Jan 29, 2013

the Muses - Part I

Calliope is the Muse of heroic poetry and eloquence. The name Calliope (or Kalliope as it is sometimes spelled) means beautiful (kale) voice (ops). Her beautiful voice inspires brilliance in debate and makes even the weakest poetry powerful. Calliope has also come to represent creativity in artistic or musical expression, and perseverance and patience.

Research has produced conflicting information regarding Calliope's lovers and children. She is said to have had several sons by the god Ares: Mygdon, Edonus, Biston, and Odomantus. Her name is also linked to the god Apollo, with whom she had sons Hymenaios, god of the wedding hymn, Ialemus the personification of the funeral dirge expressing grief at the death of young people, and Orpheus (also said to be the son of King Oeagrus of Thrace) who was able to enchant even mountain rocks and rushing streams with his voice. Calliope is also rumoured to have formed an attachment to the Greek hero Achilles, but merely taught him rowdy drinking songs.

She was at one time called on by Zeus to mediate a dispute between Aphrodite and Persephone over who was to receive Adonis. She ruled that each of the goddesses would be with him from half a year, but Aphrodite was not happy with the decision. She caused the women of Thrace to fall in love with Calliope's son Orpheus and they tore him apart, each seeking to possess him.

Calliope was well known as Homer's Muse, inspiring him to write the Iliad and the Odyssey. Images of Calliope usually show her with a writing tablet in her hand, or carrying a scroll. She has also been depicted holding either a lyre or a volume of Homer's work.

The musical instrument known as the calliope was named after the Muse. Sound is produced by forcing steam through large whistles. There is no way to control the loudness of it so it's audible for miles around. The calliope was largely used in circuses and riverboats, but is rarely seen today.

Jan 28, 2013

Metachronism Monday

metachronism ~ an error of dating an event too late

You know, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I really have to do more thorough research on these topics before I decide to make a series out of them. I'm talking, of course, about my proposed series about the Muses. *sigh*

There's lots of information out there regarding the Muses as a group. However, as I found out when I started researching the individual Muses, there's not so much available on them as individuals. Silly me, I thought research would be a snap - I have many, many books on Greek mythology. Good thing I was planning to go to the library today. :-)

Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time hunting for the notes I'm positive I made on a young adult story I wanted to work on. I remember having the idea either right before I went to bed one night or just as I was getting up, but I'm positive I wrote it down in the notebook I have on my nightstand - but it's not there and I have no clue as to what I might have done with it.

I remember the story idea was for a young adult piece. I can picture the setting in my mind. I'm pretty sure it was only short story length, not novel length. I remember that they were high school seniors and one of them liked to write poetry. And that's as much as I remember. Given the state of my memory, that's actually pretty darn good.

Anyway, I really, really wanted to work on it yesterday only I spent the bulk of my writing time looking for the notes I made on this idea. The only good that has come out of this is fodder for Friday's post, which will be on notes and note-taking.

Last week I spent more time reading than playing on the lap top in the evenings - this week I need to pick out one of my craft projects to work on in front of the TV at night. I thought about getting a jump start on the snowflakes I want to crochet as gifts for Christmas, but I think I kinda burned myself out on them. I'm feeling kind of ambivalent towards the afghan I started - ripple crochet is kind of boring after awhile. Maybe I'll see if I can figure out where I left off on the cardigan I started knitting myself a few years ago.

I have an ulterior motive for crafting at night - it's to keep me from snacking. I tend to snack a lot while I'm watching TV in the evenings, and if I'm working on a craft I don't. With the lap top it's easy to surf and snack, but when you're putting time and effort into a craft, the last thing you want is to get food all over it. At least, that's the least thing I want. So . . . this week I'm aiming to get back on the crafter's diet. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part II of my series about the Muses.
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 51 of Water - yes, I was mean last week and interrupted our hero and heroine, but Ravi's going to have other things on his mind this week.
Friday: An opinion piece on notes and note-taking.

Jan 25, 2013

The Great Office Organization

As you know, this is the year I get my s**t together by getting organized. So far I've re-organized the Craft Closet of Doom and my art closet (yes, I have a separate storage closet for my art supplies - it wasn't too bad so it didn't require a blog post of its own).

My office, that place where I'm supposed to do my writing and editing, was in dire need of organization. As you can see by the before photo (just click on it to make it bigger), I didn't even have room to set up my lap top on the desk:

I'll have to admit that my office was not exactly pristine before NaNo which is probably why I found writing in the recliner in the living room more comfortable. I do not know, however, when the files and notebooks and stacks of paper took right over.

It should have been merely a matter of putting things back where they belong. The problem is, I'm a pack rat. I have too much stuff for the space I've got. So halfway through the job I realized I needed to get rid of some of the unnecessary stuff to make room for the necessary stuff. And when I say get rid of, I mean culling my files and books and throwing a few of them - old tax files, old paid bills, old text books, etc. - into boxes to get stored on a shelf in the closet.

In the process of this extra organization, my office actually looked worse than when I started:

Also into storage went a box of computer stuff - software that I didn't really need, but didn't want to just throw away, extra cords and cables, and an external A drive that I don't have an adapter for.

Organizing also meant that I needed to go through the files in my filing cabinets - you can't really see by the pictures but I have two of them. Did I mention I was a pack rat? I still had the marked up, printed out drafts of my two books that have been available in both print and e-format for months now.

I had one drawer full of packages of paper - the cutesy paper with flowers and butterflies on it that you can get from the dollar store. I had another drawer full of partial story drafts and a few finished stories. I had close to a dozen file folders marked miscellaneous and instead of ignoring them like I usually do, I went through them and sorted their contents so they made sense. I found notes and story ideas I'd forgotten I had - some of it wasn't half bad!

It took me two and a half weeks, but it was totally worth it. There is now room for both my desk top and lap top computers. My desk is neat and tidy and I can find what I'm looking for in my file drawers with ease. I have discovered a lifetime supply of notebooks and post-it notes, but that's a blog post for another day. ;-)

Jan 23, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

It's getting cold outside . . . think this guy will let you borrow his mink? ;-)

Jan 22, 2013

The Muses

Muse is a word that gets bandied about quite a lot by some writers. Usually it refers in general to a person who inspires an artist, writer, or musician. Often writers claim that they need a 'muse' to inspire them. But what, or who, exactly are the muses?

According to Greek mythology, before Zeus married Hera, he lay for nine nights with Mnemosyne who gave birth to nine daughters a year later. Mnemosyne was the goddess of memory and her daughters became a source of inspiration for the arts and sciences in a society where memory was an important gift as there was no written word.

The Muses inspired all artists, especially poets, philosophers, and musicians. They were favourites of the Olympian Gods, Apollo most especially. They were honoured throughout Greece, mainly in areas where there were wells and springs. Their home was Mount Helicon, although they could often be found near the throne of Zeus, singing of his greatness or of the glorious deeds of great heroes.

At one time they were involved in a musical battle with the Sirens, which they won, making victory crowns from Siren feathers. They are said to have gathered the pieces of the dead body of Orpheus, son of Calliope, and buried them. Another myth has it that Pierus, king of Macedon, pitted his nine daughters to a match against the Muses, believing his daughters to had greater skills. This resulted in his daughters being turned into chattering magpies.

Though the Muses as a whole embody the arts and inspire creation through song, music, dance, and writing, each of the nine is associated with a specific art form.

Calliope is the Muse of epic and lyric poetry. She was the favourite of the Greek poet Homer and is often depicted holding a volume of Homer's the Odyssey in her hand. She was the mother of Orpheus, also a famous Greek poet as well as musician.

Clio is the Muse of history, and she is also credited for the invention of the guitar. She was in love with the king of Macedon and bore him a child, Hyacinth, who became the lover of Apollo. Clio is usually depicted weary purple, with laurels in her hair, one hand holding a scroll.

Erato is the Muse of lyric love poetry, hymns and wedding songs. She was the defender of love affairs and is said to have invented the art of dancing. She's usually shown holding a lyre in her hands.

Eurerpe is the Muse of music and lyric poetry. She once lay with the river Strymon and as a result had a son named Rhesus. Rhesus was one of the heroes in Homer's Iliad. Eurerpe is usually shown holding an aulos, which is a type of ancient Greek flute.

Melpomene is the Muse of tragedy and she was often invoked when a poet wished to create beautiful lyrical phrases. She was usually represented by a tragic mask, and is often shown wearing cothurnus (boots worn by tragic actors) and holding a knife or club in one hand.

Polyhymnia is the Muse of sacred poetry or divine hymns. She also invented the science of geometry. She is most often shown looking up to the sky, a severe look on her face, as she plays a lyre.

Terpsichore is the Muse of dance and the dramatic chorus. Some consider her to be the mother of the Sirens. She is usually depicted playing either a lyre, flute, or triangle.

Thalia is the Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry. Some claim she is also the Muse of vegetation because the origin of her name "thalo" means bloom. She is most often shown holding a comic mask.

Urania is the Muse of Astronomy and Astrology. It was believed she was also the Muse of Mathematics. She is often depicted holding a globe in her hands.

I'll be exploring a different Muse each week for the next nine weeks and it'll will be up to you to decide which Muse was meant for you.

Jan 21, 2013

Monody Monday

monody ~ mournful ode or poem performed by a single mourner

I finally finished cleaning out my office. Woot! Now I just have to get used to working in there again. ;-)

Okay, it's not totally finished. My desk area is so clean and organized (I even dusted!) that now I sit there and what do I see? My bookcases, which are a little messy and covered in dust and cat hair. So this week I'm going to take them one at a time (there are six of them) and do a little re-arranging so they look tidier and give them a good dusting.

My big achievement over the weekend was catching up on my email. I put off answering my emails until I could sit at my desk to do it, so a few of the people on my list had been waiting for quite a while! I think I'm down to just one left to answer. :-)

Yesterday I fully intended to lounge in bed for as long as possible in the morning, but this idea that's been rattling around in my head for the last six months or so finally came together so I had to get up to write it down. Five full length pages later, I stopped for brunch and then jotted down a few editing ideas for a book I haven't even finished writing yet.

I'm all set if we get the snow they're promising us. I have the flannel sheets on the bed and yesterday I went out and got a new pair of snow boots. The temperature was on the plus side Saturday, but a fierce Arctic wind blew in and now it's minus double digits. Dare I hope we'll be getting winter at last?

So what else have I got going on this week? Well . . . aside from putting the finishing touches on my office, I believe the next organization project on my list is the linen closet, which shouldn't be too bad. I have a poetry meeting Tuesday evening and a writer's group meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The goal (from my goals for the year) I'll be working on this week is establishing better sleeping habits. This is a really hard one. It's not going to bed early that's the killer, it's the getting up early. Bed is so warm and comfy, and getting up . . . isn't. ;-)

What I'll Be Up to This Week:

Tuesday: Here's a real surprise for you. I've decided to start a new non-fiction series, this one on the Muses. The first installment will be about the origin of the Muses.
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 50 of Water - so . . . we left Taja and Ravi kissing. And you know where that can lead!
Friday: Time for the much anticipated office transformation post. With pictures no less.

Jan 18, 2013

Fabulous Friday

I had hoped that I'd be doing a post about my nice clean office today. Unfortunately, it's not quite there yet. *sigh* The problem is, I don't just want a clean office, I want an organized office as well. And that seems to be taking forever.

However, one of the good things about going through files to better organize them is discovering little gems I'd forgotten about. Below is one of those gems. This piece was written by Sol Stein, the man behind The New Write Pro, a program designed for writers.

Ten Commandments For Writers

Thou shall not sprinkle characters into a pre-conceived plot lest thou produce hackwork. In the beginning was the character, then the word, and from the character's words is brought forth action.

Thou shall imbue thy heroes with faults and thy villains with charm, for it is the faults of the hero that bring forth his life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.

Thy characters shall steal, kill, dishonor their parents, bear false witness, and covet their neighbor's house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, and ass for readers crave such actions and yawn when thy characters are meek, innocent, forgiving, and peaceable.

Thou shall not saw the air with abstractions for readers, like maidens, are seduced by particularity.

Thou shall not mutter, whisper, blurt, bellow, or scream for it is the words and not the characterization of the words that must carry their own decibels.

Thou shall infect thy reader with anxiety, stress, and tension for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.

Thy language shall be precise, clear, and bear the wings of angels for anything less is the province of businessmen and academics and not of writers.

Thou shall have no rest on the sabbath for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever.

Thou shall not forget that dialogue is a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliqueness sings.

Above all, thou shall not vent thy emotions onto the reader for thy duty is to evoke the reader's emotions, and in that most of all lies the art of the writer.

Jan 16, 2013

Jan 15, 2013

Trivial Tuesday

So . . . I was sitting here last night watching Bones with my husband (thank you time shifting!) and I asked him what I should blog about today. His answers: Blog about something trivial, like . . . did you ever notice how cats have four legs? Or have you ever noticed how when cats get hungry you have to feed them? This is after he'd just spent the last few minutes making noises at Julius, "his" cat, who was trying to nap on the couch. Julius gave him the fish eye and then pretty much ignored him. Julius has "ignoring the human" down to a fine art.

Anyway, I decided instead to go with something humorous. I actually recycled these from a post about four years ago. I'm not sure where I found the poem (it's not one of mine, although I wish it was) but it seems kind of appropriate for this time of year.

Twas the Month after Christmas

'Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house,
Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.

The cookies I'd nibbled, the eggnog I'd taste,
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).

I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared,
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared.

The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese,
And the way I'd never said, "No thank you, please."

As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt,
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt.

I said to myself, as I only can,
"You can't spend a winter disguised as a man!"

So--away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.

Every last bit of food that I like must be banished,
'Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won't have a cookie--not even a lick,
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.

I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie,
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore,
But isn't that what January is for?

Unable to giggle, no longer a riot,
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And even though I've said I don't believe in New Year's resolutions (mainly because I always broke them), four years ago I made some that I thought I'd have a prayer of keeping:

1. Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
2. Stop exercising. Waste of time.
3. Watch more TV. I've been missing some good stuff.
4. Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.
5. Take a vacation to someplace important: like, to see the largest ball of twine.
6. Get in a whole NEW rut!
7. Start being superstitious.
8. Personal goal: bring back disco.
9. Sleep more.
10. Include chocolate with every meal.

Jan 14, 2013

Mandibuliform Monday

mandibuliform ~ shaped like a mandible or jaw-bone

In retrospect, cleaning out my office wasn't exactly the smartest thing I've ever thought of doing. At one point on Saturday I was able to see glimpses of my desk through the piles of papers, files, books, etc., but then I decided that in the spirit of organization I should really get the files in the two-drawer cabinet (that's an extension of my desk) organized. And I wasn't quite done with that job when I realized I had a few boxes on the shelf in the closet and had no idea what was in them.

As you may have already guessed, I did not get my office finished over the weekend. In fact, I think it's more of a mess now that it was before. At least I was able to clear enough space off the desk to set up my lap top last week. This week I'll have to work from my recliner or the dining room table. For now the office will be an ongoing project. Instead of going full steam ahead on it (which hasn't seemed to work so far) I'll try chipping away at it as I find the time. Maybe by this time next week it'll actually be finished and I'll be able to post a picture or two.

Astonishingly, at least to me, the goal I've been doing best on so far this year is the eating healthier and exercise one. Having to enter everything I eat into My Fitness Pal makes me more aware of what I'm eating and I tend to eat less. Except on Friday. Friday was a bad day, food-wise. Take my advice. Do not have a Big Mac combo for supper and nachos as a late night snack on the same day. According to My Fitness Pal, if every day was like Friday in five weeks I'd gain two pounds more than I started with.

I've been doing pretty good on the exercise thing as well. Reading while riding the stationary bike makes it feel less like exercise and more like . . . well . . . reading. Just wait until next week when I alternate the rowing machine with the riding.

As you can see, I still didn't get the blogs revamped into a single blog yet. I'm not sure why this has become such a odious task. What can I say? One of these days you'll check in on this blog and things will be different. It'll be a surprise. :-)

This week I'll be working on edits for myself. Magical Misfire has waited long enough. It's time to revisit that universe and whip it into shape to send to my readers. It's longer than my other books so I'm thinking a March release date might be good for it. And I also need to finish Lucky Dog, its sequel.

If by some miracle I get the office finished this week, I'll get the linen closet cleaned out and then the next big project will be my clothes closet. *shudder*

What I'll Be Up to This Week:

Tuesday: it's such a surprise that I don't even know what it'll be yet. ;-)
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 49 of Water - Do you think Taja will find out why Ravi came to visit her in the middle of the night?
Friday: Another surprise. Maybe a story, maybe a poem, maybe a rant about how unfair the weather's been - yesterday it was 14C here in Southern Ontario, which is almost 60F!

Jan 11, 2013

Fun For Friday

Well . . . shucks! I was sitting at my lap top last night trying to think of something to post about for today, and I checked out one of my old, now defunct blogs for ideas. And as I was scrolling down the posts something caught my eye - a quiz.

So then I thought, it's been a long time since I offered a quiz on my blog, so why not? I followed a link to the quiz from my blog which took me to a list of quizzes. After trying many, many quizzes I finally settled on a couple and copy/pasted the coding for them into a document.

Then I found another quiz someplace else, completed it, and again copied down the code. Next thing you know it's time to write the post, which I did, but when I went to preview the post, the first quizzes didn't show up at all and the last one was distorted. *sigh*

But I still couldn't come up with anything else to post, so I searched for new quizzes for you to have fun with. :-)

You are a Vampire Movie
You believe that evil isn't exactly black and white. In fact, the dark side can be incredibly seductive at times.
You like vampire movies because they are more morally ambiguous and complicated. Sometimes it can feel so good to be with someone bad.

You like the dance between good and evil. You prefer that the conflict is more nuanced and mental than physical.
Your favorite movies portray a complex villain ... films like Blade, Dracula, and Twilight.

Since it's Friday, I thought this quiz would help stop arguments over what movie to watch:

You Should Watch a Romance
You are highly sensitive and emotional. You are easily touched by a story.
Your ideal romance movie is sincere and realistic. You want to feel moved.

While some may fun of romance movies, you feel sorry for them. They are lacking in empathy and acceptance.
A true romance makes you feel, dream, and even love a little bit more. And there is nothing cheesy about that.

If you know me, you know I love cats. So I couldn't resist this one. ;-)

You Are a Lynx
You are a quiet observer of the world around you. Your wisdom comes from listening carefully.
You've always been extra sensitive and aware. And it's made it difficult for you to fit in.

You see past people's outward personas. You are able to penetrate a stranger's soul.
What you've learned about people is both beautiful and ugly. And you keep these secrets to yourself.

And finally, to help you find some balance in your life, we have the Yin or Yang quiz:

The Yin or Yang quiz

My Quiz Result: You are more Yin than Yang. Yin and Yang are two complementary qualities. They make up the whole. The qualities of Yin are characterized as negative, passive, dark, soft, and correspond to the nighttime.

Take this quiz: The Yin or Yang quiz
Take more quizzes, myspace quizzes and fun quizzes on personality, love and other topics.

Jan 9, 2013

Jan 8, 2013

The Joy of Lists

Pretty much everyone makes a list at one time or another. If you're going to the grocery store, you make a list of things you're out of so you don't forget them. People use check lists to make sure they've packed everything for a big trip. Maybe you make a list of pros and cons to help you with a big decision. And let's not forget the ever popular bucket list.

There are a lot of good reasons to make a list, but I'm mainly going to focus on how I use lists to make me more productive. Hey, I have an idea, why don't I list my top five reasons for making a list? :-)

1. Lists keep me organized. I can see at a glance what I need to get done in a given day and arrange my day accordingly.

2. Lists help me remember stuff. I have a really sad excuse of a memory, so I need to write stuff down to remind myself I want to get this or that done.

3. A list lets me see there's a beginning and an end. A task doesn't look quite so bad when I write it down into a list. I can see all the steps involved and, most importantly, that there is an end in sight.

4. More than making a list of things I need/want to accomplish, I love to be able to cross things off of my list. I can pad my list with details, just so I can cross more stuff off and feel better about what I've done in a given day.

5. Lists help prevent procrastination. I'm a big time procrastinator, so it's good for me to sit down and list the things I want to accomplish. Then if I gravitate towards gaming on the internet I can just glance at my list and remind myself I have other stuff I should be doing.

Another great thing about making a list is that it allows you to prioritize. First you list everything you want to get done, then you pick the most important task to complete first.

Study Guides and Strategies has a time management series and one of their components is How to Create a To-do List. You should check it out - you pick out your top four tasks and then explore why these tasks are important to you, what your reward will be for finishing them, and when you should have them completed.

While there are programs out there to help you create a list, like Todolist, or Workflowy, or Scribbless, I find what works best for me is good old fashioned pen and paper. I have a long, narrow notepad to create my lists in. I group my tasks under headings like "priority" or "emails" or "writing stuff" and each heading gets its own page. I add things to the bottom of the lists as needed and cross tasks off as they're completed. When I get to the bottom of a page I start a new one.

Now, if I could only remember where I put the darn thing! ;-)

Jan 7, 2013

Monomania Monday

monomania ~ abnormal obsession with a single thought or idea

I am so glad the holidays are over and done with! All these days off in the middle of the week and socializing had me turned so upside down I didn't know what day it was. Hopefully now I can settle down to some sort of schedule.

I was supposed to get the blogs revamped into a single blog over the weekend, at least that's what the plan was, but as you can see that didn't happen. Somehow my weekend got away from me and I'm not quite sure where it went.

I did start shovelling out my office so I could start working in there again, but I should know better than to try something like that on a weekend. I got sidetracked and it's not even half done.

But the office is going to have to wait. I have three stories by a very patient author that are only partially edited, and they have been moved to the top of my priority list. I think I'd work better in my office (without the television to distract me) so I just might throw everything on my desk into a box to be dealt with later.

Since I don't have my blogs sorted out I won't be back to a proper blog schedule yet. Which means although Wednesday will still be the Hunk and Thursday the serial chapter, Tuesday and Friday are up for grabs. I forgot until late Sunday night that it was actually Sunday and I needed to write a blog post and oh, yeah, I was supposed to revamp my blog. *sigh*

I have made a tentative start on my goals for this year. I already started organizing my stuff in the form of closet cleaning - you know, I really need to take the time to make some lists. I love lists. Hmmm. Maybe that should be the topic for tomorrow - the Joys of List Making . . .

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Goals. I took a big step towards wasting less time on the internet yesterday. I deleted my bookmark for the National Geographic puzzle site. I've been obsessively doing those stupid puzzles for a week and it's time to quit cold turkey. The link was sent to me in an email (that has also been deleted) so I don't know where it is. And yes, I suppose I could Google it, but I'm not quite that far gone yet.

I've also started to address the issue of eating healthier and getting physical. My lovely friend Jamie gave me the link for My Fitness Pal which is a great way of keeping track of what you eat and how much exercise you get. You tell it how much you weigh and what your goal weight is, and it'll tell you how much you're allowed to eat. The great thing is you can "earn" extra calories by upping your exercise. :-)

The main plan for this week is to get those stories edited and back to the author ASAP, and then finish cleaning out my office. Time permitting, I will also be cleaning out the linen closet and then the downstairs closets are done. :-)

What I'll Be Up to This Week:

Tuesday: The Joy of Lists
Wednesday: A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 48 of Water - Gee, I wonder who came to visit Taja in the middle of the night no less. ;-)
Friday: I have no clue. Again it's 3 a.m. as I'm writing this, and my brain is mush. Obviously I have not had much luck with the "develop better sleeping habits" goal. Of course the weather has turned grey and miserable again, and I tend to sleep more when it's grey. And it's become milder too - yesterday my beautiful snow started getting washed away by rain! Stupid weather.

Jan 4, 2013

The Organization of the Craft Closet

One of my goals for the year is to spend more time doing crafts. Now this might seem like a strange goal to some people, but here's the thing: I used to do many crafts. I used to do many, many crafts, especially in front of the TV at night - sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross stitch, rug hooking, beading . . . you get the idea. And over the years I've amassed an impressive amount of craft supplies, all crammed together in my large storage closet.

Sadly, ever since I got my first lap top, I started doing less crafts and more internet surfing and for the last couple of years pretty much the only time I did any kind of craft at all were the few times we went to a barbeque at the cottage and I'd take my bag of crocheting.

But crafting is fun, relaxing, and people love receiving hand crafted gifts. So, this year I resolved to work a little crafting time into my daily/weekly routine. However, first I needed to get at my crafting supplies, which were piled, stuffed, and stacked in the Crafting Closet, also known as the Big Closet of Doom From Which There is No Return.

Here's a picture of the closet at the start of my two day organizational blitz.

It probably doesn't look all that bad to you, but it's hard to tell from the picture just how deep it is. Those shelves are about three feet deep, and stuff is piled in there without any rhyme or reason.

My beading supplies were actually well organized - I organized the glass beads by colour in baggies, although the wooden beads were just kept in their packages. I did manage to get everything into a single plastic bin instead of two smaller bins and a box.

Next I tackled my wool supply and various projects using wool. This is Wool Mountain:

The bin in the foreground is filled with miscellaneous wool, partially finished projects, and pattern books. The bin behind it is filled with . . . more of the same. And after spending several hours sorting I ended up with this:

The bin on the right is filled with wool in large amounts to do sweaters or afghans. The bin on the left is filled with extra wool that wouldn't fit into the other bin, as well as the knitting and crocheting projects I have waiting to be finished. The clear bin up top is filled with odds and ends of wool - enough to do mitts or slippers or small projects. The basket holds my pattern books, hooks and needles, while the bag contains the afghan that will be my first project to finish.

This is a picture of Stitchery Mountain - two large tubs of unused fabric, bags of embroidery and cross stitch projects and supplies, and quilting stuff, including the tops of two children's quilts I never finished. It was actually worse than it appears in the picture. ;-)

And here is my finished closet:

Sewing on the top shelf. Beading and sewing on the next shelf down. Wool and stitchery on the third shelf down. And knitting/crocheting on the floor. The little cart thingy is new and holds sewing notions (zippers, buttons, lace, etc.) in the top two drawers and the bottom drawer has patterns, wool and crochet cotton for crocheted Christmas decorations that I can work at year round. And yeah, that's another box of patterns on top of one of the blue bins, but they used to be in the blue bin on the shelf above it, so I got rid of a lot of them.

And I have to be honest here. When I saw the before and after pictures side by side I was a little disappointed - they didn't look much different. So just to impress you, I took a picture of Junk Mountain - the stuff that didn't go back into the closet.

And just so you know, most of that purple bin is filled with fabric I'm parting with. Some of the stuff found a home elsewhere, most of it is getting donated.

The End.

Jan 1, 2013

A New Year, A New Start

Several days ago I was listing all the unfinished projects I had to a friend and I was pretty appalled at how long the list was. From a rug I started hooking when I worked in a department store as a teenager, to my latest NaNo novel - it seems to be a recurring pattern in my life. So this year's theme is going to be to finish what I start.

This is one of the reasons I spent the last two days cleaning out my craft closet. (You can see what a monumental task it was in Friday's post.) One of my goals for the year is to make more time for things I used to enjoy doing, like crafts, and to do this I have to be able to get at my craft supplies. However, other than the odd Christmas ornament, I will try not to start any new projects until I've cleared away some of the ones I've started but never finished.

I have a cardigan I started knitting for myself years ago - it'll be beautiful . . . if it ever gets finished. I have a couple of dresses and a skirt that I cut out but never started to sew. I have two quilt tops that need to be turned into quilts - one is a three little kitten themed quilt that I made my daughter when she was little. She's married now.

But crafts aren't the only thing that needs to get finished. I have stories. I have many, many stories. I have many, many stories that are not finished. I have five novels that are "not quite done" - six if you count Magical Misfire (it needs to be edited). Time to get these finished as well.

So yes, the theme for this year is Finish What You Start. But I also have a few goals as well:

Make a schedule and stick to it.
One of the pitfalls of working from home is that it's too easy to get distracted or put things off or just be a lazy sot because watching Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda is much more fun than actually writing anything. :-)

As I said in my Friday wrap-up post, Organization Queen Jamie DeBree helped me draft a schedule for my daily activities and while I did start to refine it, I didn't follow it long enough to really stick to it when I lost my focus during NaNo and then the holidays. So I want to get back on track with a schedule which will help me be more productive.

Write on a regular basis.
I was going to just include this in the schedule, but it's important enough to deserve its own header. I am a writer. I have the books to prove it. Do I write every day? Of course I do. So does everyone - emails, Facebook messages, texting . . . But I haven't been writing much outside of what I have to in the last couple of months. Even NaNo is more of a have to than a want to - yes is voluntary and it was my choice to sign up, but once I started it became more of an obligation to finish. So I want to write every day - at least 500 words and something other than a story for my writer's group or an installment for a serial or a flash fiction for a blog post. Maybe it'll be a journal post, maybe a short story, maybe I'll start a new novel. But it'll be something without the pressure of having to get it done.

Organize my stuff.
I have a lot of stuff. I have way too much stuff. I need to get rid of some stuff. I also need to find stuff when I want to use it. I've already started on this one by taking two days to clean out and re-organize my craft closet. It doesn't really look much better than it did before, but I've got everything in plastic bins now and it's all organized so I can find stuff. I guess the bins take up more room than the boxes and bags because even though I got rid of a lot of stuff (I'll have to remember to take a picture for Friday's post) there isn't any extra room in that closet.

The craft closet was just the start. I also need to sort through the stuff in my art supply closet (yes, I have a second storage closet for art supplies), my work room, my office, and my clothes closet. And the hubby and I need to finish going through the stuff on the shelves in the basement, maybe even the corner by the freezer that has basically turned into the mountain of junk.

Waste less time on games and mindless surfing.
This is one of the purposes of the schedule. While a little time spent playing games to relax is okay, I tend to start playing one of those mindless games like Mahjong or start doing jigsaw puzzles at National Geographic and before I know it it's 3 a.m. and I don't have my post for tomorrow written.

Get physical.
This will probably be the hardest of my goals to achieve. I'll admit it right now - exercise is not one of my favourite things to do. I didn't mind walking in the nicer weather, and I don't exactly hate using the exercise bike, but these things don't really do it for me when it comes to getting in shape or losing weight. So I need to step it up and use one of my many exercise CDs or the rowing machine or something that will give me a better work out. I might even sign up with one of those online thing-a-ma-jigs that keep track of your progress. :-)

Healthier eating.
I was doing really well with this earlier last year, but the last few months I've slipped badly. I have Type II Diabetes so it's important for me to eat healthy and space out my meals better.

Better sleeping habits.
This kind of goes with the eating thing. The last few months I've been staying up extra late and then sleeping in early so I'll skip breakfast and have brunch instead and end up doing a lot of snacking. And it's not even a matter of getting to bed earlier, really, it's a matter of waking up and its cold and dark and it's not like I have anywhere to go so what difference does it make if I take another 15 minutes or an hour to stay warm and cosy in bed? See? Another pitfall of working at home.

Make time for reading and crafts.
I have learned that sometimes it's a good idea to take a break from writing/editing. Especially when you say you're writing or editing but what you're really doing is playing solitaire or Mahjong or Bubble Blast on the internet. So when I feel the urge to take a break, I want to pick up my Kindle or a tree book, or my bag of crocheting or knitting instead. Time spent not writing/editing doesn't have to be wasted to be relaxing.

I'm sure I'll come up with a few more idea as the year progresses, but if I can accomplish these goals in 2013 I'll consider it a year well lived. :-)