Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goldilocks and The Three Chairs

So as I think I may have mentioned in passing, my back went out on me about a month ago. It’s fine now, but I hadn’t had a back tweak like that in a looooong time. It’s just so tough when a writer can’t sit comfortably.

But have no fear, a white knight came to my rescue in the form of my dear mother, who insisted on buying me a new chair, specifically, an Aeron chair, as she had had one for some years and loves it a lot. She had actually made this offer a year ago, before my back went out, but I demurred, thinking it too extravagant, too chic, too I don’t know what. But Wednesday saw us at the local office furniture place, trying out chairs.

And can I just say but My! There are a lot of different chairs out there and a such an awful lot of different things to adjust on said chairs!

So I began trying them out. And trying them out, and trying them out. The Aeron was good, but so was the Mirra, but it didn’t have quite enough lower back support. There was another in-the-running, a Sitmatic, that seemed good too. Finally, after much agonizing, I selected an Aeron, due in no small part to my mothers (and others) high praises, and my mother wrote the check (I had to close my eyes while she did that part) and off we went.

Except when I got home and began using the chair, I realized there is a huge difference between sitting in a chair, and actually using it as you do every day. The expensive sucker I’d brought home with me was too big, too long in the seat specifically, and kept bumping (and therefore bruising) the back of my calves. You see, I don’t just sit in chairs, I scoot around in them like a deranged go-cart driver as I move from computer screen to bookshelf(for research) to the table behind me (where I have laid out plots and graphs and other notes.) This Father of All Chairs was simply not for me. It was too hard.

Now I don’t know about you, but I have return phobia. I loathe returning things. It makes me feel high maintenance and demanding and just generally like if I were really worth my salt I would have ended up with the correct thing in the first place. Even so, it was too much money to spend on a chair I couldn’t sit in. So my poor husband schlepps the chair back to the car, and off I go to the furniture store. They lug the old chair in, and I return to my other choices of the day before. But now I have a better idea of what I’m looking for, so I test for those things as well, making sure to scoot everything I sit in.

Surprise, the most comfortable chair is the Sitmatic. It’s missing a couple of features of the Aeron, but is cushier, and has a couple of more precise adjustments. I am somewhat dismayed that my backside prefers a chair that sounds like it could have been sold on a commercial during the Ben Hunter Movie Matinee, and if you CAALL NOW you will get free shipping and a special one time offer of a free attachment that will julienne your potatoes for you while your at it.

But so be it.

As he carries this second chair inside, my poor husband grunts, "This one is solidly made," which is codes-peak for this is a heavy sucker. But we get it inside, and I commence to try and get some frickin’ work done that afternoon.

Except…this chair isn’t right after all either. One of the things it doesn’t do is rock back, but I don’t rock back, or so I thought. My old chair had a very short back, and apparently I do stretch back over that quite a lot, so that sitting in a high back chair that doesn’t rock back feels a lot like having on a straight jacket. But I cannot return yet another chair. Can I? (See, this is why I don’t buy expensive things—the decisions! The pressure!)

But much to my deep chagrin, I do. I have to. It’s too much frickin’ money to not get the right one. I am sure that when the woman sees my car pull up in the parking lot, she runs and hides in the back. Which is actually fine because I can do all my test sitting alone and in private. Its down to the Aeron B and the Mirra. Back and forth I go. I prefer the Aeron’s lumbar support and slightly more fine-tuned seat adjustments, but I prefer Mirra fabric and the way the lip of the seat is adjustable.

When I finally settle on the Aeron B and the poor warehouse worker is yet again lugging a chair out to my car, I offer to bring him some scotch or vodka for his troubles, but the saleswoman informs me that he is a Jehovah’s Witness and doesn’t drink. Here’s hoping he likes See’s Candy!

The moral of the story:
Size does matter—especially with Aeron Chairs
Be sure and put a chair through it’s paces before you buy that sucker, a ten minute sit in a showroom is not a thorough test-drive!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Color Is Your Revision?

I’ve discovered a enormously helpful new revision tool. It’s probably something everyone else has known about for eons, but I’ve just stumbled upon it and it’s keeping me from feeling scattered to the four corners of the universe.

I’ve taken to printing different versions of the mss out on different colors of paper. So the rough draft was printed in white, the second draft was printed on yellow, and the third that I’m currently working on is on blue paper. The final version will be on buff colored paper. (Yes, I really am the queen of multiple drafts. I can NEVER get it in one.)

Such a simple, simple thing, and yet, it frees up just a little bit more of my mental hard drive so I don’t have to stop and think, okay, which is the newest version? I know some people print their version numbers as a footer on the mss, but I always forget about that, and this color thing just makes it so clear.

Plus, seeing the mss on a different colored paper is almost as effective as using a new font for making old typos easier to spot.

It is especially helpful when I’m weaving in bits from older drafts.

Not to mention that it’s pretty. It makes my desk look like a rainbow has exploded on it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Done, Done, DONE!

Yes, that screaming you hear is moi, thrilled to pieces that I've finally finished this wretched first draft. I've never contemplated Death By Unfinished Manuscript before, but this book about did me in.

I started the book on June 3, much later than I should have, but I was distracted by the new book I'd just written and sold, and I hadn't factored in new time management issues involving my PT job and boys home from college for the summer. So all in all, I learned a ton about my process and time management issues, so the agonizing did serve some practical purpose.

And, not only am I DONE! (done, done, done--such a happy word!) but I have ten whole days left for revision. Is life good or what?

And to celebrate, I cleaned the much neglected kitchen and did two loads of laundry. Oh, and made a pet food run. Ah, the glamorous life of an author...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All Wet

I have recently developed a thing for baths. It started when my back went into twisty, pinchy fits and I began taking warm baths with Epsom salts to help unknot.

That was six weeks ago. I’ve only taken one shower since then, the rest are daily baths. I love the immersion in water, the calm and quiet of it, the sense of being enveloped by an entirely different element. It's almost as good as a nap for jump starting my subconscious, and if it's good for my writing I can justify it six ways to Sunday.

Also, probably no coincidence that this affinity for baths is only showing up now that the boys are off at more thundering, colliding monoliths destroying all that calm.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Upcoming Booksigning

I always forget to mention this kind of thing here on the blog, but I'll be having a booksigning for Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris next Sunday, November 23 at Chaucer's Books in Santa Barbara at 3:00. If you're in the area I would love to see you!

As an extra added bonus, I'll be signing with my dear friend, fellow Shrinking Violet, and all around amazing writer, Mary Hershey. That's a twofer, folks!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Am I The Only One?

Can I really be the only person I know who reads more than one book at a time? My husband thinks I'm slightly insane for doing this (and somehow thinks that slightly mitigates the insane part).

Actually, reading can be a conundrum for me when I'm writing a book; there is such a fine line between feeding my work and pulling me off course. It can be nearly impossible to find books that keep me connected to the joy of reading a good book, yet aren't too similar to what I write, thereby infecting it with their voice, or conversely, are too different from what I write. In the latter case, if it's a great book, it makes me want to chuck my current project and start something new.

So for the last throes of Theodosia and the Knights of Horus I've been reading Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me (for the British accent, don't you know?) and re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and re-reading D. M. Cornish's Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling. (Which, btw, if you haven't read and you enjoy fantasy, you simply MUST read.)

And I alternate. Last night I read about 50 pages in one, and that was enough of that, then read 25 pages of Kinsella, and put that aside, then finished out the evening with MBT.

I'm really hoping someone out there does this too...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Someone nearby has gone and fertilized their field, and not with any, run-of-the-mill fertilizer. Oh no. This stuff reeks beyond the reekiest thing in your imagination (even my current writing!) It’s not a simple horse manure type stuff, but some ghastly, vile, fish guts and horrid chemical smell that burns the inside of one’s nostrils. Ugh.

Makes it very hard to concentrate on today’s pages.

Hmm...maybe I can pretend it’s the stench of the Thames and incorporate into today’s writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making My List And Checking It Twice

No, not my Christmas list, my reading list. For when I finish this Book That Will Not End. Well, that and the next book, but I only have six weeks to get that written so I’m sure that time will fly by. I have a whole list of books I can’t wait to read, but they’re too diverting—they’ll take my voice and story interests in a whole ‘nother direction and I can’t afford that. At least not until Jan 15, and then, watch out! I’m going to plant myself on the couch and read for two weeks straight!

Some on my list:

Ink Exchange
Kushiel’s Mercy
The Born Queen
Midnight Never Come
The Sugar Queen
The Immortal

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stuck in iSuck

Bleah. This is the hardest stage of the manuscript, the pure slogging stage, where I am sick unto death of this plot and these characters and whose idea was this anyway? Every word I write reeks of dreck and sewage.

Even worse, I added five pages of revision notes today, pleased that my page count would go up, bringing me ever close to The End. Except, I ended up removing just as many pages as I added. So not only am I stuck in iSuck, but I’m going nowhere too. I formally dub this The Book That Will Not End.

Double bleah.