being perfected writing space!

One thing that I’m especially proud of — you can tell I don’t get out much — is the conversion of a scrapbooking storage/filing system into a writing filing system. The bars on this metal cage — acquired when I worked for a major big-box arts and craft store — were perfect for hanging file folders. However it was designed to hold 12 x 12 scrapbook sheets and it was definitely too large to suit my purposes and hold my files and research notes. So what I did was rated the old toolbox grabbed some bull Connors remove the offending bar, slid it a little bit closer and reattached it just this morning with some steel epoxy. 60 minutes later, and I have a perfectly usable and clearly solid regular sized hanging file system! Yeah I know, it’s not very much, but it completely made my week!

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So, now that I’ve probably given you too much insight into my personal life, I’m going to wrap up this post and get back to editing!

Remember, if you want to know before anyone else when AJE2 is finally ready, sign up for my mailing list here.

Until next time, muchachos…

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