Flea Market Fabulous


Asian chest

Photograph:  Elizabeth West

I have been looking for a nice linen chest for AGES.  Either they’re too expensive (cedar chests), too big (trunks), too small (also trunks), too dirty on the inside (trunks again), or I saw something I liked and didn’t have the money.

Currently, I have a small wicker chest with a bashed-in top.  My linens have no hope of fitting in the tiny thing.  I plan to measure it and get a piece of wood and foam and make a little seat on top (easy), then sell it in my garage sale.  I’m sure someone will like it.

I noticed the chest in a booth full of older furniture and odds and ends, just hanging out.  Two light kitchen chairs perched on top of it, and I had to move them before I could open it.  It’s a policy of mine to always open trunks, chests, file cabinets, etc. before I buy them, to see if there’s dirt or damage I don’t want to deal with.

You’ve seen Oliver (my car), in this post.  He’s not very large; I really did not know how I would get it home.  But the lady whose booth the chest was in had a truck, and she was actually onsite today.  She offered to bring it home for me and helped me get it into the house.  This lovely woman was so helpful!  She told me she was very happy the chest was going to a good home.

She told me she got it at a sale, and apparently it belonged to an Asian lady’s mother who had died.  She said it was made of camphor wood.  It’s not heavy, just long and awkward.  It just needs a little cleanup and some TLC for the watermark on the top, but otherwise it’s in good shape and solid.  Not bad for $100!

Camphor tree in Osaka prefecture, Japan

Camphor tree in Osaka prefecture, Japan

Image: KENPEI/Wikimedia Commons

I did a little research on camphor wood; it comes from the Cinnamomum camphora tree pictured above and was common for chests and containers made in the Far East.  The tree is native to China, Korea, Vietnam, and Taiwan.  It’s the source of camphor, the natural version which was used in mothballs and itch creams, and the wood repels insects.  That makes it ideal for a storage chest.   I wondered why it was so aromatic when I opened it; it didn’t smell like cedar.  I just assumed it had been stored with mothballs or something similar inside.

I can hardly wait to get it cleaned up and filled up!

A view on second drafts–article by Moira Allen

I subscribe to the Writing World newsletter via email.  While catching up on issues I haven’t had a chance to read, I came across this article by Moira Allen.  It’s very relevant to my current situation with Tunerville.

The only exception here is that my first draft experience sucked dog doo.  I enjoyed writing Rose’s Hostage; not so with Tunerville.  On everything else, though, Moira nails it.

Coffee on the Deck – by Moira Allen

January 24, 2013:
Do You, Author, Take This Novel….?

It should be fairly evident to anyone who has been following my editorials that I’ve been having just the teensiest bit of difficulty getting to the second draft of my novel.

I’ve found this reluctance a bit of a surprise. While I approached the first draft with a certain amount of trepidation, the experience was actually a delight. I loved writing that first draft. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed writing task quite so much. I couldn’t wait to sit down to the computer and begin the next scene. And much to my amazement, that first draft actually got finished.

And that’s where things came to a screeching halt. Oh, I said, I’ll just give myself a bit of a break, and come back fresh. Maybe a bit longer break. Maybe a sabbatical. Maybe a round-the-world cruise, followed by a lengthy quest for enlightenment at some remote monastery, and then another cruise… Suffice it to say that time has passed, copious amounts of water have flowed under bridges, and the second draft is no closer to being begun.

Now we stand on the brink of yet another New Year, with that first-of-the-year urge to set goals and tackle the important stuff, and I’m asking myself… why? What is it about a Second Draft that makes it such a different, and more intimidating, prospect than the first?

And then it came to me. The first draft was romance. The second draft is marriage.

The first draft was a dance of delight without commitment. Put simply, I could enjoy the relationship without worrying about whether or not I could actually make it work. One of the mind-games I played was the classic “It’s a first draft, it doesn’t have to be good.” The words don’t have to be right. The rhythm doesn’t have to be perfect. Plot holes can be filled in later. Research gaps can be noted and attended to in the future. We’re just having fun together, my novel and I, spending time together and seeing where it goes without worrying obsessively about whether it’s going “in the right direction.”

But now, it’s time to ask harder questions. Tackling a second draft is not just a stroll in the park. It’s a commitment. One can no longer get away with saying, “The little things don’t matter.” In a second draft, they do matter. One can’t say, “Hey, I don’t have to worry about making it work” — because making it work is the whole point of a second draft.

Nor is it just a commitment to “hard work.” If hard work scared us away from writing, we’d never get anything done. There are lots of writing tasks one can undertake that involve every bit as much work as a novel, but nowhere near the amount of commitment. Because the commitment isn’t just about effort. It’s about emotion.

Writing a novel is, in many ways, a process of embarking upon and committing to a relationship. A novel is something you’re going to spend time with — a lot of time with. It’s going to consume hours of your waking life. Even when you’re not working on it, you’ll be thinking about it, worrying about it, perhaps even having conversations with your characters in your head. You’ll know more about the lives of your characters than you may know about some of your own relatives. When things are going well, you’ll wonder if they’re really going well, or if you’re just deceiving yourself. When they aren’t — well, stock up on the chocolate ice cream!

It is an emotional commitment. It raises doubts, fears, concerns. Is this the right book to commit to? Is this really something I want to dedicate the next X months or years of my life to? Do I have what it takes to make this work? What if I don’t have what it takes to make it work?

Like any relationship, we come to it with hopes, expectations, and dreams. A novel isn’t just a certain number of words. It’s words into which we have invested our hearts — and we hope that investment will “pay off.” We want that novel to be a success. We want others to read it and fall in love with it, just as we’ve fallen in love. We don’t want it to end up on the remainder shelf, or worse, never make it to the top of the slush pile. And if the relationship doesn’t “work out,” we’ll blame ourselves, and perhaps start to wonder if we have what it takes to make any novel work.

In short, a novel has a unique power: It has the power to fulfill our dreams, or break our hearts. Mere “work” alone does not have that power. Only a relationship has such power.

So if you are finding yourself shying away from a first draft, or a second draft, or a third, take heart. You’re not lazy. You’re not afraid of work. You’re afraid of commitment — and everything that a commitment means. Deep down, we realize that only by giving that relationship our all, and holding nothing back, can we truly “make it work.” It’s no small step to take.

But without taking that step, we fail before we begin. So perhaps, as we look ahead to a New Year, we need to say more than simply “I will.” We need to open our hearts, embrace our fears, and say… “i do.”

Copyright © 2013 Moira Allen

Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer’s Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts Mostly-Victorian.com, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer’s cat. She can be contacted at editors “at” writing-world.com.

Happy 4th of July! Updates

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Oh joy, more noisy fireworks.  Just great.

Oh joy, more noisy fireworks. Just great.

Photograph by Elizabeth West

Well, Psycho Kitty won’t be very happy, and neither will lots of kittehs and goggies.  Read this article from the ASPCA on how to keep your pets safe on Independence Day.

News updates:

Brian Keene has announced the last batch of manuscripts he was reviewing will be out by the end of the month.  I stated on his Facebook page that I am alternately excited and terrified to see what he has to say about mine.  He responded by liking that comment.  I could picture him laughing like Snidely Whiplash—muwahaha.  I will let you know what he says, if I’m not too traumatized.

Tunerville is hanging loose while I finish some research.  This consists of a book on physics, some interviewing, and numerous viewings of Twilight Zone episodes for hints on speculative elements—oh wait, that last is just me being lazy.  Sorry about that.

Psst! It’s on Syfy right now!

Image:  Wikimedia Commons

I have discovered a horrible distraction—GOG.com (Good Old Games).  Here, you can download older games by the ton and play them on updated systems.  It’s all legit.  Check them out—they’re having a DRM-free Summer Sale right now.  I have downloaded The 7th Guest and Myst: Masterpiece Edition.  I may or may not emerge sometime this summer; we’ll see.

Recently, I found a meetup group of fellow Doctor Who fans, so that might get me out of the house more often.  They also belong to a sci-fi book club—I’m contemplating that as well.  Since Tunerville and another novel I have planned both have speculative elements, it might be worthwhile to (1) read more sci-fi and (2) discuss it.

I’ll leave you to your holiday now.  Have fun and be safe.