Sketchbook #47

Personal, Photography, Writing

September wasn’t terrible.

It wasn’t great. Losing power for two and a half days knocked me off my stride, and it took me longer to recover than it should have. I haven’t been happy with my photos lately (I already mentioned that). I’ve been dragging my feet on pretty much every big important project I’ve got going right now, and looking for any excuse I can find to avoid working on them.

But I’ve made it through the first act of Violet Lane. It’s been slower than I’d planned, and I’m still having a hard time settling into a consistent writing rhythm, but I’m having a lot of fun with the story. For the first time since that very first draft, lo these many years ago, it feels fresh and exciting. Tearing everything down to the foundations helped immensely in this case, and I’m glad I took the risk.

I’m taking photos. Even if I’m not thrilled with the results, just the fact that I’m carrying a camera on a regular basis and taking photos is a win. 

September hasn’t been terrible, and after July and August, I’ll take it.

But I do need to get past ‘not terrible’ and start making real progress again.

I said last month that I haven’t been pushing myself hard enough, and (obviously) that’s still true. Creatively, it’s because I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock, in both my writing and photography, where I’m not quite sure what the next steps are. I’ve reached the limit of my skills; that’s not a bad thing (it happens to all of us, all the time), but it does mean that I need to think about how to ‘level up.’ I’ve got some ideas for how to do that with photography—I’m more aware of my weaknesses there, and as a medium it lends itself to dedicated practice—but I’m having a harder time figuring out my options for writing. (If you have suggestions, let me know. I might have an idea, but I have to think about it a bit more.)

The other reason I haven’t been pushing myself hard enough is simple fear. 

Inspired | September 2019

Links

Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in September: finances of book deals and self-publishing, China’s effect on Hollywood, thoughts on Instagram and Like buttons, how commuting has shaped cities, and more.

Snapshot #136 | 10 Things for 22 September 2019

Admin, Personal

Currently…

1. realizing… that I’ve been procrastinating on some important projects.
2. ordering… so. many. books. (I had loyalty points to redeem, and I spent them well.)
3. having… the worst week. Seriously. Between the 9th and the 13th, everything that could go wrong did.
4. wishing… I knew how Lucy would react to another cat. (I met an adoptable pair of kittens that I’m absolutely smitten with, but I can’t really consider it with that uncertainty.)
5. regrouping… and refocusing. (Which is somehow not connected to #1.)
6. turning… off likes on posts and comments. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and it’s time. (I’m extending the comment window a bit to make up for it, but aside from that the comment policy isn’t changing. And, yes, likes still appear in the WordPress reader—I’d turn them off there too, if I could—but this way it doesn’t benefit the spammers who abuse the feature.)
7. trying… to catch up with my Instagram backlog.
8. solving… the email problem that was giving me stress dreams. (Part of why I had such an awful week… but at least it’s fixed now.)
9. getting… excited for autumn. I’m counting the days ’til I can break out the fingerless gloves and black tights. It’s almost cold enough, but not quite.
10. starting… to suspect I’m finally on the right track with Violet Lane.

I’m back! 

I hope. The power came back on for about an hour this morning, and just as I was starting to let my guard down—putting my phone on the charger, turning on the computer to write this post—it went out again. I still don’t entirely trust that it’s really back this time.

It’s been a dull couple of days, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. We lost a lot of branches in my immediate area, and I have to throw out nearly everything that was in the fridge, but if that’s the worst of it, I can deal. No one was hurt. Nothing was damaged.

I finished all four books I’d been reading, plus a comic collection I was saving. I took a few photos (but not as many as I expected). I baked the cookie dough I had in the freezer before the power went out (priorities!) and watched one of my across-the-lane neighbours parkour up to his second-floor apartment in the middle of the storm and go in through the balcony door, for some reason. I ventured down into the storage space in the basement to find the camp stove, even though the emergency lights had gone out at that point (but something was still beeping ominously?), and there was no better (worse) place for the zombies to attack. 

(Related: I’m 90% sure that parkour guy—or his roommate or partner or whatever—is the one I regularly hear belting out “Zombie” by the Cranberries, but I haven’t been able to confirm it.)

It’s still going to take me a couple of days to get completely back to normal, to catch up with Instagram and Twitter and this blog. And everything else. Bear with me.

Admin, Personal

Snapshot #135 | 10 Things for 8 September 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. having… one of those weeks when it feels like I own way too much stuff.
2. wishing… Parker made gel ink refills smaller than .7mm. I love the pen, and love the ink, but it takes up so much space on the page—I just want a finer line. (Yes. This is really bothering me.)
3. trying… to find a place where my pilea gets enough sunlight, but where the cat won’t destroy it.
4. writing… the synopsis for The Black Sun. I’ll still want to perfect it a bit, but… it’s good. Another step closer.
5. troubleshooting… a really annoying email issue. (If anyone’s trying to get in touch with me right now—or has tried recently and hasn’t gotten a response, since apparently this isn’t a new problem, I’m just discovering it now—I’m sorry. I’m trying to fix it. If it’s important, try the contact form.)
6. settling… into a good productivity system. I think. Still fine-tuning it.
7. thinking… about turning ‘likes’ off on the blog. It’s not that I’m against them, really, but too many spammers abuse the feature, and I don’t know that it’s worth it. Any thoughts?
8. hoping… they finish resurfacing my street soon.
9. making… bread for the first time in ages. I finally had a weekend when I could stand the thought of turning on the oven.
10. starting… the new draft of Violet Lane. This is going to be fun.

Ok, so: Hurricane Dorian is heading this way. The rain’s already started.

I’m fine. Everything’s secured, all batteries are charged, I’ve got food and books and a manual coffee grinder. I’ve printed off a copy of the Violet Lane outline, just in case. (What more do I need, really? And, yes, I have water.) I’m watching a couple of nearby trees warily, but really, the worst I’m expecting (personally) is to lose power. It might be for a couple of hours, it could be a few days, but this early in the season, with all the leaves still on the trees—power lines are coming down at some point. (When Hurricane Juan hit in 2003, I was without electricity for almost a week. But that was a lower-priority neighbourhood when it came to restoration, and my apartment building at the time was only about a block away from the high-water mark.)  

Rather than run down my batteries scrolling through Instagram and Twitter looking for updates, I’m going to keep my phone and iPad turned off as much as I can. I’ll update this post if something important comes up, and tomorrow’s regularly-scheduled post has been… scheduled… (I tried five different ways of phrasing that and hated them all), but I won’t be responding to email or comments, or getting any notifications until I’m sure everything’s stable again.

I’ll be back soon! 

Admin, Personal