Category Archives: inspiration

Wondering where this year will take me….

Hello 2018!  Yesterday we received rain after the driest December in thirty years, so January is starting off well.  I’ll be heading north at the end of the week, spending time with my grandson and his pop.  Tomorrow I’ll visit Little Miss and her sister, my eldest daughter and son-in-law too.  Oh and Buttercup, who is adjusting to life with another person in her household.  Familial ties will most likely be the theme of the next twelve months, although there’s no keeping a writer’s imagination stilled.

Off for a walk before raindrops intruded….  Little Miss makes sure that Miss Em has a pacifier handy at all times, ha ha ha….

Nor a quilter’s hands idle, although my right thumb has been achy as of late, making me wonder how much hand-quilting I’ll accomplish in 2018.  Then there’s an orphan binding which I uncovered a few days ago, with no clue for what it was meant to complete.  I sort of recall making it, I think….  Not often do I employ brown in my sewing, but here’s an espresso binding, waiting for a quilt to encase.  Is this a harbinger of other unfinished projects, dangling in the wind….

What in the world am I going to do with this?

Ahem, I certainly hope not, but honestly, The Hawk flits in and out of my mind, as has another tale with a complimentary playlist from ages ago.  I’ve been listening to those tunes while I hand-quilt, pondering a plot that while I won’t say seems destined to be written, definitely takes up space in my gray matter.  I’m not overly concerned; 2017 taught me to embrace the NOW, leaving LATER to sort itself out at a more appropriate time.

Yet, achy hands remind me that time is a precarious notion; I’m not getting younger, you know.  As my grandchildren age, so do I, ha ha, um, yeah.  Forgetting about a chocolate coloured binding doesn’t worry me, although now I feel slightly compelled to fashion a complimentary quilt top, or a set of placemats/mug rugs to give that binding a home.  Knowing that I’m leaving in a matter of days keeps me from embarking upon more than updating new calendars, sending off New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards because we didn’t order them in time to arrive before the end of December, as well as adding to my packing list for a week away from home.  To put it bluntly, I’m in limbo right now, both mentally as well as projectarily, and it’s a funny state of mind to inhabit.

Yet, it’s also a beautiful place to be, sort of like where my youngest daughter is in the SoCal desert.  She might never be in that location again, but for the next ten days it’s home, living out of a tent, barely getting phone reception (but we’re very grateful that she does!), hiking around examining rocks.  This is part of her graduation requirement, plus she loves this kind of exploration.  I joke that I love not camping, but this girl adores it, plus rocks to study?  Dude, that’s her kind of heaven.  She’ll return full of stories and details, then prepare for another term of school.  Maybe January starts off the year, but perhaps it takes until February until 2018 truly dawns.

And speaking of daybreak, my youngest sent the above photo yesterday during the brief window while she had access to data.  Maybe I don’t want to live out of a tent, but this kind of morning is a priceless sort, and I’m putting it here for others to enjoy.  Also as a reminder that pleasure and purpose can be as exhilarating, also fleeting, as a sunrise.  I’m not going to squander time wondering if this book or that idea will come to fruition, nor why I crafted a dark brown quilt binding.  Instead I’ll complete this post, then make my next move, probably toward the kitchen for some breakfast, more coffee, then updating wall calendars.  After that, it’s anyone’s guess.  But uncertainty doesn’t need to be scary, it’s actually liberating.  I have enough tasks in my future already set in stone.  Today’s agenda is merely to inhale the peace, then share it however I’m able.  May that calm be yours too.

Small Acts of Faith

A head cold has plagued me all weekend, but this morning I did manage to look over the last chapter I’d written, although I don’t plan on adding to The Hawk today.  This last part of the story is taking its own sweet time, but I’m grateful to be writing anything these days.  What I’ve come to realize about this final section is not only is it the end of the novel, but a call to remain steadfast in accepting it’s not about my efforts.  Its conclusion is yet another path on my journey, and I’ll reach it in due time.

Completed wedding quilt already in the hands of its owners.

But isn’t that life in a nutshell?  While getting older has curtailed some of my writing abilities, it has enhanced my perspective, not that I wish to employ age as an excuse.  However I’ll be honest, I don’t write at the drop of a hat anymore.  Part of that is due to mental fatigue, as well as honoring a craft that demands more skill than when I started this fiction gig.  Thankfully sewing doesn’t require as much focus, so I did put my time to good use when not overly sneezy; I finished up the second set of blocks for another plus quilt, then arranged all the squares on the wall.  Depending on how I’m feeling later today, I’ll start sewing them together, or there’s fabric to cut for a baby quilt, or….

More fabric than brains? You decide….

Pulling out what I consider most of my fabric stash, I found I have as many planned quilt projects as I do novels, jeez Louise!  But I didn’t feel overwhelmed; those prints are like drafts tucked away in my computer, waiting for the right moment.  Or some of them might be passed on to others in need of a particular piece of cotton like stories just penned for the practice.  I’m grateful for this peace of mind, because I wasn’t always so patient.  Age has a way of making darn clear one’s priorities; I truly can only do what I can do.

From one quilt wall….

 

This post has been rumbling through my head lately, alternately titled Different Rhythms.  This past weekend a writing/(he)artist buddy inadvertently offered the actual title, closing her email with this phrase: In light of these dark times, remember that doing what you do best and sharing it with all who touch your life makes a difference.  Laura Bruno Lilly’s words brought into focus how important are my talents regardless of their scope, as well as giving my best effort in the process.  I can’t foresee how my work will affect the future, instead concentrating on making this day as peaceful and beautiful as I am able.

…To another quilt wall. I love the positive nature of this pattern, and am already pondering designing another.

Whether I manage that with words or quilts isn’t important, only that I follow my heart.  And if that heart is bogged down by sinus pressure, no worries; I’ll just watch a little more of the baseball playoffs, hehehe.  My efforts might seem irrelevant, but every sentence and each quilt block are all part and parcel of a greater good.  Maybe just acknowledging that grace is enough for this day.

Sunday morning musings….

The current state of the big quilt wall….

Trying to stay cool during the West Coast heat wave, I’ve been hand-quilting a baby blanket, which in itself is a little tricky, because while it’s a small project, it’s flannel-backed, not exactly conducive to lowering temperatures.  But I’m thankful for our A/C, that the power hasn’t gone out, and tasks to keep me busy on this Labor Day weekend.  Plenty of sewing to sort, The Hawk to consider, as well as random thoughts flitting in and out of my brain.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about the responsibility of writers, but it’s quite a daunting subject, and fabric and revising keep getting in my way, ha ha.  I’m about to start editing Part Twelve of The Hawk, and once that’s done, I’ll be ready to jump back into the writing.  This morning as I sewed, I thought about a quote I saw on a church’s sign in my neighborhood, and how that relates to Eric’s current dilemma.  Which then brought me to thinking about Marek, who Eric has been avoiding, which in turn puts me here at my computer, hoping to translate that essence with as much grace as I am able.  (Then hopefully I’ll remember to open the manuscript and note this idea, ahem….)  The quote was as such:  There is no fear in submitting to a love that would die for you.  I had hoped to snap a picture of the sign, but the light turned green before I could, so I ran that sentence through my head the rest of my drive home, then wrote it down.  Yesterday I saw it again, and I got it right, which was a relief.  And now again this morning I’m thinking about it, and how it very well might guide what happens in Part Thirteen.

As I ponder the last section of this novel, I’m a little hesitant in how to wrap up all the loose ends.  There’s also the bittersweet notion of saying goodbye to these characters, as well as excitement for what follows. Not only in the noveling, but another granddaughter due in December, hehehe.  But first comes the completion of a very long tale that has evolved into something far more complex than what I initially envisioned.  Faith has been tightly woven through this saga, and while other notions emerge, if pressed I’d have to say that clemency is probably the main theme.  Or at least in this last section, the acceptance of mercy is what I hope to emphasize.  It’s going to be what Eric and Klaudia both have to grapple with, and I pray that I get it right.  Yes, I pray about the noveling, because I require all the guidance I can get, especially when dealing with an extended story.  I want to do right by these characters, by my readers, and by what is being claimed within the words.  That’s part of the great responsibility an author faces, but more about that another day.

For now, I’ll make some notes at the end of the document, then see how those ideas wiggle their way into future chapters.  My plan is to start writing in a couple of weeks, hopefully wrapping things up around Thanksgiving.  By then this heatwave will be a faint memory, but the quote which prompted this post will remain dear to my heart, as well as considered between a pastor and an artist.  May it bring peace to your soul as well.

The Glass Is Half Full

So I have come to the realization that perhaps for the remainder of The Hawk, and maybe the rest of my writing life, a full chapter a day just isn’t gonna happen.  Today’s distraction was tennis, and okay, the fifth set between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Muller was one to relish, regardless of which man you wanted to progress at Wimbledon.  But I was bothered well before those chaps reached that fifth set, continuing to look away from the manuscript to check how Johanna Konta was doing against Caroline Garcia, Andy Murray vs. Benoit Paire, and other great Manic Monday contests.  Finally around ten thirty this morning, Pacific Daylight Time, I gave up on the written work, settling on the sofa with an early lunch, wondering if Nadal was going to fight his way out of an initial two-sets down to love hole.  The next couple of hours were well worth my time, although I’m sure Nadal wishes the result was different.  Muller goes on to face Marin Cilic while I admit a small defeat of sorts, with a greater victory looming.  Half a chapter produced today is better than no words at all.

Over halfway done is this quilt top, a buffalo check pattern that seems more like gingham.

Returning to writing has been a challenge, but instead of throwing up my hands and stalking off the court, I’m going to dig deep into what might be a longer five-setter than the Isner/Mahut match back in 2010 at the All England Club.  It’s a matter of mind over matter, in that four years ago when I started this book I was still in my forties, wasn’t yet an abuela, ’nuff said.  I can’t qualify how aging has affected my skills other than to say the inner stamina seems to be lacking, and it’s not merely tennis upon which to place blame.  It simply is, and whining about it won’t make me write more.  Acceptance is better than moping.

For today’s work, I had to scroll through the MS to clarify some facts; in skimming through paragraphs I couldn’t help but recall how easily those previous chapters had fallen from my brain onto the document, and briefly I felt the tiniest bit…displeased.  Yet, after tennis was over for the day, I returned to my PC, read over what I had managed, added a bit more, and called it done, for now.  Tomorrow (hopefully) I’ll tack on another scene, then see what happens on Thursday, as I’ll be visiting with Little Miss and her mama on Wednesday.  Other delights have crowded out noveling, but life never stays still.  Roger Federer has reached his 50th Grand Slam quarterfinal by beating Grigor Dimitrov, while Venus Williams will play Jelena Ostapenko, who was three years old when Venus won her first Ladies’ Singles Championship.  And here I am, still scribbling away on The Hawk, although I think I’ll finish it before Little Miss is Venus’ age.

Notice how much width is lost once the sewing commences; it’s still going to be a good-sized comforter, but not too big.

I’ve learned many things while writing this novel, some personal, some professional.  Perhaps now I’m grasping the most necessary lesson, that of patience.  I can’t rush this story, but I can and should be grateful for the words that do emerge.  Every day I write is like another tennis match completed, some for wins, some of losses, but all with purpose.  Of course, the defeats are difficult to face, but each experience is meaningful, sort of like the current WIP on my quilt wall.  I had high expectations for it, and while I do like it, I’m not certain I’d try this style again.  More on that soon enough, as for now sewing awaits as well as mulling over how today’s chapter will end tomorrow.

The glass is half full, up to me to choose the rest of the contents.

Squeezing in words (and peace) amid the sunshine….

June 2016 on Father’s Day; my daughters, The Burrito and I accompanied my husband to an East Bay park, where it was very hot (although not quite as warm as the last few days….). All pics from that outing.

A heat wave has hit California, and won’t truly abate until the weekend.  Right now Silicon Valley is enjoying a little lull, if you count the upper 90s as relief, but compared to the 106 F at our house on Sunday, I’ll take it.  Yesterday I meant to write, but a walk required my focus, and by the time I sat at my computer, the heat had sapped all my mental energy.  Today I compromised, pounding out two-thirds of a chapter, then walking for a mile and a half.  Turns out those 1700 words will be a chapter all their own, and I’ll see what happens tomorrow.

Despite the hot temps, I’m firmly engaged with my return to writing, breaks be darned as well as the blistering heat.  The next few months are relatively open for the flow of prose, and my desire to complete this novel will push me through whatever hurdles loiter on the horizon.  Other stories I ache to tell are further fuel, but alongside this journey is another that while running parallel tells a different tale; I am not the writer I used to be.

Sometimes my writing path feels that desolate, and of course indistinguishable….

Of course, some of that is good news; thinking back to ten years ago, when I made the decision to pursue writing, I was such a novice, oh my goodness.  Not only was I mediocre, my grasp of the business side of writing was nil.  That business side has altered radically in the past decade, as have my goals, as well as the quality of my output.  The quantity has changed too; I used to knock off a first draft in thirty days, thanks to National Novel Writing Month.  But when I consider those drafts, their purpose was to start the aching process of learning to produce fiction, or most of them.  I published a few, but the bulk are filed away on my PC and in flash drives.  Just thinking about them reminds me how I have grown as an author.

But as I’ve previously noted here, time has become a precious commodity in regards to the words.  However, what I do write now needs less work than in years past, so that’s a win.  Except that this book seems endless, sigh.  But I will finish it, because I’m nearly there and nothing pressing is scheduled for the immediate future, go me!  Although one can never predict the future, meh.  But in not being able to predict the future, I can boldly go forward assuming The Hawk will find its end, yay!  But you know what happens when you assume something.

(Ass out of you and me….)

Okay, okay, enough internal bickering.  I’m starting to sound like my grandson, who had a philosophical argument with his mum this morning, or what a two and a half year old can muster: Trash?  Yes, trash.  Trash??  Yes sweetheart, trash.  Trash???  OMG yes, put that in the trash!  Trash????  Mum then points to the garbage while The Burrito hollers about trash and hammers and so it goes.  I’ve put a lot of writing into the metaphorical rubbish bin, but what remains tells me that yes, I am a writer, I will always be a writer, but right now writing has to step down, or I need to step away, maybe find a hammer, then pound at imaginary nails alongside wee ones who need me more than I need fiction.  Dude, seriously?  Um, yeah.  Trash, Grandma (or Bama, as my nieto calls me as he has a hard time with the letter G).  Finish this book Bama, then find something else to do.

Then to my joyful relief, a trail appears!

But it’s not easy prying my mind from this tasking; my hands are much easier to fill, either with grandkids or fabrics or laundry baskets.  Yet my heart beats in spinning yarns; I listen to old playlists connected to plots and I want to write that novel.  I’ll read something and mentally fashion my own take on it.  A picture appears on my screensaver and I want to tell that tale.  What keeps me from losing my cool, especially in this sweltering heat?  It’s an inner voice, asking me to trust.  Trust that time will provide for The End’s.  Trust that chapters will be the perfect length.  Trust that if and when other books are to be written they most certainly shall be started, and finished!  Trust that in letting go of my assumptions, no one will feel awkward or let down, least of all myself.  Perhaps I should be more worked-up about all this, but in becoming a little anxious, I’m enabled to once again search for peace within my soul; for me that means taking deep breaths, giving thanks for being able to write even this post, realizing how far I’ve been graced to go in the last ten years on this authorial roadway.  I’ve been writing for over ten years, been indie publishing for nearly six, and truthfully there is no end in sight, other than The End for the WIP.  Yeah, one of these days (please God let it be sometime this year) The Hawk will find its way into the Done pile.

Welcome trees and shade make the heat seem not so brutal, how I feel after much needed prayer.

In the meantime, I’ll keep cool both inside my house as well as within my heart.  Not in my own strength certainly, but due to Love.  May that calm be with you today.

Exciting Times

I have a lot to note, but first off, a good friend of mine has started a weekly series on You Tube about creativity and courage.  Julie K. Rose is a fantastic writer and a terrific video blogger; check out the first episode below….

Watching these clips I was thrilled for Julie’s insights, as well as her bravery, of which she discusses so eloquently in Episode #2.  In Episode #3, I was taken aback at how true are her words, in how being vulnerable opens us to compassion.  That theme goes hand in hand with what I’ve been reading; Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas.  I’ve been working on it for the last couple of weeks, although as I move further into it, I find myself going outside to read, even in the heat.  Hard to digest all that the Nazis did unless out in bright sunshine.

Julie speaks about moving beyond where we feel safe; our inner critics are looking out for our best interests, or that’s what they want us to assume.  But in facing one of the most evil regimes in history, Bonhoeffer notes how peace isn’t equated to security; in Bonhoeffer’s words, to demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself.  In the creative life, there are no absolutes, only the urge to step out of the comfort zone into a realm filled with….  Aha, there’s the spark, the magic, the limitless reach of what could be!  Possibilities are rife if only we choose to unfetter ourselves from what is familiar.

In Bonhoeffer’s time, the stakes were so different; freedom from tyranny is hard to conjure, and I certainly didn’t mean to delve into these sorts of waters when I started reading this book.  Yet, the same can be said for when I began writing The Hawk.  I wasn’t thinking much past a love story with some intangible odds attached.  Yet instead of shirking from that idea, I marched on ahead; peace wasn’t on my agenda, but to tell a truth bound in a small bit of fantasy.  I’d never written in the genre of magical realism, nor is historical fiction my strength.  Again, I needed to forge past misgivings, following my heart.  To me, being creative is an action of faith; instead of dwelling in my own shoes, I’ll interpret how another might live.

I’m so pleased to share Julie’s web blog, not only for her valuable insights; I applaud her courage!  When the heart’s dictates are followed, great tasks are accomplished, the least not being moving past fear.  When fear is demolished, wonderful occurrences take shape, maybe in the guise of stories, perhaps in artwork, but mostly in a peace that encourages the better angels of our natures to flourish.

And finally the words emerge….

Silicon Valley under magnificent skies; photo taken by my better half.

Silicon Valley under magnificent skies; outdoor photos taken by my better half.

Maybe this coincides with my husband reaching the top of the mountain; he’s been working hard to get back into his hiking routine, and with a cool morning, the conditions were ripe for him to make that big push, freeing up the morning for me to, ahem, get some writing accomplished.  Both of our dreams were realized, with some pain involved along the way.

No getting around how much a six-mile trek takes from him, whilst I was struggling to return to fictional form.  Rust accumulates and simply has to be slogged through….

But that’s okay; I spent this week near the sewing machine, turning out the Christmas quilt top, as well as the beginnings of an Advent wall hanging for my nieces.

I also started some place mats that are a wedding present for college friends of my eldest and her hubby.  A couple of coasters will accompany, once I have lots of small scraps with which to play, hehehe.

Coffee, science, and bicycles are the theme for this couple.

Coffee, science, and bicycles are the theme for this twosome.

Yet all week I considered The Hawk; I might not have done any active work on it, but plenty of subconscious (and not so subconscious) meanderings occurred.  Amid those pondering were items I’ll need to address in the next round of revisions, as well as the biggie; what happens next!  Maybe that’s why I dithered all week, or sewed rather.  Part 11 starts to tie up what has been the focus since the end of Part 8, oh my goodness.  And Part 11 actually kick starts what I sincerely hope is the last plot line of this novel, although I know better than to actually assume anything, lol.  Basically, as I very slowly started typing this morning, I acknowledged how out of my hands is this whole dang story.  Thankfully that frees up my digits to simply type what pops into my head.

So much of writing is solitary, very much like my husband’s hikes.  He can send me photos, but takes each step by himself.  Yet how handy are these pastimes we enjoy, for his walks give me time to write, and he can gladly spend a few hours without feeling I’m home alone with nothing to do.  Yet these tasks, for all their pleasures, need to be repeated in order to attain the maximum benefit.  His results are health-related, and maybe mine are too, mental and emotional food for my soul.  While I love to sew, and certainly find plenty of it to do, writing is my creative life-blood.

During this week of prose down-time, I wondered just when the mood would strike.  It’s nothing I can conjure, it’s about being patient.  Yesterday I felt the nudge, like drops of water for a thirsty person.  And while laundry intruded, texts from my hubby answered, this morning I started to draw out sentences and paragraphs, leading into one completed scene, which was slowly followed by one more.  My husband had returned by then, and while he ate lunch, I pounded out a few last words, wrapping up chapter….  Oh my, 195 chapters of this saga, from where have they arisen?  I won’t dare answer that, nor shall I mull over how many remain.  Instead I’ll be thankful the words continue, even if that process is at times difficult, and somewhat lonely.  Yet, I’m surrounded by characters, just like my spouse is inundated along the trail by nature.  A single bench marks the peak, but my what a view.  Maybe I’ll feel similar when the last words of The Hawk are written.  One hell of an effort, but what beauty has been revealed….

At the top....

At the top.