Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in April.
It’s been a while since I checked in on this little project of mine (here’s the explanation for my absence, if you missed it), but I’m happy to say that it’s only the check-ins that I’ve missed. I haven’t been neglecting the reboot itself, and I’m actually kind of impressed with the progress I’ve made in the past few weeks, despite everything.
Let’s get to the individual goals, shall we?
Things have been… scattered around here for the last couple of weeks, I know. Sorry about that. I’ve been battling a cold, and on a bit of a mini-vacation, but that’s not an excuse, just an explanation.
I’m going to try to get back on track in the next few days. The regular posts that I missed (September’s sketchbook, the last two reboot updates) aren’t going to happen; I’ll just roll them into the next ones. I’m hoping to have my first NaNo prep update for you this weekend (no later than Monday, promise), and the next issue of the newsletter will go out on the 7th, as planned.
Every month, I share the articles, videos, and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in May.
• My friend Bethany just launched her site! Go take a look—it’s fantastic, and full of advice for us busy writers.
• Are ebooks dying or thriving? The answer is yes by Thu-Huong Ha: “Nobody—industry experts, authors, publishers—can gauge the true size of the self-publishing market. So no one can say for sure what’s going on in the larger book industry.”
• It’s Okay to Give Up on Mediocre Books Because We’re All Going to Die by Janet Frishberg: “One, I realized literally NO ONE cares if I give up on a book except me. (And maybe the author, if I told them, which I wouldn’t do because…no.) Two, I realized that I’m going to die.”
• Why I’m Done With Guest Posting by Margo Aaron: “We’re tacitly participating in a system that’s designed to make readers reactive, angry, and thoughtless.”
• The Myth of Authenticity Is Killing Tex-Mex by Meghan McCarron
Waves of cheesy, spicy, frankly pleasurable Texas-Mexican dishes, with many regional variations, continued to spiral outward in the 20th century and into the 21st: sizzling fajitas, cheese enchiladas, frozen margaritas, queso, breakfast tacos, Frito pie, barbacoa, puffy tacos. Along with the crispy tacos and burritos of Cal-Mex, Tex-Mex became one of America’s most beloved and important regional cuisines, even if most Americans didn’t realize that was what they were eating.
• [SPOILERS!] Heads I Win, Tails YOU DIE: Thanos’ Plan is Even Worse Than You Know by Michael Carlisle
• Do You Know Where Your Healing Crystals Come From? by Emily Atkin: “If shop owners can’t disclose their sourcing without risking business, how can consumers know that their healing crystals didn’t contribute to human trauma or environmental destruction?”
• The New Passport-Poor by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: “Passports, in other words, were invented not to let us roam freely, but to keep us in place—and in check. They represent the borders and boundaries countries draw around themselves, and the lines they draw around people, too.”
• I love this video so much: ‘Dynamite’ by Tami Neilson. (Someone linked to this on Twitter earlier in the month, but I can’t remember who. If it was you: thanks! You’re awesome!)
What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?
Well. I did say that September was going to be a busy month, didn’t I?
First off: I’ve made up my mind on my NaNoWriMo project. I’m going to stick with my original plan (a new story that I’m really excited about), and leave the rewrite until later.
I’m still really anxious to get to that rewrite, but I’m also thinking about the writing routine I ultimately want to build. Ideally, I want to have three projects in various stages of development at any given time: one in the planning stages, one actually being written, and one in edits. My current plan is to spend the next month-and-a-bit getting the outline for the NaNo story finished, and then, during November, start working out the details of the rewrite. (I do have another potential story that I might try to start outlining. We’ll see.)
I might end up regretting these plans when NaNo actually rolls around, but for now, this feels right.
Related to that, this month I’ve been refining my daily freewriting, mostly trying to get a feel for the characters. I haven’t quite managed to do as much planning/outlining work as I’d hoped, but I’m not panicking. (Yet. Ask me in a month. Or tomorrow.)
As for photography… I’m still, always, a little bit behind on the 365 project. But I’m almost caught up (again), and I’m not feeling too horrible about it. I’m happy with the photos I’ve been taking, which is more important than staying 100% on top of the project.
(I’ll just keep telling myself that.)
And I’m just about finished editing all the photos I took in August, which is a relief. I’ve been dragging my feet, and I just want to get it done.
Finally: the site redesign. I think I’ve settled on something that I like, and I’m pretty sure I’ve sorted out all of the little issues I was having. There are still a few things I want to do, but in general, I think I’m done.
I realize that I haven’t explained why I needed to move the site, especially since I’d been with my previous host for… fourteen years? Something like that. The short version is: the previous web hosting company had been going downhill for years: support was slow and not-particularly-helpful, there was random downtime that never got explained, and it was just generally… not the company I’d signed on with. (Literally. They’d been bought out by another company.) Still, I might have been able to deal with that for another year or two, because it was a really good deal, better than most of the alternatives…. And then I got this year’s invoice, and the price was 72% higher than it was last year. Don’t get me wrong—it was still a good deal, and that increase was bringing me in line with the current pricing structure. The price itself wasn’t unreasonable. But that’s a significant jump, and there had been no advance warning. In the end, I couldn’t justify staying with a company that would treat long-term customers that way.
And the move seemed like as good an excuse as any to tackle a redesign. I’m really happy with the way things look (I’ll be happier when I’ve actually finished, I’m sure), and the new setup feels a little more versatile going into the future.
So, yeah: September was a busy month. October’s going to be even more intense.
My priority, of course, is NaNo prep. I’m already having days where I really don’t feel ready. I keep telling myself that I’ve got plenty of time, but… I want to go into November with a solid plan. (Last year wasn’t terrible, but looking back, I wish I’d been more prepared. The rewrite process would be easier. I want to do better this year.)
Aside from that, it’s all maintenance: I want to try to stay on top of the 365 project, and ideally keep moving forward with my photography in general. (I do have specific plans, which keep getting set aside while I focus on other things, but the new site design—the increased emphasis on photography, and just the newness of everything—has me feeling inspired again.)
So, yeah: I’ve got another busy month, but… I think I can deal with it. At least I’m not looking at a sudden website migration.
1. finding… some inexpensive pens that might meet my admittedly-specific criteria.
2. falling… behind on my 365 photo project. 😬 I’m trying to catch up (promise!). (It was around this time last year that my weekly photo project fell apart, wasn’t it? Apparently, I just lose all photographic motivation in the summer. Which seems weird.)
3. hoping… that the balcony plants survive. Building maintenance means I haven’t been able to plant them properly yet… it’s so annoying.
4. putting… my plans in place for the next few months, and generally taking some time to get myself back on track.
5. watching… all the shows that I missed during the actual TV season.
6. wishing… that this weekend was a little better, weather-wise. I’d hoped to get out for some of the Canada Day stuff, but the idea of standing around in the rain/drizzle/etc. doesn’t really appeal.
7. thinking… that I really need to start doing something real with this blog again, don’t I?
8. reevaluating… my various creative projects. (I suppose this is technically part of #4. I’ve been thinking about my work process and the work itself. There are changes on the way.)
9. wondering… why one particular ice cream recipe doesn’t seem to work for me. (I’ve used other—nearly identical—recipes from the same source with no trouble, but I’ve tried this one twice and it just doesn’t work. Still tastes good, at least.)
10. unsubscribing… from the email newsletters and blog feeds that don’t inspire me.
The start of a new year is always weird for me. I love the idea of a fresh start, and I love the process of figuring out new goals. But I always manage to freak myself out about the whole thing, too. (I’ve already had this year’s panic attack, so at least that’s out of the way.)
After taking a year off from the whole major-goal-setting thing (sort of), I’m ready to get back to it.
I have plans for 2015.
And, in the interest of making myself accountable, I’m sharing them with you. These aren’t my only plans for the year (I’ve got a few others that aren’t significant enough to mention here), and most of the ones I am sharing cover a lot of ground (I have several specific, measurable goals for the photography and web-related stuff), but these are the ones that really matter.
In 2015, I will…
Find a New Workout
For someone who loathes most sports, and hates the concept of exercising, I’m actually pretty good about working out. To the point that I get a little anxious when I can’t stick to my schedule. (This is actually a chicken-and-egg thing, since one reason I work out in the first place is that it does wonders for my anxiety in general.) But the several months, I’ve been getting so bored with my current routine. I’ve thought about running, and I might try that (I’ve got a measured 5K route right outside my door), but I know that starting when the weather is so miserable is a mistake. I need to find something new and interesting ASAP.
Focus on Photography (Pun Not Intended, But Unavoidable)
With so much other stuff going on in 2014, I wasn’t able to give photography the attention I wanted to. But I have a very specific plan in place to get back on track in 2015. If you’re local to me (so, in the Canadian Maritime provinces), watch this space in the first six months of the year… I’m going to be making some announcements that might be relevant to your interests. If you’re not local to me… your announcements will be coming in the second half of the year.
Do Something With the Office
Ok, so. The entire apartment is still a work-in-progress. But the office is the only place where progress isn’t actually being made. Since the move, it’s become a catch-all, and it is not a place I can actually get any work done. This needs to change. I need to figure out what I want the office to feel like (that’s part of the problem—I have clear ideas for the rest of the apartment, but the office is a puzzle), and set about turning it into a place where I want to spend time.
Get my Digital Life in Order
I’m actually not unhappy with what I’ve been doing here on the blog. (And it’s the first year I’ve been able to say that, about any website, so… progress!) But while it’s a good start—there’s much more I want to do. I’m going to work on increasing post frequency, and I’m probably going to be looking at a bit of a redesign to better incorporate some of the changes I want to make. I also want to start paying attention to some of the social media accounts that I tend to neglect. (*cough*Twitter*cough*Instagram*cough*)
Read a Novel. In French.
For about a year and a half now, I’ve been actively trying to improve my French. And while I’m still a long way from being anything close to fluent, I’m a lot more comfortable with it than I was before (much more comfortable than I was when I was taking it in school). By the end of the year, I want to try to get through an entire novel. Probably a fairly short YA novel, and definitely with a dictionary at hand, but that’s the plan.
MAYBE Think About Writing That Thing
I haven’t written any fiction since early in 2014. And that’s a good thing—I was feeling overwhelmed, and obsessive, and perfectionism was kicking my ass. And I don’t want to go back to that. But, at the same time, there’s a story that keeps nudging me, waiting to be written. If I can figure out a way to work on it, and not drive myself crazy, I might try to do something with it. But it’s not a priority.
Sometimes you need to start fresh.
Everyone gets that feeling at the start of a new year, I know. We think about the year that’s gone by, everything that’s changed, everything that hasn’t, all the things we accomplished, or didn’t. We make resolutions or set goals; sometimes they fizzle out two weeks into January, and sometimes we manage to see them through.
2013 wasn’t my best year. There was nothing specifically terrible about it, and it was far from being my worst year (2008 still holds that particular title), but it wasn’t great: creative projects that fizzled, drama that arose from (quite literally) out of nowhere, mysterious allergic reactions, seemingly-insurmountable roadblocks standing in the way of my goals. Even with the fantastic things that happened—and there were some truly fantastic things—when 2013 ended, I was adrift. My usual year-end review turned into a reevaluation, not just of 2013, but of everything, and it’s still going on.
That’s what this is.
I started blogging more than ten years ago. In that time, my enthusiasm for the medium, and my ideas for what I wanted to accomplish with it, have changed too many times to count. And one thing that’s become clear in the last couple of months, as I think about things, is that this is one of the areas I needed to change. The blog I’d been writing for so long was not what I wanted to be doing. I felt disconnected from everything about it: the subjects I was writing about, the way I was writing about them, even the name of the site. It all felt like a box I didn’t fit into anymore.
So I’m starting something new.
I’m not sure what it is yet. I have hints of a plan, something like a schedule, but I’m leaving room for it to evolve. It’s a place to reevaluate. It’s a place to play with ideas. It’s a catalogue of my obsessions, whatever they might be at the moment.
Photo by Reghan Skerry