Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Writing Prompts, or What am I going to write?

One of the hurdles in my writing life is finding things to write about.  I guess you could call it writer’s block, but I always think of that as a more terrible condition than just sitting there drawing a blank.  My writer’s block comes in anxiety and stress when I don’t feel I can do justice to my idea.

My daily battle is figuring out what my idea is. 

One idea is to write what is around you.  However, my morning writing takes place on my rideshare van.  I feel like there is only so many ways to describe the fields I pass by on my commute.

Another idea is to start with a word or phrase you hear.  This isn’t a bad idea and I’ve managed to write a few poems/stories with things I hear.  Unfortunately, most of the morning chatter is about sports.  Most of the time, everyone is sleeping.

I could always go with a word or phrase from a book, if I bring a book with me.

Now that I’ve recognized that I need to plan ahead for things like this, I’m planning on making up a list of writing prompts to keep in my notebook.  Random phrases, ideas, words, and images will sit there, waiting for me to get tired of corn in its many phases and spin the randomness into writing.  Or, you know, something close to it.

What do you use to keep writer’s block at bay?  Do you use writing prompts?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Now where are we going to put all this?

A lot of us now have piles of new, or new to us, stuff now sitting in our living rooms, taking up space in the corner, and squeezed into rooms.  What are we supposed to do with all the gifts from the holidays?  If you have kids, you especially know how hard it can be to find a home for everything.

Of course, if you live a simplistic lifestyle, you might not have that problem.  I, on the other hand, still have a clutter problem. 

Luckily, this year didn't bring lots and lots of gifts, and most of big items go in the kitchen.  On the other hand, I am still trying to find space for the crafty items I picked up from the estate sale of my grandfathers late girlfriend.  She tended to store things like I do and had some really nice things. 

I picked up a sewing box, a storage container, and a couple baskets with scissors and other items.  It's always fun to go through old stuff, and I found some nifty vintage sewing needle books. 
I got something similar to these last year as a promo item from a group.  It was new but looked vintage.  I think these actual vintage items are much cooler.  Why don't places give out free needles anymore?
Inside the sewing box were even more needles, pins, bobbins, thread, and a few other things.

I'm not entirely sure, but I think this thing is supposed to go over the arm of a chair.  It has pockets on both sides and the center has a pin cushion, with even more needles and pins.

I don't think I'll be running out of needles for a long time.  All these things prompted me to do a bit of hand sewing over the weekend.  It's been a long time, but I'm getting back into it.  Now I just wish there had been a thimble in there somewhere...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Create: What do you mean Xmas eve is tomorrow?!

I've crashed pretty hard the last couple of weeks.  Projects have only slightly been done, presents have only kind of been bought.  That leaves me in a last minute rush to get everything done and ready.  I'm not sure when I'll actually be able to go to bed tonight.  And tomorrow?  I have until four pm to cook, finish up my projects, and get ready.  I'll try not to pull my hair out. :)

Instead of letting you in on my half finished (or not begun) last minute projects, here are some cute pictures of the bunny playing with the container the Kiddo's Solstice present came in.

I have video, too, of the bunny flinging around the container by the wrapping paper, but I don't think I'll upload that one.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Write: I wrote what?

A while ago, I had submitted a short story to an anthology back when, you know, I was writing.  I received an email saying my piece had been selected and I would be getting details about it soon.  After I hadn’t heard anything for a few months, I figured that the publication was topsy turvy and nothing was going to happen with it.

Yesterday, however, I finally heard back from the publisher and my piece will be getting published.  I guess the previous publications have been taking longer than expected but it is finally time to start working on the Rustle of Dark Leaves anthology. 

This was a nice thing to hear this week amid all the other crap going on in my life.  It definitely gives me motivation to continue my writing and start submitting again.  

Keep an eye out in the future for more information on my first short story publication!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Inspire: Listen for the birds

“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December."

-   Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

This week holds the Winter Solstice, Heliogenna, Yule, the Lesser Dionysia, Saturnalia, Christmas, and a host of other holidays.  It also holds my grandfather’s birthday and now my cousin’s wedding anniversary. 

It seems weird to me that the first day of winter, the Winter Solstice, means that the days will begin to get longer.  Shouldn’t the longest night be in the middle of the season?  Why do the days get longer when the weather gets colder?

In the dark days of December and the cold days of January, I will listen for a bird singing out by the bird feeder.  I will hold my loved ones close and remember that we are ‘nearer to Spring / than we were in September.”

Have a blessed holiday season!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Create: A Duplicate Hat

I’ve been busy crafting this week but, of course, I failed to take a picture of most of it.  My main accomplishment has been finishing up three hats for someone at work.  I’m quite proud of how my crochet skill has increased to the point where I can look at something simple and recreate it.

My coworker found a small hat in the lost and found at her ‘other job,’ a neighbor’s apple farm.  She thought it was adorable but too small for her daughter and niece.  She brought it in to work and asked if I could recreate it in a different size.  It looked like a pretty simple design and so I said yes.

Several weeks later, I finally sat down and finished off the hats.  I also made one for a doll.

Of course, I forgot to bring it into work to give to her…  I will take it on Monday, I swear!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Write: The Weirdness of Editing

Editing and I have a...interesting... relationship.  We get along well enough, fixing spelling and grammar as mistakes are made. We have a great time when proof reading for someone else.  But, well, I think Editing tries too hard.  It begs me to come over, to hang out for a while, to just look at this one sentence.  Don't I think the words would be better arranged somewhat differently?

Maybe I'm the bad friend.  I'm always too busy and often abandon Editing once the words are down for something more fun.  I would rather skim the surface for the obvious typos than go back and make sure my sentences aren't too passive.  I grimace and delay when Editing asks for a night with me. 

Then I sigh and fortify myself for a long night shifting words around.  I sit down with a poem, my pen, my tea, and Editing offers up suggestions on how to make my drivel sound like poetry.  We shift words here and there, take some out, and add some in.  At the end, I'm left with something that has shed it's skin so many times, I'm not sure what it started out as. 

A poem grew into poetry, all thanks to the weirdness of Editing.

Maybe I'll call Editing up this weekend and see if it wants to go for coffee.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mused: Random Internet Goodness

Sometimes I'm ahead of the curve, others I feel like I've had my head in the sand.  I ran across this lovely today on another blog.  It's Handmade Ryan Gosling.

After a weekend spent crafting, frogging mistakes, and going 'oh, crap,' what I really would like is a cute guy offering to massage my hands or move to the woods and make soap.  That's what Handmade Ryan Gosling has to offer!  I think it's pretty hilarious, like LoLcats with a cute guy and better grammer!
And now I'm inspired once again to make my own soap.  Maybe I will get it done in time for xmas.  Ryan Gosling, will you help?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Create: A Soltice Gift

I am not making very many handmade gifts this year, I just don't have the time or energy.  I have a few planned that may get done but that's it.  However, this year I decided to make the Kiddo a Solstice gift and begin the tradition of gift giving on the holiday. 

Due to my new fascination with weaving and a few wonderful local SCA weavers, I am making woven felted bags.  The Kiddo plays D&D and Magic: the Gathering, both games that require dice that he keeps loosing.  What better way to help him stay organized than to make him a dice bag?

The pattern for this bag is a simple over under weave.  The trick to making it seamless is how it is wrapped around the board.  Here is one tutorial on how to make a seamless bag.  Instead of cutting into the board, I pushed in pins all along the top then wrapped the yarn around it.  This allows you to keep going until there is no more space and then remove it from the board easily. 

Unlike the tutorial, I used wool yarn.  Once the bag was done, I throw it in the sink full of hot water and swish it around like crazy.  The tutorial that I read, and that I now cannot find, used a potato masher as an agitator.  This youtube video suggests a new, clean plunger. 

I wove ribbon into my bag, just like in the first tutorial, for the ties.  But once your bag is felted, you can use a needle to pull a cord in and out around the bag. 
Now the Kiddo is wondering what is in the package and can't wait to open it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Write: Switching Gears

I am still catching up on my backlog of a to do list.  My few weeks of unorganized craziness seem to be ebbing away slowly, so now maybe I can focus and get stuff done.  Maybe.  At the same time I was stressing myself out, I was having fun.  I just need to remember that and get it done.

Given that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, I should be focusing on my novel.  A wonderful blogger, Mythical Magpie, got herself in the same mess I did with being thousands of words behind.  However, she managed to get it all done in time.  Congrats to her! 

I will be working on poetry in December.  Why the shift in gears?  The Lyrical Iowa submission deadline and many other deadlines put on my state poetry associations are soon.  I want to put my best foot forward and find the best poetry I have to send out this year.  Last year, I managed to get a poem into Lyrical Iowa.  I want to do better this year.  Once my submissions are squared away, I will shift my focus right back on story writing. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I will not be working on fiction at all.  I still plan on working on bits of my stories during poetry month.  It has to get done at some point, after all.

What are you doing post-NaNo?