Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Julie and Julia... and Craig: My Year Of [_____]-ing Dangerously

One of my book clubs (yes, I am in a couple) just read Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. This particular book club is populated by NaNoWriMo participants, and books are selected with the ultimate goal of discussing what we (as writers) can learn from the author as an author. (I'll save my thoughts on the book for a later post, probably.)

Since writers are, as with most artists, an altogether self-punishing breed of person, someone in the group challenged us all to blog about a year-long project. So far only two people have settled on projects: one is watching all of the Star Trek episodes and movies in order of release date, and the other is reading the entire Sherlock Holmes canon.

I want to play along; or, at the very least, I want to want to play along. The only thing is, I've already resolved to watch less Netflix and read more books, but I don't have a favorite genre or even a favorite author with an oeuvre large enough to make a project. Except maybe Stephen King, but I can't read more than one of his books in a row, and he has a lot of stinkers out there (I'm looking at you, Cell). I also joined a gym last year, and spending a couple hours at the gym a few times a week really eats into my free time. Plus, I play a lot of Minecraft. That's a commitment all by itself.

So I have a few options, and I'm going to take a few days to mull them over. Here's what I have so far:

  • Visit and photograph all 105 Kansas county courthouses.
  • Write a short story every week.
  • Cook something new every week (like really new, like some sort of regional cuisine I've never even heard of).
  • Learn a new skill and demonstrate it every week (like, painting... and do a painting every week, or playing the ukulele, and recording a song every week).
  • Alternatively, learn a new skill every week (like lockpicking, metalsmithing, or... um, the art of being a mime).
  • Stock trades? I'm not even sure what that would look like, but maybe researching a different company or investment vehicle every week, learning how to do valuation analysis, and then putting my portfolio up for commentary.
And here's what I think about everything I've thought of so far:
  • I've actually wanted to do this for a while, and I've researched the history of many of the older courthouses, but traveling to the western parts of the state would make it difficult to have any sort of "regular" progress on this project.
  • I have no idea how to write short fiction. I guess I could learn?
  • As I learned from reading Julie and Julia, it can be hard to find ingredients for recipes that aren't en vogue. The last thing I need is to spend three days driving all over the place trying to find millet flour; I have no idea what a courgette is; and there is no way in hell I am going to cook anything involving offal, tongues, or hooves.
  • Painting seems expensive. I've purchased paint before, and canvas, and I know what they cost. I am not made of money. I also don't have room in my house for anything bigger than a shoebox. I don't think very many skills or artistic endeavors meet the requirement not to take up any more room in my house than a shoebox.
  • I don't think I can get good enough at any one thing in only a week to demonstrate it, let alone learn anything about myself or the people who do that thing, let alone not drive myself crazy because I am a perfectionist and there is no way I'm going to do something and not get good at it.
  • I really don't want to lose all my money, even if it's in the process of learning how not to lose all my money.
So basically I'm exactly where I started, except I couldn't entirely shoot down the idea of writing short stories. Is that a good enough reason to do something like this? That it's the least bad option?

Hopefully when the group meets tonight I can get a better feel for what they think worked (or didn't) in the book, and why, and then use that insight to help decide what to do.

If you have thoughts or ideas (or reasons not to do this!), let me know in the comments.


Holly said...

I like it! I definitely think you should find something and commit. Ever since we returned from PAX I've been playing around with the idea of drawing more and either making a small comic strip or some kids books. It would probably just be for mynown kids to look at. Right now I'm trying to making them into drawings. (The kids) and I got the kids sketch books to draw with me. We shall see where it goes. Definitely find something that's not too pricey. And the ingredient search for cooking can suck it. I'll set my mind to thinking of weird projects for you :-)

Craig said...

Um, I am 100% behind this idea of yours!