There was something in the air yesterday. Something that made me, someone who refuses to get out of bed before the 6 o’clock alarm, pop out of bed at 4:30 am and begin the day.
Yesterday was moving day at my house. No, I am not relocating, I am moving things, purging, shuffling words on the page. By 6 o’clock I was deep in a pile of edits. I had a critique group meeting at 10 with my incredibly talented friends from the Atlanta Writers Club. I was wrapping up a revision of a short story I’m working on titled Rusty Spokes and Bicycle Wrecks. Then I finished editing my second short story collection which I will release in January.
For those who purchased a copy of my latest release, Mountain Memories, let me say THANK YOU. If you haven’t purchased a copy you can do so at this link. Please, please share the link and tell your friends about this book.
I finished both collections months ago, knowing that readers needed something from me prior to Mercer University Press releasing my next book in 2014. But yesterday, in the midst of the short story edits, something else started brewing in my noggin’. Something so deliciously juicy I have gone and lost my mind.
Yes, Dear Ones, I am purging papers. I am actually throwing things away !
I have never posted a photo of my office. Nor do I intend to. My office is always a shambles. It’s the room where the dog sleeps, where I type at a table; not a desk (with drawers), but a table. Because of that, I have stacks (plural) of important documents. Some are stored in boxes, most are stacks.
My husband, God love him, is a patient, patient man.
This new story requires research, lots and lots of research. The kind of research where maps are necessary, a “spread-out” kind of deal that will could find me lying in the floor trying to chart where characters are going. But first, the characters have told me they need room to grow. Literally.
As an author who is also a book junkie, sprinkle into this messy office stacks of books. I have research books, books I have read (and loved hence I keep them near me). Stacks of books to be read. Stacks and stacks of stickedystacked books. (I know it’s not a real word, but you get the picture). My husband converted the largest bedroom upstairs into a library. There is no room. None. I need more shelves. Don’t even get me started on the books beside my bed. Again, stacks.
So yesterday, after the 4 am wake up and the 2 and a half hour critique group meeting, I sat down with my new characters and wrote a scene, by hand, which is my way. On an ordinary day I would have wanted a nap, would have needed to reboot my brain, but yesterday wasn’t an ordinary day. Energized, I then completed the edits for my short story collection and sent the entire manuscript to my author friend who had VOLUNTEERED to read the collection.
Now that’s a friend, Dear Ones. She is almost as good as my husband.
Then I returned to the new book scene. Still energized, and with only a single cup of tea in my system, I wrote another page stopping only when they insisted I start cleaning my office. When characters speak, authors listen; or at least they should.
I commenced to purging paper that which I once deemed important. Professional organizers know the best way to purge is designate “keep” and “toss” piles. But for writers it isn’t that simple. Everything I had could potentially generate content. Writers who are sensory creators need all of this “stuff” in order to create. The day I sit down to a clean desk will perhaps be my last day as an author.
But the characters, these new folk who wanted me to tell you their story, had other ideas. They weren’t going to speak to me until I cleaned up my office. Grabbing the trashcan, I tossed:
Rejection letters: why in the world would I want that reminder?
Newspaper clippings: c’mon now that’s just clutter.
Magazine Articles I’d written ten years ago: merciful heavens!
Magazines I had saved for years, (Sorry Poets & Writers, I still love you)
Class assignments: Duh, I graduated a long time ago.
Photos of my children that made me cry.
Excellent tips on writing that I should never have buried.
I kept, and organized:
the manuscript from my first book. Knowing that soon, I would be eyeball deep in the edits of Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, I threw out a large amount of the original manuscript for In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes.
Really, I can see no good reason for keeping the MS for In the Garden. I’ll recycle the paper, print on the second side. I’ve already asked for paper and ink for Christmas this year. Until Santa comes, I’ll reuse and recycle.
I also sifted through clippings, magazine articles, any publicity from the first book and boxed it up.
I refer to some magazines for research, and have a small collection of maps from the 60s. Those I’m using for a different book. And, yes, if you have old maps from the late 60s I would love to have them. Not even joking.
While moving mountains of paper, I uncovered three separate books I began but didn’t pay attention to, so the characters died. I’ve bound those in notebooks with the promise to revisit once time allows.
While my office still looks like a tornado walked through it, I believe it is clean enough so that the characters of my work in progress can stretch their legs. I will sit down with them soon and my first question will be, “what do you think about the clean(er) office?
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories, an ebook which introduces you to her mountain people. She is appreciative of all her readers, and thanks them for reading her work. She loves hearing from readers. In the fall of 2014, Mercer University Press will release, Farming, Friends and Fried Bologna Sandwiches, which features more stories from Farmer Billy Albertson. Visit Renea at www.reneawinchester.com