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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Creative Constipation

It's funny how frustrating creative constipation can be.
Well, funny for everyone else, I suppose.
For me, it's been like my brain is bung-ed up and I have a constant noise in my mind with all the ideas and possibilities crammed together in a teeny, tiny space. I imagine my resulting bitchiness has been a delight to be around.

I wrote a story several years ago, and have been avoiding the dreaded rewrite. But seriously, this shit needs to be done - the story has potential. The major flaws in it are the main veins of the story, though. And I've been wracking my brain for almost three weeks trying to iron out the answers. Because they involve the very roots of the story, and I don't want to lose certain elements, it's been excruciating trying to find the answer.

When I'm working, I'm thinking about The Story. When I'm driving, I'm thinking about The Story. When I'm doing homework with the kids, I'm thinking about The Story. Virtually everything I do has been permeated by this fucking Story.

But last night, I had a breakthrough. And it was from - as Tolkien said, - "The unlikeliest of creatures." My very un-literary, guitarist-husband, Kyle.

I was ranting about my creative constipation (again) and I concluded with, "-AND IT'S SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING! It would be as if you had a song you couldn't figure out!"
He uncharacteristically answered wisely: "Well, when I can't figure out a song, it usually means I have to figure out my tuning. Maybe you just need to figure out your tuning?"

I think I probably growled in response, but I then had a long, hot bath and thought about what he said.
Change my tuning.
Maybe I was looking at these plot knots all wrong. Maybe if I changed how I was looking at my story, and changed what I expected my character to do, and why, I could muddle through this.

I ended up soaking in the tub for over an hour just pondering my story and I worked through a few points, but I wasn't there yet. I still kept asking myself WHY on a few elements.

So I went to sleep, and got up with the kids to get them ready for school.
As they were eating breakfast, I was in the kitchen stretching.
*BACK STORY* Just so this next part makes sense, I have been suffering some massive back pain, as well as working 2 jobs to frantically cover our finances, while dealing with some stressful family drama. 
So the husband walks in, and I'm bent over touching my toes, and I moan about how sore my back is, and he replies, "Why? From carrying the weight of the family on it?" (Lol, smart-ass!)
And just like that, the fog lifted. His comment made everything click into place with my story. I didn't need to keep asking why, why, why does my character has to do all these things, and sacrifice everything? She has to. Just like I am stuck doing what I have to everyday, she has to sacrifice as well. It's just the card we were dealt.

And like that, the floodgates are open. Ideas and answers are flowing like a freakin' river!
But, of course, I have no time to write.
I have to go to work.
*le sigh*

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hello Again!

Hi! Remember me? Geez, I can't believe how long it's been! Seriously!

Now, I'm nowhere near ready to tackle a book update, since it's been months since my last post. BUT, I'm gonna share a big one I began in November and never actually posted: The process I went through to give my daughter a kick-ass Honey Lemon costume for Halloween this past October. I wanted to share this mostly because there was limited resources online for me, and someone else might end up needing the same thing! So here goes!

Summer 2015 - First viewing of Big Hero 6
My daughter decides she HAS to be Honey Lemon for Halloween this year; we all agree Honey Lemon looks like the grown-up version of her.

September 2015
My daughter reminds me that she wants to be Honey Lemon for Halloween this year. I look online to discover that thankfully, such a costume exists. I shrug it off. No problem, we'll be able to find that.

October 1st-7th, 2015
The daughter reminds again. Repeatedly. So excited to be Honey Lemon. Can't wait to be Honey Lemon. Hey Mom, when are we getting my Honey Lemon costume? I keep reminding myself that I should really get online and find out the best place to get it, ie: the cheapest.

October 8th-13th, 2015
Start popping into stores to find that no one has any idea what I'm talking about. Honey who? Oh! Big Hero 6! Yes, we have Baymax. Or Hiro. That's it.

October 14th, 2015
I go online again. There it is, phew. What's that? What do you mean SOLD OUT? Soooooo...guess I'm making this thing. At least I have almost 3 weeks. What's that, honey? Your school costume day is the 28th. Oh, no problem. 2 weeks? Oh, sure, no problem. Sure, sure.

So, after haunting Pinterest, I found a few cosplays, and a few parents like me who did this up for their kids. The only thing was, they did theirs over several months.
So head down, ass up, into the foray I went.
To remind you, this is Honey Lemon:

The first thing tackled was the chem-balls. I bought styrofoam balls, skewered them into an empty box, and then spray painted them in the red, purple, and orange of Honey Lemon's chem-balls.

Next, I tackled her dress. Now, I'm hella cheap and at this point I'm terrified of my impending deadline. So I figure I'll hit up a Value Village and find one easy-peasy. Right? Yeah, not so much. So I settle for a terrible 2XL flashy, sleeveless tee. And over a couple days of altering and adding trim, I turn it into a dress that sort-of, kind-of resembles Honey Lemon's.

I found the purple leggings at Walmart for $4, and thought the best way to match the arms to the leggings was to use the same thing. So I bought a second pair, cut them up, and sewed them on as the long sleeves. My daughter was mortified that she'd be wearing pants on her arms.

After that, I began the armor. I lucked out by finding a pleather-looking fabric in the clearance section of the fabric store. I was so pumped that it looked like leather, but felt like a stretchy spandex, that way it would look very real, but be stretchy and comfortable for my kid. My bubble was burst when the fabric store associate informed me it went on clearance because it was just awful to work with. And she was right, it SUCKED to sew. I ended up having to come up with some pretty creative ways to sew this to the padding, since it would NOT sew to itself. 

Once the torturous process was over, I was actually really happy with how it turned out - especially since I had done it in only a few evenings. I also decided against the "breast" armor. After all, she was only 6.

The last thing was the purse. Yikes.
I had left it for last, because it was so daunting. I had found a purse at Value Village in the sort-of-right shape, but had a really hard time finding a fabric in the right shade of orange to cover it with. I eventually went with a roll of this "all-purpose fabric" from Walmart. It was $10 and I didn't even know if it would work. Supposedly you could glue, sew, etc with this "fabric." Turns out, this shit was AWESOME to work with.

I stripped the purse of it's adornments and straps, and I found a yellow edging to sew onto the fabric. I covered the little bag and sewed an open top onto a back, to make the front flap. I used printable fabric paper from Staples to print the design of Honey Lemon's buttons for her purse. I wanted something that I would be able to shine a light through. Here is the picture I found on Pinterest from that awesome Dad who did this for his daughter:
Then I sewed the flap onto the purse body.
I knew my daughter wouldn't be able to use the purse as a purse, as the most important piece was making it so the buttons could light up. Now, the Pinterest Dad that made this purse for his kid had painstakingly ran wires to light up each individual button on the screen. I had zero time for that, so I opted for a flat light that my daughter could press to make the whole screen light up. After all, at this point, I had only about 4 days left before her costume day at school. I found a flat purse light at the Dollar Store, and sewed it into the opening behind the fabric paper. The end result was actually super cool.

It then occurred to me that I hadn't even had my daughter try any of this on yet, and holy crap, it better fit! Here is our first test-run.

I made a wide strap for all the balls to fit onto, the way Honey Lemon wears hers. Since the orange fabric was all-purpose, it reacted to adhesive wonderfully, so I used an adhesive Velcro to stick all the balls onto the strap - that way, my kid could take them off and on as she pleased.

After this test-run, I had to make a couple alterations to the dress to help bring in the wide shoulders of the original shirt, and to the neck of the armor to help it stay closed. And then my son pointed out that I still had the helmet to make. Shit. Helmet. Right.

So two nights before the 28th, I began the helmet using a smaller, cheap knight helmet I found at Value Village. It was an epic fail, and I decided to go with something that was more pliable and comfortable for her head. I went with a very Canadian solution.
It so happened that this purple duct-tape was also grape-scented. Bonus!

I began with a light foam for the basic shape, then used the grape-scented purple duct-tape for the final covering.

I used paint to add the orange and the lines.
I ended up finishing the helmet about 1 am on the 28th. Nothing like finishing in the nick of time!

And even though it was 2 weeks straight of panic and creativity and sewing and taping and cursing, it was SO worth it once she had it on. And she received so many compliments, she was just over the moon. What we do for our kids, eh?

Maybe next time I'll start a tad earlier, lol.