Posts Tagged ‘cheating’

I suffer from chronic insomnia. (It is 3:46am as I begin typing this.) I occasionally use my sleepless time to write but, though I cannot sleep, I am usually too tired for brain work. Often I would watch tv or surf the internet. Until last October that is. That is when I learned to knit.

Knitting is a bit like writing. Through a series of small actions you build something larger and more complex and although you think you know what all those little bits will look like when you’re done the finished product often surprises you.

Anyway, since I caught the knitting bug, (A dangerously virulent disease! Consider yourself warned.) I have twisted many thousands of meters of yarn into complex patterns of orderly knots. I love making something useful from one looooong strand of unbroken yarn. It feels like a kind of magic. (Also it feeds my hat addiction.)

While I have no plans to turn this into a knitting blog there may on occasion be pretty pictures of yarn and projects and honestly who doesn’t love brightly coloured pictures of pretty things now and then? Probably the people who need them most, that’s who!

Oh hey! Here are some of those pictures now!

Kepi imitating a very large ball of green yarn. D'awww. (She actually curled up closer to it in her sleep. Double D'awwww.)

Silk yarn. In skein form and my (perfect) first hand wound ball.

Seriously. Is that not a thing of beauty?

I wound the second skein (left) but it did not turn out so well. Unless you are a football fan. If you are a football fan than you should be pretty impressed.

I then knitted the yarn into this totally awesome hat! (I know my face is overexposed but this was the best picture of the hat. Look at the hat!)

Sadly I don’t think my camera ever really captured the brilliant tone of the red yarn but I will keep trying and working on this photography thing. I still love words but all the other things I do can only hone and enliven my creativity. Life is good.

Now to try this sleep thing I keep hearing about again…


Ps. I can be found on ravelry.com under the name Aurabeth. New knitting friends welcome!

Pss. If you like my hat here is a link to the pattern at Mary Keenan’s awesome knitting blog Hugs For Your Head.


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I am being tempted.

It has come. Curse of the writer mired by the tribulations of a difficult Work in Progress. I struggle and sweat to get through so many difficult little scenes and it is hard to keep going. I’ve done this twice before, I know I’ll get through. Probably.

Then tonight I was diligently slogging away, knowing intellectually that soon I would break past the wall and the story would flow for me again. I have my outline and I know soon I will love my novel effortlessly, like a mother at her child’s birth instead of the mother of a teenager who is argumentative, sullen and prone to shrieking profanities while slamming doors. You still love them but… you have to work at it a little.

And then this little idea sauntered past with a come hither gaze and a saucy wink.

Just a little idea, nothing to be afraid of. So I wrote it down. Surely there’s no harm in keeping a good idea for when I have the time? A moment later I knew my hook. From that came the easiest elevator pitch I’ve ever written. Then I couldn’t stop, I wrote a perfect back cover blurb in one go. Then I outlined a little and I knew how it would begin and how it would end. (So touching! So poignant! So heart breaking!) The two main characters told me their names and they provided me all the information I would need to breathe life into them. They came alive like a single brush stroke on crisp linen paper. Simple. Elegant. Perfect.

Then their world started nudging its way on to the page. A detail here, a factoid there. Just a bit of world building, no harm in it. I tried to tell myself that it was just enough to keep all the details fresh for when I come back to it.

“Come back? How can you leave me when I am so new and shiny?” asked the idea.

And so begin the seeds of infidelity. I love the novel I have but it is hard, so HARD! I work and I toil and it only demands more of me. I know deep down that the new idea will grow and live on my attention and love until it is just as demanding as my current work in progress but it’s still new and full of easy promise. Its characters are smooth as polished glass, it’s plot threads yet to be tangled.

I’ve been tempted before, even done a little outlining. Temptation will come again, sure as I’ll wake up tomorrow to a hungry/angry cat pawing at my head. Infidelity is a risk of being a writer. I’ll resist. I’ll save the file and leave the idea for another day.

It’s just harder than usual today.

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I have two To Do lists at any and all times. The first is a general list. For example:

  • unpack boxes
  • clean the cat litter before the cat stages a coup
  • dishes (for previously stated reasons this pretty much never gets crossed off as I tend to lap loads)
  • sort laundry
  • buy cat food, see above
  • write

That last item never really gets crossed off either, it recycles daily and is really only there to remind me that it is the most important item on any list (except the cats food and litter, she gets cranky).

My second list is dedicated to my creative goals. For example:

  • Edit latest flash fiction
  • Write ‘X’ number of words by ‘date’
  • Outline characters for WIP
  • Do Celtx tutorial in preparation for Scriptfrenzy
  • Learn flash
  • Make 10 second flash cartoon
  • Rough draft art for next webcomic installment (unpublished and on hiatus, like so many projects)

I like lists and I like tracking my progress and crossing things off. I have notebooks dedicated to my lists where items from yesterday can be brought to the next page and you can see the progress (or not) of my industriousness like layers in sedimentary rock. I have such a poor memory that I couldn’t really function without them. They keep me on track.

Sometimes though, I use my lists to procrastinate. I especially use that first list to procrastinate on the second.

Which is crazy right? I look at that second list and there is not one thing listed which fails to get me excited. Just sometimes the steps are a little too large and I get daunted or more often I get everything ready and then my self-doubt kicks in. So I wander off and do something else and if that something lets me cross something else off of a list, any list, then I get to feel like I’ve accomplished something. It’s not the same high I would get from a submission-ready final draft of that flash fiction but it’s easier than facing all that fear and self-doubt.

In my defense I usually come back to the second list and get some work done but I’m certainly less productive artistically than I could be. Than I SHOULD be.

Today I procrastinated by making what I thought would be a time intensive fancy dinner that turned out to be quick easy and delicious. I was done and fed in no time and got a lot of little things crossed off my creative to do list. So to celebrate that quick return to my word processor I’d like to share another author recipe.


Vichyssoise (Leek Soup)

This soup is more delicious than you.


  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • butter 2-3 tablespoons as desired
  • 3 cups chicken stock (veggie stock for the vegetarians)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups half and half cream (10%)

Optional Extra Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons bacon bits, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup of Mushrooms, thinly sliced, I like a blend of crimini and mini bellas (technically these are all the same mushroom at different ages)
  • Chives, chopped

Steps involving bacon and mushrooms may be omitted.

  1. Saute chopped leaks and potatoes in a large saucepan (mine is 12 inches with high sides) for several minutes. Until it is nicely aromatic.
  2. Once the smell of leeks and butter are making your mouth water add the broth, salt and pepper, and optional bacon.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. While simmering broth sauté mushrooms in butter until they develop a nice colour. Do not crowd.
  5. Remove both broth and mushrooms from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Add cream and half of mushrooms to broth and mix.
  7. Puree in blender (fills blender twice)
  8. Serve cold or reheat in pan.
  9. Garnish with chives and mushroom.

Serves 6.


  1. Don’t forget to reheat the garnish mushroom if serving the soup hot.
  2. Keep in mind if you use bacon bits they might be made with dye to achieve their bright colour. You could see this as a disaster or pretend to be Bridget Jones and serve pink soup!
  3. Omitting the mushrooms and bacon I think this would be a highly adaptable recipe. I intend to try several variations.
  • Add citrus and fruit with the broth (veggie), lemon and cranberries perhaps. Nothing too sweet, it should be light and summary. This could turn out horribly wrong. Either way you’ll probably hear about it.
  • Walnuts and almonds, blended into a paste and then blended into the soup. Definitely served cold. It would be so rich and decadent!
  • Stir in some cooked wild rice to the finished basic recipe to add flavour and texture to the creamy soup.
  • Use 35% cream and blend the soup until it stiffens.  Serve as savory mousse appetizer.  (I really want to try this!)

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I am terrified of falling down stairs. I would say I was phobic but as my fear springs from a totally rational source I am clearly right to fear stairs. The problem is that I tend to fall down them. Sometimes I trip over some dangling thing I failed to notice. Sometimes I slip on icy cement or metal stairs outside. Canada presents many opportunities to slip and fall on all kinds of surfaces, and I do, but stairs are my true nemesis.

My last fall involved a gorgeous set of highly polished wooden stairs leading into a friends basement. The 2-3 glasses of wine I’d had probably didn’t help but I have it under good authority that those particular stairs are a menace to more than just myself. They are a lovely polished-to-a-high-sheen deathtrap with a plethora of victims.

I bring this up because I am currently working on a script for Scriptfrenzy and one of my characters has a similar problem but more so. At worst I’ve sprained wrists and earned some spectacular bruises. By contrast I’ve got this character breaking limbs, getting concussions and I’m toying with a short coma. She isn’t me but she’s going to be a lot like that aspect of me, multiplied.

I’m torn between using the experience and feeling like I’m cheating because it won’t be coming from my imagination. Though in a way I guess it is because my own fear is fueled by my imagining of worst case stair-falling scenarios.

I’ve read a lot of John Irving and I think he’s a brilliant author. Many of his books consider the issue of whether writers should make up their stories from whole cloth or whether it is okay to take elements or even fully formed characters from real life. His novels tend to fall on the side of using-real-life-is-cheating. I’m curious to know if Mr. Irving himself truly believes this and has projected it onto his characters (oh the irony!) or if it is merely an opinion of his fictional characters. My own paranoia even wonders if it’s a fake out aimed at budding authors but this paranoia is the kind that just makes me giggle because that would be sort of awesome.

The result is that I sometimes feel like I am cheating when I lift elements or out of context events from real life and include them in my fictional writing. Worse I often feel like those are the parts that read as most true compared to what I had come up with on my own. This worried me for a long time but lately I’m less concerned about it. I feel like some of my truly fictional elements are getting better. I still use pieces from real life but I think I’m learning to write even fictional parts that ring true. Maybe someday I’ll learn to write without stealing from my own life but honestly, I don’t know that I will and I think I’m okay with that.

But I still worry about it. That’s okay though, I’m just a paranoid sort of person.

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