Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deadlines Big and Small

I mentioned on Facebook today that my writing group is valuable because it makes me accountable. We meet every two weeks, and I'm expected to bring three pages of my middle-grade novel-in-progress for critiquing. We've been meeting for several months now, and so far I've shown up with the required pages in hand. Sometimes these pages are written the day of the meeting. Did I say "sometimes"? Most of the time these pages are written a few hours before the meeting starts.

The group is great. There are four of us, all writing in the same genre and each writing quite differently. One of us has a great deal of experience with children's literature and is well published. I hope she's getting something out of these meetings, because she certainly gives a lot. The others have less experience, but are good writers and insightful readers.

However, I realized today (and I'm surprised it took me so long) that if I write this book at the rate of three double-spaced pages every two weeks, it'll take me years. And that's just for the first draft! I must speed up the process.

The other thing I mentioned on Facebook is a handy little download called Freedom (available from Costing $10, this little program sits on your monitor waiting for you to summon it. You do this when you need to accomplish something requiring your undivided attention--undivided, that is, by Words With Friends games, forum postings, commenting on someone's Facebook photo, research on ticks (or whatever), or the irresistible desire to check your email. Freedom cuts off your access to the Internet.

Once you set it for a certain amount of time (one writer recommends three hours, but my usual is 45 minutes), you are truly cut off from anything happening online. Freedom is a tough little program; you can't get around it, so don't bother trying.

So . . . now that I know the secret of productivity, I'll have to put it to use more often. Just how often is something I've yet to figure out.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

While I've been holed up in the house.....

I'm still in freaked-by-ticks mode, and haven't been venturing out much, although that will probably change (cautiously) now that the weather has warmed again. But in the cool temperatures of the past few weeks I embarked on a project I've been thinking about for awhile.

Last year I bought a footstool at an antique shop. It cost only $21, and was probably a circa 1960 "antique," but I liked its sturdy, simple lines. I didn't like the fabric that covered it, and planned to change it right away. Well, we know how those things go.

Here's how it looked when I bought it (and used it for many months). Note how crappy the pink and green fabric looks against the Persian rug it's sitting on:


So last month I rather impulsively sketched out a design I felt would work with the rug without actually copying it, and then (this is the fun part) dove into my large stash of wool to pick out colors. I often play with colors by dyeing or overdyeing, but this time I wanted to use as-is colors and make the project go quickly. Then I started hooking. (That's fun too.)

I had a hard time figuring out the exact dimensions of the design. It's not as though I were covering something flat; the footstool had padding, and the hooked design would have to cover the top and a bit of the sides as well. I didn't have a lot of confidence that it was going to work.

When I finished it, or guessed I had, it was time to operate on the existing cover. I removed a zillion staples......


And peeled the pinky-greeny fabric off, along with a layer of dried, crumbling foam rubber. This was underneath:


Sort of sweet, isn't it? But it doesn't go any better with the rug (or anything else in the house) than the first fabric did. So I removed some more staples and peeled the chrysanthemums off as well.

For padding, I cut two pieces of latex left over from trimming a 1" latex mattress pad. I covered the rectangular block of wood with one and put a narrower strip on top, creating the slightly domed effect I was going for. Then I placed my hooked design on top. I discovered that I hadn't left quite enough of the burlap on all sides. What I should have done at this point was to sew strips of brown wool around the hooking to create an ample border. But I didn't.

Instead, I made good use of my son's staple gun. For those who don't already know this, adding staples is a lot more enjoyable than removing them.

Here's the finished footstool. It's not perfect, but it looks good on three out of four sides. For a first effort, I'll take it. I'm happy with the way it looks on the rug.