June 21, 2012

Being Crafty: How To Repaint a Junkyard Trunk

When I'm not procrastination baking, I like procrastination crafting. I bought an old trunk for $15 in New York State last year and hadn't done anything with it yet. I figured since I'm moving soon and this thing is going at the end of my bed, I'd better give it a makeover. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out:

It's easy, too. No really...the easiest.

Step 1: Clean and sand it.

Step 2: Spray on a primer coat. I don't think I necessarily had to do this, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. The primer dries very quickly. I love spray paint; it's almost idiot proof as long as you're aiming in the right direction (hint: not at your eyes). The key is to not hold it close to the object you're painting and not hold it in one place too long. Otherwise you'll get drippage, and no one likes that.

Step 3: Spray paint with your primary color. (same process as above. It dries super fast, too).

Step 4: This step isn't hard, but it's a labor of love. Carefully tape paper over the panels you want to stay your primary color. Give the trunk a couple of hours to dry and use painter's tape or it's liable to strip off a layer when you take it off later.

Step 5: Spray on your trim paint. I used a hammered finish paint, which has a dull sheen and a cool pitted look.

And there you have it: an awesome trunk.

The Power of Simplicity

As I round the 60,000 word mark in my WIP, things are starting to get complicated. I am trying to weave several different threads together, and to make sure they all make sense side by side. There's pacing to consider, and whether my characters are still humming along on the right track. I worry about this, sometimes, because it's easy to overcomplicate stories. You think you need to add in rather than take out; to add in more drama and more monsters, or else you'll lose people's attention. That's the stuff that keeps readers reading, right?

Except then I see a book trailer like this one, reminding me that evocative storytelling doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it's more powerful when it's not.

You don't know what this story is about, right? All you know is that this kid who likes music is having a hard time, and that he's trying to find ways to deal with it. No words are spoken, no secondary characters introduced. There is only this kid with a bloody nose walking off with an axe...and I really want to know what he's going to do with it. Don't you?

Currently Writing To: "White Blank Page" by Mumford & Sons

June 11, 2012

Resolutions, Revisited: The Halfway Mark

So it's June. How did that happen?

I've been thinking about goals today, trying to figure out how much I can squeeze into the few months I have off before I dive into teaching. Let's see how I've done so far with this year's resolutions:

1. Finish Novel #2 and start shopping for agents. I finished edits on TORN in February (sweet triumph!) and started shopping in March. This was something that involved an insane amount of research and meticulous dedication, more so even than I expected. Thanks to that wonderful thing called the Internet I've learned a massive amount and connected with some interesting people. I've entered a few contests and gotten MUCH more comfortable with having people read my work and also with hearing 'no thanks'. I just have to keep this ball rolling through the rest of the year.

2. Write Novel #3. I wrote 12,000 words of novel #3. And then started writing an entirely different Novel #3, one that wouldn't leave me alone. I'm now about 55,000 words into what I'm calling my UndergroundNovel, and I'm loving it. So that's...[computing]...almost 70,000 words in four months? Yowza. That's fast for me. If I keep going at this rate, I'll be done with this draft by mid-July.

3. Make photography a bigger part of my life. I was better about this in the first three months of the year, but I'm coming back around to it. The summer's adventures should yield some interesting new places to point my camera at.

4. Take myself on a writing retreat. I'm going up to a beautiful farm in NY State in a few weeks to finish Novel #3 (and also to paint my aunt's farmhouse living room. And also to eat copious amounts of her cake.) Here's to family-sponsored writing ventures!

5. Learn to play the violin. You know what I don't own? A violin. But I DO own a guitar, one I never play anymore. I think I'm going to try and get better at that so I can serenade my new roommates.

6. Run for a cause. I just ran a half marathon. I did not, sadly, run for a cause. I was afraid that I'd fall on my face halfway through, disappointing my sponsors and feeling silly. Now that I know I can actually run 13.1 miles, I'm on top of this. Are big races only a summer thing, or do they have them in the fall?

7. Get back in touch with Shakespeare. I actually forgot about this one...that's what I get for not hanging them up somewhere visible. I'm off to read me some Macbeth.

My Current Writing Soundtrack: "The Lighthouse Song" by Josh Pyke

June 8, 2012

It's A (half) Marathon - Not A Sprint.

You know when you try to get things done and, without fail or exception, they don't seem to work the way you want them to? That's been today.

I'm a bit of a mastodon with my To Do lists - I exist under the belief that if you stomp and chomp away at something, it'll eventually get done well. Today I ploughed 1,000 words into a difficult scene in my WIP only to realize I'd come at it from the wrong angle. Knowing this made me cranky, because it meant having to rewrite a huge chunk of work I'd already done. So I stepped away from it and up to another project. I wanted to paint an old steamer trunk of mine so I got the paint, broke out the sander, and got things underway. It only took an hour to realize I'd gone about the trunk all wrong, too - wrong method, wrong supplies. I have to start over. I even tried to wash the dog with...well, similar results (he's fine, but peppermint bath wash is not his favorite).

I don't like this at all. It's enough to make me want to put on sweatpants and call it a day. Still, there's something to be said for going about something the wrong way. Sometimes you have to go the wrong way to realize what the 'right way' is. Plus, it makes me remember the importance of patience - a skill I'm constantly relearning.

Speaking of which, I ran my first half marathon last weekend. My goal wasn't to run super fast; my goal was, quite honestly, to run the whole time and finish without breaking anything. And, by some minor miracle, I did. In my training I'd only run about eight miles - nowhere near the 13.1 I had to do on race day. I was worried, but it all worked out fine. In the midst of miles ten and eleven (because I'm obsessive like this), I found myself thinking about my writing. Doing something creative - doing anything worthwhile, really - can feel a lot like running a marathon. There are moments when you hit your stride and everything clicks into place, but there are also those miles when you know - you just know - you can't go any further. You were crazy to think you could. But most of the time, you really can. You're just tired and have lost your focus.

I've found that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on being present - not focused on two miles ago, or one mile ahead, but right in this present place - you'll be surprised what you can accomplish. I always am.

Currently writing to: In My Veins - Andrew Belle