Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obsession, part 2

There has been knitting, and lots of it. But it is secret knitting because it is for Christmas. So I'll go along and talk more about the writing process.

I've almost put the entire first book to bed. It has been edited three times, many spots reworked, some stuff added, some subtracted. As soon as the final polish is done it will be time to start working on query letters, a synopsis and an outline that prospective agents ask for.

I'm really excited and scared to death. I love this story. I love the characters, the plot, the action and the romance. I want to share it with the world.

What if no one wants to read it?

I know all authors and writers go through this. They pour out their hearts and souls into their work, they care for them like children, and want to believe that their baby is the smartest, prettiest and most talented of all. They hope and pray that when someone else looks at it they'll see the Gerber Baby and not something that looks like a miniature Winston Churchill.

The writing process has been interesting. The first draft, while a major accomplishment, is really only the first in a long series of steps. Rewriting is where all the hard work is done. I went page by page and looked at every word, every mark of punctuation and every sentence. Then I read it as a whole and looked for inconsistencies and plotholes. My husband (also a writer) and I are going through it chapter by chapter right now to give it a final polish. We have about 6 chapters to go.

Except for a small lapse of time when I was sick, I have been thrilled with the whole experience. Writing this novel has been the best thing I have ever created and I am so proud of myself. I always wanted to be a writer and up until last April, that's exactly what I was: a wannabe.

Now? I'm on fire. I started the second novel in the series Sunday night and have already completed the first chapter. I wish I could sit home all day and work on it. Maybe someday, I'll have that luxury, but for now? I'll just daydream like I used to do in school. Not very productive, but endlessly satisfying.

Monday, November 15, 2010


And its not what you think. This post is not about yarn.

I think I mentioned before I wrote a novel. I am in the editing process and my deadline to start looking for an agent is January 1. That means I have to have the whole thing polished and shining like a monkey's ass (my husband's favorite expression), have the query letters written, a synopsis and outline complete, and be ready to start shoving my baby in people's faces.

Writing this novel has been an amazing experience. From the day I got my idea and bolt of inspiration (March 31, 2010, approximately 4:30 p.m.) through today I can't say I've ever loved doing anything more. I am what you might call obsessed. The story, the plot, the characters have all but consumed me; they are all I can think about. The soundtrack I've compiled plays over and over in my head.

Let's just say going to work is very, very hard.

It's a curious place to be, one that I often find myself. Ever since I learned to read on my own I've been absorbed by the characters in books. I long to experience their world, and have often put myself in their story. I wonder if it's something most people would understand, or if they would just think I need to get a social life. Well, that's probably true, but my sort of social life usually pales in comparison to the world I've created in my head.

I've already started to outline the first few chapters of the next novel. It's a series, did you know? Well, don't worry, most people don't. I'm waiting for my moment to arrive and then I'll step up and tell the world about it.

My good luck charm.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Very Bad Poetry, or, The Yarn that Lied

Ever read this book?

Very Bad Poetry by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras

I actually bought this book at the University of Nebraska Bookstore when I was in Lincoln visiting a friend who was in Law School there. My friend Paula and I took turns reading from it on the drive back to Minneapolis. In between great, shuddering, tear-inducing gasps of laughter, that is. If I remember correctly, the introduction remarked that it is very easy to write mediocre poetry, but it takes a special talent to be truly, completely and utterly bad.

There are some real gems here. "Ode to a Mammoth Cheese" is one that sticks in my mind. Then there was  "An Elegy to a Dissected Puppy," and "I Found a Corpse with Golden Hair." But the one they deemed the worst poem ever written is "A Tragedy" by Theophilis Marzials. I reproduce it for your reading pleasure now:

Death! Plop.
The barges down in the river flop.
Flop, plop.
Above, beneath.
From the slimy branches the grey drips drop,
As they scraggle black on the thin grey sky,
Where the black cloud rack-hackles drizzle and fly
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop
On the black scrag piles, where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines in the thin tree-top.

Plop, plop.
And scudding by
The boatmen call out hoy! and hey!
All is running water and sky,

And my head shrieks -- "Stop,"
And my heart shrieks -- "Die."
*          *          *          *          *
My thought is running out of my head;
My love is running out of my heart,
My soul runs after, and leaves me as dead,
For my life runs after to catch them -- and fled
They all are every one! -- and I stand, and start,
At the water that oozes up, plop and plop,
On the barges that flop
                              And dizzy me dead.
I might reel and drop.

And the shrill wind whines in the thin tree-top
                           Flop, plop.

 A tragedy, indeed.
Sock knitting continues apace, and I am waiting for some drool-worthy sock yarn I bought on Etsy. I wanted to make some warm wool socks for myself and I had some worsted weight wool called "Poems." I bought it at an undisclosed LYS (not Gabriella's!) and thought it rather pretty. I'm a sucker for pink and green and I bought these two skeins that showed dark limey green and hot pink. It was kind of bright, but I thought I could do something funky with it. I pulled it out last week and started knitting with it. And lo and behold, I have for you Very Bad Socks:

Do you see that? The skein was only half pink and green. After that it turned rusty orange and then blue! And the second skein didn't even start in the same place so the socks don't even match each other. They are the ugliest socks in all of creation.

The yarn lied to me. I was incensed when I unwrapped the orange! Who puts these colors together? I looked them up on the Internet and it said "Poems" is made by Universal Yarns and features artistic colors which shade easily from one color to the next! I think I have found yarn that is not just mediocre. It is bad. It is ugly! They are the yarn equivalent of Theophilus Marzials' poetic creations. The yarn itself is nice, and I will wear the socks around the house because the are warm and rather soft. But these suckers will never see the light of day. They are meant to be worn in the dark.

Don't stare too long - it could burn out your retinas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Knitting has been happening, but I am working on Christmas presents at the moment so I don't feel I can discuss them in case the wrong person reads this.

I can talk about cooking, though.

My husband, Kosta, loves to cook. Luuuuuuuurves it, really. And he is damn fine at it. His big passion in life is being in the kitchen on weekends and making delicious messes which he cleans up by himself.

Yes, I know exactly how lucky I am.

This, for instance, is Shrimp Piraeus. It is a rustic Greek stew with tomatoes, pimentos, shrimp and scallops. Those white squares you see are melting blocks of feta cheese. It is served over rice and might just be the best thing I've ever had in my mouth.

But look at this. These are his lamb-kebabs he marinates all day and then skewers with onions and peppers before grilling to perfection. He makes an incredible yogurt sauce to go with this that can make a grown woman weep with pleasure.
Is this sounding sexual? Hmm... it wasn't on purpose. No one tell Dr. Freud. 

Did I mention he makes killer chili? 

He spends a lot of time in the kitchen because he loves it. He could spend all day chopping vegetables, searing meat, and making sauces. It's his thing. And while I like cooking too, I don't get to do it very often. But yesterday I did. He had to work while I had the day off. We finally got our first taste of cooler weather and I decided to make a hearty supper.

This is it. I made baked pork chops with apples and onions, garlic and Parmesan twice baked potatoes and glazed carrots. I was reminded that I am a damn fine cook myself even if I don't get the chance that often. I am a killer baker and can turn out cakes, pies, brownies and cookies like no one's business. I think I got my good cook genes from my grandmother who reportedly made the best cheeseburgers in Minneapolis way back when she cooked at the Crystal Cafe. I must be channeling her, because I seem to have an instinct, if only once in a while.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Busier-than average week at work and editing my book every night has left little time for knitting. I sneak it in when I can. I am almost finished with the second Robin's Egg sock. Here is how I do it:

I knit:
  • in the car while husband drives us to and from work
  • at lunch
  • on breaks
  • a little after dinner while we are still watching TV.
As a couple with no children, we don't do dinner very well. We mostly make something quick and dirty then eat it in front of the TV while we watch something. Lately it has been a back and forth between the Office Season 6 (We didn't see it last year, in fact we hardly watch actual television programming at all anymore.) mixed with Absolutely Fabulous. Oh, how we howl over AbFab. We're watching series 4 (courtesy of Netflix) and we just saw the one where Edina drags her daughter Saffy to Paris for a photo shoot. Deplorable, ridiculous fun. Not for the easily offended. Perfect for us.

Of course, I've watched all the Bones I could on Netflix Instant Watch. Instead of waiting for us to finish an AbFab disc and send it back in, I upped our subscription so we can have 2 discs at a time. It was only $4 extra a month, and I have a feeling we'll use it. I adore Bones. What's not to love? You've got forensic anthropology, and eye candy. (For most girls that would be delivered in the shape of David Boreanaz, but I happen to have inappropriate lust for T.J. Thyne who plays Dr. Jack Hodgins, the slime and bugs expert.)

I never claimed to be normal.

No photos or anything today, and I realize this is a detriment to any blog posts. But I just wanted to check in and let you (the one person who reads this) know I'm alive.