It is that fireplace time of year, and we have no wood, so how am I to keep the home fires burning? When I came to the Klamath River Valley to live – nearly twelve years ago – I had no idea how to heat a house with firewood. It is primitive! That’s certain! I was a San Francisco Bay Area girl born and bred, and was used to turning up the thermostat to keep warm. Nothing more.
Here in Happy Camp most people have wood stoves, and that is the main source of heat. We buy wood by the cord and burn it all winter long to stay warm. Wood is about $200 per cord these days, and I could use a cord of wood right now. Instead I’m heating with electricity. My little electric heater warms the room I’m in and nothing more, but it does that efficiently.
Heating with wood is a labor-intensive and messy process. You have to have a huge kindling collection next to the stove, chop the fir into tiny slices to help build up the fire, and then put on gradually larger pieces of wood until finally you can toss in a few logs and expect them to actually burn rather than have the fire fizzle and die out. Plus there’s all that wood carrying and wood chopping of pieces too big for the stove. I wonder if electricity isn’t the more economical process! Nevertheless, it looks like we’ll have a cord of wood here soon and the normal winter wood burning can commence. It does manage to heat the entire house effectively, though not as quickly as central heat and air.
Heating a house with wood is about as fun as writing a novel. When I write a novel it is also a time-consuming and messy process. First there’s the first draft… a hodge-podge of strange ideas that come to me as I’m desperately seeking the right words to develop the plot and move the story along. Hopefully I get to “the end” rather than faltering two chapters from the end – I’ve often done that.
Then I’m left with a huge editing job! I have to wait – let the manuscript sit while I detach from the project, then go back later and try to make sense out of all I’ve written, pat it into shape, make a coherent and tightly woven mosaic out of all those scenes, and cut out extraneous verbiage that slows reading to a bored standstill.
I have to develop descriptions and make sure my characters are well-developed, and that they demonstrate their feelings rather than just tell about them. The dialogue needs to be believable, the scenes well-defined, and plot-holes eliminated. There’s nothing easy about novel writing!
Even a blog post like this one requires multiple edits. I’m sure I’m harder on my own writing than anyone else would be!
Most of my novels have been written primarily during the winter months. I’ve sat near that wood stove for years writing novels, occasionally getting up to toss in another log, making sure the fire burns brighter well into the night.
Somehow the fires always get built, the novels always get written, and life goes on in an easy pattern of work and toil, effort and dedication. Acceptance that life isn’t always easy but is still quite worthwhile is essential to getting work done.