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?

Comic-Con Is Fun!

That’s about all I can say! I’m super tired, and my feet are buzzing, but it’s a blast! All the cos-players, all the artists around, chicks in Tardis dresses, two Chewbaccas hugging each other in an aisle as if meeting a long lost brother, a radio controlled R2D2, and Baby the Impala – what could be better?! And there was Shatner!

Thus, two pieces of news:

1. No Dr T Series update this Saturday. Hopefully, it’ll give you, my duckies, time to catch up and maybe leave a review? *wink wink* After all, last week chapter was a landmark 🙂

2. After tomorrow the prints and clay figurines left after the Comic-Con will go on my Etsy here, so stay tuned if you want one!

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Stop by if you’re nearby! 🙂

Cheers,

Katya

The Question of Tattoos

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People always ask what the tattoos mean. That is when people are slightly more comfortable with me.  Those who are very comfortable with me, those who know me well, either smirk knowingly or smirk condescendingly. Because, no matter how you look at the ink, it seems that I have commemorated my fanfiction in them.

That is not what happened.

I just gave up teaching at the university then, the profession that was chosen for me by my parents and by the societal expectations of Russia at the end of 1990s. And I was just starting to write my fanfiction. And I saw the most wonderful necklace in a shop, a tree, in silver, made by a wonderful talented Winnipeg based artist.

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It was my 31st birthday then, and I went and got my first tattoo. I showed my necklace and told the artist that it was what I wanted. I also told him that I wanted to change my life and to take care of trees from now on. I wanted it. I wanted to feel life, and growth, and withering. And he told me that this profession was called ‘arborist’ and of course he would be happy to ‘ink this oak onto my wrist.’

“Oak?” I gasped. I didn’t even realise. It was cute though, I thought then. Oak as in Oakenshield, as in Tolkien’s character. My favourite, since I was six. I had been very fond of the old grumpy Dwarf, and later, with a certain measure of embarrassment also very fond of the blue eyed hunk in Peter Jackson’s films. By then I had written a few stories with my OC named Wren and Thorin, and while the tattooist was creating the lines on my skin, I smiled.

“Is it the tree of life?” I am always asked. And I nod. Of course it is. It is my tree of life. The life that I finally live, the life that is full of choices I make myself, the life where writing takes a lot of space, and where Thorin Oakenshield became an inspiration for John Greaves, the protagonist of my first novel Convince Me the Winter is Over.

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It was my 32nd birthday, and I once again went into Rebel Waltz Tattoo, and sat in that chair. It was a different artist, and he didn’t tell me anything about being an arborist, but I didn’t ask. By then I was working in my bakery and was mostly concerned with the heat and how my birdie would heal.

“I want a wren on a wire,” I said, and he stared at me.

“A what on a wire?”

He googled wrens, and we debated the design for an hour.

Wren on a wire. My wonderful friend Erin suggested it as a title for a novel, and I was in love. Its half alliteration, the song of my beloved Leonard Cohen it reminded me of, the simplicity of it, – all of it was perfect for that second novel I was writing, and I thanked her. She only claimed bragging rights, and she gets all of them.

Now, when asked, I say the bird is a symbol.

“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its wings. Always believe in yourself.”

If I know the person a bit better, I explain that Wren on a Wire is the title of the novel I’m working on right now.

So, no, these are not fandom tattoos, and I’m not mad enough to ink my fanfiction characters into my skin. And yes, Wren is that important for me that there could have been no other bird to sit on a branch or a wire for me to remember that I need to believe in myself.