Where have you been, Tara?

Things have been busy here in the Tara Gabriel world — where I was at one time focusing my attention solely on researching and writing my novel, life events have divided my time between my novel and my new venture — developing a content writing business.

In October I moved to a new city, one that has enabled me to put my back burner plans of developing a content writing business front and center. Let’s face it, writing books, especially historical realism novels like mine, take years to research and write. That leaves the question of interim income on the table — one that couldn’t be addressed in my old town due to lack of opportunity, contacts, and bad ju-ju in my former residence.

Now that the house has sold, I am in a place of new beginnings with like minded individuals and I’ve been working on my business for the last six months. I purchased the domain name a few years ago in preparation — I thought my house would sell sooner. It didn’t.

Within a month of moving here, I started sub-contracting for other companies, providing content and learning the ropes.

I may not have been writing this blog, but I’ve ghostwritten over a dozen others over the months.

 

Webpage content, Social Media writing for companies, SEOing website pages and content, alt texting images, writing email campaigns, editing and writing bios, product descriptions, you name it. While things have been quiet at TaraGabriel.com, Tara Gabriel the writer has been busy.

Yes, I’m still working on my novel.

 

That brings me to why I’m writing this blog piece.

When I started this website, I was getting back into writing after a long hiatus, was researching my book, and was about to start writing the first draft of my book. I wrote blog posts on this site covering a variety of personal topics, mainly to put myself out there and get comfortable with my life being a little more of an open book (pardon the pun).

Those who know me in person know that I am not shy about sharing what’s going on in my life — that doesn’t mean it’s easy to put it out on the internet for all to read. This practice was helpful in allowing other eyes to be on content I had written, instead of it staying hidden in my computer for none to see.

Now I find that I will be maintaining this website, plus a new one for my business (currently under construction) and my time has become valuable and in need of focus.

My novel requires my focus.
My content writing business requires my focus.
My children and personal life require my focus.

 

With that in mind, I’ve decided to use this blog as a tool for my novel alone.

When I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago, I wrote the first 50,026 words of my novel. Then I changed my entire plot and threw away about 40,000 of those words (ouch — painful for a writer, but I had to go with my instincts on what the story was suppose to be). That is basically beginning all over again.

I did more research, and I wrote. I did even more research, and I wrote. I went on a research trip to explore all the places my characters lived and went to, as well as got my hands on books and old newspapers not available here, did interviews. And I wrote.

I’m still writing…while I start a business.

 

So it’s not going as quickly as some non-writers think it should. They don’t know that historical novels are some of the longest it takes to write. They don’t know how characters decide to switch things up without the author’s permission. New plot events change the course of a novel. These changes require the writer to go back, edit out previously written references to aspects of a character that no longer exists, fill in the new.

One example: My protagonist changed professions — whether I liked it or not. Now I have to edit all of that content significant to the story, delete every reference to it throughout the 76,000 words written. Instead, she now has a profession I know little to nothing about. This career change fits major portions of my book, which is exciting, and a little freaky, but requires me to learn everything about it from scratch.

Anyone know a metal designer/artist? That would help me out a lot, thanks.

So, back to the blog part of all of this.

With all of the research I have to do, and still desiring to keep up a more frequent writing practice outside of my novel and my business writing, I have decided to blog about some of the interesting items/stories/facts I uncover as I delve deeper into the lore of Ireland and lives of my characters. Some will reflect my life as I am further developing my novel — such as my last three posts about my research trip to Ireland.

They will not be about my business.
They will no longer reflect my personal life.

 

I am at a stage as a writer in which my limited time to write must be constructive — I see blog posts about my writing, novel, and what that entails to be so. I also see it as a way of formulating the information I am learning into concrete form for use in my novel as content or background information required for that content.

It also gives you a peek into what my novel will be about.

I hope you stick around to find out…

New Spaces

I just sat down and fell in love.

I hadn’t been to The Bookmill, found in The Montague Mill, and was looking to escape my house while the septic system tank is being replaced. I’m a big fan of toilets and running water, so having no facilities for five hours is not something I seek to keep on my agenda.

Members of my writing group spoke of this space in passing, people online had asked if I’d ever been there. It was becoming evident that I needed to go check it out. I don’t live near The Bookmill, in fact it is about 25 miles from my home, but when you live in the country, that’s not so far.

I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the space.

I sometimes get nervous going new places by myself for the first time. I push past the fear and go anyway, but it’s still there. Driving north toward my destination that initial panicky feeling rose but I squashed it: This is the purpose Tara, discovering new places. After you get there, it will no longer be anxiety provoking. It will just be another one of your places you go to write. Luckily, I’m very good at convincing myself to be stronger and bolder than I am.

I arrived before The Bookmill opened and a kind man was quick to inform me that it didn’t open until 10 am, but the Lady Killigrew Cafe, attached to the used bookstore, was indeed open.

I order coffee and precariously carry the overfilled cup down a small flight of stairs. Only one little round pine table is available near a window and I head toward it. As I arrive, I look out the window, a grin overtakes my face, and my chest fills with unexpected happiness. I am in love. And standing there like a grinning fool.

I hadn’t heard it — a small river. The Sawmill River flows over rocks creating mini rapids, the sound muted by a combination of closed windows on this chilly fall morning and The Velvet Underground singing Beginning to See the Light overhead. I want to cry and soak it all in at the same time, it is such a salve to the chaos my life has been.

I realize as I remove my jacket and sit that I have a thing for old renovated mills, always have yet never thought about it. And water. There is inherent peace near water. Reminders of things I like has become a daily phenomena, and I am loving it.

The Lady Killigrew cafe has large windows, typical of old mills, surrounding sashes are painted black, flanked by maroon linen curtains, and rise from floor to ceiling. The wood plank floor is worn throughout, and perfect. Outside is overcast, but bright. Wild flowers — daisies, orange marigold-like blossoms, purple trumpet shaped sprigs I cannot name — modestly sit in a miniature wine carafe serving as a vase on my table.  Mismatched chairs of a redder hue than the tables are worn in places that bodies rub and a local artist’s creations hang on the wall, one featuring the mill itself.  Thick pipes painted yellow hang from the wood ceiling, a sturdy floor to ceiling beam runs through the center of a long rectangle table in the center of the room.

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Conversations go in and out of my awareness as I write. A man in his 50’s is discussing the presidential candidates, states that Trump and his behavior, featured all over the news these days, is triggering his own tormented memories of youth. “I had no safe space,” I hear him say and I think: Me Too. Just not in the same way. This place seems like a safe space though. Yes, this is a safe space. And I had to push past fear to actively discover it for myself.

Someone grounds coffee beans and the music changes to The Zombies’ Time Of The Season. College age couples laugh over old photos on a computer, older female professors flanked with books about ethical and legal issues in counseling sit nearby. One stops a woman she doesn’t know and thanks her for the prayer offering at a peace rally she has participated in. I witness kindness. This is why it is important to go out into the world, I think. Witness the good in people being human. I like those who accept the frailty of others without trying to destroy it out of their own insecurities.

At that moment, I realize, I am holding space. Holding space for myself.

The sun breaks through the clouds and makes its presence known across the treetops, onto my little round table, and bounces off the coffee in my cup. One of the employees asks patrons if she can open some windows and my ears are flooded with the wonderful sound of rushing water. I was thinking I might be ready to leave soon, but now I can’t. My ears can’t get enough. I can’t fill up enough. So I just let the sound flow through me.

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I sit next to that window and try to remember, was it new spaces I’m looking for, or safe spaces?

Either way, yes.