Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

One Step Forward, One Step Back, One Step Sideways

May 16, 2018

The inevitable result of clearing out my backlog of quilting projects is discovering how much I’ve grown as a fiber artist. I don’t mean this in a good way. The next project on the list for my guild’s Unfinished Quilts Challenge is a top I made years ago of swirling fish. The top wasn’t where I expected it to be, so I had to pull out the entire stack of unquilted tops from the closet. That was the step forward.

This is as neat as I get

Believe it or not, this is the tidiest my closet has been in years. The tops on the bottom shelf at the back are ones I will quilt as gifts or for donations through the guild’s Community Quilts outreach program. I culled these tops from a much larger stack. That’s when I discovered the step back.

I am not the same person who made these tops

This pile represents tops or tops-in-progress that really don’t deserve to be quilted, at least not in their current condition. When I’m in a better mood, I will re-evaluate each top and determine which (if any) can be salvaged. That’s the step sideways.

This stack contains tops I still sorta kinda maybe like. I will put them on a different shelf, with a note on each as to what I think I should do with it. Perhaps that will save me from once again going through that horrible experience of asking, “Self, what were you thinking!?”

Luck and wisdom!

Writing Down The Dates

May 14, 2018

I was a history major in college, as were most of my roommates. We threw dinner parties to commemorate important dates. The Chicago Fire, the invasion of Poland, Pearl Harbor Day, Armistice Day – anything that came close enough to a free weekend so we had time to cook.

Dates and food are still important to me. I once made Cheesehenge Fondue for a summer solstice. As a writer, however, I want to do more. My friend and fellow writer Marlene Dotterer published her wonderful alternate history The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking. I started writing a story that is set in World War I. While the 100th anniversary of the end of that war is fast approaching, the end of that story is not.

I decided part of my trouble was pulling myself out of the “what-does-this-date-mean-to-me?” role. Separating my ego from my words is job number one for getting a story written. One of these days, the right story for the right date will reveal itself. Until then, bring on the cookbooks. There’s always another anniversary to celebrate.

Writing Prompts to the Rescue

May 7, 2018

I have more than enough ideas to keep me writing, if only I would write. Thank heavens Patricia Boyle, the president of the Tri-Valley Writers Branch of the California Writers Club, opens our monthly meetings with a writing prompt. We get four minutes to write, then on to the next item on the agenda. Those four minutes sometimes rescue me from an entire month when I write nothing more momentous than the grocery list. Some of her prompts have evolved into short stories for me. I’m not sure where this snippet will go, but I like it. The prompt became the first two lines of the story.

She hadn’t seen him for six months, but there he was in the coffee shop. He sat by himself, weeping into his herbal tea.

“Rees, do you mind if I sit down?” she asked. “I don’t want to intrude.”

“Please,” he said, “join me.” He leaned over his cup again. The tears flowed off his cheeks into his drink.

“So, how’s the experiment going?” she asked.

“As you can see,” Rees said, “I’m expressing the antidote as fast as I can. Say, maybe you can help. Tell me a sad story about your divorce. Another quarter cup of tear solution, and I’ve reached my quota.”

Is There A Modern Quilter in Me?

May 2, 2018

I ran across some visual aids Ann Anastasio and I used in a workshop a long time ago. We were illustrating how you could adapt traditional blocks with contemporary fabrics to come up with some new design options. If we had only used gray or white backgrounds, we could have founded the Modern Movement. Ah, well.

Imagine this with a neutral background

This is Diamond in a Rectangle, made up of four half-rectangle triangle units. Most of us can piece half-square triangle units in our sleep. It isn’t hard to stretch out that square, and look at the result.

Most of us can also piece Log Cabins in our sleep. This is what happens when you do one round of logs in varying widths. Easy-peasy, and you can highlight a focus fabric.

The slice-and-dice technique was one of my favorites for adding a color pop while still keeping my focus fabric prominent in the block. I must admit I haven’t used it in a long time, but I imagine it will appear in my next project. Whatever your go-to techniques are today, consider resurrecting things you used to do. Sometimes everything old really is new again.

Luck and wisdom!

Collaborative Writing

April 30, 2018

My co-author for the Chenille series, Ann Anastasio, moved to another state years ago. That has made collaborative writing difficult, but not impossible. Last week we got together and talked about the plot for The Captain and Chenille. Within half an hour we had ironed out some nagging issues and added layers to the main characters. That is the benefit of bouncing ideas off other people. You may not want to write an entire novel with someone else, but do yourself a favor and find a person or group that will invest in you (as you, of course, will invest in that person or group). Record the session if you can’t take notes quickly enough. The ideas that start swimming around the room may not end up in your current project, but chances are you’ll find a way to use them somewhere, sometime.

I did some recording, not of our ideas, but of Ann reading from The Chenille Ultimatum. It’s under a minute – enjoy!

 

I Wish I Could Take The Credit

April 18, 2018

On the days when I’m feeling particularly pleased with myself, I am often presented with things I could have done but didn’t. Today is one of those days. I dearly wish I could take credit for this tee shirt, but I can’t.

I have such a bad sense of direction that I made a point of training the kids to watch for road signs when they learned to drive. You would think that since I was teaching them how to do it my own skills would improve. Well, they did, a little, but I still get lost way too easily. I bought this tee shirt to give the rest of you fair warning.

This journal is another idea I wish was mine.

A local artist takes discarded books and turns them into journals. He includes some of the original pages just for fun.

Finally, I wish I could take credit for our garden, but I have the blackest thumbs on either side of the Mississippi. My husband is the one who coddles the plants. They bloom for him.

May today be the day your come up with an idea that will be the envy of all who see it.

Luck and wisdom!

Confession Time

April 9, 2018

I entered college as a poetry major, switched to political science by my junior year because I thought it would be more practical, and ended up not using that degree anyway. I wrote poetry all through college, but gradually drifted into prose. Although I still compose a poem now and again, I think of myself as a novelist. Still, I was considering what I should do to celebrate April in this writing life blog, but couldn’t decide. Here’s where the confession comes in – my friend Patricia Flaherty Pagan of Spider Road Press tagged me in a Facebook post about her anthology In The Questions: Poetry by and about Strong Women. Spider Road Press is running a giveaway on Amazon for the next few days, and Patricia mentioned all of the authors included in the book in her post. Yup, I forgot that I was in the book.

I wish I could say my natural modesty got the better of me, but in truth my little gray cells just misfired. So, to celebrate Poetry Month, here is my poem.

The Matriarchal Elephant

The mirror tells me I am wise.

I have the wrinkles to fit the role,

and the silver hair.

My diaries go back to years

taught in history class.

Ask a question, I will answer,

give opinion,

advice,

admonition.

My life trajectory suited me

for counselor,

consoler,

coach and instructor.

Yet there are days

when I look for the real wise woman,

the matriarchal elephant,

for the mom to save us all.

On those days,

I cover the mirror.

 

Look for the giveaway on the Spider Road Press Facebook page, or you could buy the book immediately and enjoy the other poems now. Happy Poetry Month!

A Sci-Fi Crazy Quilt

April 4, 2018

When Ann Anastasio and I wrote our first novel, Death By Chenille, we planned to create patterns for the quilts mentioned in the book. I volunteered to make the crazy quilt we described. I thought it would be pretty, and I love to embroider. Well, our third novel, The Chenille Ultimatum, has just been published and I’m finally getting started on the blocks. I have them pieced, but not embellished.

I believe this one will have yellow chevrons

Although we have mentioned this quilt in all three books, we haven’t described it lately so I had to go back and read the description. I’m one of the authors–you would think I could remember my own words. Not so much. “Self,” I said, “this crazy quilt idea is getting crazier by the minute.”

We described one block bisected with an embroidered ribbon

The quilt plays an important role in getting the aliens to trust the humans. The embroidery stitches tell the story of the first time they visited Earth. I had worked out what each stitch meant. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the worst lie writers tell themselves: “I’ll remember this later. No need to write it down now.” Of course I don’t remember what I had in mind and now I have to come up with embroidery patterns that fit.

The cross-stitch tells the story of the first time the aliens visited Earth

Our books are cozy sci-fi, which means the science is wibbly-wobbly because humor is more important than equations (our aliens disguise themselves as bolts of beige fabric, for Pete’s sake), so I’m hoping our readers are the cozy and forgiving sort. I am counting on the kindness of quilters who will agree that a finished quilt is beautiful, even if it doesn’t entirely fit the description in the book.

Luck and wisdom!

Progress and the Pixies Against Pride

March 28, 2018

At the risk of angering the Pixies Against Pride, I am celebrating progress again by almost completing something from my list of unfinished projects for the guild challenge.

It looks slaunchygoggle here, but it is straight and flat

Yes, this quilt looks horribly off-kilter. Trust me, the blocks are straight, but my camera angle wasn’t, and I suspected the pixies were trying to knock me down a peg so I let it go. I quilted most of the piece on my home machine, then decided to add a few beads with hand quilting.

White beads on white fabric = texture

My art quilt group is exploring texture, and I briefly thought about using this quilt because of the beads. It doesn’t really fit the parameters of the assignment, however, so I took another look at my list of unfinished projects and pulled out a collection of embroidered and appliqued blocks.

I’m not sure these blocks fit the assignment either, but I’ll try to get double-duty from the project. Just don’t tell the pixies.

Luck and wisdom!

Longshore Drift

March 26, 2018

One of the advantages of having an unusual name is that you pay attention when you hear it. Or read it, as happened when I ran across the term longshore drift.

Photo by my father, George Longshore

The phrase has something to do with the accumulation of sand along a beach, but I enjoy the juxtaposition of words. Like pebbles in the surf, a thousand uses for the term rolled across my brain. It could be a command – “Longshore, drift!” I could pretend that I had been forced – forced, mind you – to spend the afternoon in idle amusement. Or it could be a suggestion for free-writing – drift along on a wave of sentences, tossing them on paper like leaves along a country stream.

Which brings to mind what I miss most about the demise of card catalogs – the lack of serendipity. Searching for books became so much easier, but the minutes I gain can’t outweigh the hours of pleasure I would get from a random discovery. It’s why I love my hardbound set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, where looking up the great photographer Yousuf Karsh led me to Tamara Platonova Karsavina, who danced with Nijinksy; which is next to Kars, a much fought-over region in Turkey known for its cheese; which is next to Paul Karrer, who won a Noble Prize for investigating carotenoids, which turn me orange when I eat too many carrots.

Oh, look, longshore drift.