Antioch Writers’ Workshop – Spring 2016 Seminar

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Antioch Writers’ Workshop Spring 2016 Seminar.

The theme was “The Writing Life” and featured a talk called “The Inner Writing Life” with Margaret Wrinkle, author of Wash. Hearing her talk about the process of writing Wash was incredibly interesting. She also had some very good advice and reminders for all writers. A couple of things that I took away from her talk are:

  • Fear is part of the process, but don’t let it stop you. Decide to be scared later.
  • Be present in the experiences you are having. (I tend to be off in my own world sometimes, and need to work on this.)

Ms. Wrinkle said many other things that I found helpful, but I’m not going to type out my page of notes here. If you get a chance to hear her speak, my guess is you will also have a page or two of helpful notes on writing.

The afternoon featured three breakout sessions that were all quite good. Five topics were offered, but we could only choose three of them. I chose the following:

I would like to say thanks to all three speakers because their talks were excellent and provided helpful information. Continue reading

Writing – Bird by Bird

After participating in and winning NaNoWriMo, I wanted to learn more about the writing process and how to become better at it. One of the books that kept popping up as a recommendation was Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Let me start by saying that I rarely read books that are not fiction. So it was a big deal for me to voluntarily read a book that wasn’t about a dystopian future with vampires or witches dealing with demons in the ever-after or some sort of manga. (I added links to these series are below, because I love them and feel they are good examples of well-written stories.)

Back to reading about writing and Bird by Bird…

When I was in high school and college, I had romantic notions of being a writer sitting on a beach typing away as the words would flow with beautiful fluidity from my brain to the page while I sat in peaceful bliss writing the great American novel that would be published and sell millions of copies allowing me to make a living doing something I love. Then I tried writing some poetry that was really bad, got annoyed, and gave up on it.

Ms. Lamott’s writing felt like a friend talking to you honestly about writing and the life of a writer. It’s not always romantic. It’s not always easy to get the words from your brain to the paper. It’s not always peaceful bliss. It’s not easy to write the great American novel. It doesn’t always allow you to make a living.

But the reward of dealing with the crappy parts of it and working at it is worth it.

Finding your voice is worth it. Being able to say what you feel like you need to say and tell the stories you need to tell are worth it. Helping others by telling your stories is worth it. Stepping back and looking at life differently as a writer is worth it. Continue reading

First Gelli Prints - Finished

Gelli Plate Printing

First Gelli Prints - Supplies UsedI made prints using my Gelli Arts Printing Plate for the first time, and I now understand why other posts about it say it is so addictive. I could make prints with this for hours, if not days or until my paint and ink resources run out.

Seriously.

This was a blast.

Why? Because it is absolutely fascinating to see how the prints turn out.

For my first attempt at this, I grabbed out the Gelli plate, of course, and placed it on an old cookie sheet. I tend to get a little carried away and make a mess when I try new things, and the cookie sheet helped to protect my work surface. It also made moving the plate around easier which allowed me to work with and view it from different angles. (If you don’t have a cookie sheet to devote to this, I think wax or parchment paper would work fine.)

Then I grabbed some of the items that I have been saving like a little packrat to use for texture. In this case, it was bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, some crinkled paper that had been used as packing material, and some heavier brown paper with an interesting pattern cut into it, which had also been used as packing material. Lesson learned here – hang on to that packing material because it has some cool texture to it. I also grabbed a brayer and a sponge for spreading the paint on the Gelli plate. Continue reading

Robot Valentines Day Box

Valentine’s Day Card Box

My son had his Valentine’s Day party at school this week and he wanted to make a robot box for collecting the cards. We gathered the boxes that we had available (which weren’t many because we get a little obsessive about recycling them at times) and he figured out which ones would work for his design.
Boxes used for Valentine's Day box
He came up with the design on his own, but I did help a bit with the execution of the design. When we were beginning to work on it, he looked up at me and said, “Hey, you could put this on your blog!” He was right! This was a very creative endeavor, and I had never made such an ambitious plan for a Valentine’s Day box when I was a kid. I mostly stuck to either a brown paper bag or a shoe box with hearts on it. I love seeing so much creativity and excitement in my son.

We started with the selected boxes and cut out the holes for the cards to be dropped in. Parts that were cut out from the shoe box were glued onto the front of the box used for the body to give it some visual interest. Continue reading

Sister Necklace Pendants

I wanted to make matching necklaces for me and my sisters. So in my last metal clay jewelry class, I did just that.

Silver Sister Pendants

My hope was to have pendants that all matched, but were all just a little different, like me and my sisters. So I made a mold using polymer clay by pressing a rounded end of a tool in it to make a bit of a wavy texture then pressing a small heart charm into it three times – one for me and each of my sisters.

After the polymer clay was baked, I took it to class and used it as a mold for the silver clay. The circle was cut slightly different for each one, creating the slight variation on each pendant. The photo shows the results, and I was super excited about how they turned out. Continue reading

Copper Weave Pendant

My last metal clay jewelry class was a blast. After the class, I made a new copper weave pendant and it has become one of my favorite pieces.

Copper Weave Pendant

It was a little tricky getting the weave done without the copper clay drying out, but it was worth the effort. My instructor said that glycerine will help make it easier to create pieces like this because it keeps it from drying out too quickly. I can’t wait to try using it.

To make this piece, I rolled out a bit of copper clay about three cards thick (three cards as in playing cards, which is a great way to measure the thickness of your clay). Then I cut out a one inch square which was then cut into five roughly even strips. After weaving them together while keeping water on the strips (copper clay dries out quickly), I then cut out two more one inch strips. This was mostly because I was improvising. Next time, I’ll cut out a rectangle and be done with it. Those strips were put across the top with a jump ring smooshed between them. Continue reading

White Christmas Card

I was in the mood to make a monochromatic card for Christmas this year, and white seemed like a fun color to try.

White Christmas Card

A few months ago, I had found an interesting embossing template that was a Christmas tree and decided to use that. Originally, I wanted to have some mulberry paper behind the torn piece of paper with the tree on it. I tried to organize my craft supplies this year, which means I cannot find my mulberry paper right now. And no local craft stores seem to have it. So I grabbed my glue pens and some glitter and went with sparkle instead of fiber.

I must say that I am happy with the results. The photo isn’t the best, but I wanted to try to show off the embossed tree on the torn panel of paper in the middle. The swirls are Dazzling Diamonds Stampin’ Up! glitter.

My favorite thing about the cards this year is that my son helped with them. He embossed all of the trees for me and did great job. I love making our Christmas cards every year, and having him help made it that much more special this year. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I am super excited to share that I finished my novel today. The official word count is 50,597 according to the NaNoWriMo site (50,682 according to Scrivener, but both are over 50,000 so I’m good with that).

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-Square

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

I’m also very excited that the story was finished with the 50,000 word mark. Not bad for mostly winging this thing.

My main goal for NaNoWriMo 2015 was to just try it. Start something. Just getting something on paper, so to speak, was a huge success for me. Hitting the 50,000 word mark was secondary, but still a goal I really, really wanted to reach.

My last goal was to write something that I liked. I knew it would be a crappy first draft, because that is what first drafts are. And it is crappy. I already have a list of things I want to change. But I enjoy the story a lot. I am actually looking forward to reading through it again when I go to make revisions. And there is all sorts of little things in it that I find highly amusing. They might not make the final cut, because I might be the only one who likes them. There are several references to Supernatural and I think most if not all of those will make the final cut. There are some Doctor Who references as well. Those make sense, too, so they might stay. Perhaps I should throw in more Sherlock references and go for the SuperWhoLock trifecta. It will be fun to see what makes the cut.

After a wildly successful NaNoWriMo, my plan now is to take a break. While it is a noble goal to write for 30 days straight, I think it is not for me right now. I’m going to set aside the story and revisit it in a few weeks. I plan to go through the revision process and maybe try to publish it. Because there is really no reason to not try, right?

Again, congratulations to my fellow NaNoWriMo winners. We did it! For everyone who is close, you can do it, too!

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 3

At the end of week 3 of NaNoWriMo, I have gone just over 45,000 words. Woohoo! When this whole thing started, that number seemed so far away. Now I’m here with only 5,000 words to go for the win.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Shield

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

Even more exciting is I think I paced the story correctly to wrap up at right around the 50,000 word mark. Woohoo again! The plan is to finish the novel today, at least the first draft, and then I will likely call the month done. That is, as soon as I validate that I have won on the NaNoWriMo site and order my winner t-shirt. 🙂

Now, about week 3. It has been interesting. There were several times when I wasn’t sure how the story was going to get from point A to point B. And then point B changed a bit. It has been very exciting to watch the story unfold.

The other interesting thing was watching a couple of minor characters start to play major parts. I now have a list of things I want to go back and adjust earlier in the story so their larger parts in the action make a little more sense.

I had a slight challenge with time yesterday because I had scheduled a hair cut and color in the middle of the day. (Note to self: No cut and color next November.) I took out my phone and typed about a thousand words while my color was processing. I felt like a novel-writing super hero. I was even wearing a cape! (Ok, it was actually a smock and my hair looked funny with the color in it, but let me have my moment… 😉 )

The biggest challenge of week 3 has been the release of Star Wars Battlefront. I want so badly to sit and play it for a few hours. So I am using it as motivation to finish this novel. Playing the game will be my reward.

With that in mind, I’d better hop to it and finish those last 5,000 words. I wrote 5,000 yesterday even with a trip to the salon, so I know it can be done today when only laundry needs to be done.

Congratulations to my fellow participants who have already crossed the finish line of 50,000 words!

NaNoWriMo 2015 – Week 2

Two weeks down and two weeks to go for NaNoWriMo 2015. My goal for this weekend was to hit 27,000 words before I stopped writing today. I am incredibly excited to report that I am currently at 30,051 words. Woohoo! I might give myself the evening off because I’m a bit sleepy and because I’ve hit a little bit of a block. I can feel the solution rattling around in the back of my head, and maybe a break from writing will get it to make itself known.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) Shield

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

The big challenge of this week has been figuring out how to progress the story. The characters have been introduced (though I’d already like to go back and add more about them) and the main problems to be addressed have been presented. I know where I want the story to get to, but the path there has been a bit hazy.

But I know the solution is going to present itself at some point. It might wake me up in the middle of the night or it might distract me at work tomorrow. We’ll see. It’s just part of the excitement of pantsing NaNoWriMo.

Even with a bit of struggle this week, I think a few things have really helped me. First, I love to read and get completely lost in a story. Writing a novel is pretty much the ultimate getting lost in a story and I love it. When I read someone else’s book, I will start thinking ahead to what might happen next. In order to try to see what will happen next in my novel, I get lost in my own story and something usually comes to mind.

Second, I tend to get lost in my own head at times. It’s an annoying and rude habit for those around me. But it helps with this story in that I have no problem with wandering off into my own story in my own head. Now my mental wanderings are put to good use instead of obsessing over things that just don’t help, like reviewing mistakes I’ve made or thinking of all possible scary things that might happen in life. It’s also giving some focus to my imagination, which can run pretty wild. I suppose my wild imagination is another thing that has helped me this week.

The last thing that I’ve noticed this week that has helped is the same practice I use when approaching most of my creative adventures. When I know I will have a limited time to sit and work on something, I mentally start planning it out ahead of time. So when I’m ready to do it, I have a plan and can execute it. Each day I have roughly planned out when I will have time to write. Then I think about what part I want to tackle next while wandering around in my head while doing other things like dishes, laundry, getting ready for work, etc. By the time I sit down to write, I usually have a good start on what I want to write. At the very least, I have an idea of things to tweak in the last section I wrote which usually flows into what will happen next.

I’m looking forward to weeks 3 and 4. Having passed the halfway point for words has helped a great deal with making this whole crazy plan to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days seem possible.