Big Talker

Remember back when I posted about my work schedule in Stephen King is my Boss? And how I said I sat down at 9:00 am and wrote until 1:00 pm (except for my elevenses break) six days a week?

 I’m a big talker.

About a month ago, the thought of sitting down at 9:00 am to slough through a morning of revision made me real, real tired. My brain did not want to revise. It wanted to make some jewelry—so I let it. I hauled out my beads and little pliers and wire cutters and those tiny but essential findings and had at it.IMG_1850

I spent a happy two days in my “pop-up jewelry store” as the hubby called it, creating with color and texture, letting my writing brain rest. IMG_1856Sure, I had a twinge of guilt for not writing, but not enough to stop me. And after the jewelry, I needed to work with color some more, so I did a few watercolors,glowy chicken 1 completely unconnected to illustrating anything. Just five little watercolors for a show at a gallery in Connecticut. I called it my “glowy animal series.”

glowy ducks copy glowy sheep copy 2

A few days ago, a friend sent me an article by Maria Popova on her Brain Pickings blog that made me realize why I so enjoyed those non-writing days. It was an article about a book called “Uncommon Genius,” published in 1991. The author, Denise Shekerjian, interviewed forty recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants about their creative process. Lo and behold, a  very big component of the creative process for them was downtime, drifting-around time, unconnected-to-your-work time. Ta-da! Validation.

Now I’m ready to write again. Nay, I’m eager to write again.

A change, as they say, is as good as a rest.


Ye Olde Multi-tasking

I’m on a deadline for a book review and I’m also on a deadline for holiday want-to’s.

Yesterday I sat down and wrote out a first draft of the review. My first drafts are rambling things where I try to include all the themes I want to cover as well as the basics of the plot, as well as my judgment about how successful the book has been in relaying it story.

So this first draft was a loosely structured bunch of ideas and hundreds of words too long for my word count, but it was okay for now. I saved it. Then I got out the needle felting foam and fiber, my gourd inspiration and got to it. Needle felting consists of jabbing a barbed needle over and over into the wool until it takes on the shape of what you want. Maybe you can see the connection here. Just finished first draft. Phrases and themes are floating around in my head; questions are rising to the top like feeding fish. Do I use “sardonic” or “wry” to describe the narrative voice, or just “precocious.” Is “engaging” too ubiquitous? —The sorts of thoughts that need to mull and stretch as I jab a pointed needle into felt.

The motion, smallishly aggressive, is just enough to let off the steam created by so much critical thinking—it fills the same purpose as nervously jiggling your knee, except that you get a cute little felted thing at the end. So I finished the green gourd—it didn’t take that long, maybe one-half hour, and then I put it down and went on to the second draft.

In the second draft, I’ll start stringing sentences together, picking the exactly proper verb and adverb and paring down my word count. Probably there will be another gourd break (they are to be Thanksgiving gifts after all, so that is a deadline too) then a third draft. Heck I might get the whole dang cornucopia done by the time I submit the review. Now that’s multitasking.


Adventures in Knitting

It’s November. I’m getting that urge. Must make something with yarn. Must make something with yarn now.

So I dug out a pattern I bought a year ago for felted slippers. I’ve decided that felted projects are best for me. No need to pay close attention to gauge (ugh) or correct mistakes (ditto) since it all gets squished in the wash. I pulled out some nice deep red, cochineal-dyed wool from my stash.

And then it began.

How it always begins.

My adventures in knitting.

First off, I didn’t have the right size needles. So I talked hubby into making a quick trip to Webs (big yarn store with a lovely lounge area for husbands) when we were on the way to a bike race. Got right size needles and a few other sizes. Just in case.

Sat down the next AM with coffee, yarn, pattern, needles. Scootched comfy chair near wood stove. Felt wonderful. Read pattern. Heart sank. Had forgotten about knitting patterns’ delight in incomprehensible acronyms.

“kfb 2 st. yo to end.” WTF?

Told self not to freak out just yet. Start at beginning.

“cast on 36 st.” Knew that one, at least. Wound bright red yard around fingers in half-remembered long-tail cast on. Moved needle amongst them as if playing cats cradle. Realized that I had forgotten how to accomplish long-tail cast on. Put everything down. Got knitting reference book. Followed pictograms. Successfully cast on 36 stitches. Counted them twice. Yay.

Looked at next instruction. “k to end of row.” Breathed sigh of relief. Knew how to knit to end of row. Ha! Must be getting better at this. Next row. “Cast on 2 more st.” Huh? Need two yarn ends to cast on. How do I cast on now? Checked pre-instructions. Oh. “Carry two yarn ends throughout.” Had ignored since it didn’t make sense.

Becoming battle of wills. Pattern will not defeat me. Cleverly “cast” on 2 more st by doing the slip knot thing.

K-ed to end of row. La, la, la.

Stopped. Looked at bright red beginning of felted slippers. Looked at pattern photo of slipper. Slipper on pattern is round. Slipper on needles is flat. Scanned pattern to see where joining is indicated. Pattern mum on subject. Scrunched eyebrows together. Went to get other knitting reference book. Did I need two sets of circular needles to make slipper round?

Stupid, diabolical old-lady-knitting-pattern-writers. No doubt sniggering at thought of young-ish thing trying to read obscure pattern that leaves out essential information.



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