Sketchbook #48

I thought that October was going to be busy, that there were a lot of things that would get in the way of my creative goals.

It turned out to be even busier than I expected: I’ve only had one full week without interruptions (even today they’re testing the fire alarms in my building, which is always a joy—that’s why I’m working on this blog post instead of fiction), I’ve had inconvenient (but not serious) health issues crop up, and it’s just been generally difficult to stay motivated.

But I did it.

I’ll start with Violet Lane. I wanted to reach the midpoint by the end of the month. I’m not quite there, but I’m close. It’s on the horizon. And I like the story. It’s really good (considering it’s still very much a first draft, and ‘really good’ in this context means disjointed and messy and kind of terrible in some places), and more importantly, I’m having fun with it. It’s still not easy to write, and I’ve definitely had days when it just wasn’t working, but overall, writing it is a good experience this time around.

Also, I mentioned it on Twitter, but getting back into a proper mid-writing-session coffee break has done wonders for my writing routine. The caffeine helps, obviously, but mostly it’s the process of actually grinding the beans and heating the water. It gets me away from the work for a few minutes, but in a way that focusses, rather than distracts. It’s fantastic, and I love it.

I’ve also made a lot of progress on the final polish of The Black Sun. I mean… not the revisions themselves, but I’ve read through the notes from my betas, dealt with the emotional rollercoaster that always triggers, and come up with a plan. (That part of the process was particularly stressful this time around, but the more I dug into the notes, the more I realized that the ones that were bothering me most weren’t actually pointing at issues with the story. That particular reader just didn’t connect with certain elements, and that’s ok. And this is why we always use multiple beta readers, kids. And why we always take some time to think about what notes are actually saying, rather than just taking them at face value—or worse, letting our emotional reaction to those notes drive us.) I don’t think I need to do any major rewrites this time around. Most of the changes are minor, and involve clarifying certain details or scenes. 

The downside to all this: I didn’t get These Modern Things outlined. I honestly just forgot about it.

Now. Photography. I’ve already talked about that a bit this month, and I still haven’t come up with any clear plans going forward. I’m thinking about it. In the meantime, I’m still taking photos, with varying levels of satisfaction. The usual.

But I have made progress on the Big Scary Photo Thing! Real progress, finally. I’m still not quite ready to make the announcement, but it’s coming soon. In the next few weeks. Watch this space.

Also, as a side-note: I think I might have stumbled onto something that could fit the criteria I set for a creative hobby at the beginning of the year. It’s not what I expected, at all. It’s not directly related to writing or photography (but can inspire both), it’s fun and interesting and has enough of a learning curve to challenge me, and it feels like an actual hobby instead of another big thing on my to-do list. (I’m sorry. I don’t mean to turn this into a riddle, but it’s still early days. I’ll go into more detail when I’m past the first blush of enthusiasm and know if I’m going to stick with it.)

My other big goal for this month was to come up with a plan to build my skills, in both writing and photography. Or maybe that was a goal for the last part of 2019. 

Either way, I’ve been looking at ways to approach studying craft, and rearranging my schedule a bit so I can fit that study in around my higher-priority projects. I’m still experimenting with the whole thing right now, but if I can figure it out by January—and if I can really commit to it—I’ll be happy.

Overall, I would’ve liked to have a more productive October, but given the circumstances, I’m not disappointed with my progress. It was still better than the summer months, and I’m starting to find my focus again.

November is going to be another busy month. Busy enough that I’m very glad I decided against doing NaNoWriMo this year—there’s no way I could manage it with everything else that’s going on. (That said: if anyone wants a cheerleader for NaNo, let me know! I’m always available if you need to bounce ideas off someone, or a pep talk, or just to complain about how difficult the whole thing is. My profile is here, if you’re looking to rebuild your buddy list.) 

I’ve got two big goals for next month. First, I want to finish polishing The Black Sun, and start querying before everything shuts down for the holiday season. (I’m not sure if that’s really a good idea or not, but I’d rather do that than give myself another month to obsessively look for details that need fixing.) Second, I want to announce the Big Scary Photo Thing. Again, the timing is a bit weird, but I’ll deal with that.

Other than that, I just want to keep moving forward on the other projects, and start making plans for next year. It’s right around the corner.