Category Archives: Life

Ready, Rugosa

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Moje Hammarberg: The actual plant is not this blinding, I swear.

I have two rugosa roses which I’m very fond of. Why? They require very little work. They have few diseases, and not only do I not need to spray them with anything, they would be damaged by spraying. This rose species tolerates a lot. The ‘rugosa’ regards their ridged leaves. Most of the flowers of the rugosas are tend to be simple single or double petaled blooms, and bear large orange hips. I have a Frau Dagmar Haustrup (sometimes ‘Hartopp’), and a Moje Hammarberg. I’ve grown the Haustrup in sunny California and in rainy Oregon with great success.

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The Frau

When most people think of roses, they are thinking of the hybrid tea roses, and then complain about how difficult roses are to grow. Ah no, I say, look at the rugosa. Then they object because the rugosa doesn’t come in orange, and they doom themselves to disappointment trying to begin growing roses with a hybrid tea (which is not to say it can’t be done, but really? All that for a stiff, low-scented bloom?).

It’s an illustration of using tools and methods suiting the skill level, and what is best suited to a situation. I don’t have a lot of time or energy to spray or debug, I like plants, but I’m not that into gardening. Half the project is preparation -this huge piece of wisdom I came by painfully, after many years of abandoned projects. I would try to sew clothes, sculpt busts, paint with watercolors without understanding darts, knowing how long to bake the Sculpey or how to lay in washes. I got a massive fail on most attempts and would give up, going back to what I did better.

I didn’t have an ‘a-ha’ moment as much as a slow realization. In my first degree (art) I took several etching classes. Before doing anything in that discipline the materials have to be prepared: the plate has to be beveled so it doesn’t ruin the blankets. The ground has to go on evenly so the lines don’t get messed up. The (expensive) paper has to be torn to the right size so as not waste any. Times have to be guaged for the acid bath or the image won’t look right. Hands must be washed or ink will get everywhere. And on and on.

After an ill-fated sewing project last year, I finally learned to make a muslin first, I found textbooks not only about darts but about making slopers too. I don’t think I’ll use Sculpey for much more than beads or buttons, but if I do, I’m getting a timer. When you get the right materials before starting, when have you the right rose, when you read the instructions first, the project is much more fun, less frustrating, and now I make fewer mistakes.

American Rose Society

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When to Fold? (On Giving Up)

Don't Worry. This is a muslin using an old bedsheet.

Don’t Worry. This is a muslin using an old bedsheet.

There is something to be said for being stubborn. To be an artist or craftsperson, you need tenacity, enough to see you to the end of a project. At some point (about the end of the second week of Nanowrimo) you will get discouraged. This can’t be any good you say, it’s cliche’d and badly made. You might push through, and your tenacity will have paid off.

Or not. In episode #12 of  Jason Brubaker’s Making Comics Podcast  (he also does the comic reMIND) they discussed knowing when it’s time to quit. Which got me thinking about Heinlein’s second rule of writing (you must finish what you start).

I started this jacket for a temp assignment interview, when I realized I didn’t have a suit. I had a pattern for a short jacket, and a skirt. I also had about three days before the interview. I knew from the start something extremely tailored would never work, because it’s impossible to make something professional looking in three days without any experience. I tried out the pattern before I bought any ‘real’ fabric luckily, and I knew by the middle of the second day this wasn’t going like I’d hoped. The project was abandoned and I bought something which worked (and got the assignment). Now there is no reason for me to finish the project. I don’t regret it — it will never be what I initially envisioned. Instead, I can focus my energy on to my navy blue knit dress.

There is tenacity and then there is trying to get a dead horse to run. When do you cut your losses and put a project out of it’s misery?  Knowing this is like knowing when something is done. It’s a matter of experience and a little luck (I had a printmaking teacher who would say you would have to lose something three times before you found it).

Heinlein’s Rules (for reference).

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Things I’m (Not Supposed to be) Doing

Nanowrimo Camp Lantern Participant Badge

 

This is another post about procrastination. I do a lot of it.

April is Camp Nanowrimo! It used to be Script Frenzy, but since that’s no longer a thing, scripts have become a part of Camp. You can also set your own goal, which is new this year. I set mine to 30,000 words, 1000 words a day.  So that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Instead I’m:

  1. Wandering around the craft store (Ooh, I must have use for that, and that and that… I call the abundance of new ideas ‘crafter’s brain’)
  2. Reading about vintage sewing methods, modern sewing methods and drafting patterns
  3. Researching at handcraft marketplaces besides Etsy ( I may or may not decide to sell my crafts)
  4. Searching Pinterest for craft fails
  5. Cleaning my room (You saw that right)
  6. Listening to podcasts (Drawing while listening to podcasts is super helpful, not so much writing)
  7. Writing this post (okay, I should’ve written this a couple days ago, but…)
  8. Eating Easter candy (sugar, whoooo!)
  9. Eating leftover meatloaf (My grandmother’s recipe)
  10. Checking twitter and browsing links found there (All those tabs slowed my browser down…)
  11. Checking my email repeatedly
  12. Checking news links
  13. Some years ago, I procrastinated during Nanowrimo by watching Hannah Montana videos. (I am nowhere near the demographic that would make that okay. And unlike My Little Pony, I am indifferent to Miley Cyrus.)

So the cure for this procrastination is: Butt in the Chair and Writing (I didn’t come up with that phrase, but it’s super helpful). That is the only thing that is a real, lasting solution, to anything whether it is novel writing, graphic novel drawing or a job search.  I could ask why I can sit down and commit and go writing off on that tangent, but that just invites more procrastination. And 1000 words is not that much.

On the Nanowrimo boards one year, someone (I can’t remember who, sorry) mentioned that to enforce the butt in the chair thing, they actually took a scarf and tied themselves down. Some people use rewards, like chocolate, or new books, but those just distract me. I might try the scarf idea.

 

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Organization makes Finishing Things So Much Easier

Last week, I bought two things. A stack of plastic boxes for my pens and pencils, and software for writing and organizing novels in progress– Scrivener.  In the interest of fairness: I had an winners code from last years contest and several good recommendations from fellow nanoers. So I had incentive to choose this software.

I did eight years of Nanowrimo, without the benefit of this software. I also never went back for deep edits. It’s easy to type out a first draft by just plowing forward. Never mind the characters that you introduced in chapter 2 never made another appearance, or the word ‘hello’ was invented with the telephone.   But if you want to go back, figure out how how to reintroduce the characters from chapter 2 (or even who they were), or correct the usage of ‘hello’, you are going to need to lay the narrative out and look at the pieces. Text producing programs cannot do that. They are for writing out words and pages. Once it gets past five pages or so the editing gets cumbersome. It’s like taking everything out of your closet and putting it back neatly, giving some away and throwing out the garbage.

The other purchase are a little more straightforward.
These were for my drawing supplies. I have it in my head to make a webcomic (remember this guy?). I have quite a lot of art supplies, but I needed the pens and pencil and erasers and rulers to be in a box at hand. A box that would hold them all and wasn’t being held together with rubber bands. That way I wouldn’t have to think of my materials when trying to wrestle with the stripes on my tiger.

Organization keeps me focused. It’s like a meditation to do before starting a project. I get my folders (virtual and otherwise), my pens and the proper eraser. I get the threads and the sketches I made. I’ll set up the framework for my project, and then all I’ll have to worry about is the creativity.

 

 

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In Dreams Begin…

The Brooklyn Bridge, because it was as appropriate as anything. I always try to remember my dreams. Sometimes I succeed, and often I don’t. A few nights ago I had a dream that I posted the perfect blog post. It had an engaging subject, and nice picture and step by step instructions. It was brilliant.

I just can’t remember what it was about. If I could, I would have posted it.

A few days later, I had dream about a magical curiosity shop. In my dream state I tucked it away as a good novel idea. I still can’t remember the central conflict. More that once I composed entire symphonies in my sleep and not remembered even the main theme the next day. To know you’ve don’t something brilliant in your head, but not remember what that thing is infuriating.

But, as much as I forget, there are a few nights when they’ve been really useful. In 2007, I literally dreamed the ending to my NaNo. I dreamed a short story several years before that. I sometimes dream about people I didn’t realize I remembered. Supposedly, Mendeleev dreamed his version of the periodic table. I can’t imagine the succeeding centuries without it.

Don’t underestimate your dreams.

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Filed under Colors and Images, Inspiration, Life, New Ideas

Self Motivation and Deadlines

So, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog. I realized when I signed in just now, that I didn’t post at all in 2011. I spent most of that time going to community college to learn how to be a paralegal. I had it “up to here” with writing and turning things in, in general. But now, I’ve graduated and in between jobs, I have the time and presence of mind to post again.

While in school, I did do some writing besides school assignments. I won two NaNoWriMo years while in school after all, a ScriptFrenzy (sadly a recently defunct challenge similar to NaNo), and while I was commuting to school I started another science fiction novel. But despite that I couldn’t find the time to write on this blog.

Part of this was self motivation –Deadlines are so much better at motivating me. Cross this line and —  something bad happens. Or something like that. NaNo and ScriptFrenzy were great deadlines. There is a start and a finish, the thing doesn’t spread out into infinity. There is only so much room for procrastination, not an entire lifetime.

Writing on the bus wasn’t a deadline as such, but it had a limited timespan and  lets face it, there is not much else I’m doing on the bus besides reading, writing or listening to my iPod. When I got to school, I would have to put my writing away and think about other things. I got a lot done, but then my commute ended before the novel did, and I’ve been doing other things ever since.

Now I’m doing NaNoWriMo Camp, so I can have more deadlines (I like them. For noveling). This pared down version of NaNo takes place in June and August. I was browsing through a thread someone had post about user’s blogs and realized that I still create stuff and I have time. I can still talk about what I make, which is what this blog was created for.

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Books in Brown Paper Bags

I finally got down to doing the book review thing as I’ve always been threatening. I’m trying to update every week with a new book. Some of the books I have been saving up with reviews. Rogue Moon, Treasure Island, and Underground London all have reviews up now.

www.brownpaperbookreview.wordpress.com

Script Frenzy has started. I’m not really a script-writer, I realized, but I’m still writing one, or something that looks like one, this month.

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