Writer – Do Thy Thing

Two weeks in France and I was writing everyday. I am twenty pages and a few plot wholes away from a finished draft of The Devil’s Due. 

I wrote well when I was away from my writing desk.

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The room I wrote in while in France.  

Back at my writing desk for two weeks and I have two pages. Not so good when I was averaging a page a day and a blog a week.

Travel is good for me or at least getting away from my house where I intend to write and settling in to some place I do write.  Next Spring, I plan on spending a week in Richmond researching and writing a new book.

Do your thing.

If you write best at 4:30 am when everyone else is asleep in your house, then get up and write. Or maybe you work best at the local cafe. Where ever you work best, go there and do the work.   Neil Gaiman wrote parts of American Gods on a train going across the country.

Some people have writer’s rooms or corners in their house.   Others go to work early and write in their offices before the hustle and bustle of the day.

I wrote parts of Blood Child on the sofa of a friend’s house.  Whole chapters were composed sitting at the bar of a friend’s restaurant.  They gave me wine and food, in return when things got busy, I ran food and drinks for them.  I miss that place and the friends who tended me to while I worked on my dream.

I’ve written on my front porch and in airports.  Sometimes a new place to write is perfect because it gets you out of your head and lets your creative brain free.

Write where you are inspired or in my case where you aren’t distracted.

In any case, write.

 

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J’adore la France!!

I’ve been in France over a week and I love it.  The people are friendly, the countryside amazing and the food unbelievable.

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A beautiful tart from a gluten free bakery in Lyon.

Our little merry band of Americans are making out way across French wine country with relative ease.   Unlike in the states, there are a lot more people here who speak a second language or enough of a second language that we are able to communicate. We have only run into one or two people that didn’t have a word or three of English.  And we were still able to communicate with them either in our limited French or in Spanish.

Yes, that is right, we came to France and spoke Spanish.

We also made friends with the local cats who we have name Monsieur Chat and Madame Chat.  They hang out in the little garden area of the house we are renting.  We have been invited into local wine caves and tasted wine from 100 year old vines.

The first winery we stopped at spoke with us for more than a hour, gave us a tour of how the wine is made and recommend a place to get cheese. They even called ahead to make sure that someone would be there.  The wine was divine. The company was extra ordinary.

Much of our visit here has been guided by luck.  The local cafe gave us the information for a bakery just outside of town where the bread is made in a wood-fire oven.  The bonus to that was that there was gluten free bread as well.  Yesterday, the cafe that we found on google let to a conversation with other patron and another adventure to a completely gluten-free bakery in downtown Lyon.

There has been so much great wine and good food, I am not sure how I will go back to eating the American way.

One of the things that I love about France is they don’t change to suit the tourist, the tourist must adjust to France.  Things in the countryside follow the same rhythm they have for decades.  Breakfast is small, Lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is lighter and much latter in the evenings. Many shops close for lunch around 12 and re-open at 2.  You can still buy bread from the baker and meat from a butcher.  And there are church bells that ring throughout the day.

Tomorrow afternoon, we make the return trip to Paris and Wednesday is the flight home. My heart and my tummy will miss this place and all of the wonderful people.

 

The Travails of Travels

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The second day of travel came to a close with us no where near France.

Our flight to Paris has been delayed by nearly three hours.  So, we sat and waited for our third companion to join us and decide where we shall use the voucher that Air France gave us.  It was nice of them to make sure that we had something to snack on at the airport.   They were able to explain the glitch with the on-line system lead us to believe for five or six minutes that our flight had been canceled all together.

My travel companion is far more seasoned than me took it in stride so I was able to do so as well.  Little did we know that the three hour delay was the first of our hurtles or we would end up taking off nearly four hours late.  This gave us less than an hour to get our bags and get to our train.

Needless, to say we didn’t make it and although the person at the Air France counter at Dulles said they would at least compensate us, we didn’t find them helpful in the airport.  They were polite and apologetic, but we had different expectations of what they meant when we talked to them at Dulles.  One thing to remember when traveling abroad is that the customer is not always right.  Rules and regulations are explained so if you aren’t used to reading the fine print you might want to before you go.

farm land during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our train tickets were no good to us as the train left the platform three minutes before we were able to get there. Our tickets were not transferable or refundable thus began a mini quest to get new tickets. There are tickets that can be transferred or refunded, so shop carefully.

Europe operates on the chip and pin system meaning that even if you are using a credit card you need both to complete some transactions.  The train ticket kiosks require this. Our first two transactions were denied.  Thankfully, someone told us what the problem was and we were able to get the tickets.

Operating on one hour sleep, we were stranded at the train station attached to Charles De Gaul International Airport for six hours.  There was an alternative route that would have saved us some time. We could have gone into the city center and then taken a train to Lyon from there.  More research would have told us this, but on one hour sleep we just did our best to stay awake and hydrated in the heat of the train station.

That is another thing to note that people in Europe or at least France don’t have the same reliance on air conditioning so housing and hotels with it are few and far between.  In the places where it use, it won’t be ice cold like it is in the states.

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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

Once on the train which was clean and very fast, we were able to sleep a little more and take in glimpses of the countryside.  France is really beautiful.   There was less trouble picking up the car as we there six hours after the time we had scheduled.   One issue we had that was not the fault of the rental company was that we couldn’t contact them because we failed to put the country code in when dialing them.  We had made sure that our phones would work in Europe, but none of us through about how dial a number from a U.S. based phone.

We were in our car and on our way as the sun was setting.  We made it  around 11 o’clock at night, right in time for a record setting heat wave to hit.

 

 

 

Writer on the go

This morning, I woke up in a strange room in a city that neighbors the one I grew up in.  As my traveling companion slept fitfully in his bed, I moved through the room making coffee, showering, reading and doing my morning exercises.  The nervousness and tears that had marked my first day of travel were gone; now it is onto the adventure.

An adventure that as a writer  feel compelled to chronicle.   This is my first vacation in over a year, the last being a weekend trip to Sanibel, Florida, with a dear friend after the death of Papa.  It was a healing trip, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico washing away some of the stress and agony of loss. More than a year into my new reality, I know that there are no waters that can wash away sorrow and grief, only waters that can comfort and refresh the heart and soul.  I still miss Papa, he would have worried about me taking such a long trip.

Sanibel, if you have never been, is a small island off the west coast of Florida. It is known for its peaceful beaches and for the prodigious amounts of shells that wash up on its shores.  You can find 250 different types of shell on their more than fifteen miles of beaches.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit three times and each time brought with it a sense of serenity that just speaking the name of the island in my mind brings me joy.  Each time, I have gone I’ve stayed at the Sandpiper Inn, a colorful and very affordable spot on Donax street.  It is a quick walk to the beach to collect shells from there and they have bikes which are free for guests to borrow.  It was truly delightful to hop on a bike and ventured off to breakfast.  There are over 25 miles of bike paths.

The best and strongest memory of that trip was driving over to Captiva and renting a boat for the day.  We sailed around the bay for a couple of hours and were delighted when a dolphin joined us for a bit.  We sailed back and forward trying to follow him only to realize that he was playing with us.  It was absolutely marvelous.  The experience of a lifetime.

Now, in a few hours I will be boarding a plane with two friends heading to Paris where we will meet two more friends for another experience of a lifetime.  One of those friends is the same extraordinary soul with whom I went to Sanibel.

My heart at this moment is light. I know worry will return.  For now, I am delighting in the adventure ahead as I look out the window towards the towers of Dulles seeing the tips of airplane tails among the trees.

Au revoir mes aimes!

Pennies for Peru

Sounds like fundraising campaign, doesn’t it.   It is actually the savings plan for a trip I am dreaming about this spring.

Dreaming against logic that I will be standing on ancient ground wondering at the marvel of a city all but forgotten until the descendents of its destroyers found it again.  Machu Picchu was rediscovered  in 1911, by an American archeologist named Hiram Bingham.

It is completely unrealistic dream given my financial reality, but what is the fun in dreaming of something safe.  Something that easily obtained.

So in my kitchen are several empty wine bottles that I am filling with dimes and dollar bills since pennies won’t actually fit. Everyday money is deposited in the jars with a kitschy saying “From money grows money” to remind me of the importance of savings.  I am not sure how much is in the bottles at the moment, but that really isn’t important.

What is important is that I allowing myself to dream, hope and plan for something that I want for myself. Just for myself.

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The Lucky Ducky Savings Plan
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Laboring Away on Labor Day

Trash Cans lining the streets
A Trifecta of Trash Cans

Leaving my neighborhood this morning, I noticed something unusual for a Labor Day morning trash cans lining the curb. This just shouldn’t be.. don’t my neighbors know that the trash men don’t come on holidays.  But maybe this year, it is going to be different.. maybe they will come.  Maybe America or at least Orlando’s waste management company has forgotten why today is a holiday. 

Labor Day is a celebration of the social and economic contributions of workers and has been celebrated  in the U.S. since 1894.   It was rushed through Congress and signed into law by President Cleveland after the Pullman Strike which left several U.S. Marshalls and soldiers dead.  They sped it up to prevent more violence and help conciliation with organized labor.  It was a day to celebrate and to rest when many folks were still working seven days a week in horrible depressing and dangerous conditions. 

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Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

 Now more than a 100 years after it’s creation it has become just another holiday for sales and barbeques.  Forgotten are the men and women who died during the labor movement to earn workers the rights they now enjoy. 

 It now symbolizes the end of summer for Americans.  Pools when I lived up north use to close after today.  Oh and don’t dare wear white after today.  In highschool, I was pulled aside the assistant principal and informed that I was breaking that particular rule.  It was embarrassing. 

Even more embarrassing is the fact that most of us have forgotten why we for the most part have the day off.  For the last three years, I have been quietly working away every Labor day at a local theme park filling in the the receptionist so that she could enjoy today off.  There will be no barbeques for me when I get off this evening.   Instead, I will quietly slip into my house,  pour a glass of lemonade and put my feet up before preparing to go to work again tomorrow.

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My Tower of Towels

Twice in the last year, I have been accused of being a workaholic. (Strangely, by two different guys who wanted to date me. Not the best move, boys.)  The term implies that I am addicted to working; that I work for the sake of working.   Working myself into an early grave smiling as I go.  I work the way I do because I am addicted to paying bills and having a roof over my head.   I also work so that I can have options. Options like taking the summer off to write and travel or going to Dragon Con and not coming home broke.  The Saturday that I spend rolling towels is going to help pay off my credit cards, student loans and possible a ticket to Saint Kitts next summer.

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis

Labor Day is a day that celebrates the working man & woman by letting them have a day off.  An extra day to rest and see what our labor has built.  What the labor of the last two hundred years has helped build.  As for me, when I walk into my house after work today and take a  savory sip of lemonade, I am going to envision sitting reading my first novel on the serene beaches of St. Kitts next summer forever grateful for those whose blood, sweat and lives made it possible for me to work for my dreams.

Plan Q

Plans are meant to be adapted and changed.  This week I wanted to spend a lot of time working on Blood Child, a short story turned novella, about the tenth anniversary of a bloody massacre and its’ only survivor. Life, however, had other tasks in mind for this week.

My body and mind are still craving rest and rejuvenation. The majority of my time this past week has been spend reading, napping and repeating.

Monday was a blur after physical therapy.  I remember baking both lemon and chocolate cake layers and prepping the ones.  The cake was finished on Tuesday after waking up from some extremely bizarre dreams.  It took some work to get the icing just right. In the end, the cake had two different icings. One was smooth and creamy. The other was sweet.  The entire cake was gluten free. Most of the folks who ordered it loved it and weren’t gluten intolerant.

Wednesday, my life changed dramatically.  After PT, I took my mother to the doctor and then headed out to my friend’s farm to see about adopting a dog named Luke.  Mike and his wife, Shawna, are two of my favorite people.  The chance to visit them was a delight.

Luke came to live with them after his parents discovered that they were expecting; so with a heavy heart they sought out a new home for him. Three dogs and a baby wasn’t made into a movie for a reason.

Farm life and Luke just didn’t mix. His story will be posted next Monday.

Thursday and Friday, Luke, the kitties and I were adjusting to life together.  It has been an amazing experience for all involved.  The entire week I have been trying to decide what cake or desert to make for the cafe down the street.  It has always been a secret dream of mine to have my food served in a restaurant.

Saturday, I worked my second job which blessedly allows me to work on other projects. I finished putting together all the boxes left to me by the sales department then set to work on lesson plans for the first semester.  I finished nearly all the plans for one of my classes and started on the to-do list for Blood Child.

Saturday night, I wrote my bike up to a local event and read cards for three hours.  I earned enough money to pay for my therapy appointments for the week and had a chance to catch up with an old friend over a glass of wine.  I had been feeling off balance prior to the event but when my friend departed all was good.

Today, I felt lost and didn’t do much beyond straightening the house up and going to the store.  On the way back, I decided to stop by the cafe and see how the cake had been selling.  It was just what I needed.

There is just one piece left in the case as well as a special request for my chocolate zucchini cake.  Months ago, I had dropped off a sample of the cake for the owners.

Some friends of mine were there so I was the recipient of numerous hugs and kisses.  One of the fellows introduced me to his new beau and traded a hair cut for a tarot reading. There will be new and fabulous hair for the start of the new school year.

I don’t feel bad about falling behind on my goals because my energy was needed elsewhere this week.  Back to the writing grind this week.  Thank you as always for your support.