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

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.

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.

 

 

Katya on the Mend

Yellow! 🙂

I seem to finally start crawling out of the dark and scary place where my poor psyche had cornered itself in the last couple weeks; and I’m making tentative steps towards a semi-functional creative existence.

So – quite gingerly – here are the plans for the nearest future 🙂

  1. I’m back to writing fanfiction. Just as I mentioned before, I’m planning to focus on Letters to Your Heart and Old Wounds, Fresh Scars; and the smaller stories (such as Here Be Dragons) on FanFiction and AO3. I’m not giving up on fanfiction completely; but I’ll try not to start anything new for now, and I’m planning to drop the stories that bring no joy (sorry, Gilmore Girls, but I just have no energy for something less than my beloved Tolkien-verse 😀 ). Just as I mentioned before, I’ll need to find a job in May; and I just won’t manage if I overload myself.
  2. I’m writing two webserials on Wattpad: the dark and tense psychological drama Jack in the Box {updated on Thursdays}and the humorous murder mystery Official Town Business {so far updated irregularly; after Dr T Series (which has only couple chapters will the completion, can you imagine?! O_o) is over, it’ll be updated on Saturdays, and published on the blog as well}Thorin/RA inspired male protagonists and new versions of Wren included 🙂
  3. Due North is still available on Inkitt. It’s gathering votes, and I’m waiting to see what this site can do for me. For now, you can still claim your free copy.
  4. Voting for Hammer Up! on Amazon Kindle Scout is over. The campaign is under review at the moment. Let’s see what happens 🙂

I’m still drawing and ‘playing’ with polymer clay. You can see and buy my stuff on Instagram, Etsy, and Society6.

Couple projects that are at the planning stage for now:

1. A webserial on Etsy. I’m currently working on the character design for it.

2. Blind Carnival (!) this one is a bit of puzzle at the moment. I took it off JukePop, and I’m not quite sure what I want to do with it. I could just edit it and start selling it on Amazon. On the other hand, I could try to run a fund raising campaign for it on Kickstarter to be able to afford better editing and cover design. On the other hand, I’m not sure I have enough readers these days to pull it off. What do you think, my darlings?

So, here’s what’s up with kkolmakov 😀 How are you doing, my duckies?

 

Two New Projects

Hello!

I decided it was a good idea to write on my blog more often, just to keep you posted regarding what’s going on, and more so, to get some feedback from you, my duckies!

So, there are two ideas that I’m nursing these days (besides the usual lot of FF, AO3, and JukePop writing; Stop, Hammer Time! editing for Amazon Kindle; the Etsy shop; and (for some inconceivable reason) my sudden interest in the birds of Manitoba.)

Idea #1: Taro Cards

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Some time ago I wandered in our local occult/New Age shop. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I do have broad interests 😉 I chatted with the owner about my art and such, and that I was considering drawing a deck of Taro cards. It was just a vague thought at the time, but it sprouted when she bestowed me with the deck that had previously belonged to our main Taro reader in the city. The reader had given it up for ‘adoption,’ and the lovely lady in Radiance Gifts shop thought I was the perfect candidate 🙂

So, now, armed with couple books and keen interest, I decided to venture into drawing a deck. I’ll keep you posted. I’ll be posting designs on my Instagram (check it out for birds of Manitoba as well, if it tickles your pickle 😉 ) and I’m considering later selling the deck on my Etsy.

Idea #2: A modern fantasy story based on Russian folklore

This one has been brewing in my brain for quite a while. There are all those fascinating characters from my childhood – Koshey Bessmertny (Deathless), and Baba Yaga, and Vassilisa the Wise – and I always wanted to write them, and the dark and thrilling and mesmerising stories I listened to as a kid; but I also wanted to give them a twist.

It is something that is done a lot these days (see Percy Jackson, and hundreds of other stories of the same sort); and I even heard that there is a fantasy novel about a girl in the States (maybe, Canada) fighting Slavic monsters. I will of course have to do my research. I’d hate to be unoriginal!

Also, I’m not sure about the format of it. Should it be a novel? Should it be a webserial – on JukePop, or this blog? Or should I sell it by a chapter on Etsy as I’m planning to do with the whodunit?

Altogether, the things I do know for now:

1. The main characters are:

Miroslava ‘Mira’ Krapiva, a fourteen year old girl living in Winnipeg with her mom;

Yana Krapiva, Mira’s mom, a Russian immigrant to Canada; a baker in a local organic bakery;

John Bessemer, going by nickname Kosh, a mysterious man from Yana’s past;

Vasya, previously a rag doll, now a fully functional, yet very hormonal teenager.

2. Here’s the first chapter 🙂

Escape From the Woods || Sample Chapter

All of it very is much approximate! Feedback is highly appreciated!

Here are the first drafts of two characters’s appearance:

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Please, let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Katya