Tag Archives: adventures in homeownership

ROW80 Round 2: Off to a Crazy Start

Welcome back to A Round of Words in 80 Days! My goals for Round 2 are here. Here’s how my first week went:

 Writing Updates

This part did not go so well. My goal for this round is 1.5 hours a week of writing or editing, and I only managed half of that. On the good side, it was all in one session, so I met the other part of my writing goal — to do at least one session of half an hour or longer.

And here’s why…

Renovation Updates

We’ve been living in shambles because we’re getting central air-conditioning installed (woohoo!). Every time I come home from work, there’s a new hole in a strange place, or metal pipes, or new drywall “bulkheads” covering the pipes. I don’t mind telling you this has been just slightly stressful. But they’ll be done this week, and then we can start getting the drywall dust out of everything and moving our mess back where it was…I mean, getting stuff organized.

In the meantime, I’m busy trying to figure out how to make the “bulkheads” look like they belong in the rooms, live out of suitcases because the bedroom closet had to be emptied, and sort out the curtains that we’re finally getting around to putting up.

Then there are two new projects that are just getting started. First is setting up a kitchen…today we cleared all the junk out of it, ceremonially turned on the fridge, and ordered the first load of groceries. (Next step is cleaning.) Second is landscaping, or rather, organizing other people to do landscaping — they’ve gotten as far as pulling out some scraggly roses and some rusted metal frames that the roses were tied to. Whew!

Exercise Updates

This week I have:

  • done 1 hour of yoga
  • climbed 9 flights of stairs twice (plus the regular stair-climbing I do during my subway commute and in my 2.5-storey home)
  • done 2 half-hour workout sessions in my exercise room at home (usually a random mix of cardio, stretching, and strengthening)
  • spent Friday evening and all of Saturday dancing

That last bit is not going to become a habit, alas, but I’m hoping the rest of it will, and I’ll add to it gradually.

I expect this coming week to be just as busy on the house front, and we have family coming for Easter weekend. But after that I’m really hoping to be able to focus more on the writing again.

Onward!

ROW80 Round 2: Goals

Hello again! I’m signing up for another Round of Words in 80 Days. This round is set to run from April 7 to June 26, and I’ll be checking in every Sunday.

This year has turned into the Year of Making My Living Space Better. Not quite what I’d intended, but it’s a good reminder that I am not, in fact, a brain in a jar attached to a keyboard.

The current round falls during an especially busy time. I am (all while working full-time):

  • dealing with the tail end of renovations
  • setting up a kitchen (luckily not a super-urgent project)
  • trying to get my house generally organized and a teeny bit decorated because I’m tired of not paying attention to it and having it look like nobody cares
  • upgrading my front and back yards from “terrible mess” to “kind of pretty and really low-maintenance” — which involves some landscaping help and some gardening effort on my part

Therefore, my focus in this round will be on the above. I’m going to report on my progress every Sunday, mostly to remind myself that I am extremely busy and therefore I am not allowed to beat myself up for not getting other things done (like writing).

And, to go along with that “not a brain in a jar” thing, I am also going to report on my exercising progress. Currently I do an hour of yoga once a week and folk dance for an evening once every two weeks. I just set up an exercise room in my attic, so I’m adding calisthenics and more yoga. And the weather is finally turning to spring, so I’d like to add walking as well (fast walking when possible). No particular goals here — anything will be an improvement.

Finally, there’s writing. I don’t want to put my writing on pause completely, because in my experience, it’s a LOT harder to get started again once I get out of the habit. (I don’t write every day — right now it’s more like 3-5 days a week — but that’s a regular, hard-won habit that I don’t want to let slip.)

So my writing goal for this round is: to write/edit/outline for 1.5 hours a week, including at least one session of half an hour or longer.

Happy writing!

ROW80 Week 11 and Final Check-In

This is it — the end of this Round of Words in 80 Days! Well, technically there are a few more days left, but I’m only doing weekly check-ins, so this will be my last. It’s longer than usual because I’m also including a recap, so bear with me….

Writing Updates

This week Real Life kicked my butt. Don’t worry, nothing horrible happened…I’ve just been really busy and haven’t had a lot of brain left over for writing.

That said, I’ve still logged over an hour and written 900 words of a new scene on the next chapter of the novel edit, which is more than can be said of some weeks when Real Life happens, so yay.

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu has finally been sorted, the missing piece has been delivered, and assembly will be happening this week. Kitchen appliances are also being delivered this week, which means the kitchen will in theory be usable. Next steps: move out everything that’s currently being stored in the kitchen and the cupboards, put it all somewhere else, clean the room from top to bottom, and start setting it up for actual use!

My significant other and I spent much of the weekend buying curtains and sheers for the entire house (why yes, we’ve been living here with only jury-rigged window coverings for the past two years, why do you ask?). I think we’ve bought everything we need now…just need to check them out in the rooms where they’re going, to make sure the colours work the way I thought they would in the store.

(I had blinds growing up and we had blinds in the apartment where we lived before this, so neither of us has any experience with curtains. But we like the look of curtains better, especially in an old house like ours, so that’s what we’re going for. Gotta learn sometime, right?)

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time thinking about landscaping and browsing magazines for ideas, so that’s been taking up a lot of brain cycles. But I have to say it’s nice to be dreaming about spring despite the snow still on the ground!

ROW80 Final Recap

Back in my original ROW80 post, I declared 2014 to be the Year of Priorities, AKA Project: Making Space. I wrote:

I’m taking a step back, refocusing and recommitting to what it is I really want to do with myself. Which is write.

Specifically, I want to make more space for my writing. I hear myself constantly complaining about how busy I am. My house is cluttered so there’s no room to think. The Internet is an ever-present demon. And the writing I am getting done feels like it has stagnated because I’m not sinking into it as deeply as I could be.

I think that has kind of backfired. I’m still super busy…though at least now the focus has shifted from nebulous computer-related things (like before) to making my real-life space better. My house is still cluttered, but I’m moving towards having more usable space, which has got to help eventually.

I’m also making headway on decor, which is also a worthy goal — I deserve a beautiful space! (To be clear I’m not talking about a perfectly clean and Pinterest-worthy space, but one that makes my heart happy.)

My original ROW80 writing goal was to spend 5 hours a week writing and/or editing.

I fell short of that — my average was more like 3 to 3.5 hours, and I only hit 5 hours once (last week!). But it started at around 2 to 2.5 hours, so the amount of writing gradually crept up from week to week. That’s worth something too.

What’s Next

I’m seriously thinking of signing up for ROW80 again. I found it helpful for keeping myself moving, if not always on track.

The next round (April 7 to June 26) will encompass a time when I expect to be seriously busy with Real Life stuff — mainly getting the kitchen and yard/garden up and running — so there may will not be a lot of writing. But I’d like to encourage myself to keep moving on the writing, even just a little bit.

It’s also helpful to look back on my own updates about Real Life and remind myself that hey, I really was busy and no, I’m not slacking off (take that, nasty little voice in my head).

Your turn! If you’re doing ROW80, how did this round go? If not, how about those New Year’s resolutions? Do the critical voices in your head help or hinder you?

Home Stretch on the ROW80 Week 10 Check-In

This is the second-last update I’ll be making for this Round of Words in 80 Days. Can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Regular reporting has helped keep me accountable, so I’m going to sign up for the next round as well (starts April 7). If you’re thinking of joining, let me know so I can be sure to cheer you on.

On to the updates…

Writing Updates

My original ROW80 goal was 5 hours a week of writing or editing (fiction only — not counting blogging). Due to Life, I had to revise that goal down to 3.5 (a handy goal because the math is so easy). Most weeks I managed between 3 and 4 hours. Well…this week I finally hit 5!

Even better, I finally conquered a chapter that’s had me stymied for waaaaay too long. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s good enough for now (this is the second draft, not the last draft) and I am MOVING ON. Oh, and today I got to write a really nasty cliffhanger. That was fun. Whoever said writers were nice people?

Another goal was to start putting a little more effort into this blog. I wrote two non-ROW80 posts this past week — My Writing Process and Winter Elegy — which hasn’t happened since last month, so go me!

Renovation Updates

The IKEA snafu still isn’t sorted — they were supposed to call us last week and didn’t, so we need to follow up this week.

However, we braved the cold weather to go to Home Depot (in a blizzard!) and order some appliances for the upstairs kitchen (we’re in a shared housing arrangement). Those are getting delivered in two weeks, so soon we’ll have no excuse to keep avoiding the cleaning that needs to happen in that kitchen to make it usable. I’m looking forward to having our own kitchen again and getting back to more independence.

We’re also making headway on drapes — a kind friend has offered to hem them for us (we are, sadly, about as far from DIYers as one can get), and we now know more or less what we want, so in the next couple of weeks we need to go buy all the curtains. Yay?

And finally, we’re looking into getting help with beating our front and back yards into shape come spring. More about that soon!

Upping the Ante on the ROW80 Week 8 Check-In

How are you all doing? We’re heading into the final month of this round. Anyone tackling NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month) in March?

Writing Updates

I finished out February with 14.5 hours of writing/editing, mostly on my novel edit-in-progress. My February goal was either 14 or 15 hours  (I said different things in different places), so I’m calling that a win.

Last week I raised my goal slightly to 4 hours of writing/editing from 3.5, and hit it. I’m shooting for 4 hours again this week, and a goal of 20 hours by the end of March.

As for actual progress, this week I edited Part 5 of my fantasy serial, “Still Waters Run Deep”. It’ll be posted at Turtleduck Press next month.

Also, I now have my crit partners’ responses all the way through the end of the novel. I’m just starting to dig into the responses and figure out what to do with them. So there’s still a lot of outlining and brainstorming and various other forms of thinking on paper (or rather, onscreen), and not much actual prose happening. I’m still worried that this isn’t getting me anywhere fast — I can brainstorm endlessly and still not have a story — but at least I’m slowly increasing the time I spend at the keyboard.

In other news, I’ve kind of neglected the blog in the past couple of months. I’d like to start putting a little more effort into it again, with one longer post, one shorter post, and one #ROW80 update per week.

Renovation Updates

The renovating efforts have slowed down this week, but we now have the necessary electrical wiring to put in a stove and a fridge in the upstairs kitchen. The furniture assembly isn’t quite finished due to some snafus with IKEA, so that has to get straightened out before we can organize the kitchen. Cold weather has made us disinclined to go out and buy stuff, so we’re still bumbling along with everything half-finished. Grr argh.

Still…onward!

 

Chugging Along with the ROW80 Week 7 Check-In

How are you all doing this week? Did you get up early to watch the hockey game? (I didn’t, but an awful lot of people I know did. We Canadians take our hockey seriously.)

Writing Updates

Writing continues to chug along. I’ve hit 3.5 hours for the second week in a row, meaning I’m on track to hit 14 hours this month. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than I’ve done in a month since November and also more consistent than I’ve been since then, so go me!

This is my second week working on a novel edit that got shelved mid-draft, so I’m starting to dig deeper into the material. It’s only the second draft and I’m a pantser, so there’s a lot of digging still to go. I can only hope I’m getting somewhere….

This week I’m setting the bar a little higher and aiming for 4 hours.

Renovation Updates

This past week we’ve finally made some headway on getting the upstairs kitchen operational (my significant other’s parents live with us, and we’ve been sharing a kitchen). We have:

  • met with a guy about electrical upgrades (to happen this coming week) that will mean we can get a stove and fridge for the upstairs kitchen
  • started clearing out / cleaning the kitchen (which, not being in use, naturally became the “junk” room)
  • assembled some IKEA furniture, for the kitchen and elsewhere, that will help with storage (one of our biggest challenges)

Also, this is not exactly about renovations, but we’ve used the newly set up exercise room most days this week. Go us!

 

Resurfacing for ROW80 Week 6 Check-In

Here’s a Sunday check-in for a change!

Quick recap: in my last check-in, I spoke about being frustrated that renovations were taking too much time, and I decided to raise my weekly goal from 3 to 3.5 hours (down from the 5-hour goal I declared at the start of ROW80 and then kept missing).

Writing Updates

Turns out that was a good plan. (I’ve used the same goal in the past and found it works well, simply because it’s so easy to track — no tricky math.) Last week I hit 3 hours for the first time since starting the challenge. This week I’ve hit 3.5 hours. My unofficial goal for February has been 14 hours (half an hour per day — averaged out because I don’t write every single day) and I’m completely on track for that. Go me!

Another component of my original ROW80 goals was to write in bigger chunks. That’s been kind of patchy — half an hour a day is all I can manage most days — but I have done two 2-hour days in February so far, and today’s writing included a 1.5 hour session. So I’m successfully starting to train myself to go for longer.

As for the actual writing, I’ve finally abandoned a flash fiction piece that wasn’t working, after spending way too long trying to make it work (story of my writing life). Instead I’m going back to a novel edit that got shelved mid-draft. I’d really like to finish it and get it out there.

That won’t happen by the end of this ROW80, but I’m aiming for sometime this year. I can’t be more specific because this is the first novel I’ve gotten this far with, so I’m still working out my process. Wish me luck….

Renovation Updates

Things have slowed down a bit and there are no actual renovations happening at the moment. But since my last post, my significant other and I have:

  • discovered that we can’t hang curtains yet
  • met a guy about central air conditioning (very excited about this, but alas, it can’t happen until the snow on the roof melts…and yes, we have snow and still need a/c in the summer)
  • put together four chairs (hey, we are very much not DIYers, so it’s worth mentioning in my books)
  • survived a trip to IKEA (note: the IKEA app is the best thing ever) for some badly needed storage furniture, a large piece for the kitchen, and some decor (decor does not come naturally to me, but it’s important too)
  • started setting up the new exercise room / guest room
  • had an inaugural workout in the exercise room (also very exciting)

So things are starting to come together, finally. We do still have the kitchen to tackle, which will be a huge job. The first step is clearing out the junk that’s accumulated in that room, then cleaning, then getting stuff for it — taking what my MIL isn’t using, and buying all the things to fill in the gaps. Whew.

I’m reminding myself that all of this is part of Project: Making Space and it will all make my life better in the long run.

In the meantime, I’ll be hiding behind my computer, shooting to get another 3.5 hours closer to having a finished novel.

Housekeeping and ROW80 Update

Hello, all! I had an unexpected Internet outage over the weekend, and my connection was only restored yesterday. It’s good to be back.

First, a couple of quick housekeeping notes…

The latest installment of my fantasy serial “Still Waters Run Deep” is now posted at Turtleduck Press. In case you’ve forgotten or are new here, this is a story loosely based on Thailand. The current installment is the second-to-last one, so it’s a good time to start reading if you haven’t already. Part 1 is here. The whole thing is free…enjoy!

Second, this week I’m blogging about being a late adopter, also at Turtleduck Press. There’s a good discussion happening in the comments, so please do come on over and weigh in if you have time.

ROW80 Writing Updates

Once again, Real Life was seriously distracting (more about that below). I logged 2.25 hours of writing, consistent with what I’ve been doing throughout most of January. (My total for the month was just under 11 hours.) It’s really not where I want to be — so resisting that self-talk is getting harder. I need to figure out how to get self-talk working for me instead of against me.

This week I’ve logged 0.5 hours so far. More tomorrow, I hope.

Renovation Updates

I mentioned I had an Internet outage. That, and other technical problems tangentially related to the renos, pretty much ate the weekend…and thus, all my writing time. I’m getting really frustrated. Must find a way to write more (and stop talking about writing more).

However:

  • flooring has been done (full disclosure: not by us)
  • paint colour is chosen and painting has been done (also not by us)
  • living room, dining room, and porch have been decluttered (by us!) and they look great — still awaiting some nice decor touches, but at least they have more space now
  • junk (from above rooms and elsewhere) has been taken away
  • much research has been done on curtains, blinds, and similar
  • another trip to the home improvement store has happened

Woot woot! Renovations aren’t finished, and there’s still a lot to do, clean, choose, buy, and so on even after the renovations themselves are done, but I think now we can slow down. Which means more writing ohgodIhope.

I’m also hoping to get back to doing Monday books-movies-and-media posts here on the blog, because I’m having Thoughts about things other than my own life and I’m lost without the ability to natter on about them. But in the spirit of Project: Making Space, I need to remember that blogging is an “extra” and writing fiction isn’t.

So I’m upping my goal a bit and aiming for 3.5 hours this week. I’d love to hit 15 hours for February. It’s still far from where I want to be, but at least it’s headed in the right direction!

 

Reframing Goals and ROW80 Week 3 Check-In

During last week’s check-in, I talked about how Real Life, in the form of house renovations, was derailing my attempts at ROW80. I had been missing my initial goal of 5 hours a week of writing or editing, and was trying to figure out how to reframe my goals.

Writing Updates

This week was about the same on the writing front. I hit 2.75 hours, up slightly from Week 2 and on par with Week 1.

I’m happy with the writing I’m doing, though. This week I finished the last installment of a 5-part serial story (just shy of 10K words) and was quite happy with how it turned out. I edited each installment as I went, but I need to go over the last installment again to see if anything needs to be tweaked. My next plan for this story is to put it all together and see if, with revisions, it can work as a single novelette (the term for a story of this length).

I’ve also started a new short story. This time I’m aiming for flash fiction length (which the market I’m targeting defines as under 1500 words). I suspect the first draft will be longer and then I’ll edit it down. Bonus: part of the story was written at a coffee shop, which I enjoy doing and haven’t done in a while.

More to the point, I’m feeling good about what I’m producing. One of my main goals this year is to work on deepening my writing, to focus harder and dig deeper rather than writing at the surface level, and I think it’s working.

So while my time spent is lower than I’d like it to be, it’s quality time and that’s the point. I’m going to continue to aim for 3 hours.

Renovation Updates

Another part of Project: Making Space (my name for this year’s package of goals) is making my house into a place that nurtures my spirit. So while the focus this week has been on renovations rather than revisions, I’m still moving towards my goals, just in a different way

This week my accomplishments include:

  • choosing flooring (a huge thing for a chronic waffler like me)
  • just on the cusp of choosing paint (rather less huge, but still requiring a lot of thought)
  • buying some small pieces of furniture that are going to help with organization
  • identifying and gathering a lot of junk to get rid of (a project for this week) — so the front areas of the house are looking a lot better
  • researching window coverings (had no idea there were so many options…like I said, decorating doesn’t come naturally to me!)

It’s a lot of work now, but it’s finite (er, sort of) and it will pay off in the end, I hope.

Your turn! How are your resolutions and/or ROW80 going?

Renovating My Life and ROW80 Week 2 Check-In

Here’s where I admit that ROW80 is not going so well.

I picked just one goal, because this is my first time trying ROW80 and I do better when I’m not multitasking. My goal: 5 hours a week of writing or editing.

For Week 1, I hit somewhere around 2.5 or 3 hours.

For Week 2, I hit all of 2 hours. I’m working on the fifth and final part of a serial story (the whole thing will be about 10K when it’s done) and feeling pretty good about how it’s coming together — a minor miracle since I’m a pantser and this is my first attempt at a serial. So that much is good at least.

This is why the writing isn’t moving much…

Renovating My Life

I mentioned in my initial ROW80 post that this is the year of Project: Making Space – physical, mental, temporal — and that I would be staging a multi-pronged attack.

ROW80 is one prong. Another is my house. My significant other and I moved from a crowded, disorganized one-bedroom apartment to our first house…and promptly threw ourselves into planning for a big family event, then a big trip overseas, and then starting our very first vegetable garden (details in link above). Now that the dust from all that is settling, we’re noticing that our house is still just as disorganized as the apartment was.

To fix that, we’re currently doing some renovations that will give us more storage and more living space. (And by “we” I mean our awesome contractors.) This will be a good thing for Project: Making Space in the long run.

But in the meantime, we’re neck-deep in choosing new flooring and paint colours, with many more decisions ahead of us in the next few weeks…and then decluttering and (re)organizing and decorating the newly renovated spaces.

Needless to say, this is taking up a lot of brain cycles and decision-making power and even a certain amount of creativity.

(Decorating does not come naturally to me, but I have strong opinions about what I don’t like, and as for what I do like, “I’ll know it when I see it…”. This makes things tricky, as you might imagine. But I would really like this house to look more like somebody cares…and it ain’t gonna be my significant other who picks out the exact shade of paint and coordinating decor.)

ROW80 Under Revision

Like I said above, these renovations are actually still working towards my overarching goals for the year.

So I’m thinking that this ROW80 is going to be more about “get the newly renovated spaces in my house in order” with a certain amount of “don’t drop the ball on writing completely, because it’s a lot harder to start up again from zero than it is from a crawl”.

I’m not really sure how to make that into a nice, neat, measurable goal, though. Any ideas?