Time, Distance, and New Snow

Seed catalogs are coming in fast.  They’re fat and colorful and full of tempting things, and they make me realize I need to start planning my garden tout de suite.  I don’t need much, as I save seeds, but there are always surprises when I look at my seed stores and the garden plan.

These are just the beginning.

Having spare time has opened again the possibility of writing more extensively.  Back in 2011, I decided the blog would be my creative outlet and I stopped writing poetry and fiction.  Mostly, I did this because my paid work and volunteer activities around food access crowded out the creative spark.  Also, if you write fiction and want to publish it, the shopping around process takes a certain kind of energy and mindset I didn’t have at the time.

All the projects–reading, writing, sewing…

I’d been feeling I might have the creative mental space back, so I looked at my work.  There are 15 poems, one of them published; five short stories, two published; two short stories in process; one novel, complete, but likely in need of rewriting; and one novel in its second draft.  

That scarlet color is wild berry canes, spotted on a walk on Roosevelt Island.
I wasn’t able to capture the color well, but saw them more than once.

I have always thought one of the short stories could be a screenplay but have never learned what is entailed in that process.  The completed novel would likely be more marketable if I killed off one of the characters and changed the arc of the story.  And the novel started and in the second draft reveals a problem I have with focus.

You can see the color a little better in this one

Most of my fictional characters come to me in a particular situation or with a particular attitude.  I write things that illuminate them, not always in the order of the story and not always pertinent to the story.  As a result, I wind up with excess, off-point scenes and a LOT of words in novels.  Two writer friends, recognizing this problem, gave me books that addressed it years back.  One is called Structuring Your Novel and the other is called The Moral Premise.  The latter is about screenwriting, but just as applicable to story arc in a novel.  I’ve decided to read them both, do the exercises and proceed, if possible, with the newer novel.  With all the distance from the creative writing, I was able to see and accept what I was doing wrong when I dipped again into Structuring Your Novel. 

It was a nice day to be out for a walk and see sparkling water.

As I write today, it’s snowing again and I’m enjoying it.  Overnight it will turn into wintry mix, ice, and then rain.  Tomorrow is supposed to be well above freezing, so I hope people stay in tonight and the stuff melts fast.  Earlier, I took some video of it, but it’s relatively silent.

It’s snowing even harder now. I’m glad it will be dark when the wintry mix starts.

I’ll stay in and have a few shortbread and some hot tea…

There used to be stars as well, all eaten because they were smaller…
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33 Responses to Time, Distance, and New Snow

  1. shoreacres says:

    I love snow, but ice is something else. Staying in is a wise choice.

    I’ve never ordered a seed catalogue, and to be honest I don’t remember my grandparents ever having them around, despite being relatively large-scale gardeners. I remember the old seed packets, though: Burpee for veggies, and Coles for flowers. We weren’t very far from Pella, which is a Dutch town in Iowa famed for their flowers, especially — and of course — for their tulips. For us, Coles was as much a household name as Target or Walmart are today.

    I’m not inclined toward fiction, but I envy you new writing time. Part of my issue is focus, of course. Once I became interested in nature and photography and started a second blog: well. No one can serve two masters, and all that. I’ve found that trying to serve three is even trickier: full time work, full time writing, and full time messing around with a camera don’t leave much time for laundry! But it’s a new year, and time for refocusing. I think starting with tea and shortbreads is perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

    • arlingwoman says:

      I never have ordered a seed catalog. They just give my name to each other because I’ve ordered–mostly from Burpee, Johnny’s, and Territorial as well as Southern Seeds, which hasn’t arrived yet. I like the nonfiction/essay writing, too, but the fiction is fun, if just as much work. As for cameras, I’ve been meaning to get mine out again and start to mess about. So many things to explore!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lavinia Ross says:

        I see you get the Territorial Seeds catalog. They are out my way. There is one from called Southern Exposure Seed Exchange out of Mineral, Virginia, you might like to go look through. They have many good varieties, and many heirlooms.

        Good luck with the writing! Wishing you the best as you go forward with that.

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      • arlingwoman says:

        Thanks Lavinia. Southern Exposure hasn’t arrived yet, but I often go onto their website. They have the best selection for my growing zone. Territorial Seed has a great garden planner, though and it helps me not overplant! Stay warm and dry, Lavinia!

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  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Sounds like you are ready to jump in with both feet! Winter is a good time to do such indoor work. Is there a time of day/week that you’ve devoted to your writing practice? I’m not so disciplined, but I’ve read that writers often have a set time devoted to it. What is your sewing project?

    Like

    • arlingwoman says:

      I think an established time would be good, probably morning, but so far, I’ve been all over the place, especially at night. I’ve done a variety of sewing projects–table runners and placemats, a quilted throw, some napkins…now I’m thinking of making a nice tote bag with pockets and a lining. So many projects…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love seed catalogues though I have never ordered from them. They inspire your gardening desires. I think they give the soul hope that spring is still coming. I keep thinking that I have lots of time now to write but end up sitting here reading blogs instead. Since there is nothing else to do right now…I should just get started. Once I get all my stuff here, I’ll have lots to do and enough light to do it. You are like the rest of us with so many irons in the fire. Focus is a tough task master. Sigh.

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  4. I look forward to your literary garden!

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  5. Good luck with all your projects. Stephen King has written that he always starts his novels with “what if.” From there come the characters and everything else. Good advice, I think.

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Interesting. I think I’ll focus on structuring the dramatic arc. How do you get your stories? Idea comes? Character? Situation? I’ve heard them all from different people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Usually ideas. For my Great Library Series, it was “What if there were a Book of Everything?” And everything rippled from there. For a short story I recently wrote, it was “What if a mother and daughter were homeless in Maine in December? And what if there were an angel dog.” Again, the story ripple forward. Yes, different ways for different people.

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  6. SueW says:

    Lots of decisions to make, Lisa – garden, books and novels!
    My go to on a winter day is Ginger thins with my cup of tea.

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  7. TanGental says:

    Good luck with the creative process.

    Like

  8. I am so pleased you have more time and energy to devote to your writing passion

    Like

  9. What a great post! Many of my favorite subjects—seeds, gardening, thinking about writing, writing process, actually writing, and dessert! 🙂 thanks for sharing your thoughts on your writing process and difficulties. I’m still trying to make my way along that path. Take care. Stay warm!

    Like

  10. Robin says:

    This was a wonderful read. So much creativity, in writing and gardening. There is something about the arrival of seed catalogs that inspire a sense of hope for the future. Your photos of the table (with seeds catalogs and projects) are wonderful. I have trouble capturing the red canes, too. They just don’t photograph the way I see them.

    Like

  11. LB says:

    I’m so glad I came by as I see you are recommmitting to writing! Best of success and I’ll look forward to learning more!

    Like

  12. I’m rather intrigued by your novels in progress. That’s pretty exciting stuff. It’d be a hoot to own a book by an author I know. Good luck with it all. Can you give me a hint? Political sabotage? International Bank conspiracy? Romance on the Hudson? High Tech corporate corruption? Maybe it’s about two urban gardeners finding a rare element that proves to save humanity from a growing plaque? Mmmm, I’m dying to know 😀 💗 xK

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    • arlingwoman says:

      Ah, Kelly, thanks for coming by and making me laugh! The completed novel is about war and it’s long effects–that, for instance a woman born in the early 20th century could lose a father, a husband, and risk a child to war, all in her lifetime. It features a character who becomes a photographer and follows her through the 20th century’s history. The second one is based on my complete agreement with Joseph Campbell’s quote “We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” It’s a bit more comic than the first and features a larger cast of characters. Enough to spark interest? Actually, Pauline read the first one and liked it. But I don’t think it’s marketable, so needs a bit more dramatic tension.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I find the winter, and the cold, and the cuddling under warm blankets to be a reinvigorating time. And it looks like your muse re-awakened.

    Many authors have collections of short stories about characters that are part of their longer series. I wonder if they started as “excess scenes”? And maybe your side-scenes, too, might become standalone short-stories in themselves, rather than excess?

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    • arlingwoman says:

      You are right that some of the short stories are other things that happened to the characters or people they know that don’t fit in the story (Thomas Wolfe and his trunks of manuscripts come to mind) but can be their own little stories. It’s possible that some scenes I don’t want to include can become something else. When I read Louise Erdrich, I’m always thrilled to meet a character from another novel in a different story altogether. As for winter, I used to dread it, but now I think of it as a time to snug in and rest (and not be gardening).

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  14. Also… I’m surprised that the smaller cookies were more popular than the larger ones 😛

    Like

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