Tag Archives: patience

A Necessary Sense of Direction

I’ve been adding words to the manuscript, actually completing an entire chapter on Monday.  But I have to admit that last week I didn’t get much writing accomplished, in part that as I sat to work, I was stymied by where I was within the story; 1965 was dawning, and in looking over that year upon Wikipedia, major world events needed contemplation. Bloody Sunday on March 7th began a month-long chain of events that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  But it wasn’t only Civil Rights issues; the conflict in Vietnam became a part of the American consciousness, as the draft was nearly doubled, protests accompanying.  There was much for me to ponder before I could get back into my novel, and only now am I feeling able to proceed.

The Hawk isn’t strictly historical fiction, but to ignore that element would have been wrong.  I won’t dwell on those topics overtly, but now that I’ve allowed for them, I can attempt to get back on the writing track.  I’m easily distracted, what with spring’s beauty, the garden demanding my attention as well as family.  I spent yesterday with Little Miss, Miss Em, and their mum, Buttercup too.  In a few weeks I’ll be up with The Burrito and his folks, so I’m hoping to squeeze in as many scenes as time allows.  Plus there’s the sewing and….

A tense moment in a Llama Llama book as I read to my granddaughters yesterday.

I’m plotting out a rather large project, a king-sized quilt that up until a few nights back was giving me trouble.  Then I inadvertently solved the question of what pattern to use, simply by playing around with pre-cut 4.5″ squares.  I’m going to make this quilt using 16.5″ blocks, mixing it up with whole pieces cut to that size and myriad manners of patchwork.  I might even get crazy enough to cut a passel of 2.5″ squares, we’ll see how creative I’m feeling.  Ocean blues and greens are the colour scheme, probably with some pops of yellow and orange, maybe pinks too.  As soon as I finish half a dozen placemats, I’ll start to consider a quilt fit for an ocean.

I’ll add another row of squares to this, and call it the first block for the king-size quilt.

I’m grateful for markers along the prose and fabric pathways; I work best when provided a map of sorts.  Maybe it’s age, or so many irons in the fire.  I pondered that this morning, trying to get into the rhythm of writing, but right now family comes first.  As long as I can muster paragraphs into scenes and scraps into blocks, I’m on the right path, history as a reminder it’s all a matter of perspective.

Onto the next project….

Fabrics for a Christmas quilt….

My family and I enjoyed a wonderful holiday together, and we’re still waiting on Lil’ Sis’ arrival.  In the meantime, I’ve slapped another quilt top on the wall, and will attempt to sew it into a cohesive whole over the next few days.  These fabrics have been waiting for me, good thing inanimate objects are patient, lol.

I like the darker shades too; while I’m not overly keen on red, these are balanced by blues and browns.

Over the last several days I’ve had time to consider blessings, of which there are many.  I’ve pondered how being a grandmother is truly the main focus of my present existence, yet other passions remain; I managed to read through three chapters of The Hawk Part 12 this morning, with the intent to possibly release that section before the end of the year.  Writing might not be doable, but I will always be an author, hehehe.

Snowflakes run diagonally from left to right, while trees go right to left.

Then there is the sewing….  Leftover squares from the current cotton WIP will turn into placemats for my husband and I to admire and use as Advent approaches.  I need to fashion a binding for a baby quilt, then attach said binding and get that comforter and burp cloths into the post.  I’d like to make a Christmas placemat for Lil’ Sis, not that she’ll be using it anytime soon, but extras of the same prints employed for the rest of her family are sitting behind my monitor, and I should do something constructive with them before they are buried under other projects.  I had to do some serious clearing of my computer table when The Burrito visited, this room where he slept at night.  The holidays seem to be a good time for housecleaning, all sorts of tangible treasures discovered.

Yet a few intangible treats were unearthed, peace for my crafty soul to lie low while beloveds require my attentions.  Yes, I have plenty to run under my sewing machine, chapters awaiting revisions, but these elements are no longer where I place the emphasis, especially at this time of year, even if the fabric WIP is a Christmas gift.  Thanksgiving leads to Advent, a time of waiting and exercising patience, a most necessary lesson for yours truly.  And maybe I’ve finally found some equilibrium in all the recent changes, many of them invisible to others, but rushing forcefully inside me.  Perhaps the next project isn’t a quilt or novel, but merely another layer of myself emerging.  Yes, my family is waiting for another to join us, but this abuela has also been reborn.

Over halfway done, but a shot of the complete design will be in the next post….

What a concept, my goodness!  But I suppose with toddlers on the verge of becoming three-year-olds, grandmotherhood is truly upon me.  Yet, as motherhood took on various forms, so will this role evolve, and I’m grateful for how I am being stretched.  As Advent approaches, I will embrace the waiting, quietly going about those tasks placed in my hands.  For as great is my imagination, in practical matters I work best when given clear direction.  As the dust settles, I’m happy to follow where I am being led, cotton fibres and stray sentences in my wake.

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.

Slow Progress (But better than none at all…)

I finally finished sewing this one, and have since basted it. Currently it lives on the back of our couch, where every few nights I hand-quilt a diagonal row or two….

Sometimes life feels to creep along, or parts of life; while it’s already July, I’m making little headway on The Hawk, although sewing has increased.  Recently I copied photos from my phone onto my PC; five months worth of shots confirmed that yes I’d been a busy woman, just not in producing words.  That assuaged my sense of slight futility regarding writing, reminding me that currently my focus is on family, not fiction.  Or it was this past spring, and as summer speeds along again my kids and grandkids are taking center stage.  Yet, I also have to remember that I have gotten back on the writing train, albeit at a snail’s pace.  And if that pace meanders through autumn, okay.  Just take a deep breath and find another little project to quilt.

This was going to be a mug rug for our coffee table, then The Burrito visited, helping me machine sew the binding. Now it will be for him to use however he best sees fit.

Since I write (when I write) solely in the mornings, afternoons and evenings are free for fabrics, so I’ve been taking advantage of being at home, unlike how I seemed to be anywhere but earlier this year.  Maybe it’s as if all the words I want to write are vicariously translated via stitches; colours are scenes, building into chapters big and little.  The urge to create isn’t occurring at my computer, so I’ve set up shop elsewhere, even doing a little hand-quilting in the backyard.  Today however I started sewing rows for a big quilt, which I’ll detail in a future post.  For now, here’s a little sample of what suffices while The Hawk percolates in my gray matter.

Something for my hubby using leftover squares from the quilt WIP. I love these fabrics, and was so pleased to keep a few to enjoy.

Ah, The Hawk….  The other night I told my husband that a part of me doesn’t mind this drawn-out process, for I will never write this book again, in the initial drafting of a novel manner.  I truly felt that this afternoon as I pressed seams for the quilt WIP, finding joy at my ironing board, also beauty in this nowhere near done project.  I took three shots, just for this post, capturing one small moment in this quilt’s creation, sort of like documenting a paragraph within a book; it will be buffered by earlier scenes and later revelations, but within several sentences might emerge a beauty that later is encompassed within a greater whole.  The rows I sewed today while watching Wimbledon will simply be attached to other rows, then basted, quilted, bound, then given away and I’ll rarely visit that quilt again.  Books are the same; after being published I hardly return to them.  Recently it was brought to my attention how life is this moment right NOW, this post, this phrase.  Then it flows to the next and….

Pressing seams is very therapeutic, allowing me to once again admire fabrics but from a different perspective….

And yet right now is this small gorgeous slice of wonder, of a few words, of snippets of song.  It’s brown rice I just started in the cooker for dinner, it’s summer blue sky and blowy trees I see outside the window, it’s a quick glance to my right where those two sewn rows await another, which sits in a stack beside my machine, perhaps a task I’ll attend to once this post is finished.  It’s blues and low volume fabrics and a red tomato pincushion and by the end of the day this moment will be something else entirely.  Such is the nature of life.

Maybe I like the symmetry, hmmm….

Yet for how fleeting that all sounds, I think it’s beneficial to note the small bits, or the slow writing bits, for all these seemingly inconsequential steps build upon one another, then a quilt or book is done, dinner made, moments accrued into another day of my life.  And even if I didn’t write today, there’s tomorrow, or Saturday, or whenever I next sit at this computer to type out more than a blog entry.  And that is perfectly wonderful!  There’s no rush, what I keep reminding myself, ahem.  Maybe a post like this is merely to reinforce that leisurely notion; there is no rush.  What will be, will be.

I want to inhale that, wrap it around myself, comforting my eager authorial heart.  And in the meantime, pretty projects are tangible signs of my creativity.  What a blessing that is, both in the desire and ability.

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.

Pie and dolls and simpler pleasures….

The sun has set, but one lone black cow wonders what in the world we’re doing there….

After one more brief sojourn, to visit our son in Nevada, my husband and I are home for….  Well, for a while, whew!  I enjoy getting out and about, but after a few weeks of traveling all over the West, pleasure at being in my own home is palpable.  Summer has arrived in Silicon Valley, not only in warm temps, but in lush gardens, dying front lawns, and our fruit trees laden with apricots and peaches.  I need to deadhead roses and trim back honeysuckle, but I’m reveling in the comfort that is my domain.  And that includes my writing/sewing grotto too.

Yes, I’m back to reading The Hawk, but I’ve jumped up several chapters.  I’m determined to return to writing at some point this summer, so Part 11 is my starting place, of sorts.  At the end of today’s chapter, Renee notes that for all surrounding them, at least she can fall back on pie, dolls, and simpler pleasures.  I’m taking that as a sign not only for a post, but how to best reacquaint myself with a manuscript.  Just one bit at a time.

Today’s pics are from the rest of my night photo shoot in the desert near Las Cruces.  With only a phone, my shots of the moon weren’t overly impressive, but the next time I find myself there, hopefully I’ll have a good app installed in order to snap the Milky Way.  Simpler pleasures were truly found that evening, from gazing at the twinkling night sky to warming up in the car when the wind grew too chilly.  The stillness was amazing, other than when a photographer shouted to another if they could shine a bit of light, as no one wanted to interrupt what might be a great photo in the making.  While the cameras being used were sophisticated, basic elements of courtesy were just as necessary.  We can’t erase the technology employed in so many parts of our lives, but thoughtfulness never goes out of style.

And now I’m home, giving consideration to my book, hmmm.  I read a couple of chapters yesterday from Part 8, but Parts 9 and 10 have been set aside.  Realistically, I just don’t have the time to pour over them if I want to manage any writing before 2018.  And that statement is a lot for me to ponder; where has time gone, the time I used to give to creating fiction, time now spent in other avenues.  When I began this book in October 2013, grandkids weren’t a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  My father was recovering from chemo, thinking he might have another twenty-five years.  Much of my time was spent at this computer spinning yarns, but now this space is shared with fabrics, dude!  There are many stories I want to tell, but I’ll tell ya, finishing The Hawk comes first.  Except, it doesn’t; my life isn’t merely about writing, although it used to feel that way.

Yours truly, with the moon to my left….

I can’t say it feels like any previous time; it’s new every day.  And that’s good, don’t get me wrong.  I love all the elements which make up my existence, but it’s a little hard acclimating to this altered journey when a few parts seem to be missing.  The Burrito and Little Miss are fantastic additions to my sphere, but what about Eric and Lynne, Renee and Sam, Marek, Laurie, Stanford, Klaudia….  Those fictional members of my family have been patiently waiting for me to get my butt back in the chair, and now that scheduled getaways have thinned out on the calendar, I am so ready to do little else but read, then write.  However, this life of mine isn’t only about me….

Evening descending, and what a gorgeous night it was.

However, it is about following a call to which I am inextricably linked, and through that relationship I trust all t’s will be crossed, all i’s dotted.  I am grateful for some wisdom age has afforded me, knowing what needs to be accomplished will indeed occur, and certainly not in my own strength.  That faith has sustained me in crucial moments, also in slight niggles; when am I going to get back to writing my book???  Maybe (hopefully) this summer.  If not….  Well, one of these days.  And in the meantime, there’s pie, dolls, and simpler pleasures.  Little Miss turns two soon, a new doll on my sewing table ready to gift wrapped.  The words will come amid family, love, and further life lessons, the kind of which never truly end.

Getting closer all the time….

The top half, keeping the spare bed warm….

I’m going away for a few days, and while I wanted to get the fabric WIP put together, it didn’t happen.  I did get my shower cleaned, so I’m not entirely displeased about the unfinished quilt top.  More I’m aware that all things occur at their proper time.  That quilt isn’t going anywhere, and by the end of May, I’ll have that project basted, maybe even under my hand-quilting needle.

The Hawk languishes in a similar sort of space; I won’t say that by the month’s end I’ll be writing, but maybe I’ll have returned to revising; my goodness I miss working on that book.  I miss expressing myself via prose, I miss being deeply involved in a completely different sort of existence.  I miss who I used to be a couple of years ago, but that woman has moved on.

Becoming an abuela has been a process somewhat like turning into a quilter or taking on novels.  Baby steps, ha ha, come first, then suddenly Little Miss is nearly two and not having toddlers in my life seems strange.  But then, not writing is weird; separate spheres are trying to slot themselves into proper positions and as the toddlers show their turbulent sides, I’m having to wrestle the desire to create alongside nurturing my beautiful family.

The bottom sections, which will hang out on the quilt wall a little longer…..

My life can be noted by decades; in my twenties I became a mother.  My thirties were spent raising kids, teaching them too.  By my forties they were teens, and I was learning how to write fiction.  Now they are all in their twenties, dude!  My fifties seems to be the Grandma decade, and I’m grateful to be close to my daughters emotionally and geographically.  Yet this alteration isn’t without some growing pains, more for the wee ones than myself, and even when I’m feeling a little wonky, I can view more than what tomorrow might bring.  And that too is a fantastic blessing; perhaps my sixties will be another wordy jumble of years, stories that percolate in my brain finally landing on virtual documents.  In ten years, The Burrito and Little Miss will be preteens, jeez!  A grandmother’s presence won’t be as necessary for them or their folks; I’ll probably be the one needing a daily nap, hehehe.

As I absorb this latest life lesson, I’m mindful of how brief these days are, this interruption in writing and sewing really no more than a hiccup.  I’m also trying to impart these notions to my daughters; as they want to make their children’s lives smooth, I do too.  Becoming a grandmother isn’t as earth-shattering as turning into someone’s mom, but it has required moments for reflection.  And it’s nice to know new discoveries wait on the horizon.  Toddlers aren’t the only ones learning, but thankfully my curve isn’t as steep as theirs.  I’d fall right off the edge, let me tell you.  Plenty of quilts will soften all our landings, or maybe we’ll just snuggle under them, letting love be the best teacher.