Monday, November 17, 2014

mystery prize monday

--Drawing Over--
My mom warned me never to write about writing. She says it's self indulgent to the author and boring for the rest of us. Leave it to Lammot and King. And I will leave it to them; after this post it will be all theirs.
all these letters came from you
I thought the job in Arkansas was going to pull together all the strings of my life so neatly. The jolt when that did not happen (at all) lead to some clarity of thought.

At least it did that.

1. I am going to have another job apart from writing. That job will not be 'a thing I do on the side while I nurture my writing career'. Life does not seem to allow for such wishy-washy-ness. My other job will be a world within itself. I'll train for it, be overworked and exhausted by it, rewarded for it and wholly involved with it. That is not failure; in fact I hope to be so lucky.

2. I am going to make money through writing. I have made money on this blog and I earned that. But I will not support myself or my family on it. To think that would be delusional. Delusion leads to disappointment and bitterness and other such creatures to be avoided.

3. This blog will not morph neatly into a book deal. Some blogs turn into books but most do not. If I think that it will, I will never have a book published.

Now, here is where Nico and the plate of meatballs enters the stage. There I was, being treated to this night of endless appetizers (say it out loud: endless. appetizers) and laughing so hard that tears slid down my cheeks, and yet my brain was telling me that once again I'd failed at Making Writing Work.

How funny, brain, because I only know Nico because I write and so does she.

At that moment, I started to think in a funny new way. By Sunday it was snowing in Fayetteville and I made it out just in time. I arrived home very late and the first thing I did was open the box full of letters I've received from readers. I carefully read them one at a time. Then I had to go to bed. The next day I read through the rest.

I received most of these letters while I was working on the boat and having a hard time. The letters are full of encouragement. It turns out they're still just as encouraging, years later and on dry land.
If you've sent me a letter, I've saved it. If you've left a comment, I've read it, and then hunted around to find your blog, if you have one, to see who you are. If your comment is anonymous, I've tried to imagine you. If you've donated to this blog, I remember your name, and I've sent you a letter. (And by the way! If you donate and did not get a letter, let me know! It happened to one person, she was overseas, and the letter got lost. I wrote her another one. Please do let me know.)

What did you picture your life would be when you were younger? I imagined that "life" was a big clean room with a fine desk made from a single polished piece of wood. (That desk does exist by the way, but it ended up in the wrong house! Kerry, please send me your dining room table when you get a chance, I'm pretty sure I dreamed it first.) From that desk I would type out book after book, hand them off to my agent, and then lots of money would arrive in my mailbox. My salt was artesian, my children healthy and quiet, and my dog's fur never fell out by the fistful for no apparent reason.

I have a great life but it doesn't look like that. And thank God because how boring does that sound.

I did not know that I'd connect with people all over the place who would take the time to read my posts, write me letters, leave comments, and send me books they thought I'd like. I had no idea the economy would nose-dive the moment I graduated college and despite that, people would donate their own money to support a very lengthy 'book' I was constantly writing on the internet.

I am not failing at writing because I have found you.

That's what the Make More Mail initiative is about. I love sending letters and things through the mail. Connecting with you is joy. I have some give-aways lined up, some ideas of more excuses to send out letters and photos, and something called Mystery Prize Monday.

It will happen on Mondays. Not every Monday. There will be a little post and a prompt to leave a comment. One of the commenters, chosen at random, will get a mystery prize in the mail. The mystery prize will be small, fun, maybe delicious, could be a book, it's possible you could wear it, not unlikely you could play with it, but there is one rule: if you don't like or can't use your Mystery Prize, you have to send it along to someone who might better suit it.

You cannot chuck your Mystery Prize.

You can share your mystery prize with the world and with the internet if you want. But I won't. From my end, it will be our secret.

Today is the inaugural Mystery Prize Monday and here is the prompt.

This holiday time, I'm hoping to buy all my presents from small, independent businesses. Dig, Holdfast and Melody come to mind. Who else is out there? Do you have a favorite small business, artist, or maker? Is it you, your friend or someone you just found and fell in love with? Do you donate to a certain charity instead of giving presents, or do you make your own with the help of some ninja-level-midnight-difficult craft site? Leave us the link in the comment section.

You can just leave the link, or you can tell us a little about it as well. I will compiled the links on The Wilder Coast's Pinterest Page, on the board "Local, Small, We Want it All!"  (Please don't feel bad for me because I have no followers, because I just started it. If you want to feel bad for me that my urinary system is allergic to alcohol, you may.)

The recipient of the Mystery Prize will be announced on Wednesday.

Thanks. I love you. Now go to town.
keep up with the make more mail initiative on Instagram @melinadream


55 comments:

Kimberly Drye said...

Amazingcapes.com
I think I'm going to buy every kid I know one of these and maybe some of my adult-like/child-like friends. My friend from Asheville started this company from nothing, using a Kickstarter campaign. They are truly AMAZING capes.

Jessica said...

https://www.etsy.com/shop/inblue
swooooon.

Kimberly Drye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill said...

Love this, Melina! As an avid follower, I think you HAVE made a difference with your writing... if anything, it's made a little community and what could be better than that? My favorite small business is the one my sister works at: Yarnology in Winona, MN. (http://yarnologymn.com/home.html) I don't knit (no hand-eye coordination) but I'm proud of my amazingly talented sister who runs the register, teaches classes, and makes the world a better place at that store. For her sake, I will promote Yarnology until the end of my days. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else posts!

colleen said...

Etsy.com/Shop/ColleenMurphyArt

Support your local (not starving as I work for the artisanal salt paradise known as Wholefoods) but struggling artist. I hand create custom unique pet portraits with my embroidery skills. I also make unkillable house plants, and other oddities. Want pictures of my past pet portraits?! Just email me. My art is affordable because i want everyone to be able to have things of beauty in their life. Plus, if I couldn't afford it, then I wouldn't make it.

Great idea Lina! Love you! Miss you! Remember if you want Wholefoods goodies you just hit me up (;
Butter says hi!

Aimee LH said...

My uncle in Colorado handcrafts furniture and unique gifts from wood he finds around his house...

https://www.etsy.com/shop/RoughcutLogworks?ref=shopsection_shophome_leftnav

or
http://www.roughcutlogworks.com

I can't even imagine the process of writing for a living...though I've had the same dream, with a beautiful desk and an old typewriter that makes magical bell sounds when I come up with a thought-provoking plots.

And instead I became a nurse.

Because nurses need to have a sense of humor and that magical bell comes in handy as patient's call lights and maybe I'm not able to write for now, but maybe all of these interesting day-to-day experiences will shape into some sort of fun size novel to describe the family members that come in with mama who's having a heart attack but had time to pack up their wet clothes, so maybe can we find them a dryer because they don't have enough quarters for the laundromat .... ah, the possibilities....

PS- I think I became your first follower on Pinterest...

Sarah said...

Such a fun idea! This Christmas I'm gifting family and friends things I've made...using some of my photos and other fun projects involving knitting. I love to support small family based businesses though. I have plans to get some things for friends from 'sew interesting' from Omemee, Ontario( can't link the fb link...sorry).

Stephanie Abdon said...

I'm a fan of www.kirkwoodclaypottery.com :)

Nell said...

I'm going to cheat and give two suggestion instead of because one is in Tucson and the other is in Asheville and one is jewelry and the other is toolbelts, so they cover different demographics.
My friend Erik makes crazy, modern, slick jewelry. He's won several awards, and is just about the nicest guy. Check his work out here:
http://erikstewartjewelry.com/

My friend Wheeler makes handmade, custom, function leather belts (and a couple other accessories). Check her work out here:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/wheelermunroe

Bekah said...

Oooh great idea! Well - my favorite shop right now is https://www.etsy.com/shop/mosaicroro?ref=s2-header-shopname

Who happens to be my cousin - but I really do love her shop. Right now she is mostly selling vintage goodies, but she is a super talented artist, photographer, soap maker, etc. one of those amazing people thT is good at all of it. Me? I burnt rice today, so there that...

Marie said...

Here is my suggestion:
http://studio255.com/

Love their stuff - and it's all related to Snail Mail! Their rubber stamps are the best and their stationery superb. Sydney, the designer is my neighbor's daughter. Lovely family! Check them out everyone!

Mrs.T said...

One side of my family chooses a chairs and we all donate what we can.
The other side does an ornament exchange. My grandmother always had the best collection and its fun to watch my grow every year.
Love your site

Jennifer Lake said...

Mail is one of my favorite things, too. I had brain and spine surgery in July and I received cards and letters and drawings from all over the world. From strangers and Internet friends. Walking to the post office, with my baby brother, to check my PO box was the most encouraging and exciting part of my day as I recovered. So, needless to say, I love this.

Tina Steinberg is my favorite maker! I gift her work to at least one soul every Christmas. Her fingerprint necklaces are magic. My mom wears hers daily with my fingerprint (done from Montana!), my brother Sean's from a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, and our baby brothers. Http://www.tinasteinberg.com

Sadie said...

I love this idea! And this topic especially. I can't wait to see what others post. I just bought from this cute little shop for my niece:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/LiveSweetShop?ref=l2-shopheader-name

AlaskanAlison said...

I adore this idea.

I make handmade dog collars and leashes and often give them as gifts and stocking stuffers. I have an etsy shop: www.muddiedpaws.com

There are several people in my life whom I make donations of behalf of instead of gifting (yikes, that sentence). They're animal lovers so I always make donations to Best Friends Animal Society on their behalf.

Erin Macauley said...

A high school classmate of mine runs "Sometimes I Swirl" (https://www.etsy.com/shop/sometimesiswirl)

She is a beautiful person with a wicked sense of humor. Plus, she is the creator of "Today I Will Be Happier Than a Corgi On Stilts" loop featured on BuzzFeed. Could not have happened to a better person.

For what it's worth, dearest Lina, I still believe that in pushing out what you want into the universe, you will be blessed with what you seek. Just have your eyes open wide enough to recognize it when it comes. ;-)

Jess B said...

We donate to Kiva (micro lending site) for those who appreciate that and buy from a fantastic Knoxville, TN business for lots and lots of useful personal care gifts,http://honeydewnaturals.com/. (Also, Plot Twist is my new life preserver phrase. Love that.)

Emily said...

So I have 2 facoeites!

I have 3 babies & I never have enough hands. Like ever. So I fell in love with the sollybabywrap via instagram & sollybaby.com & it's crazy how much stuff I can get done in a day now. I can keep fussy #3 close, feed #1&2 a lunch that didn't come from a box, & try to keep fresh-ish laundry churning out of the wash room on a regular-ish schedule while I baby wear like it's my job.

Also, my husband gave up on a high school dream of building things once he realized adults have to have stability & insurance & junk. He just recently took the steps needed to start making woodworking a more permanent career instead of just a hobby & he's doing it over on instagram @ covingtonmarketplace if you're interested in custom pieces from deconstructed barns & homes in south Alabama :)

Liz Stout said...

This year all my gifts to friends are coming from WV artisans. For the group of three who live from California to Colorado to New Jersey, they will be consumable things like local honey and apple butter and nonconsumable like hand carved coffee scoops. For another friend, recently married, I will be perusing our local store that carries a myriad of WV artisan crafts for the perfect gift. I love my state and I'm always blown away by the beauty and creativity of the artisans here, so I want to share it. It doesn't hurt that a huge Appalachian Heritage festival is held in my hometown every year that features a huge fair at the end of the summer that features all of their work!

Wendy said...

I am not sure I've ever commented on any of your posts but I do love your blog and the photos!
You have come a long way darl'in.
I live in South Texas, spend most of the time on our property doing a little of this and that and of course I read a lot of blogs.
I believe in and like your idea of buying from local small, independent businesses. I've been doing it for years. In the small towns around us, on different Saturdays, local artisans, venders, business people get together and have Market days. I love going and I love buying my Christmas gifts. I love supporting these hard working folks. This year I've been buying a lot of stained glass art from a lady in Cuero Texas. She doesn't have an Etsy or web site so I can't share her work. But it is gorgeous. I've bought a few oil painting from another local artisan. I love supporting these people and I know the people I am buying the gifts for will love them too.
I'm glad you did this post and I've had fun looking at the different links posted.
Thank you!

Melina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keli said...

You will not be disappointed! https://gailambrosius.com/

Jes said...

It's funny because my plan this year is to write letters as my gifts for Christmas. I'll be in the middle of moving and have no money, but I want to focus back on the people who are dear to me. I'm really looking forward to it!

Karen said...

What a wonderful idea!

Last spring I was at a local craft show ( in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and my 5 year old son spotted a puppet that looked 'just like Daddy!' This woman makes the wackiest, funniest puppets - she will even custom make one to resemble someone you know! Not actually intended for children but obviously children love them. Guaranteed to bring a smile. I can't find a website for her, but this blog link will take you to her Facebook page :)
http://halifaxcrafters.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/meet-the-crafters-pamela-mcinnis-and-puppet-dudes/

Linda said...

First: I love your blog and your photos and your spirit and the things you share. Second: I used this Etsy artist last year to create custom ornaments of our family cabin and gifted them to family members. They turned out wonderfully, just a really special memento. https://www.etsy.com/listing/60727723/custom-house-ornament-best-christmas?ref=favs_view_2

Emily said...

Typos can kill a nice comment haha! That would be 2 favorites :)

Momma Bee said...

Oh man...I love making gifts. I like to be crafty, even if I'm not Pinterestastic at it.

One Christmas, I really thought I rocked it. I made laundry detergent. 1 box Borax, 1 box Washing Soda, 1 box Baking Soda, 1 box Oxi Clean, 4 bars fels-naptha salt, 1 bottle Pure Crystals for scent. One big batch divided into 10 mason jars, capped with a decorated top and a tag for instructions because of course they'd want to make this for the rest of their lives! (Hey, I do make this, it saves a shit load of money on detergent and it smells great!)

I handed those babies to each receiver with a proud "Don't you love it?! I thought of you AND saved myself money!" They politely said thank you and the day went on. I felt like my enthusiasm wasn't shared, but I suppose one can only get so excited about a jar of soap, no matter how good it smells (really fucking good).

A couple years later, one of said receivers had a baby, and I went to her house to help out while she recovered. Of course that included laundry. Searching the cabinets, I found a big container labeled "Laundry Detergent." Pulled it down, popped it open and caught a whiff of MY laundry detergent! A different batch, recently made in a larger quantity. Halfway gone from regular use.

You bet your ass I did that laundry. And skipped around with a smile on my face because my cheap but thoughtful gift actually made an impact, even if just in the form of good smelling clothes.

Moral of the story. Crafts. Make things! They mean so much more!

Amy Grau said...

Each year, my husband and I schedule a late November date night -- dinner followed by a trip to Target. We fill a shopping cart to the brim with toys to be donated to a local charity! We have so much fun picking out these toys -- sock monkeys, crayons, board games, etc. We can't help but smile and remember how much the magic of Christmas means to a child! I own a small business in Naples, FL -- a graphic design company. Check out my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/amygraudesign or my Pinterest page at http://pinterest.com/amygraudesign. My favorite projects include ticket stub canvases and birthday collages. Of course, party invitations and photo books are fun too!

The Macons said...

I love this so much! Sorry the job thing didn't work out but ya know, you will go far. and high, and all over. Enjoy what you do, do what you enjoy. I used to enjoy writing. Then life gets in the way and now, well now I just enjoy life. Cheers!

Abby Scorsonelli said...

A high school classmates's wife sells on theFolk on Etsy. Such charming necklaces. (ha! See what I did there?!)

Oh oh! And PassiveJuiceMotel on Etsy. Love.

J.B. said...

I don't have any links to share, but I try to make gifts for teachers, swim coaches, and other people in our lives. Usually I give some sort of preserves - this year spiced pear jam and savory tomato jam. I'm also planning to make some homemade cocoa soap to give as well... I am looking forward to checking out some of these suggestions though!!

Kirsten Gardner said...

Lina! This is wonderful! I too love communication through the lost are of mailing. Everyone is getting framed photos from Burma for Christmas this year...shots from my trip in January are being displayed at SBP next month and I figured most will not sell so they will become gifts. As for local artists/art, I like the store Venue in Ballard which features local creators exclusively. Send me your address so I can send you a postcard from Phantom Ranch! We rig tomorrow and launch on the 19th! Besos. Kirsten

Kristina said...

Hi Lina - I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago through a friend, AND THEN on Dirtbag Diaries. I immediately devoured a bunch of your blogs, and loved them. Thank you.

I don't have any additional swoon-worthy gift ideas, but I do love the More Mail Mondays initiative. I recently did something for a friend, and I just want to share. I agree everyone deserves to get more mail: http://kristinatravels.blogspot.com/2014/11/how-to-increase-your-happiness.html

Sarah Beth said...

This is the most awesomest plan. (I know that isn't proper English, but it's fun).
I love love love giving gifts during the holidays, but I'm not great at receiving them. I love searching and hunting all year to find the perfect gift to give a loved one.
This year I taught myself to knit, so a good portion of my family is going to get lovingly made washcloths. My mom might even get a scarf.
I'm pretty sure I'll be ordering some gifts for my brother and his wife for Dig, since my SIL just took a job in Minnesota and they'll need some Montana love with them there.
I always try to find something that shows that person that they have a piece of my heart.

Aimee said...

Such a great idea. Snail mail is sadly overlooked these days. Who doesn't love a letter in the postbox!

I make a lot of our gifts at christmas, and we buy local for others. I use www.felt.co.nz for locally made goodies, as well as the craft shop in our little town. And this shop is local and have the best fairtrade and eco sourced stuff https://www.facebook.com/marmaladeclothingNZ

adventurekate said...

I'm a fellow mail enthusiast (writing, receiving, sorting), so I love this new direction.

Top on my To-Gift list:

My best friend is a photographer and artist and I get to shamelessly promote her. That includes buying her art for every available holiday and gifting it. Her name is Camrin, and here is her etsy shop (empty right now, may fill before the holidays) https://www.etsy.com/shop/thetalchousestudio and her website: http://www.camrindengel.com

Her photos are gorgeous and I hope the world can appreciate them as much as I do!

Subscriptions to magazines that make focus on truth and compassion (Orion Magazine and The Sun being two of them) are top on my list to give this year. When I read meaningful news, it makes me feel hopeful that I can do good in the world, and I want to share that with the people that I love!

For my fellow bikey friends, I'm ordering from Swift Industries (https://www.builtbyswift.com/).

My favorite small-scale outdoor clothing company is Melanzana out of Leadville Colorado. A MUST HAVE for people that like durable gear. Also really soft and warm. Here: http://melanzana.com/

I can't wait to see where Mystery Prize Monday takes us!

Whitney said...

My favorite small business is Potters Brown - a husband/wife pottery shop in Edom, Texas (population 375!!) Love, love, love their pottery.

Anonymous said...

I have never posted before, but my friend is donating all her time to help raise money for mothers in Africa...and this boutique also has some great items...Check it out!!
http://thelulutree.com/

Jaclyn and Tyler said...

How exciting! Girl you turned that shit around to be awesome.

One if my great friends is an artist in Asheville. She's a social worker by day and a mom/artist by night! Her etsy shops blesserheartart. You should check out her shop, but y'all could also be friends. She's a stud. And she made a dear portrait of my puppy for me that I love so very much!

Lauren T. said...

I love sending mail surprises! Mail enthusiast here :) my favorite shop is little sapling toys. It's my go to baby gift. Beautiful and functional creations

Jona said...

Don't sweat the Arkansas thing. I envy the way your writing has opened up new friendships, the kind where you can rock up to someone's house having never met them and be totally comfortable. That is a rare gift indeed. Great to see you blogging regularly again - hope you can continue to balance it with nursing!

Mandy Weston said...

I'm buying the ladies in my family secret message jewelry from https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZennedOut?ref=shop_sugg. Cassie has a lot of jewelry with pre-made hidden inspirational/zen quotes, but you can also get a custom piece saying whatever you want. I'm having mine made with inside jokes and/or messages of love :)

I also paint and I'm doing a couple of pet portraits for my possible-future-in-laws (one is even going to be of a corgi!).

Seeing Each Day said...

I'm sorry the job prospect didn't work out - it's hard when you devote a lot of mental energy towards something (let alone the hiring of the car, driving etc) for it to just halt. Like you, I get a great deal of joy from receiving mail and I think it's a lovely initiative of yours. Renee

Teresa J said...

I have my own Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/brainiac512) that I sell things in, I sell my crafts at shows (pretty much every weekend starting in October through December), I do a different booth May- October at our farmers market. I love to crochet, and bake, and basically do anything creative. I have been reading your blog for a few years and am so glad you have found your home in NC. I actually lived in Jacksonville, NC when my now ex husband was stationed there and I loved it. It was so beautiful! I'm back in KS now, but still think of it often.

Sara Dick said...

This year I am all about the homemade. We will be making hot chocolate on a stick with homemade marshmallows and a jar of kettle corn. Because - "it's a marshmallow world in the winter"

Thank you for being you!

Rhett said...

I love reading through old letters. Always brings lots of smiles and some tears. So sorry the job didn't work out but please keep writing! You're very talented at connecting with so many people.

Hooray for supporting small business, artists, makers, etc. I'm sure you know about Earlywood (such great, gorgeous utensils!)from Nici Cline but maybe not about another Montana artist. Her name is Heidi and she makes beautiful pottery in Missoula. Her husband is also a talented woodworker. Their Etsy shop is Sticks and Stones. https://www.etsy.com/shop/SticksnStonesWrkshp?ref=l2-shopheader-name
Hope you can check it out!

Andrew Takahashi said...

There's this local Seattle toy store that's been in business for 27 years Top Ten Toys (http://www.toptentoys.com/) that's pretty cool, and I hear this pretty dynamic dude works there.

Liz said...

My most favorite is Amy Karol's (angrychicken, if you read her blog) etsy shop, specifically the facial oils, though I love my "items with varying magical properties" print too. The Balancing facial oil is amazing. I got my mom the Replenishing one and she was skeptical, but is now a complete convert. I can't recommend them highly enough! I'm also fond of the floral perfume. https://www.etsy.com/shop/amykarol?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Alice said...

http://www.raleighcoffeecompany.com

Started and owned by my husband's cousin. Absolutely amazing coffee. I was never a big coffee drinker until I started working as a nurse but this stuff is addictive.

R.R said...

http://lilypottery.com/store Since you asked!
Its my sister in laws sister. Both of them have such great style and I am always getting tips from them. weather its cut off shorts, hats, or nude lipstic colors.

Chelsea Kastelnik said...

My sweet friend creates these amazing illustrations, I just got one of our furry-baby Monroe.

http://www.kellybjork.com

Her work is incredible! :)

Chelsea Kastelnik said...

My sweet friend creates these amazing illustrations, I just got one of our furry-baby Monroe.

http://www.kellybjork.com

Her work is incredible! :)

Aurora Doehring said...

I absolutely love Field Notes pocket notebooks. They're the perfect size to add to your every day carry. They're aesthetically pleasing and include a ruler along the edge of the inside back cover. Plus they're great quality. I have a few that are years old and still going strong which is pretty impressive considering what I've put them through. At least one has gone through the wash, and survived. They're also American-made by the company working with local print shops and paper makers. Really just a great product all around.

The Salty Dogs said...

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Sugarboys?ref=shopsection_shophome_leftnav

Shannon's friend Shelly makes alpaca pet pouf beds, handknit pet sweaters, felted wool pet toys, and treat pouches/toy bins in gorgeous stylish fabrics and yarns.

marinj said...

I've been busy painting, cleaning and moving for the past 10 days and am finally getting back to social media again and am thrilled to see this. How fun! Can't wait for future Monday's and see what transpires. :)