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.

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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). Voilà! 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.

Planning

It’s the last week before NaNoWriMo 2014 begins. I am a good 20+ chapters into my outline for Project: Destiny and feeling good. I have color-changing LEDs on my desk that I believe I will use to admonish myself; red when I haven’t written, yellow once I’ve started, green once I’ve met my word goal for the day. (I will probably not keep up with this.)

desk leds

I’m excited. I’m raring to go. I’m posting encouraging notes on the corkboard beside my desk. I have magnetic poetry next to that in case I need some unrelated word play to get the creative juices flowing. I have lots of good music ready to go.

Tick-tock.

Changes

This year is turning out to be one of significant changes. I chose to leave my relationship, I chose to move, and finally a third change has been thrust upon me.

Things around the office have been kind of troublesome for the last month or so. I work for the government of Québec, whose premier announced a two-year hiring freeze for provincial employees in the spring. I had been hired on a two-year contract, set to expire this month. I remained hopeful, and began badgering people for information as the date drew nearer, always being met with the response that no one knew anything.

In order for the office I work for to renew my contract, they need authorization from the Conseil du trésor. To that end, they made a detailed report of my tasks and sent them on up, hoping to justify my position based on the essential work that I did. On October 8, nine days before the end of my contract, I was called into a meeting with the vice president and the assistant director of the Régie, where I was told that in absence of a reply from the Conseil du trésor, my contract could not be renewed.

Me in front of the National Assembly, begging the Conseil du trésor to renew my contract

Me in front of the National Assembly, begging the Conseil du trésor to renew my contract

The most difficult part of leaving was saying goodbye to dear coworkers that I have become close to in my short time there. At a farewell lunch with the director, assistant director, their secretary, my boss, and the other technician in my department; I was given a card that had been signed by many of these coworkers. I teared up immediately and put the card away to read later. When I did, I had tears streaming down my face and a heart warmed by their many words of encouragement and kindness.

I have come to see this final change as an opportunity to achieve something greater. I have begun the process of looking for a new job, though at the same time I am taking advantage of my time off to enjoy life and make my home more comfortable. I may not have chosen this change, but I can embrace it.

Moving, getting ready to write

Despite the best intentions, I’ve only managed to outline a few chapters of Destiny. Most of my time has been (avoiding) packing up for a move later this week, and all the nostalgia that entails. I’ve lived here nearly five years, it was my first real home with my husband, and I’m leaving that behind. This will be a good change, but leaving things behind isn’t often easy.

life in bags

My move on the 10th still gives me plenty of time to hammer out my outline. Once I get settled in, I plan to dedicate 90% of my free time to getting it done (I still have to leave myself a small percentage for socializing, quiet time, baths, etc.) so that come November 1st, I’m ready to start at a run. I can see myself taking my laptop with me everywhere in the house, outlining in the dining room, the basement, on the front porch on less cold days.

It will be good not to be chained to my desk, to have a change of scenery. I’m mostly ready. My desk is a mess, I’ve got to organize things and probably chuck most of it out.

National Novel Writing Month 2014 is coming

lukas nano 2014 tshirt

Due to aforementioned personal drama, my writing has taken a sort of nosedive. What better way to effect a renaissance in my writing? Last year, NaNoWriMo gave me the impetus I needed to write the majority of the rough draft for Climbing Yggdrasil, and I was able to complete it in the following month.

I’ve gotten in touch with my local municipal liaison to offer my help. I want to be more involved this year and actually attend events and chat with other participants. I get excited talking about writing with non-writers, how much more fun would it be to enthusiastically exchange ideas in person with others like me?

This time, Project: Destiny will be up to bat. I’ve set up Scrivener as comfortably as I can on my laptop and begun a new outline, complete with justifications for each chapter in the document notes. I want to minimize chaff from the get-go. I’m going to see about keeping the laptop in my backpack and using train time to make progress. I think I’ll also enjoy the freedom of being to write anywhere at home instead of being chained to my desk. Plus, write-ins.

October is my official planning month, though I’ve gotten a slight head start. I aim to have my outline complete by mid-month and tweaked by the end, so I’ll be ready to dive headfirst into NaNo. I don’t work Fridays in November, and the 1st is on a Saturday this year, so I plan to get a huge headstart during the first weekend. Hopefully I won’t be too hungover from Halloween festivities.

Who’s coming with me on the NaNo ship?

Edit – I really did write 2015. I think I’m probably just so over 2014 already.

Clariel, the Lost Abhorsen

When I was in seventh grade, I had an English teacher with a full bookshelf, who encouraged me to borrow from it and read voraciously in addition to my assigned reading for class. One of the first books I borrowed from her was Sabriel by Garth Nix, which quickly lodged itself in my heart and became one of my all-time favorites. I adore the protagonist, the realistically-painted world, the limitations of the magic within, and the fact that necromancers use a series of seven bells to control the Dead. Bells. Genius.

I reread Sabriel at least once a year, and quite often the two sequels Lirael and Abhorsen. Finally, after many years of there being nothing new in the Old Kingdom, Clariel is coming.

Clariel

This forthcoming novel is a prequel to the others, taking place some few hundred years before the events of Sabriel. Here’s the blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

I’m greatly looking forward to it, and have already preordered it for my Kobo. It comes out October 14, and I can’t wait to go back to the Old Kingdom.