Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Winter Blues - Perspective Askew
There's a common theme I'm noticing with Kathy and Winter...they don't mix. Unless we travel south and write about warmer climates, we pretty much keep to working on other projects, catch up writing from trips over the past year she hasn't published yet, and serious clean up and revamps to the web site.
This can actually be a good thing, as December is always a heavy shipping month from her Rocky Mountain General Store. January orders have picked up this year as well, and Kathy has decided that her on-line store, which is the main source of her travel writing income, needs a boost. Currently (unless your reading this in February after the change), the store only accepts Paypal, however, Kathy has been intensely preparing a new on-line experience that expands her shopping cart to include Google Checkout.
This may sound easy, but remember, when it comes to the on-line store, advertising, etc, Kathy's a one woman show. I'm only involved in packaging and putting it in the mailbox. Due to my real job in the corporate world, my incredibly wonderful employer (and I mean that sincerely) would likely see any additional involvement on my part as a conflict of interest. The result is Kathy stuck doing most of the new data entry on her own. There are over 5000 postcards, numerous books on everything from the Old West to Route 66, Signs, custom products, yada yada yada. And Kathy has been entering each item into a data base spreadsheet one at a time, including their price, weight and all the details needed for the automagic of the new on line store to make life easier for the shopper and her.
What I've noticed the most about this Winter, and all the heavy duty work she's doing, is how this can affect her perspective on writing. Take for example this week. I had to travel to Dallas for my real job and found myself flipping through the news channels last night. I came upon a story from Stephenville where several witnesses reported a UFO. It was an interesting story to say the least, and made for good entertainment since I was pretty much resigned to staying in the hotel room and eating my takeout pizza. When I called Kathy to check and make sure she hadn't become totally lost in data entry and begun zoning in robotic clicks that usually result in her losing all concept of day and time, I mentioned the UFO as a way to break her away from work. Instead it backfired.
"Hey, I could write about that", Kathy's voice seemingly sparking to life as if she had found a bright shiny object of her own flying through her computer screen. "About Stephensville?" I asked, scared of what strange door I had opened. "No, about the UFO". I didn't hesitate to remind her that the incident just happened and it's not a "legend" yet. I was also trying to figure out how she would tie that story to either the Old West or some other relevant story to make it fit on Legends of America.
After our phone call I realized we've been through similar winters, and I was sure she had been distracted before. So I went to her website to see just how many of these oddities had made it there. Now, I don't count ghost stories as a distraction, because they fit right in with the Ghost Towns and various other history she does so well with. But I did find 125 search results for Big Foot (although some were about some old west characters), 2 results for Sasquatch, 6 results for Headless Horseman, 3 results for Flying Saucer, 28 results for UFO...you get the idea.
It made me realize just what happens during the winter months in Kathy's office when she holes her self in from the cold weather. Strange, but interesting stories seem to pop up out of nowhere. My hope is that this year I can break the cycle. We've decided to take a trip to Southern New Mexico in February. Lots of Ghost Towns to see and plenty to write about. I'm sure we will be a little more cautious about the Mexico Border since last year's close calls in Arizona, but it will be interesting to see if I can steer her clear from Roswell.
In the meantime, I'm anxious to get back to Kansas City and keep Kathy's mind off the bright shiny objects floating in her office.