EnE: Elemental Novel Experiences
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Welcome to my blog!


This blog was my online wordsmith workshop, where you'll find notes on my writing experiences, excerpts from my fantasy and science fiction novels, and essays of a more homeworld flavor.  Some of the advice therein may still be of interest to new writers so I have left it here but due to technical difficulties, I no longer post here regularly.  You can look me up on Dreamwidth, although I do not post frequently. 

Feel free to share a link to this site. If you opt to download it or share content, please give due credit to this website and the author: Emmalyn N. Edwards. Thank you--Emmalyn

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A weather quilt
As I introduced last blog, this is a concept quilt, a visual journal of the outdoors in your area or in some place and year of special meaning for the maker or intended recipient. (Weather.come and other web sites have extensive historical data to work with). Ideally, find fellow quilters to do it, too, to compare results.

The general concept is to note the weather every day for a year, take pieces of fabric that represent that weather, for example, one color each for lows and highs, and fabric patterns in those colors that reflect the nature of the sky, and build a quilt over the course of the year. The idea ws introduced to me as a potential knitting project. This is my translation into a quilt.

The most striaght forward designs I can think of for reasonably proportioned quilts are stripes and blocks.

For stripes, two squares a day can be used to create two rows per month, one row for the highs/midday, one row for lows/night, possibly a sash between months. 31-day months and February will need a bit of mushing (combining or averaging two days) or stretching (double blocks for the beginning and ending of the month) to make even rows of thirty squares, maybe 3" squares for a modest sixed quilt, 1 1/2 inch squares for a wall hanging.

For blocks, half square triangles make good squares, in a layout of 5 by 6 will give a nice block per month, 12 blocks, nicely proportioned, maybe sashing around each block as a kind of calendar quilt.

For temperature and sky, I suggest creating a table, like a bingo card, to refer to throughout the year and to uide fabric choices for each year - colors for temperature ranges and patterns/fabrics for the sky, for example:

(high and low temperatures)
Yellow - over 100
Orange - 96-100
Red - 86-95
Brown - 81-85
Dark Green - 71-80
Bright Green - 61-71
Blue Green - 51-60
Blue - 41-50
Light Blue - 33-40
Lavendar - 20-32
Purple - 0-20
White - below 0

Across (sky):
Clear - solid
Haze - color-on-color
Scattered clouds - small patterns such as flowers
Cloud cover - batiques
Storms - color on black
Snow - geometrics

Or whatever else you have in your stash: this can obviously be very scrappy. Leftovers from half square triangles can be saved to make a border.
30 jan 13 @ 10:16 pm

A weather journal, weather quilt, art prompt
A friend introduced me to the concept of a weather scarf. Not being a knitter, I was designing alternatives before she even finished describing it, and I was thinking about the nature journal I had done for a class in school: go out every day and take notes. It was a great way to pressure my self into making observations, and the repetition in a relatively limited area encouraged me to take note of greater details, changes, and to find new ways to describe the same thing, to look at the same thing, always useful for writers.

I hadn't considered the art of it, but the weather scarf conceptcertainly offered a means of doing much the same thing with a specific focus. I wondered whether I could do a weather quilt instead.

A little online research revealed probable origins for the concept in the "sky scarf", a conceptual knitting pattern presented on Leafcutter Designs, www.leafcutterdesigns.com/projects/SkyScarf.pdf and created by
http://blog.makezine.com/craft/knitting_the_weather_a_concept/ It called for knitting with two strands of yarn twisted together, selected from a collection of seven colors: blues, grays, and waite, representing the color or colors of the sky. Each day, the colors are selected and two rows are knitted. At the end of the year, the scarf represents the whole year for the knitters area or for their location that day of the year, and ideally, a concept shared yet resulting in an endless range of variations: a unique weather journal, a unique piece of art. each day: clear, hazy, partly cloudy, etc.

The variation I was given seems to have been developed (or maybe it was a separate, independent development), by Kristen Cooper, aka Honey Nutbrown, as "2013 Bernet Crochet along (CAL) and Knit Along (KAL) Temperature Scarf". It was proposed as a single color per day representing a range of temperatures for the highs of each day or an average or a "feels like" temperature, and inites a variety of spectrums and variations, such as rows between months to demark the year more clearly, or a crocheted blanket alternative.

It is a small leap to making a quilt, one or two colors, pieces, or blocks per day and my imagination begins to run wild and the trick will be to find some specifics that give the right proportins and combinations. Quilts have the advantage of allowing solids, color on color, patterns that could together represent highs, lows, and skies. I'll write up a starting "recipe" and post it shortly.
30 jan 13 @ 9:07 pm

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A new scam I haven't figured out yet
It seems to be flattering e-mails about my blog, written by an inadequate computer program, and just a little too repeatedly generic to be real, so that it might apply to any blog. The first couple worked to the degree that I believed them and merely thought the sender working through a translation program or not a native speaker. It took a couple more from fairly random letter e-mail addresses to make me realize that they were similar in more than the poor choice of words, and that not a one of them even hinted at the content of my blog, which is actually hard to avoid doing with something you genuinely like. Mostly the only thing they asked for was contact information (even though it had to use my "contact information" to reach me in the first place). So not malicious, no executable files or the like, just annoying and disappointing.

Another food-rich holiday is coming up so I might be blogging about food as well as quilting and writing. Hope you don't mind.

Writer's prompt: I got this weird message...
29 jan 13 @ 9:07 pm

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's not always alike
I like to compare quilting and writing. I do both, and there are many similarities to the process. One key element is different: In writing, one of the most effective means of editing is deletion. It isn't psychologically easy to delete - I most often cut and paste the pieces into an unused file so I am not destroying my precious prior efforts - but it is physically easy, doesn't leave a mark, and is often necessary for a good book.

Quilting not so much. Removing stuff leaves holes that have to be filled with more difficulty than the original assembly, and often without totally erasing the marks of a former stitching process. While deleting words might come easier later in the process--when it become more clear what is needed and what is not--the later in the process for quilting, the harder even a small removal of fabric and stitching becomes because it is so integrally intertwined with what is being left in place. Sort of like trying to remove an entire character or change the description and nature of a place that appears in many scenes. It just isn't done. A character might be demoted (many characters should have been demoted in some of the science fiction and fantasy I've read recently--they can't all be fully developed central characters in every book, else the center is lost) but they usually aren't eliminated entirely in a good edit, just limited to the role needed for the story at hand.

For quilting, then, the primary edit becomes addition and a phenomenon most common in but not limited to crazy quilts: embellishment. The term is somewhat of a misnomer and has led to sloppy application in the era of machine quilting and machine embroidery. It is most well known in Victorian quilts, where even the fabric for a crazy quilt might have come as a kit. The embroidery then was used both as the means of applique-quilting the fabrics together and of decorating the plainer pieces of fabric in the mix, fewer of which would have been printed than today's fabric collection. These days it is rarely used as a means of holding the thing together and is more truely decorative add-on, as embellishment implies. But it is also a way of "editting" the results.

My current quilt, for example, has sections that are very bright, outshining areas that I intended to emphasize. I am adding several "embellishments" to both improve the balance and draw the many disparate sections together into a single cohesive design, including black lace and black embroidery to tone down the bright sections. Toning down and subdueing is probably the closest quilting generally allows to deleting, especially in the end stages. Or adding layers to hide a gap or other problem. In the section I want to highlight, I'm adding tin strips of silver lame' and brightly colored quilting thread, possibly bright embroidery if that doesn't prove enough. That kind of enhancement, though, is tricky, as it can ruin what you wanted to highlight, hence the preference for subduing (and deleting).

The more overall embellishments, such as adding or using embroidery to applique, adding sequins or beads and buttons I liken more to wordsmithing and polishing: not emphasizing the important or subduing the less important, but improving overall by enriching, perfecting, adding details, improving clarity, sharpening the edges, and otherwise making it a more perfect piece of art.

Writer's challenge: Take a scene and edit it three times, focusing once on removing the extraneous and subduing the minor elements, once on highlighting the key turning point of the scene, and once on polishing the verbiage one sentence at a time.

Writer's prompt: turn a pebble on the sidewalk or a bit of junk on the shelf into the key element of a scene or story.
27 jan 13 @ 11:17 am

Thursday, January 24, 2013

From: name: riilotxf@gmail.com

comment: I precisely wanted to say thanks once again. I'm not certain the things I would have gone through without those tips and hints revealed by you relating to this area of interest. Previously it was an absolute hard setting in my opinion, however , observing a expert mode you processed that made me to jump over delight. I will be happier for this advice and even expect you really know what an amazing job you are always providing teaching most people all through a site. I am sure you've never met any of us.

Response from Emmalyn:

Thank you. I'm glad you have found some of my posts useful. I sometime compose rather quickly and don't always edit them as well as I should so I appreciate that you have kept reading anyway. A couple of my readers may be friends that I met before I started blogging, but the rest I don't know. To me, writing is about communicating with readers, most of who I will never meet, and what more natural to communicate about than the writing process? Keep writing and creating!
24 jan 13 @ 10:40 pm

Travel to a funeral interrupted progress on other things but gave me a chance to use my new collection of little colored fabric bits. I took a bag of blue-greens and aquas and blues that didn't clash with them to work on at the hotel and have made rapid progress hand sewing the small bits. No design. They are all shapes and sizes. I put the smallest together, and the long ones, and the biggest are in a stack waiting for the other ones to get to comparable sizes on at least one side. Pieces go together much easier and with less chance of getting a wavy 3-D shape, not desireable for a quilt, if you can put two flat sides together of reasonable close length. Then the angles don't matter. I put several together into a hand sized "block" and set them aside, r several long strips until the ends are long enough for a square or triangle from the pile. At home, I'll iron and trip before making large pieces. In the end, the shapes of he leftovers and the sequence i grab them in will dictated the design.

In a way, I do the sme with some of my stories. I create the pieces in the form of scenes and scenarios and characters that seem interesting to me and go together in some way, then start fitting them together. Some get sorted out as a poor fit, and maybe land in another story, some get shifted or set aside until other things get fleshed out and form a better fit. Like he quilt, it will get appliqued and added to and adjusted for the best fit and complete coverage (revision, scene expansion, new scenes to fill gaps and inform the reader), but I usually don't have a big plan when I start and am willing to adjust and go with what characters, science, worlds dictate from the nature I gave them, so that hopefully the end piece fits together well and naturally and believably.

Writer's challenge: create an event in a character's past. How does that effect the character today?

Writer's prompt: A character's plans and direction are changed by an event far away.
24 jan 13 @ 8:17 am

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Idea ad the inspiration
This week I've been doing one thing per day, mostly, because I let my to do list get too long. Today's after work activity was a continuation of fabric sorting. Lots of stash got a bit out of control for awhile, so it gets dumped in the laundry, then sorted. We're sorting by size and color scheme, mostly; large pieces, pieces too small for one side of a pillow case or sleeveless shirt, pieces that don't have any place to cut out so much as a 4 1/2 inch square. And special fabrics,including velveteen, satin, brocade, and picture prints.

The smaller-than-a-pillow-case-half pieces are being cut into 4 1/2 inch strips and squares (if there isn't enough fabric for two). Those will go into a "rag" quilt, that is a fluffy quilt that has the seams showing between squares. As the pile grows, design ideas come to mind - should I alternate light and dark colors or turn them into stripes or sections. Most are solids or prints with white backing that will make for white or light fringes, but some of the dark ones are dark ont he back of the fabric as well, so perhpas I could make a wandering line or a diaond or other pattern of the dark lines in the center of the quilt.... The design will no doubt cahnge several times before i't done, until the pile is tall enough for a good sized quilt.

Meanwhile the smaller pieces are getting sorted by color into small boxes because there are many and more are craeted as he 4 1/2 inch squares and strips are cut. Those are going to be a "crazy" quilt. When the color rainbow is unlimited, without even a preference for country colors or jewel tones or pastels, I prefer to have some other theme in the crazy quilt, not just wholely random, so some form of rainbow swirl or spirals or a floppy armed black star in a bright background, since I have a fair number of black pieces and very dark blue and brown and maroon in the stacks.

I had in mind something of a traditional crazy quilt long back when I started keeping the small pieces that I might have otherwise used to stuff toy animals or pillows, but the design is ever changing, each section and subsection still filled with questions that the fabric itself will answer for me as I fit them together and embroider or otherwise embellish them with other "leftovers" like sequins and buttons taken off of old cloths, or bits of lace and brick-a-brack. Wuch is the creative process for a crazy quilt. My stories tend to build much the same way, and sometimes take as long.

Writer's prompt: Protagonist is cold, wet, and grinning
15 jan 13 @ 8:06 pm

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Comment on end of year and other posts
name: olwpcgsybpm at gmail.com

comment: Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I've really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I?l be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

Response from EnE: Glad you liked what you saw. I always welcome comments and questions. Anything you liked in particular, or didn't enjoy as much? I like to get a feel for what readers like even if I can't always provide it.
8 jan 13 @ 10:17 pm

comments on end of year post
hggqtt at gmail.com said (through a machine translation, possibly)

comment: Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

Response from EnE: Thank you. Glad you liked it. I don't always achieve amusement value but I try and sometimes life just is amusing all by itself.

If you use a translations software to read the blog, (I wasn't sure of some of the coding that came with the by through continuing to post comments and/or providing a link to your own blog if you have one.
8 jan 13 @ 10:12 pm

Creative concensus
The creative process always fascinates me, especially groups trying to be creative together. When it works, it can be amazingly effective. I've never seen disastrous results, but I have seen groups stop being cohesive groups when the effort to be creative together fails. There are several issues involved, not least being creative tolerance. If someone has a very specific image in mind and thinks that anything that fails to achieve that image is worse and unacceptable, for one, many arts, crafts, and other creative things just don't work that way even for the individual, but more to the point, it guarantees a group project won't work. A group is never going to have a single shared vision down to the nth detail until the end point, even if they can come to a shared concept from the start. Even that can be difficult.

To use quilting as an example: many beautiful and prize winning quilts are made by a group, either in the form of a sampler (each group member works independently making their own blocks, sometimes with their own designs and fabrics, sometimes with more overlap, shared choices of design, shared or similar fabrics and/or colors) or as a joint project (everyone doing the same thing or different stages of a single process to make a more unified whole). With a detailed plan, a joint decision, a shared pattern, the latter can come close to the the single person, single creative project version of group creativity, getting to that single design can be a messy and contentious business. In the case of samplers, unless everyone agrees to everyone else's part of the sampler in advance, or unless everyone creates several pieces and only those mutually selected by the whole group are used, no one can predict the end result much less all envision the same end results, which does not at all pose a problems so long as everyone goes in understanding that their own design is not the only one that can be wonderful. Even with the sampler, though, getting the pieces to fit together, match, blend, or complement each other takes a lot of up-front effort. The creative process is not just the end point, but getting there.

The first step, and sometimes one difficult enough to halt the process, is coming to a shared general concept. With quilting, that means things like whether it's going to be a sampler or a unified pattern, the end size, the size of sampler sections or the distribution of parts, pieces, and steps of the pattern among the group, color schemes, scrappy or bought specially for this quilt, a sampler theme. Sampler themes can include color spectrums (country, pastels, jewel tones, earth tones); patterned, picture, color-on-color, or solid fabrics. They can be based on everyone's free interpretation of a rule, a quote, a song, a word (zoo, farm, flower), a holiday or other event, almost anything. The main thing for the group is to come to agreement on the theme and its elements and associated rules.

After that, it's relatively easy. People don't have to be equally committed to completion or perfection, just sufficiently so. There are more steps in the creation and assembly, and someone generally has to take responsibility for them, for gathering pieces, for moving the project forward, but not necessarily all the same people, and if one can't quite get it done, another can fill in. Once the concept is truly accepted by the membership, a lot has to go wrong to prevent anyone in the group from keeping it going and seeing it through to its acceptable completion.

A new year and a slow start but hoping to keep up on regularly blogging now that I've resumed. More on this theme and others to come.

Writer's challenge: pick something you know about besides writing and include it in a story or scene.
8 jan 13 @ 7:47 pm

2013.11.01 | 2013.10.01 | 2013.09.01 | 2013.08.01 | 2013.07.01 | 2013.06.01 | 2013.05.01 | 2013.04.01 | 2013.03.01 | 2013.02.01 | 2013.01.01 | 2012.12.01 | 2012.11.01 | 2012.10.01 | 2012.09.01 | 2012.08.01 | 2012.07.01 | 2012.06.01 | 2012.05.01 | 2012.04.01 | 2012.03.01 | 2012.02.01 | 2012.01.01 | 2011.12.01 | 2011.11.01 | 2011.10.01 | 2011.09.01 | 2011.08.01 | 2011.07.01 | 2011.06.01 | 2011.05.01 | 2011.04.01 | 2011.03.01 | 2011.02.01 | 2011.01.01 | 2010.12.01 | 2010.11.01 | 2010.09.01 | 2010.08.01 | 2010.07.01 | 2010.06.01 | 2010.05.01 | 2010.04.01 | 2010.03.01 | 2010.02.01 | 2010.01.01 | 2009.12.01 | 2009.11.01 | 2009.10.01 | 2009.09.01 | 2009.08.01 | 2009.07.01 | 2009.06.01 | 2009.05.01 | 2009.04.01 | 2009.03.01 | 2009.02.01 | 2009.01.01

Be sure to get in touch so I know you're out there! See contacts page or e-mail wyverns(at)earthlink(dot)net.

Every word should be an experience