Tag Archives: creativity

Not so haunted….

Several weeks ago I was perusing this blog, for what reason I can’t recall today.  But I stumbled upon a post written over five years ago concerning the inner editor and a novel I wanted to write.  Then my husband played for me “Pay My Debts” by Sharon Van Etten.  As if those two elements were fated in the stars, I’ve been giving serious consideration to an idea that never went further than a blog entry, yet somehow was waiting for one rather ponderous hawk to move out of the road.

A table runner’s underside; I added ivory sashing to make it a wee bit wider.

And speaking of getting out of the way….  I’m heading off to help out at The Burrito’s house, where I hope to further consider a future WIP in addition to enjoying my nieto and his family.  I’ve completed the table runner for my eldest daughter, which came about as suddenly as how a five-year-old novelistic notion seems to have embedded itself firmly in my gray matter.  I’ve solved the issue of how to handle my squeamishness; just throw in some social issues, lol!

Working on hexies early this morning while my hubby slept in, wrangling a nasty cold. I took this shot long after I’d been basting, too dark to get a good photograph.

Now to figure out backstory, and not only for the main characters.  I’m going to set this tale in another galaxy, haven’t written sci-fi in ages.  (Magical Realism doesn’t count in my book, ha ha, and no, this doesn’t have to do with those Dorlinians.)  This will be a cross of the murder mystery/love story I had originally envisioned enhanced by topical commentary.  Those contemporary musings will override the more gory details, but I need to fill in the blanks only my imagination can solve.

Meanwhile, a completed table runner.  I machine quilted it yesterday, added the binding, then hand-sewed it last night while listening to the Warriors beat the Pelicans.

There’s a distinct pleasure in resurrecting an idea, especially when a surprise lifts the whole thing from half-baked haziness to something I can actually contemplate, sort of like the table runner that now only needs a good washing.  Placemats still linger on a quilt wall, but for whatever reason, this decorative item is finished.  Why do some projects hover on the sidelines while others burst forth as if fashioned by about eight other hands?  I was thinking about this over the last couple of days while this table runner went from a stack of scraps to rows on the quilt wall, then onto my ironing board, seams being pressed as flat as I could make them.  Will this new novel, currently entitled Haunted, come about just as easily?

Stepping out to do some pre-travel laundry, I was pleasantly met by a rush of fragrant roses and lilacs. They might not be so plentiful when I return, so I snapped this shot. If only I could capture the scents as well as the beauty….

I won’t know until at least July, no time to write, barely time to sew.  But I am clearing off my little quilt wall, those Southwestern shades dwindling in number.  As projects fall under the presser foot, fictional facts accumulate in my head, very much as how fabric adheres to batting, then gets switched around.  Post-it notes work well too, but I’m nowhere near ready to do more than mentally swap out the whys and wherefores.

The smallest amount of precipitation fell this morning, like powdered sugar dusting a delicious cookie. And the smell, oh my goodness. The memory will suffice when this rose is long gone.

Yet a necessary sense of direction now exists; I have a plan, as Little Miss likes to say.  And not only direction, but purpose, which previously this idea was lacking.  I like my melodrama with more than a touch of reality, magical or no.  Allegories are good for the soul, and when placed in outer space, any number of situations can be employed.  The less gory they are the better, in my opinion.  I wanted to write a bloodless thriller, okay.  Bring on Haunted; I’m not scared at all.

Fit for a Starship Captain (in training, of course….)

Washed and ready to be drooled on, the sure mark of a successful comforter.

Besides novels, other WIPs are wrapping up; I completed this baby quilt for Master Tiberius, and will deliver it perhaps today.  I’m very pleased for how well the quilting turned out, a mix of machine and hand sewing that took a little time to sort.

Solids and prints blend well, with a bright scrappy binding.

Occasionally I can eyeball measurements with the best of them; I used an old fashioned ruler to space the machine sewn rows along the top two thirds, then hand-quilted between those diagonal lines.

I don’t have much of this galaxy print left, but boy I had fun hand quilting around the planets.

The galaxy was quilted mostly by hand, although I did run two wavy lines along it with my machine.  If Tibby’s folks aren’t into a space theme, they can use this later on when Master Tiberius gets to crawling.  It’s wider than my usual baby quilts, as I didn’t want to sacrifice that galaxy print, it’s just too adorable.

Because I used the galaxy print’s entire width, I needed to add a long scrap to the side for the backing. Thankfully I had some of the flannel alphabet print in the scrap pile.

Without having to write, I took the time yesterday to sew up some of the remaining Southwestern placemats for my eldest, even managed to get three basted for machine quilting, perhaps a task for later today.  I would love to clear out some of these projects, mostly because others are calling my name.  In that regard, quilting and writing are no different, more plans for both than I have sense.

This quilt will be enjoyed more in autumn and winter due to its size and snuggly nature. And it’s long enough to last for many years, and starship travels, in Tibby’s future.

Yet I don’t lament those dreams, even if some (or many, let’s not kid myself) come to naught.  Maybe I spent four and a half years on one story, but heaps of quilts came to life during that time, not to mention all the grandchildren adventures, or coming to terms with my father’s death.  I still frame my life’s accomplishments along the decades; having kids in my twenties, raising them in my thirties, learning to write in my forties.  My fifties could be coined enjoying grandmotherly spoils, but so much weaves in between those ten-year spans, more of a mosaic than set boundaries can contain.

And one more shot of this rosebush. I am just in awe of how well it has bloomed, hehehe….

However it goes, a few things are certain, or relatively so; novelistic notions wind alongside yards of fabric, creating a vibrant template that satisfies my crafting nature.  As for the nietos?  Who knew I would be so blessed while still young enough to crawl around on the floor with them, ha ha!  I hope to share my creative energies as the years pass, then watch as they incorporate those passions into their lives.  Little Miss loves her hexies, and who knows?  There could be an author among them too.  Time will tell, and here it is, the beginning of May!  I want to make the most of each moment, appreciating all aspects of whatever this decade has in store.

Stepping Back in Time

New Year’s Eve 2013 at The Hook in Capitola, California…..

At first I titled this post Like Stepping Back in Time, then I backspaced the Like; today I totally felt as if years had melted away, in writing an entire chapter of The Hawk.  But beyond the word count, another sensation loomed, that of authorial joy, wordy pleasure, novelistic thrill.  These elements used to be commonplace when I sat at my computer.  Lately they have seemed mostly absent.

The moon in November, 2013….

But yesterday I noticed a giddy fictional exuberance that was wholly real, and it continued today, much to my blissful surprise.  It was as if I dwelled in 2015, 2014, or 2013 when I first began writing this book.  It’s turned into several sections, but started innocently enough.  At times over the last two years I had to wonder if I might ever complete it.  And while The End still eludes, my sense of purpose has returned.  Talk about one happy grandma!

Another shot of the moon, November 2013….

Ha ha, a grandma, really?  Um yeah, dude….  When I became an abuela is when the amount of  prose started to not suffer, but slightly decline.  In today’s work, I needed to fact-check some previous sections, and while perusing those paragraphs, I recalled how easily those scenes had emerged.  It was a different season in my life, one I recall fondly, but time is fleeting, this very day already well into the afternoon.  Each moment is meant for this or that, like working on quilts or housecleaning, what I did yesterday.  Occasionally it’s hard not to compare now with the past; better to embrace what is, and after today’s chapter, I am over the moon in celebrating the present.

An early Christmas present in 2013; these books were a part of my childhood, and now live at my grandson’s house. The nietos weren’t even a consideration then, but how life changes…..

Speaking of the moon, today’s photos are from autumn of 2013, when The Hawk burst into my brain, then onto a virtual document.  While my husband still treks about his fave park, I rarely drive to Capitola, too busy with grandkids, sewing, and thankfully still writing.  Ah writing, yes, such a blessing to again type with impunity.  Tomorrow I’ll be hanging out with my grandgirls, but come Thursday, perhaps this wave of paragraphical happiness will rush over me.  In the meantime, there’s a baby blanket in need of attention.  I’ll ponder Eric, Stanford, Lynne, and Laurie as I rock the needle, quilting style….

Focusing on the task at hand….

Lately the writing has been ultra tedious; while I’m grateful for managing a few sentences, I’ve been distracted too easily, and truthfully am feeling a little beside myself.  It’s like I’m seated next to me as the writer, watching as fingers flail away on the keyboard, my scattered thoughts landing on bits of fabric, scraps of paper, or my eyes drawn to the window, enjoying the rain.

Little Miss seen through an artsy filter her grandpa likes to use.

Okay, so it’s been wet out which is great and I’ve quilted cute coasters to go along with my eldest’s Southwestern placemats and to do lists are being attended, but what about my book?  Oh yeah, I’m writing a novel, or trying to.  The last two years have allegedly been the years I was going to complete The Hawk, but due to life, those plans have been fantastically scuppered.  I won’t say spectacular fail, because I know there is a time for all things.  But time is also a precious commodity and I don’t wish to waste it.  I don’t want to keep saying, “This will be the year!”

Miss Em captured by that same abuelo.

While tackling some early morning mending, I considered just how vital is wrapping up this novel; for me personally it would be an enormous relief, ahem, but in the grand scheme, what does it matter?  I try not to take myself too seriously, yet perhaps that’s been the problem, easier to say that a quilt requires my attention, or that family is paramount.  Don’t get me wrong, my family is key, but in all that faces our world, peace matters.  Love matters.  Healing matters.  These three elements are the basic themes of The Hawk.  Maybe now more than ever completing this saga is essential.

The Burrito shares his breakfast with some friends. It is for all of these grandchildren that my stories need to be shared.

I have never consider this, but until now, I’ve not had a problem writing.  And that’s the truth; right now fashioning prose is abysmally difficult.  But right now is the most necessary moment to relay love, peace, and reconciliation.  Yes I have other responsibilities, however imparting these powerful notions cannot be ignored.  Pondering that as stitches went in and out of a quilt binding provided me with impetus, also an eager hope; I write for a greater good as well as for myself.

And of course there’s Buttercup, who I am certain would say she’s the most important one of all….

We’ll see in a couple of hours if this realization makes any difference in the word count.  But right now a light shines in the recesses of a dark tunnel.  One reason I write is to make my corner of the world a little brighter.  May a rekindling of that flame spark the creative flow into a viable groove.

The rechristened Roxy Music quilt….

“I tried, but I could not find a way.”

Sometimes the best plans go awry; I truly didn’t mean to resurrect this quilt.  I meant to cut out the best square, preserving it in some fashion.  However, when I sat to do the actual removal, my heart said No.

“Looking back all I did was look away.”

Herein lies the basis for my artistic guidelines; follow the gut instinct regardless of what seems more appropriate.  Hence the length of The Hawk, ahem, but also put into practice when it comes to sewing.

“Next time is the best time, we all know.”

Chopping this piece into smaller bits felt wholly wrong, and suddenly all the scraps littering my table, plus some rescued from overflowing tubs, became quite useful.  The only hindrance to writing up this post was the pesky sun, and how inadvertently I kept finding more broken seams to cover.

“But if there is no next time, where to go?”

But why call it a Roxy Music quilt?  “Re-Make/Re-Model” is from their first album, summing up what I’m doing with this project.  That wasn’t my intent, yet in choosing fave scraps as well as some plain white fabric alongside bright threads, I have reclaimed this quilt from where it began, turning it into a comforter for the 21st century.

“She’s the sweetest queen I’ve ever seen (CPL593H).”

The back fabric is in good shape, now spruced up by purple, blue and pink.  Maybe as time goes on, I’ll incorporate other shades, but for now these threads work fine.

“See here she comes, see what I mean (CPL593H).”

I’ve been mending this quilt for several evenings now; the impetus for saving this project was in part due to my need for a new evening hand-sewing task.  I’ve come to revel in those nighttime stitches, whether or not sport lingers in the background.

“I could talk talk talk talk myself to death.”

Of course, I’ve set myself up for eons of patching, but something about that feels liberating, as if giving this quilt an entirely new life.  While the top was fraying, the rest is in good shape, part of what seemed so criminal in cutting into it.

“But I believe I would only waste my breath (ooh, show me).”

I didn’t wish to destroy it, but breathe into it another existence.  I could have titled this post The Pleasure of Being Crafty Part Three, but talent with needle and thread only scratches the surface, which is outwardly all it seems I’ve done.  Yet this quilt is more now than a recycled comforter; it’s indicative of embracing what seemed unnecessary by adding my own stamp(s).  My breath is now a part of this piece, for better or worse.  Better, I believe, for the quilt as well as the tune.

Major Changes Afoot

So just as I’m grappling with the novel WIP, a roadblock occurred this morning, setting everything connected to the story askance; I’ve just sent Kendall and his family to California for the beginning of the Major League Soccer season, forgetting completely about training camp that takes place in Arizona….

Evolution of an improv quilt; those six-inch squares were quickly surrounded.

Okay, what does this mean for the plot?  I have no idea.  What it means for my current idea of writing is very clear; this novel will be shelved, because I simply don’t have the time or energy to work around a big lapse in research.  But I’m not daunted; today’s inspirational quote, which I read prior to realizing this error is: Some grin and bear it.  Others smile and do it.

More pieces added, including some triangles, although I am very geometrically challenged…

As soon as this issue arose, I saved the paragraph I’d written, closing up that manuscript.  Then I glanced at my sewing table, where scraps have accumulated over the last few days.  I started up the music, then went to work, embracing this sudden detour, considering how to fill what was going to be weeks worth of scattered writing as my eldest counts down the last days of her pregnancy, as the holidays approach, as The Burrito and his mum are slated to arrive at the end of the week, Dad on his way next week, as well as my own better half currently away on business. My goodness, the whole family is as askew as my latest novel!

A bright stripe of red completes a third of the project!

Or are they….  Not really, hehehe.  Everyone and thing are right where they are supposed to be on this day, even if means my plans for a sequel are on permanent hold.  While stability is necessary, so is adaptability.  I’ll work on this improv sleeping bag insert today, as I’d love to get the top sewn before guests arrive on Friday, at which time my sewing table will be sent to the garage so my grandson has a place to sleep.  I’ll pull out The Hawk Part 12 to revise when my authorial muscles require a workout and….  Let the rest of life go as it will.

This morning’s work; I wanted a long stretch of the birds, but some smaller pieces as well. Improvisational sewing has been incredibly liberating, even if the writing has tanked; all gifts in their own good time….

I wondered about writing earlier today, not feeling drawn to do it, but I’m at home this morning, words needing to be added to….  To a story that may or may not be completed one day, but I have to believe if that story is meant to reach The End, it will.  Most important right now is the element of trust.  Many concrete parts of my existence have been upended, but being wrenched from routine isn’t comfortable, requiring blind faith.  A sewing machine will tether me along that path, as well caring for little ones, as will a tale that has been the backbone of my writerly life for over four years.  I do want to finish The Hawk, maybe I merely needed a little break.  All I know for certain is that this morning, post-blog, I’ll sew with a bright smile on my face.  Sometimes life is as simple at that, thank the lord.

So Much Patchwork

While this blog is entitled Indie Novelist and Improv Quilter, the improvisational nature of my sewing has fallen off mightily in the last year.  I realized this months ago, but there simply isn’t time for me to dive headlong into improv quilting at this juncture of my life.  I’m just trying to maintain a semblance of my crafty self as a second generation of my descendants rules.

My grandson became impatient when we told him the tractor wasn’t actually going anywhere.

My husband and I spent this past weekend with The Burrito and his folks; I played firemen with my grandson, employing two outside chairs as our firetruck, then following him around the yard as we put out fires with his toy firehose.  We trekked about a local pumpkin farm where he climbed hay bales, ran through a cornfield maze, admired goats and chickens, chose pumpkins, and provided this abuela a photo op on an old John Deere tractor.  He’s two and a half, speaking in full sentences, potty trained, and rarely still, making me so happy to be his ‘Bama’.

But as grandmotherly joys increase, moments to mull over any sewing other than patchwork no longer exist.  That’s fine, reminding me I really shouldn’t plan for more than this day.  In light of the recent wildfires, perhaps it’s truly best to live each day as the blessing it is.  I took the opportunity to make some little kennel quilts for an animal shelter in Oakland, using spare squares, then extending them another two inches.  It took a couple of days, and while it’s a drop in the bucket, I enjoyed making these little comforters.

These are 12.5 by 18.5 inches, fitting inside small kennels.

Right now a baby blanket awaits time under my machine, my youngest daughter has requested an insert for her sleeping bag, and Christmas fabric is stacked and waiting for space on the quilt walls to open up.  After my father died, I made two patchwork baby quilts for Little Miss, then was ready to say adios to that manner of quilting.  But that doesn’t seem to have been in the plan….

Most of these fabrics were leftover from a quilt I made my goddaughter. The long strips are from a quilt back recently completed.

As the writing has waned, maybe improv quilting will again emerge when nietos are school-age.  I have as many quilt notions as novel plots, but there are only so many hours in one day, and clinging to methods that require more time than I can muster is futile.  I spent this morning reading over the last three chapters of The Hawk, and if I get around to adding more tomorrow, fantastic.  If not….  Herein lies the crux of happiness that I’ve been embracing; what will be will most certainly be.  And what doesn’t happen….  Either it will come back to me later, or was never mine in the first place.  I waited until I was forty to start writing, never believing I would complete a single book.  Hah!  Soon I’ll expound upon that miracle, but today I’m content to honor patchwork.  It’s not flashy, but full of love, and for now the best usage of my talents.  It’s where I started this quilting journey, which hopefully has other avenues yet to explore.