Now What?

Tiaears_200This isn’t about horses really, except insofar as it’s being written on a horse farm and the horses will benefit from some of what I’m talking about.

It is about writing, to a fair degree, and about life in general. It’s about seemingly endless sieges of high-stress activity (or sometimes lack thereof), then all of a sudden there’s the end. And now what?

Writing novels is like that. So is building, or rebuilding, a house.

I’ve done the former a few dozen times now, and am lining up to do it again. And again after that. I’ve done the latter once, and that’s more than enough for me.

Which tells you where I am on the spectrum of Jobs I’d Rather Do.

The house thing was actually a lot shorter than a novel usually is for me. I’m not a writer who can throw together a novel in a weekend or a couple of weeks. Normally it takes a year or more. Sometimes quite a bit more, if you count the pre-writing, the research, the stalking in increasingly smaller circles around the slow eruption of the idea from the mental loam…

This was four months’ worth. Beltane Eve saw a good part of my house ripped out and hit with blowers for water damage. Last day of August saw the departure of the paint-and-everything guys. In between, I camped in two tiny rooms with two dogs and three cats, went through sine waves of I Shall Prevail and I Can’t Even, and was convinced it would never, ever end.

Now it has ended. Mostly. Insurance claim is still to be closed out, and there’s a thing or two I might question, but for all intents and purposes, well, here we are.

Which is like a novel, too. When the draft goes to the editor, that’s not completion, that’s a trip to the hardware store for more spackle and paint. And when it goes to the printer or the formatter, that’s more like the last handshake, but maybe there’s a thing or two yet to finish.

Still, when the ms. leaves or the paint-and-everything guys drive off, there’s still that sense of, Wait. We can’t be done. Can we?

And then, WHAT DO I DO NOW?

There’s always that next novel or story or article. There will Not be that next renovation, no no no, the kitchen cabinets can wait, so can the roof repair, really, they can.

First, there has to be a breathing space. A time to try to relax, to stop stressing, to realize this one is done. Time that was spent waiting (waiting waiting) or worrying or planning or constructing is free again for things like, oh, sleep. Or horses–back in the saddle again, once the mud dries a little more (three inches of rain in a couple of hours will leave a bit of mess behind). And writing. Definitely writing. That part of the brain can function again, now it’s not disrupted constantly by hammering, sawing, and days of Will This Happen At All?

The last were the worst–the awfulness of not knowing.

I’m still not sure, on a visceral level, that this space belongs to me. It’s so new and clean. I almost (almost) miss the old crappy place, though not the collapsing floors or the waterlogged cupboards. (It was an epic Water Loss Claim, it was.)

Now I have to seriously move on. No climging to the old, it’s gone–hauled off in a contractor’s truck. I have a book to finish and another to start, and horses to train and articles to write and mss. to edit and writers to teach and…

Somebody give me a push?

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Now What? — 20 Comments

  1. We are about to take our (ONLY) bathroom down to studs and joists. At this point, I’m fervently hoping for no structural damage from our very very slow leak. It’s good to know that even the most disruptive renovations end.

    • Oh my word. That’s what happened here, but then the floors melted.

      How are you dealing in the interim? I have a second bathroom, luckily, and they moved the toilet from the gutted one into it and tore out the nonfunctional one there. Then I lived in that part of the house for three months.

      • Well… we’re ordering the things we need to put into the bathroom in advance, essentially stockpiling them in our contractor’s shop. This should (famous last words?) minimize the length of the disruption. Our contractor says that when it comes down to the point of removing the toilet, they can reinstall it again every night. Our pipes are set up so that we’ll still have water in the remainder of the house, so other cooking and cleaning will be possible. We have good neighbors who will let us use their showers. (I’m also considering getting a marine toilet – like you have in an RV – as insurance.)

        That said, if we have major structural issues we’re sort of up a creek without a paddle.

        • Are you a member of a gym or health club? If not, consider joining just for that period. (You might well be able to get a free intro period of membership.) Then you have showers, and of course you could also work out a little.

          • The gym idea is a very good one – thanks!

            I must admit I’ve been considering what I might be able to do with a kiddie pool, a hose, a hula hoop, a shower curtain, a sump pump and the basement laundry sink. (Alas, it’s going to be far too cold – and too urban! – to shower outside.)

  2. I have so much PTSD about moving and renovations I can’t begin…. You are a survivor. Deep breaths, many walks, horse yoga, and you can contemplate committing Novel once again.

  3. Was the problem with Ro’s eye omitted due to the trivial nature of it? It would make the perfect cherry on top of the pizza.

  4. My idea is that writers (maybe all people) divide out into racehorses and honeybees. If you are a racehorse, chaos is exciting. The people in the stands, the race about to start, the noise and tension. The jockey on your back tapping with the whip just helps you run faster and better! It takes you minutes, tops, to bring home the roses.
    If you are a honeybee, chaos is the last thing you need. You need peace and quiet. It should be sunny and warm, and you should be surrounded by flowers so that you can quietly putter in and out of the blossoms and bring honey back to the hive. If people whack the hive with a riding crop it does not help the honey production, it simply throws you off. And it takes days and weeks of steady quiet work to get any honey, so people had better leave you to it, and not poke around.

    • It’s part that, and part longterm Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which erodes my energy levels before anything else starts, and part being sole support for a not particularly small farm and pet household, which had culminated in the evaporation of all backups and sitter options. When I finally found a sitter, HouseMageddon started, and I couldn’t make any plans because I never knew when contractors might decide to get to work.

      Still not satisfied with the sitter option, though there is one that will do until I find something better. Overall I’m feeling rather eroded.

      • Here’s hoping you get some rest. Sounds like it might be good. Even the change of the end of a project is still *change,* if that makes sense.