Archive for December, 2012

Dec 28

Looking forward by looking back

Old writing . . . really old!

With the holidays and final exams behind me, I’m allowing myself to fully enjoy this lull and to celebrate all the good things that happened in 2012. And among those many good things: finding my fiction-writing “voice” again. I’ve always loved reading novels and short stories, but for me, publication and payment came from nonfiction writing assignments — so I’d read the one and write the other. And until I had this opportunity to take a speculative fiction class, I didn’t take fiction-writing urges too seriously.

I think I figured out why.

Fear.
Fear of doing something that might be emotionally revealing.
Fear that it would expose a part of me that would want more than it could have (instead I found abundance).
Fear that my writing would be dark (it sometimes is).
Fear.

But I wrote through all those fears for a rather shallow reason — my grades! I didn’t want to do badly in the class. I should stress that writing ability was not the criteria for our grade — doing the assigned work, turning it in on time, and participating in the class workshops were what formed the basis for our grades. Halfway through the semester I figured out why I disliked the writing exercises so much: they felt dangerous. And I rather liked the safety of my emotional boundaries. But I’d begin each one by telling myself to just work through each step:

Consider it, think about it.
Engage in it (always pen and paper to start – I can’t compose fiction at the computer).
Begin to write freely, without judgment, or editing.

The process would repeat itself twice a week. I never really learned to look forward to it, but I was always rewarded with something unexpected. And now I have a three-ring binder full of the unexpected.

So for 2013, I’ll have a “theme” — if you’ve been reading me a while, you know I don’t do resolutions. The theme is germinating — I just need to find the one word that encapsulates what I want out of 2013.

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Dec 07

RBL : Aqua Lily

Before we dive in to my nail polish post, I have to warn you that Rescue Beauty Lounge Aqua Lily is sold out! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way:

RBL: Aqua Lily

RBL: Aqua Lily

When I first starting painting my nails again, I was focused on finding the perfect red, the perfect nude, and later, the perfect green. Blues and purples never really entered my consciousness until very recently. But lately, blue polishes are all I think about! And this one is a winner. Aqua Lily is a wonderful, imaginative blue (think turquoise, marine blue) and looks great with nearly everything.

Aqua Lily is originally from Rescue Beauty Lounge’s inaugural Fan Collection. Aqua Lily debuted as part of a set of four polishes created in response to Ji’s 2011 call for submissions from her ReBeL fans. The four “winners” were then created based on the winning color stories of the finalists and they debuted in the first quarter of 2012. I wasn’t keeping up with the excitement back then (probably struggling to stay afloat in my Biology class), so I missed out on Aqua Lily before it sold out (quickly). Apparently, it was an oft-requested “bring it back” (BIB) color — it made the most recent BIB cut and as always, newsletter subscribers got in on the fun first and were given the opportunity to pre-order their favorite BIB shades. Score!

Confession: before I resurrected my love of nail color, I coveted a trip (someday) to Ji Baek’s posh Manhattan nail ‘spa’, Rescue. For years, I carried around a late 1990s or early 2000s Allure magazine clipping with a list a “must-go” spas in NYC. It was on my bucket list! Although Ji closed Rescue, it allowed her to shift her focus exclusively to her nail polish line.

I don’t jump on many bandwagons, but I’m a really big fan of RBL for Ji’s commitment to her formula — her nail polishes are cruelty-free, and contain no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, or Toluene. But the thing I love most is that her collection of shades is so small. It seems counterintuitive at first, but I love her color stories and the fact that so much thought and love goes into each color. I’m okay with small color runs and limited edition shades (as long as I’m a newsletter subscriber, I’ll know about the shortages and popularity of a color and can decide what to do)! I’ll probably only order one RBL a year, but it’ll be because I love it.

I’ll close with saying that I hate to feature a nail color that you might not be able to get your hands (ha) on, but the next Fan Collection is right around the corner (early 2013) and you will want to get in on it early!

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Dec 05

Adiri Cowl

Mind of Winter Designs - Adiri Cowl

Adiri in Cascade Venezia

For the past several years, my fellow co-workers and I have each created handmade ornaments for the annual holiday gift exchange. This year, the focus was slightly different — we drew names for our secret “cowl pals” and each of us worked on a cowl based on the intended recipient’s favorite colors, stitch patterns, and/or techniques. When Julia at Mind of Winter Designs posted a new pattern set (pullover and cowl), I thought the design was perfect for Debbie G. — she loves cables and Adiri has an understated feminine design — the cables aren’t bulky. I had several great colors of Cascade Venezia to choose from but ultimately took the advice of a friend who chose the deep purple.

I reacquainted myself with knitting with Denise Needles and I was thrilled with how the yarn and needle combo worked well together. The Venezia would have been a bit too slippery for my Addi Clicks and a little too draggy for my Clover bamboo circulars.

While I have admired Julia’s designs for years, this might be the first time I’ve knit one — but it won’t be my last because I’m eyeing the Adiri pullover for myself (and definitely the slouchy Adiri hat)

Mind of Winter Designs - Adiri Cowl

Adiri Cowl – Stitch Pattern

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Dec 01

Persistence

Fortune

It’s only two classes, but they’re wedged in with everything else and TWO CLASSES seems to be the limit, the maximum, that can be wedged into my current existence. The things in the margins: housekeeping, cooking, fiber pursuits. (I keep up with the laundry, because it’s one of two chores I actually enjoy, and everybody needs clean towels and underwear). Although my blog is suffering from neglect because of all the writing I do for my creative writing class, I’ve been writing more than I have in years. And Texas History? An absolute gift. Although much of what I thought I knew about the Old West is now revealed to be a collection of myths, the upside is that with the true and sometimes ugly backstory, I now have rich context for re-reading one of my favorite novels — Lonesome Dove.

I saved the best for last.

Background: I have a very short list of classes I have to take in order to earn my Associate of Arts degree. While I could have transferred to a university as a junior (with my existing credits), there are two reasons I want my AA first: (1) as a milestone marker and (2) the ease of transferring to a university (over transferring with credits from two different colleges in Oklahoma). So with this short list, it seemed a little bit limiting until I allowed myself the luxury of digging a little deeper into matching the requirements with things in which I have an interest. When I learned that a Creative Writing class would fulfill the remaining Humanities credit I needed, I was all over it! Not only that, as some of you might remember, it’s part of a “themed” block of Futuristic classes — my professor was offering this class as a Speculative Fiction and Screenwriting class. And while writing within the theme was optional, I loved that some of the material and supplemental reading was specific to science fiction and fantasy.

I’ll skip to the good part now – screenwriting. Screenwriting really FITS with my writing style and it helps me focus on the parts of my writing I’d like to improve. There is enough structure to screenplay writing, along with formatting and style conventions, that it helps me to construct a story. Every encounter with it (I’m writing one now for an assignment) is rewarding — not easy, mind you, but rewarding. I don’t often feel that way when I’ve invested time in writing – but with screenwriting I do.

Now Write! Screenwriting

With this class, I now not only have more writing under my belt, but more FINISHED writing — a few short stories and nearly 20% of a screenplay. I also have a lot more ideas and inspiration. There are so many great resources, but here are some books we’ve used in class for our in-class writing exercises:

The Lie that Tells a Truth, by John Dufresne

Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, by Sherry Ellis

Now Write! Screenwriting: Screenwriting Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, by Sherry Ellis

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter

Next time I hope to have a finished knitting project to share. I might even actually model it myself.

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