Business Musings: Settling In (A Process Blog)
I had forgotten how disruptive moving is. I am currently sitting on the new Elizabeth George hardcover that got delivered to our Vegas home last week, and typing on the Bluetooth keyboard on the kitchen table. The laptop sits on top of two Jill Shalvis books to get it at the right height as well, although I am looking down, so I probably need another book in there. But that makes the laptop unstable.
I don’t want to stand. (I brought my laptop standing desk.) I’ve been standing a lot, because for the first week, chairs were at a premium in this place—as in, we didn’t have any. We had brought the bed, but not chairs (we only had so much room in our van).
When you do a quick emergency move, you take what you can. It’s been fun, but now it’s time to settle in and get some work done.
I do love it here. My health has cleared up dramatically. That was unexpected. We figured it would take a lot more time to clear up. All that remains are some seasonal allergies that are, surprisingly, the same here in the desert as they are on the Oregon Coast.
The change of venue was good. I’m eating better (much better) and have a lot more energy. I also feel like a fog has lifted from my brain.
But I’m in transition. The photos above show what the writing office looks like as I write this. Broken down boxes of new stuff that will become (or has become) shelves and balcony furniture and other condo-specific stuff.
The new desk remains in a box at the moment. My desk chair is in Lincoln City. (The old desk is too big for the space.) The cats also remain in Lincoln City, but Dean is bringing them down (by himself, courageous man) mid-week. In fact, by the time you read this, the room should look different. It should have cats, husband, and a chair…maybe.
Suffice to say, right now, I’m making do.
I had planned, when we decided to make this transition, I had planned to use the laptop most of the time. I will be writing in various venues city-wide. The condo is small, the city is big, and I’ve been trapped in a tiny town for years and years. I want to see people.
I’ve already done some work in various venues around town, and that works beautifully. In fact, in my copious spare time, I finished my draft of the Branding Book. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it will. (I punted that to Allyson and the team at WMG. I want a sales-worthy title, and The Branding Book ain’t it.)
I could work on that book while I was in the middle of organizing this place, because assembling a book from blogs was much easier than trying to use part of my brain to write something from scratch. I started the assembly over the Siskiyou Mountain Range, and stopped my work only when the rain turned into an unexpected snowstorm. Dean needed help driving (navigation, watching for idiots who thought snow was like dry pavement, that sort of thing). I continued work throughout California, and then did more once we got here, usually when I went to get us lunch or steal an hour here and there.
Even though this is the only the second time I’ve done a cross-country move (as an adult), it’s not my first move. I know that my brain goes to tilt. That’s why I wrote two blog posts just before we left, and then got all the materials for the branding book into place so I could work on the three-day drive.
I had planned to finish the branding book before we got to Vegas. That didn’t work, for a variety of reasons (not the least of which was an adventure in the middle of the night with a hotel that didn’t provide the promised allergy-free room [and that reminds me. I need to put up a Yelp review because that night was extreme]). I continued once I got here, but things would get in the way.
No chairs, for one. Setup taking forever. I am not getting to this blog until Sunday, March 25, because I had to organize, prioritize, and then set up a few things. It took over an hour to set up the printer. I’m still missing a USB cable, so I can only operate the printer with my phone (!), so that’s a bit irritating but not as bad as heading to the nearest Fed Ex Office to print things out.
I finally had to do something I didn’t want to do: I had to commandeer the table in our main living area as my desk. I needed to put my calendars in order. And, ironically for a woman who has 5 calendars (in paper) and one on her computer, I forgot to back-up the online calendar onto the new laptop. (I left the old writing computer, which is not networked, in Lincoln City.) So I had to spend much of Friday reassembling my calendar…after I finished the branding book.
Getting organized is becoming very important. I have three movie/TV deals in various stages, and every single one of them had a deal with me now moment during the move. (Silence for a month [three months in the case of one] and then, Do It Now! while I was on the road.) I need to figure out where the paperwork goes, because I don’t have a filing system in place, and the all-important paper files for those deals are still in Lincoln City. (I figured they could come in the second wave, with the cats.) I have the computer files, but that’s not quite the same. I like to eyeball contract terms on paper, as well as online, to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
Which reminds me…I have to sign and scan a document. Excuse me while I figure out how the damn scanner works.
Thirty minutes later…
Okay, not all of that was the scanner. In fact, scanning took 10 minutes. Plus time to print for the paper file when it arrives. Then 5 minutes to brag to Dean that I got it all to work. Then time to email the person in question, and (Distract-O-Girl) to answer other important email, and resist the impulse to check my website, and social media accounts.
That’s how this has gone for the past week. One action leads to an unexpected and unpredicted action (Oh, yeah! Do this now before I forget!) which leads to another action, and then the project at hand becomes the forgotten project.
As I said, this isn’t my first major move, so I expected this. I did meet my extreme deadline (the branding book, which will be in a bundle in May), but I have no other extreme deadlines, so I have the luxury of working in my alter ego Distract-O-Girl. I have deadlines on editing and on teaching, which I will get to later tonight.
But this post is the next deadline. And I hope to get back to the Diving novel (!) tomorrow.
So, how do I make this process blog useful to you all?
Well, let’s start with expectations.
I knew the moment the move became a reality that I would lose at least a few days if not weeks to the move itself. Initially, the move was planned for the end of April. With a planned move, it’s easier to plan work. It’s also easier to pack.
But because of our idiot neighbor, we got me out of Lincoln City sooner. (And because I mentioned it on Facebook, two locals with a bit of power are now aware of the issue. They have more clout than idiot neighbor in our small town, so maybe something will [finally] be done, and Dean won’t have to breathe the fumes while he packs.) Changing the date by 45 days meant much was undone, and I didn’t get to finish projects ahead of time.
I had to set aside the established deadlines and be realistic with myself. There was no way to get much of this work finished in any kind of timely manner.
Kris pauses to contemplate the balcony. Realizes the pollen count is too high to sit out there comfortably. Pouts. Continues.
So, before we left, I made a paper list and a list on my computer of everything that had to be done ASAP. That included making sublists, for Dean, so he would know what to pack with the cats (that couldn’t be packed ahead of time), and making sure everyone who needed to know about the changes did know.
On that list were all the writing and editing projects that absolutely had to be done by the end of March. Only one writing project really, objectively, needed to be done. The branding book. I also needed three blogs (from the moment I started that list.) I wrote two of them in Lincoln City.
This is the third.
I have several reading projects that I had to do, plus I have some line editing that needs to be done. The paper manuscript for the line edit is in a box around here somewhere. I don’t have to get to that until April if I want to push the deadline.
If you look at my paper calendar from January/February, you’ll see all kinds of other important deadlines, including promoting the current Storybundle that I’m in (a cool one about Femme Fatales), deadlines I decided I could set aside until I got settled in.
I am slowly hauling those deadlines back out, and seeing if meeting them is realistic.
By taking the deadline pressure off me, I was and am able to concentrate more fully on the move. I can allow those distractions to happen, and I get a lot less frustrated by things like that missing USB cable for the printer. I’m also a lot more accepting of things getting in the way of the writing. If I need to make an unplanned shopping run for cleaning supplies, it doesn’t feel like an imposition. It feels like something I’m doing to get settled.
The move will have this kind of impact on me and my writing for the next six to nine months, as I learn the rhythm of this life change. How does the weather in Vegas change my habits? (I expect it will quite a bit come summer.) How does all the work remaining in Lincoln City get done on short trips north? Or do I live by laptop now? (I vote laptop.)
So…I managed my own expectations.
I’m also managing the expectations of others. I have an out-of-the-office message on my email that allows me to ignore less pressing emails until I have the time. The message also explains to the people I’m doing major business with why I’m not answering them as fast as usual, so it makes them more patient—and takes some pressure off me.
Maybe you’re seeing a theme here. I’m taking pressure off me as much as possible.
I’m doing that because moving is a major cause of stress. Back when I moved across country the first time, the so-called experts said that moving was in the top ten causes of stress. Now, the so-called experts list other things first. But they still put moving high on that stressors list.
One major reason for the stress? The loss of routine. Healthstatus.com has a good article on this. I knew I was going to be stressed from the start of this move. I’m less stress than I would have been, because I planned.
(But, looking at that article, I realized my poor cats are going to be damn near traumatized for the next month. Ten days of no me, no Dean, then Dean gets home, no me [no routines], then they get bundled into a car and driven for 17+ hours to a strange place with only a bit of their stuff, and no familiar routines…Oh, joy. That’ll be fun for all of us.)
I’m not setting up proper routines yet, because I don’t have a car. I also need a better time of day to run. It’s not going to be a problem in the summer, since I’ll be heading to an indoor track, but for the next few weeks, anyway, before the weather gets too hot for Coastie me, I’ll need to figure out what, exactly, the routine is.
I also need to set up a good writing routine, but I can’t do that fully until I have an office. Even though I’ll be using my laptop, I need a home base for calendars, papers, projects, and general mess (I’m one of those people).
I’m not sure if my word count will increase or decrease, but I’m not worried about it at all. I’m concentrated on projects at the moment. All of them, those concerning moving and unpacking, and those concerning the writing/editing/reading.
The key for me (and anyone in this situation) is to avoid piling more stress on top of the existing stress. Also, to take a moment to appreciate the changes that have occurred.
I’m lucky enough that I could just pick up my life and move when we realized that my idiot neighbor was poisoning me. I know how very lucky I am, and I know that most people couldn’t leave home/job/community on such short notice. Because I have a non-traditional career—and have had one all of my life—I’ve done this pick-up and go thing twice. (The first time was in my twenties.)
It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly not something to complain about. It’s actually something to celebrate. I know how fortunate I am.
I have a lot to learn, a lot of organizing to do, and a lot of things to catch up on, not the least of which are the changes in publishing in 2018. I looked at some of those articles today for the first time in a month.
So, I’m settling in. And it feels good, albeit odd, since I had no idea on January 1 that I would be in our own place in Las Vegas in March.
As I said a couple of weeks ago, best laid plans…
Thanks for all the support and kind notes during this time.
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“Business Musings: Settling In,” copyright © 2018 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Image at the top of the blog copyright © 2018 by Kristine K. Rusch