Friday, August 17, 2012

Things Remembered While in Maine

Looking at my colleagues lovely photos always make me wish I were better with a camera. Or even remembered to have one on hand (not counting the one on my cell phone that I have yet to use). I should have taken photos when I was in Maine a week ago. But I barely make it there -- not because the 6 + hour drive from Albany, NY to Belfast was that difficult. Instead because I was hemming and hawing (Southern speak) about whether I could take the time (with my massive to-do-list) to finally sneak in a late summer vacation. Since I had the option of canceling up until 48 hours before arrival date, I allowed myself to be indecisive.

What finally decided me was the 10-day weather report and the noise in the hallway outside my office. We have renovations going on here at school, been going on all summer. The guys doing the work are great and try not to be too disruptive. But I haven't been able to focus at the office or at home, and I was tired and grouchy and it was time to get in the car and go.

Now, I should say here that my indecision had nothing to do with my fondness for Maine. Maine resonates with me at some soul-deep level -- in the same way as other favorite places such as London and Seattle. Perhaps I love the whole state of Maine because I got to see quite a bit of it the first time I went there. It happened years ago when I was on my way back to Albany after a conference in Rhode Island. I took the wrong exit and was trying to figure out how to make a course adjustment when I realized I was not that far from the Maine state line (yes, I was really lost). So, on impulse, I decided to head to Maine. It was summer, I had some time, so why not? Why not go to Bar Harbor. Yes, Bar Harbor is way up there. But I hadn't looked at a map. And I thought I could get there before nightfall. I ended up stopping at a motel, and then sitting out again in the morning. Bar Harbor or bust.

I finally made it the next day. And -- luckily -- I had arrived in May rather than June. And was able to get a motel room. If only I had brought along the proper clothes for exploring Arcadia National Park (I did mention I had been at a conference, right?). But my lack of hiking boots aside, I fell in love with Maine. It was everything I expected it to be.

And I remembered why I love Maine when I went back last week. I won't rave here about seafood and nature and nice people. What I will mention is what I remembered while I was in Maine:

1. Sometimes, no matter how much you have to do, it's good to just hang out your "gone fishin'" sign. If you die while sitting there at your desk, the work still won't get done.

2. It's amazing how much you can accomplish sitting on a porch or in the park looking out at beautiful scenery. I love the water. I love being near it. I came home planning to redecorate my house to remind myself of how much I love water and cottages.

3. It's also a good thing to give yourself permission to do nothing at all. I remembered this not in Maine but on my way home via Lowell, MA. No, I didn't get lost again. I went to Lowell to go to the American Textile Museum, but as soon as I checked into the hotel, it started to pour down raining. And even though my obsessive self said I should go out in the rain and drive to the museum, instead I got into bed and took a nap. A lovely nap that reminded me how much I enjoy naps.

And then I drove home the next day -- encountering a major cloud burst less than an hour from Albany. And my to-do-list is even longer. And the construction is still going on in the hallway. And my washing machine (inherited with the house I bought a couple of years ago) just went belly up. But I'm still in a pretty good mood. That's because one of the things I remembered in Maine had to do with how I work best.

I know I have raised the topic of multitasking before. I finally have accepted that trying to do several things in a day so that I have the sense that I'm making headway on each task simply stresses me out. I've spent the past two days trying to complete an Author Questionnaire for my new book. For those of you who haven't done one yet, that's the document that your publisher has you feel out for use in marketing the book. I've spent two days on it because once I let myself get into it, I started enjoying thinking it through. Except for yesterday, when I needed to come up with an "official' 200-250 word description of my book. I couldn't seem to figure out how to summarize approximately 85,000 words in such a way that didn't give away the plot. My brain froze.

So, of course, I went to the Internet. And, as with everything else you can think of, when I typed in the question, several people had written blogs or articles providing instructions. They agreed that a "cover blurb" should provide an overview of the plot, identify and provide a capsule description of the protagonists, identify the goal(s) the protagonists are trying to achieve and what stands in their way -- i.e., the villain, physical challenges, emotion conflicts. This blurb should be written in third person, in the present, and provide a clear sense of setting. It should be written in emotional terms that will appeal to the reader who picks up your book.

Having been given a pep talk about writing book descriptions --and, no, I didn't pull books from my shelves to read their cover blurbs. I was too lazy to get up -- I focused on writing a bad first draft of my official description. I neglected the e-mails that were waiting to be answered. I focused on this one task. And a couple of hours later I not only had the long description but the 50 words or less version that was also requested.

I am now committed to doing one thing at a time and relying on "the power of flow." There is a marvelous book by that title, by the way. Don't remember the authors, but it will pop up if you Google that phrase.

So that's it from my office, with the sounds of construction still going on outside. And, thank you, Maine, for helping to restore my sanity. 

1 comment:

stella josphine said...

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