August goals

Talkin’ ain’t doin’

Here it comes: actual, concrete goals to hold myself to. I’ll have to start with arbitrary numbers as I get back into the swing of things, and adjust as I go along. Naturally, I’ll try to push myself harder.

In terms of writing, I’d like to have a new novel outlined before August is up. That gives me three weeks, so I’ll set myself a goal of ten chapters outlined per week.

Revision is a little harder. I’m due for another reread of Yggdrasil to see what needs editing, cutting, and where new material needs to be fitted in. I can manage a reread in one week, then a second look over another week to target problem areas.

Of course, I’ll want to make hokey index cards to put on my corkboards to illustrate my progress with these goals. It helps to have them there, staring at me at all times.

I’ll be back next week with updates on my progress!

 

Shame

I’ve had many ups and downs as a writer, often wrestling with my identity and feeling ashamed for not writing enough. I feel confident and capable as long as I have momentum on a project, but quite often this falls away and doubt begins to creep in.

A big problem here is when I meet new people. The inevitable question is asked, “What do you do?” I talk about my desk job, and I’m quick to explain that my true passion is writing. Usually, people are interested to know what I’ve written. The longer it’s been since I’ve actively worked on anything, the more shame I feel at this query, and the more I question myself as a writer.

This gives way to a loop where doubt stymies my attempts at writing, which feeds doubt, and so on. Presently, I’m at a point where I no longer even mention to new people that I write. I’m not writing, so how can I call myself a writer?

The thought is toxic, and incorrect. I will be a writer no matter what happens, it is something that is part of me. However, I feel happiest and most like myself when I’m actually producing writing, or refining what I’ve already written. This is my main reason for coming back to this blog: it’s a tool that helps me plan and focus and hold myself accountable.

What a year it’s been

It’s been more than a year since I’ve done any sort of semi-regular posting. I have had difficulty keeping hold of the focus that allowed me to write Yggdrasil and create this blog. I’ve finally come to admit the truth to myself:

I have a problem with boys.

I am desperately afraid of being alone, to the point that I put all of my energy into the search for the next guy. Once I find someone interesting and interested enough, I pour my energy into making that work. My social life slumps, my apartment becomes a cluttered mess, but everything’s okay because I’m positively smitten.

I’ve been single for a few weeks now. It’s pretty scary, actually. There’s this wild mix of emotions and doubts, the very thing I’ve so successfully run from in the past. I’m teaching myself to embrace this chaos and find my voice in the midst of it all. I’m off of meet-up (let’s be honest, hookup) apps, because I know my standard pattern:

“Oh, he’s cute.” We chat a bit. “Ooh, he’s interesting!” We chat some more, perhaps meet up. “Omg, there are stars in my eyes!” And so begins another doomed relationship.

There’s a book I’ve read a couple times called the Velvet Rage by Alan Downs. Both times, I took the same thing from it: I need to do what makes me happy, what makes me feel fulfilled. Writing is that thing for me. Though I’ve made plans, I haven’t come back to writing in any meaningful way.

That changes now. I am vowing to come back here, week after week, and reestablish the rhythm I once had. I have a book to finish, I have ideas for other books, I have a need and a desire to express myself creatively. That’s Goal #1: update this blog weekly, more goals to follow.

As for the boys, I’m telling myself I can’t date until I write another novel. It’s high time I put my personal projects and ambitions ahead of the search for love.

Dusting

Goodness, I’ve got some dusting to do, don’t I?

Hello everyone! I am still alive and well, though I have had some adventures since I last wrote here. Not much has changed, and I find myself again reminded that writing is what I love to do.

… that is, when I’m not being so lazy. Hehe.

I’m engaging myself to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, with a new project. I believe part of what drags me down is my mulish insistence on working on Destiny. Maybe it will happen one day, but I think I benefit more from fresher ideas.

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I bought a small journal and started scribbling some ideas in it. The working title is “The Oracle’s Daughter” and it’s about, surprise, the daughter of an oracle. I have some other vague notions about it that I plan to realize by the end of the month so that I can launch into a flurry of narrative.

Of course, I will be posting semi-regularly here to keep everyone up-to-date in my NaNo madness. I’ll also be sprucing up the pages here. I’m due a new bio, and this blog might need a makeover.

Scribophile

I’ve finally found what I needed to give me a kick in the pants. I saw something online for this site, Scribophile, which I had never heard of but I’m always up for more engagement with interested writers. They have this interesting karma system where you need points to post your writing, points that can only be earned by critiquing the writing of others.

I was terrified. Who am I to critique someone else’s work? What do I know about characterization and plot and pacing? What if I sound mean?

This is nonsense, of course. I know what I like to read. I know what works for me, and I can recognize if writing is confusing or uninteresting. I can also bring up things that can be improved upon without tearing something to pieces.

The more I critique, the more comfortable I get with it, and the more I feel I can offer kind suggestions of areas to improve. I’m also building awareness of what makes writing good, and turning to my work with new eyes. Also, I’ve posted the first chapter of Climbing Yggdrasil and gotten back some great feedback on things I had never noticed. I’d like to post one chapter a week, which means regularly critiquing in order to have enough karma to keep up that pace.

Are any of you on Scribophile? Please let me know so I can have a look! You can see my profile by clicking here.

The schedule is working, mostly

 

My schedule is going very well so far! I’ve embarked on week three of my couch-to-5k program; it remains challenging without being impossible. I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like in terms of music or writing, but it feels good to have something back on track.

I did give the ending of Climbing Yggdrasil a good look. It’s rushed and a bit sloppy, and certain elements come out of nowhere. This last will be fixed by a major edit, that idea of tying together a couple of suggestions into something new. I’ve printed out my chapter outlines and made some notes, now all I have to do is open up Scrivener and start changing things.

I like the idea of little exercises, though. Something apart from the main project to keep my fingers flexible. I also like the idea of getting a bit more interactive with readers, so I’m putting a form here where I encourage you to submit a one-word prompt. I’ll take the three that interest on inspire me the most and come up with a short (500 words or so) piece stringing them together.

Planning the future

There is a fine line between allowing myself time to set my life back in order and loafing around. It is useless to wait for things to fall into place while I play Final Fantasy XIV for hours and hours on end. While it is acceptable to work on one thing at a time, actual work must be done.

There are several things that I want to keep in more or less good condition if my life is to be a happy one. When I run out of motivation or energy, work is the only one I can really seem to keep going, and only thanks to necessity; I screw up work, I cannot afford to eat. Yet there are many other important elements that add up to a good quality of life: getting enough sleep, maintaining a clean home, a healthy body, continued creative expression, and I could go on.

plan 2015

I’ve selected four of these areas that I’ve been neglecting: cleaning, exercising, blogging, and playing guitar. Notice “writing” is distinctly absent from the list, more on that later. I’ve already done a mad blitz in my room, vacuuming while a load of laundry washes downstairs. I even moved my bed away from the wall to vacuum underneath it, and briefly considered rearranging my furniture; that can wait until another time.

Jogging was the easiest to schedule. The couch-to-5k program I’m following calls for three days a week with rest days in between, so before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is perfect. This has been the plan since the new year rolled around, but I’ve been lax in getting to bed at a decent hour on Sunday nights, and once Monday is skipped, it’s all-too-easy to put the whole thing off till next week.

For blogging, I’ve always favored Thursdays. I’m going to work during the week to have a post queued up to go live on Thursdays at 6:00pm Eastern (GMT -5:00). VoilĂ ! Here’s the first of many more to come!

Music should be often enough that my fingers retain their calluses. It’s so annoying wanting to play guitar a little more but having to stop because of the pain. Pain caused by my own negligence, adding insult to injury. I really enjoy making music and I think some new songs would help me get back into it with gusto.

Writing is a little trickier to plan. I’ve decided that Climbing Yggdrasil is coming out this year, and to do that I have to make some major content edits. My sister asked some questions, my friend Jess made some suggestions, and between what they said was a brilliant idea that ties up a few dangling threads and changes the shape of the story for the better. This makes it a bit difficult to say, “I want to have five chapters a week edited!” I suppose a good starting goal would be to identify which chapters need to be changed and where new content needs to be fitted in. For this week, my writing goal is to reread Climbing Yggdrasil paying special attention to this.

Come back next week to hear how well this worked or how it all fell apart!

A new year

2014 was definitely a very interesting year for me. The majority of this blog happened in 2014, and although the latter months of the year saw a sharp decline in my posting (sorry!), I haven’t forgotten how useful this can be as a motivational tool. Naturally, one of my resolutions for the new year is to update more regularly, write more often, and get more done than I did last year.

I can only use the excuse of “my life changed” for so long. It’s time to establish a new, healthy rhythm that sees me working on what really moves me, getting my stories out there. I need to turn Climbing Yggdrasil into Climbing Yggdrasil; somehow, it doesn’t seem appropriate to italicize the title until the damn thing is out there, published, where people can get their hands on it and rip it apart.

new year thumbs up

I believe I can set three concrete goals without placing the bar out of reach:

  1. Publish Climbing Yggdrasil
  2. Finish the rough draft of another novel (Project Destiny, mayhaps?)
  3. Post regularly (weekly, at least) to this blog

Some vague goals would include read more, write more, branch out, experience new things, etc. I’ll be back soon with news. Until then, Happy New Year, everyone, and may it be better than the one before.

It’s been a year already?

I apparently missed my one-year anniversary! I was notified by e-mail that my domain name was expiring (I actually let it lapse… oops…) and unfortunately, the last week had been too busy for me to do much about it. I’ve since renewed my domain, and have realized it’s long since time I come here for an update.

oops

Not much has been happening on the writing front, though I did start a new pantsing project today. For those unfamiliar, “pantsing” is a term thrown about the NaNoWriMo forums, used in opposition to planning. Pantsers typically do not outline their books, or do very little outlining; planners, on the other hand, make detailed outlines before beginning a project.

This blog has a lot of my personal musings on writing, some news as to what I’m working on, but there is a scarcity of actual creative writing here. With an idea to remedy that, I may very well post all of my pantsing project as I go along. I may also write a story entirely on Google Drive, with my phone as the main interface. That said, here is a sort of prologue for my pantsing project, which I will call “Maelstrom” for the moment.

Ran looked up at the concrete sky not far beyond her window, counting the pale lights that hung there, grim parodies of stars. She had read about stars and seen images of them in books, but they shone far above anywhere she was likely to ever go. So she counted the lights from her bed as she lay waiting for sleep to take her.

The alarm threw her rudely from already fading dreams. She stumbled from her bed and rubbed sleep from her eyes. Her feet found her tattered slippers and she shuffled off to the bathroom to begin her morning ritual.

Eight flights down to street level, a diminishing piece of toast hanging from her mouth as she bounded down the stairs. The building that housed her school stood nearly within view of her home, a few bridges from one tower to the next would save her half the trip.

The lights above now glared with yellow light meant to be reminiscent of the sun, though surely sunlight did not give such an unhealthy tint to skin. Ran had read about the sun as well, another near-mythical object as far as she was concerned.

She checked her watch as she exited the stairwell on the sixth floor of her school, breathing heavily, trying to regain a semblance of composure which failed when she saw the time. She hissed a curse and ducked back into the stairwell. She was late, and her teacher would have locked the door by now, forcing any tardy students to knock and make a spectacle of themselves.

Ran frowned, then continued up the stairs.

No building on her level had more than eleven or twelve storeys, the concrete ceiling preventing growth beyond that. Her school was one of the rare buildings with twelve floors, ceilings being lower in classrooms. Probably to make us feel more oppressed, she mused darkly. Ran climbed to the twelfth floor, where one door led out of the stairwell to faculty offices, and another was bordered in red with explicit warnings written all over it.

WARNING: EMERGENCY USE ONLY. ANY NON-JUSTIFIED USE WILL RESULT IN CRIMINAL CHARGES.

She narrowed her eyes at this, then pushed the bar. An alarm began to screech, echoing down the stairwell. She ignored it and went through, pulling the door shut behind her.

Another stair continued up, lights flashing red and white as a different alarm sounded this side of the door. She continued up, her thighs protesting as she gripped the handrail and pulled herself along. Ran listened for the sounds of boots tramping down from above, or up from below, certain that enforcers would be along to apprehend her in a moment. Why did I do that? she thought giddily.

As she made the next landing, she stopped short, staring at a strange glimmer on the wall. It was the size and shape of a door, and seemed flush with the concrete. Yet it appeared to have depth, leading into a dark tunnel. The edges wavered and shifted, and Ran knew instinctively that the apparition would soon be gone.

She summoned a bit of energy against the aching in her legs, and bounded into the strange tunnel. It faded behind her silently, leaving solid wall and no trace of the young woman.

Coming soon, news on Destiny and Climbing Yggdrasil!

NaNoWriMo derailed

Who would have thought beginning a new job at the same time as NaNoWriMo would be difficult?

I wrote nothing November 3rd and 4th; my training at work, while not difficult, was so full of facts that I had no mental energy by the time I came home. No writing. I hatched a clever plan to carry my laptop around and take the train home. Sure, it would take a little longer to get home in the evening, but I’d have a solid hour to hammer at the keys. It worked, I managed an average of 1,700 words each night on the train, and this while still fiddling with my cell phone.

Then, tragedy struck. On November 14, I turned 28.

… and the tragedy is that I fell ill during my birthday supper. This started five straight days of fever, and painful swelling in my mouth. On day 5, I got myself to a clinic where the doctor told me I had an abscess and prescribed me antibiotics.

Needless to say, those fever days saw me write not a single word, and though I am currently much recovered, I am rethinking my strategy from here on. It’s too late for me to make a mad dash to the finish with NaNoWriMo, but a daily writing habit would be a good thing to keep going. My laptop is heavy, and I do get a sense of pride from handwritten words on the page. My biggest complaint last time was that I can’t write as fast as I’d like (i.e. for NaNo purposes), but isn’t slow and steady better than nothing at all?

Plus, this gives me an excuse to go to Essence du Papier downtown and splurge on a gorgeous, new journal.

Another good idea would be to return to a regular updating schedule. This blog is almost a year old now, and though I have had very long periods of consistent updating, I can hardly say I’m at 100%. The last pieces have fallen into place with my changing life, there are no longer any excuses for letting things slide. Time to buckle down.