Starting the Year with a Blank Page by Rosemary Lord

just-rosie-3Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House!

She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

 

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Don’t know about you, but I am still easing myself into this New Year. We relaxed through Madeline’s ‘betwixt and between’ week and suddenly there it is: a New Year. And, as if running down hill, you gather speed as life takes over once again.

But to get back to the beginning, less than three weeks ago:

At the start of each year, I look forward to the blank page.

Firstly, the clean, empty blank page of a new diary – or appointment book – as I anticipate writing that first entry. The first appointment. What’s it going to be? Something dire or something fun?

This year, it was the dentist, hairdresser, doctor check-ups. Finally taking care of me – so that was a good, healthy start. Then I set meetings about work, about writing: what new people will I meet? What adventures will I start this year?  And in the margins of the new diary page I start to note new ideas, new goals for the year as ‘A Plan’ begins to emerge. “This year, it really will be different, better,” is my theme song.

I determined to get a control of my pathway for the year, before life’s little jokes and challenges intercede.

My favorite blank pages are in my writing books. I have a series of brightly-colored leather-bound note books – a big clue I used in the first Lottie Topaz Hollywood Mystery, by the way… The different colors are for different stories I am working on.

I’ve not been one to dread the empty page, or the stuck-ness (did I just make up a word?!) of no ideas. Quite the reverse. Instead of a frozen, blank mind, my fingers can’t write fast enough. I have an annoying habit of starting a word in such a rush that I finish the next word on top of it, jamming two half words together, missing the middle letters, in my haste to finish the sentence. Then later I attempt to figure out what I was saying! I am trying to slow my thoughts down as they tumble onto the blank page, not always making sense, in speedy disarray. Fortunately, this first draft is always in pencil – there is a lot of erasing later on.

And so I fill up page after page, stopping only to sharpen pencils and grab a fresh cuppa (cup of tea) with no time to eat – just back to convert blank pages into the start of an amazing story.

I also have a collection of tiny, pocket-size notebooks that I carry with me. On those blank pages I make lists of names, lines of dialogue, clues, storyline notes that come to me as I wait in the check-out line, parking the car or waiting at appointments. Mind you, it’s not always neat blank pages of note-books that I scribble thoughts on. How often can you NOT find the note-pad when you need it? So backs of envelopes, register- receipts, shopping lists, coupons suffice. Whatever is handy. The trick is not to lose that scrap of paper! Later that day those bits get transferred to a proper blank page.

So these are part of my arsenal for the start of a new year. First, I have to remember to breathe. Slow my racing mind down. Then take it step by step into my writing world so that I finally finish another book.

Last year, amidst the very productive chaos, I did manage to write the revised, updated version of my first published book: Los Angeles Then and Now. Sadly, so much of historic Los Angeles has disappeared since I wrote the original book. The landscape is so very changed, the sky-line filled with towering apartment and luxury condominium blocks, many still empty.

I updated those original sites that are still standing, and discovered future plans, new focuses in the city. I researched all the new sites I have added, explored fresh archive photographs to mirror the new ‘now’ images. It was a fun challenge.

I also wrote a piece on the Hollywood School for Girls and the Woman’s Club of Hollywood for the Fall issue of Discover Hollywood magazine along the way.

And now my new Los Angeles Then and Now is coming out next month, so I will get busy promoting that. And guess what? A new notebook and new blank pages to fill as I travel that road.

 

Life is full of blank pages for us all to fill. What would you fill yours with?

 

 

12 thoughts on “Starting the Year with a Blank Page by Rosemary Lord”

  1. It’s nice to think that we can start the New Year with that clean sheet of paper and get down to business again. Last year had its highs and lows, but this one is all shiny and new, ready to have things added to its pages. Our goals, if we made any, might get altered by life, but, hey, that’s life. Let’s see what 2018 has to offer.

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    1. Thanks, Gayle. I think this is the one time when we can give ourselves a fresh start, maybe change our goals from before, adjust our direction – on a new blank page. Exciting, isn’t it?

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  2. I envy those who can start the year with a blank page, because mine begins with spill-over, unfinished projects from the preceding 12 months. That always happens, because, as you rightly point out, the universe sends constant reminders that I’m not completely in charge of my life. This year, instead of a three-page list of goals, I’m simplifying: finish my new novel (I’m about 80% there already) and get it published; clean out all the “stuff” I don’t need or want in my home here and move the rest to my new home in Idaho. And finish up the year in my new home, not in the room with bubble-wrap on the walls. Tune in next year to see how I did. . .

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    1. I think that’s the benefit of a new blank page, Bonnie. I, too, have a stack of unfinished ‘To Do’ lists from last year and a mountain of unfinished work. That’s why I take January 1st as a time to step back and review it all, to see what I really need to take with me into the new year. And you have a wonderful ‘challenge’ as you prepare to make that big move away from California. What do you take with you, what do you leave behind? How exciting to reinvent your life! Thanks. We will stay tuned…

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  3. Love your idea of blank pages–and I’ve got a lot of them. I can’t tell you how many notebooks of different sizes I have, each dedicated to a portion of my life, that I make notes in as things in those categories happen. And that doesn’t even count the notebooks and notecards I use for my writing. But I’m all for making notes!

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  4. Isn’t it interesting, Linda, going through those old note books? So many great ideas we have recorded – and very useful when you start a new novel. But, even more interesting, as you say – are the notes about different parts of our lives.

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  5. What an energizing and timely post, Rosemary. I was sitting at my computer and staring at a blank page literally, and figuratively. And I was thinking about my “blank page” in a negative way. But after reading your post (and comments so far), I realize what a rejuvenating situation that is–the blank page. A world of possibilities, new beginnings, old completions… Thank you so much.

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    1. Sorry about your stuck-ness! But glad to suggest a different way to look at it…
      And thanks for your happy comments, Madeline!

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  6. Wonderful post, Rosemary. I love the idea of the blank page, though like many I have spillover from the previous year. However, living in an area where life decelerates and much actually shuts down in January, it forces me to sit back, relax and reflect. Will anxiously await the re-release of “Los Angeles Then And Now”.

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    1. Thanks, Miko. That is the wonder of living in a place where you have real winter: you get to stay indoors and WRITE! And I just received the first copy of my new “Los Angeles Then and Now” out soon… so thanks for the plug!

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