It’s December: Time to crochet everything

So, I keep buying yarn.

I learned how to crochet using the hairpin lace apparatus when I was eight. My mom and grandma have used this piece of metal and plastic to make blankets and scarves my whole life.

A golden crochet hook attached to red yarn and a hairpin lace crochet apparatus

It’s kind of my love language. When I meet someone I like, even if it’s a relationship that’s just beginning, if I see a potential for us to be friends forever — I think: “I should make a blanket for this person.” My mom did the same thing with my dad. There is one old, rainbow-colored afghan in their home that my dad swears is imbued with magical healing properties, because my mom made it for him out of love.

I made a blanket (with my mom’s help) for my best friend. I made a blanket for my ex-husband. I tried to make a blanket for another friend and ended up keeping the blanket after that particular friendship fizzled.

So far, I have made one blanket for my current partner. I’m working on the second.

Me, working on my current blanket project.

This year, I have branched out from the hairpin lace into different kinds of crochet and knitting work. I’m filling my new home with pillow case covers, blankets, scarves, hats, coasters, all kinds of stuff. I’m even knitting a mat for the countertop so I can put my drink / coffee paraphernalia on there without worrying about staining the counter. This year has been difficult, from both a personal and a global perspective, and latching on to any creativity I can muster has been a huge victory. It seems like crochet has given me more mental stability than anything else over the past few months.

So I’ve been buying a lot of yarn. Everyone gets knitted or crochet presents this year.

I made this hat!

NaNoWriMo: Recap Edition

It’s officially December, which means by the calendar, National Novel Writing Month should be done. However . . .

The passing of November doesn’t mean the work is done. My novel is now 72,000 words (roughly) and is well on its way to being done. I worked out some of the bigger kinks that I was having problems with, and am excited to see where we end up now. I started (and finished) several crochet projects, and started a second job, and did important things at the first job. I’m proud of my progress.

This year has been rough for everyone. I’ve gone through a stressful breakup, the world seems to be imploding, COVID-19 tests, work and money problems, social unrest, the list goes on.

I think the fact that I did even a little bit of work on this thing that means so much to me is huge. And it’s not over!

But also:

We’re halfway there…

Not really, but the month is half over, more or less. So how about a check-in?

I’ve written several scenes and finished a couple chapters, which is huge. I made some key decisions and am getting to play with words much more than I usually do. I’m not going to “finish” NaNoWriMo at 50k words but I am definitely going to have a fully fleshed out novel by the end of this year.

I knew this month was going to be a lot of work, and it has been. I am working hard at my freelancing job and trying to forgive myself for the absolute garbage of a year I’m having, which has been a feat in itself. My partner has been an absolute miracle in most senses of the word, supportive when I need and pushy when I need.

All in all, even though I’m not writing a LOT every day, I am writing some. And that matters. I’m happy with my progress.

See you on the other side

Well, Reader, it’s officially October 31. (Happy birthday, Mom!!)

I am still planning to finish my novel this month for National Novel Writing Month. I am also fighting a cold, have huge projects at work, presented at a national conference this week, am starting a new freelance writing job, and have apparently become addicted to streaming in the last two days.

I always did only want to do EVERYTHING AT ONCE. Is there a 12-step program for “views productivity as self-worth”?

See you on the other side!

Who needs a tripod when you have books? I used this stack to hold my phone, which I am using as a camera for streaming. It’s the jankiest setup.

Weekly update: I finished my re-read

As a reminder: One of the things I’m doing to get ready for NaNoWriMo is re-reading my novel to this point. That’s 66,000 words of pure, uncutedited garbage.

And woof. I put a bunch of foreshadowing in the front of this book that I had (in)conveniently forgotten about. I’m excited to get into the part of the book now that I’m in, because there’s a lot of stuff in the beginning that is leading up to this. And now I know how to end the scene I am currently writing. And probably have enough info to figure out how to write the next scene, instead of just pants-ing! Huzzah!

One of my writing friends asked in a Discord server what people usually do to prepare for NaNoWriMo. And I started thinking about it — because the last couple times I’ve done this whole novel-writing-month thing, I haven’t really done a lot of preparation. Just told myself “Oh, yeah, I’m fine, 2k words a day is cake. Whatever, I won’t sweat it.” Which, as we all know, is complete and hubristic trash.

I’m hoping that this year, I have a little more motivation to get through it — not just because I’ve been talking about it here on this blog for a month, but also because I have more material to work with. This is the book I’ve been trying to write my entire life. I need to finish it.

Lately, I’ve been scheduling creative time. I sit down to my computer three evenings a week (well, I get up from working my day job, crack a beer, and sit back down in the same seat) (it’s . . . the same desk I use for work, just a different computer; I promise, it works) and make myself do it, no matter how it feels. I think it’s key to solidify that routine and make sure my brain knows that THIS TIME IS CREATIVE TIME — for me anyway.

So in terms of what kinds of preparation I’m doing — carving out this routine is at the top of the list. Then the re-reading and the outlining — you’ll hear more about that later this week.

I’m actually itching to get started, but I don’t want to burn myself out too quickly.

Excited to fill this white board with NaNo-related checkmarks.

Tuesday: Autumn is here, and I’m alive again

Not much to report today concerning NaNo prep, other than that I am about halfway through re-reading my current draft and am still excited to be continuing this project. The more I read, the more confident I am that I can finish in November. Which means, mind you, the regular updates may have to stop or, at minimum, be a little less frequent. But until I have to write 2,000 words per day, I am here giving updates.

The world outside was chilly this week, and it made me feel a specific kind of calmness that only fall and winter can bring. When it’s cold outside, my bones grow quiet in a way that I can’t achieve in the summer months. I mourn the passing of warm outside days — flower-bed weeding and lunchtime walks and lying poolside and sweating while working on the property my partner is renovating — but the chill brings such stillness. Such strength.

It feels like I can breathe again.

This week, I rekindled my love for tiny crochet projects and am working on a set of coasters. I am also working on a mat for my kitchen counter that looks a lot like this one:

Except it’s going to be red, like so:

Also, I have discovered Star Trek: Voyager this week, thanks to my partner (the Architect) and Y’ALL.

IT’S AMAZING.

Why are people sleeping on this show? It’s all about humanity and time distortions and it’s wonderful. I plan to watch all of it.

Follow me on Twitter for more *really exciting* takes about Star Trek: Voyager.

Anyway. How was your week?

NaNo Prep: Mid-month check-in

“So, how’s it going?” I hear you ask from beyond the internet. Unless that was a ghost. In which case, get out of my pipes.

I started October with the assertion that I would be committing to NaNoWriMo (again) and would be finishing the novel I’ve been working on. Really, I need to finish it so that I can move on to other projects.

Remember my list?

-Reread my novel (currently at 65,000 words) and refamiliarize myself with these characters and their voices (I’ve been away for an embarrassing amount of time).

-Outline (even if it’s vague) the rest of the book ON PAPER. It’s in my head, but it’s not helping anyone there.

-Get my NaNoWriMo.org profile back in shape. You all can follow me on there as the month progresses. I’ve set my “goal” at 50,000 words — not sure that much will be necessary to finish the novel, but it gives me a goal in any case.

-Create talking points for future blogs and secret audio projects about writing.

Prep is going pretty well! I finished that chapter the other day and have been noodling the plot ever since. I’m working on re-reading the book still, but I’m already feeling a little more comfortable with where I am and what I’m working on. And, as I’m typing this post, my other screen shows the work I’m doing right now on the outline. (I’m not going to show it, but I promise it’s there.)

I did also update my NaNoWriMo.org profile. I’m going to do my best to put in my progress on the site as I write during November. Hopefully all of these things will help keep me motivated during the month!

Excited to get started!

Poem: salt water

I wrote this and don’t really know what to do with it. In my poetry lately, I have been trying to use different kinds of line breaks and stanza breaks. Not sure what this one is doing here, but I like how it sounds it in my head. It’s a love poem, of course.

When I was a little girl the ocean sang to me with a voice of ambrosia
     something gold
     something good
i wasn’t sure what it would taste like

water fills its container
or at least that’s what
they told me

so

I fill a glass of salt water, keep
it in my bedroom
bring it to my lips in the night
when your dreams keep me awake

Your voice, the ocean’s voice
keeping me whole
keeping me sane

Being with you was like walking into 
     the ocean, but underwater i could
     breathe for the first time

There’s no one else in the room
     but i am submerged in you

The Illusion Conundrum, Part V: Some ruminations on setting and maps

So, here’s something cool. I found all my old notes and maps that I had drawn, from way back when. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that it feels like I’ve been writing this book for my entire life.)

So, where are we?

Here’s a quick plot synopsis:

The book takes place in the realm of Ylpha, one half of a world split into three dimensions: Ylpha, its parallel counterpart Omega, and the Between Place. A long time ago, a man called the Felid’shar — some would call him a chosen hero — saved Ylpha from the machinations of dark forces from beyond the Between Place… from Omega. He saved the world, but lost everything in return.

That was a thousand years ago. Now, darkness is creeping back into Ylpha. A group of unlikely traveling companions is called on by a mysterious sorceress to search the world for the reason the darkness is returning.

So, you can imagine that place is an important part of this novel.

I was really obsessed with maps when I was younger, and it seemed like every good fantasy novel needed an official-looking map. Plus, honestly, it provides a good reference point to me, as the writer. “Did I put Gralth too far south of Torryn? Is it… kind of south east? Or south west?” It helps give the world a little more credibility and flavor.

I have also learned to treat the setting as another character — one with its own motivations, actions, and developments. This world is full, and rich, and I can’t wait to comb every bit of it.

Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

The kingdom of Galithnia is one especially important, vibrant place. The kingdom consists of several islands floating in the sky over a far-south mountain chain. The mechanism of their flight is a mystery, but the people of the kingdom maintain that it has been that way for a thousand years. In the center of the main island, in the capital city of Fraen’gard, there is a huge hole that drills all the way through the island — the empty crater of a once-grand mountain that fell away when the land rose into the sky, most suspect. The people of Galithnia have turned it into a port: They carved out parts of this hole and constructed various bridges, walkways, and overhangs. Now, to get goods and services from the mainland below, they employ the services of the dragons, with whom they have maintained a relationship for millennia. The dragons use this port — this giant hole in the center of the island — to load and unload these goods.

Galithnia as an economic and political power would be middling without their relationship with the dragons. The islands are far from pretty much everything, leaving them out of sight, out of mind. But thanks to the help of the dragons, the folks of Galithnia are able to export their products — mostly fruit, meat, and textiles — to the more land-locked areas.

In my novel at the moment, we are getting ready to follow the main character, half-elven sorceress Dranna, and her traveling companion, a young musician named Uehum, into the sky to Galithnia, because the darkness seems to be more prominent there. It’s going to be a pretty wild ride. I can’t wait to get into it.

Guess you’ll have to wait for more as I continue prepping for NaNoWriMo!

Reader, I’m content

I finished a chapter of my novel yesterday. Chapter 12, in fact — one of the longest chapters so far. It brings the project to just over 66,000 words. The action is heating up, with the characters from two different plotlines getting ready to converge.

Really, I’m just happy. This is the first real prose I’ve written in months. I only have a stomach for poetry lately, short snippets, and sometimes not even that. It’s incredible to be able to say that I’m back to doing what I love and what keeps me sane.

That’s it for this short update. Oh, and also — my partner and I made tacos last night using the first pepper from the plant I’ve been nurturing all summer.

Here’s to more peppers, and more chapters.

The banana pepper on the right came from our garden.