Tag Archives: writing

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….

Easier to unpick a novel than a quilt….

New additions to my crafting collection….

Been working on The Hawk this week, although one step forward has translated to two chapters backwards.  At this stage, without proper justification I can’t blithely say, “Oh yes, Stanford will be attending the Fourth of July activities even if he has dropped the Snyders like a hot potato.”

Rummaging through scrap buckets was exhilarating; I do like me some blues.

That was what I did the last time I got some noveling accomplished.  However, hindsight is 20/20, and laying the groundwork wasn’t more than changing chapter numbers, then writing a couple thousand words which add to more than the word count.  No cheating allowed when so close to the finish line….

My first block, awaiting needle and thread.

Ahem.  But that’s not all I wish to say today, although it has been on my mind, alongside another idea that current resides as no more than a playlist.  Ah, the days of playlists and pounding out rough drafts within thirty days.  Man, that feels like ages ago, long before quilts muscled their cottony ways into my life.  And if my sewing machine wasn’t enough of a distraction, now there’s hexagons and glue sticks and English paper piecing (EPP).  What???

Block #2 awaiting assembly. The center fabric was from my very first quilt.

Over Easter, I chatted with my son-in-law’s mum about how aging has taken its toll on our creative output.  After seven or eight o’clock in the evenings, both of us are toast when it comes to fashioning crafts that take precision.  Hand-sewing doesn’t fall under that header, but there hasn’t been much to tackle since I completed the blue quilt binding, and while plenty of projects line the quilt walls, very little of it is at all close to being bound, much less hand-quilted.  I’m still finding my feet after being away for some of March, then Easter.  Other than inserting necessary backstory into my novel, the rest of my creative flow is in a muddle.

Strips of scraps awaiting the rotary cutter…..

Or maybe the better term is transition; in the evenings while my hubby watches the Warriors, I’ve been perusing blogs that focus on English paper piecing.  Don’t ask me why I’m being drawn in that direction, other than a need for nighttime relaxation.  But yesterday I pulled the trigger, picking up 1.5″ hexagons and glue sticks, and by bedtime I had one hexie block sewn.

Which leads to another designed block!

I feel a wee bit guilty, as placemats are waiting as well as a duvet cover for Little Miss, not to mention a baby quilt on my list, but a dear friend is coming next week and one of our activities will be craft-related.  She cross stitches and I’ll have these hexies and….  And for whatever purpose EPP has in my life, I need to throw caution, but not my sewing machine, to the wind.  I’ve already found that thread basting might be my preferred method, although I have yet to sew together hexies basted in that manner.

This block is a mix of glue and thread basted hexies. I wonder which will prove easier to sew….

(I found myself poking through the papers with glue-basted hexies, so we’ll see if thread basting becomes my way.)

For me, thread-basting is just as fast as using glue. Having wrangled free one glue-basted paper, these will slip much easier from the fabric.

What does this mean for The Hawk?  Not that much, as I don’t sew in the mornings, and can’t write more than grocery lists past noon.  On days when I have time, these pastimes can peacefully coexist, and for that I am truly grateful; I can’t fathom having to pick one over the other, other than to say it is much simpler to insert prose than rip out stitches.  Not that I prefer those chores, but if forced to choose….

My first sewn hexie block, waiting for friends to join it.

The day when it comes to that, I’ll be in big trouble.  For now, words and fabrics are fast friends, and we’ll see how paper piecing blends into the overall quilting scheme.  Maybe once I have a plethora of hexies basted, other cotton projects will resume course.  In the meantime, have a hexagon-ally magnificent day!

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.

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.

Words, Fabrics, and Weeding

Eastern side of our house before I got busy….

We’ve been enjoying a lovely spate of precipitation here in Silicon Valley, and boy I’m thankful for it.  My front and back gardens are full of weeds, and I was hoping not to have to pull them from the hard ground.  Rain earlier this week allowed me to get some thinned, and this weekend will provide additional time to cull even more.  If I can finish the job by the middle of next week, I’ll consider myself blessed.  Temps are due to rise, and the storms we’ve had recently might be our last big ones of the winter.

And how it looks after some rain and a little hard work.

I never truly appreciated rain until we moved to England, which might sound strange, having grown up in California.  When there is no rain, you don’t think much about it; droughts are bad, but expected.  Yet where it rains all the time and the landscape is usually green, rain becomes magical.  It means no need to water, it means weather, ha ha!  It became the barometer of our lives, in that skies held great drama, grey-white clouds obscuring the sun as though another galaxy hung right over our heads.

Fabrics for placemats; Kona solids with a southwest vibe.

I did appreciate sunny vistas when we moved back, but quickly I ached for wet days, humidity, and bright green grass.  Now the brevity of winter feels unduly wrong, like the cosmos is off kilter.  Funny how one’s perceptions alter, sort of like how today I was exceedingly grateful to write 833 words, completing a chapter I started days ago.  My present output is comparable to the rain which falls sporadically, but I’ll take every sentence.  Like the weather, writing isn’t static, and I’m happy just to complete a scene.

The only prints for this project will be the backs; I enjoy culling my scrap buckets as well as the garden.

I was thrilled to clear weeds from both sides of our house, let me also say.  There’s more to my life than books and sewing, yet those pastimes weren’t a part of my Yorkshire life, which is an intriguing observation.  Our existences are enhanced by change, just like my garden requires water.  Weeds are culled, allowing other plants to flourish, or just to clear space for the eye to rest, like mixing prints and solids within a quilt, lol.

2.5″ squares sewn together to be inserted amid the 4.5″ squares….

I’ve been working on placemats for my eldest, who ran out during Miss Em’s baptismal weekend.  No prints in this project, but I did mix up the patchwork with little squares.  Now my quilt wall is chock full of these southwestern-themed fabrics, which I’ll get around to finishing up in the coming days as the writing continues.

One of twelve placemats in the can!

Seasonal weeding is here, then gone.  The words and fabrics endure….

Tucking Away the Words

A great feeling is returning to the written work, seven hundred words on Monday, a chapter’s completion today.  I had left myself with quite a conundrum, as Klaudia has learned about Eric’s affliction, and I don’t merely mean his crippled arm.  How in the world I was going to address her reaction had been set aside until this week, but I think I managed a fitting segue into what happens next, and now to just keep adding to the story, one half or third or quarter chapter at a time.

Playing Carcassonne yesterday with Little Miss; she likes placing the men on every tile, regardless if the tile is hers.

It’s like a rose; layers of petals unfold to the center that holds the sweetest scent.  It’s like how Roxy Music ended their 2001 concerts with “For Your Pleasure”, each performer taking a bow, leaving only the pianist as the arrangement became more sparse, although that seems a backwards manner in which to describe a novel’s conclusion, but this book is so long that only a few loose threads remain.  What Klaudia has learned seems unbelievable, but Lynne proffered a way to absorb that truth in a manner that only mothers could share.  Of course, Klaudia doesn’t simply accept Lynne’s reasoning, not only for the sake of continuity.  There are still other issues I need to wrap up; Klaudia and Marek are a part of Eric’s story, but now that I’ve tackled one twist, the rest are just a matter of time.

Tummy time for Miss Em, two months old and enjoying her freedom.

Time to write is the key, but this abuela will squeeze in prose however it falls.  Miss Em’s baptism was a splendid affair, and her big sister is talking up a storm.  I’m hoping to spend some days with The Burrito in March, then we’ll be away for Easter, and the rest of April is abuzz with guests and trips away.  But I’m feeling very centered regardless of interruptions; reading over old novels affirms my love for spinning a yarn, as well as reminding me how far I have come in that endeavor.  Another idea sits on the horizon, again spurring me to complete The Hawk so I can dive head-first into another realm.  When I began writing, I was grateful my kids were nearly done with high school, time an abundant element.  The nietos won’t be tiny forever, and I relish being a part of their lives.  All these pieces of my existence are getting along, it’s just a matter of embracing how they coalesce for the greater good.

These days are beyond precious, enough time for all blessings.

This is what I need to remember when scenes are balky or I’m weary, or a baby won’t nap; there is a time for all things.  Tucked away in my back pocket are words, also keys to other doors.  If one doesn’t fit, try another.  Eventually the correct path appears, taken one step at a time.

Enjoying the fruits of my labours….

A cold has kept me from accomplishing much more than the basics, but sometimes it takes a small malady to force me into quiet time.  I’ve worked several Sudoku puzzles over the weekend, a pastime from my Yorkshire days. Mended a pair of jeans, sewed a couple of vibrant squares my grandson left on the quilt wall, watched a little basketball.  It’s been a busy time, what with The Burrito having turned three, Miss Em’s impending baptism on Sunday, plus my hubby and I will celebrate thirty years of wedded bliss this week.  I’m grateful to be feeling better, but lethargy lingers.

Two colourful blocks recently fashioned, their future currently undecided.

Weary of doing puzzles, yesterday afternoon I started reading one of my older books.  I’m not sure what led me to this particular novel, but I downloaded it onto my phone, laid on the sofa, setting a quilt over my lap, and suddenly I was transported over forty years in the past to Arkendale, Oregon.  Simultaneously I was dwelling in my more recent history, about nine years ago when I wrote Alvin’s Farm, yet residing along two different planes of existence wasn’t a bother, maybe due to my cold, or merely what happens when an author peeks back into their literary timeline.  To my delight, I couldn’t put down my phone; while the prose was at times rough, the story remained compelling, even though I know how it ends.

Miss Em catching a snooze….

Even more, I recall how this initial novel was concluded; like The Hawk, Alvin’s Farm had originally been meant as a short story.  HA!  As I wrote, the tale unfolded in manners not anticipated, but in following the muse, I didn’t become frustrated, permitting characters to unwind at their pace, or show up unexpectedly.  (Probably why writing The Hawk continues, as I managed to find The End on a previously enlongated tale….)  But what struck me most was how simple were my intentions; I wrote for the sheer joy of it.  Publishing was a dream, but releasing my books wasn’t even considered, which proves how quickly independent publishing became part of the authorial landscape.

Little Miss and The Burrito hard at work.

But eschewing indie and traditional publishing, what matters most to this writer is the need to share a story.  Nine years ago, I was enraptured with crafting prose, creating characters, bringing to life plots and schemes that seemed to leap from my brain onto the keyboard with an ease that led me to believe it would always be so uncomplicated.  Time to write has become the issue, I certainly have yarns to spin.  But maybe as I approach the last section of The Hawk, I need to remind myself why I do this.

I write because I love to tell stories and want to learn more about the world I inhabit.

That’s truly what it’s about, and what a pleasure and gift to be able to write at all!  I need to remind myself of this mantra, as I’ve put pressure on myself for the last couple of years to finish up The Hawk; girl, it will be done when it’s good and ready, and once it is finished, you will never write it again.  Well, not the first draft anyway, hehehe….

I recall when I completed Alvin’s Farm, stepping from the writing grotto out to where my husband was mowing our front yard.  It was the end of April in 2009, the scent of freshly cut grass heady, matching how I felt at that moment.  So much lay ahead, but all I knew was a tremendous sense of accomplishment, and even completion.  I haven’t felt that lately when finishing up a section of The Hawk, but I should.  I need to embrace all aspects of writing, not fearing what has yet to be set onto my virtual document.  Trust is key here, not merely in my abilities, but in where this tale is meant to go.  And getting back to my mantra is essential: I write because I love to tell stories and want to learn more about the world I inhabit.

Buttercup is pretty happy plopped on a sofa, bless her….

There is a deep personal reward in writing, a great responsibility to readers, but also to oneself in allowing breaks in the work, maybe longer than desired, but life isn’t lived merely with my butt in the chair.  What I bring to The Hawk after an extended absence will enhance it, I can’t be afraid of that.  And in years to come, I’ll sit on my sofa, snuggle under a quilt, and read a part of my fictional history that occurred before I was born, yet imperative to who I am becoming.  I’m certainly not the same as when I began it in 2013, just as my skills aren’t where they were in the spring of 2009.  I need to embrace all these elements, then move forward.  No fear, just trust, and enjoy.  Always remember to enjoy the ride….