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Archive for the ‘Creative Process’ Category

I hereby announce that I am reviving my blog. So yup, it’s been more than seven months since I’ve updated here, for various reasons. Anyone who’s visited here during this time has been greeted by a glowing Christmas tree – so I guess it’s been Christmas on my blog all this time. That’s okay with me, I guess, being a total Christmas nut.

During that seven months, every time I considered doing a new post, I just ultimately wasn’t inspired. I didn’t really know what to write about. My blog felt like it had no focus, or that maybe I’d moved past its original intention, or a combination of the two. When I first started this blog almost three years ago, I was heavily influenced by lots of “mama”-type crafty blogs (i.e. the mother of them all, soulemama), and my blog was an attempt to chronicle my attempts to be more crafty and domestic during my first maternity leave with my son, who’s now almost three.The crafty experimentation was fun and all, as were the photos of all the food I cooked up during that mat leave, but ultimately that’s not what I want this blog to be about in the long term. And that’s because, well, I’m just really not all that crafty. Knitting annoys me, sewing gives me a kink in my neck, and I’m just not a natural housewife. That year of crafty/domestic experimentation helped me to realize these things about myself, and that’s helpful in and of itself. But glowbuggirl is not really a mama-type blog, and I wanted to find my new focus.

When I went to revive the ol’ blog, I thought about starting afresh – leaving this one behind, and starting a whole new one. But then I decided, no, I am Glowbug Girl, and I shall evolve! So, what has been occupying my life and body and brain for the past seven months?

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Two of my current “projects” – a baby in the belly and a freshly completed manuscript at the ready. The cat’s cute, too. It’s blurry because I took it with my iPhone. Sorry. 

1) I’ve been busy growing a new addition to our family of three. I’m 36 weeks along, and so ready to be done. With my son Keaton I could have kept on being pregnant, but this time it’s different. Something about chasing around a toddler while feeling like a galumphing elephant in the summer heat has taken some of the charm out of the late third trimester. When I was pregnant the last time I could just sit in front of a fan all day and have unlimited naps (when I was on mat leave, of course… although come to think of it I did close the door to my office more then a few times because I was “on deadline.”) Don’t mind me, I’m just feeling complainy today.

2) Just finished the first draft of my latest children’s novel, tentatively titled Mint Magic. I cannot express the relief that I felt when I typed “The End” last week. I started that book six years ago, and I’ve taken big breaks from it in the meantime while I wrote other stuff. It’s a totally different book than when I first started writing it, in my creative writing class during my MA program. But now it is done, at least.

3) Working on a very exciting digital children’s book project with a few other collaborators. I don’t want to say too much in these early-ish stages for fear of jinxing it, but let’s just say I’m super-stoked about where we’re headed with it. More later.

4) Taking courses toward the PIDP (Provincial Instructor Diploma Program), which nerdy me is loving. When I’m done the program I’ll go up a pay grade, which is nice, but just taking courses in curriculum development, evaluation of learning and instructional strategies get me all excited. Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I love being in school. And for those reasons (and a few others that I’ll write about later) making the career shift from communications and marketing office slave to university instructor a couple of years ago was one of the best things I ever did. More on this later, too.

So there we go. And that’s where I want to head with this blog, too. Mama and baby/kid life is great, but that’s not the focus of Glowbug Girl. I go more than slightly nutty if I don’t have some sort of cerebral/creative outlet, so this blog will (hopefully) be one of my sanctuaries for the preservation of my sanity. I want to talk about creative writing. I want to discuss the intersection of traditional children’s book publishing and digital publishing. I want to talk about arts and culture. I want to talk about childhood nostalgia and my favourite movies and music, and random thoughts, and other things that have already found a place here. And so I shall continue.

Coming up in a future post: why I call this blog Glowbug Girl.

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Sorry about the weird spacing of the photos. I can’t quite seem to fix it. 

So what do you do when you’re feeling a little stressed, overwhelmed, unbalanced and generally out of sorts? Well, you plan a spontaneous stateside road trip with your husband and almost-two-year-old, of course! We headed down the I-5 on Saturday morning and then gorgeous Chuckanut Drive in Washington State, and were in Birch Bay in time for breakfast, featuring the slowest. service. ever. And slightly watery eggs benedict served by a wacky waitress. All very entertaining.

We drove over to darling Whidbey Island, the site of many a dad-and-daughter motorcycle trip back when my sisters and I were kids. We stopped off at the Captain Whidbey Inn, and it was just as I remembered it in 1983.

And of course Keaton just wanted to go to the “BEACH!” and play with “WOCKS”!

 

Which he did, on several occasions, this photo being in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Why enjoy beautiful food in a lovely little cafe (Knead & Feed) when you know there is a pebbly beach just down the stairs outside?

After a ferry ride back to the mainland, complete with entertaining stencilled cupboards, we went to two small town destinations that many of us know so well from the small screen: North Bend, where Twin Peaks was filmed back in the late 80s/early 90s, and where my husband Joshua also spent four formative years of his childhood life. How about that, eh? If I had known during all those early teenaged years while I obsessively watched Twin Peaks that my future husband was growing up in the very town that it was filmed…

Damn fine coffee.

And humungous portions. My god. This Veggie Mixer kept us going for three whole meals!

Keaton played in the playground of Josh’s old elementary school, North Bend Elementary.

And then Roslyn, home to my favourite TV show of all time, Northern Exposure, which I have mentioned more than a few times on this here blog. Is it possible to be starstruck by a town? Because I was. Seriously, it’s still just like it was in the show. As Josh said, that’s probably written into any possible development plan for the town that it can’t change. But really, check these photos out. Isn’t that Dr. Fleischman’s battered blue truck?

After exploring the town for a while we took Keats to the local playground, and I just keep smiling hugely to myself, thinking, “We’re at the playground. But not just any playground. A playground in Roslyn. Wow.” Yes, I know, ridiculous fan girl.

Then we visited the troll under the bridge in Fremont, Seattle, and had some yummy lunch at the Silence.Heart.Nest Cafe.

After all that excitement, it was time for some kickin’ back with Winnie the Pooh. Mixed into all this was one nice hotel, one sketchy one and one so-so one in North Seattle (yikes!), lots of grease on food action, a failed trip to the zoo, a flat tire, and much noticing of American accents/dialects.

Road trips are AWESOME. And now I am going to eat nothing but steamed vegetables and fish for two weeks. Erp.

P.S. Okay, so I know it’s been forever since my last post. Almost three months, to be somewhat exact. My lack of posts, not unsurprisingly, is directly tied to my three-month-long bout of writer’s block which now, thankfully, seems to have ended. Actually, it was writer’s block, but then I decided to just go with that, and turn it into a brief vacation from writing. But I’m ready to get back at it. Let’s see how it goes.

P.P.S. That was a long P.S.

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So, I’ve been experiencing some writer’s block lately. I have what I feel are some great ideas for three different books I want to write, but I keep getting stuck. Fortunately, there are loads of great writing blogs out there with lots of fabulous and reassuring posts on breaking through blocks – like Laini Taylor’s post today and Libba Bray’s recent post – but I had an idea beyond my usual freewriting-solves-everything trick. I remembered something that I read (I think it was on the wonderful Pipedreaming children’s lit review blog), that if you put all of your favourite things into your book, you can’t really go wrong. Well, I guess you could – I could just turn into an unfocused mishmash of all your beloved influences and things – but I was inspired by the idea to create a list of, well, my favourite things, of course. This isn’t a place for my favourite movies or my favourite bands or my favourite books. It might be aspects of those things, but really, it’s all about the details of life. I guess it’s like my personalized version of that book about 10,000 things that make you happy. But that’s coo.

So here we go:

artichokes

scarves
morning coffee
wacky old ladies
kitchen dance parties
dance parties of any kind, really
shoulders
deciduous forests
makeovers/before & afters
springtime
having a favourite part in a song (as in “Oooh, I love this part! Listen, wait for it..,” like the bass solo in Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ or Cyndi Lauper’s long note at the end of ‘Money Changes Everything’)
home canned peaches
midnight
crackling fires
pomp and circumstance; ritual and ceremony
baseball
French braids

antique shops
sci-fi boys
Olympic women’s gymnastics
British things
sing-alongs
Twix bars
the English language
Mennonite culture and history
crushes
secret hiding places
Strongbow cider
fresh new school supplies
Archie comics
costumes
Vienna
sleepovers
Christmas
school stories
Dutch light
the landscape of childhood
Tilt-A-Whirls
country drives
daydreams
bags/totes/purses
lip balm
punctuation
Converse sneakers
scented felts
pastries
furry friends
drollery
grand, ramshackle old houses (with tower bedrooms)
farmers markets
dangly earrings

banana splits and pretty much any dessert featuring bananas
pubs
laughing uproariously
faeries and magic
antique roses
dinner parties
spunky heroines a la Pippy Longstocking, Harriet the Spy and Jodie Foster in Freaky Friday
autumn
used bookstores
sticker books
red velvet stage curtains
naps
the library
ribbed tights
the coffee-and-cookies smell of church basements
putting up photos in your high school locker
national anthems

Before I published this, I left this draft post open on my desktop for a couple of days, just to let all the favourite things come to me. It’s a fun thing to do – I’d recommend it. I also found it to be a reminder, in this crazy, fast-moving world of ours, to enjoy the details of the everyday. Will it help lift my writer’s block? I’ll keep you posted.

And so I just have to ask – what are some of your favourite things?

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Okay, so needless to say I’ve been away for a while. A long while. More than six weeks, in fact.

While I’ve been away, and life has carried on, a few notable things have happened that I would like to share with you. In the last few weeks I’ve:

– Started another baby quilt, for my new nephew Kieren. In my last post I was still embroidering the patches. In the meantime I ordered a charm pack (oh, I do love a charm pack!) of Moda Hideaway fabric, which is covered in clocks and alpine-looking motifs, perfect for a little part-Swiss boy. The other night I put on Woody Allen’s Alice (oh William Hurt, my love for you has not waned) and sewed the whole quilt top together. So it’s almost done…

– Witnessed the birth of my aforementioned new nephew. A beautiful home birth. It was amazing, and transformative, and very moving. Keaton was totally freaked out by the whole thing and bawled all night, but that’s another story.

– Had some major thoughts about my creative process. When it comes to crafting, writing, or anything else in the creative realm, I am a binger. I’m not the type of person to sew a few stitches one day and a few the next, or write a page or two a day, slowly working toward my goal. That’s not me, even though I sometimes beat myself up for not working on my projects more consistently. Nope, I’m a work-on-something-for-many-hours-late-into-the-night-for-three-days-straight and then put it away for a while type of person. So, bingeing it is, if that’s the way I get sh*t done!

– Realized that I should probably tame my potty mouth in front of Keaton, now that he’s parroting everything I say.

– Gotten very stuck with both the creative writing projects I’ve been working on. But now slightly less stuck with one of them, which may in turn lead to some binge-writing. Fingers crossed.

– Been working with a web designer on a new website for my freelance copywriting/consulting business, Creative Cat Communications. It’s still under construction, but stay tuned for a link.

As I write this, a huge flash of lightning and a big clap of thunder boomed just outside my kitchen window. I think I shall go cuddle up under the covers with Josh and listen to the rain pouring down outside. Ahhhh.

Life is good.

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For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I’ve got the perfect amount of busy going on in my life. A balance between activity and rest, nights out and nights in. It’s the amount of busy that I’ve been hoping for and trying for for so long, but just never achieved. And it’s been years, too, too many years. My too-busy-ness before was entirely self-wrought, I do realise, but still. It’s temporary, I also realise, and all too soon I’ll be right back to too busy again. But for now I’m savouring it. Last semester was crazy, and I barely had time to sleep, but this semester’s workload totally makes up for it. (Funny, now that I’m an instructor I’m like a student again – thinking about the year in terms of semesters.)

So, fortunately, lately I’ve had time lately to:

– Finish that patchwork baby quilt I showed you last post, and now I’ve started on the embroidery for another baby quilt, this time for my sister-in-law’s soon-to-be-released wee one. It’ll be another patchwork quilt, using the most darling charm pack fabric from Moda.

Listen to me: I actually sound like I know what I’m talking about. Really, everything I know about quilting (which is very, very little) so far I’ve learned from the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s online tutorials. Jenny’s my favourite – she’s hilarious and I love her gel nails.

– Take a one-day drawing class on ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ with the Vancouver School Board. Just for fun, of course. I have absolutely no dreams of actually being a good artist – I still draw like I’m twelve, as I’ve mentioned. But it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years, so I was glad to finally do it. But it definitely confirmed the fact that I still draw like I did when I was twelve. My favourite things to draw then were hamsters and gymnasts.

And the class was in a high school science lab, so that was cool.

– Write a new picture book manuscript. Not sure exactly what I’ll do with it, but it’s an idea I’d had for a while, and I sure was glad that I found the time to write it. And last week I put Keaton in daycare for a few hours and worked on the edits for my new novel that’s coming out in the fall. That’s been my dream for a long time, too, to work on creative writing in a coffee shop.

So yeah, I’m enjoying all this extra creative time while it lasts. ‘Cause I know that pretty soon Too Busy will come along and kick me in the ass again. But, for now, it’s all good.

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I really don’t know why I attempted a lame Phil Collins reference there. Oh well.

Moving right along, you can see what falls off of my productivity chart once I start trying to go to bed at a decent hour. Yes indeed, clearly blog posts were something that was part of my late-night creative output regime. I’m still trying to figure out how to still have a decent level of aforementioned creative output while still aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Midnight – 2am used to be my golden hours, people!

That said, there has been some making of things going on in the background since my last, long-ago post. As my post title suggests, I have moved my messy pile of crafty crap from what is now Keaton’s room (also our dining room), and into a corner of our living room. My crafty crap pile was languishing in the dining room, mainly because now that Keaton goes to bed at about 6:30 or 7pm (bless him), well, I couldn’t exactly be in there with the light on, chonking away on my sewing machine.

So, I moved my little table and sewing machine into the living room by the window, and put my fabrics and notions and stuff into a stack of vintage suitcases (two of them picked up at the Fort Langley Antiques Mall on a recent Sunday outing), thereby creating a slightly less messy pile of crafty crap that I will now dub my “studio.” I say “studio” with the quotes around it so as not to water down the term – as studios should really be for artists and crafters who are actually good at making stuff. But maybe I’ll get there one day.

My “studio”

The day I did that, I felt so inspired that I got right back to work on the baby quilt for my black-lovin’, bird-lovin’ friend that I wrote about a couple of months back (yep, not much progress), and started laying it out on the floor. Since this photo I have sewn three of the rows together, and they seem to be coming together fairly well. (It’s true – dining room/baby sleeping excuse aside, I do not work quickly!). I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing – I’m just guessing at basic quilting and doing 1/4″ seam allowances, ironing as I go along, etc. My greatest fear is that when I go to sew all of the rows together, it’ll be a wonky, unmatched thing that will look totally ridiculous. I’ve always had a hard time sewing a straight seam.

Baby quilt layout in progress

I shall continue to post quilty updates as they come. Wish me luck!

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Yes, so I’ve been away for a while, both from home and from this blog space for quite a few days! Life is a bit tumultuous and in limbo at the moment, and our big family vacation to Posthill Lake (north of Kelowna) could not have come at a better time. From last Friday to last Monday, it was all about eating (lots of it), drinking, visiting, laughing (lots of that, too) and relaxing with my dad and stepmum, my sisters and our boys.

This time away also made me think about two things: one, how very refreshing and mind-clearing it is to be off the telecommunications grid for a few days, and two: how much I learn for my own little patch of lawn/yard/garden/earth.

With no email to check, no cell phone messages to respond to, no TV or DVDs to watch, no internet to surf, no Facebook statuses to update, no Twitter to tweet on, no radio (well, we could have brought one, but we didn’t) and not even an old-fashioned land line, it was nice to see what took technology’s place. (I should add that we were not totally off the grid – we did have running water and electricity… the perfect happy medium!) And that was chatting, and relaxing, and reading, and looking out a the lake, and well, just some quiet and companionable silence. I saw a Coleman ad recently that said: “The Coleman Camping Site: The Original Social Networking Site.” I know it’s an advertising slogan, but it’s true isn’t it? There’s been so much talk about how the more ways we have of communicating, the less we communicate meaningfully.

And there’s something so special, and so unfortunately rare now, about sitting around a fire and talking without someone checking their iPhone, or texting someone, or even jumping up to get the phone. It also made me think about how many moments of my day are spent running to the laptop to finish an email or look up something online. What if I took an “offline” day once or twice per week, and didn’t spend most of my time after Keaton goes to bed catching up on emails? I think I’ll try it!

Being away also made me think about how much, especially with little Keaton getting more active each day, I wish we had an outside space of our own. (It may also be that I’m getting a little stir-crazy in our apartment!) I love our apartment, but I do miss house living where you can just walk out your door and there’s a little piece of earth to call your own. In our heritage building we don’t have a balcony, just a really sketchy fire escape (which we have ventured out onto drunkenly, and also for photo shoots, possibly also drunkenly). There are parks in our ‘hood, of course, and there is a churchyard next to our building, but it’s so public and covered in dog poop, so it’s not much of a substitute. I would love to be able to fling open the door of our home to breathe some outside air, or have a little garden where I can grow herbs and vegetables, and where Keaton can play. Or even where I can just go outside in my pajamas and have a coffee. *sigh* Maybe someday, when Vancouver home prices have calmed down and Joshua and I are less in debt!

In other news, I think the crowns and pennants were a hit with the birthday peeps:

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