Snapshot #150 | 10 Things for 5 April 2020

Personal

The Lockdown Edition! Currently…

1. daydreaming… about the balcony. The tent went up for my nearest garden centre this weekend, so I might actually have some plants out there this year. (I didn’t think I’d manage it.)
2. brainstorming… the new story. It’s going to be fun.
3. finding… bread flour, through some miracle. (I love that everyone is discovering the joys of breadmaking—and hell, I’ll be trying my luck at a sourdough starter again in a week or two—but I hate that it’s suddenly so hard to find flour.)
4. getting… some incredible notes on The Black Sun. I’m beaming.
5. wishing… the super would fix the buzzer in my building. It would be nice if delivery people could actually get our attention right now. (It’s been broken all year, so he can’t blame the shutdown.)
6. reading… more romance than usual. Those guaranteed happily-ever-afters are exactly what I need right now.
7. tackling… the email backlog. I’ve been terrible about my inbox since the middle of March, so if I owe you a response… I’m sorry. I’ll get there soon.
8. trying… some new recipes, to mixed success.
9. loving… my new coffee maker. It’s honestly the best drip machine I’ve ever used.
10. starting… to see real progress in my tarot studies.

Snapshot #149 | 10 Things for 22 March 2020

Personal

The social distancing edition! Currently…

1. regretting… the decision to walk home from the supermarket with two weeks’ worth of groceries. (I’m not obsessively stockpiling, but I am trying to reduce my trips out.) I have a really good rolling cart, but still.
2. cutting… back on my social media and news consumption. A lot.
3. realizing… (again) that I own way too much stuff. I tried to rearrange a closet and… ugh.
4. wanting… to bake something, but again… not sure what.
5. trying… to trick the cat into cuddling. (I love her, but Lucy’s not the most demonstrative girl unless there’s food involved.)
6. feeling… thankful that I didn’t decide, back in December (when I would’ve had to give notice), that this was the year to find a new apartment. Moving right now would be awful.
7. finishing… the most recent draft of Violet Lane!
8. wishing… the mornings would warm up enough to go for a run. (How did I become this person?)
9. keeping… my anxiety in check. Mostly.
10. ordering… a new coffee maker, because mine decided—after fifteen years—that this would be the perfect week to give up the ghost. (I mean… I have others. The situation isn’t desperate. But I do need a drip machine for that first cup of the morning.)

Snapshot #148 | 10 Things for 8 March 2020

Personal

Currently…

1. having… one of those weeks when my daily tarot draws are uncanny.
2. listening… to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness for the first time in two decades, because a certain Apple commercial got ‘We Only Come Out at Night’ stuck in my head.
3. rolling… my eyes at the empty shelves in the supermarket.
4. being… brave. I think it paid off.
5. catching… a cold at the worst possible time. (Yes, definitely a cold—there’s been no fever—but I still kind of felt like a plague rat.)
6. starting… to suspect that it’s not going to be warm enough to start running this month after all.
7. rethinking… my plans for the website. It’s going to mean more work, but I think it’ll be worth it. (That said: the new homepage in the WordPress.com editor is incredibly annoying.)
8. trying… to stay on top of my todo list. It hasn’t been easy.
9. spending… far too much money on books lately, but I’m done with that for a little while…. At least a month. Really.
10. feeling… sleepy. Stupid time change.

Snapshot #147 | 10 Things for 23 February 2020

Personal

Currently…

1. starting… to think about picking up the camera again. I’ve been decompressing for a month (exactly), and I’m starting to get twitchy.
2. going… a couple shades lighter blonde. It’s not the white-blonde I’ve been daydreaming about, and I’m not 100% sure I like it yet, but I’m giving it some time.
3. trying… a new waffle recipe. Good, but I do need to fine-tune it a bit.
4. psyching… myself out. I need to get my head back in the game.
5. shopping… for new pens.
6. troubleshooting… a new cookie recipe. All of the ingredients and proportions make sense, and everything seems right, but there’s something missing. (Nothing that kept me from eating the cookies, of course, but I’d like to make them better.)
7. daring… to hope that I might be able to start my running season before the end of March. (That’s always my goal; the weather has never cooperated.)
8. marvelling… at how terrible the combination of Chapters/Indigo and Canada Post continues to be.
9. getting… ready to redesign the site. Again. (Sort of.)
10. wondering… why my downstairs neighbours are blasting ‘Jingle Bells’ at full volume. In February.

Snapshot #146 | 10 Things for 9 February 2020

Personal

Currently…

1. reorganizing… my sewing supplies so I might finally be able to finish something.
2. figuring… out some big-picture stuff.
3. wondering… if I’m going to bother with the Oscars tonight. I’m not excited about them this year (at all), but if I skip them, it’ll be the first time since I was fourteen. (Final—last minute—decision: I’ll be staying up to watch.)
4. drinking… all the hot chocolate. It’s been that kind of winter.
5. trying… not to worry too much. Lucy had to go to the emergency vet clinic. She’s feeling better now, but we both had a very stressful week.
6. troubleshooting… more weird technical issues. Fun!
7. thinking… about my writing routine. I’m almost done the current draft of Violet Lane, and I want to outline the next project—whatever that is going to be—while I let that rest.
8. wishing… that the newer WordPress.com themes had font & colour customizations. (I’m super picky. We’ve established that. I’m this close to going back to the theme I used for the first few years of this version of the blog.)
9. getting… to know a new tarot deck.
10. wanting… to bake something, but I’m not sure what.

Snapshot #145 | 10 Things for 26 January 2020

Personal

Currently…

1. having… the worst luck.
2. trying… to choose my next writing project. (I thought I’d decided, but another idea is demanding my attention. After I finish the current draft, of course.)
3. reading… too many books at once. I need to rein that in. Again.
4. chopping… off my hair. It’s very short. I love it. (Still waffling on changing the colour.)
5. making… new plans for the blog. (Always, I know.)
6. hanging… more art. The gallery wall is almost done.
7. feeling… relieved. I’m so glad to have the 366 project out of the way… and I’m brainstorming ideas for what comes next.
8. waiting… out the rain.
9. looking… for new boots. The ones I have are fine with jeans, not so great with tights.
10. watching… some really good movies.

Snapshot #144 | 10 Things for 12 January 2020

Personal

Currently…

1. setting… big goals for the year.
2. remembering… how much work shovelling snow is. Everything hurts.
3. realizing… that some of my plans for the year make it seem very much like I’m training for some sort of revenge mission, which just makes the whole thing more fun. (And will probably drive my wardrobe choices in 2020.)
4. finishing… the Christmas cookies.
5. getting… back to work. It’s been a really good week.
6. downloading… the 2020 edition of Christie Yant’s Tools for Writers spreadsheet. I loved it last year—seeing the calendar fill up is incredibly motivational.
7. trying… to decide what colour to dye my hair. I’m ready for a change. (I’ve narrowed it down to purple or teal—probably purple—but I’m tempted by platinum, too.)
8. editing… so many photos. So many. (Taking a bunch, too. Expect 366 updates to start this week.)
9. accepting… that I’ve got a bit of a cold. Maybe. I can’t tell anymore.
10. thinking… of ways to use up some of the notebooks I’ve been collecting.

Black and white photo of an open notebook with the year '2020' and word 'grit' written on the first page. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

2020 in Preview

Art + Craft, Personal, Photography, Writing

The year—the decade—isn’t even two weeks old and it’s already testing my optimism. I keep sitting down to write this post, and I just stare at the blinking cursor, trying to figure out what to say about my goals for the new year, trying to figure out how to say that I’m still hopeful. That despite everything, my goals for this year are more ambitious than they have been for the last few.

But maybe that makes sense. Everything’s terrible, so why not take some risks? This isn’t a year for ‘find a hobby’ or ‘build a sustainable writing routine.’ That was about building a foundation. This is a year to make some real, concrete changes. 

I’m not going to go into all of them here. Some are obvious and don’t need further explanation (finally get that photo thing off the ground, finish Violet Lane, keep querying), some are too personal, some just aren’t within the (current) scope of this blog. Some I’ll talk about later, but I just want to keep them to myself for now. 

But there are a few things I do want to publicly commit to:

Focus on improving my craft.

I said back in September that I felt l like I’ve hit a plateau when it comes to my skill, both as a writer and a photographer. That feeling hasn’t gone away.

Like I said then: it’s normal. And, really, I wouldn’t want to be satisfied creatively—I think an artist’s vision should always exceed their skill, at least a bit. It’s not that I think I’m a bad writer or photographer, I’m just not where I’d like to be, and it’s time to level up.

I’m not 100% sure about my game plan, here.

I know I want to work on building my technical skills, whether that means studying the writing books I’ve collected over the years, or working on specific photo projects, or taking classes, or something I haven’t thought of yet. 

I want to do more work—I want to take more photos and spend more time writing. I’ve done well, building a sustainable practice, but it’s time to expand on that. I need to be careful not to push too hard—burnout is always a real risk for me—but the pace I usually work at now doesn’t allow for much growth. 

And I want to build my creative confidence. I don’t (just) mean when it comes to sharing my work—I’m getting better at that, even though it’s still difficult. I want to be braver in the work that I create; I want to stop holding myself back from taking the photographs I want to take, or writing the stories I want to write. This is a process, and I don’t expect it to be a quick one, but it’s something I need to do.

So, yeah: not exactly a clear plan, but at least my goals are clear. I’ve got time to figure out how to get there.

Reevaluate my relationship with social media.

I’ve been wrestling with this for a while, and I’ve come to some conclusions:

  1. Instagram and Twitter are terrible distractions that make it harder to focus on the work I want to be doing.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are actively harming society and chipping away at democracy, and the people in charge embrace it because it’s lining their pockets. (Instagram itself isn’t as terrible on that front, but the ad revenue still goes to Facebook.)
  3. I’m sick of Facebook’s constant presence. I’m not even on Facebook, and I can’t get away from it. It’s creepy
  4. I miss blogs. I miss the old internet, back when it felt fun and creative and serendipitous. Back when it was still weird.
  5. Instagram is one of the things that has stalled my progress as a photographer. Yes, it’s helped in some ways, but it rewards sameness rather than creativity, and it’s hard not to play to that.

Any one of those is reason to jump ship—taken together, I’ve reached a point where it’s hard to justify my presence. At the same time, there’s part of me that feels like I need to be on those networks, for personal or professional reasons. I feel genuinely guilty when I don’t post to Instagram or Twitter for a few days, and I hate it.

So this year, I’m going to figure out a solution. I’m probably going to step back from the services that bother me most, or abandon them completely. I’ve already taken some steps in that direction, curating my feeds a bit, and I’ve already left Pinterest (they finally made it too difficult to avoid the cluttered home feed).

I’m definitely going to breathe some real life into this blog, rather than relying on those other services. (I might go back to the self-hosted version of WordPress, to get back a little control with that, but my account is paid up until the fall, so I’ve got time to think about it.) 


Mostly, though, my goals for 2020—writing and photographic and personal—are summed up in the watchword I’ve chosen: grit.

Very few of the things I want to do this year are going to be easy. And it’s going to be a difficult year, just in general. (I didn’t know how difficult when I started thinking about my plans, but… well.) I’m going to to be tempted to give up, or slack off, or set my sights lower.

“Grit” is what’s going to keep me going.

Looking back at 2019.

Art + Craft, Personal

2019 was… well, it was exhausting and awful and the world is on fire—literally and metaphorically—and I’m glad it’s over, even though I’m not wildly optimistic that things are going to get better any time soon. (American voters: prove me wrong! Also, register to vote, and make sure you’re still registered every month or so between now and November. Please.) 

But personally… it was the best year I’ve had since… I can’t remember when. I took some good photos—not as many as I would have hoped—and wrote some stuff I’m proud of. I (finally!) finished The Black Sun, and mustered up the courage to start querying agents. I saw some real progress on my fitness goals (which I don’t talk about a lot here, but it was a good year). I started figuring out how to actually do stuff with my time, rather than trying a bunch of productivity hacks that never quite gelled. 

Snapshot #143 | 10 Things for 29 December 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. trying… to think of ten distinct things I’ve done in the last two weeks, but it’s all blurring together.
2. getting… ready for the new year. I think it’s going to be good.
3. watching… the discussion unfold re: the RWA. (This is a good summary.) I’m not a member—I don’t write romance—but seriously, all writers should be paying attention.
4. debating… whether or not to cut my hair. It’s just reaching the length where I can do something with it, but… I’m bored. (Also: we’re on the eve of the ’20s. Short hair feels appropriate.)
5. making… too many cookies, as usual. Every year, I swear I’m going to scale back, and yet.
6. looking… forward to a normal day.
7. catching… up on the TV backlog.
8. feeling… tired.
9. starting… to get excited about photography again. (Still catching up on my 366 backlog, but it’ll be done by the deadline. Promise.)
10. wondering… what to read next. It’s not like I don’t have a huge stack of books to choose from, but nothing it jumping out at me right now.