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Posts from the ‘WRITING: LIFE’ Category

Housebreaking

So the last while has been taken up not with writing but with trying to move a house. As in: jack house up, and move it – a thing commonly done – but not often here on our remote island, and not by me. Thing is, it’s cheaper than building – but still very expensive. Australian prices are ludicrously high. And like most midlist authors, we get by… principally by not being in debt. By living frugally, and being as self-sufficient as possible.  The actual moving process is not particularly expensive. It’s just getting it done that is. We were given a free house on an adjoining property, conditional on our taking it away.

Now, I tend to live my life rather like I write my books – to plan. A plan that does not always survive contact with the event itself. But… that’s life. I had planned to do all of this over the next 4-8 months, taking piece by piece, in between writing, growing our food etc.  It’s how I do things – our farm was a bare block of 43 acres of scrub.  I’ve built a solar power plant, water pump, a dam, piping, an orchard, a bunch of sheds, and was just busy with the sewage system – before the final move. We had let our landlord know that we’d end our lease and move to farm we bought by December – because my plans are usually careful and allow for things to go wrong. I rock-climb. I dive. People who do these and don’t try to be cautious end up dead young. I’m not young. Building my world and setting up for my plot as it were.

And then, of course, rather like that careful plot you spent such effort building the world and circumstances for it all fell apart.  Our landlord owns the farm we now live on, and employed a good friend of mine – a friend I’ve been helping with job queries.  And lo, suddenly the friend got a job off island. Now the farm needs to replace him, and hasn’t been able to find locals interested or willing. So the landlord needs to recruit from away… only, the problem with the island and incomers is accommodation is hard to find. Besides, as an absentee owner, the farm hands (two of them) have to do call for any farm disasters and check the water and fences on weekends and holidays. Which means that calling them because stock is on the road is easy if they live there – and the owner can deduct rent straight from their wages. These might be some of the reasons why they can’t find a willing local. I don’t know – but the upshot is helping a friend with job applications has meant instead of 4-8 months with a bit of spare to tie in all the loose ends… I had to finish this novel… uh, move in 6 weeks.

Now, like a novel again, the circumstances change and so does the feeble ‘hero’ methods. Instead of taking the house piecemeal and rebuilding on our base… it had to be moved in larger pieces.

So I, my younger son, his wife, Barbs and my good friend Mark set about it on the first 1/3 –cutting it at a ‘natural’ join with reciprocating saws. I didn’t have access to a very large truck (a 10 ton 4×4 Bedford), so that was about the limit. It seemed an impossible task as the Bedford is very high and the house wasn’t… and the 32 ton jacks had quite a short lift. We built jenga towers, used screw props… had trouble with the elderly vehicle, a windstorm when we had about 4 inches to go… and… succeeded. Despite the odds we succeeded because everything was done slowly, carefully and with a nice combo of recklessness and caution. We broke one window pane – trivial.

Everyone told us we would fail. We didn’t. But that still left 2/3 of a house, and limited time (I had 3 weeks and three days left) and the first effort seemed very hard to repeat. I went back to my normal cautious self and decided that the piecemeal approach would at least work, I knew what I was doing, and I was happy doing it…

So we took all the doors and windows and roofing and purlins off.

And then I made the fatal mistake of letting myself be persuaded to that it could be done by earthmoving professionals – and I have access to a couple of medium large excavators.

This did not end well.

Housebreaking happened.

Not only is the plasterboard toast, but so is some of the timber. A lot more is no longer attached.  And the professionals’ truck got stuck.

This was probably just as well, because they were doing it backwards – which would have ended with the toilet, bathroom and utility room with a phenomenal sea view, and the bedroom and dining room facing the scrub – and Barbara would have broken me instead.

And now I have to get off the lowbed (because they reckoned they’d wreck it further if they tried. They were willing) – in the only way I can – piecemeal. Only now I have to do it even faster, because they want their truck back…

It was not a great Monday, and I still had to write my Monday blog post… about writing, not my disasters. But this is, in its own way just that: 1) Nothing runs to plan, not even your plots. 2) Slow and solid is best, especially if you stick to what you are skilled at. 3) Sometimes what everyone says will fail, succeeds. 4) The advice of experts is often right – but not always. It’s your house/book.  5) When it all falls apart… the book is just never going to work, cut your losses, and salvage what you can.  Change your plans. Approach the next one knowing a bit more.

Nil desperandum.  Drink…. tea, and carry on.

Onward

We Continue

It’s been an entire week since Mrs. Dave left us. Food stocks are low. I have part of a jar of olives, two meat sticks, some salt, and a jar of Luxardo cherries, left. The Barbarian Horde ransacked the refrigerator almost immediately, and have begun waylaying passing stroller-pushing Military Mommies and ransoming them for candy. The ravening howls are indescribable, and I’ll hear them in my sleep until the day I die. I’ve built myself a barricade of books and cookware. If I don’t survive this, tell Mrs. Dave I tried.

Oh, no. I hear the patter of ‘orrible, little feet … Read more

I’ve Fallen

Off the wagon, more or less. Especially if you consider writing an addiction. I’ve been doing a lot of head work recently. Outlining the Wuxia Western novels, research, etc. And family. Oh, Lordy. Last weekend we were (as previously mentioned) in Connecticut for a thing. I managed to convince several of our smallish horde to join me at Frank Pepe’s for genuine New Haven style pizza, and we all agreed it was good freakin’ pie. (It ought to be. They’ve only been making it for nearly a century in their 14’x14’ coal-fired ovens. Highly recommended.) Read more

Mindset

The question came up in comments under the steps for opening a small business post: why do all this work? Why not just run it on the side like a hobby, commingling all your funds, skip the business licenses and all the other hurdles?

Why, in fact, are we encouraging you to do all that? What about all the folks who never got started along the way because of the hurdles of running a business, or who spent all their energy on opening the business, and never got any further – why are we discouraging them?

The key is: mindset. This is a collection of writers who do this for a living, not a collection of people who published a book once, and maybe will get around to that again.

Read more

Life gets in the way

I’m getting ready for knee surgery next week, which involves more hospital visits, lab tests, and doctors’ appointments than I ever imagined. And on my part of the preparation, well, I’m hustling to get my writing life ready for a necessary break. That has meant (a) releasing that Regency fantasy romance, and (b) extracting my head from 18th century Philadelphia in time to write the final chapters of A Child of Magic; the theory being that I may be able to lounge in bed and edit the thing while getting used to my brand-new synthetic right knee, but I probably won’t be sharp enough to do any original writing that week.

So what with this, that and the other, I have no thoughts about the writing life this week except that it’s desirable to get as much as possible done before the surgery. If you want something to read, go check out Salt Magic. It’s free on Kindle Unlimited.

And if all goes well, in a month or so I get to do it all over again with the left knee. Whee.

How’s That Self-Care?

-or-
Swords, Pt. 2

Last week’s post is feeding right into this one, though it may not seem like it should. Lemme ‘splain. The holidays last year were more than a little disruptive here at Caer Dave. There was travel (so much travel). Mrs. Dave returned from overseas. Wee and Wee-er Dave were both out of, and then back into school. Sleep was disrupted, routines were broken, schedules feel by the wayside. The usual, really. I rolled with life by dropping my weight training work, and it showed. Not so much in the mass department, so much as the mood, attitude, and focus that consistent training improve. Also, the writing. The writing dropped off. Kinda. More below. Read more

Worth

A couple of months back I was diving with my usual partner, when we hit on some productive ground for spiny lobster. Now, contrary to perceptions, to find a place twice underwater, especially if the visibility is not great, is actually rather difficult. We’re diving on Hookah (compressed air from the surface) so much less constrained with time – but also, as it were, on a leash to the boat. That limits your range to a 100 yard radius circle around the boat, but does mean you can follow the hose – or haul on it – to get back to the boat. As we often dive in very strong currents this means you can dive where SCUBA would be suicidal. You’d never get back to the boat, and the next stop might be South America. Read more