Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in May.
May has taught me that I really do need to build a better system for managing my writing projects.
It started off well enough—I had finished drafts of both The Black Sun and Violet Lane, vague plans for my next project (very tentatively titled These Modern Things), and I was excited to move forward. And then… not much happened.
May wasn’t awful. I’ve been brainstorming the new story and figuring out what I need to do with Violet Lane, and I’m waiting to hear from readers of The Black Sun. I’ve been beta reading a story for a friend. So it’s not like I haven’t done anything this month but… it kind of feels like it.
The good news is, I’m happier with this batch of photos than I was with the last one. Not all of them, of course, but there are more good ones than bad, and there are a few that I’m really happy with.
One of my resolutions for 2019 was to “actively seek out inspiration,” to not only look for the art and media that made me want to do things, but to engage with it more.
I also said I’d keep you up to date with that.
Right. Yeah. Sorry.
I haven’t figured out a way to talk about it that feels natural for this space. I tend to shy away from writing reviews or critiques—even short ones—but I don’t know a better way to do it. (If you have an idea, drop it in the comments! I really do want to sort something out.)
But I have been doing the important part: over the last couple of months, I’ve been more intentional in the movies I choose to watch and the books I choose to read. This time, it’s not just a matter of pulling myself out of a rut (though… it’s kind of that, too), it’s about looking at the media that thrills me, and picking it apart and figuring out why I love it so much—and why it frustrates me, because most of the time, the stories I love the most are the ones that infuriate me. Not only are my standards higher, but I spend more time thinking about the story, working through character arcs and plot threads, and eventually—inevitably—seeing the places where they fall apart.
(And, no, I’m not talking about Game of Thrones—I’ve never watched it—but I do have to acknowledge that it’s part of the reason I’m thinking about this stuff right now. I’ve been watching the discussion over the past few weeks, and it’s given me a lot of new ideas about craft and storytelling.)
(I am talking about Avengers: Endgame. At least a little bit.)
1. starting… to pick up supplies for the balcony garden. It’s always a challenge (between the light and the nearby oak trees that try to murder the competition, nothing seems to want to grow out there), but I live in hope.
2. moving… forward with my big scary photo project. Small steps, but in the right direction.
3. thinking… about my creative process, and the things I want to make—in both writing and photography. Exciting things are coming. (Eventually. These things take time.)
4. getting… ready to update my inspiration board.
5. deciding… that I hate the little rubber backs that come on enamel pins now. They’re too easy to lose. (At least I noticed before I lost the pin, too.)
6. accepting… that it’s time to make some updates to the site design around here. I’ve been dancing around the idea for a while, mostly wondering if I was just procrastinating on other things, but… yeah. It’s time. I’m still deciding if it’s a full revamp, or just a refresh.
7. chipping… away at the podcast backlog. Again. (Always.)
8. looking… for a good baby-name site, with historical and demographic data and a good recommendation engine. (For naming characters. Not babies.) I used Nymbler for years, but I kind of hate how it works since the redesign.
9. setting… deadlines.
10. making… a new running playlist. The old one just wasn’t cutting it anymore.
The last ten days of photos… aren’t great. They’re not awful, I don’t actively hate any of them, but… most of them are ok at best. I only genuinely like two of these photos.
Over the last week or so, I haven’t been paying as much attention to photography as I’d like—I’m relying on my phone, and still taking photos just to check it off the to-do list, rather than putting any kind of effort in.
1. nursing… a post-Endgame emotional hangover. (Didn’t cry in the theatre, but it was a near thing.)
2. thinking… about John Singleton. Everyone’s talking about Boyz N the Hood (and rightly so), but Higher Learning (trailer) had a huge impact on me when I was first falling in love with movies. This hurts.
3. making… a real plan for the new running season. I started later than I’d like (stupid rain), but it’s not too bad, and I’ve got plenty of time to reach my goal for the year.
4. baking… this cake. It might be my new favourite (small batch!) chocolate cake recipe: the cake is flavourful and delicate, the frosting is fantastic, and none of it is too complicated.
5. figuring… out a tricky worldbuilding detail in the mysterious next writing project.
6. planning… some changes.
7. starting… to daydream about cold brew season. Yes, two weeks ago I was complaining about how spring—let alone summer—would never get here. I got over it.
8. feeling… motivated. And also sleepy?
9. troubleshooting… the Scrivener export/compile process. I mean… it works, but it’s not exporting a file that looks the way I want it to when I import it into other applications. (I like to deliver the file to beta readers using Google Drive. It solves so many compatibility issues.)
10. looking… for ducklings and goslings every time I’m near the lake… no luck so far.
I’ve got mixed feelings about this group of photos. Literally: I am absolutely in love with half of them, and I’m decidedly meh about the rest.
The end of April kind of snuck up on me, but here it is: time to check in with how I’m doing with my overall creative goals, and figure out what those goals are going forward.
My big goal, of course, was to finish up the third draft of The Black Sun. I’m technically still working on that, but I’m counting it as ‘done.’ The work is done; all that’s left is the final polish—tidying up a few typos and making sure the big edits didn’t introduce continuity errors, that sort of thing. I’ve done the read-through, and… I’m happy with it. I should be finished the polish in the next couple of days.
I’ve also been brainstorming the next projects. I’ve got a good basic plot and world for the next novel, and should be ready to start character work and outlining sometime in the next month. I’ve also got a vague plan for another thing, but… it’s very vague (as in, I still need to figure out the characters and plot). I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be able to get to that, but I’m mostly treating it as a side project right now, so there’s no rush.
The brainstorming for that side project also helped me clarify some of my plans for the second draft of Violet Lane. I haven’t started work on that, but that’s my big writing goal for May: to come up with a clear plan of attack for that draft, and to complete the outline.
(And I’m finally getting a handle on Scrivener. I still don’t like the file sizes, or the proprietary format, but I’m absolutely in love with the organizational features, and I’m slowly figuring out how to make the application work the way I want and need it to. I like it enough that I broke down and invested in the iOS version… and at $30 Canadian, it is an investment, so I’d better make good use of it.)
Overall, I’m happy with my writing progress this month. Normally, I’d take a break after reaching major milestones in two different projects, but… I don’t really want to. I want to keep this momentum going.