What Do You Do When the Writing’s Done?

The previous post was a wee tad premature, since I found a Problem  (having two files with very similar names.  Opening said files (but only one at a time) while extremely tired and migrainous.  No guesses who made some changes in one, and some in the other.)   So two more days were spent calmly (!) displaying both of them side by side in Word, and comparing them to Editor’s notes, to be sure that the final file really was the one with ALL the changes.  Including the changes made while transferring changes because there’s always something.

However, today very early the final file and its cover letter went off to Editor, cc’d to Agent as usual,  as the morning progressed from wake-up before five by some animal in the walls,  spilling cereal and milk on my desk (not then, but later) and the arrival of the HVAC guy to see why our AC was misbehaving.  Sent it off, went off on my morning bike ride into very warm, very still, very humid air.  Forgot my helmet (realized before the end of the street.  Left bike propped on a tree and walked back.  Rode off.  Realized I hadn’t brought my water bottle.  WAY too hot to ride far without a water bottle.  Came home after first mile to get it.  Did make 5.25 miles, eventually, with some other interruptions.  HVAC guy was also checking the old AC in Derelict House (the “barn name” for the house next door that we bought to keep it from further harm to us and the neighborhood.)   The old AC turned out to have been installed in 1973.  Six years before we moved to the house we’re in.  And the house has been empty for at least 10 years.  So…it’s REALLY dead, Jim.

Ours, on the other hand, is working better, though it, too, is beyond its predicted lifespan.  But still alive.  Yay for that.

Following all that, there was laundry going on,  something else I forget, and there was a long phone chat with Agent, in which we realized early on that some crossed signals had occurred and agreed not to let that happen again.  All is fine in that department; I realized again that however skilled a writer may be,  that doesn’t mean a writer is always communicating well with someone else.    (And health issues can cloud the matter, too.  If you’re in survival mode, just putting one foot in front of the other with effort, noticing the scenery or someone else’s state of mind, may not happen.)    Then I struggled for awhile with an online business’s website, trying to get things done (having been told they could only be done from the website or the smartphone of a type I don’t have.)  Gave up and decided to take a nap.  Good decision.   That project was accomplished this evening, clearer-headed, and I also managed a trip to the local small grocery to pick up some (but not all) of the things I was low on or out of.  Yeast and shortening have been achieved–I forgot I was also low on brown sugar, even though I found myself staring at a sack of Mexican sugar (which is good stuff–not white, but lighter than our “light brown.”)  But I need DARK brown.

The plan is to start digging out of all the stuff left undone for..um…too many books…get more sleep, eat better, exercise, that kind of thing.  Visiting friends I haven’t seen for months and used to see weekly.  Putting in a fall garden (in aid of eating better.  My two-pot herb garden is already helping some.)   We have the raised beds, but they’ve gone to weeds mostly.  Got a few tomatoes this year, but tomatoes don’t make it through the summer here anymore.

I made wild plum jam for the first time (the first time we’ve collected enough wild plums before the critters got them.  It’s a lovely color and great on the homemade bread.  The plums look almost like cherries, but they’re plums, all right.  Very very sour and somewhat bitter (some more than others) and grow in little thickets, to about head high.  The yield was a pint and a bit (quarter cup?  Maybe?)

  These are tiny, as you can see.  But they turned into this:


They’re rather dry and hard-fleshed, so I didn’t try to make jelly, but cooked them down with sugar until the juice and pulp would go through the holes of that colander, and the seeds and skins stayed behind.

So this is what writers do when the writing is all done and sent away.  Everything else.  Laundry, folding laundry, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, sorting, packing, talking to friends on the phone or in person,  talking to contractors about proposed work on a house,  exercising, driving,  trimming bushes or trees, pulling weeds, taking care of business that isn’t writing, taking naps, and (this is about to happen) going to bed on time, guilt-free.

I’ll be back in not-too-long to deal with those Vatta twins loose on Huygens Station.

8 thoughts on “What Do You Do When the Writing’s Done?

  1. Sometimes housekeeping can be a relaxing antidote to the toxicity of deadlines. The mind has time to wander, and the internal sound track breaks out in audible song.

    1. Two days with afternoon naps and going to bed early and I’m feeling more relaxed already. I really do need more sleep than I did earlier in life, and I wasn’t getting anywhere near it. And I’m enjoying the lack of guilt for (for instance) stopping to take a picture of something beautiful, like the hummingbird nectaring on a Rose of Sharon I saw yesterday. Or for having an actual conversation with my husband more than once a day. Looking forward to visiting friends who live in the city (people I used to visit at least every other week, but haven’t seen for months.)

  2. That plum jam is just like what I make with damsons, which are essentially wild plums. I love it, personally I prefer jams made with sour fruit that end up with a sour tang to balance the sweetness, I hope you enjoy yours.

    1. I like the tart/sweet combo too. “In the old days,” when I made jams and jellies from wild fruit, I usually used about 1/4 under-ripe fruit to provide both the pectin and the acidity that made them both jell and have that wild tang to them. Prickly pear cactus fruits, though they produce a lovely pink juice, don’t do the pectin thing at all, and to me are somewhat insipid. I decided it wasn’t worth the effort (getting the fruits off the cactus and skinning them of their spines) to make cactus jelly after the first try. I had to make them oversweet to have much flavor at all. But wild grape jelly and wild blackberry jelly were…perfect.

  3. Although I’m far north of you – close enough to the Canadian border to count – as a former Phoenix resident I understand the need for AC. I’m sure your HVAC guy told you, but I saw a significant savings from upgrading my 20+ year old unit to the latest high-efficiency system. The “derelict” house is a question of use, but you may want to look into it for the main house. Electric bills are a real pain.
    I’m a big fan, and I’m looking forward to the release of Into the Fire. Glad to see you writing in the hard SF category again!

    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes, we’re taking a more immediately economical approach for the Derelict House, but will be saving for a the high-efficiency one for ours when it finally dies.

  4. Hello, I am so in love with this Vatta series! ..Grabbed all five of the series and have been reading, laughing, biting my nails, sitting at edge of seat, tsk-tsking along with the adventure. You write more DETAIL of how life really works as I have never seen before. Bills of lading, docking fees, inspections, insignia patches, relate to their life, and I adore you have included this in the nitty gritty of that future too.

    One thing that did not ring true to me was, in book 4 -Command Decision, page 197, the non-reaction (by all) of losing a baby induced by terror, then killed in front of the family being tortured. No mention (via dialogue) is made by the suffering mother or family (after being saved), only the conversation about dying garden plants gets a response by Rafe’s sister; he never says one word to her about the horrible loss she suffered. She says nothing, shows us nothing. But a few chapters later she is fearful in the old house, but again, loss of a child murdered at birth is not mentioned? I don’t know if this was edited for space or what. It just feels incomplete in writing so intensely detailed on everything else.
    Look forward to reading all the other books, and thank you again for writing hard sic fi.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.