Note: I had a New Year’s resolution to make this blog a regular thing. As you can see that didn’t really happen. But with my 30th approaching and the sudden influx of lifestyle blogs I’ve started reading, the urge to make good on that goal had reemerged.
Here’s a cheat sheet for those not interested in all of my stuff. If the title includes the word “Update” then it pertains to book information. The self-publishing series will include “self-publishing” somewhere in the title. Everything else is a free-for-all about my life.
And here’s the first one:
Ever since Arctic Monkey’s Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino came out I haven’t been able to stop listening to it. It’s constantly on repeat. (Except for when I work on Liminal Boy. Lan’s soundtrack is already set in stone.) The album birthed a brand new short story in my head. I keep pulling pieces of inspiration from other places and hiding them away until I have time get to it.
One of the strangest things about being a writer is how every single thing feeds into a story. I can tell you a hundred different details and facts lodged in my brain, as well as real-life moments, that lead to the creation of The Opposition.
The thing no one warned me about making my favorite thing in the world my job is that I suddenly need a new hobby.
I love writing.
I can write 24/7.
But, as I’ve realized, that’s not really healthy. The past year, I’ve barely taken a break from writing. Either I’m writing for a paycheck, writing Liminal Boy, writing one of my other stories when Lan wouldn’t talk to me, or writing a tutorial (re: unnecessarily long explanation) for a friend.
The weight of words started to get to me a few months ago so I racked my brain for a hobby. Something, ANYTHING, to take my mind off words for even a few hours each day. Something preferably that didn’t involve staring at a screen. I needed to find something to do that could stand separate from words and literature and books and stories.
And Knitting and Knitting and Knitting…
My teenage-self resurfaced. I’ve gone back to the two main pastimes of my youth: crocheting and cooking. To say I was a weird kid is an understatement. (Yes, I’m still a weird adult).
My mother taught me how to crochet when I was young. I think I begged her to teach me because I read too much Jane Austen. She didn’t know how to knit, and I’d already taught myself how to cross-stitch. Crochet seemed like the obvious next step.
Now, as much as I wanted to find a hobby that would give my hands and impending carpal tunnel a break, crochet kept popping up as my go-to stress reliever. So, I bought one ball of yarn, dug my old hooks out from the back of a closet and tried to recall the only stitch I ever learned.
Those following my Instagram stories have seen snippets of my crochet adventures. Thanks to Youtube tutorials, I’ve managed to teach myself three more. I’ve crocheted my way through this ball of yarn a dozen times. I made a single stitched scarf for my skeleton (Instagram users will also be familiar with my skeleton friend) and unraveled it. Made a doubled stitched square of… something… while I watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix then unraveled that. Made a half double stitched rectangle and, you guessed it, unraveled it.
The great thing about crochet is, no matter how badly you mess up, when you start over you’ve still got the same material you’ve started with. There’s no cutting or removing. Each time I unravel the thing I made, the ball of yarn is there, looking exactly the same as it had when I began.
It’s so nice to make something without worrying about losing something irreversible along the way.
Every time I write, I never hit the delete button. One of my biggest fears is deleting a line only to realize months later “oh my god that line was perfect and I can never recreate it.”
Every single sentence is saved in a messy chunk at the end of the scene I call the ‘later’ space. I never know if I’m going to need it in the future, and that eats at me. There have been many many times when I’ve stopped in a dead halt and spent hours searching through a document, trying to find that one little line I moved to the later space. Half of the time, when I finally find it, I realize it wasn’t as good as I thought it was and could have easily written something better. The other half, I yell at Past Stefani forever putting such a beautiful line in the later space.
What an idiot, that girl.
Maybe that’s why I find some peace each time I go to crochet the same ball of yarn over and over. It reverts back to its original state each time with no loss to worry about.
Now that I’ve finally found a hobby that has nothing to do with words, I feel like I might have discovered what normal, non-writer people feel like and wonder if that feeling will ever grow.
Then again, I also saved a pattern for a crochet hat. One that matches the description I give a new character in Liminal Boy.
Because, of course, I would.
A Spoonful of Non-Refined Sugar
If you’ve read the Moonlight Herders, you’re probably a little miffed at me. The number one feedback I’ve gotten about that book is how much it made people hungry. I really enjoyed writing those little scenes focusing on Hattie’s skills as a baker. All of her creations were things I either made or failed at making.
Confession: I really wanted to be a baker when I was younger. Writing was always my main passion, but I was a soberingly realistic youth. For a time, I assumed I could make a living much more easily as a baker than I could as a writer.
The only problem…. I’m actually a terrible baker.
(There may be a day that lives in infamy in my house. A day known as “Stefani set a skillet on fire and we had to leave the windows open for six hours until the smoke cleared.” The skillet didn’t survive.)
Most of the time, the things I made are edible. There have only been a few occasions I’ve had to completely throw the end result out. Ninety-nine percent of the time, however, my stuff looks like something a small child made. There’s more icing on the plate than on the cake. Something may turn out slightly charred.
The last cake I tried to make was a total failure. The marshmallow filling expanded like a hot air balloon. One minute it was in the middle of two layers of gluten-free chocolate cake. The next it was on the floor, on my shoes, the cat…
Maybe this happens because I’m overly enthusiastic about cooking. Go big or go home. I don’t want to make a little side dish. I don’t want to make scrambled eggs. If I’m going to cook something, it’s going to be a twenty-five-pound turkey wrapped in smoked bacon. Or a dozen cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting.
The past few years, I blamed all my failures on food allergies. When I started baking as a teen, I wasn’t aware of all my food triggers. I made the best homemade bread. The BEST. Ask anyone. It was in high demand. Then when I started using gluten-free soy-free stuff and substituting refined sugar with natural sugars, everything started to fall apart.
It was only recently I decided that failing at new recipes was better than eating the same stuff over and over.
Of course, disasters still happen. Stay tuned to my Instagram Stories where I’m sure to post my failure of a fancy birthday cake in a couple of weeks.
In my attempts to find non-writing hobbies, all I’ve managed to do is find ways to bring words into play. Maybe that’s why I enjoy writing so much. It’s an excuse to try new things so I can, later on, use the experience in my stories. Not that I’ve ever dabbled in human cloning, of course. Just cupcakes.