Plans for today

Taken at: Saddle Ridge, Calgary

Today’s plans? Settling in with a new book, knitting on a sock, and cuddling up under a warm blanket.

Long, long ago, I mentioned that the first couple of adult books I remember reading (or at least, remember being caught reading by adults who were probably right in assuming I was too young to be reading them) were novels by Stephen King and Jackie Collins. I still like scary books. The home library has expanded over the years.

One of the highlights from Christmas 2017 was Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I’m currently reading through it and enjoying the heck out of it. I’ll have to remember to write a review of it once I’m done.

Because I was fairly young when I started reading scary books, I’ve developed a short list of rules for reading them.

Not before bed. Pretty self-explanatory. This rule has saved me many times from nightmares.

Not when home alone – at night. Because nothing freaks you out more than hearing the furnace kick in when you’re all alone in the house at, say, 3am. Heck, I don’t even need the added incentive of a horror novel to make me paranoid – I’ve been known to hear snow falling off the roof and think someone’s trying to break in. Best not to make the paranoia worse.

If it’s getting to you, do something else. This is the last-ditch effort of someone who can’t use stairs or go into the basement because House of Leaves OMG WHAT.

Trust me, having a few rules helps. Update them as necessary. When I was 10 years old, the word “ghost” near bedtime used to trigger nightmares for me. So I started substituting the word “it” for “ghost” whenever I was reading in bed.

Then, sometime around 1987, Stephen King wrote “It“.

Yeah.

That didn’t work out very well.

My view from the cheap seats

I write a lot.

Oh, I may not write here, but trust me, when I get into a groove I write like a hypergraphic squirrel on cocaine.

I generally don’t talk about writing. For me, it’s a lot like fight club. The first rule about write club is you don’t talk about writing.  Most likely because I’m self-actualized enough to know that I’m hardly an expert at this, and I’m more likely to follow a plot bunny down a rabbit hole than steer someone in the right direction.

no idea who created this but I thought it was appropriate

Besides, there are other writers who do a much better job writing about writing. And that’s all right by me.

A friend’s tweet this past week made me think about how long I went on hiatus from writing fiction, and I figured it was about 18 years.  18 years, people!! That’s a lot of time! How does one go from daily manic scribblings to nothing? I wrote when all I had were lined paper in three-ring binders. My grandparents gave me one of those funky typewriters with a pre-correct window when I was a teen. My parents bought me a 3rd-hand 8086 computer that ran on DOS and 5.25″ floppies when I was in my early twenties — all because I would hog the “family” computer with my furious scenecrafting.  How do you stop doing that?

It’s easy. You get laid off from your first creative job out of college and find work in the tech sector. It took 18 years of trying to be technical at both work and home before I realized that it was burning me out. Now work is for work, and home is for writing, piano, knitting, and drawing. Not necessarily in that order (though I do try to make my word count every day). Keeping those two things separate has really helped my mental health. Really.

The husbeast is also a writer. He insisted on having a space of his own since he’s easily distracted. The folks who owned the house before us had an office on the second floor and a craft room in the basement. We decided to keep the status quo, and he moved his writing gear into the office. He has a pretty nice view of the garden. We recently relocated a sofa from the living room to his writer’s den, so he now has a place where he can write and stretch out to read.

This is where I lurk
This is where I lurk

My ‘studio’, however is in the craft room in the basement. It’s dark, and chilly, and packed with everything that doesn’t have a place elsewhere. It’s less an office and more a hidey-hole. I have two old IKEA desks and one of the two original hutches for book storage. The attached magazine rack is great for filing temporary paperwork and things I’d like to have within reach. The attached whiteboard has a tendency to become non-erasable, so I use it just for magnetic reminders. There’s a repurposed armoire or pantry that was left with the house that serves as storage for art supplies and computer storage, and a tall plastic drawer pedestal full of skeins of yarn.

The room was originally intended to be a washroom. There’s a  fixture for a toilet hidden under the far desk. I’d say that the basement was finished with the idea that it could eventually be turned into one-room flat. We’re more the single-family type, so for now it’s a rec room, yarn storage, and studio.  My office is great for those middle-of-the-night writing sessions, but not so great on nice sunny days when there are green things budding on the trees. I’m pretty sure that when summer comes, I’ll be retreating to it just to get away from the inevitable repressive heatwave. I’ll slip down the stairs, slink into my office, turn on the lava lamp, and hide from the heat.

The view from the kitchen table
The view from the kitchen table

Today is not that day.

I camp out at the kitchen table on my laptop and watch the birds at the feeder while I write. There are green things starting to take over the trees, and plants in my window that catch the sun and shadows in interesting ways. I get to see the neighbour let her dog out into the backyard, and hear the folks next door playing loud music while they  fire up the grill.

I get the bulk of my writing done in the evenings before work, so I move around between paragraphs, starting dinner and getting food on the table while mulling over the next scene that will take me from point A to point B. It’s a fairly zen method.

Creative Distractions
Creative Distractions

I also keep a few creative distractions lying around if I’m not fighting for space on the table. My knitting output has suffered greatly since I decided to shoot for a 1000-words-per-day goal. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do a couple of rows while I mull over the direction a scene is going. I’m also trying to clear my Goodreads queue, so I’m working through the books still on my current list. Every so often I get distracted by something like Hellboy or a new novel, but otherwise I’ve been doing well at sticking to my goals.

It makes me wonder, though…what do the creative spaces of other people look like? How do other people organize their craft? How does it fit into their lives?

If you have any answers, feel free to add them to the comments. I’d love to know 🙂

Spooky September Challenge: Why do you love to be scared?

Today is the sixth and last day of the Spooky September Challenge. I’ll attempt to answer the question: “Why do you love to be scared?”

Spooky September Challenge

It’s not really a question of loving to be scared. There’s a kind of thrill that comes from exploring the unknown. We live in a world where most of the Big Things have been discovered. We have satellites in space that can find a person in a crowd on earth, and the Radio Controlled helicopter has been turned into a much more intrusive toy.

Continue reading “Spooky September Challenge: Why do you love to be scared?”

Spooky September Challenge: Favourite Spooky Creature

Another day, another spooky writing prompt from the Spooky September Challenge!

I have a hard time choosing a favourite spooky creature. I love critters of all kinds. If you really want to creep me out (and thus make me actively avoid a book/movie/whatever) — use insects. I think they hold a very valuable place in our ecosystem and perform a necessary role, but….no. No insects for me.

To get spooky, though….I have three Big Favourites:

Continue reading “Spooky September Challenge: Favourite Spooky Creature”

Spooky September Challenge: Campfire stories? Nah!

Spooky September Challenge

Today’s Spooky September Challenge was supposed to be my favourite campfire story, but anyone who knows me well enough is aware that I don’t camp.  I haven’t been camping for about fifteen years now, and that last time was supposed to teach me about all the awesome things I’ve missed out on, not being a camper. It was cold and rained almost the entire trip. Seriously. We had to go back into town to get a tarp because nobody brought one. Not my best weekend – only salvaged by good company.

Continue reading “Spooky September Challenge: Campfire stories? Nah!”

Spooky September Challenge: My Favourite Horror Writer

Spooky September Challenge

Day Two of Parajunkee’s Spooky September Challenge!

It probably says something that first two “adult” books that I actually fully remember reading were Lovers and Gamblers by Jackie Collins and ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Both provoked almost equally horrified results from the folks who caught me reading them.

Continue reading “Spooky September Challenge: My Favourite Horror Writer”

Neutrality

 

I enjoy Vi Hart’s videos. I find that she has a particularly riveting way of explaining music theory that makes me actually want to like math. For the record, math and I don’t get along and never really have. Ours is an uncomfortable détente.

Vi has put together a video on Net Neutrality.  Why, as a Canadian, am I concerned about Net Neutrality?  Because Canada watches what happens in the US and often absorbs their legal ideals. We also aren’t immune to US political lobbying.

I’m not even suggesting that Canadian ISPs would attempt to throttle my Netflix traffic in order to try and force me to watch cable TV or use their OnDemand services – which I’m sure they could. What I see happening is even more sinister than that.  It’s the possibility of US content providers telling my ISP / cable provider that they need to lobby for Canadian Neutrality Laws that benefit US Monopolies.  US Networks make money every time you watch an American TV show on your Canadian network (or network affiliate) – otherwise they wouldn’t license those networks to broadcast those TV shows. If you aren’t giving your $7 to Netflix every month, that’s more money in their pocket, and is also a reason why many US networks are upset that Netflix doesn’t categorize its content by network brand.

To be blunt, many US content providers have a stake in your TV and internet viewing habits. It’s the reason why we have Internet, Copyright and Privacy bills being proposed fairly regularly.

I enjoy the fact that I have a choice in whether or not I consume my media via the internet or via cable TV. Because my schedule is non-standard, I choose to use the internet more often than trying to catch a show on TV or set up a PVR recording. I generally watch shows when I have the time, and when I have an idea what I’m in the mood for.  I’m sure my PVR has already dumped 2/3 of the recordings I just didn’t have time to watch over the past 6 months (okay, more like a year). Having choices means that I can watch Game of Thrones on OnDemand, use Netflix to find out why my friends are raving about Supernatural, or catch the latest broadcast of CSI on its network’s website.

Choices.  I like ’em. I’d like to keep ’em. Get informed! 🙂

Bloggled

Today is my Saturday (Sunday for everyone else), so I’ve been very busy taking it easy. My morning tea was delayed by my own distraction – I went web surfing.

Having been on the internet since sometime in the early 90’s, I’ve come to find that we tend to stick to the known. I decided to take a look at an acquaintance’s blogroll (yes, she still had one of those on the side of her site), and allowed myself to just look at what’s out there. I guess this is the kind of thing I do when I’m all caught up on reading my RSS feeds and I don’t have anything more pressing to do.

Robin is happily exploring the world of Skyrim. It’s one of those big-ticket games that apparently folks have been waiting for. I lost track of the thread of things not long after the beginning of the game, but that’s okay…I’ve been reading. I’m allowed to lose track of the storyline playing out on the TV. I *can* say that the game is gorgeous. I’m not much of an RPG Video Gamer (despite multiple attempts on my part), but I can appreciate great artwork when I see it. That could, of course, be due to the fact that I really like the aesthetics of the celtic/norse-derived design, but somehow I don’t think so. Hopefully the Husbeast has many happy hours with this one.

I’ve also been working, off and on, on the latest pair of socks. I switched from size 0 needles to size 1 (2.0 mm to 2.5mm), and from Trekking XXL yarn to Lion Brand Sock Ease. Yes, the switch surprised me too, but I’m really liking the change. The yarn is of comparable texture and weight, but the Lion Brand is this lovely brown (Colourway: Root Beer) wheras the Trekking was a darker blue/burgundy that lost much of the textured design. I’m at about the same point as where I ripped back the last time, but now I’m much happier with the project. There’s just something to be said for taking the time to figure out what you want to get done. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to knit, and deciding what contrasting colour I want to stripe into the heels and toes. If it comes down to it, I’ll make another trip to Michaels for some sock ease in another colour.

Dear Lion Brand: More colour choices, please. Heck, get rid of the striping or variegated stuff, and just widen your solid colour choices. Navy, for instance, would be nice. So would Burgundy, Emerald Green, and Ruby Red. Seriously…the colour wheel shouldn’t be bound to the limited selection I’ve been finding 😉

Pictures will come soon! However, I distracted myself so long while reading the web that I’ve lost the natural light.  Oops! 🙂