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Posts Tagged ‘work’

I like making things. Some days that means building worlds with words, some days it just means building. I find the two modes of creation to be complementary.

One of the more useful things I learned about myself in grad school (aside from the fact that I am capable of a great deal more persistence than previously suspected) is that I like understanding the world through concrete objects. Ideas are good, ideas can be great, but it’s harder for me to make real headway unless I’m also operating in the physical realm. It doesn’t have to be all I do, but it is satisfying to create something with my hands as well as my head. (Yep, Mens et Manus right there.)

In grad school that meant following a lifelong interest and taking up archery (hey there, Legolas!). When my shoulder decided it had had enough, I learned how to knit and ran sidelines in bookbinding and baking. As of a month or two ago, it also means woodturning.

What is woodturning? Simple explanation: one “turns” wood by mounting it on a lathe, spinning it real fast, then shaping said wood with a sharp object.

olde thyme lathe

What you can make: many things, so long as they are in some broad sense, round. Think bowls and pepper mills and pens and honey dippers, but also (if you know anything about me at all:) magic wands. What’s not to love?

It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s exciting (see aforementioned machinery spinning at high speeds!). It’s also strangely relaxing (the word “flow” may have been mentioned). The process is something like pottery, if the potter’s wheel rotated 90 degrees and was used with hardened steel tools and a chance of stitches.

What have I made? A lot of test pieces, a few practice wands not suitable for spell casting, and this little fellow.

This is my first honey dipper. Hello, little honey dipper!

So, not much yet, but I can tell this is a good outlet for me because I’m constantly fiddling with ideas. I can practically feel the creativity overflowing, and that’s a good thing. Not only am I focused on building tangible objects, but new story ideas are popping up all over the place too.

Win win:) I’m hardly the first to say this, but it’s terrific that creativity doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.

I’m still very much a woodturning beginner but here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

  • An introductory course can be a great way to get started and also teach you how not to end the day bleeding all over your new lathe (bonus!).
  • Online resources are also quite useful. Videos are great for seeing what experts are doing with their hands as they say super helpful things like “Then you just pivot the tool and you’re all set!”
  • It’s good to step gently into a new and complicated habit, but at some point you’re going to have the take the plunge and buy decent tools.
  • You don’t just need a lathe, you’ll also need a grinder to keep your tools sharp. (Tip: apparently fresh-from-the-store tools aren’t actually sharp enough to use. Now they tell me!)
  • Based on the shopscape (shopping + landscape = fun new word!), retailers think that most woodturners are men. This may in fact be true, but leads to a problem for any aspiring woodturners smaller than size large. As far as I can tell (Google helped and everything) woodturning smocks do not come in women’s size 4! Pro tip: chef’s jackets work, if you can find one with a closed neck, side pockets and a zipper. I’m happily using a slightly modified version of this one.

For me, making things is a lot like running downhill. Getting to the top can be an effort, but once I get started every step is easier than the last.

So, creative cross-pollination in whatever flavor floats your boat? Recommended! Also, fair warning to those with whom I celebrate gift-giving holidays:
I hope you like wood!

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Slippie Slide

You know how some Mondays you wake up to grey skies and a sheet of ice on your front step, and you have a million things on your list you’re not sure you can do and everything could be awful… but somehow it’s not? Yeah, for me that day is today:)

For you too, hopefully!

 

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Hello, and a quick update to say that I’ve got a new story out in the new issue of Andromeda Spaceways Magazine. “The T-4200” is a science fiction adventure featuring a regular guy just trying to save his dimension-hopping tortoise (and oh yes, end a galactic war). As one does!

Given the dynamics of the marketplace, it tends to be much harder to place longer pieces. I’m very happy to have found a home for this novelette, which began life at over 12k and now runs just over 9,000 words.

While ASM is subscription-based (sorry, free fiction lovers!), this entertaining Australian speculative fiction magazine publishes everything from science fiction to fantasy, humor to horror. If you’re in the market for an excellent new source of fresh fiction, check them out, and enjoy!

ASM Issue #66 Cover Image

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Here’s hoping you have a good day, even if it is a Monday:)

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Happily, I’ve had two stories accepted this month. I’m particularly pleased on both fronts: one story is a bit peculiar, a flash of magical realism that may not fit into a convenient category, but (hopefully) captures the essence of an emotional experience. The second story is a rollicking sci-fi romp that’s one of my favorites, but its length (it started life at ~12,000 words) made it a hard sell. I’m delighted to have found homes for both stories!

I’ll post specifics when they are available, but celebrating is always fun. Yay!

Here’s hoping that you have things to celebrate this weekend too:)

 

 

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Writing is hard, almost all of the time. It’s been said before, but imagining a new world, reducing it to marks on a page, and sending it out to be reconstituted by another person is a lot like a magic spell. (Or mind control. Or sea monkeys, but hopefully more realistic;) It takes concentration, and focus, and clarity.

All of those things seem to be in somewhat short supply these days. There’s a lot going on in this world. And I fear that I have been neglecting you, fair readers.

So here’s what I’m planning to do: post more. No crazy promises I’m sure to break, like a post every 23 hours and 59 minutes, because let’s get real. I’m aiming for success, not self-recrimination:) And if a photo or quote is what I’ve got for the day, fine. With luck, it will cheer, inspire, amaze, or similarly affect you as it has me.

Because when it comes right down to it, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Here, have a picture of some sea monkeys:)

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It occurs to me that one of the things we really need now is storytelling. With a Republican-dominated government in the U.S., dissenters won’t have as many direct political options to make change via laws. That leaves hearts and minds.

And what’s best for changing hearts and minds? A compelling story.

As I see it, an important part of our job right now as writers isn’t to bombard with facts and figures (or not only, of course there’s a place for that). Fiction writers have a special place in society. We imagine other futures, other paths, other worlds. We bring those experiences, those feelings*, to readers.

Our challenge is to inspire, to engage, to help others envision a better world. With a nod to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, to make them long for a kinder, more hopeful, and more just sea.

 

 

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* And as Ian Warren argues, at least part of what has happened with Brexit and the U.S. election seems to be that “what data and polling often misses, is how people think and feel” and that “the communication of effective emotional messages is currently beating data alone.”

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