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Old Notebooks and Story Hooks

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old notebook & polaroid

My pink notebook is all full up! I bought it from Woolworths three years ago, so it’s a relic of a bygone era. Here it is a couple years ago, sitting in November sunlight in Wales. The first few pages are taken up with notes for my (long-finished) MA dissertation on the Language poets. Then there’s the first 500 words of my 2008 NaNoWriMo which I started in London (& finished 5 days early!). The rest is filled with scribblings for knitting, plots for world domination, recipes, to-do lists, quotations, phone numbers, doodles, the usual. It’s a well-travelled notebook, and it’s pink, and I shall miss it.

the ides of nanowrimo

Here’s the replacement, already bearing up with my yearly rush of NaNo jottings. Right now it’s on this desk, among a number of odd balls of yarn and a mug of salep. I’m wearing this jumper and still feeling decidedly chilly. To the shame of my “All-Star” sticker, I am in fact a NaNo rebel; I’m aiming to write 10 short stories of about 5000 words each. The theme will come as no surprise: knitting. But perhaps the genre may interest you? All stories involve some manner of haunting or horror. How about, “it was a dark and windy night, the perfect night to sit at home and knit in her favourite armchair”*. Have I got you hooked? :) Unfortunately, I’m currently about 20,000 words short of my daily goal. Every year I go crazy trying to make 50,000 and every year when it’s over I wish I could do another month of it. Still, this is the best bit of NaNo: in the thick of it!

* Actually, I don’t have a story that starts like this, but you never know, if I get really desperate…

17th November, 2010  // Writing // tags: , , .

Knitting in the Rain

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knitting in the rain

Did you knit outside over the weekend? I cast on a few stitches on the balcony during the rain & was just about to move outside when it started hailing very hard & the front of our apartment turned into a square lake. I tied a few knitting needles together and vaulted across anyway. The weather’s been so much like Wales recently, it’s almost uncanny. Sunday’s weather was so nice that record numbers joined in the Eurasia Marathon in Istanbul. As the runners were crossing the Bosphorus Bridge, in a scenario similar to the Milennium Bridge, it went into resonance and started swaying wildly. You can watch a clip here. Yikes!

I picked up a copy of Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on the way back from work today. I love Murakami, running, and writing, so I was highly delighted that the bookstore had this (especially as I had only 5 minutes to get up to the 4th floor of D&R, remember what I was looking for, find it, walk all the way down, and pay); it isn’t all that easy to find English books in Ankara, though it’s certainly way way easier than it used to be. I was a huge bookworm when I was little, but cross country was the bane of my life. I mean, PE was bad enough, but once every semestre, when the teachers decided I ought to be able to suddenly, magically jog up a steep hill and around the barren countryside, I really really wanted nasty things to happen to them, Matilda-style (note that they never came running with us). So I was really surprised last autumn in England when I discovered the Couch to 5K program and realised that running could be enjoyable. In hindsight, it seems like a silly time to start running, but somehow I found the motivation to run through drizzle, downpours and snowstorms. I even got chilblains for the first time in my life.

What kept me going wasn’t some external reward, it was that the challenge was just crazy enough to make me want to do it really bad, for myself. November, of course, is also the highlight of the Novelling Season.

“What’s crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you’ve set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can’t fool yourself. In this sense, writing novels and running full marathons are very much alike. Basically a writer has a quiet, inner motivation and doesn’t seek validation in the outwardly visible.”

What I love about both Nanowrimo and C25K is that they’re personal challenges that are built on actions you take “day after day”, that help “raise the bar.” Whether it’s running for an hour, writing 1667 words, knitting 20 rows, whatever. NaNo takes 30 days, C25K takes 9 weeks. Deciding to step outside your comfort zone, outside your door, into the rain, takes only one moment. You might get a cold, or you might just feel profoundly alive and aware.

I haven’t been running regularly since I moved back in with my parents (too many people about), but my circuit takes me near my old school, and I’m just glad those PE teacher don’t work there anymore…

Houses Slipover Pattern Preview

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This post is in celebration of the last row of Houses, a simple slipover knitted in the round, and the last line of Close Knit, the novel I have been writing for National Novel Writing Month. I wrote my 50,000th word while wearing the newly finished and blocked Houses Slipover (or vest if you prefer), and I can vouch for its cosiness. It is knit in 4 ply wool, as I have mentioned before, which makes it thin and drapey, while warm, and perfect for layering. I am in love. I have yet to finish writing up the pattern, mainly because I started thinking about pattern design, but it will be available very soon. Subscribe to the blog via Bloglines or Google Reader or email to be updated when it’s available. In the meantime, here are some photos (more will soon be available on Flickr), and some basic information.

houses slipover houses slipover

Houses Slipover / Vest Pattern

  • Requires 3-4 balls of Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply.
  • Worked from the bottom up in the round.
  • House patterns on a reverse stocking stitch background.
  • Garter stitch square neck.
26th November, 2008  // Houselock // tags: , , , , , .
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