With the dog-sitting money I’ve earned, I finally felt like it was okay to pick up the discounted copy of Scrivener that’s been on hold for me since I won NaNoWriMo, even as an experiment without knowing whether it would ultimately end up being my cup of tea. When I asked around in advance if people had any thoughts to offer on the software, mostly what they told me can be boiled down to, “It’s all right, I guess. Better than Word for plotting, maybe?” My decision to buy it was motivated by that slight recommendation, because plotting is an area where I actually could use some help. Especially help staying organized.
So I busted out my new toy and started constructing a file of interconnected notes, to help me graph out what needs to happen next in my w-i-p. This, right away, is already something I could not be doing in Word. As I began to play with the various ways to interconnect these notes, I quickly fell down a rabbit hole of customization options so granular it’s like I’m building my own virtual writer shed plank by plank.
What people who are unwilling to offer too strong an endorsement of Scrivener maybe do not realize is just how highly some people value this level of personalization in their digital products.
Buddy, I’m sold. Now I just need to stop choosing Full Screen backgrounds and get back to work.
For the last few days, I’ve been dog-sitting, which really is to say that I’ve been on a paid writing retreat with a sweet side of dogs. It’s basically perfect, except for the dogs’ notion of what constitutes acceptable personal space when I’m trying to sleep.
The house I’m in right now is in a cute little borough adjacent to mine, a bit further removed from downtown and a bit more rural. Over the weekend, I needed to put something in the mail. By the miracle of modern smartphone magic, I was able to locate the nearest postal branch, about three miles away. Being from Phoenix, Arizona, I barely registered the distance. That’s nothing by car in a city of flat, straight grids. That would practically still be inside my neighborhood.
I proceeded to follow the disembodied robot voice’s directions for those almost three miles – down backroads, between hills, under bridges, across three towns each smaller and older than the last – finally to a small blip of a borough that literally consisted of little more than a steel factory, a very interesting Eastern Orthodox church, and the brick post office. With every wooded downhill bend past yet another sign welcoming me to the township of _______, I felt ever more acutely how far I am from the place that spawned me. It wasn’t a feeling of homesickness, exactly, because I very much do not want to be back there. But it was definitely a realization of just how far I am outside of what I’m familiar with in this place. A kind of environmental culture shock.
It was, in the moment I was able to articulate the nature of the weirdness I was feeling, surreal and disorienting. It was a moment I didn’t want to be having, my intense hatred for where I came from and my breathtaking relief to be where I am now coming at one another from strange directions and doing battle upon the field of my contentment.
I’ve been remembering that feeling at odd times since then, the sense that I am in a foreign land and just a little bit lost here, and reminding myself that I haven’t even left the country I was born in.