Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

So, yeah, that time of year again.  I'm a registered NaNoWriMo participant and I'm doing some writing, but I'm really not feeling it this year.  I met my word quota the first day of the month, and it was okay.  But then I didn't write at all on the second day, trying to decide if I hated the novel already and ought to start on a different idea before getting too far into the month to turn back.  A whole category of my characters was really creeping me out (and they weren't supposed to be creepy, so that was a bit problematic).  I wrote a little on the third day and had sort of a brainwave on the fourth day, an idea that could save me from dying of boredom if I do continue with this story.  I think I will.  I think I can.  Even if I hate it at the end of the month, it'll be good to have gotten it out of my system because this is a story idea I've been banging around in my brain for years...and I need to eventually write it or move past it.  Or both.  So, onward intrepid novelist, I tell myself.

(On the subject of brains: "Mom, do you have brains?" Essie just now asked me.  I told her I do, but...honestly, they're kind of mushy at the moment.  Very uninspired, dusty little brains.  Oh, well.)

Meanwhile, Millie has entered the Young Writer's Program again this year and she is doing great.  She is over her word count goal every day so far and is actually writing story...remember how last year she spent most of the month describing her characters?  I can't wait to see where her novel goes over the course of thirty days.  Good girl.   

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quilt


Essie's names mean rainbow and star, so I made her a rainbow star quilt.  And it's finally done, thank heavens!


(The star pattern, by the way, is Sparkle Punch by Oh, Fransson! in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pretty, Pitfall

When Essie was a year old or so, she put her head through the banister railings on our stairs.  And couldn't get it back out.  When she realized she was good and stuck, she screamed bloody murder.  And even though I rushed over to pull her to safety (it was easier to turn her sideways and work her little body through than to try to force her head back the way it came), she took a really long time to calm down.  It was one of the few instances of true terror I've really seen in her; she's been pretty gutsy when it comes to climbing and jumping from inappropriate objects and other physical things that make me wince to watch.  And even though it was traumatic, an experience she Did Not Enjoy, you wanna know what she did?  After I finally got her to calm down and take a breath and notice that she was, in fact, still in the land of the living?

She went back to the stairs, slowly, almost like she was in a trance. She took hold of the railings in her little hands and started to pull her head closer...and closer...and closer in slow motion.  It was almost hypnotizing to watch.  She just could not stop herself.  So I did.  It's a lot of work to console a terrified one-year-old, and I didn't feel a particularly great urge to do it again so soon after the first time.  I think somewhere deep down she was probably grateful (if a one-year-old can be grateful...maybe not) to not go through the experience again.

So, this was two years ago.  Why am I writing about it now?  Because I suddenly realized I am just like that.  I used to sew.  Somewhere along the line I started to understand something about sewing: I don't really enjoy doing it.  I have been reduced to tears and stirred to rage by my sewing machine on more than one occasion.  Once I sewed right over my finger and had to stop and disassemble my machine before I could pull the needle out.  I've cut myself with my rotary cutter and only narrowly escaped spraying blood all over my sewing project.  I've often pondered whether I might enjoy sewing more if I had a dedicated space for it, somewhere I could leave it all spread out and just close the door on it and come back later when I needed to.  But I've just got my dining room table and the growing suspicion that a separate sewing space might not even make that big a difference.  And yet...I just cannot stop myself.

Remember my goal to do things this year that I really enjoyed?  I was doing well with that, truly, until we bought a set of used bunk beds on Craigslist for the girls and suddenly, like I was in a trance, maybe even in slow motion, I set aside my knitting and my writing (I'm actually well ahead on my read-a-book-a-week goal, so that one's fine), and started sewing!  Because I made a quilt for Millie when she got her first twin bed, and Essie was going to get the same, come what may.

Let me be clear.  I love giving a homemade gift to my girl.  I even love the quilt (or I will...it's not done yet) and I'm glad she'll have it.  From me.  Especially for her.  But someone please stop me next time, m'kay?  Or we'll have to go through all this again, and who wants that?  Talk me down from those stairs, distract me with some other bright, pretty thing.  I'll be grateful.

In the meantime, here is a peek at the (wrinkly, blurry) quilt top.  Still have to quilt and bind it, though (praaaay for that part to go quick, please, if you love me.)




Friday, May 3, 2013

Harry and Basilisk

I have some catching up to do here, don't I?  For now, though, it's just...Harry and the Basilisk, by Millie:

 

Harry looks how I'd feel if I was faced with a giant serpent spraying blood and gore from its eyes while trying to impale me on its poisonous fangs.  Ginny seems to be dreaming happily enough, though.  Small mercies, I guess.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Raven

Another poem on YouTube...I don't know anything about these people, but I do like their version of The Raven, by Poe, quite a lot:

2013: Back to Basics

I don't normally do resolutions for the new year.  So often resolutions take shape as a list of chores.  Chores that seem like they really should get done, but that no one ever actually wants to do.  I've decided to make a list this year of things I actually enjoy doing but usually push off to the realm of oh, when I get the house cleaned up or maybe after the girls are in bed if I still have any energy left.  I want to tend to these things again in a more deliberate way, chores be damned. 

The things that bring us joy are the things that are basic to our selves.  My goal is to make more time for my personal basics, to focus less on the "should do" list and more on the "would do" list.  This is what I "would do" if I only had more time, more energy, more reserves of creativity at the end of a long day.  Of course, time and energy and reserves of creativity have to be found somewhere for the "would do" list to happen, but I'm going to let that evolve as it needs to, rather than make my goals things like...manage my time better.  That's boring, which makes it a chore.  Which means it might not happen and since it's boring no one really cares all that much if it doesn't.  It's a recipe for failure.  So my goals are to do the things that bring me joy.  If that means I manage my time better and get all my chores done and the fun stuff too, great!  If I don't end up managing my time better, it means I let the laundry pile up and get dinner started late and don't ever make the beds again.  And, well, that will have to be fine too.

Reading:
This might be my most basic basic.  Since I can remember, I've loved books.  I feel very much myself when I'm reading something good.  I'm not sure how it works, exactly, but immersion in a fictional world, surrounded by fictional characters, solving a fictional problem...somehow this feels like the least pretending I have to do in regards to my own person.  Maybe that's sad.  But it brings happiness to me, so it's on the list. To make things more concrete, I'm setting a goal of reading at least a book for every week of the year.  Obviously, I may not actually get a book read every week.  Some books are slim and quick, others are great big tomes.  But 52 weeks, 52 books.  I've already read ten.

Writing:
One of the gifts that reading so much as an impressionable young thing gave to me was the desire to write things myself.  If all these other writers could create such amazing stories, couldn't I?  Well, I don't know how amazing they are as of yet, but NaNoWriMo these past couple of years has shown me that actually just writing, whether it's amazing or not, does still bring me joy.  In fact, it's taught me to write for the joy of it and not even notice whether it's amazing.  That's something that has held me back for a lot of years, and it's been fun to learn how to let go of it.  The writing is fun.  The amazing, if it needs to, can always come later.  Isn't that what the re-write is for?  Anyway, the concrete side of this goal is tri-fold.
  1. Finish the fairy tale I started for Millie in November 2012.  This is almost done and shouldn't take long.  Shouldn't take much editing either as it's a pretty simple story and my intended audience of one is not yet much of a literary critic.  She's going to love it, no matter what.
  2. Finish the rough draft of the novel I started in November 2011.  This one is not as close to The End as the fairy tale, but it shouldn't be too hard to bring it to a close.  It's very rough already and I'm willing to let the ending be very rough, as long it's roughly complete in its roughness.  Ahem.
  3. Start to outline and build background for the story I really wanted to write for this last NaNoWriMo but wasn't ready for.  I'd like to have a good foundation of notes to start with come November so I can really dive into this one for the next NaNoWriMo.
Arithmetic:
Yeah, I don't love math.  I'm just calling this that because it goes so well with reading and writing and the idea of basics.  It's actually knitting.  But, you know, knitting does use a lot of math.  Counting, multiplication, division, even geometry.  It works.  I like to create something with my hands.  I like fibres and textiles. I like to create a fabric just the right shape and size and texture and color for the garment it will become.  There's so little waste and you can sit back in a soft place while you work.  And I'm good at it.  I had a really expert teacher (my mom) and my finished objects always turn out alright.  So it has become something I really enjoy.  I made a number of knitted gifts for people in 2012 and was really happy with them.  Here's some:







I also made a hat for Essie and a cowl for myself and a summer sweater for Millie.  This year I'm knitting a sweater for myself and have another golden snitch planned and another hat, and that's just to start things off.  There are also several babies being born who might need some tiny soft stitches and Millie's Molly doll needs a few things and...I'm excited for more knitting.  So that's on my list.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic in 2013.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

NaNoWriMo '12

I wrote 50,367 words in November.  Not here, obviously.  The blog is a bit dried up, and I'm okay with that.  Nothing wrong with a perfectly respectable dry spell now and then (or most of the time).  But I always want to be writing more somewhere and NaNoWriMo is a good excuse to do that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did consider skipping this year because I couldn't decide what to write and because November was shaping up to be a pretty busy month.  But Millie wanted to write with me this time - the Young Writer's Program allows kids to set their own word count goal and participate at whatever level they're capable of - and the opportunity to write alongside my daughter, to share this month-long goal, was too good to pass up.  So we both enrolled, Millie with a goal of 3,000 words and myself with the usual 50,000.  I decided to write for her, a fairy story, as she just won't fall out of love with fairies and has been asking for one for a while.  She chose to write a story about children who live in the clouds.

And we both did it!  Met our goals.  The fairy story is near enough its conclusion that I feel pretty good about getting it to The End and presenting it to Millie for her enjoyment before she...stops believing, at least.  Her own story is already there, although she'll do some editing before officially calling it done.  Most of it is a series of long character descriptions, but she has totally owned that and is actually quite proud of how well she can write a character sketch.  How much does it really matter, she seems to think, if the characters actually ever do anything?  I'm proud of her accomplishment, regardless.  She's seven.  She sat down and wrote a hundred words every day for a month.  That's my girl.

For myself, I was surprised again at just how doable writing 50,000 words in a month actually is.  It's never as difficult as I expect it to be going in, and I guess that's a pretty good argument for making it a goal beyond the month of November too.  Remind me of that in January, when I'm officially done trying to make hand-made Christmas gifts for too many people.