For The Promptless – DIY: So, you made that yourself?

DIY

This will have to be a quickie since I have to finish my coffee — which I didn’t make myself, it being a task my kind husband has taken over — and get to a doctor by 9 am and it’s already 7:30. I really should stop reading until 3 in the morning. It’s ruining my early morning cheery face.

Back when the world and  I were young, I thought I should make my own clothing. My mother had made all my clothing when I was a child. She continued to make almost all her own stuff. Now that I was an adult with a full-time job and a toddler, she would occasionally — if I begged and pleaded — make something for me. Things I wanted but couldn’t find in the store, or afford even if I found them.

I yearned to go back to the days when she made my clothing. I hadn’t begun to appreciate the gorgeous outfits she created, how beautifully they fitted and how special they were. Then all I had wanted was to look like everyone else. Kids are dumb that way. I was as dumb as everyone. Maybe dumber.

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I figured “how hard can it be?” I got a second-hand sewing machine, bought a few patterns, even took a class in sewing. Acquired some fabric, zippers, buttons, threads and all the little widgety doodads that sewing requires — there were a lot more than I imagined possible — and made myself some spiffy new outfits. I was thrilled at how much clothing I could make for a pittance … especially compared to buying it at Macy’s.

People stared at my clothing. Admiration, I thought. They must be impressed. I was right.

Long pause. “You made that yourself, did you?”

“How did you know?”

“Just a lucky guess.”

It turns out that you have to set both sleeves the same way so one isn’t puffy while the other flat. Then there’s pattern matching. Oh, and buttons. They are supposed to line up. Zippers are not supposed to stick out and be all bunchy and also, they are supposed to close so that both parts of the closure are level when zipped. Details, details. And about those hems? One length all around. And those pesky collars. I hated collars. Even is the word in making clothing. Both sides should be pretty much the same, unless you are oddly shaped or are making a costume for a party and want to look weird.

I took a second course in tailoring, but that didn’t go nearly as well as sewing had. You had to use padding and stuff that makes fabric stiffer to hold its shape and I was never patient enough to get it right.

I quietly gave up making my own clothing and returned to holding my little plastic card and yelling “CHARGE!” as I went into the mall. The sewing machine grew dusty. It is still gathering dust in my dining room lo these many long years later. It’s all closed now. But not wasted. It’s a lovely spare table on which to display dolls. I collect dolls. And no, I do not make their clothing.

I do many things myself. I get up and out of bed by myself. Every day, nearly, except once in a while when I need a little help. I wash dishes. I write, edit, take pictures, process photos. I pass out treats to dogs, lend money to my granddaughter. Manage the family’s so-to-speak finances.

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Take more pictures. Water plants. Maintain this blog.

That’s pretty good, isn’t it? All by myself I mean?

Oh, and I fix the computers, install software and if you need anyone to explain how to use it? I’m your gal. Does anyone need an older, but barely used sewing machine?

Blurbs

The other day I had to write a couple of blurbs. It was a job – as in paying. Really. Try not to fall out of your chair. (No blog readers were harmed in the writing of this post.)

Along the twisting path of my professional life, my first big (read: good) job was as a promotional writer for Doubleday. I was editor for two book clubs, the Doubleday Romance Library and The American Garden Guild. It was a job so wonderful I never fully recovered. Aside from the perks — 2-hour lunches, unlimited sick days and all the books you could eat — my colleagues were intelligent, funny, literate and one of them is my best friend.

The work was fun too. It hardly seemed like work. I never stopped being amazed someone would pay me to do something I enjoyed so much. I got paid to read books on company time. Imagine getting paid to read best-sellers. Mind boggling, isn’t it?

After reading them, I would write them up for various book clubs like Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild for which everyone wrote because they were the biggest clubs and had the most mailings and promotions. All told, we were 13 writers and 15 graphic artists, plus a few editors. I was a writer (big surprise).

Each writer had his or her club or clubs for which we did the mailings, promotions, flyers, blurbs, book flaps … whatever. It was advertising, sort of, but not exactly. Promotions are closely related to advertising, but not quite the same though there’s an overlap.

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The thing is, we lived and died by the blurb. Book flaps (the fold over pieces of a book jacket) are long blurbs. Promotional mailers can be long or short or downright tiny. One way or the other, you had to fit a lot of stuff in a very small space because how many characters you could use (no not words, characters … including punctuation and spaces) was determined by the layout. Which was designed by the graphic artist … not known for flexibility.

Sometimes you could negotiate a little with an artist (always be very nice to the artists … they control your space) if you absolutely couldn’t work in the allotted space. Usually there wasn’t much room for negotiations. If you had 1000 characters, you might be able to stretch it to 1050, but 50 characters isn’t much flexibility. So you learned to write to whatever space you were given. Or got a job doing something else.

Everything counts when have a 100-word blur. You can’t explain. You imply. Suggest. You can’t use sentences. You write words. Exclamations. You can’t tell a story yet you have to give at least a general outline of what the book’s about.

It’s interesting reducing the complex plot of a 500 page book to 100 words. That’s what I did. I hadn’t done it since the mid 1970s, so I wasn’t sure I still knew how, but it turns out it’s like riding a bike but you don’t break anything if you fall off.

I did it. Pretty well. One blurb, 250 words. Exactly. Second blurb. 100 words. Precisely.

One complete sentence. The rest? Murder! Chaos! Poison! Kidnapping! Secrets! Thrilling adventure from the author of …

If you are a writer and think this is easy, try describing your favorite book in 100 words. Exactly. Then tell me it’s easy. If you have to write it for your own book? No writer should have to do blurbs for his or her own book. It’s cruel and unusual punishment. Like someone asking you to describe your leg. I always went blank when asked. My book was like a body part. I couldn’t separate myself from it sufficiently to say anything intelligent. I still can’t and it’s 6 years later.

It took me almost a year to remember how to write whole sentences after I left Doubleday. I wish I could go back. Those really, truly, absolutely were the good old days.

Daily Prompt: Heated By Fire

Heated. Within the glow of a fire all gather. Night. In the teepee, it’s so warm from the fire. Despite snow falling outside, the flaps are wide open or the teepee becomes too hot for comfort.

Conversation is cool. The fire is hot enough for everyone. In fact, conversation is languid, soft, gentle and sleepy. It’s so warm and the snow keeps falling.

Hot Rod Cowgirl Ropes In An Award!

From a blogger I love and admire, an award to be proud of. I am grateful, honored, and touched.

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Hot Rod Cowgirl ropes in an award!

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I am always so very humbled when fellow bloggers and readers, photographers and writers, present HRCG with an award. When I began doing my blog I had no idea that we would be given awards by our peers…the best part is that I also get to pass them on to other well deserving bloggers too!

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The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award Was Given To Me By

http://chasingtheperfectmoment.com/awards/

 Go check out Ginny’s wonderful life-giving blog…she writes with honesty and her true self as she seeks to encourage any who read her blog about life and memories. She loves to laugh and shares her life through her words and the different pieces of her life…and she hopes we will share our life pieces too:)

Telling our story, our history and life, can bring us a sense of peace down deep in our souls. Being…

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