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Robin Hobb's Infrequent and Off Topic Blog

Different Day, Same Place

I should admit that I expected to be getting a lot of writing done. And I'm not.

But I have cleared all my raised beds of weeds, and today I plnated carrots, beets and turnips.

I write a lot, inside my mind. But somehow the days on the calendar pass very slowly, but the hours of work go by quickly. And suddnely here it is, 10:43 at night, and these are the first words I've typed today.

I've mentioned elsewhere that the Bee story I was working on featured, guess what? A plague that had jumped species. It would have looped back to connect to the Blood Plague. But now is not the time to write something like that. Or even read something like that.

 

But I haven't been reading much either.  I've been doing.  Lots of doing, of things that I know I'll be glad I did four or five months from now.  I've cleared and organized cabinets.  Weeded the garden, planted food.  It's satisfying work.

 

I know I will go back to putting words on the page.  I did some yesterday.  But for today, the writing was only inside my head. 

 

Some days are like that.

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My Dog Has Left Me

I simply couldn't compete.

 

My son's family joined us here on the farm to 'shelter in place'. They have squeezed into the little guest cottage. My 14 days of self quarantine are nearly up, but his family is only about 4 days into theirs.  So I am still 'no contact' with my grandkids.  I can watch them running across the pasture. I can light the campfire they built, and then retreat so they can enjoy it.  No touching.  Talking to each other from 8 or 10 feet away.  No sharing books or passing around cookies.

 

My dogs are both rescues.  Ginger from the Humane Society, and Molly, the younger dog was from a Belgian Malinois Rescue group. Ginger is older now but Molly is still all bounce and go.

 

Molly saw that they had brought Foxy the Border Collie, and Foxy is RICH!  She owns three teenagers and a six year old boy!  And she offered to share.  Five or six hikes down to the river a day! Numerous sticks and tennis balls thrown. Lots of chasing and rough housing.

 

A couple of times I called her back to me.  But the last time she cried.  I felt so mean.  They were doing night walks with a flashlight, and I was sitting in front of a keyboard.

 

I let her out and she was off like a shot to join them.

 

As it should be.

 

This virus pandemic is a terrible thing.  But even it has a silver lining for one dog.

 

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Robin's Rules for Working at/from Home

Robin's Rules for Working at Home And Actually Getting Something Done

 

We have all worked at home. If you made your bed, cooked a meal or swept a floor, you've worked at home. But now, perhaps, you are trying to do a different sort of work at home. In addition to being a writer, I'm the agent for a couple of family LLC's. That means a fairly constant stream of paperwork and phone calls to deal with, in addition to writing, housework, pets and family. By trial and error, I've come up with some things that work for me. They may or may not be helpful to you, especially if you are in a new situation.


1. Start organized. I didn't, of course, but organization has evolved. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office. You may be coping with half the kitchen table or the coffee table. Whatever you have, organize that space. And Start With Ergonomics! Best situation: You are sitting in a chair that supports your lower back. Your feet are flat on the floor. Your hands are level with your keyboard. Your screen is at eye level. (If you have only a laptop, I know you can't do this. So be aware that youa re tipping your head down, and take frequent breaks to stretch your neck.) Lift your eyes often to refocus on infinity out of a window. If you can't do that, at least look around the room. Stand up and stretch when you can.


2. Set attainable goals. You are not going to write a book today. But you can write a scene, or a chapter, maybe even two. Make your goal a measurable one. So many words or pages. Or X number of social emails handled.


3. This one helps me a lot. Do something visible. White board or print out document work. Sometime in the day, clean a window, bake a loaf of bread, weed a corner of your garden. Any task that you can look at tomorrow morning and say, 'Well, I got that done. What's next?" It's great for my morale to have an accomplishment I can see.


4. Allow for family members. In our current situation, you may have a spouse or kids racketing around while you are trying to achieve what you used to do in a work situation. Accept that you cannot duplicate that. If you have kids, set a timer or choose an hour, and do something that focuses on them. Turn on the radio/stereo and rock out with all of them. Play a game, bake some cookies, read a story. If little kids know they are guaranteed a chunk of your time, it helps them to be more patient. You will get more done despite taking family breaks.


5. Do it now. Whatever 'it' is. Start with email, perhaps. Sort, discard, and answer what needs an answer. If bills came in, pay them now. Face the revisions and get them done. Process and file any mail that comes in. Don't let anything stack up. If there is anything you hate or dread, make yourself do it first and get it over with.


6. This is the Mom lecture part. You will need to take regular breaks. Don't let it be an alcohol/nicotine break every time. It becomes a ritual, and it can greatly increase your consumption. Have a lovely cup of tea. Have a stretching routine. Take the dog out into the yard.


7. I hope this is helpful to someone! As always, what works for me may not for you!

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Another Day in Self Imposed Isolation

And the truth is, I've been getting a lot done.  I think that work that busies my hands leaves my mind free to both compose part of books, or grasp the bigger picture of my life.

 

Today's busy work involved moving some onions that had survived the winter, and planting some experimental potatoes. I'm still getting hard frosts at night here, so they will either grow and be ready early, or freeze into mush.  We will see.  

 

I took my dogs for a walk on our acreage down to where I could trespass jsut a little and look at the Nisqually River.  We had floods just a couple of months ago, and the river has shifted in its bed, leaving more bank on my side, and some interesting gravel bars.  I saw deer tracks, what might have been elk, and the little handprints of a raccoon, but no wildlife in person.  Except a frog.  

 

I also paid all the bills today and changed my phone plan to include more data.  My younger daughter has borrowed my little 'hot spot' and is also self isolating where there is no internet.  According to my provider, her watching two movies consumed a gig of data!  Really?

 

And that was pretty much my day.  A much more pleasant day than most isolated seniors are having, I am sure.

 

 

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Letters from the Farm

Dear Friends,

 

While we are enduring the Covid pandemic here in Washington state, my new resolution is to post here once a day.  Obviously, I won't have anything compelling to say that frequently, but I'll offer updates and possibly some little family stories.

 

Here, as you might expect, Fred and I have self isolated at the farm.  I'm almost ashamed to say how much I'm enjoying this.  I am writing, or rather, Megan Lindholm is.  That part of me is pushing along an urban fantasy set in  Tacoma. 

 

I am doing things such as planning out where my native trees will go! Every year, I get native species from Pierce County's native plant sale.  They are so inexpensive!  So I have five Nootka roses, five oOrgeon oaks, five Sitka Spruce,and  five mock orange bushes to plant.  I've put my kinickinick in small pots.  I did set out five little sorrell plants, which my free range chickens have already reduced to two.  Rotten little dinosaurs.

 

Check back with me here if you'd like to see some updates.  I will close with two things my mother used to say in times of stress:

 

Keep Calm and Carry On.

 

Also:

"When in danger or in doubt,

Run in Circles, scream and shout."

 

I'm going with the first one.

 

 

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Missives from The Office Kat

It's Kat here, not Robin.  Robin is out of offices, dealing with her husband who she says had hip surgery.  I suspect they are sailing up and down the river and hiding out in tree forts with Ginger and Molly to avoid work but who asked me?  I am still in the offices.  

 

Oh the To-Dos I have To-Do today. You have no idea.  Megan Lindholm is being so utterly difficult.  I just want to Control-Alt-Delete her sometimes.  Robin has been out of the offices lately and Megan sits and eats salt water taffy and weighs in periodically. She always drinks the coffeepot down to exactly one half a cup of too black coffee and leaves it.  So not only do I get only ONE HALF CUP for my troubles I have to brew a whole new pot and then inevitably, she gets to the fresh pot first and gets the first cup, which everyone knows is like the first bite of an apple. It's the best one.

 

Speaking of apples, I look foward to summer so I can throw some at her head.

 

So.  In the world of Robin Hobb, who does not write books or stories about roadkill (ahem, Megan) we are happily preparing for the launch of ROYAL ASSASSIN.  What? Yes.  Of course this book came out a while ago, but this edition is the illustrated edition, with color plates by artist Magali Villenueuve, who, if you'd like to know, has a most excellent office cat and no alternate personalities that drink the rest of the coffee.  

 

 

So to celebrate, Penguin Random House (which let's be honest, begs to be called The Random Penguins) is runing a promotion Follow this link and it will take you to a voting page to pick your favourite illustration from the illustrated Assassin's Apprentice.  The winning piece will be made into an exclusive art print. Or if you like, review the images to the right of this post and vote using the widget on this page.  Voting ends on April 3, 2020.

 

This promotion is just for version of the book printed in the US, by the US publishers.  Every time we do this we hear about how mean we are that we aren't doing it worldwide.  Frankly I always want to invite the people over who think I'm being mean, and while we unload the 25 boxes from the storage unit (with proper lifting techniques) I would be able to show you each box relating to all the different publishers and explain that I am just the town crier and book lifter and if I had any say in it I'd be sending lovely illustrated books ALL OVER THE WORLD in exchange for worldwide chocolate and we'd all video chat each other and talk about how much we love books, and chocolate, but ... as it stands I am not Queen of the World.  Not yet.  Nor am I yet a worldwide publisher but who is to say what my future holds.

 

So.  I am not mean and I love all the readers and I am sorry it's a US only promotion but I will do as I can.

 

Oh snap!  Megan is back again.  Talk to you later.

 

- Kat

 

 

 

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Unable to Attend Emerald City Comic Con

I regret to say that I will not be able to attend Emerald City Comic Con in March of 2020 in Seattle.

 

My husband required a hip surgery that has impacted his ability to get around on the farm for the next couple of weeks.  So rather than leaving him attempting to feed animals and drive a tractor anyway, I will be staying home and taking care of things here.

 

I will truly miss seeing readers, editorial friends and other writing friends.  But there will be other conventions in months and years to come.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful time without me.  

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