New Year, New Me (Because We’re All Done with 2020)

So, I think we can all agree that 2020 should go. Like, it’s done. We get it. It’s struggling, it’s not up for the job. It’s like a hungry, thirsty, and lactose intolerant toddler that had a bottle of milk, went through five diapers, one of which leaked – and it’s just DONE. I think it needs some water and a nap. And we need year not-2020.

So my not-2020 is going to start July 2, when – after an introvert version of Canada Day celebration, which I assume in my family’s case will mean a scooter + 2 bikes ride, a gluten-free pizza (still working on developing that one family cauliflower crust recipe, at the moment it’s a bit meh), and maybe a LotR or The Hobbit marathon – I’m going back to work. Which means, among other things… ROUTINE.

I love routine. Routine and me are pals. I’m going to make a YouTube video on my lifestyle/routine. It’s not much of a ‘style’ to be honest, I’m no guru or influencer or whatnot, but I thought I’d share. (I was watching a Mel Robbins video – I’ll deliberate below on why I was watching it in a second – and she said, ‘There’s someone in the world who NEEDS to hear what you have to say.’ So I thought I’d tell you about my morning pages practice and my love for ACV. You can always ignore it, right?)

You’d think there would’ve been tons of routine during the quarantine – but in honesty, it felt like being on a motor boat on a rapid river in windy weather. And so you know, I start ‘feeding the fish’ on any floating vehicle before they start the engine or pick up a paddle. It was a blur of going for three hour walks to distract an anxious child from the panic ringing in his teacher’s voice, baking three trays of cookies in a day, sublimating the rage and the fear by weeding the yard (poor, poor thistles), and all sorts of funny behaviours, which I (and my son) will later address in therapy.

And then it all suddenly settled in my mind, about two weeks ago, on a sunny afternoon, nothing special about it. Like that glitter that you can see in a snow globe that goes down and suddenly it’s… calm. That’s how it felt in my mind: silent, but not empty, and sparkly, and festive. Was that acceptance? I don’t know. Hopefully. Maybe the Yale course on well-being I took for free on Coursera kicked in; maybe it’s yoga; but she surely ain’t born with it, I can tell you that.

Some time ago a friend of mine started on her own decluttering journey. Mine started March 2019. She messaged me and asked what’s going to happen next, now that she’d deleted almost all of her pages and was ‘attacking’ her wardrobe or a book shelf or something. And I told her that soon she’d experience… The Void. I’ve been there. The (creative or otherwise) Void when you don’t know what you want to do, where to go, and whether there’s even a point. I told her all you can do is sit in The Void – and LISTEN. And you’ll feel restless, and you’ll try to force yourself and The Void to give you some answers, and you’ll try to fall back onto the old patterns of creativity (and life in general.) It’s like after you Marie Kondo your house, and create this minimalist + a tad of hygge + mindful decor, one day you pass through a shop and for no reason pick up a candle. And then you come home and stare at it in your bag and realise that was the Katya from before March 2019 who bought that candle. Because Katya of (not)2020 doesn’t need it. She doesn’t even want it. It’s orange! I have nothing orange in the house. Everything is navy blue, and pink; and my clothes are, plus a bit of olive grey. And then I thought that I could possibly fit the orange candle in my teal dining room, near the orange portrait of my cat that I painted… but why would I? And then I went back and returned it, and had to go through the annoying process of ‘filing the refund’ into my budget app on my phone (highly recommend the Spendee one, in my experience it’s the best in preventing disagreements with a spouse… in my experience.)

And that story I tried to force myself to write in the middle of Winter – just to FEEL something, just to reassure myself I’m creative, and trying to artificially create that buzz that runs my veins when I write – that story is basically an orange candle. If you’re anything like me, and not necessarily in terms of writing, you admit your fault, and you understand you ‘spoke too soon,’ and The Void wasn’t done – and you sit back and continue listening, while still decluttering here and there, because it’s a practice, not a project.

And then The Void whispers. Maybe it just reminds you of that one thing you’re good at. Or maybe it tells you a story, if you listen attentively. And then, if you accept the Unknown and go with it and breathe through it – and with it – something takes shape.

And that’s when you start setting goals. But they have to be SMART goals (and it’s an abbreviation, not an emphasis I go for, here.) Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Time Bound. Here, you start reading self-help books again, but this time you do it mindfully because you’ve decluttered your mind, why would you put unnecessary info in it?

And then you start looking around, and organising your life – and if you’re Katya Kolmakov, you understand that what you do best is writing light, happy webserials for Wattpad. And that’s what that someone in the world who needed to hear what you have to say is here to read and hopefully enjoy and maybe crack a smile. And that you’re ready to set those 3 month goals Brian P. Moran speaks about (another of self-help gurus, whose book you can read if it’s something relevant to what you’re working on right now – but only if you ARE working on something like that. Or not. You can read whatever you want.) And in my case, those goals are:

~ Update. Update regularly. Write and/or edit every day. Find an hour for it in your day. (Or 30 min.) Let your kid play PvZ and go check that chapter for spelling mistakes.

~ Work towards hopefully turning one of those stories on Wattpad into a paid one. They’re popular. Wattpad can pick it up, promote it, and you get that CAD 2K a month you’re visualizing every morning. Does visualization work? Hell if I know. Does it feel good visualizing a juicy 2K in my bank account sitting on top of my measly salary? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s bitter sweet, but I’ll give it a go.

~ Publish the next Kindle book. This one will be fun. I decided I’ll let my readers decide what it’s going to be. I think I’ll make a poll on my Author Facebook page. I want to see how much activity it’ll generate. If there’s no one there besides the five people left from the good old fanfiction times, I’ll adjust and find a new channel. I’m flexible. I have the head room, as David Allen puts it.

Actually, does visualisation work? Does a ‘weekly reset?’ How about ‘implementation intention?’ ‘5 Second Rule?’ 80/20 rule? I don’t know. But I’ll give them a go. It’s a new year, new me after all. Cue the pretty pink graphic I created.

One of the personal development gurus suggested creating an inspiration board (you can see mine on my Instagram) and also making a bespoke desktop image for your computer to inspire you every time you turn your laptop on. I used the images from my desktop in this image: it’s all about writing, and selling one’s books, and hygge, and the lack of anxiety, and BALANCE. Let’s see how this goes. Let’s see if I’ll manage to go back to my 5 a.m. morning routine (I used to be able to do it before the pandemic, but it wasn’t ‘the new me’ then and I wasn’t productive. I mostly scrolled through social media, but I’ve reduced it to 2 rounds of allocated social media times a day now, so maybe I’ll manage to squeeze something better in my time between a shower and a cup of joe.) I’ve been spoilt rotten and sleeping till 8 in the last 9 weeks. Even my cats have switched to a late rise. So, I wouldn’t hope for too much. But I’ll try.

I think, I’m out of The Void (don’t know if it’s related to Stage 3 of re-opening after the pandemic, but if it’s not, it’s a heck of a coincidence) – and I’m starting to want things. Not tangible things, because I haven’t gotten off my high horse of the Kondo philosophy and mindfulness and (sadly necessarily) tight budgeting. I want readers. I want a readership. I want to be paid a bit for my writing, but I’m going to be healthy about it. I’ll set goals, and work towards them, and I’ll learnt on my failures. I didn’t say it right. I don’t want things. I want EXPERIENCES. I want to see people comment, and laugh at my stories, and worry for the protagonists, and feel relieved when it’s finally their HEA time. And I want to enjoy the time I spend on my computer, with my pink desktop background, in my pink shirt (it’s almost always pink. It’s pink right now.) I want to record YouTube videos and not say anything too important in them. I want to connect.

Hope you do too, because there will be videos and polls. And new stories. Nothing heavy, just something… pink. Hope you stick around! If it’s your cup of Earl grey, of course.

Love you all. I truly do.

Katya xx

Take My Art for Free!

I’ve had the draft for this post sitting in my laptop for a few weeks now. I was going to tell you, my readers, about how I was reading Designing Your Life book, and how I was working on my mindset when it comes to my writing and my art. Meanwhile, I haven’t been doing any actual writing and painting/drawing because I’ve been in some sort of limbo – yet again. I think through my self-work I’d finally – but obviously only partially – freed myself of my perfectionism, and the anxiety that I self-induce by setting schedules and deadlines, and the GUILT when I can’t follow them. And I think I finally started feeling that I don’t HAVE to write and paint, and I’m allowed to just flop on the couch after 8 hours of exhausting work and watch my favourite Brokenwood, also because I’ll have to get up after one episode, and do dishes by hand because we don’t have a dishwasher, and cook dinner, and play with the kid, and feed the cats, and pack lunches for tomorrow, etc. etc. It might sound obvious – but it hasn’t been obvious to my internal critic.

And each evening, when I was doing my chores and NOT doing my art, I kept thinking Is this it? Is this the end of the kkolmakov era? *insert self-deprecating laughter* I’d obviously still doodle and write something, but there was just some sort of emptiness. And don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t frustrated, or sad, or worried. I was actually enjoying the unknown. I feel that some people – meaning, ME – are too much of control freaks. The Great Unknown is beautiful. More than anything, I was curious about where it was all going.

And then the pandemic happened, and I started feeling even less like writing and painting. People have other things to worry about, I said to myself.

And then I woke up this morning and realised (I know, I know, but I needed to internalise it, OK? 😀 ) that A. someone might still want to read my silly stuff and look at my doodles. (Thank you, Laura, for your kind comment! I’m constantly thinking about it! <3)

And B. THAT IS WHAT I WANT FROM MY CREATIVITY. I want people to SEE it.

I don’t want to earn money by selling my books. I don’t want to quit my day job. I don’t want to even publish them on Kindle. I don’t want to become an illustrator. I don’t want to sell my art on Etsy. Shipping acrylic paintings has too much carbon footprint. I’ll just email my drawings to people if they want them.

So, I’ll just write, and doodle, and post Blind Carnival on my Wattpad. Remember that one? I bet some of you do. John the Architect? Olivia Dane and her sex experiments? I actually hired a person to proofread it, and I was going to put it on Kindle, and I was thinking it might become a ‘financial success’ *insert another giggle* because it was so popular on the three previous platforms I published it on. And then I thought I’d just post it and people would read it and someone might feel a bit better because of it. Which is literally all I want from my art. I want it to make people feel a bit better. I’m not expecting much. It’s not cocaine after all.

Love you all, my darlings.

Stay safe. Wash your hands.

K. xx

The Season of Self-Help (Books)

Two things should be said from the start.

Firstly, I can’t say I’ve arrived at any sort of an Answer to any of my questions about life, universe, and everything. But I feel that I’ve done my research, which means I can stop devouring the self-help books crowding my shelves and my Kindle – and I can start the Work. As in everyday practice of meditation, and being present, and being grateful (pretty much EVERY book I’ve read tells you to do so.)But first, let’s look at the second thing.

The second caveat is that ‘season’ is quite a loose term here. It’s been quite more than a season. I’d say it all started in March with my usual restlessness (I’m tempted to capitalise this word. It’s such a prevailing emotion in my life, the old mate Restlessness of mine; and it has so many facets that it’s almost a character I could put in a book). And then I saw the Marie Kondo series on Netflix… and I thought that perhaps it’s not Restlessness. Maybe, I was just Cluttered.

It took me 21 days. I donated 29 oversized garbage bags of clothes, 14 boxes of what Maries calls ‘komono’ (my collection of mugs; books; knickknacks; sofa cushions; pens, pencils, and whatnot); de-cluttered every single shelf in my house, and reorganised my art.

Behold my sock drawer and my tea/dish shelf!

And then I drew my first acrylic painting. A doughnut of all things. ‘Hm,’ I thought. ‘Interesting.’

‘Maybe there is something to this whole ‘”free space in your life and mind” thing,” I thought, “and maybe inspiration will flow, and your muse/daemon Elizabeth Gilbert style will sing to you and play a lyre and you will write your masterpiece.’ I think I should remark here that I still practice with Headspace (almost) every day as I’ve mentioned in my previous post. So, there’s a bit of space in the good old noggin of mine. Acrylics were a surprise, though.

The high lasted for about a month, and then my Restlessness was back. And that’s when the first batch of self-help books travelled from McNally and Robinson Booksellers to my bedroom.

And then some more came.

And let’s not forget the Kindle ones on my phone. I do spend a lot of time riding a bus.

So, now that the books have been read, notes have been taken, charts and graphs drawn, and the schedule 7 Habit of Highly Effective People style is made every Sunday…

By the way, I can’t recommend the 7 Habits book enough. It answered about 76.5% of my questions about the topics less encompassing than the aforementioned life, universe, and everything – at least the ones I could form to ask. It has little to do with effectiveness as it’s understood at work in terms of productivity and salary – and has everything to do with being a decent human being.

For me, the main point of the book (and all of them are worthy of exploration, in my humble opinion) is prioritization. I am definitely a person who has trouble choosing my battles. That’s why in the last five years I have started and abandoned a couple dozens stories, have tried my hand in pretty much every art medium, and have at some point considering learning punch needling, photography, and maybe professional gel manicure. But even The Renaissance Soul book (see above in the Kindle list) who defends the scattered and the ever-distracted like me insists on choosing several projects to concentrate on. Not all of them. Because we’re human and there are only 24 hours in a day. And I do work full time in a room with 8 babies under 18 months. And I have a kid. And I have to cook for three people with radically different diets (one is vegetarian, one is lactose and gluten intolerant, and one is a picky eater North American style, i.e. a pizza and hot dog lover).

The 7 Habits book tells you to schedule your week, not your day; and it tells you to base your schedule on the roles you play in your life. For me that would be:

  • a mom (Recently, Gregory and I started to do one art project a week. I, as usual, took it too seriously. I bought books and did my research on Pinterest because, you know, you have to ‘develop your child’ and so on… and then I chilled the F off. Last week we baked chocolate lava cakes in a mug in our microwave, splattered sticky batter everywhere, ate literally ad nauseam (it might have something to do with the amount of whipped cream on top of those mugs), and I have to tell it was much more rewarding than making a rocket out of recycled boxes, Karen.)
  • a person with a job (I think I will write about my struggles of being paid 12 CAD an hour in my next blog post. I am planning to blog regularly these days. It helps me stay sane. It reminds me of the ‘morning pages’ from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Bible for the artists (which is literally everybody, if you believe Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is almost like the Bible to me), The Artist’s Way suggests you de-clutter your mind every morning by writing at least three pages by hand. I think, slightly editing and organizing my thoughts and sharing them on my blog might be also beneficial for my artist’s mind – and might be marginally interesting to read to some people. After all, people do go to circus to watch clowns and monkeys, which is what my mind’s inner workings remind me of.)
  • a writer (All hail Liz Gilbert and Pam Grout and Julia Cameron and half a dozen other writers, including Stephen King whose On Writing I borrowed from the library, and who let me know it’s OK to stand up and say: I am a writer. They say to say it loud and proud (I might have squeaked it out, but baby steps, my friends, baby steps…) and remember, the only thing that makes one a writer is the fact that you write. So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m writing. I sit down, say a short prayer to my daemon, and then I work my a** off. )*

*Alright, this needs a caveat of its own. I only started sitting down and working my a** off last week. I updated my ongoing fanfiction story and I posted a new chapter of my cosy mystery on Wattpad. And I cleaned up my blog and my FB pages. And I went back to editing Blind Carnival. And recorded a Youtube video. So yes, the a** has been definitely worked off, but that’s just week one. Let’s see how long I’ll last.

And yet. Something has shifted. I feel it in the air. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air… Oops, that’s LotR. Nevermind.

I think what has changed is the End. As in the 7 Habits‘ Habit 2: ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ What do I want from my writing in the end? I want to enjoy the process. I want to write and feel light, and mad, and tired, and inspired, and sometimes stuck and frustrated, and rewarded, and recognised, and… me. I want to be Katya Kolmakov, a writer. I don’t expect much income from my writing, but I want to sell my books so people can read them. I want to talk to people about my writing, so I’ll be recording videos and answering to comments under them and I’ll be writing webserials on Wattpad and answering to comments there – so keep them coming!

Also, I want to blog/YouTube. I want to talk about what it’s like out here in the savannah of the writing life, and maybe someone will want to hear about it.

Martha Beck in her Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (a super new-agey book, but I think I might have read it at the right moment, so I managed to tolerate the preachy tone and actually got through it, and found it oddly inspiring) proposes that hackneyed mental exercise of imagining what you’d do if you had no limitations. And so does Latte Factor. And pretty much every person who writes a book to teach you how to live your life. And one of them (don’t ask me which one, there have been too many) asks what you’d do if you had 36 million dollars (oddly specific much?) I think I’d just write all day. And paint and draw, just for fun and because when I have a brush or an ink pen in my hand I experience flow.

The other day I found a weird marking on my skin under my right breast. I promise, I’ll have it looked at next week. But my first thought was that if it’s something serious, I’ll quit my job and I’ll be writing between my hospital visits.

This does tell you something about my priorities.

OK, that’s it for now, folks. I’ll go cook for the week. Talk to you very soon.

Oh, and here’s my first YouTube video. It’s hardly good but I have no regrets.

Show Up and Write… or Not?

As I lie in bed sick as the proverbial dog (just a nasty flu, nothing that scary… but that’s the price of working with twenty-four three-year olds) I’m reading Art & Soul Reloaded, which tells me to get up, show up, and let the Muses channel it through me (‘it’ being art, spirituality, and the cheesy romance stuff that I’ve been writing for, Goddess forgive me, four years now)… and will I?

As some of you might have noticed – some of you being the three people who actually read all my stuff semi-religiously (looking at you, J., O., and G.) just because these three wonderful people are kind, and we – used to (see below) – fancy the same fictional hunk – I haven’t been exactly ‘channeling it’ since December. And before it… well, the trickle of creativity had been, put frankly, feeble. Why? Who knows. (And sadly, no, I don’t mean a hot Scottish Doctor, or even an adorable fluffy thing from Dr. Seuss). That ‘who’ who knows why Katya has been off radar – is Katya herself.

And the answer the Katya would give if asked is… ‘I just didn’t feel it.’ Or, more precisely, ‘I’m just not feeling it.‘ Whatever the ‘it’ is – and I can most un-modestly say that three years ago when receiving a passionate compliment for my smut writing (*sarcaaaaaaaasm* what an accomplishment!) I did say ‘I’m not writing it! It just flows! I just write it down!’

I’ve been working an inconvenient shift recently; it ends at 5.15 and then I bus for 20 min to pick up my son at daycare; and then we bus home; and I feed him dinner; and I need to cook and pack lunches… and then he goes to bed and I could probably sit down and try to feel it. Or alternatively, I could wake up (because I once again fell asleep at my desk (having ‘produced’ nothing by the way)) and go to bed. That is an excuse. Pam Grout tells you to stuff them up your creative arse (and according to Pam every arse is creative) and create. I’ll see what excuse I’ll come up with when my schedule changes (I’ll explain later. Like, couple paragraphs later.)

November 28th I started my formal Headspace practice. I suggest anyone who reads this (which is stupid since the three people reading it have already had a personal conversation with me on this topic) to give it a go. And all I mean is to poke the free app or watch a video on YouTube. For me, Headspace is a miracle. It has worked miracles. It is… just wow. And it’s that sort of mundane miracle, the sort that, when it happens, you go, ‘Why the frack didn’t I do that before?’ It’s that simple. And that miraculous.

G. (reader turn a very, very dear personal friend) asked me a couple weeks ago (in yet another message that I write an answer to every day in my head, but haven’t actually written an answer to… yet) how it feels to create in this new grounded state of mine. And I do believe I’m somewhat marginally a tad more grounded than before. I contacted the centre that had offered me a job at the same time as the one I’m working at right now (and it really isn’t working for me here) and they still want me, and the shift there will be 7.30 to 3.30, and hopefully I’ll be less drained and stressed out (by the work itself, not by the lack of writing (see below the hunk discussion)). That came from meditating with Headspace. So has better sleep, less emotional spikes, better eating habits… and watercolours. Yes, watercolours. I’m painting again. Every free second… quoting Eddie Izzard, ‘of which there are five.’ And I’m loving it.

But I’m not writing. For the first time in many, many years there is no narration in my head. No nagging feeling of ‘I should be writing.’ The idea of an incomplete story (or a couple dozen of them, on three sites) doesn’t bother me. I’m just not. Writing that is. And again, I don’t mean the act of writing (fingers clicking buttons) – there’s no low humming of text in my head; no characters talking to me and each other; no flutter in my chest (cliché alert!). When I look at the pictures of the aforementioned fictional hunk inspired by a certain British actor (this is the ‘first below’ mentioned above)… nothing. Nada. I see an attractive man. I hear no fandom call; my lady parts aren’t excited. (The lady parts are doing great by the way, also thanks to Headspace. But that’s probably a conversation for a different day.)

And if meditation has taught me anything at this stage (‘if’ being the key word. Or maybe ‘mediation’ or ‘stage’ are the key words here. I don’t know. Don’t ask me, I’m just here for a ride) it taught me to ‘take it as it is.’ And what it is… I don’t know. What is it? Is it a writer’s block? But I’m not blocked. I’m just floating on a cloud of content observing minutes and hours and days without writing go by. Is it a creative crisis? But I’m not suffering. If you ain’t suffering I feel like it can’t be qualified as a real crisis. (Nor the British kind of crisis either. But close, very close by the way. Nothing beats a calmer mind, let me tell you that. For me personally, that is. Your jam is your own.)

Headspace mediations warn you against creating narratives and getting stuck on them, so I’m just going to say the following:

  1. I paused my Patreon account because I’m not making any stuff (a term from Art & Soul book, I really do prefer it over ‘creating art’).
  2. I’ll continue painting, so Jane and Rochester for G. and a terrarium for J. are coming; and then we’ll see.
  3. I’m going to write more on this blog. This sounded pathetic. Ha. How’s that: ‘I’ll be documenting my creative journey on my blog because Art & Soul book told me to as one of my weekly assignments.’ And I am, as I was once told by my daycare supervisor (I’m still bitter about it. I’ll go meditate on it) ‘an obedient person.’
  4. I’m still planning to publish something in March as part of my Wren+Raven Publishing thing. Maybe Official Town Business will go to Amazon Kindle, since it’s complete and peeps on Wattpad are digging it. (I have managed to write a looooooooot of stuff in the last four years, haven’t I? So potentially I can continue publishing even if I don’t write for quite a while. There are those five books of Dr. T Series, and so on… But do I want to?)
  5. I’m going to listen to what Art & Soul tells me (or more like ‘yells to.’ Have you noticed how some books are loud? That’s another thing that meditation has changed for me. I think I listen better now. I hear better. But as a side effect, life and many little and not so little things in it became so loud.) and I’m going to get my arse off a chair and make stuff. I’m going to get up, show up, and make stuff. I’ll keep you posted.

Literally. (I do love this word. Sue me. People are allowed to love things that aren’t universally considered loveable.) So, I’ll literally post about how it went. The whole getting up, and showing up… Now I’m rambling, I should shut up.

See you.

Cheers xx

K.

P. S. Art & Soul says to ask Muses to channel their it though you. As in actually ask. To offer the Universe a prayer before you start to work your creative arse off, because that’s the only way to create. You sit down and do the work. Mid chapter 2 of Art & Soul or something of the sort I had a thought that maybe there’s something to the whole ‘asking the Ether for the gift of channeling the it thing’… and a few pages later it did. This fell out from between the pages. I mean, hello! Speaking of a speaking universe.

 

Back on My Feet!

My lovelies,

It’s been a rough couple months (I shan’t bore you with the description of my job and health struggles), but kkolmakov is back on her feet! And presenting Wren+Raven!

It’s become evident to me some time ago that – at least for now – it doesn’t seem that I’m going to be writing and drawing anything other than Wren and John in all their many disguises!

Remember how it all started?

Yeah, kinda like that 😀

And now you can find some ongoing webserials on my Wattpad and two new books on Kindle! In the next few days I’m also planning to post more of my drawings on my DeviantArt (I’ve been neglecting the art side of my creativity, but I’m hoping to rectify it.)

If you want to keep track on my (hopefully recovering) creativity, here’s the link to my freshly created newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dH2XSj  Through it, I’ll be keeping in touch with my readers regarding the Amazon publishing schedule and any other news. Please, sign up!

And finally, my Patreon is up and running again – with plenty of new goodies! Have a peek and consider supporting yours truly!

Alright, gotta dash! Thorin and Wren in Light Room are waiting for me 😉

Love you!

K.

 

 

The New Book and Other Pleasantries

Hello!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, my lovelies? Life has been truly hectic, but fun; but if you stuck by, and are still here, here’s what’s happening in kkolmakovland 😀

  1. Hammer Up! is out!

I know, right? Shocking! Somehow amidst the new job; and the online childcare courses I’m taking; and the Comic-Con I had a table at; and the everyday life that shouldn’t be abandoned (Stop glaring at me, Laundry Pile! I’ll get to you, when I get to you!)… I released the second book!

It’s available here on Amazon… or alternatively, if you trust me (I swear you can, but you’d have to take my word for it 😛 ) you can send $25 to my PayPal and get a SIGNED copy into your mailbox. Just don’t forget to send the address where Hammer Up! should be shipped. You can contact me through my Writer’s Facebook page.

If you contributed into the Kickstarter campaign for Hammer Up! (it’s sad it didn’t work out, but it was loads of fun to try!) you know that there’s a print.

If you want it, it’s yours with the book for additional $5.

Those of you who already sent some funds that way, your books and prints will be sent out next week!

2. My new job is AWESOME! I’m now working in a childcare centre in a room with 16 three- to five-year olds – and it’s the best I’ve ever felt at work! Who knew after years of uni teaching; interpreting; translating; working in a bakery; and tutoring, that I belong in childcare?!

And the best part is that the schedule – early rise, and done at 5 p.m. – is quite perfect for writing, and drawing, and still being a good mum!

I will of course have to cut down some of my projects. Let’s face it, when I just started I had quite unrealistic expectations; but most of my stuff will stay. Here’s what’s happening:

A. Wattpad: several webserials are ongoing – and going strong! You can see the update schedule on the left of my Wattpad page. Jack in the Box is almost complete; and I’m still pondering which of the hundred ideas swarming in my head will take it’s Thursday slot 😀 Let me know if you have a favourite among those I mentioned before.

B. Art-ing is happening, and will go to DeviantArt, and Etsy, and you can see it on my Instagram.

C. I’m still planning to write some FF. The Four Corners of Middle Earth is the story I want to continue writing; and perhaps some others will get some attention 😉

Also, I’m planning to watch Thor: Ragnarok next week, and we all know what large amounts of Loki do to me 😉

D. I’m planning to revamp my Patreon page in the next few days, so feel free to support me 😉

E. My next big project is turning Blind Carnival (remember this one? she writes erotic novels; he’s boring in bed? 😀 ) into… a book? a webserial on Wattpad? something completely new? I don’t know, but let me know if you do!

That’s all, folks!

I’ll go write a new chapter for Second Time Around. Hogwarts Thorin and Wren need me! 😀

Here’s a photo of me from the Comic-Con if you missed it 😀

 

What Happened, and What’s Next

Hello, my darlings!

So, here’s the story of what happened to me last week, and what ‘our’ plan is – as in yours, as my readers and ‘art’ appreciators; and mine, as the author.

A while ago I’ve starting thinking that perhaps a job/career in childcare is something I should consider. I’ve always been good with children. There’s a popular anecdote in my family (me not included for embarrassment reasons clearly) of the 13-year old me calming down a tantrumy three year old on train, and the said tantrumy kid falling asleep for three hours on my lap, which he ‘never never did’ according to his exhausted mum. I do remember the kid, mind you – but being called ‘sophomoric’ for years wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

There is another reason why I considered such career. My partner works shifts, and I need a job with regular afternoon hours so I can pick up my son etc. etc. There aren’t that many options for me here, let’s face it.

So, armed with the above reasons, and feeling I was a patient and well-rested person (after a year of writing and drawing, supported by the government Employment Insurance payments) I ventured into a job search.

I won’t bore you with details, but I’ll tell you that I got an interview on the very second day of my quest, right after I applied for a handful of jobs.

I was offered a sub CCA (childcare assistant) position in a daycare facility. I knew from the start that they were obviously desperate. It’s quite a sketchy area, I said to myself. Probably no one wants to bus there every day. It’ll be OK, I said to myself. I’ll get experience, since I have none; I’ll look around and find the best way to acquire the Early Childhood Educator certificate, required for a better job and salary, I said to myself.

The plan was good. The first day – not so much. Needles on the playgrounds, children with parents with restraining orders; social services dropping in, being spat on and kicked.

And then on the second day, my boss came up to me in the morning and said, “I need to talk to you.”

Oh-uh, I thought. I’m going to be kicked out, after one day, I thought.

I wasn’t. I was offered a position of an Inclusion Worker, subsidized by the government, to work with children with challenging behaviour. More hours, substantially more money. And yes, you guessed – substantially more stress.

The children are… wonderful. And scary. And complicated. And lovely. They are human beings, and I think they all latched on me the very first day, because I treated them as such. But it also feels like I’m in a wolf pack, and every minutes has to be spent on proving I’m the alpha there. Being a petite empathic female with an accent doesn’t help much.

So, now to the question of writing/drawing.

It’s hard to predict how (or whether at all, unlike the very first week) I’m going to be functioning once I leave work five days a week, but it’s abundantly clear that only my most interesting projects will survive the purge that’s coming.

Here are my thoughts on what stays:

  1. Wattpad will be the platform I’ll be posting my writing on. If you still want to read my stuff, and crave more of modern Thorin and Wren, here are your options:

Official Town Business (updated on Mondays), cheery cozy mystery/romance/humour – stays because Oakby is this wonderfully unaware version of Thorin/John; and I love Mops to bits;

Jack in the Box (updated on Thursdays), psychological drama/romance/erotica – stays because Jack is more Lucas North than Thorin; Gemma is an ultimate INFJ. The story is close to completion; and once it’s done I’m planning to write another webserial on Thursday, of the same mature dramatic nature. She’s a DCI, he’s invited to consult on the case. He’s more than ten years her younger. I’ve had a similar set up in my head for a different story, but with a prof and a student – but it felt too unethical to me, especially considering my teaching experience;

After the Fall (updated on Wednesday), a romcom cowritten with Virginia McCain, will stay because co-writing is fun;

Under the Wolf’s Skin (updated sporadically), is a fantasy werewolf story, which started as a fanfiction story, and was cowritten with Wynni and RagdollPrincess. I took off my chapters from the FF site, and I will expand and rewrite most of the plot. It’s lashings of fun because I’m creating an unusual for me amount of original characters, and generally I’m enjoying not to take a story seriously.

Please, vote with stars and leave comments for me! It’s endlessly encouraging, and it will cheer me up when another pair of scissors is propelled towards my head.

2. As for fanfiction, I’m planning to finish Thorin’s Wife (there are just couple chapters left) and maybe finish the short story in Another Night, Another Path. Other than that I don’t expect to have any time for FF – at least, not for a while.

Please, let me know if there is a story that you REALLY want to see happen, and I’ll see what I can do. Honestly, your opinion matters. Let me know.

3. The Kickstarter for Hammer Up! doesn’t seem to be happening. There are only 8 days left, and it’s only 30% or so percent funded. It might be my last indie publishing project, so I’m rather sad.

Please, let your friends and relatives, who might be interested in a humorous well-researched greek mythology romance, know about it. And what if we can make this miracle happen – and a very nice person gets a job of editing it, while I get another book to feel accomplished about when I’m old and grey? 🙂

4. Escape from the Woods (Russian folklore based YA fantasy novel) is still sitting in my drawer, and I’m still looking for a publisher. I’ll keep you posted on the subject. As well as regarding Blind Carnival – which is being slowly rewritten into the third person so it’s either postable on Inkitt, or publishable.

5. My art will go on *Celine Dion style wailing* and I’ll be posting it here and there (Instagram, DeviantArt etc.), but there will be two main areas I’m planning to apply it at:

~ my cheery red-nosed colourful illustrations and drawings will go to my Etsy into my Funky Fair Tales; as commissions; and as drawings for purchase;

~ in the same style, I’m working on a children’s book with the working title Peppermint, the Girl Who Didn’t Want to Be a Princess. You can guess what it’s about, of course; and I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

~ and finally, Axolotl Returns!

This project has been long brewing in my brain, and here it is! It’s a steampunk style children’s book about the adventures of clever 11-year-old twins, Unna and Dunn, and their quest to uncover the secret of their Uncle Darius and find the legendary flying vessel Axolotl. I’ve created the Facebook page for the project, which you can follow to get regular updates.

I will be selling the book by chapter + original illustration as instant download PDFs on my Etsy. The chapters will also be available to my supporters on Patreon with the donation of 25$ a month.

 

At this stage I feel like this is as much as I’ll be able to manage (or perhaps, even less, but one can hope.)

So, let me know what you think about the running projects! Hope you stick around! And again, please, consider pre-ordering my book on the Kickstarter and encouraging your friends and relatives to do so as well!

It’s a pleasure to have you all in my life!

K.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all of you! Happy new 2017! Let’s hope this one takes away less from us, especially less of those creative people who bring joy to our world! And may it give us what we’re hoping for!

Happy holidays from my original characters as well! 😀

Starting tomorrow, January 1st, 2017, I’ll be returning to my normal update schedule; news regarding writing and drawing will be announced; “Hammer Up!” will soon go up on Amazon; and Patreon will get… videos! I’m all fired up, and ready for a productive inspired year!

All the best wishes to all of you, my darlings! Thank you for being with me all through this complicated, challenging, sometimes tragic, sometimes still hopeful 2016 – and see you soon!

Gilmore Girls Revival and the Question of Motherhood

So, I started writing the Gilmore Girls fanfiction. About a minute after I finished watching the Revival. Right after my six year old son, who was sitting next to me said, “No, she isn’t pregnant.” (Don’t ask me what he meant 🙂 I’m not sure how extensive his knowledge on human reproduction is.) But while G. went back to his Octonauts, I sat down and started writing.

After I posted the first chapter, I’ve received a few wonderfully kind reviews. They were generous – and no less thought provocative. I have to say, that while I am a fast writer, I’m a slow opinion former. I like to give it time, to look at different sides, to ponder, and to sleep on it, preferable for longer than my average three hours a night.

There are a few things that have always bothered me in this show, and one of them is the prevailing idea of motherhood being an obstacle in the life of a woman. While not a false notion, and sadly rather well-spread, the portrayal of pregnancy as a disaster that ruins a woman’s life has seemed like a one-sided, disturbing idea for me. The character of Lane would be the best example of what I mean. I was glad to see her have a satisfying, fulfilled life in the Revival; but the initial representation of her character in the last seasons of the original series made me uncomfortable. She’s shown to break out of the constrictions of her home life, from under her mother’s control, finally doing what she always wanted – and she’s immediately placed into a new ‘cage.’ She describes the short time between these two events as a ‘small window.’ And then it’s taken away from her. Or at least it’s portrayed this way.

Lorelei’s pregnancy with Rory is also always discussed as a disaster, a calamity. The scene of the young her trying to get into a white dress for yet another function of her parents – perhaps, symbolising virginity/purity, and alluding to a wedding dress – reads as a loss of innocence, a disaster that has already befallen the character but is yet unknown to her.

And now we see Rory in the same position, and of course, the first reaction is ‘why?’ Why would the writers put her through the same?

Her circumstances are, of course, different. She isn’t as young and alone as Lorelei was. And she does have a supportive family, like Lane did, while not having a partner. (Don’t get me started on what Logan has become. He was my second favourite of men on the show, after Luke. And second favourite among Rory’s BFs, after Jess.)

And although I approve of symmetry of plot twists, and I in no way oppose or feel unsatisfied by what we are shown, I have one main point to make here.

The show lacks one large aspect in the discussion of motherhood – and it is the woman’s choice.

Being pregnant isn’t a mistake that Rory made. Getting pregnant, perhaps. We don’t see the discussion of what contraception methods she used. (Which I think would be very much useful in the first show. I watched it as a young adult, just starting my journey into the world of relationship. I learnt, or thought that I learnt, a lot from GG. There were things they could have informed me of, to be honest 🙂 )

Lorelei had made her choice then. To keep Rory, to bring her up, to bring her up alone. And yet, there is certain hush-hush tone to this discussion on the show. Their relationship worked out. It’s what the show is about. But did we see that big moment in Lorelei’s life when she took control over her life? No, we didn’t. I wish we had.

Rory is facing the same choice at the moment.

I feel it should be explicitly shown in media these days that a woman has the right to choose.

I like the idea of two men in Rory’s life, just as Lorelei had. Jess as a reflection of Luke. And Logan as a reflection of Christopher. And perhaps, Logan’s sudden sliminess is supposed to show that he is indeed as weak as Rory’s father.

But it isn’t about choosing between the men, as it seemingly always was written for Lorelei. (Thank goodness, at least there was the opening of her own inn that was there to counterbalance all that talk about having or not having a man in her life.)

It is now about Rory choosing to keep the baby, or not. It’s about her deciding whether in this strange limbo in which she found herself, she can and/or is willing. It’s not about her learning on her mother’s experience. It is her life. It is her body. It is her choice.

It doesn’t matter whose baby it is, and whether there was indeed that sincere longing in Jess’s eyes when he looked at her through the window. It is about Rory deciding. To finish, or not to finish her book. Where to work. Where to live. To have, or not to have another Rory. (It can be a boy’s name 🙂 )

Motherhood has to be a choice, available to make, and not judged whether it is made, or not. I just wish it were shown this way in media more. Many of us grew up with Rory. And now as adults, we should be able to see her fight for that right.

Oh Leonard

I thought I had no tears left to shed, but I was wrong. I thought I couldn’t be sadder, lonelier, more scared for this world, but I was wrong. That was yesterday.

My Dad had an audiocassette in his car. And Future was on it. And I knew no English then, just what my two years of weekly visits to a small dusty flat of an old Jewish lady tutoring me gave me. I would catch pronouns, and I knew the word. I knew nothing of the world, but I felt it was just a bit more beautiful from your velvet voice.

Will I be more bitter now, Leonard? There is a shard of ice in my chest. And my heart bleeds like on the cover of your album. Will I feel even more broken now, Leonard?

You were the half of what I knew of Canada when I accepted the offer to come to my – now – home country eight years ago. The hot Mountie with a wolf for a dog from Due South being the other.

Will I cry less now, Leonard? I cry every time you release a new album. It’s my catharsis and my prayer, Leonard. You Want It Darker was beautiful, Leonard. Thank you for the pure, scorching tears I shed, and felt cleansed, and alive.

Please, Leonard, not today. Why today?

Your portrait hangs in the bookstore in my city. I threw a look at it when I walked to my book launch, and I gave you a grateful nod. I will never write like you, I smiled. Thank you, Leonard. For the beauty I felt, without envy. For the clarity, and the soul.

I had played your songs to my students in Russia. They looked at me in confusion – those 18 year old Russian girls, for whom none of it made sense, and probably still doesn’t – but hell with it, Leonard, I swear to you, you made them just a bit better. Feeling better. Better people.

Your songs are in my every playlist, Leonard. I write a bit, you know? Nothing serious. Nothing I would ever show to you. But there is a song by you somewhere there, for every kiss I wrote, for every tear a character shed, for every Thorin, for every Wren. For every death, for every resurrection, for a dance, and a fight. You’ve been there, with each sentence. Well, perhaps, with each chapter. Wren loves you, and every John does.

Goodbye, Leonard.

You do know, Leonard, how much you are loved?

When my parents came to Canada – a big event, I know; sarcasm, you taught me sarcasm as well – my wonderful husband said, “Leonard Cohen is coming. You should take your Dad to the concert. He is his favourite singer, isn’t he?”

I’ve never seen my Father’s face like that. I could write a book of what you gave me that night, Leonard; and feeling my Father’s daughter and the closeness to the reserved elegant man sitting near me that night would be among all those blessings.

Do you hear me, Leonard?

I loved my husband at that moment so much, when he was ordering tickets.

I had listened to Letters hundreds of times when my first boyfriend broke my heart.

I danced to your Dance Me to the End of Love in my underwear in the tiny rented flat in St. Petersburg.

I will listen to your Amen tonight.

Goodbye, Leonard? But how can I say goodbye?