Dec 16 2012

So Long, Farewell

Melissa Crytzer Fry

Sometimes goodbyes are inevitable. Such was the case last week when I watched a part of my writing life barrel down our dirt driveway, dust plumes exploding behind it, the aftermath settling like brown mist on nearby prickly pear cacti.

We purchased our travel trailer in '04 as a safe place to sleep while we completed renovations to the “honey house” that we now call home (then filled with dead lizards, scorpions, & one live tarantula). The structure was once a building for beekeeping. Click to enlarge.

Many of you may know that the camper became much more to us over the years – a guest house for visitors, a hiding place for holiday gifts, storage space, and most importantly – for me – a writing getaway. Many a word was penned inside that rectangular box – on my first fiction attempt and my current novel (as well as various freelance projects).

Hubby temporarily removed the dinette and created a workstation for his ham radio hobby. All that counter space was also perfect for my fiction writing! Click to enlarge.

So while this post may not appear to be much about nature and its ties to writing, it is, actually. The camper afforded a wonderful view of the mountains in front of our home. Many times, I’d be greeted by a Say’s Phoebe, hummingbird, oriole, finch, quail or rock wren teetering precariously on the clothesline in front of my camper window. From my writing perch, I’d seen roadrunners, squirrels, lizards, javelinas and bunnies.

This Say's Phoebe graces us with little Phoebies every year. As seen from the camper window. Click to enlarge.

The writing-studio-on-wheels* was a place of quiet solitude (our ‘honey house’ is a wide open space – a bit difficult for someone like me, who needs complete silence to write!), and a connection to nature via its paper-thin walls (evening coyote serenades felt almost too close for comfort).

But sometimes in life, one must say goodbye to things she loves – or, in this case, enjoyed and appreciated. It made sense for us to sell the trailer before it was reduced to a pile of dust by the harsh rays of the southwestern sun. It has served us well, and its sale may open new creative doors for us both.

For Writers: Saying goodbye to the writing-studio-on-wheels is not too different from editing. I know from recent personal experience the pain of waving farewell to characters, scenes, and words. It ain’t easy saying goodbye to those old friends. And it ain’t pretty. But in the end, it sometimes is necessary to clear things out to make room for something better. What are your thoughts on editing? Have you ever had to give up something you love/like/appreciate, only to find that something better was on the other side?

Happy trails, my friend. Your departure has led the way to a new chapter.

* Thanks to debut author Natalia Sylvester, who nicknamed the camper, “writing-studio-on-wheels.” Her book, Where We Once Belonged, publishes in Spring 2004.


27 Responses to “So Long, Farewell”

  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    Where will you write now, Melissa? Have you made a place inside the house?
    Honestly, I think I will be relieved to finish my current WIP. I’ve been working on it for several years now and as the finish line approaches, I’m feeling the next project ready to crowd this one out.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I’m with you, Cynthia, on finishing the current WIP (I am also currently distracted by the next shiny idea that seems to be stealing the limited space in my brain devoted to ‘all things writing.’) Crowding out … yes, that’s how I’m beginning to feel.

    As for writing space, I’m invading my hubby’s new ham shack add-on ;-).

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    I’ve been hearing about the “studio on wheels” for almost two years — ever since I met you — so it’s nice to hear the end of it’s story! Here’s to your new chapter! For me, each time I finish and say goodbye to one WIP I feel sad and miss it so much — thinking nothing will ever take its place — then when I start a new WIP I fall in love with the new one just as much!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Yes … so true about missing the “last story,” but finding a whole new amount of love and excitement for the next one!

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  • avatar Leah Says:

    I’m with Cynthia and want to know where the new writing place will be. It’s tough to let things go like that. But I do think it’s the beginning of something else. Can’t wait to hear what it will be.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I want to try to become a writer who can “write anywhere” (as long, of course, as it’s quiet)… so I am now stealing away time in my hubby’s new ham-shack add on, and I want to try more writing sessions in the desert – taking Betty to remote locations and seeing what happens!

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  • avatar Shary Says:

    When I’m open to cutting things that aren’t working, I do tend to find solutions. It hurts to cut, but I think it’s worth it.

    Regarding your space, I hope you find that your new one will be as inspirational as your old one. I prefer quiet for writing, too, but I’ve found that writing in a cafe works better than I ever thought it would. All of the distractions blend into a white noise that actually seems to feed my creativity. I can’t do it all the time, but it does work for a change of pace.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Interesting that the noise of a cafe becomes white noise to you. I’m pretty sure I would be far too distracted – plus, the nearest ‘cafe’ is about 50 miles away, so that won’t be happening any time soon ;-). But you’re obviously not alone; many a writer uses the cafe method! So glad it works for you.

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  • avatar Girl Parker Says:

    Thank goodness hubby has a ham-shack add-on, cuz where else are you gunna write AND grab the microphone for a spontaneous Bee-Gees sing-along?

    As you know, I shelved my last project and am moving on. I miss some of the characters, but not all, which is probably where I was going wrong in the first place. Yes to editing, but also yes to new beginnings.

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    Melissa Reply:

    You never fail to crack me up, Lori. I have been tempted, on many occasions, to belt out some Bee Gees, as you know. I’m so glad you’re liking your new fictional crew better!

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  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    Oh, goodbye camper! It must be so bittersweet to have it gone, Melissa. I know I felt that way about our apartment adjacent to our store. So many good memories were made there (and so much writing!)….I actually panicked after editing The Outcast and finding more plot threads available after cutting others away. I thought I should do a sequel, but I was reassured to continue on the path I was on. Sometimes it’s good to appreciate those times, but then move on from there! 🙂

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    Melissa Reply:

    Panic – now that’s something I can relate to as I edit, pare, chop, slice, dice (and, like you, come up with all the things I should still ADD, even though the ms is waaay too long).

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  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    Oh, I’ll miss updates from the writing studio on wheels! But I completely agree that it’ll make way for new creative journeys, and I’m really happy for you and for all the time you got to grow as a writer in it. I know exactly how you feel–every time I’ve moved apartments, I’ve gotten sentimental because it was either the place I ever finished a novel, the place I had my first dedicated writing space, the place I signed with an agent, the place I learned my book sold, etc.

    And thank you for the sweet shout-out! It seems so long ago, I’d almost forgotten I came up with that 😉

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    Melissa Reply:

    I actually thought of you and your many moves and wondered if it was the same for you. Each ‘spot’ does carry its own writing memories. I can’t wait to say, “This is the desk where I signed my agent and landed my book deal.” 🙂

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  • avatar Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Melissa – Every ending brings with it a new beginning.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Reminds me of the song “Closing Time,” by Semisonic: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. LOVE that line!

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  • avatar Annie Neugebauer Says:

    Oh no! Not the writing-studio-on-wheels! That was such a cool place; I’m sorry to see it go. I look forward to seeing what new stuff you come up with, though.

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    Melissa Reply:

    A cool place, indeed. But I’m going to try the “editing-writing in wilderness” option again!

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  • avatar Jessica Vealitzek Says:

    Aw, I didn’t even know about the writing studio on wheels and I’ll miss it–I also have a fondness for inanimate objects that I use a lot.
    What helps me with editing is keeping a file called “Darlings.” Everything I cut is pasted in there so I never really lose it.

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    Melissa Reply:

    You know, I’m usually not attached to inanimate objects, but the camper was such an extension of our living space, that I have to say: I am going to miss it!

    LOVE the “darlings” file. I keep one of those as well, but only for some of my cuts. What a great psychological game to allow us ‘never’ to part with our hard-earned words!

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  • avatar Nina Says:

    Oh no!!! Bye-bye fabulous studio!

    This post struck me . . . at the end I thought. YES– I sort of said goodbye to novel writing this year. And I feel SO FREE. I really do! I’ve had FUN (yes, FUN) working on the essays and slowly (very slowly) working on freelance personal essay pieces. It’s the “one door closes another one opens” cliche. It’s true!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh, Nina. It makes me so happy to hear that you are happy and feeling freed by your decision to step away from fiction. You seem to have found your passion! Can’t wait to hear more about the freelance personal essay pieces you’re working on!

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  • avatar Diann Says:

    I have long envied your writing getaway on wheels. I look forward to hearing how your writing adventures morph as you write in different venues!

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thanks, Diann. We’ll see if I can avoid the “distraction” of being in nature. As my husband teases (I assume he thinks I’m like a dog … “Look! Squirrel!” Ha ha.

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  • avatar mari Says:

    Melissa, What a great writing space! Sorry to see it go. Before my daughter was born, I had the second bedroom pretty much to myself, and wrote there. It’s kind of dark, not so inspiring but because of that, I felt that I could easily get to work. There was a lack of distractions. After Mimi was born, we put her crib and all the baby stuff in there, and my desk has been butting against her stuff since. And the distractions have grown…but I still manage to get some work done in there. Since we live in California, it’s possible to sit outside during the day for a few hours and write, too.

    I think for any writer, any creative person, your surroundings change over time, sometimes they become more comfortable or convenient. Sometimes they’re cumbersome. But there’s always something to glean from them.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Wow – I totally ‘get’ what you’re referring to regarding a non-inspiring place that does serve the purpose of stopping your mind from wandering. That’s precisely where I am editing right now: hubby’s new ham shack! It’s dark and depressing in there, but perfect for the difficult task of revising (for me, I need 100% focus – zero distraction).

    Yes – always a lesson to learn from each of our writing spaces! Happy holidays, Mari!

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  • avatar Suzie Ivy Says:

    I’m finally catching up on my blog reading and your post made me sad. I sold my 1996 Ford Ranger a few months ago and I still miss her. I never wrote words while in her but I dreamed non-stop.

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