Inspired | February 2018

Links

A roundup of all the things I can’t stop thinking about this month.

What’s the biggest challenge novelists face when switching to screenwriting? by Scott Myers

How I Write a Comic Book Script by Greg Pak

We Need to Start Taking Young Women’s Love Stories Seriously by Marian Crotty

Conjuring Creative Permission from Our Tools by Craig Mod

To Feel Strong by Lucy Bellwood

Detailed London Transport Map including closed and never opened stations, platforms, and lines

The Feds Can Now (Probably) Unlock Every iPhone Model In Existence | Forbes

Do or Do Not | Reghan Skerry

Sketchbook #30

Photography, Writing

February was one of those months that just… didn’t work for me. That one week in the middle—something like a vacation, but not quite—threw me off my game for the entire month. I had a hard time being productive the week before (because I knew I’d be taking a break, so I didn’t want to build momentum only to lose it again), and I struggled to find my stride again after.

I really need to find a way to work around interruptions like that. They’re a real struggle for me, and I’ve never been able to figure out a way to integrate them into my creative process.

Anyway.

After finishing the first draft of The Black Sun (NaNo ’17), I’ve been very carefully not thinking about it at all, letting it sit while I (hopefully) get enough distance to look at it again without hating it. Instead, I’ve been brainstorming for Violet Lane (NaNo ’16, formerly known as The Persistence of Memory), and trying to make the story work the way I want it to. I’ve mentioned it before, but that’s going to be a complete rewrite, rather than just an edit: I’m getting rid of one storyline entirely, eliminating a lot of characters, and… it’s going to be a completely different story, built on the same premise.

I’m hoping to start the rewrite in March, but the outline is going slower than I’d hoped, so… we’ll see.

Now. Photography. I’m still not really doing anything (I still haven’t even looked at Instagram, and I’m feeling guilty about that), but that’s about to change! Like… on Thursday.

Here’s the plan: one photo a day, from 1 March to 9 June (100 days). Black and white only. No restrictions on the camera, but I’m going to try to use a real camera more often than my phone. I’m going to post to Instagram every day, and post a roundup here every ten days. Other than that, there are no rules.

With any luck at all, this’ll be enough of a challenge to dig me out of the rut I’ve fallen into these past two months. If it goes well, I’ll plan a second 100-day project to follow, with new rules.

So that’s where I stand: February was kind of meh, but at least I know why, and I’m making plans to make March a more productive month. (And I’m also going to try to get the sketchbook post for March up on the last Monday of the month, like I’m supposed to.)

Let’s do this.

Snapshot #95 | 10 Things for 25 February 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. planning… a photo project that will (hopefully!) get me out of this rut.
2. painting… over more of the awful builder’s beige, one room at a time.
3. waiting… for the books I ordered to arrive.
4. getting… super excited about incredibly boring office supplies. (I found the specific file sorter I’ve been searching for! And it was on sale! 😍)
5. looking… for an interesting cupcake recipe.
6. finding… a skirt that I might actually wear. It has pockets!
7. admitting… that that new regular feature for the blog is actually a couple of weeks away. Oops.
8. obsessing… over inspiration and mood boards.
9. working… out the details for one rewrite, and trying very hard not to think about the draft I just finished at all.
10. starting… to think about running again. The weather’s been decent enough lately….

Snapshot #94 | 10 Things for 11 February 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. playing… Shirley Manson and Fiona Apple’s cover of ‘You Don’t Own Me’ on endless repeat.
2. feeling… frustrated. And strangely optimistic.
3. wishing… that the good (convenient) cinema had an opening-week screening of Black Panther that wasn’t in 3D.
4. looking… for a new healthy(ish) snack. I’m a little bored with my recent go-to.
5. planning… another new feature for the blog. Fingers crossed, it’ll debut this week. (Or maybe next week… we’ll see how it goes.)
6. watching… The Force Awakens. Finally. So good, though this is the second Star Wars film in a row that’s made me cry in the theatre.
7. reading… all of the Star Wars analyses and thinkpieces I’ve had saved since December.
8. cleaning… out my closet. I’ve still got too much stuff, but at least I can find it all now.
9. getting… tired of all the rain.
10. outlining… the next story, and resisting the urge to reread the one I just finished.

Sketchbook #29

Photography, Writing

(A little late getting to last month’s sketchbook post, but at least I’m getting to it.)

If January taught me anything, it’s that I need to have some kind of well-defined photography project if I’m going to keep shooting. And I need to make a public commitment to that project. Without those two things, I really struggle to stay on track with any of my photography goals.

In other words, it wasn’t a good month for me as a photographer.

It’s not that surprising; it’s always a struggle to get back on track with anything in January, and this has been a fairly dismal month for light and visual interest. But it’s still disappointing; I started the year feeling pretty good about my successful 365 project, so the fact that I’ve barely taken any photos all month feels kind of awful. (So does the fact that I haven’t even logged into Instagram since the second week of January. I feel guilty that I don’t have anything to post, and then I feel guilty that it’s been so long, and then everything just builds on itself.)

I’m not sure how I’m going to fix it. I could start another 365 project, but I’d still run into the issues that I had last year: the weird combination of too much pressure and not enough challenge. I have been thinking about finding some thirty-day challenges, but I haven’t found one that appeals yet. (Full disclosure: I haven’t really been looking all that hard. Most of the ones I’ve seen in the past don’t appeal to me—they tend to be aimed at casual photographers, and again: I want something that challenges me technically or artistically—and I haven’t had a chance to do a new in-depth search.) I’ve also started thinking about a 100-day project of some kind, but I’m not sure what I want to do.

At least it was a good month for writing?

I’m finding my way back into a routine that feels like it genuinely works for me—a happy medium between the intense schedule of something like NaNoWriMo and the complete lack of structure that I tend to fall into when I don’t have a strict deadline. I’m still fine-tuning things (and we’re coming up on the real test now that I don’t have a mostly-finished WIP to motivate me), but… I think I’m on the right track.

And, hey: I finished the draft I was working on! That’s awesome!

… and it is, but I’m also in a bit of a weird mood. Some of it is just coming down off of that particular project (it was taking up a lot of my mental energy), but it goes a bit deeper than that.

I’ve been thinking about art vs. craft lately. For a long time—since before I burned out, took a break, and came back to writing—I’ve been focussed on the craft of writing: learning how to construct a story that makes sense without being painfully predictable, how to create a character that feels real. How to outline a story in a way that doesn’t make me lose interest before I put a single word on the page.

And that’s good! I needed to do that work.

But now—or for now—I feel like I’ve got a solid understanding of the mechanics of a story. There’s always more to learn (seriously, why are action scenes so difficult?), but I’ve reached the point where reading another how-to book or studying another variation on story structure isn’t going to push me forward. (Again: for now.)

All this emphasis on craft (and a conscious effort to rein in my naturally wordy prose) has led to a very… straightforward style in my writing. It’s perfectly ok, but there’s nothing in it that stands out. My best writing has always been the stuff that really plays with language (my favourite compliment that I’ve ever received for my writing is from someone who called it ‘lush’) and form, and I haven’t really been doing that lately. (Of course, we’re talking about a first draft here. It’s been ages since I’ve wanted to turn a first draft into a finished work. Who knows what could happen in the revisions and rewrites?)

Anyway.

Aside from that, I’ve started outlining the rewrite of the NaNoWriMo project I did in 2016. If everything goes as planned, I should be able to start writing it… we’ll say by the end of the month, to be generous (nothing writing-related is going to be happening next week), but I’d like to get into it sooner than that. I’m also trying to figure out what I want to work on next. I’ve got ideas, but they’re still very vague, and I’m not 100% certain that they’re in line with what I want to be doing.

I don’t know if I’m feeling optimistic about the rest of February or not.

The Black Sun (draft 1): Finished!

Writing

On Monday, I was convinced that I wouldn’t be meeting my self-imposed deadline to finish this story, despite the commitment I made last week. It wasn’t that there was a lot of story left to go, just… the story that was left was a bit daunting. This was the final set piece, the ultimate confrontation, and I knew it would be draining. And it was.

But I did it. The first draft of the story I started during NaNoWriMo is finished. The final count is approximately 76,000 words, which is just about perfect. (Though I already know that this is going to be one of those cases—rare for me—where the first draft runs a little short, rather than long.)

(And, yes: this means that I wrote 50,000 words in November, and then it took me two entire months to write another 26,000. But whatever. December and January are awful months to try to get anything done.)

Normally, this is the part where I’d say that the story isn’t perfect, but it’s solid, and I can definitely turn it into something good. And that might be the case (it’s probably the case), but I’m not going to say it. Not yet. I’m not in a good place to make that assessment right now.

But it’s done!

Now, I’m going to step back from this, take some time to figure out how I’m going to approach rewriting the 2016 story, and then… we’ll see.