Judith Beheading Holofernes

Today I have a day off from work, and I'm forcing myself to be productive and put this time toward my writing. (And reading. And catching up on my DVR list and finally watching more of Stranger Things). It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to start writing again. I sunk back into my old routine of turning on the soundtrack to my WIP, which for this particular work in progress is the score to Kill Your Darlings -- nice and dark and moody -- lighting a candle, and setting everything else on silent and do not disturb.

I find I'm writing less with each session, but the content I'm producing is better. The quantity is decreasing, but the quality is more than making up for it. It's weird to not be writing as much, as fast, as I used to. I'm adjusting to the new pace of my voice, and I think the reason I'm going slower with this one is because I'm putting more consideration into the first draft. Not that I haven't put a lot of time and effort into my other drafts; I guess it's just that this one demands more of my thought and attention. It's pickier than other stories I've written. That's half the fun, this newness of relearning how I write. The challenge of sussing out the proper mood of the story.

Anyway, this afternoon, I finally begun Chapter 4. And because I'm big on accountability, I want to share another, longer excerpt with you. This one really demonstrates the role art will have in the novel. I mentioned before how much I loved studying art history when I was in college, and now I get to put all that knowledge to work! And who knows, maybe someone will find all this art history stuff as exciting as I do and do some research of their own. Or not. Whatever floats your boat. (But I think it's cool, so, you know, do whatever I'm just saaaaayyyyyiiiinnnng it could be fun. I think it is, at least.)

TMoD -- which has a full title and is not just some vague and meaningless acronym I'm using, I promise -- is going to be about many things: murder, love, art, crime. Here's a slice of it, in the early stages of setting the scene for the Big Events that will happen throughout the story.

The painting the two characters discuss, for reference, is "Judith Beheading Holofernes," and it's a favorite of mine from the Baroque movement. Take a look at it while you read the excerpt.

That would be enough

This week, I've been taking stock of my life, inventorying the things I have, the things I want, the things I need. I'm finding that there are a lot of "haves" and a lot of "wants," with very few "needs" between the two.

A few months back, I wrote all about simplifying things. I got about halfway through that simplification before I got distracted (as I often do in my busy days) and left the job unfinished. As such, I'm still finding that I'm stuck in a lot of mess and mayhem. Being surrounded by things and having things happen to or around me makes me feel very passive, and it's making me anxious. Which is why I've taken active control of things again so I can steer everything back on path.

Part of this inventorying has me literally getting rid of a lot. I'm packing up the clothes I don't wear for donation. I'm taking out the trash and reorganizing what I have and love. Remember, I have multiple existential crises a week about what I'm doing with my life. So, naturally, as I'm sorting through the physical junk in my life, I'm looking at the mental junk too. Metaphorically, I'm doing the same. I'm letting go of events and emotions and the past -- things that have done nothing to help me but only put a hindrance on happiness.

This purge has lifted an invisible weight I didn't realize I'd been carrying for so long. Sorting through things has me realizing the obvious connections between what I want and need that I never noticed before. I want to be happy -- I need to create. I want to have a comfy home -- I need stability. I want to learn and grow and love and live and do a thousand things. I'm tired of letting life flit by without grabbing on, so I'm grabbing on. How do I do that, after so much time?

I just start. I say 'yes' to things again. I work on restoring my energy. I move forward looking for a small, more affordable place I can live and create. I hold my friends and family closer. For me, that would be enough. I don't need a lot of money; I don't need any fame. I need an outlet, and I need to get back to focusing on myself and what I love to do most. The reason I haven't felt right lately is because I let go of writing and creating for so long because I had other responsibilities. I don't want to let it slip anymore, because the longer I leave it, the more off I feel.

I'm finding middle ground in life, and creative ways to make everything work for me. I'm sussing it all out, still, and really the reason this short post sounds so rambling is because I'm not finished untangling everything.

Right now, it feels like a lot of my life is about to happen. There are moments waiting for me in the wings, about to enter. They're just waiting for their cue, and in a few breaths I'll be delivering that fateful line. I can't really, rationally explain the feeling. But just you wait. Someday soon, something great is going to happen.

Many things, all at once

Hello internet, it's been a while. Many whiles. Sorry. I haven't forgotten about you -- I just got super, crazy busy. Well, you know, busier than normal. Which means I've been very, very, very busy doing many things, all at once. And while doing these many things all at once has taken a toll on my stress (and knocked me down a little last week with a wicked bug), these things are all exciting!

Let me catch you up on the few things I've been doing that I can talk to you about. They're all fun and surprising and make me the slightest bit self conscious as I don't often like being at the center of attention unless it's while debating something I'm super passionate about, but since I'm becoming rather passionate about this, let's all pretend I'm not nervous about sharing it. Faking it until I make it, one day at a time.

One project I was recently involved in was actually something that sparked a bit of magic in me. Friends -- of all different talents -- came together for a shoot on a beautiful property in Harwood, Maryland. Kelsey Mattson (whose work is spectacular, please look at her website and see everything she does!) met the owners of the farm and wanted to do a stylized shoot on the property, and because Kelsey has this magnetic energy to her, everyone she spoke to was more than willing to donate their time. It was more than worth it, and I'm sure what I got out of that Thursday night on the tranquil farm was more than they even realize.

The farm, Harwood Hills Farm, is an agro-tourism location that is the ideal venue for a peaceful wedding. Naturally, then, I stepped into a gown for the night and became a bride. My hair and makeup was done by the brilliant Caitlyn Meyer, the dress was borrowed from Wren Bridal, my ring and earrings from Kajs Jewlry, and I had a stunning bouquet from Crimson & Clover Floral. Kelsey planned and styled the shoot, and the entire thing was shot by Sarah Culver (again, another person whose work I've admired for a long, long time before getting to work with her!).

The other night, I saw three preview images from the shoot and I could not believe how incredible they've turned out! And if those were only the previews... I cannot wait to see the end results! I shared one of the images on Instagram, and wanted to share it here as well because !!!!!! I still can't believe the entire night was real. It was pulled straight from a dream.

Planning & Styling - Kelsey Mattson (@mattsonmade
Photography - Sarah Culver (@sarahculver
Floral Design - Crimson & Clover (@crimsoncloverfloral
Paper Goods - Townley Prang (@townleycreative
Dress - Wren Bridal (@wrenbridal
 Jewelry - Kajs Jewelry (@shop_kajsjewelry)  
Hair & Makeup - Caitlyn Meyer (@caitlynmeyermua
 Venue - Harwood Hills Farm (@harwoodhillsfarm)

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