Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Relearning an old art form and studying a new one

I finished writing a short story (only another one and two novels to go for
the year! New Year's resolutions can be hell), and it felt ... weird. Not
impossible, but weird. The novella I wrote toward the end of the year last year was
nearly impossible, but I managed (thanks to a piece I found by Angela Knight
comparing plotting a novella to plotting a comic book story -- that I can
understand). Clearly I've been writing novels too long.

The thing about the short story was that it was, yes, short. Just as I was
figuring out where the story would go next, it was over. Just like that. I was
actually confused for a few seconds. But a short's a short. (Now, editing a
short ... let's find out if that's any different.)

The Tea Project continues. Some concern was expressed about the ancient teas,
but so far everything's been fine. The twenty-year-old tea was flavorless,
but since the packet still had the original plastic wrapping intact, I wasn't
too worried about it poisoning me. So far I've finished off four boxes,
including the old one. I'm going through ginger, peppermint, Eater's Digest, and the
detox currently. And when I want to indulge, I buy a cup of decaf coffee. Only
twenty more boxes to go!

And at long last, is live. A few tweaks needed, but
otherwise, it looks okay. I know how to add articles, but anything more on the
fiction page has so far stumped me. But this is a new challenge, and I'll figure it
out before the book's release date!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Tea Project

When you open a cabinet and boxes of tea fall out, you know it's time. Some
people clean their office (which I should do, but that's not my point here) and
others their kitchen, but this year, I'm going to clear out my tea collection.

It didn't start out to be a tea collection … it was just tea that we
happened to have a lot of. But I realized that we had had some of that tea since we
lived in Brooklyn — and we moved to Seattle in 1989. Yes, that's
some mighty old tea! So if nothing else, if my office continues to look like
a sty, if my kitchen … no, actually, I keep the kitchen pretty clean, that's
not a problem … I will do this one thing this year for my home. I will drink
all of the tea already in my home and actually end up with no tea that's not
actually from this century in my cabinet.

Inspired by this idea, I started a little early, guzzling tea during the
great snowstorms of December 2008, polishing off three types by the end of the
year. (It was cold, and the weather was dreary. But you've already heard all
about that.) There were several boxes of tea that hadn't been opened, even, and I
know I bought one particular one at a little shop in Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn.
There was also a box of "Chinese-style tea," and that's how it was described on
the box, complete with quote marks. Not the greatest, but it's gone, it's
done, go 'way now. I also have no idea where I picked that up. I can see now
that drinking through all this stuff is going to be tea paleontology of sorts.

Currently I'm drinking Twinings green tea. Not bad, but not great &mdash; but
I'm picky about my green tea. There's a liver detox tea and then a
morning-pick-me-up tea that's next on my list. I'm not really looking forward to
something that claims to be a liver detox tea, but hey, that's the point of this
"Tea Project." If it's there, it will be drunk. And no, I have no recollection
when the liver detox stuff came into the house and snuck into my tea cabinet.

And that's it. None of this is earth-shattering, but I suspect it may inspire
a few of you out there to go look at your own tea cabinet. Little by little
the tea in my house will all be drunk. And at the end of the year I will reward
myself with something amazing, maybe even some Queen Anne tea from Fortnum &
Mason, a lovely English breakfast tea. But not until the end of the year!

Eilis Flynn
ECHOES OF PASSION, coming in 2009