Thursday, January 7, 2010

Old Cave, New Writing Tool

This past month was a revelation to me concerning my writing. I used to think I could write anywhere but that’s only the case for ideas, character sketches and plotting. When it comes right down to the writing, I need to be comfortable. When the Saskatchewan Romance Writers (SRW) went on the spring writing retreat to Munster, SK last year, I brought my own comfy chair and wrote happily. I thought that was all I needed. Well, it’s not. These past few months I’ve had to move from my cave to the sunroom and then the garage and each time I brought my chair and kept writing. But when I was required to move back into the house in Dec, my creativity stopped. I had a choice of the wooden chairs at the kitchen table – sturdy but they cut into the back of my legs after an hour of writing, or my nice writing chair at a temporary table in the living room – nice table but I had to raise my arms too high to type. Both times I kept getting distracted because I wasn’t comfortable. The end result is that my writing suffered drastically due to my comfort level.

The renovations are now completed. I don’t know if the contract with the insurance company ran out at the end of the year but a worker showed up on New Year’s Eve Day to put the baseboards The photo is of my current cave (see my new carpet and burgundy wall paper) but come Nelson's next day's off, we'll be putting my writing armoire in its original position and my cave will be back to normal. My chair in position. My hands resting down on the keyboard. My back straight. The perfect position for hours and hours of writing. Yeehaw!

I’m not even going to quibble about all my reference books and book shelves now residing out in the garage although I will send the boys out to clear a path once it stops snowing.

So Emma’s story has been crawling along slower than a flame on green wood. I’m working on the eve of the big rescue and thanks to the exercise we did here on Prairie Chicks just a few weeks ago, I have a clear indication of what will happen on the morrow. It’s what’s happening between Dan and Emma tonight that’s ticking my fingers.

But before I get back my main characters, I thought I’d tell you about one of the Christmas presents I received:

Adobe PhotoShop Elements 8

I’ve heard of PhotoShop for years but didn’t really think about it because I had the photo working software that came with my laptop. But this last year when I became a member of the inspirational group blog, Inkwell Inspirations, I began to see benefits of using PhotoShop when Lisa Karon Richardson created our blog page, buttons and bookmarks with it. She also uses it for all of our blog headings which change on a week-to-week and sometimes even day-to-day basis.

But it wasn’t until I took a beautiful wintry photo of a church surrounded by snow-covered trees when I realized the benefits of PhotoShop because there in the foreground was an abundance of power lines!

Now I'm not saying that retouching this wintry scene is perfect, but it was my first attempt at removing unwanted items. And since I’ve seen what PhotoShop can do, I’m excited to get back to blogging. I have over 5000 digital photos to draw from but most have something in them that renders them unusable for the public eye. With PhotoShop, I can make them presentable for either the blog, my One Sheets or my new website.

The new year is starting off on the best note possible. Old cave, comfy chair, new writing tool. Yippee!

Have you tried PhotoShop or some other photo retouching tool? What’s your opinion on using them?


Hayley E. Lavik said...

Congratulations on getting your cave back to normal, Anita. You've certainly put up with a lot of relocation in the past year, it must feel so great to come 'home'.

Gotta say I wasn't expecting graphic software to come up on a writing blog, but I love photoshop. I actually haven't done much in the way of photo editing with it, but I've done digital colouring on it for years, dabbled in photomanipulation (something very different from tweaking the aesthetics of a photo), and lately I've been fiddling with some banner and web graphics elements as well. Even dug my old graphics tablet out of retirement to play with again. The old girl's still chugging along!

DebH said...

hey there anita
great job on the photo retouch. i think photoshop is a great tool for writers in this day and age with all the technological widgets and such - especially having a web presence. i like using Photoshop and know that even using it almost everyday with my job, i still don't use the program to its fullest potential.

i'm excited for you on getting your writing cave back to normal so you can move forward better with your WIP. yay!

Karyn Good said...

Glad your writing cave is almost back to normal. As much as I love taking pictures I haven't dabbled much with graphic software. Now, however, I absolutely have to have Photoshop Elements 8. I had no idea you could do touch ups like that just on your home computer. I have got to get out from under this huge rock.

I loved your picture of the church and its steeple showing through the snowy trees. Beautiful!

Silver James said...

Oh, Anita! I hear you on creative space and comfort. My writing chair is plumped and stacked, my keyboard canted and propped, all in the need to get comfortable for hours. When I move to the new office space, I get a new "writing" desk. The office furniture stores groan when they see me walk in the front door.

The Only is the Queen of Photoshop. I don't have the patience or the "smarts" to figure out all the whys and wherefores. I let her deal with it and deal with it she does--magnificently. (Yes. Bragging. ;) )

I do love your photo but I'm more thrilled that you're about to reclaim your space.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hayley - I have a graphics tablet, too. I rec'd it for Christmas a couple years ago but set it aside until I had time to learn how to use it and just realized now I never got back to it. And yet it's exactly what I need to personalize my signature.


Thanks for reminding me.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Deb, I am using the tutorials like you advised. I actually thought I could point and click on the power lines and they'd disappear but it's much more intensive than that - similar to the process I use on photobucket but this is so much on a grander scale.

With Photoshop, we can install it on 3 home computers so the first time I opened the pkg, my 11 yr old was jumping behind me asking if we could install it on the family computer as well as my laptop. He uses it in school and is eager to teach me all its benefits.

I wish we lived closer, though so I could apprentice with you. :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Karyn, I'm glad I opened another world for you. I keep thinking of that pic you posted of your toes and wondering all the possibilities. LOL

I took the church pic in Dec from the Montmartre Library window and one of the things I had to remove was the reflection of yellow lettering. It's funny though, when I put it on my blog and on my iPod and then showed it to people. Everyone said it was a lovely pic and they didn't notice the power lines. It made me wonder if we're so used to seeing them that our minds automatically ignore them?

As a perfectionist whether in my writing or photography, the power lines were glaringly blatant. Now that they're gone, I'm thinking of using them for a Christmas card design.

Thank you Karyn.

Anita Mae Draper said...

I hear you, Silver. I really am amazed at how 'out of sorts' I've been and how it's affected my writing. I know that's not professional but if I've learned anything from these last few months, it's that I'm going to have to be more vigilant to find alternative means in the future. If I'm on a deadline, as we've discussed many times, comfort doesn't count. I'm thankful I learned my lesson now.

I suppose I could let JJ do all my photoshopping work, but my pics are like my writing... I like criticism but I have the final vote of what gets changed. :)

Just don't let those Office Supply guys sell you something you don't want. You're worth ergonomic furniture.

Thanks for taking time to stop in.

Janet said...

Glad to hear you're getting back into the groove - amazing how we all get comfortable in a certain spot, or with certain things! And good luck getting back into Emma's story!

I thought the picture before looked great - but, yeah, what a difference with the power lines gone. I might be a good thing I don't have photoshop - or I'd get nothing done. Obviously, it's an amazing program - what technology can do nowadays.

Thanks for sharing your pictures with us, Anita.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Anita,
It sounds like your Photoshop Elements 8 is an amazing program. I'd love to have something like that to create all the items you mentioned, but like Janet said, I'd never get anything else done!

Glad your renovations are done and you're back in your happy place again. Good luck with the finishing touches on Emma's Outlaw.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Janet and Jana - I've been working with Photoshop during the evening hrs when the family is around and not during the day when I'm writing. I'd love to write all evening, too but I can only be a hermit during NaNo and BIAW. The rest of the time, as long as I'm in the same room, the family is happy. And although I can write when they're around, it's not the same quality as when everyone is silent except for the clicking of my laptop keys. :)

Now here's a you think we can do something with the Prairie Chick shack? LOL

Helena said...

Lucky you, Anita -- on both counts. I'm with Silver, tho, more excited about your writing space than Photoshop. When my son got me a wireless router, he had visions of me using my laptop anywhere, and it's true, I'm often sitting in the living room doing email and such. However, when I want to write, I have to head upstairs to my gable where everything just feels right. And, I can see the top of one of my blue spruce trees!

I don't do much with pictures, but I do have Picasa which is a free download. Haven't done much with it, tho I think it allows for some manipulation of images.

Congratulations on a good start on the New Year, Anita!

Anne Germaine said...

Anita, I hear you. The kitchen table is killing me. I've been shopping for a desk for a while, trying to find the right one (I have a very small space). I find I'm getting less fussy as I go--I just want a space!!!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Helena, I love my wireless router. We're supposed to be able to use up to 3 computers with it but for Christmas, 2 of the kids and hubby got an iTouch and there were times the 3 of them were either surfing the net or checking out Facebook and at the same time, I had my laptop and my mini online, too. It was fantastic! Plus, I can take my laptop and mini out to the garage or RV and still get on line for research when I want. I absolutely love the freedom the router gives.

And yes, I am very lucky. I couldn't wait until hubby's days off and asked him tonight to bring my writing armoire back into the house. So now, 2.5 hrs later, I really do have my cave back. I just have to wait until tomorrow to put everything back into it because the wood had a thin coating of frost from being in the sunroom with this -40 C/F weather and so I'm waiting until it dries out completely.

Your gable writing cave sounds peaceful, Helena. Thanks for sharing.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Anne - that's why I like my writing armoire. It's in the livingroom and non-existent with the doors closed. Open, it's a cornucopia of info. I even posted a photo of it on my personal blog last year. Not sure where but just go to my blog and search for cave and you'll find it. The whole thing only cost $300 and the pull-out keyboard drawer is the perfect height for my laptop. I just love it.

Good luck finding your own cave.