Monday, March 29, 2010

A crazy little thing called change

"And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time."
-Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

My husband Joey received a promotion at work and he starts today. We met through our first job at K-Mart nine years ago this summer. Over the years, we have worked together at four different places, and that includes where I currently work. For the past two years, we worked on the same floor and had breaks together almost every day. This is a big change, but it is a good change for both of us. He will be using his talents in a supportive workplace, and I can read and write on my breaks.

We had a Zombie Movie Night on Saturday with the Core Con gang to help us get in the fun mode for the upcoming convention in three weeks. Everything is running smoothly and it is definitely going to be better than last year... and last year was awesome! We have all been working really hard and it was nice to just to visit and relax with some good (vegetarian!!!) food. We set up our projector and screen up in the our friends' living room and watched Army of Darkness (classic!) and Hell's Ground (recommended by Rotten Tomatos and io9!).

We had our first real spring day yesterday. We opened up our bedroom balcony and hung up pictures and shelves. Joey built a shelf over our bed for the projector, which turned out really nice. We need to get our house set up before our friend Sue Dawe (artist guest for Core Con) comes to visit. Good motivation, it is! We also took a lovely walk through the neighborhood, which I have come to absolutely adore. I cannot wait until the Red River of the North goes down so take a ride or walk on the bike path.

Overall at this moment, change seems pretty good.

Natasha

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Ready to Say Good-bye

The house and yard that I grew up in had trees encircling it. We couldn't look out one window and not see trees staring back at us. Behind our house, there was miles of trees and hills. I would step out of yard to find the beginning of a sprawling valley and on the other side, the hills hid the horizon. That is where I have felt most home in nature. During my teen years, I would find myself sitting on top of my father's combine to scribble in my journal as the sun set behind the hills, my cat rolling around in the dirt field below, and the rattle of leaves as the background music. I felt trapped between worlds.

I moved to Fargo in 2000 after I decided the National Guard wasn't for me and that pursuing an English degree would further my dream. There, trees grew along the river and downtown had the sprawling parks and little hills. I didn't like downtown since the driving was confusing, so I lived in the middle of apartment complexes and retail stores. The trees were just planted, small and tethered to the ground. I settled for them, and grassy playgrounds. My college did have beautiful trees that gave me a sense of peace and sometimes I would sit under them to read and write poetry.

We bought a home last year, and we moved into the downtown neighborhood. We are blocks away from three large parks, a block away from hills, and surrounded by mature trees. I look out my window, and I give sighs of relief. This feels more like home, and it is a good feeling now that my childhood home will be more of the past than anything.

My parents will be moving to their lake house in two months. They sold their home in my little hometown and Easter will be our last holiday there. It is strange to think in two weeks that I will be pretty much closing the door permanently on the place that I still refer to as "home". A lot of good and bad things happened where I grew up, but the comfort of nature never wavered. It is almost like my own imaginery place I can go to and I always felt safe. It, really, is the setting for my first novel, "Beyond the Garden" with a few changes. It is a place that I know that I can never leave behind, but I can never truly go back as I once tried.

It seems fitting that this moment comes almost 10 years exactly after I move away. It feels strange that I will have no place to go when I attend my high school reunion (if I attend), that my toys now sit in my own garage, and that my parents will be leaving the area they grew up in. It gives chance to the future, but maybe I am overthinking it so I ignore the word "good-bye".

Natasha

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Heritage

"He would have told her - he would have said, it matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath."

— Juliet Marillier, "Daughter of the Forest" (Setting: Ireland)

Growing up, our St. Patrick Day traditions were pretty basic in my household. There was the "pinching" rule if we didn't wear green. We usually had corned beef with boiled cabbage for supper. We always added either powder cheese or Velveeta on the top of the cabbage. The sliced cheese never really melted well onto the cabbage, but mostly just fell off. I loved it, nevertheless.
My mother bought me pins to go on my winter coat that would symbolize the holidays. Most were Avon pins with the perfume hidden inside, but the perfume was always used. I still have them, including the Irish mouse holding a clover bigger than itself saying, "Luck O' the Irish". (I actually considered digging it out today.)

I do have an Irish heritage, but I don't know anything about it except it comes from my Grandma Heck's side of the family. My aunt has been exploring that side of the family and I hope to learn more before we head back to Great Britain at the end of this year or early next year, with a possible stop in Ireland. It is strange to celebrate a heritage sometimes without any inkling of what it means except the blood is running through your veins.

The heritage that I do have knowledge about is quite simple, and quite rare for a Caucasian family where I grew up in the northern Red River Valley. My family is the only one that I know that doesn't have a speck of any Scandanavian in them. I am half German, and then the rest is French, English, Irish, and Scottish. Of each other those, I know or have inherited little. I did know what "oui oui" was in the elementary school, and how to pronounce it, when my teacher had no idea. I can eat sauerkraut without gagging and have enjoyed it even on pizza. I yearn for trees and rolling green hills. I have dug potatoes out of the ground with my hands. I have no stories of the "old country" for I barely had grandparents (the last passed away when I was 11) to ask these type of questions, mine being the age of my friend's great-grandparents.

My husband comes from a family where his mother and uncle were adopted. His father was from El Salvador and my husband never knew him or his father's family. His heritage is that of his grandmother who raised him, the rest just words on a piece of paper and the color of his skin. It makes me wonder, what will we teach our children? We have already fallen into the melting pot, it seems, with not much luck of pulling ourselves out.

So, this, makes me wonder about my own blood and my own stories. What are my ties to Ireland? Today, why am I sitting here wearing green and wearing my Celtic jewelry, listening to Irish songs, thinking of imported Irish cheese I have sitting in the fridge to use for supper? I don't drink a drop of alcohol, so surely, it is no excuse to drink. So why?

Growing up, I always wanted to travel and the top of my list was always going to England, Ireland, and Scotland. I don't know why, but it always seemed magical to me. There is such a mystical beauty in the photographs, especially those of standing stones and the vivid green, and then there is the myths and superstitions. Those places feel so otherworldly to me and I felt a deep connection to I can't truly explain. Even after visting Stonehenge, and climbing the legendary Tor in King Arthur legends, it has only grown. And there, I make sense to myself and it confirmed those feelings of connection.

As a product of the melting pot, I have the open sky to explore the world to decide where I will go. I can use the past as a compass, but won't be afraid to spin it to explore different cultures. That is what we will teach our children, and hope they find a connection somewhere in this world. In the meantime, they read them stories. Lots and lots of stories.

PHRASE: Beannachtai na Feile Padraig
PRONOUNCED: bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig
MEANING: Happy Saint Patrick's Day


Natasha

Monday, March 15, 2010

Evaluation

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
Sylvia Plath

I keep trying to figure out how to make the pieces of my life that just don't seem to fit into another shape so they will fit. Sometimes, though, it is time to pick up a new piece and try that instead.

It has only been three months into this year, but I have been doing that a lot in my mind recently. My mind is a lot clearer and stronger than it has been for a long time so I am much more confident with the decisions I have been making. I do realize that mistakes will be happen, but that is part of life.

In regards to writing, I wrote around 100,000 words total last year. I did take a long break, but how can I beat myself up with those numbers? I just need to move forward and hope I keep doing that well!

I am going to begin edits on KIN a week earlier than I planned. I am going to print it out this week and then start going over the first draft this weekend. I know this will be a hard process since the novel almost doubled more than what I imagined, growing and growing into something I never expected. I know I will make some huge changes, but I am thrilled to tear into this piece of work. I am proud already of what it can become.

I also plan on writing the sequel to Novel #1, Beyond the Garden. This will start directly after the first novel. I have about 25,000 words written so far, but I believe I will have to scrap most of it. This sequel was never in the plan for years and years so it is taking longer than I like to get my mind adjusted past my original timeline. I already know it will be darker than Beyond the Garden, and I am ready for the challenge. My hope is that the completion of this novel will strengthen Novel #1 and will help in selling both of them.

I have a short story collection that I am working on with my husband. Our deadline is beyond passed due so we need to re-evaluate where it should go. They are great little exercises when I need to do something different.

I think 2010 will prove to be an interesting year and I can't wait to see where it will eventually take me...

Natasha

Monday, March 1, 2010

Passion

"Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping...waiting...and though unwanted...unbidden...it will stir...open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us...guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. the joy of love...the clarity of hatred...and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we'd truly be dead."
-Angelus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

People have started to say that my husband and I are passionate about the things we love, mine being mostly books and writing. I am not published yet, but I keep thinking that I have so much more to learn about writing. I think I can wait a little bit longer to get it right. I love books. Right now I have eight books and seven comic books on my nightstand. I have several books on my nook, an audio book on my MP3 player, and over 100 on my to-read list at Goodreads. I do, indeed, see why people can see my passion so easily. Without the insight of books, I can't imagine what the world would even mean to me.
----------------
A little over a year ago, I was in a rut. I couldn't write and I didn't know what to to do. Finally, my husband told me that I should look into starting a different project. At that point, I had two novels written. Novel #1 was something I finished right after college, the idea from my 12 year old self. Novel #2 I wrote during Nanowrimo and decided that no one will ever read it. It had great ideas, and I decided to take them elsewhere.

Possible Novel #3 was a sequel to Novel #1. In all my years, I never intended on doing this type of sequel. I needed more time.

So, now onto Novel #3. I started it early January last year. I did really well with my progress throughout the year. That is, until I hit July when we went on vacation. Then we returned home to start house hunting. Then we moved in October, unpacking, the holidays... time had slipped away. It didn't help that I wasn't feeling like myself. The novel also became a bit out of control. I had hoped to finish it at 50,000 words. I was then at 75,000 words.

I perked up finally and decided to finish the novel at the end of February. It was a tough call since I am always busy in February, my birthday month. It wasn't as much as a struggle as I thought. I would sit down as much as I could and just write. I only wrote 300 words, or I could throw out 1200-2000 words. It was an amazing feeling to see that word count build.

Then it came to yesterday, the last day of the month. The ending kept stretching, but I knew that I had to finish this. Between baking bread, making a batch of homemade polenta, laundry... I somehow managed to write 7200 words to finish the novel at over 93,000 words! Woo hoo!

It took me thirteen months and three different ages (I went from 26 to 28 in that time) to finish the first draft of this novel. Now I will start the editing phase in April. I like to let things sit a bit, but who knows? I might get an itching to edit earlier than that. First, I need an ink cartridge for my laserjet so I can print out the first copy!

For the meantime, what will be my next project? I have a few things in mind, until I start them, I am going to stay quiet. You never know sometimes how things work out...

Natasha

Currently... Update Edition

It's ridiculous how long it's been since I've updated here. Life seemed to pick up and fly. I decided maybe the best way to upda...