Sketchbook #34

We’re officially half-way through the year. Or we will be in a few days.

I’m mostly saying that to remind myself, because it feels like 2018 is never going to end. It feels like we’ve been stuck in 2018 for three years already, it will always be 2018, this is our life now. This is an impossible year in which to write, or look for beauty, or make art in general. June in particular has been a difficult month; in light of the news, it’s hard not to feel like this is all a little bit shallow.

But art—writing and photography—is what’s keeping me sane this month. This year.

June was the month that I finally figured out how to function creatively in 2018. I’ve settled into a nice pattern: writing in the morning, working on other projects later in the day, and not allowing the horrors of the world in until after I’ve done something (anything) I’m happy with. It’s good.

I’m about a third of the way through the first round of edits on The Black Sun, and I’ve finally figured out how to make that final scene more dramatic. (As a bonus, it makes the story less dependent on a sequel. From the beginning, I’ve thought of this as a stand-alone with series potential—the world is really fun to play in—but my original ending was too much of a cliffhanger. The new one still leaves some plot threads untied, but it stands on its own.) I’m still debating a few issues when it comes to point of view, and how to drop some clues without relying on a second or third POV character, but in general, I’m happy with my progress.

I’m also pleased with the progress I’ve been making on my plans for the Violet Lane rewrite. Most of it has been brainstorming and worldbuilding, figuring out backstories and character motivations, but I started piecing together the actual story outline today. I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m ready to start writing, but I’m looking forward to it. I already feel like I’ve got a better grasp of the story than I did on either of my previous attempts, and I know that this version is going to be closer to the original vision I had for the story.

I still have moments when it feels like I’m not actually writing, like editing and outlining don’t count, but I’m getting better at ignoring that feeling. My ultimate goal is still to be working on three projects at any given time (one first draft, one in editing/revisions, and one in the outline stage), but I’m moving in the right direction, and that feels pretty good.

Now. Photography. I’m not quite ready to make those photography-related announcements that I’ve been dropping hints about, but I am working on them. If anything, I’m over-preparing: at least one of the projects is a little bit scary for me (in a good way!), and I’m definitely procrastinating by anticipating and researching every single problem that I might encounter. And, while I’m aware of that and making a conscious effort to overcome it, it’s still going to take me a little bit of time to get over myself and be ready to launch.

My black & white photo project hasn’t stalled again, and I adore some of the photos I’ve made in the last few weeks. (Though I do wish more of them were taken with a real camera, rather than my phone. I love the peony photo I took last weekend, and wish I could print a nice big version of it, but it’s just too low-res. But I wasn’t expecting to see such a perfect peony in the parking lot of a big-box office supply store, so….)

So, yeah: somehow, despite everything, I have managed to accomplish my creative goals for June. Or, if I didn’t accomplish them, I at least made progress, and can acknowledge how and why that progress hasn’t happened quite as fast as I might like.

What are my plans for July? Keeping in mind that the world is on fire, and everything is impossible.

I’m going to keep going. I’m going to write—or outline or edit, because that’s writing, too—more days than not. I’m going to take pictures, and look for beauty, and stop looking for reasons to not do the things that keep me sane.

More specifically, I want to make it another third of the way through the edits on The Black Sun (at least). I’m going to figure out the key scenes in Violet Lane, and the broad strokes of the outline. (I’d also like to commit to character names, both for the new people, and the ones who I’m not entirely in love with yet.) I’m going to announce at least one of those scary projects that I’m working on.

I’m going to try to carry a real camera a little more often, even if I’m just going out to buy file folders.