How to avoid writing

The cabinet of curiosities

The cabinet of curiosities

Okay, honestly, I didn't start out looking for a way to avoid writing. No, really. Here's how it happened.

We (my husband and I, not the royal “we”) finally finished our long-term project of stripping the wallpaper from the kitchen/eating area and repainting. It's not that big an area, but it took us at least six months to complete. With the advent of guests at Christmas, I felt the need to get things in better shape. We moved the wooden cabinet back in from where it and the kitchen table had languished for quite awhile. I'd considered replacing the furniture, because it seemed too “country” for my current tastes. We didn't find a table we wanted in time, so the old pieces went back in place.

As I was deciding what knick-knacks to go back into the cabinet, I decided on a steampunk theme. I found some old-looking clocks

The clocks

The clocks

at World Market and Target, as well as a ring of skeleton keys, and hung those on the wall to the left of the cabinet. We already had some cool items, including a genuinely antique mustache cup and bowl, and a spice rack with test-tube bottles. My husband loved the idea, and we set out to find other bottles to adorn the shelves.

Aqua Regia label

Kinda cool, but too crisp and modern

Being Donna, I couldn't just let the bottles go unadorned. I've loved making props ever since I freaked out a visitor to an early-1980s Call of Cthulhu game with an aluminum-foil covered dagger (for a campaign-starting auction). I recently read and enjoyed Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim, so I decided to add a label to a cool bottle related to a beverage (maybe not so refreshing) mentioned in the book.

Finished label

Finished label

My first attempt wasn't so great actually. It looked a bit too fresh. I went in search of methods for aging paper. I based my aging process on this article at Curbly, but it uses coffee. Nobody who lives in or visits my house drinks coffee, but I have plenty of tea, so I substituted that instead. I printed out the label, preheated the oven to 200 degrees and laid the printout in a roasting pan. I brewed a cup of jasmine tea (loose leaf, itself in a most excellent tin, which I'd photograph, but one of my cats is on my arm at the moment), which proved not to be dark enough, so I added some English Breakfast to it. I poured the cup, with bits of leaves in it, and tucked it in the oven.

Way too soggy, so after about five minutes, I poured off the liquid. That did the trick. The instructions say you know when it's done when the edges begin to curl. That observation made me realize I needed to trim the paper down to the label, or my edges would be too flat.

The finished label, complete with wrinkles

The finished label, complete with wrinkles

Within another two minutes, the label was ready. The writing on it was largely washed away, particularly the red letters. I did achieve an old, faded look and decided to use it until I try again. I affixed it with double-sided tape, and you can see the result below.  I left in the wrinkles, figuring it had been on the shelf a long time and the heat of years got to the glue.

I also obtained some tiny bottles from Advantus by Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies from Supermart, and used those to create some small labels, using the wonderful set online from Seeing Things that Aren't Really There blog. Be advised, these bottles really are tiny. I intend to put liquid or powder in them at some point. And hope the police never visit and decide it's got real wickedness inside.

Lovely tiny bottles full of wickedness

Lovely tiny bottles full of wickedness

 

So there you have it. I've found a new way to avoid the writing that I really need to do on my work-in-progress, Revival. I have some more time-wasting craft projects to tell about, but I'll save that for another post. Happy procrastination!

How do you avoid writing? Share in the comments below.

The Solution to Procrastination

“Life is what happens when you’re not writing.” I don’t know if that’s a real quote or if I just made it up in my head. I hope it’s not a real quote because I don’t want to bash a perfectly good aphorism. It’s what popped into my head a bit ago while cleaning up after our old and intentionally incontinent cat (probably in protest for her two younger siblings, but I digress). I think the implication of such a statement is that life is somehow separate from writing, that we stand outside our writing.

I’ve been feeling really guilty lately that I haven’t worked on my Work in Progress in nigh on to two months. Actually that’s not entirely true. I profess not to believe in guilt. To be honest I’m annoyed I haven’t finished the rewrite of the book. Regardless, I’ve thought of a way to cut myself some slack.

I realized we don’t stand outside our writing. People say, “Writing is my life.” If that’s true, what you’re really saying is “My life is my writing.” Whatever comes out of us, out of our subconscious minds and deep hidden recesses, injected into the flesh of a notebook with the syringe that is the fountain pen or tattooed onto virtual skin through the action of manipulating keys, is based in our feelings and beliefs and experiences.

“Oh, Donna,” I hear you saying, “You are so amazingly profound to have discovered this secret eluding humankind for eons.”

I’m nodding sagely. What I acknowledged about my writing today is my psyche has been temporarily diverted to a decision I’m trying to make about my future—get a master’s degree or a certificate or certification classes, and in what field? (AKA What do I want to be when I grow up?) My writing self isn’t on hiatus, though. She’s taking notes. She’s doing research. She’s storing up these thoughts and emotions and processes and details for my future writing.

Obviously it won’t directly correlate. It’s not a one-to-one correspondence, like when people ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer to that one is, “Um, I live.” I don’t plan to write about a woman’s midlife crisis and journey of self-discovery. Although I suppose I could. But you just know (if you’ve read my books) she’d run into a sorcerer masquerading as her personal trainer who’s on the lam from a secret society of Cthulhu-worshipping Baptist preachers intent on subverting the foundations of the world as we know it.

What I’m saying to myself—and you, if you’re feeling guilty about not writing—is chalk it up to experience. Dry spells happen, events intervene. It’s all fodder for the creative mind. Don’t use it as an excuse to quit writing. Because you know you can’t ever stop. Not really.

Not if your life is your writing.