Thursday, May 28, 2015

How to avoid writing whilst enjoying physical exhaustion

Those of you keeping score at home may recall that last year, due to a variety of reasons (crappy neighbors), we decided to move. This was not undertaken lightly, and once we put the house on the market, I had to come to terms with leaving my maturing backyard orchard and my lovely, lovely office. We found a buyer almost immediately, to our surprise. That kinda went smoothly, except for a few hiccups that were more annoying than deal-threatening. That should've clued us in that things were moving too smoothly, and the universe was set to right the scales. We found what we thought was our dream house on 7 acres of rural land with an adjacent garage (with apartment) that seemed perfect for The Wife's permanent photography studio. To make a long story short, with a limited amount of time, we negotiated a deal on the house that would give us just enough time to move out of the old one and into the new one without being homeless. Then the inspection happened. We were suddenly facing the very real prospect of homelessness. Ouch. After a mad scramble, we returned to a house we'd looked at before that was (at that time) out of our price range. A deal was done, and after some creative contracting, we moved in with no time to spare.

Which brings us to now. Or rather, the six months between then and now. Got that? The biggest "must have" of the whole house hunt was potential studio space for Lisa on Location. The plan was to close down the small studio space in New Braunfels (which Lisa'd outgrown almost as soon as she'd opened) and apply that studio rent to the new mortgage to make all the numbers work. The new home had a five-car garage, or more precisely, a two-car garage plus a three-car garage that'd been added on sometime in the past decade. Why? Dunno. But it offered potentially great studio space. This is what we started with:

Doesn't look so bad, right? Wrong. Those cabinets along the wall there? Utter garbage. The previous owners must've scavenged them form abandoned sharecroppers shacks, not bothering to remove the mud dauber and rat nests. And they were thoughtful enough to make them well nigh impossible to remove. But remove we did:

Then there was the attic area. You might think they couldn't store much in an unfinished attic--a bunch of bare rafters, really. You'd be wrong again. There were ruined golf club bags, old shoes, what may have been a soccer goal at one point, a kind of wooden putting green covered in astroturf, some type of tent/pavilion that had large sections missing... Basically, anything they'd ever spent money on that broke, they shoved up there. Because, hey, they spent money on it, so it's worth something. Although it wasn't worth enough to take with them when they departed. Once we got all of that cleaned out--which took until the end of December, pretty much constant work--I began installing drywall to the ceiling, along with an attic ladder. Lisa installed insulation to the walls. This took us through the end of January into February, and I'd still be at work on that ceiling if my brother, Chris, hadn't lent me the use of his drywall hoist. Then Lisa and I tackled the floor. Apparently, the previous owners used this garage space exclusively for storing massive oil leaks and rust puddles that don't willingly come out of concrete. But at least we tried.

At this point I feel compelled to point out I've gotten no original writing done during this period. None, nada, zip. I'd landed a contract with a publisher for the Chicken Ranch book, and spent a little time here and there cleaning up the copy and making a handful of sensible changes they'd requested in order to have the manuscript ready for the March deadline we'd agreed on. And then I walked away from the deal because of some nasty clauses in the contract the publisher refused to negotiate. To escape the emotional devastation, I threw myself into installing the drywall on the walls. Brickwork is something beyond my skill set, so we hired a crew (not a terribly competent crew, it turns out) to install windows and brick in the front. A two-day job ended up taking two weeks. No joke.

After that, I built a partition wall for the dressing room and a storage area, taped the drywall, sanded, painted, installed lighting and trim (Lisa did the wallpaper) and a bunch of other stuff that took up far, far more time than expected. Far, far more money than expected as well. There's still things that need completing, but it gets so hot in the studio now that we're approaching summer that I'm holding off until next week when the air conditioning (hopefully) is installed. This is what a 95 percent complete boudoir/pin-up studio looks like:

Yes, that's a pole, for pole dancers. It's surprising how many women want to pose with one, so Lisa bought the portable model, which I get to set up and take down as needed.

Currently, I'm installing privacy fencing outside so that clients may come and go without trooping through our house and garage. Then I get to finish insulating the attic, which, all things considered, is another month of fairly constant work. Most weekday evenings I come home, eat dinner and then head into the studio around 6:30-7, finishing up around 11 p.m. That leads to a lot of muscle fatigue and sore joints, not to mention the fact that I don't smell too pleasant, either. Since that's my prime writing time, well, it's pretty clear to see why I've not been productive--especially considering the fact that Lisa's photography brings in far, far more income than my writing does). But the end is near. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. The finish line's in sight.

Which means that soon I'll be able to start work on my office, which shouldn't take more than another 6 months to complete.

Now Playing: The Kinks Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Chicken Ranch Central

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