Introspection

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Since my last post, instead of writing I have been indulging in some larger screen Netflix – larger than my smart phone – and more than a bit of theoretically professional introspection. Some of which was directly involved with my most recent Netflix addiction – Jane the Virgin. One of Jane’s subplots is that she’s a writer, in grad school, trying to find her center (figuratively speaking). Jane, like myself is a romance writer; and like myself, is struggling to find the balance between the cliched conceit of the genre and a truly good novel.

Introspection can be a very useful tool. With insight gained from a telenovela I have had a look into how I structure and plan my novels. What I discovered was that while I thought I had one main plot per book (which I did), that it was joined by a series of subplots. I did not. What I actually had was a series of plot devices. Sometimes, in the form of bad things happening to my characters, purely for the purpose of keeping my plot (singular) moving. Or to make them appreciate the meager happiness I afford them.

This introspection will allow me to plan my novels better. I’m not a super planner, I’ve always been a solid mix of planner and pantser. I need to know where my story is going, and to an extent how it is going to get there. But I like the journey itself to be as organic as possible. Rather like Jane Villanueva I have to deal with a head full of highly opinionated characters. TV land allows us to literally see Jane’s characters, mine just sit in my head and shout at me until I write what they want me to. After I’ve written it, I can do with it as I like. I can change and edit to my hearts content, on the condition that I write what they want in the first place.

I have a number of things that I want to experiment with as a result of this introspection. Types of narrators, the fourth wall, time and place – which raises the topic of my family’s oral history, my family (whether they will admit it or not – mostly not) are wonderful storytellers, at least in oral short-story form. While you don’t have to believe me, it was something of a shock to me that some of my memories aren’t even mine – they were stories of my family members that I heard as a child and they stuck with me.

In the mean time, I hope that you are all working on your own NaNo prep. Or, if you’re not a writer, that you are reading books which capture your imagination and refuse to let go. I’m settling into winter, but I don’t think I would go so far as to suggest that it is a transition I am willing to make.

When Properly Armed…

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When properly armed there isn’t much that I can’t do.

If any of my Wrimos are reading, just know that this year’s Word of the Day will be much more user friendly than last.

I have just spent six hours Dictionary Diving, and carefully hand-selecting 30 functional words. But… I feel like I may need a bigger dictionary, I felt limited by the enormous quantity of words that are medical or science jargon. The point of hand-selecting the 30 magical words is to have words that everyone can use… if they put their minds to it.

As for being properly armed, I am now in possession of a functioning laptop. The upshot of which is that I got to type thirty words, and their definitions, rather than handwriting them. Armed with a laptop I work exponentially faster, and my work is guaranteed legible. Which is not always my thing. And sure I journal, by hand, but that’s not about legibility – it’s about getting what’s shouting inside my head, out. Don’t get me wrong, I will be paying this laptop off for the rest of my natural life.

So, now that I’m properly armed with a list of 30 awesome words, and a functioning laptop, I am ready for NaNoWriMo to roll around.

See you down the track a ways.

I Hates It!

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Like all starving, hungry artists my work is seldom ever really complete to the point where I can walk away singing about how much it love it now that it’s done.Typically, I reach the point where I am satisfied with it. No more. 

Well, three years after publication I am finally stripping back the one I hate and fixing all the things that are wrong with it. And I’m doing it in a two-fold process, I’m actually mapping out the story and keeping the bits that are satisfactory, while discarding the rest. I’m going to make it a little bit truer to life, a little bit less of a farce. I’m going to be calling in a few favours over the next while. And it’ll take a while, I’m doing it on my phone until I get a laptop. I don’t know if I can fully explain how much I hate typing on my phone screen, but my lack of blog posts recently may give it away. Or perhaps the uncorrected typing errors in my recent posts… because fixing them is actually more trouble than it’s worth.

You get the drift.

We Need to Talk.

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Apparently the four most terrifying words in a relationship. Except that our relationship is ALL about me talking. So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to continue that trend in our fantastically one-sided conversations.

First of all it’s more like: WE NEED to talk. The collective, infinitely plural we. People. Humans. We need to talk. Sometimes just getting together and shooting the shit (figuratively speaking) is a good thing. It’s a good thing, because it lets us know that we have people that we can talk to. But we also need to be talking to our kids, and it can’t be a one sided interrogation. This is important for me right now, Bug is having a hard time at school, and it’s not bullying. He doesn’t feel as though he is being seen for who he is. At 8, this is fairly normal. They have finally got a real grasp on this school thing we force them to go to, and they are starting to realise that they can change how they behave socially, and that it will cause ripples on the surface of the pond, which interact with someone else’s ripples. Popularity, and being cool are now important. 

It is important that he knows I understand. So I tell him true stories about when I was his age. About the bullying I suffered, about the bullying I’m responsible for. It’s insanely important in this endeavor not to lie. And not to explain things too long term, sure I had to put up with the same crap. But he can’t understand that none of it will matter in ten years.

He thinks that Alvin the Chipmunk is the height of cool, and we had a talk about how Alvin treats his friends. Which is not great, I asked Bug if he would want to be friends with Alvin. He said no. Then we decided that we need to remake cool. We need to make it something we can be proud to be real friends with. 

Our current thing is RAK. Random Acts of Kindness. Just little things, to make people smile. Saying something nice about someone’s style, or paying for someone on the bus. Smiling at a stranger on the bus. All of this in addition to simple manners. 

It is interesting that we come to this point as I watch 13 Reasons Why. It reminded me that people under 25 feel everything amplified, always and forever… and that’s just in the moment. I’m in no way minimising the bad things that happened to the characters, nor am I defending any of their behaviour. I’m saying that it reminded me how they feel things. Because we adults do forget. It also reminded me that we need to talk. There’s that collective, infinitely plural again. 

But we also need to listen.

Unstitched Workshops with JustAtelier

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My inner hippie has been out in full force for the past fortnight, as Just Atelier have been running the pop-up shop, Unstitched, on Princes St in the middle of town. It’s all about eco-friendly fashion, and educating people as to where their clothes really come from (not just in the geographic sense). But the also have workshops to help you mend your clothes, therefore getting better mileage out of them, and how to make sustainable items (such as the ones that I have participated in so far).

But it’s also social, it is one of the rare occasions where I get to hang out with like minded (by that I mean it has been the shopfront of the Mad Crafters) people, who all have something to learn from you – not to mention teach you.

So far, in the past two weeks, I have completed two ongoing projects, and made 3 bee’s wax food wraps (in 3 different sizes), and a washable lunch bag with cup holder, there’s room in it for all your food and your cutlery. The buttons down the front allow it to be adjustable, you just wrap the little elastic bands (under the flap) over the appropriate buttons on the front of the bag. I’m looking forward to making my lunch and taking it in with me next week.Ange Lunchbag and Bee's Wax Foodwraps

There are still two more weeks of workshops, just click on the link to find the one that suits you and sign up. I may even see you there.

Peachisms Update!

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It had to happen eventually. Another Peachism has been added to the list of the ‘hundred worthy families inscribed in the golden book’… I mean my blog post.

Please allow me to introduce the newest Peachism:

Pie Warmer – To have reached the state of pie warmer is to have reached that time of day where the brain simply switches off in self-defense. Previously known as ‘lights are on, but no one is home’.

Literary Food: Old Sam’s Chicken Adobo

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So I know it’s been awhile, a long while, but I have another Literary Food post for you; this time from Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak Series.

Without further ado I present Old Sam’s Chicken Adobo! It’s a Filipino dish that caused indecent noises over dinner… I make no apologies, or was delicious. In fairness, I didn’t actually look up the recipe. Wikipedia assured me that in essence it was Chicken marinaded in vinegar and soy sauce, which was later reduced to become the sauce.  All of which is served with rice.

Alas, I neglected to take a photo of my chicken marinading. however I photographed the rest. 

To make the marinade I used roughly equal amounts of white vinegar and soy sauce, I was eyeballing whether or not it would cover all of the meat. Then I added a teaspoon of crushed garlic, a shake of black pepper, a generous shake of cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and exactly 3 saffron stamens (just to make me feel fancy). I dropped my chicken in the mix when it was only partially defrosted, gave it all a swish and left it to sit. At some point in the afternoon I returned and repeated the swishing, turning the meat as I did so. About an hour before I wanted to start cooking, I diced all my meat (I only had breast in the freezer) and dropped it back in the marinade. 

I used the rice cooker for my rice, it does a better job than I ever will. 

I heated some oil in my cast iron pan and transferred the chicken using a slotted spoon. 

When it was just browned, I poured over the marinade and reduced it by about half. 
The end result was rated highly by the natives, and Bug loved every bite. I will definately be making this again. I can’t thank Old Sam enough for the inspiration. Also on the Literary Food list from the Kate Shugak series is Chopper Jim’s Coq au Vin… 

Until next time!

24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

Brilliant piece, and the only thing that I would add (because I’m like that) is a quote from the Bedknobs and Broomsticks Movie: “As long as I do it with a flare!”

warning:curves ahead

This morning, as I was perusing my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, and it triggered Maximum Eye-Rolling from everyone who took the time out to read it.

Written by Kallie Provencher for RantChic.com, this “article” (I use the term loosely) highlighted things such as “leopard print”, “graphic tees”, and “short dresses” (because “By this age, women should know it’s always better to leave something to the imagination”). Kallie, it seems, has a number of opinions on what women over 30 should and shouldn’t be doing, having also penned “30 Things Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Own” and “20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting Online”. (What is this magical post-30 land where women are suddenly not allowed to do or own so many things?!)

Motivated by Kallie’s “article”, I decided to…

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Patting myself on the back

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My younger brother recently married his girlfriend of 9 years, and Bug was their ring bearer. Since the wedding I’ve had to field any number of questions from Bug on weddings and marriage, most of which I’m unequipped to answer.

This weekend Bug asked me if he could marry a girl in his class (they’re 8 & 7). I told him no, because they bring out the worst in each other. He then asked me if he could marry his best friend, a boy in the next class room. I told him that if they wanted to get married when they are old enough, then that is fine with me because they bring out the best in each other.

I’m inordinately pleased that I didn’t have to tell him that it’s okay to love any gender, that he felt he could ask me that without fear of what would happen. Like all parents I doubt my abilities, and live in fear of screwing him up. It’s nice to know that in this and the manners department, I’ve done it right.

Political Feminism and Me

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If I’m frank, I must admit that I stay as far away from politics and discussions of feminism as possible. However, in recent months, I have found my stance on such conversations changing – at least in part. While I still don’t really follow the politics of governance (etc.) I do follow the politics of living. Don’t stress yet if my division of political types has you confused, I’ll explain.

There are politics involved in poverty, and there are degrees of poverty. New Zealand is a first world country, which has the dubious honour of having some of the most unaffordable housing in the world. It is important to know that this doesn’t compare house prices with those in other countries directly, it compares them to income. The reality is that a minimum wage job will not pay ALL the bills if there is more than one person being supported by it (and by this I refer to the small type of human, more commonly known as children). As a single mother this is a fact that I must keep in mind as I search for employment. And if, by some miracle, it does pay all the bills you had best hope that your child doesn’t run through shoes, and that you don’t get sick enough to need a doctor – or that should you get sick that you do it well enough to be hospitalised.

A brief note on feminism and me. I consider myself a feminist. I’m neither a man-hater, nor a lesbian – common misconceptions until recently where I live. I believe that if you can do the same job just as well as a man (regardless of what that job might be) that you should be paid equally. I don’t believe that women should be taxed more, or otherwise penalised for a cyclic bodily function that they will have to live with for 30 years, or more, of their lives. And I don’t care whether or not you agree with me.

Just this evening I read an article debating the efficacy of free tampons in schools, but also whether by supplying them would encourage the parents, who couldn’t afford to purchase the sanitary supplies, to remain in poverty. But at the same time ‘they’ want the girls at school, where they will get their education. How to encourage one without endorsing the other? It may be that I have misread the situation, such a thing has happened before. This is another example of degrees of poverty, and the politics therein. I googled this topic with the intent to read more and have a better understanding of the situation, I stopped scrolling at the end of page three. In those three pages of results on the topic only 3 hits were ads for tampons or puberty education. Personally, I can tell you that I’m horrified by the cost of sanitary items. I couldn’t afford the monthly layout of approximately $40/month for my cycle. So I changed tactics. Because of the cost of sanitary supplies (among other reasons) I spent years on Depo Provera so that I wouldn’t have a cycle at all. That plan cost me $20- $30 per year. Thanks to my interest in historical fiction (and fact checking anything that was either interesting or suspect) I learned how many very poor women managed before ‘standardised’ sanitary supplies; they used rags – probably where the popular slur came from. I did further research into modern ReUsable Menstrual Products [RUMPs], and found a wealth of information; and suppliers. Long term, this is the cheapest option, but it also has the most expensive outlay. I bought a few here and a few there, transitioning slowly out of disposables as I went, I even upcycled a few myself. This is the house of the mad crafter after all. I compare RUMPs to cloth nappying versus disposable nappying, after the outlay they pay for themselves and the only on going cost is laundering. And there are other types of RUMPs as well.

I make no apologies for being excited about my alternative/hippy side. In order to feed and clothe a growing child I cut financial corners where I can. I make my own laundry detergent, all purpose spray cleaner, and most of my beauty products (excluding make up…); I even mend my clothes where possible, and where not I either turn them into cleaning rags, or upcycle them into something else – currently I’m, slowly, turning my hand to quilting. I make my own journals and notebooks because for $6 a piece it’s cheaper than anything I can buy. I’ve even converted a number of my friends, mostly through being excited – and the fact that it works.

My personal opinion on how to solve the sanitary supply issue is teach whole classes (boys and girls alike) to make their own, with upcycled material, and have them use those to build up what is known as a stash. It may not last them a lifetime, but it will last them a long time. In this instance the internet and YouTube are your friends.

There is feminist power in being able to make what you need. Whether that means clothing, cleaning supplies, RUMPs, or simply growing your vege.