I posted an essay on Medium about attending a certain creativity cult conference yesterday.
Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category
I was chatting with someone who still uses a typewriter, and I asked him what the appeal was. He answered that it was the physicality of it, the way a typewriter stamped out the words and cemented them into the real world.
I don’t get it. I have a typewriter, I love the way it sounds, and smells, and feels, and I love popping out a letter or a bad poem to a friend on it. I do love the physical aspect of the words, and the immediate, unchangeable thoughts.
But fiction? Something that I would use the phrase “honing my craft” to refer to? Ignoring how silly that sounds, it kinda means something to me. Crafting something, in my mind, means working on it. Refining it. Coming back to it, at least once or twice.
You can’t finish a pillow without parking the needle for a while. (Okay, that’s an even worse phrase. Obviously my blog is not a part of my craft. This is the place I just throw a few things out onto the wall and see if they stick. A place where mixing metaphors is only publicly embarrassing, not career-ending.) I love editing, and I feel like it’s an essential part of making sure the real-world presence of my thoughts and stories matches their appearance in my mind.
Which is to say, I should be editing right now. Not philosophizing. Or watching Carp-Hunters.
I am truly awful at finishing. It’s not that my stories get lost and wander out of control, with no idea of how to bring them home. Except for one sad attempt at a mystery that turned into a ghost story and wandered off into the heavens, I can generally see the end, and the path is clear to get there.
In fact, I tend to race towards the end a bit too fast. I have to slow myself down, and take time to smell the paper roses. I sprint, writing my heart out, all the way up until the point where it really looks like I’m going to finish.
And then? Without the glorious motivation that comes once a year with NaNoWriMo? Then I pause. First I tell myself that I’ve earned it. I’m almost there, what does it matter if I watch a quick TV show? Then I remember this other story that I’ve been dying to tell. I’ll come back to the other one, I swear, but an artist has to follow her muse, right?
I was beginning to fear that it was fear itself holding me back. Once a story is finished, that’s when the scary things start. First there’s the editing, which always causes some heart palpitations. What if I can’t make it as perfect as it is in my mind? Worse than that is what follows: The submitting. Rejection is flat-out terrifying, and anyone who says otherwise is masochistic or lying.
It’s not just writing, though. I can see this unfinishing habit all throughout the rest of my life.
Cleaning. I will scour the bathroom, and get distracted from the rest of the house by re-organizing my lip glosses. Then I’ll remember that website I saw that taught you how to make your own glittery lip gloss. I’ll power up my computer and get distracted by my iTunes library on the way, and by this point cleaning is ten steps behind me.
Cooking. Last week I discovered an awesome recipe for chicken with parmesan, kale, green beans, and mushrooms. I did a big shopping trip, and set everything up. Then I ate raw green beans and put everything else back in the fridge. Maybe I’d cook the mushrooms the next day. I know big meals with many ingredients are good things, intellectually, but I can’t seem to get past the planning stage and the tasty individual ingredients.
Reading. I have seven books next to my bed with bookmarks in them. My GoodReads bookshelf is starting to get overloaded. No further comment needed.
Knitting. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a fear of rejection that revolves around the cute little cotton tank top I started back in 2004, or the blanket from 2007, or the sea cable hat from ’08. My warmies love me no matter what. I finally decided to institute a rule: Before I can start a new project, I have to Finish two old ones. Even if Finishing means tearing it to pieces, burning the bits, and burying the ashes out behind the old garden shed.
Last night, it finally hit me. Why not apply that same rule to my writing? And when I say Finishing, I mean edited and submitted. To that end, I reorganized my files, shifting everything into Finished, Unfinished, On Submission, and Published folders. Now before I start anything new, I have to move at least two things out the door, whether they’re short stories or epic novels.
Seriously, this is good. I wasn’t doing all that just to avoid finishing that story about hobo fairies. I swear.
Boonie says Merry Christmas.
We had a nice day yesterday, and a nice drink with the sisters, and are looking forward to a wonderful dinner and romp with Buster this afternoon.
I forgot to take pictures of most of my crafts this year, but I did snap a pic of the embroidery I did for Lala, of her awesome drawing of Loretta Lynn, Vampire Hunter:
Then I came up, slept the sleep of the weary, and woke up to make Boonie pose on the disheveled couch, en deshabille.
I’ve decided to change the subtitle of this blog. “Bethany’s Ramblings Part II” does not really fit anymore; while I started as a travel bloggess, I’ve done precious little traveling since then. Instead, I find myself procrastinating in new and interesting ways. I avoid writing by making little odd things; I avoid craft by wandering away and writing. That actually loops well, since I enjoy both of those things.
I should mention a moment when those things did not loop well. My last post was all about plotting in the tub. Well, I’ve tried crafting in the tub as well. For an ex-roommate’s birthday, I created a truly genius home-improvement project for the bathtub. (Actually, the genius bit is overdoing it, for a number of reasons, one of them being that said roommate was prone to overheating and thus did not really take baths. I’m not sure if I was really so selfish as to give her a gift that was made for me, or if I really believed that she just didn’t take baths ’cause it wasn’t pretty enough in there. The latter is what I remember, but it seems kinda implausible.)
The vision was a tiled wall, covered with randomly spaced flickering tealights. Sounds pretty, right? I fashioned gold wire into tealight holders, attached sucker cups, and voila! Pretty, pretty death.
Death, you say? Surely you exaggerate. Mmm… not really. Maybe just a tad. You see, there’s a few things that my only-slightly-past-high-school brain did not take into account.
1) Gold wire, while prettily holding light things up, does not encompass everything.
2) Tea lights, when left burning too long, sometimes allow the flame to overcome the structural integrity of the wee tin container they are held in. This, combined with 1), equates to flaming drops of wax running down the wall, and sometimes directly into the tub.
3) Mr. Bubble is flammable.
I feel I would have done fine if just 1) and 2) existed, but the second 3) came into play it was all over. I had decided to “test out” the present (really, at this point I think I really did intend it to be her gift, not mine), and was taking a flickering bubble bath with a glass of wine. It was exactly what I had envisioned; beautiful, flamey, goodness.
My roommates were out in the front room watching a movie. What they recall was an odd combination of sounds; a “fwoosh!” followed quickly by an “AAIGH!”
What I recall was a flaming bit of wax, not much to be worried about as I easily moved my leg in time. It became worrisome when the entire surface of the bath became engulfed in flame. Seriously. We’re talking True Lies, shoulda been swimming under the surface, fireball.
I guess it makes sense. Oil lying on top of water will ignite, and I’m sure bubble bath has a fair amount of oil, and I hadn’t skimped on the bubbles. But Mr. Bubble! Ya think there’d be a warning label! Why haven’t I heard of parents flambeing their kids this way? Okay, I guess most mothers don’t light candles to give their toddlers a bath, but still. Was I really the first to light my bath on fire?
Quite possibly. Luckily, I wasn’t harmed. The flames extinguished themselves fairly quickly, and I was up and out of that tub in mere fractions of a second. There may have been some naked running down the hall, screaming, but that was just the shock, not actual burning flesh.
My bathtub nowadays is rather plain, with nary a candle in sight. And it will stay that way. That is one intersection that God did not intend woman to discover. I’ll keep my crafts in the main room, and my plotting in the tub, and ne’er shall the two cross again.