Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Write: Daily Pages

Quite a while ago I read Julia Cameron's The Right to Write.  In it, Ms. Cameron suggests using Morning Pages as an exercise for writers.  Every morning, first thing, write out three pages in a notebook.  These pages don't have to be a part of a story, they are just writing.  To me, this sounds just like journaling, and that's what I think it is supposed to be.

In the Morning Pages, you can write To Do lists, nightmares, thoughts, and work out what is blocking you.  When I first read about this, I must not have really thought about it, because I didn't really implement it.  I thought, Oh, I'll just write three pages of fiction in the morning and I'll be good.  That never works because it turns into my To Do lists and journal like entries.

Getting up a little earlier and working on the Morning Pages should help get me ready for the day's writing.  So tonight, I'll try to go to bed earlier and wake up when my alarm actually goes off so I can get my writing practice back into shape.

Do you write Morning Pages?  What other practices do you keep?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Inspire: The Thing about A Series

I love reading books in a series.  It lets me hold on to the characters longer.  And sometimes, things jump up and wave at you four books down the lane. 

Simon R. Green does this sometimes when he throws his characters from one series into another.

Terry Pratchett just jumped even further into my favorite author spot last week by bringing back a character. 

I've always loved Pratchett's Discworld.  It's been my favorite series and setting for a very long time.  My very first, and only if I remember right, cos-play character was Eskarina Smith, the female wizard, from Equal Rites.  It was a my first Discworld book and holds a special place in my heart.  This was the only book she was ever featured in.
With that said, I yelled and laughed and jumped up and down with joy when Eskarina Smith appeared in I Shall Wear Midnight, a Pratchett YA book about the young witch Tiffany Aching. 

How awesome is that?  After 35 other books, Pratchett brought back what happens to be one of my favorite characters? 

My absolutely favorite author ever.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Create: A Box of My Own

With the ArtVend machine now on hand and getting ready to make it's big debut, I need to get working on my crafting.  A little less important than the crafts is the container they are going to be displayed in. 

I have a surplus of FedEx envelopes and cardboard and work and home.  I just can't seem to throw them away.  They are useful.  Now, they are making themselves even more useful by volunteering to hold my items for the ArtVend.  For this project, all you really need is thin cardboard (FedEx enveopes, cereal boxes, kleenex boxes) and glue or tape. 

I took a look at the sizes for the vending machine slots and guesstimated how large my items were going to be.  The first time I went through this, I thought my box would be 5"x5"x1".  But that was a little large.  The second one ended up being 4"x4"x1".  That's a little bit better size.

To start with, I mocked up what I would be cutting out so I knew how long I needed my piece of cardboard to be. 

Once that was done, I drew out my template and got to cutting out the box.  I used my pen to score along the fold lines to keep it nice and neat. 
I decided to add a window to the front flap to show off what was inside.  This is what I really like about this project.  Rather than leave it open, I decided to put a plastic facing on it.  Guess where the plastic came from?  The plastic pockets on the FedEx envelope!  Cut it just a little larger than your window and glue it into place before you fold up and glue/tape the box. 
How do you show your crafts?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write: Keeping Track of Deadlines

Deadlines always sneak up on me.  I write them down in multiple places or have the same deadline every time, but still somehow I manage to forget about them until the day before.  Or it could be that I don't forget about them, it's just my procrastination self telling me I have time.

One of the best ways that I have found to keep deadlines in mind is jotting them down at work.  I have a bulletin board thingie at work that I post important things to, like the list of office numbers, poetry, meeting schedules, pictures of my kiddo.  I've added a listing of the writing deadlines coming up.

I look at it about once a day and that helps me remember when I need to have things done by.  Of course, that doesn't mean I get them done, but at least I don't forget about a deadline that I have written.  I might forget it if it isn't written down, though...

How do you keep your deadlines straight?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Inspire: The Night Starts Here

There is a song that has been playing over and over on my local college radio station.  Well, there's a couple, but this one I could actually find the name to.  The other still lurks out there, taunting me...  The song is called The Night Starts Here by the Stars.

Here are some of the lyrics:

The pleasure part, the afterthought, the missing stone in the graveyard
The time we have, the task at hand, the love it takes to become a man
The dust at dawn is rained upon, attaches itself to everyone
No one is spared, no one is clean
It travels places you've never been or seen before

The night starts here, forget your name, forget your fear
You drop a coin into the sea, and shout out "Please come back to me"
You name your child after your fear, and tell them "I have brought you here"

Forget your fear.  Forget everything and start here.   Don't worry about what came before or what will come after, just do it.  Everyone has their fears, everyone has their failures, but we need to put those aside and learn to live life because no moment will repeat itself.  You can't get back the moments you spent agonizing over something you did, so just let it go.

Now maybe I can get this song out of my head.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Create: Weaving and Netting, Oh My!

At some point I will put a limit to the amount of skills I try to learn.  But for now, I’m currently trying my hand at weaving and netting.  Netting requires some form of needle or shuttle and a spacer bar.  You could use a popsicle stick or a ruler, but I decided to cut up some old cards.  While I was cutting out a spacer bar, why not cut a needle and a weaving shuttle too?

With the closing of Borders, I found myself to have yet another membership card that I would no longer need.  I also found a stash of old cards in my box of old jewelry.  What better supply to use than easy to cut plastic that stays pretty stiff?  I used a Hastings card for this set.

The instructions are pretty easy.  Hopefully not in the it’s-too-simple-I’m-confused way. 

Old plastic cards (membership, credit cards, gift cards)
Ruler (optional)

Weaving Shuttle / Netting Needle
1 – Decide how wide you want your piece to be.  I would suggest having a wider weaving shuttle.  For netting, you want your needle to be able to pass through your loops, so make sure it’s smaller than your spacer bar.  I made that mistake already, no need for you to repeat it!

2 – Mark out your line and cut with scissors.

3 – Mark out and cut out a scoop from both ends.  This will hold your yarn/thread.  Keep the edges wide enough and shallow enough so that they don’t break and spill out your yarn. 

4 – Wind with yarn/thread and away you go!

Spacer bar:
1 – Decide how wide you want  your piece to be.  I believe an inch or inch and a half is normal.

2 – Mark out your line and cut with scissors.

Go get your weaving on!  For instructions on how to make a box loom, check out my friend Kristin’s tutorial on Craft Leftovers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Write: Trying to do too much

Those of you who have read this for awhile know that I tend to get in over my head.  For instance, I decided to sign up for swaps during the same month I intended to write a novel, the final push on the ArtVend machine, and school starting.  Go me.  These many conflicting desires, and stress at work, has led me to a complete lack of creative ambition.  Something has to give.

Each day I don't hit my writing goal means that the next goal is raised so much higher.  Camp NaNo starts off with a goal of 1667 words a day.  I can't write that much on Wednesdays and I took a weekend out of town, which meant my daily goal was higher.  Then I missed a few days.  Right now, I believe my daily goal is over 3000 words every day for the rest of the month.  That is so not happening.  Rather than stress over it more than I already have, I have admitted to myself that it's not going to happen.

However, that doesn't mean I'm done with my novel. 

Instead of rushing though 3000 words and leaving no time or energy for other things, I think I'll commit to an hour or 800 words every day that I don't have a meeting.  It's a low goal and one I think I can consistently meet.  My whole point in joining Camp NaNo was to get back into a habit of working on longer fiction, so this fits with my goals and doesn't make me crazy.

It's a nice stress reliever to tell myself that I can let something go and yet it get accomplished.  Especially when none of my other deadlines are flexible like that.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Inspire: Fog over the Fields

One of the neat things about my week day commute is the change in the landscape.  It doesn't vary much, but from season to season, it's like a whole new world.  The first blush of green in spring is a joy, the seas of corn in summer inspire, the harvested fields of fall remind me that everything has it's time, and the snow blanket of winter reminds me to rest.  And then there is the fog.

In our humidity and heat, fog will form over lakes and fields where the crops give off extra moisture.  I'm not sure on the science, but it's fantastic to look out and see a thick fog hovering over corn or the creeks.  There is often a big clear area between the fog and what is underneath it. 

The fog speaks of mystery, of the unknown, the everlasting cycle of life. 
You can't really tell here, but all that white stuff on the ground is fog.
Are you excited about your local weather systems?  Does your area do something 'weird'?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Create: Phoenix Pouch

On the list of school supplies this year was a three hole punch pencil pouch.  The type that you could put into a binder.  Last year, I made the kiddo a plain zippered pouch that was black on the outside and red on the inside.  I felt like I needed to step it up a bit this year, and so I got to work.

I found a really nifty phoenix outline online (and can't remember where) and printed it out.  The kiddo loves phoenixes, red, and black.  It used to be armadillos, then dragons, and I remember sighing when orange was the favorite color.  Now I want things that are yellow and orange, I guess it sunk it a little too far.

I'm not going to give directions for making the actual pencil pouch because I feel I goofed several times.  Like somehow the lining was an inch or two bigger than the outside... 

Once I cut out the fabric, I chalked the design into place and went over it with a silver sharpie.  It was what I had on hand.  After consulting a couple different embroidery books, I got to work with no plan but to make it look cool.

Of course, once I got most of the way finished, we went school supply shopping and the kiddo decided he would rather have an accordion file instead of a binder.  That's cool with me since I don't have to make the holes right now.  I can always do that later.

Now I just need to make something about accordion thieves...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Write: Words are Hard

Words are hard.  You know, writing things down on a blank page, putting one after another in some semblance of order.  It's hard.  There are books and books and books that tell you how to do so, how to pluck words out of the air and create an idea.

I think I might start picking them out of a dictionary.

Jim Butcher, one of my favorite authors, came up with his second series of books on a dare.  He said good authors could take a bad idea and make it good, so he challenged someone to give him two random ideas and he would right a good story.  He was given Roman soldiers and Pokemon.  Out of those, he created the Codex Alera.  In my opinion, they are great books.

I think it's a great exercise to take random words, random themes, and put them together as a writing exercise.  It gets the brain matter working and the thoughts flowing together. 

So here's what you can do.  You can either cut out words, pictures, or themes from a magazine, internet printouts, books, etc, and keep them in an envelope to pull out when you need to.  Or, if you don't like to plan and/or loose your envelope (do you get the feeling that's happened to me?), grab a book off the shelf, flip through the pages, and stick your finger on a few words.  There you go.

Now go write already.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Inspire: Geekier than Thou

I hung out with a bunch of SCA heralds this weekend at a friend's household party.  Over a decade ago I did a short stint in the historical reenactment group but I haven't touched it since.  It's a good thing I had some knowledge, though, because heralds have their own language.  If I didn't, I would have been mostly lost instead of only slightly.

One of the things that was great about the weekend was that it didn't matter how geeky, awkward, or crazy you were.  They were just there to have fun and catch up with old friends.

Having fun led us to share the Roll a D6 video with those that hadn't seen it yet. 

Imagine, if you will, a large table scattered with laptops.  Around one of those is at least ten people, about half and half on the sexes.  Now imagine the girls all rocking out to a song with the lyrics "Fighting dragons in my mind, just for kicks.  DM says your gonna die, roll a d6."  That was my weekend.  How cool was that?

Other than being a joy of geekiness, it was refreshing to hang out with adults - friends and strangers alike - who were really nice and more geeky than me.  I felt right at home.

Now I just have to keep telling myself that I don't have enough time to pick up yet another time intensive hobby...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Create: Single Crochet Chain Headband

For my art groups next Creative Collision, I am in charge of making up a couple 'inappropriate' packaging designs for the ArtVend.  I'll give an example of what not to do and a friend will give an example of good packaging.  This, of course, means that I needed to finish a project in the first place.

I chose to recreate the crocheted headband I had sent out in a swap as it is hard to tell what it is unless it's being used.  I'm planning on naming it something 'Prairie Flower at Dusk' or something similar that sounds pretty but doesn't tell you a single thing about what you are buying.  Then I'll throw it in a package either without wrapping it around something or in a non-see through bag. 

The headband itself looks like this.

Want to make one of your own?  Here's how:

1 - Create a crochet chain the length of your head with about a ten chain overlap.
2 - Chain one, turn, and do ten single crochets.
3 - Chain again down the length but stop ten chains from the end.
4 - Single crochet in those ten spots.
5 - Chain one, turn, 4 sc, chain 2, 4 sc. (This makes your button hole).
6 - Chain again down the length but stop ten from the end.
7 - 10 sc.
8 - Chain one, turn, 10 sc.
9 - Chain down the length but stop ten from the end.
10 - 10 sc.
11 - Fasten off and weave in ends.
12 - On the solid end, center and add a button or two.
13 - Secure the headband by sliding the button through the button hole beneath your hair and you are good to go.

Don't want to make one yourself but want one?  Come check out the ArtVend at Wheatsfield in September!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Write: Slowly Towards Camp

Camp NaNo started on Monday and I've only written a thousand words.  Last night I should have written over three thousand words.  This weekend I’m not going to have time to write which will put me even farther behind.  Does it bother me to be so far behind at the beginning?  Not really.  My main goal is just to be working on my novel.

Last November, I wrote every morning on the van to work in my notebook – longhand, in pen.  When I got home, I continued writing.  But my story got lost and I could never find what I was looking for. 

This year, I’m typing and saving myself the trouble of counting out the words myself.  As I can’t take my laptop on the van (or can I?), I’m going to be saving the mornings for working on other projects.  I’m hoping that dividing it out this way will help me find a pattern of writing time outside the hectic rush of NaNo. 

Because of these changes, I’m not too worried about my word count.  I didn’t write more than fifty words Monday, so I wrote a thousand words last night in an hour.  And I think they are pretty good words too.  Do I still need to go back and add in some stuff?  Probably.  But I have the first scene done and I’m happy I realized how to break to the next scene. 

I’m hoping to write Thursdays through Tuesdays since I have meetings every Wednesday.  Plus one Monday meeting.  That gives me twenty three days of writing this month.  Yikes.  To reach the goal of 50,000 words, my personal daily goal is 2330 words a day.  Do I think I can manage this?  Probably.  I’m sure I’ll get some writing in on those marked off days to ease the burden a bit.

Do you have a daily word goal in your writing?  Maybe you have a daily goal in your art or music?  How do you structure your time for your goals? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Inspire: It's School Season

The school season is upon us… and I am not ready.

I keep thinking the stores are putting their stuff out early and I need to wait for it to go on sale.  I keep thinking I have a whole month to go before my kiddo starts 6th grade and his first year at Middle School.  In real life, school starts on August 18th.   I only have a few weeks left before the daily rigor of classes start again. 

I remember when I was a kid, I got a few new clothes, new shoes, and new supplies.  I loved and hated school supply shopping.  I knew we didn’t have much money and so I would pine for the nifty supplies and would only ask for the basic necessities.  My grandma would often let me get a couple neat folders, though.  I think my obsession with stationary supplies stems from this. 

When I go shopping for my kiddo, I tend to do the same thing.  I let him pick a couple neat folders or notebooks but we keep it cheap because I’m normally broke.  But, being crafty, I normally like to do something special for him.  In his old school, supplies were shared so there wasn’t much to be crafty about but not so in him new school.

Last year, we grabbed a binder from a garage sale and covered it in duct tape and a Naruto picture. And  I made him a red and black pencil pouch.  This year he needs a pencil pouch that can clip into a binder and gym clothes.  While I don’t plan on making gym clothes, I think I might make him a biohazard bag to hold them.

Are you ready for the school season?  If you don’t have kids, are you psyched for the sales?