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The Beauty of Ten Minutes

published5 months ago
3 min read

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Tired looking woman, with glasses, and a face mask hanging over one ear.

The Beauty of Ten Minutes

I was struggling a bit to decide what I wanted to write about in this month’s newsletter, so I got up to make a cup of tea. That turned into making some toast, and that turned into emptying the dishwasher. Somewhere between the first and second drawers I found it. Just popped into my head: The Beauty of Ten Minutes.

Giving things ten minutes out of my day has been revelatory! For a lot of the year so far I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with everything I’ve had on. Leila’s been studying at home (though she has gone back to school today!), the new job has been busy, and so has Utopia Science Fiction. My bullet journal backlog was getting longer and longer (Cat Vax, I’m getting to you soon, I promise) and yet all the things I wanted to be doing were getting pushed aside. (Reading, yoga, writing, prepping for the game I GM, the garden, music, finishing a sweater I started knitting two years ago, etc!)

You can meditate, and feel great, in ten minutes. You can get up from the computer and do sit-ups or whatever, for ten minutes. You can do one house-chore in ten minutes. You can write nearly three sides of A5 paper in ten minutes. Stand on the deck and watch the birds for ten minutes. Go pick the last of the tomatoes for ten minutes…

Honestly, these are my tomatoes.

Other things that have been going on:

Classes

I took a few more classes with Cat Rambo in April, including: "First Novel Draft Blues," "Moving From Idea to Finished Draft," "Intro To Game Writing," (with Monica Valentinelli) and "So You Want To Put Together an Anthology" (with Catherine Lundoff).

Some things I learned:

  • don't forget to take the time to think about the things you love in your manuscript! It's easy to get hung up on what needs to be done and forget to appreciate the bits you kicked arse on.
  • don't be afraid to do "meta writing" to figure out what's going on in your piece.
  • the things that bring you joy in your manuscript should be your guides for your re-write.
  • it's acceptable to do an outline after your first draft is done.
  • pan for gold in your manuscript!
  • keep a time-line.
  • always look for the emotional core of your piece.
  • consider the economics of your world.

Soup

Last night I made a great soup. It's a lentil, cumin, coriander and lemon soup, and it came from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, by Edward Espe Brown. Honestly, if you were leaning towards getting a cookbook in the near future, I would recommend this one. They also do a great bread book. Tassajara is a Zen Buddhist retreat in California, so everything is vegetarian, and there are a lot of ruminations in here on taking care and being intentional with your cooking. I love it.

Anyhow, here's the recipe:

Lentil Soup with Cumin, Coriander, and Lemon

  • 1 cup lentils (I used puy)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • onion, diced
  • 2 T olive oil (optional)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 t cumin seed (freshly ground)
  • 2 t coriander seed (freshly ground)
  • peel of 1/2 a lemon, minced
  • salt (optional)
  • parsley, for garnish

Put lentils and water in a pot, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, until soft. (Brown recommends tasting everything at each stage, so you get a good feel for how everything works together.)

Saute onion in the oil for a few minutes until translucent, then add garlic and celery. Cook for a few minutes, then add a little water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender. Add all of this to the cooked lentils, along with the cumin, coriander, and lemon peel. Add salt as needed!


Blog posts

Only one post last month:

April 27, 2022 - Altered Metaphors -some fun messing about with language. Really recommended! (The technique, I mean, though of course you'll have to read the post to see what I'm going on about.)


Art with the sprog

The sproglet and I have been doing a lot of art at home. Some of our favourite things to do are line drawings, with the caveat that you must do it with your eyes closed, and the pen can't lift from the paper!

Here's my favourite:

It's a great way to get out of your own way, and reminds me a little bit of Nicholson Baker's Box of Matches where the narrator (and presumably Baker, too) wrote his book sitting in the living room, very early in the morning, in the dark.

The other thing we love is Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal:

Our journals have been ripped, smeared with dodgy substances, thrown off the balcony, thrown on the roof, defaced, taped-up, stapled, and even written in. Again, it's great for freeing yourself up if you don't consider yourself particularly visually-artistic (cough).


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Until next time,

Jess