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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Reclaiming My Outbuilding

An old outbuilding near Askrigg.

As we explored the Yorkshire Dales, we constantly saw barns and outbuildings in decay and disrepair.  In the 1930s, James Herriot often worked out in the fields, exposed to freezing temperatures and biting wind.  Even when he attended an animal in an outbuilding, many times those structures still allowed the elements inside.  In his 1979 book James Herriot’s Yorkshire, he wrote,

“Nowadays the farmers usually bring their bad cases into a shed or barn where the vet can creep thankfully out of that ever present wind and take off his jacket behind a screen of straw bales.” 

Even with all the advances in technology, I imagine that today’s farmers are just as busy and stressed as they were in the 1930s or ‘70s.  The land and animals must be cared for throughout the year, and financial conditions may require the farmer to periodically gain outside employment while working his farm.  So while the number of outbuildings with leaning walls or deteriorating roofs surprised me, it’s certainly understandable that farmers might have to put off such repairs far longer than they would prefer. 

Another outbuilding near Askrigg.
(Note how the elements have attacked the structure
in a similar fashion).  

Just like those farmers, life got on top of me a few years ago.  Family, health, and other factors led to an accumulation of stuff, and it all had to go somewhere.  Much of it ended up in my office.  While I tried to manage and organize everything as best I could, I still grew inundated by everything that had to go somewhere.  Little of it was related to the writing I actually wanted to conduct in my office.  Getting a laptop computer helped, as did using lapboards, and I adapted to working in other spaces.

In the last few weeks, I’ve started fighting my way back into my office.  Perhaps this reprioritizing of my time led to blog entries that possessed less than my usual brilliance and insight.  (As to the last statement, you, dear reader, are a better judge of that than I).  But this week I’ve been able to use the closet I converted many years ago into a writing space.  Using my MacBook, instead of that bulky keyboard for my old desktop computer, has made the space even more useful.  I’ve even been able to listen to a few albums on my office CD player that got lost amid all the stuff: Bon Jovi’s “100,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong” and The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium.” 

Reclaiming my former workspace.

In the coming weeks, I hope to go through more of the piles and boxes, find the lost manuscripts of earlier stories, and see if I can’t refurbish them and submit them to publishers.  My office may not be physically located an outbuilding, but like the farmer who has finally gathered the resources to repair and reclaim it, I feel excited by the possibilities ahead. Before me lies a vision of a functional space dedicated to the pursuit of a literary career.  

Whatever you need to reorganize and refurbish in pursuing your own life-goals, I wish you similar success.

Dragon Dave

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