Write a Book/Build a House
In a writer's world there are some years where it seems we are treading water, revising, marketing, and planning for what's to come. Then there are years where we charge ahead, write like crazy, push the marketing aside, or try to, concentrating our energy on creating something new, something exciting, which takes us to the next level. Last month I blogged about my women's fiction manuscript, BERRY'S LICK, which is coming along nicely, but I have a new project on my plate, which I'm excited about as well. Along with the writing projects I've outlined for the year, I'm building a house.
2006-2007 is my year of covering new ground--not just in writing. Building a house is a long process, and not one for the faint of heart. There's the planning stage, which is not unlike writing a synopsis for 100,000+ word novel. As when imagining a story, I have to visualize something that does not yet exist. I walk around in the rooms in my head, place furniture, stand and gaze out the windows and picture myself living in my creation. Like a house I won't see the completed product for 6 to 9 months.
This is only my second house. I'm the architect. I'm holding my breath, hoping the windows are correct for the size of the rooms I designed. I had to double the size of my kitchen window in our last house just hours before the inspector arrived. My husband still remembers tearing the header out at dawn and reframing the opening. Building a house is a true test of a marriage. Mine survived the first construction project twenty years ago. We'll see how this one goes with a contractor in the mix. He hasn't had twenty-six years to fall in love with my cooking or yet learned to appreciate my creative vision.
Once you've written your first draft, gotten your floor plan on paper, editorial revisions begin. The county building department makes endless comments about the structure and craft of the house. The environmental protection folks have their say. Then there's the water department and the fire department. Revisions, revisions, revisions. My husband was totally frustrated with this step. But my experience with rejection and revision in the publishing world has taught me patience. At least one of us wasn't hyperventilating through this stage.
The bank is the marketing side. If you run screaming for the hills before it's all over, they want to know they have a marketable product. This is where you have to play the "similar but different" game. Due to rising cost, we have a small three bedroom, two bath house arranged in a U-shaped design around a courtyard--a standard family home in Southern California, pretty much. The "different" is in the style. My husband and I are fans of Santa Fe-style homes--flat roofs, clay tile floors, no carpet.
Our house will be surrounded by a nine acre avocado grove located in a high valley about fifteen miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. No lawn mowers, no leaf blowers. I plan to write to the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the trees. Nights will be inky black with lots of stars. I will have my morning coffee on my front porch in my bathrobe and watch the hawks sail by on the morning breeze.
There will be revisions and sequels to our house in the upcoming years. I have a writing tower planned--I can just see my contractor rolling his eyes and my husband smiling--hear them groaning as they haul my cast iron clawfoot tub up two flights of stairs . . .
Everyone needs a place to dream.