Tuesday, January 02, 2018

On Hiatus

Creativity really is like water. It ebbs and flows, trickles and floods, and can be anything from a gentle shower to a roaring tsunami. I've often thought of mine as a fountain; probably why I'm so drawn to them in real life. My creativity constantly cycles from a basin of dreams, inspiration and joy. If I lose sight of any of those three things, the supply starts to evaporate.

2017 taught me that the more you use your creativity, the more you need to find new sources to replenish it. There is endless inspiration in the world, but you need time to recognize it, absorb it, and learn from it. Likewise you also have to keep your creativity protected against anything that will pollute it. Toxic influences can end up poisoning everything you try to do.

That said, you can't wall yourself up in an ivory tower and tell everyone never to darken your door again. Creative people need each other. Almost everything writers do has to be accomplished alone. Having someone who deals with the same thing to talk to makes it less lonely. You feel part of something bigger than yourself when you have a circle of friends who understand you. We all need that person who gets it, even if it's just one friend. We can offer the support that they need, too.

In the year ahead I hope you all take some time to nurture your creativity as well as doing the same for others. If you can find the right balance of the two, there's nothing that will get between you and your goals.

Now I'm going to take some time off to replenish. It won't be five months this time, I promise. I just need a decent break from the internet. I'll check in now and then, and When I get back I'll have a full report.

See you once the fountain is back up to the brim.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Wishing You

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of PBW 2017

On the last day of every year my tradition is to sort through the archives to see how things went, what I accomplished (or didn't) and get some ideas on ways in which to improve things with PBW and my writing life.

I put the blog on hiatus for almost five months this year, which gave me a much-needed vacation from the internet so I could focus on my work. That was probably the best thing I've done for myself creatively in a long time. Unplugging allowed me to get back to what I really love about writing: writing. For the length of my hiatus nothing got between me and the page. I came back with a better attitude, which I needed when I dumped Photobucket as my image hosting site and finally deleted two other static blogs. I have a lot of work to do on PBW to replace the images in the archives, but I'm on that now, and hope to have them all restored in a few months.

Behind the scenes I actually quit all of my freelancing work halfway through 2017 to become a partner in a publishing venture. It was a gamble, but I've been rolling the dice since traditional publishing and I parted ways. I can't get into details, but I'm happy, busy, and have the creative freedom to do what I do best. I hope to keep this job until I retire.

I think 2017 was one of my better years for being creative with my sewing. I took chances and tried some new things, like designing the two quilts pictured in this post, and making my first serious attempt at art quilting. I learned a lot, had fun and added some new techniques to my repertoire. Documenting everything on my Tumblr blog definitely helped keep me motivated.

On the downside, I tried to do NaNoWriMo this year but computer woes, work obligations and life in general forced me to bail about halfway through it. I did get out to four real-world NaNo write-in meetings, and joined a small writers' group I met in the process. My youngest also moved away to attend university, which left me and my guy on our own for the first time since 1989. I miss her every day, but I think I've adjusted fairly well to the whole empty nester thing. Making meals is the biggest challenge -- I've never cooked for just two people, so I'm downsizing recipes and figuring out how to use leftovers creatively.

I also did not lose the last 20 pounds for my ideal weight goal. I had some issues with my arthritis that kept me less active than I would have liked, and pretty much yoyoed between 145-150 lbs. for most of the year. After two years of it I'm also really tired of dieting, so that didn't help. The good news is that I didn't gain back any of the thirty pounds I lost in 2016. As of the writing of this post I am 149 lbs., so I'll say the official loss for 2017 is 5 lbs. I'll keep trying to take off the last fifteen pounds sensibly.

Many things shadowed 2017. Too many. We've all had to live with it as part of our daily lives now, so I'm not going to rehash it. I'd rather ask you that whenever and however possible, be part of the light.

As I did last year I'm going to skip the usual best-of links list. With the way the world is now I'm not investing in a theme or resolution for 2018; I just want to be supportive of my friends and family, do some good and generally not add to the evil and dark out there.

How was 2017 for you? Any plans for 2018? Let us know in comments.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Color Psychic

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. I'm staying mostly unplugged, although I did notice Pantone's pick for their 2018 color of the year:

I would have picked violet -- it was my favorite color to work with in 2017:

I'm such a trendsetter (not. at. all.) For fun, I'm going to predict the color of the year for 2019: this blue.

Stop back in twelve months to find out if I'm color psychic.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Wishing You

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Off to Celebrate

I'm taking off the rest of the week to celebrate with my family. While I'm partying, here's some joy from The North Face:

Imagination: Tom Wallisch from The North Face on Vimeo.

Hope you and yours have a lovely and peaceful holiday season.

Monday, December 18, 2017

ETA Seven Days

With Christmas arriving in a week I thought you all might need some ideas for those last names still on your shopping list. So from the PBW archives here are:

Ten Things That Make Great Last-Minute Gifts

Composition Book Journal: Here's an article that shows you how to turn an inexpensive composition book into a customized journal.

Cookie Exchange: This requires some cooperation from your recipient. Agree to exchange as gifts a batch of your favorite cookies. Once you've made them, pack them in a pretty tin or container (the Dollar Store has great holiday tins), add a bow or tie with a ribbon. Be sure to share your recipe on a note card. This idea is also great as a theme for a Christmas party with friends; everyone brings a batch (my friend Jill holds her cookie exchange every year at Starbucks) and you draw names from a hat for the exchange.

Custom Cookbook: Create your own cookbook collection by scanning or typing up your favorite recipes for the holidays, dinners, desserts, or whatever theme you choose. Convert it to a .pdf and e-mail the file to your recipient, or print it out and place it in a folder or binder. Some grocery stores offer free recipe cards and magazines that make nice bonus material to add to your print collection.

Dollar Challenge: This is great to do with kids -- you agree to buy each other a gift that costs only $1.00, and go shopping together (and you'll need to shop either at a dollar or thrift store, but that's also fun.) One year my daughter found a little pocket manicure set for me that I still have in my purse.

First Aid for Kisses Kit: Glue a piece of white cardstock to the top of a small empty tin. Write "First Aid Kit for" at the top of the cardstock and draw a lips puckered for a kiss in red marker below it. Fill the tin with a stick of lip balm, disposable mini toothbrushes and breath mints.

For the Birds: If you have a friend or family member who loves birds, a small/inexpensive feeder and a five pound bag of birdseed are a great gift (you can find both at most home improvement or garden stores.)

Healthy Cooking Subscription: Cooking Light magazine, which focuses on articles and recipes for lighter, healthier eating, has a 2-for-1 holiday offer that allows you to give two subscriptions for $16.00.

Homemade Bread: One of our neighbors always gives us a loaf of her homemade bread as a holiday gift, and it's one of my favorite treats every year. Make your favorite bread, wrap in a pretty tea towel and place in an inexpensive bread basket. If they have kids, add some jars of peanut butter and jelly. Don't want to make a whole loaf of bread? Go for a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls, buttermilk biscuits, or garlic knots.

Snack Bowl: Find a pretty serving bowl at Goodwill or the Dollar Store. Add some bags of microwave popcorn, fresh fruit, hot cocoa mix envelopes, small bags of chips or pretzels, cereal snack mix, etc., wrap with cellophane and crown with a bow. You can tailor this to your recipient, too; I do an exotic tea-and-cookies snack bowl for one of my friends every year (World Market is a great place to find unusual teas and snacks, too.)

Stuffed Stocking: For that impossible-to-buy-for person on your list, make or buy a stocking and fill it with something they love. The obvious choice is snacks, but you can also stuff it with small toiletries, crumpled dollar bills (college students love that one), two or three scarves, writer stuff, hand lotion and lip balms, kitchen tools or towels, the ingredients for a recipe, etc. This is also a fun gift to make with small toys or treats for the family pet.