The New School Year

Oh it is nice that pretty much anytime you want to make a change there’s a New Year of some variety just around the corner to justify New Beginnings or what-have-you.

Of course, most of my changes tend to be necessitated by, ahem, long breaks in writing or posting anything. Life has got in the way; I have more than one unfinished craft project lying by the wayside, several chocolate ‘trips’ planned, and writing projects galore.

That all said, I also have ideas to revive and remould my wordy sort of blog. Not as books: I find writing reviews a bit forced. I’m a Yay or Nay sort of person, sometimes with good reason, usually none. I’m going to be changing how I write about books here, by the way.

As previously discovered, though, I have not the time in my life to maintain two blogs with many weekly posts. I seem barely to have the time for one blog with a thrice-weekly schedule. Certainly haven’t the time for that plus all the crafting required for a weekly craft post.

Instead, I have decided on a once-weekly post, with a loose schedule involving crafting (crochet and sewing), chocolate, and books.

Crafting will be as it always has been, with projects. Chocolate will be recipes and my chocolate ‘trips’ for single-origin bars. Books will be a monthly round-up of my reads, accompanied by a Yay or Nay.

We’ll see how this goes…

 

Rabbits, Blankets and Camping

Well, that was a longer break than anticipated! In the meantime, I’ve also scrapped an awful lot of what I had planned…which isn’t all that helpful, when you think about it.

However. I have managed to return to both cross stitch and crochet, though to none of my current or other planned projects.

Instead, I have started small, ish, and simple. A rabbit kit from a magazine, and a granny square baby blanket. Both just right for helping my brain make sense of the mess it has made in planning a 5-book series…

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Cream Tea

At this point in the camping proceedings, it is necessary to take a small break.

The generals are planned, the large issues ironed out: the time for the minutia has almost arrived. Before that, though,to prevent the scrambling of brains and confusions of the writer, a rest is required. Preferably accompanied by something good and wholesome to feed the little grey cells. Hard work, planning.

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Mark turned up at my campsite with scones, freshly made; clotted cream; and jam, raspberry. What better way to feed a brain than with cream tea!

I believe the earliest records of such a thing as a cream tea come from Tavistock Abbey, when the monks would provide their workers with fresh bread, cream and jam for mid afternoon. Scones are not, it has to be said, really a West Country delicacy. A split is more the thing for a proper cream tea. Or simply a crusty white bread roll. Nothing better.

Just remember: cream, then jam.

Camp NaNo Catch-Up: Gardeners and Architects

Apparently, there is a George RR Martin quotation out there about how writers are gardeners or architects.

Some writers have an idea and run with it; others have an idea and plan the story. Of course, as with all things, most people are not really one or the other, but a mix of both. Normally, I get about half way through the planning stage and then start writing and see where it takes me. I’ve never been very good at endings, though. I might be seeing things, but I suspect there’s a link between that and where I cease to plan…

It’s been an interesting time for me, this month, with my focus being on planning; every now and again I get the urge to just start writing, I have enough notes and plans, and anyway that part of the story won’t happen for ages, and by the time I get to that bit I’m stuck on, an answer should have presented itself. Right?

I’ve written before, with just an idea. It was a struggle. Especially when I got stuck, and all I had for inspiration was how the entire story was supposed to end. Not knowing how to get there – not really a good way to write, I found. Led to a lot of writer’s block. I don’t, yet, know if writing from a comprehensive plan is going to be any different – no doubt I shall meet with other problems causing the same effect – but I’m not going to know until I try. And the hope is that I’m going to be addressing the most major plot-holes in the planning stages, and not half way through the writing. Starting over is never fun.

CampNaNo

I find, with the planning, that I enjoy it more. It’s easier to see progress and to feel optimistic about the story. I’ve found a couple of things which help me. They might be simple; they’re the sort of things you already know, but kind of ignore.

The first is good old pen and paper. I carry my notebook around, and write on any old scrap of paper to hand. Ideas, plot-points, problems, they’re all ticking away at the back of my brain, figuring themselves out. My brain is always half away with the fairies.

The second is my desk. Or, if I decide to work on the sofa, my table-top ironing board, which makes an excellent substitute. And means that it finally has a purpose, since I think life’s generally too short for ironing.

How do you write? Are you a gardener or an architect?

Learning About Time

Unfinished projects are the bane of my life. Not just crafting projects, of which I have, um, more than enough, but writing projects, life projects, development projects: basically, anything which demands of my time; anything which requires energy in the planning, and then in the doing. Anything which takes longer than, well, my attention span. I mean, how long is a piece of string?

Some projects can keep my attention and energy for months (I’m also looking at a writing project which will take years, and so far *touch wood*, I am not filled with dread); others maybe half an hour. Of course, things like bills also demand attention, and far more persistently than most of my projects, rather like a small, screaming toddler, which cuts into the project-time.

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However, I have learned that half an hour, here and there, can get any project done. Perhaps not immediately, but just half an hour a day, or even ten minutes, and it’ll be done sooner than you think. Certainly sooner than if you wait for an entire afternoon, or day, or week, or however long you think the project will take.

Of course, the trick with a stitching project worked in this fashion is simple: make sure, if you make colour changes to your project (or if it’s one you’ve designed yourself), that you make comprehensive notes about the thread-numbers. I found myself with a spare hour to finish this one (minus the outlining, which I’m still trying to work out), and a fair proportion of that was spent in remembering which threads I was using…

 

Colour by Stitching

When I was revising for my A levels, I completed an entire colouring pad. It was one of those My First Colouring books, with large pictures of flowers, cats, scarecrows, etc. I’m not sure how much it helped, revision-wise, but I was happy and remained stress-free, so it was good for something.

I colour in less these days. I calm my troubled mind with cross stitch and crochet, but I like the pictures you can get these days for colouring in. I’d like to have a go at embroidery colouring. I like the thought of having an image picked out with big black lines and just cross stitching it in whichever colour I fancy. Like colouring in.

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I couldn’t resist this bag when I came across it in Hobbycraft, supposedly for fabric painting. Some of it might have to be stitched in something other than cross stitch, but I’ve been meaning to learn other embroidery stitches for a while, and this seems as good a project as any to practise with. Of course, I have had this bag for a while, and not yet made a start on it, but the intention is there. It has been since I first found it. I need to unpick the seams first – I’ve tried stitching on an already made up bag before: complete nightmare, I can tell you!