Monday, November 30, 2015

The Coming of Yule

I was able to knock that cold right in the eye. 12,000 mgs of Vitamin C on day one, 6,000 mgs on day two, and another 6,000 today and it looks like the cold let go and left town. I read up on the Vitamin C cure and found that in order for the protocol to work, a person must reach saturation. This means that when the protocol gives you, um, a bit of gastric discomfort, you've found the cut off point. I found it at 6,000 mgs, but was a bit enthusiastic about getting rid of the virus so I doubled saturation. I've also discovered that a Vitamin C protocol might work nicely on these chronic sinus infections I've dealt with for the past my whole life.

I'm currently waiting for the proof copy of the new book to arrive. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to re-do the index -- again. Formatting the book to fit specs really kicked my butt so that by the time I got it right, from about Chapter 5 on (to Chapter 13), the pages were off enough to effect where the markers were for the index. Fixing the index post-publishing-of-the-proof won't effect the layout, but I'm a bit anxious to see how the book will look finished, which is why I asked for a proof before fixing the index. That's a roundabout way of saying there's more work to do. Indexes are exhausting. I worked on it for four days straight while trying to figure out specs and layout and getting one program to fit with another -- it was a flippin' mess, and I was frustrated to tears at some points. All the things that I'd remembered about the first book's layout came back in a tsunami of 'oh, sh*t' -- I'd forgotten that graphics and graphs, pictures and drawings, not to mention box framing the text (a big NO-NO), behave differently when transferring from a doc to a pdf -- proper spacing is crucial, as are font sizes. And allowing 'full color' instead of black and white jacks up the per-book price by about 300%. I must make a note of it this time so the next time I won't go through this much crap to get it finished. Simple and plain wins the day. Meh.

Only 20-odd days until Yule and I've gotten absolutely NOTHING done for it. And I'm going out of town today until Thursday, so nothing will be done until I return home. At the same time that I'm a little frustrated with the lag in performance, I'm also a bit confounded. I feel like the book consumed so much of my creative time, I'm a bit tapped out at the moment. I'm hoping this mini vacation will help spark the creative fires so that when I get back, I can go into production and really whip up some fabulous things.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Happy Post Gluttony Day(s)!

It's over. Well, this round anyway. Things are falling back into a normal rhythm. The carb packed foods are bagged and in the deep freeze, the studio is getting back to its usual efficiency in chaos status, and I caught a cold. Woke this morning to a string of sneezes and a stuffy head. I didn't go to bed this way. It kind of snuck up on me. So I"m sneaking back with about 15,000 mgs of Vitamin C a day until the cold is no more, or I turn orange.

I'm a couple of days late with my 'sale' at The Scented Djinn Apothecary at Etsy -- so here it is, folks, nothing new, just trying to reduce stock to make room for more. 20% off everything in the shop on orders of $35 USD or more. Use coupon code Krampus2015 (no italics) to your discount. International orders contact me for shipping arrangements if you want to place an order.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Prepping for the Feast, and a Fair Bit of Banging of the Head on Hard Surfaces

Since completing the book, things have slowed down considerably in the production area of things. I must remember in the future to not plan a book's completion to coincide with American holidays. The house is a mess of platters and boxes of foodstuff that don't fit into cabinets or closets, so they're lying around awaiting their 'day'. I've still got to pack up and temporarily store the shop goods so sticky, picky visiting fingers don't help themselves. It's happened before. Not that I hold a grudge or anything. It's just that product count means something when a customer orders the last of an item and I discover it is nowhere to be found. That can get pretty tricky. Even though the book is done, it's not. I'd forgotten this bit. The formatting of the thing so it jibes with the publisher's template. I've been up early and late into the night trying to get this straightened out, nearly rubbing the skin off my face with frustration, and during the night last night I had an epiphany of sorts about the formatting, so I'm trying it out as I type this. Crossing all phalanges that it works.

I'm planning a bit of a blow out sale after Thanksgiving (26 November) so the new stuff has space to live for a while. Plus there are a few things in the production line, one nearly done, the other still being tweaked a bit here and there.  All in all, it's been a very slow production year for me. It's the fault of the book. When something takes up so much of your time, it's a miracle anything gets done at all.

*UPDATE! The formatting for the book is finished! What a nightmare. Now more waiting as the publisher checks it out, then I have to change some things in the print specs because as it is, a normally $35-$40 book is pricing in at about $90. Can't have that. So just a week or so more and it's go on Working the Bench II: A Practical Guide for the Apprentice Natural Perfumer. 


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Profiles in American Perfumery at Cafleurebon

Remember when I talked about bios the other day? The reason I mentioned it was because I was asked by Michelyn Camen, editor-in-chief of Cafleurebon to write up a bio for her online perfumer spotlight series 'Profiles in American Perfumery'. If you click on the link and follow the instructions provided, you can win some perfume -- from me.

Another bit of news, which feels more like a heavy burden being unloaded, is -- the book is done. A little more than two years, dozens of studies, hours of research, early mornings, late nights, and all day ticking away at the computer keyboard have built this severely edited for content book. Basically, with all the discarded content, I can begin yet another book. But I need a break. I've been knocking myself out daily since last May to get this done, and honestly, I'm a little disappointed with myself. Why? Because I feel like I let myself down with this new book -- I feel like having to edit out entire chapters and honing it down to basic bones is a reflection of my impatience to see a project through completely and properly. I'm not saying the book isn't good (but what author/writer would admit their book isn't good?) What I've learned about submitting a book for publication is that once the editing is complete, do it. Submit and walk away because if you sit there second guessing yourself, you'll put that book back down on the desk and start writing in it again. You'll edit it to death, rewrite, cut out, add in, and generally fudge the thing up. Save all that other stuff for the next project. I'm currently adding the index, and let me tell you, what a rabid pain in the bum that is! Last night I spent hours working on it, leaning over the keyboard with my face mere inches from the computer screen scrutinizing page numbers and words until I actually cut off the circulation to my lower half and got a stomach ache. I also have this bad habit of holding my breath when I'm in deep concentration, which also makes me a bit light headed sometimes. So, yeah, I'm a weirdo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

So Far Behind

I can't believe how far behind I am in restocking the apothecary for the holidays. I'm so behind! I've made stuff, just not a lot, not like I have in the past, not like I know I can. I just feel so beat up by this book. I mean, as much as I've cut out I can start a new book with, yet there's still so much left to write! Basically I want to open up possibilities with this new book, new ways to look at the perfume building process, different ideas for using scent (cooking, for example), and in the process of bringing all this in, I have over thought it, tried to include way too much information. If anyone thinks for a second that writing a book, even a poorly written book, is easy work, they're deluded. Writing for an audience is a struggle -- it's mentally and emotionally exhausting, like having an existential crisis of the 'who do I think I am' variety, while diapering a  baby octopus with your ears. 

All the goods are here to stock up the apothecary -- the yums for the bath fizzies, a gallon of oil for the new perfume anointing oils, loads of stuff for new soaps -- the only thing missing is the decision to make them all. Once I've written a few hundred words, checked off notes, drunk a pot or two of tea, done some research, perused a book or two, stared out of the window in a daze, and gotten up 30 times to work the kinks out of my back, the rest of the day is shot -- even if it's only 11 AM when I peel my bum off the computer chair to get to the domestic chores. I'll get my groove back, I just hope it's before the holidays so I can make a little stocking stuffer money.

I am getting closer to the end of the writing of the book, though. I resist the urge daily to add more to it. However, when the end of the book does arrive, the editing begins, and then the page numbering, then the indexing, so the next few days (weeks?) will be me hanging with the octopus.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bios and Such

Things get blurry as you age, even your own life. I've written my own bios in the past, and had someone else write one for me after talking with them for a few hours, or after answering a handful of key questions, and usually the writer inserts a few things that aren't necessarily true, embellishments and personal impressions. When writing our own, we tend to focus on what we think the person requesting the bio wants to hear regarding the subject -- in most recent years, the 'subject' for me has been perfume -- and skip over all the other stuff, like the teen pregnancy or the horrible first marriage or the cause of a lifelong battle with anxiety. No one wants to hear about their favorite perfumer, author, sculptor, actor, etcetera, dealing with real issues -- well, more and more people do, thank you reality tv. So bios. I've written a few for myself and each one is slightly different than the last, as if I've rewritten my past. We cannot think of how we arrived at a specific place as a result of walking in a straight line from point A to point Z (where we are now), because life doesn't work that way. One bio will state I made my way to perfumery via my maternal grandmother's gardens, another that my entry into perfumery began at my maternal aunts' dressing tables, or in a discovered box of old perfumes in a closet, or the geraniums in the front walk, or time spent living in the back country (twice). They're all true. The story told that particular time is based on the audience that will hear it, and the limit on word count. Regardless of how stained our past, we all want to appear squeaky clean for 'the big day', whatever day that is. The truth is, we come to our present via many paths from the past. We come from despair and joy, we come from loss and bliss, we come from pain and happiness. I can remember times as a child when I felt fear in the scent of mums because mums meant death (always mums at the family funerals), and I can remember a time when I felt joy smelling the green, earthy scent of geraniums (geraniums meant I was home). Everywhere in our lives our memories are imprinted with scent, some good, some horrible, and when we recount our past, we tend to avoid making a big deal out of the horrible. Well, I do anyway. One thing I will say is that creating perfume, all the devil-in-the-detail work, all the frustration, all the patience necessary, has changed me. I was never very detail oriented in the past, and I scored about a -3 on a 1 to 10 scale for patience.

I've begun working out the recipes for the final chapter in the book. Thus far I have two of ten finished. Salted Yuzu Shortbread Cookies, and Moroccan Mint Tea. I've played with other recipes that I was thinking of using, but those didn't work out -- the flavors might have been off or I just couldn't pull it off. Subtlety is key here. No one wants to bite into a deliciously fragrant cookie and feel as if they'd just eaten a bar of soap.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Culling Pages and Editing 'The Book'

After much consideration, I've decided to cut yet another chapter. This decision was based on the fact that it entailed production, something with which I have very little experience. The desire to step into large scale production of anything fled as if its ass were on fire years and years and years ago. This happened about the time I fell in with a distributor shortly after turning my garage into a soap studio. I hear some people dream about finding distributors to disperse their goods all over the globe, I did too, until one found me. I quickly discovered the experience to be stressful, disheartening, financially unsound in both the short- and long-term, and depressing as all hell. Talk about sucking all the life from a creative endeavor. I was gutted. Gutted, I tell you! This culled chapter consisted of buying loads of bottles, having them designed, getting them embossed, buying enormous quantities of raw materials, making contracts with suppliers and points of sale, distribution of goods, submitting goods to big fragrance awards' committees, and so on and so forth. None of these are in my area of expertise. I shun the spotlight, so nix on the awards, and I don't have a pirate's chest full of investor's money, so nix on everything else. I know about them, I know who to contact, where to go, what to do, I just haven't done them. Nor do I ever intend to. My focus on my own perfumery and in this book has been on the slow building of scent. Small scale, artisan (much overused word), low distribution, intent driven, with emphasis on the experience rather than the dollars to be generated. As long as my work pays my bills and leaves enough leftover for investments and a nice dinner once in a while, I'm a happy camper. Travel would be nice too, but I'm not holding my breath (or a grudge) if it never happens.

Culling and editing out this chapter has made the work on the book flow again. This final chapter is related to edibles -- not the pot variety, but the 'fume variety. Cookery is another passion of mine, and I've done a fair bit of work utilizing raw natural materials (essential oils and absolutes specifically) in the creation of edible goodies, with a lot of success. I just purchased a new set of stainless bake ware and sheets of silicon upon which to bake. So baking is happening. A few items on the list to be included in this edibles' chapter are saffron shortbread cookies with ginger lemon curd, lavender infused cupcakes, potato soup with nutmeg essential oil flavoring, a vegan version of Moroccan bastilla, among many other perfumed food creations, including teas, cocktails, flavored wines, and perfumed finishing salts. Since this chapter discusses something I truly, passionately love, my hope is that the writing will just flow. And the experimenting will be divine.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Winter is Coming, So Are Bath Fizzies

So here I was, thinking I'd lost my mojo. Truly. For the past few weeks, actually since the last post here, I've been struggling to find inspiration. Inspiration to write, inspiration to create, just plain old inspiration to get out of bed! I couldn't figure it out. I wasn't sleeping that great, was troubled with nightly headaches and general body aches, but nothing really seemed amiss, I thought, oh, the weather's changing, I must be getting old and rickety. I even blew off Halloween, my favorite night of the year. So not me. I thought it was a sinus infection creeping in, yet again, so I was irrigating and steaming and resorting to otc pain medications only in the direst of moments, but the quiet little affliction continued to linger, however unformed. I was even resorting to Benadryl at night just so I could sleep and not feel the headache that moved around inside my head. I was contemplating a trip to the doctor, something I haven't done in over a decade. Instead, I quit all the otc meds, the Benadryl and the acetaminophen, stopped contact irrigating and only steamed a few times instead of all day, increased the medicinal spices in my diet, like ginger and horseradish and turmeric and onion, swallowed tablespoonsful of apple cider vinegar, drank gallons of fresh-made green tea, and today I'm back to normal. Okay, my normal. And I'm here. Talking about the odyssey of the snozz. Again. One day I will have to go to a physician and get this sinus thing figured out. In a way that won't permanently damage my sense of smell. Although this time the sinus issue never fully formed, it was strong enough to sap my energy, play fast and loose with my sleepy time, and cause me to feel that my creative life was doomed. I know. I'm being dramatic. One thing that I have noticed over the years is that sometimes the sinus issues liven up when I'm under stress, and this entire past year, since August of 2014, has been a roller coaster ride of stress, some financial, some personal. I think this last bout was caused by the wrapping up of a huge financial burden -- the final payment came, a moment of stress and joy, and stress won. The crash was hard -- all those months of worry and now it's done. I think I was having a bit of an existential crisis -- what am I to do now that the purpose for working my arse off this past year has disappeared? Point inward, the voice said (voice, singular, not voices) and apply all that energy to fulfilling the dream. The thurifercorium. And more books.

I have some writing to do this weekend for a non-book project, so I'm probably not going to wear myself out on the final chapters of the book. I will, however, be experimenting for one of the final chapters of the book. And for the record, I missed my book deadline. Imagine that! A new deadline has been set and I have every intention of making it, with time to spare. I just need to pay better attention to my body and notice more quickly when things begin to go awry so they can be remedied before they cause me to become catatonic.

And, as usually happens when I'm burdened with a broken olfactory organ, I'm getting student submissions for evaluation almost daily. By tomorrow I should be able to get them worked out. Today I'm playing catch up. With everything.

Loads of new stuff are coming to the apothecary -- during the lull in creativity, I had been gathering the goods for when I was feeling better. The studio table is loaded down with raw materials raring to be turned into something exquisite. Patchouli bath fizzies, anyone?


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