Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mixing Paint

Lately, I feel like I am mixing paint, trying to figure out what kind of shade of color I want to become, for people to see, or I will see in the mirror.

My favorite color is blue. Blue of the night sky, blue of the day sky. Blue of the waters, blue of the eyes of strangers. I don't think blue means sad to me, but it brings a sense of calm. Of freedom, like the air of the sky, droplets of water on the skin. And someday, I want that to reflect in my eyes.
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I was listening to a podcast and I heard a story that caused an idea to form in my head. It started as something simple, something I could even relate to, and it started to take form. I thought to myself, what can I make different? The story would be set in modern times, another part of our own world. Something I have dared once, but it still ended up in Faery for 90% of the book (a book I have since abandoned). I didn't want vampires, or werewolves, or faeries to be the main basis of the story. The question kept swirling in my mind, like mouthwash in your mouth and I couldn't wait until I could spit it out, to be left with not a clean mouth, but a clear idea.

Then it arrived. I now know three things for sure, but still working on the world building. It is strange trying to develop a world within your own, one that people will truly believe.
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I received a catalog in the mail recently to take some local community classes. They range from cooking to computers to personal growth. I thought it was a neat idea and went online to see if they have writings ones (I accidently threw the catalog). They do have some online writing classes that are $85. They last for six weeks, twice a week. I have six classes that I wouldn't mind taking.

I want so much to become a better writer. I graduated from college almost five years ago. I think some type of refresher course, with some new information, might do some wonders. Then, I realized that I should try to see my needs for becoming a better writer and maybe it would be better to join some type of writing organization. I could then meet contacts to help critique and be part of a community.

Not sure what I will do yet, but it is a little fun researching all the options.
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Natasha

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Seeker

"Do not seek to follow the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought." -Matsuo Bashō

When people ask writers for advice, they give the same answers over and over, in various forms. Still, it all comes down to one thing: Just write! Those are wise words that fit the quote above perfectly.

I don't feel like myself when I don't write, and because of my lack of writing over various months, a bit of myself is incomplete. I need to write! I can't use the full time job or anything else as my excuse any longer. It is time to take some sort of action by getting back into better habits (including exercise).

Over the years, I have noticed that there are things that help me write:
  • Eating first. If I am hungry, there is nothing on my mind more than when I will get to eat. Starving myself gets me nowhere.
  • Having something to drink by my side can help so I don't have an excuse to get up. It also makes me feel smart sitting there holding a cup, contemplating something. When I have an aha! moment, the clink of the cup as I set it down in haste is very satisfying.
  • Reading beforehand can inspire the brain to start turning if struggling a bit. It sets my mind on the task of words.
  • Reading afterward reminds me why I write and it relaxes me and brings contentment of my small accomplishment of the day.
  • Music has always been a big part of writing. I use to have my stereo set up on my desk growing up and I would have music blaring as I read and wrote (by hand). Now I make playlists on my computer. Right now I put on Joe Hisiashi's music from Hayao Miyazaki's movies while I write KIN.
  • I can't expect blogs or tweets to help me to write, but they can be inspiring or give me tips. For example, I was curious about the word count of young adult books. The standards have changed, but what would be a good number to have as a type of goal? You can now use Amazon see word counts for most books. However, this does not count as writing.
  • Research is something that help me really take something and then write about it. I mostly use this in my editing phase or it can be easy to get distracted.
  • I use my blog posts, tweets, and Google Calender to help me feel better about my progress or as a way to see that I am not writing as much as I would like.
  • My husband. He helps me so I have more time to write. For example, he took over making our lunches so I would have a little more time in the evening to write. All his idea, by the way. (I am one lucky girl!)
  • Lastly, to just simple believe.
Then there is this post. It is a reminder of what I am learning about myself and what is useful and, well, not so useful. It is good to do some checks and balances.
Natasha

Monday, January 18, 2010

Proper Introductions are in order....

Last month was a real hard after the loss of our beloved cat, Cherrie. Our house was empty and we knew that we couldn't wait long to add more love to our home. We also knew that Cherrie would want us to take care of some kitties the way we took care of her over the years. So, we decided on getting two kittens. Joey wanted two girls, or at least one girl, and I didn't disagree. So, one night, we went to the FM Humane Society after I did some looking online for local places that had kittens.

While searching, I fell in love with a little calico named Ducky and I knew I wanted to take her home. She had three sisters, all named after The Land Before Time characters. Once we looked at them, we realized she was the quiet one and the others were quite hyper. We weren't sure what other one to take.

We looked at plenty of other girl kittens, and I was getting overwhelmed after about an hour. A few that we liked were waiting for approval for their homes. Others were black, and Joey couldn't handle the sight of their black ears. (He took Cherrie's blood for her diabetes often and it reminded him too much of her.)

We knew that we wanted the calico Ducky. I was totally in love with her, and after looking at all the girls, I suggested we look at the boys. There was a gray and white boy that caught my eye. So, we had them open the cage, and when I took Gully (his mom was Fern, both named after FernGully) in my arms, I knew that he was ours. Joey touched him and agreed.

We took the kitties home the next day, and they settled in perfectly in our home. We renamed the boy Topher (possibly after the Dollhouse character). Joey named him instantly, saying that "he looks like a Topher". Sophie was given her name the night we took her home. We had Ponyo, Haru, and Sophie picked out from Miyazaki movies. However, Sophie (from Howl's Moving Castle) was the winner.

We found out that they love taking turns playing with their play mouse. That she likes soft toys and he likes hard plastic ones. That she eats treats twice as fast as he does and to then we need to pull her away so she doesn't gobble up his! Topher likes the crook of our arms and Sophie likes our laps (especially when I am on the computer!). Sophie also loves my shoulder. Topher likes to stretch out as far as he can, especially on top of Sophie. He likes to use licking to protect himself (we put caps on their nails) and keeps his tongue out when he is done sometimes. Sophie likes to talk a lot in the kitchen.

Today is our one month kitty anniversary! Tonight we will celebrate on the couch, kitties in our lap, with some playing in between.

Natasha

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More than Words

Sometimes I feel like there is more than words that come out when I write. There are moments, emotions, worlds, actions... so much that I sometimes I just don't have any real control over them. They just happen. (The editing process is different, but that's another story).

I have been completely awful with my writing goals. We went on vacation, and when we returned, we were house hunting, then moving, trying to get our life back in order, and then the holidays came with pain and trying to find our legs again.

Writing really is a type of therapy to me, and sometimes I resist it. I need to learn now, in 2010, to not do that! I finally wrote another 1100 words, and reached over 80,000 words, in the current novel I am working in. I started it a year ago and I am ready to finish it. I want to start editing. I am so proud of the ideas of this book that I hope that I can share it someday.

What a great feeling, something that takes more than words at this moment to describe.

Natasha

Picture: Outside my yard in Concrete, ND. I always knew where to look for the rainbow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Things I Learned...about being vegetarian

It has been just over a year since my husband and I decided to become vegetarian. In that time, I have learned a lot about food, habits, menus, and ingredients. I have changed the way I look at food completely and I am enjoying every moment of it. I feel like I am a stronger cook, one that explores more options. Here are some of the moments and revelations that I have discovered this past year.

1) I didn't really know Jello's ingredients until about a year or two ago. Once I found out, well, that really made my eyebrows rise. How did I not know? The worse thing about it is my mother used to make a dessert for me that she called "Natasha's Jello". She used sweetened condensed milk with red jello to make different shades of red and pink, which worked perfectly with my day after Valentine's birthday. How sad.

2) Not only is Jello off limits, but I never realized how many things had gelatin in it! Chip dip, sour cream from Taco Bell... Why, oh, why? The only good news, though, is Skittles are now gelatin free! Oh, and marshmallows. (Marshmallow puff on the other hand...)

3) How friendly people are about being vegetarian and give helpful tips, especially in restuarants (chicken stock in the rice at the local Mexican place, for example). Friends that offer recipes. Family or co-workers that cooks a special dish for a potluck or event. Still, we need to make our own food most of the time or eat beforehand. No complaints since I do like to cook.

4) Then there are the people that are on the defensive and have to describe how much they love meat, with descriptions of eating them. What they will eat. How they cook it. It just shows their lack of understanding, which I have suffered from when I was sixteen. Meat is the center of the plates and it is hard to wrap a mind around the idea of no meat or maybe even the lack of a meat substitute. Still, respect isn't a hard or long word.

5) I feel better about what I eat. I don't worry as much about food poisoning, or blood or veins in my food. I have less stomach aches.

6) I use more spices (like cumin and tumeric-- which can even make lima beans taste good!).

7) I try more ethnic recipes that I never would have done before, like curry.

8) I discovered some great meat alternatives (TVP, lentils, tempeh, Morningstar).

9) Eating out is hard. Pasta, mexican dishes, pizza, and appetizers are probably the easiest or only things on menus. I try to investigate menus before I go anywhere to check ingredients since I can find things out like there is gelatin in the sour cream at Taco Bell.

10) I am more aware about what I put in my body. Yes, I am eating lemonade coated wild cherry Nerds as I write this. I am guilty of loving sweets and still able to buy the healthiest of things that I shouldn't sometimes. Looking at my past habits really has shown how far I have come and how far I can go with what I am eating. There is also time and money, but I am using them both more wisely by not eating out as much and buying fresher ingredients.



Changing eating habits isn't something that I believe people cannot just jump into. Sometimes you have to take some time. I live in a small community so I am learning where I can buy ingredients and am exploring different recipes all the time. There will be trial and errors of many types, but I am determined to keep moving forward. That is what life is all about, right?

Natasha
Picture: Taken at La Roche, a wonderful little cafe at 39 St Martin's Lane in London.