Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Still trying.

Dear Reader,

I'm not doing very well right now. It is something I am somewhat ashamed of, but I realized that keeping silent was making everything worse. Right now, I am struggling through a depressive episode. I start seeing a new therapist in a little over a week. I am currently adjusting to a medication shift that my new psychiatrist made about two weeks ago. And, to top things off, my clumsiness is about at epic levels as I am tripping over pretty much everything. Not an hour ago, I managed to clock my right elbow on the wall as I was walking down the hallway. (Seriously, I am clumsy enough to fall up stairs on a regular basis. There is a reason why we live in a first floor apartment, that is it.)

On the writing front, pretty much everything is stalled. I am getting very frustrated with as I am trying to publish something on the religious topics I write about. I honestly don't know what I am doing wrong. It keeps resetting my margins. I am still trying to get it taken care of, but it is difficult. Aside from that, I have been trying to catch up on my journal writing. And I'm redoing The Artist's Way exercises in the hope of resolving some writer's block.

I'd add more, but the battery on my laptop is about to die. Good luck and good hunting, y'all.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Craft of Writing: Research ALL THE THINGS!

Image from
What do I do when I am not writing? (I wish I could say the answer was sleep and eat, but I'm not writing ALL the time.) When I'm not battling the black beast of mental illness or editing, I am doing research. It is a habit that helps me relax (most of the time). My research tends to go in a few different directions.

It may be tied directly to my present writing projects. (Currently, I am looking up stuff about how to use html in blog posts. This way I can customize my work a little bit more.) It may be tied to larger projects that are in progress. (I have been slowly building up a body of research about medieval knitting techniques and trying to nail down just where crochet started or the earliest evidence of it. It gets tricky because naalbinding looks a lot like both. Not even the archaeologists are sure where crochet got started and nobody knows where knitting began, not for sure.) And then there is the research I do on the basis of crafts I'm working on. (I'm making a heavy blanket out of multiple strands of yarn. It is an adaptation of some scrap-afghan concepts and trying to make something similar to a weighted blanket with out having to pay $80 for one.)

I confess, my research is not half as well organized as it should be. My fiber arts work is jumbled up with my daily journal writing and some fictional stuff that I am doing for a LARP I participate in. At best, I have stacks of papers and notebooks. It is a messy practice that has been carried forward from my college days. I am working on correcting this because I am finding that it is getting mixed up with the stuff for the kids for school and my paperwork that goes with running the household. (Nothing like finding an important letter buried in a pile of recipe notes two days before it needed to be addressed, and the postage date is a month before. I now have a real mail sorter where things go so that doesn't happen again.)

It is an entertaining hobby. I tend to specialize in things that are a bit obscure. Honestly, though, I am at my happiest when I am learning new things about 10th century Ireland and how to master a new crochet stitch as I am waiting for the newest recipe I have tried to finish cooking. Throw in a dash of my making other peoples' day better by doing so and my happiness is complete.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Update: What the hell have I been doing?

Dear Reader,

Hi! How have you been? It's been a while since I posted something with actual text of any worth to it. I'd like to apologize for that. I have been busier than I expected. I wish I could say that all of this activity that has been keeping me from blogging is a case of I'm getting a new book written. It is actually more along the lines of minding a sick 7 year old for the last week, gardening stuff, and doing all of those things that go into being a stay at home mom. Throw on top of that the fact that I have not been well and it has been difficult to do much aside from the essentials.

I have, however, been working on resolving problems with getting The Dragon Child of Evandar out for sale. (I have come to the conclusion that part of the problem is clearly something to do with converting the book from paperback to e-book. I have also been working on fixing issues with stuff like the cover.) I expect that will be resolved come the beginning of June. I am also in the process of getting book three of the series ready to go to the printer. The working title for that volume is Shadow Fall. There is more sword-and-sorcery action happening here, but also some politics. As I get closer to sending it to the printer, I will share with you the cover art.

Work is stalled a bit on book seven of the series. This is mainly because I have been having a hard time finding the time to sit down and just write the damn book. This, however, is something that I can resolve with scheduling (and not having any surprise issues I need to take care of, such as a little boy throwing up all over himself as we head out the door to do something). I will be adding a new pile of posts here, as I am going to transfer the book reviews I posted up on LiveJournal over here. It will have a separate page compiling all of those book review post links on it. I am also going to start posting reviews of what I am currently reading right now as I finish the books. This may even include a discussion in the near future about how I keep a reading journal (a paper journal in a miniature binder that goes everywhere with me when I am reading something, so I can note stuff with a reference to chapter, page, and line).

I am still working on customizing my bullet journal. I am currently working on the section where I put down details about how to format things for blog posts. It is taking a little longer than I expected. I, however, am not working on it everyday. I may start doing that for fifteen minutes or something. Either way, I am working on a laundry list of things and blogging fell by the wayside. I will work to correct this.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Flora et Fauna: Images Pt 2.

Here is a sketch of Liar's Weed. I used my Sharpie markers for the coloring and the sketching was done with my Prismacolor .05 mm felt tipped pen. I'm not exactly thrilled with how badly I did the ombre shading, but you live and learn, right?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Flora et Fauna - Images Part I

Gentle Reader,

I did promise to give you illustrations of these plants I've been writing about, here is the first one. This is Beggar's Purse. I forgot to note anything about seeds when I sketched this up. I apologize for the lack of color, I can't find where my stock pile of colored pencils went. And I didn't feel comfortable using my boys' crayons for this.

As you may see, the blossom has a shape similar to a pouch. The leaves are similar to broad leaf platain and it grows fairly low to the ground. And the roots are fibrous.

Craft of Writing: Staring at the Page.

Image from Pexels
Sometimes writing comes to us pretty easily. Sometimes it is all we can do to keep up with the muse. And then there are the day where we feel like we're thinking through mud and honestly questions what we were thinking about attempting to be an author business.

I have been having more days where I stare at the computer with this horrible sense of dread that I must write SOMETHING. And my mind goes blank. Writing the Morning Pages exercises, as encouraged by Ms. Cameron in her book The Artist's Way, has even become difficult. It fills me with a sense of failure.

The amazing thing about being a writer, however, is that you have options. You don't have to write great work all the time. You can just sit down with a super cheap notebook and an even cheaper pen to write about how much you hate the writing process right now. I'm learning to be more flexible in what I do for my prepwork for writing. Just today, I sat down and colored in a wee little coloring book for about 15 minutes. I can't say that it cured the sense of writer's block that I have right now, but it did help. It showed me that I can still be creative, even when I am struggling in my preferred arena.

I am also doing things like making myself a schedule for writing time every day. I am one of those people who get cranky and in a foul head space when they don't get any writing time in on a given day. If I let it go too long, I then move into a sense of depression. As a person who struggles with Bipolar (and am presently slogging my way through a depressive episode), making regular writing time is a big thing for self care.

Self care is the key to getting out of that mental prison called writer's block. Sometimes writer's block is a minor form of burn out and your brain is forcing you to take a break. Sometimes writer's block is a manifestation of an underlying problem (in my case, it is a sign that I am going into or am presently in a depressive episode). And, sometimes, writer's block comes about because you are bored with what you are working on.

Boredom is not good for the creative person. It can kill. I think this is why Ms. Cameron so strongly encourages the people who are working through the Artist's Way to do things like take themselves on 'Artist Dates' and go do something novel or fun instead of keeping their noses to the proverbial grindstone.

Funny thing about grindstones and whetstones, you have to keep your blade at the proper angle and concentrate all the time on what you're doing. If your attention wanders or you just try to do it out of simple habit, you will mess up the angle on the edge of the blade and make something that is useless. As a result, you'll have to start the whole process over again.

So, when your attention begins to wander (which is one of the signs of writer's block), take a moment to back away from the grindstone and take a break to refresh yourself, this way you can reapply yourself to the task later with the same high level of attention to detail that you can accomplish when all is well.