Friday, July 30, 2010


Right now, because I am almost entirely crazy, I promised all three of my kids that I would help them re-do their rooms - at the same time. In fairness to my sanity, when we moved here, it was a DIY job, with chairs and bureaus shoved into corners at 2 am so we could unearth the box storing the clean underwear. Things have sort of remained that way, and now the kids are pretty much due actual furniture that remotely matches and  they can fit into.

Rooms are really important to teenagers. I'm trying to recall when writers show that emphasis, but I'm not coming up with any titles. They come home exclaiming how "cool" someone's room is, how amazing the colors/posters/speaker system/flat screen is and how much fun being in that kid's room was.

Chances are, you can remember your room as a teen. I know I spent a fair amount of time organizing it, finding spots to hide my diaries (I kept two; one my friends read at sleepovers and one that I wrote "the truth" in - )

I'm also working on revisions to a middle grade novel and what I'm finding is the prevailing sense that everything takes longer than I thought. And also the feeling that I am never going to finish anything. Here are a few notes from my recent undertakings:

Emma is doing her room in hot pumpkin, fuschia and zebra stripe. I kid you not.

She can't believe how beautiful this combination is. Her 'tween friends are all in OMG agreement that this is going to be THE room. No wonder they're a difficult age to write for...

Christopher believes that his fourth grade spelling folder, his last two hundred candy bar wrappers and his wet bathing suit create a force field around his bed that will keep the dark forces away. I can't think of any other explanation for some of the things I am finding as I strip his room down to the carpet and paint.

Philip can't part with a three foot high plastic penguin that blew onto our lawn during a snowstorm. It wears a Darth Vadar Halloween mask. Above that is a large, plastic hand puppet of Godzilla's head that Philip has given lip rings to and a few other piercings. Let's just say it's not a room Martha Stewart wants to die in.

I go back and forth between the mess of laundry baskets, bookshelves and paint cans and the mess of my WIP. In both revisions, I keep adding and deleting as I go along. The one wonderful aspect of revising a manuscript instead of a room is there is no one saying, "Mom, are you KIDDING? Why are you putting THAT into the donate pile? It's not like it has an odor..." I can sort of do what I want with the story which, at this point of the summer, is starting to look better and better.

After a few days of revising the kids' rooms, I've changed my mind that the rooms would be easier to tackle. If you had a choice, which would you prefer to strip down and redo - a room or a manuscript?


Marcia said...

*Let's just say it's not a room Martha Stewart wants to die in.*


I'd rather work on the manuscript, but if I can arrange the closets and drawers, I'll take the room.

Christy Raedeke said...

I adore stripping a room down and starting from scratch - but three at once? Wow.

For the record, I am in full agreement with Emma's friends on her color choice; I love orange and pink together. Seems one can never be morose surrounded by those colors!

Anne Spollen said...

Marcia, I'm not exactly sure what Martha would think of that gallactic penguin. But it's kind of fun to imagine her reaction.

I love drawers, but not closets. And right now, I'm way better off with the manuscript.

I know, Christy, I know. Three at once -- and they are all being stripped. It's insane here.

I've never paired orange and pink - ever. But you're right: they are really happy and I guess the zebra print will make sure no one can take themself too seriously in Emma's room.

Glynis said...

Lol, the colours mine came up with was frightening. Now in their own homes, they are all pastel and minimilist.

I would rather rip a manuscript apart!

storyqueen said...

You are a brave woman than I! Three rooms at a time.

You are crazy!

(But what is funny is that my Cali just painted her room in the Spring orange, with fuscia bedding and cheetah trim!)


Anne Spollen said...

Lol, Glynis - I tried to hide the fear in my eyes when Emma presented me with her choices - it's sort of growing on me now though. And that's good to know about the pastels; right now, it's hard to imagine her taste ever being tame.

Shelley, is Cali around 11 years old? In that ballpark?

And it IS crazy here, but it's sort of fun chaos. No one can find anything and kids are sleeping in the den - definitely a summer only undertaking : )

Stephanie Blake said...

It depends, I've clean to avoid my manuscript...I'm supposed to be working on revisions, but have this strong urge to go to Home Depot instead.

Shannon said...

Stripping down rooms. Cleaning is cleansing - it helps get thoughts in order. Just got back from Europe. Going from here to there was like being a long-time prisoner suddenly expelled onto the streets: very quiet. Being back again is like being under a huge circus tent. I went to the grocery store and was overwhelmed because there were more than five types of milk and peanut butter to choose from. It's very confusing, and cleaning my room is simple. (Sometimes) :D

Anne Spollen said...

Yup, Stephanie, the urge to avoid. I love new stories, but going back to do revision feels so "assigned" somehow...having a revision waiting does help to get other stuff done.

I think you're on to something there, Shannon. Cleaning, organizing physical space may help in the revision process.

Back from Europe? NICE! Yup, I've heard so many people say the US seems brazen, loud and overwhelming after their trips across the pond. I guess even Vermont might seem like Texas...

Katie said...

I forgot how much I adore you blog! So sorry for the absence!

That description of their rooms cracks me up and I'd rather do a room anytime. I'm struggling through a revision right now...

Shannon said...

"Brazen, loud, overwhelming..." I laughed out loud at these words, because the first visual image/noun that popped to my head was some sixty year old harlot with overly rouged cheeks and purple eye make-up, or something similarly hoyden. Yes it's loud, but if it just gets too loud I'll take the harlot's dentures out. :D (By the way, I was flying over Atlanta and it was so GREEN! And your area must be even more beautiful! The people there had huge FORESTS right on the corner of their nicely green, so lucky. Forget sunshine and beaches, I'll take the trees, treehouses, beetles, rain, and the cold anytime...Of course, I say this with the naivete of someone who until just recently has never owned a raincoat.)

2014 PhotoClub said...

Hey we just finished a bunch of photographs inspired by light beneath ferns for our photography project over the summer (ninth grade art honors)

We loved that book so thanks for the inspiration!

Meg, Patti, Laura, Ryan and Steve M.

Anne Spollen said...

Welcome back, Katie! I am going back and forth between the room and the manuscript - depends on which is going better at the moment and which I am struggling with.

Shannon - HOYDEN! I bow to you for that vocab word! It's the perfect word there and much less common than harlot (another good one)

It IS green here, but with pine trees. Where we used to live, in New Paltz, there were mountains and tons and tons of trees. Most of the Northeast is like that. Still, my friend from CA visited me and asked how I could live in such a "dirty and gray place with so much rain and so little light" --maybe the forest is always greener on the other side.

Thanks 2014 Photoclub! Really, there is nothing authors like better than to hear from their readers - especially authors who write for younger people like you guys. I am so glad you liked the book and flattered that you chose it for your project - thanks!

Mary Witzl said...

Coincidentally, I've spent all today wrestling with a major rewrite AND two rooms. They're not the kids' rooms, but they've mainly got used kids' stuff in them, so I know what you mean about plastic penguins and Halloween masks.

Which would I choose? If you put a gun to my head, I'd go for the ms. At least I can make headway on that, slow and torturous though it is.

Right now, I'm thinking of sitting with a book in a quiet, sparingly decorated room. In other words, not in this house.

Anne Spollen said...

Lol, yes, Mary, I have fantasies of getting in the car and going to a wonderful hotel - one that has the lamps in the right places and no boxes of old Legos.

It does make the ms look far more enticing - so much less messy and dusty...