War and Chess

My Desk

A short, true story, by author Helen Pugsley.

 

I had the stupendous and rare fortune of purchasing my mentor’s home, The Nest, as she named it. June Wilson Read and I shared the only town I want to live in all through my childhood. She has helped me in all things writing since I began. Being in her 80’s she wanted to move closer to family. With her home came her desk. A door laid across two wooden filing cabinets.

“I’m so happy you’re the one getting my house!” she said, “And my writing desk!”

I grinned through that last part. I was and am madly in love with the sun-drenched cottage but as soon as a replacement could be found I had every intention of throwing the door down a ditch and stacking the filing cabinets on top of each other to save on floor space. I could use one of the nice metal desks my family keeps in the garage until I got the guts and finances to purchase an antique roll-top!

But winter came…

First, my mother said, “You’re going to trade wood and good memories for cold steel?!”

Being porous, wood absorbs a lot of things. That’s why I won’t use wooden cutting boards. As well as beef blood I hope wood sops up talent! “Ack! Fine. I don’t feel like moving the heavy summagun anyway,” I reasoned to her.

Next, there was going to be a washer dryer set there, right in my dining room.

“But Dad! Actually having a desk will keep me from writing in bed!” A terrible habit. Guess where I penned this?

“You should really quit doing that! But find somewhere else. The washer and dryer will go here.” You can’t argue too much when someone is financing the labor and the appliances.

However, the contractor inadvertently took my side. “A water line on an exterior wall? Are you crazy?!” The huge, rectangular window is amazing for gleaning enough natural light to write by until twilight. It is not so great for keeping water lines above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A stackable apartment sized washer/dryer will now set next to my oven.

When she left she handed me a pile of pelts. June was truly a Wyoming woman. Not knowing what else to do with them, I set them in one corner of the desk in a neat pile with an axe. Later, the axe got moved to my bedside.

A short while ago a neighbor of mine wanted some kittens. In a week she discovered she was horribly allergic. So now Iris and Wilhelm live with me. When they’re not in their heated bed they like to sleep in the pelt pile on my desk. I like to think of it as the kitten annex.

Even newer than the kittens is a kitchen chair I picked up at a second-hand shop for under $10. The silk seat is perfect for resting my feet on when I’m feeling rebellious. I sit with my tooshy on the desk and a notebook in my lap.

One day my mother and I got to looking at the door-desk very carefully and realized it’s probably my closet door. It is literally a part of my home. I can’t just throw it down a ditch! Not when the empty door knob socket is perfect for stringing a laptop cord through! And how could I when that desk is where June Wilson Read penned most of her book, Frontier Madam?! Maybe parts of Whistle Creek and Other Wyoming Tales. Also a score of unpublished works she tells me she keeps in a trunk. How could I throw it down a ditch?! That’s my desk!

 

About Helen

Helen M. PugsleyHelen comes from a small town of twenty in eastern Wyoming. She has been passionate about writing since she was small. Helen enjoys traveling and is always thrilled to excite friends with tales of playing music on the streets for money, conversing with the drunks who frequent gutters, and the epic struggle of finding a decent bath when living in a car. Visit her on Facebook‘s War and Chess page!

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The NaNo Rebel

I don’t like NaNoWriMo much. I go through this same cycle every year! I promise myself every year I’m going to write a novel in a month. Maybe not 50,000 words, but a novel!

After the success of my debut novel, War and Chess, and quitting my job to become a full time author the pressure was on! This November 1st, once again, I fired up my NaNoWriMo account. (I’ve been playing this game since 2013)

Nano RebelI wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I was working on two projects. One, I am writing the first draft. If I weren’t a NaNoWriMo rebel that would have been the novel I worked on. But I like writing first drafts with pen and paper. Drafts that you can take to the mountains without worrying about it dying, as electronics are bound to do.

My second project was typing up some old stories I think might be promising as a new publication. That second project is what I chose to report to NaNoWriMo’s website. It was a lot easier than counting the words I write on paper by hand. Really, I just needed some accountability. Someone to email me when I’m making whimpy excuses about how long hours typing makes my back SCREAM. But yet, somehow, I was just fine spending most of the morning on Facebook drinking coffee…

So I was already being a rebel by not creating something new. Just making sure something great was backed up, which is my least favorite job. I wound up getting 2/3rds of the way finished with this project! I was at an awe inspiring 10,000 words by December 1st. Yeah, I didn’t join my brethren in sleep deprivation, stress, or trying to remember that when great Aunt Bessy asks you, “Have you found a man yet?” you keep your decorum and smile.

I stayed true to my nature and stayed a rebel for yet another NaNo year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be prancing around downtown in my leather jacket Christmas shopping.

 

 

About Helen

Helen M. PugsleyHelen comes from a small town of twenty in eastern Wyoming. She has been passionate about writing since she was small. Helen enjoys traveling and is always thrilled to excite friends with tales of playing music on the streets for money, conversing with the drunks who frequent gutters, and the epic struggle of finding a decent bath when living in a car. Visit her on Facebook‘s War and Chess page!

Book Signing At Niobrara County Library for War & Chess

If you are in the area of Niobrara County Library in Lusk, Wyoming, then make sure to stop by and meet Helen M. Pugsley and grab a copy of her debut novel War & Chess! She’ll even sign it for you. Helen will be at the library on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 from 2:00 – 5:00 pm!

“Come see me on your way to the county fair!” Helen said.

For more information, check out the event page on Facebook here, or you can check out the library’s webpage. Helen hopes to see you there!

Niobrara County Library
425 S Main St, Lusk, Wyoming 82225