Thursday, September 17, 2009

figuring it out

I don't know if it's the cooler, drizzly weather or what, but the tone of my pov character has changed over the past week. The story has gotten darker too, so chicken/egg/weather. Anyway, it's more introspective than I'd originally planned for her, and if it works, I'll need to watch the tone during the next draft and bring it all to the same level. Is this character growth or Christine-growth? I'm still relatively new to writing and I wonder if feeling like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel is a common feeling. Forgive the cliche, but I feel like I'm going through steps that other people have walked - this path teaches plot; this path is conflict; this path shows you how to create a character - and I don't know why I assumed that this stuff would be innate rather than a really long learning process.
Though the more I think about it, the more I think this is probably a very common feeling. Every composer has played a piece that was written before, following the notes on the paper, trying to figure out the fingering, trying to make the same sounds that were made before as they also try to figure out how making music works. (mental image of ghost hands playing a song on the piano as intended as the newbie stumbles over her fingernails)
I've been reading a lot of writer blogs lately, and a lot of writers didn't publish until their fourth or fifth go around at this. At first, I was thinking, oh, crap. That's a really long time. Two years a book: 8-10 years. Now I'm thinking - hey, no wonder. I'm halfway through the second one and I'm just now starting to look at characters in books as characters and trying to figure out how they work (or don't) rather than just what's going to happen next.
I have a long way to go.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

3 recipies tried this weekend

1. Pesto. Purists, either cover your eyes or walk away now. The grocery store was out of the small bags of pine nuts and I couldn't justify spending 10 bucks for a big bag of them, so I got walnuts instead. Then when I got home, I realized that I had confused the oregano and basil plants in the patio because my basil is some odd breed that has tiny leaves, ranging from about half a pinkie nail size up to paperclip size, and the shape is long and thin, unlike the oregano, which is, well, normal-basil leaf shaped. I harvested almost all of the basil, which took a good two hours, saw that this still wasn't enough, and added a bunch of oregano, which took another half hour or so. P helped with the food processor, adding way more olive oil than the recipe called for, but it turned out to be the perfect amount, whatever it was. We mixed it with penne and chicken and it was delicious. It may have helped that it was 9:30 and I was starving, but I think it would have been pretty tasty even if I hadn't been so hungry.

2. Rosquilhas - from the English language Portuguese cookbook Foods of the Azores Islands that gramma used. I'm not sure what happened to the one she had in Portuguese, but I don't think I'd be able to do much with it even if I did have it - the measurements are different and a lot of words don't translate directly - normally this wouldn't be an issue, but with cooking, I'd probably end up with something completely different from what I remember her making and not be happy with it. Rosquilhas roughly translates to "rings," which are kind of like a less sweet sugar cookie with a lot of lemon rind. I didn't have shortening, so I substituted vegetable oil and a bit more butter, and while they didn't come out the same, they were still pretty yummy. I took about two dozen of them to a Labor Day party, expecting them to not really move at all, because they aren't very sweet and don't look like normal cookies - they're small and ring shaped, and there were plenty of chocolate chip cookies and other sweet breads, but most of them were gone within the first hour, which really surprised me.

3. Brownies from scratch. I'd always made them from a box. They tasted pretty much the same, though a tad smoother, but I accidentally added more cayenne than I normally do, so they were a bit spicy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

water lilies

When I took the dinghy out on Sunday, I swiped two water lilies. I'm not sure why I always feel slightly guilty about picking flowers that aren't from my own garden - if I'm at the beach or walking through the woods, I'm more than happy to pick up rocks and shells and stick them in my pocket. Flowers always seem different - like they should be there for everyone's enjoyment because they add to the beauty of a place. Along those lines, a rock or a shell won't be missed.
I was paddling along, listening to the audio-book of "Shiver" when I came across a lily that wasn't attached to a lily pad. It was gorgeous, floating there, in the middle of the lake all alone, huge white petals bouncing along in the water. I circled it a few times before deciding that I was going to swipe it, and then a few more times before I could get within arms reach of it and then I grabbed it and sat it on my sandal. I was out there for another hour or so, and, since the lily wasn't in the water, it started to shrivel. I finished my tea, filled the bottle with pond water, but it was too late. So I paddled back out to one of the lily groves (I've never seen so many lilies as there were that day - veritable groves, I tell you!) and broke a large one free, managing not to topple the dinghy in the process. Lily stems turn out to be formidable foes. I balanced it in the water bottle and made it back to shore without upending the bottle.
At home, I poured the lake water into a big blue bowl, filled it the rest of the way with tap, and put the lilies in. That night, both lilies closed and I was disappointed with myself for taking them away from the lake if all they were going to do is die. But then, lo and behold, the next morning, they both opened. And then promptly closed in the evening. The first lily never reopened after that, but every day since, that second has opened in the morning and closed in the evening. The bowl is still sitting in my kitchen, where there are no windows, and every time I look at it, I wonder - how does it know what time it is?

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