Snapshot #141 | 10 Things for 1 December 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. falling… behind on just about everything that isn’t directly related to The Black Sun, including my photography, this blog, and reading other blogs. I’ll catch up soon.
2. assembling… the gallery wall I’ve been planning since I moved into the apartment. (Five years ago?) It looks fantastic.
3. dying… my hair purple, completely by accident. It wasn’t too bad—faded to pink in a day or so, and now it’s just a few very pale pink highlights, which I’ve been getting so many compliments on—but it’s renewed that urge to go properly pink again, so… yeah. Might be a problem.
4. breaking… out the big down coat. Already.
5. running… into a roadblock in the Big Scary Photo thing. It’s on hold for at least another month or two, and I’m so annoyed.
6. trying… to figure out what to bake for Christmas. I’m running out of time.
7. hoping… I can make my phone last just a few more weeks. This is a terrible time to need to shop for a replacement, but I can’t put it off much longer.
8. thinking… about my goals and plans for 2020. I’m really looking forward to the new year.
9. wondering… if all the typing and sewing (I’ve been sewing!) I’ve been doing lately might’ve messed up something in my wrist.
10. taking… a big step in the right direction.

Snapshot #99 | 10 Things for 22 April 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. going… through all my cake recipes.
2. thinking… about the photos I want to take and the stories I want to write. (Granted, any photos would be good right now.)
3. feeling… seriously productive. It’s entirely possible that I might be figuring out how to do the things. Maybe.
4. wondering… if I should start sewing again. Why? That way lies madness. (But… I really want to make this dress.)
5. getting… the shelves for the office! I’m ridiculously excited. This is the first step in turning it into a room where I want to spend time, rather than just a glorified storage room that happens to contain my desk.
6. waiting… for deliveries.
7. starting… my running season. A little later than I’d hoped (the day I’d planned to start had a -7°C windchill, which… no) but I’ve started.
8. making… some behind-the-scenes plans. There might be an announcement coming soon.
9. befriending… cats. I’m starting to think it’s a superpower.
10. hoping… that spring might be happening for real this time.

Snapshot #59 | 10 Things for 11 September 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. making… plans for a few different sewing projects. I want to use up some of this fabric.
2. (re)reading… The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. It’s one of my absolute favourite books on creativity, and it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. It’s time.
3. putting… the final touches on the new computer setup. I still haven’t found desktop wallpaper that I like.
4. loving… this TED Talk by Christopher Bell.
5. balancing… my goals with what I’m actually able to accomplish in a day (and this month in particular), and it’s helping.
6. getting… back on track with my weekly photo project. Finally.
7. starting… to think about my plans for 2017. A little early, maybe, but I’m actually being a little more thoughtful about my plans than I have in the past.
8. looking… for the perfect desk lamp. I’m trying (again, for real this time) to do something with the office, and I have almost everything else either sorted or planned, but I still can’t find a lamp I like.
9. trying… to find a good lightweight text editor. The new computer has a lot more screen real estate than I’m used to, and I don’t like how the editor I’ve always used works on the new screen.
10. thinking… about coffee. It’s a bit of an obsession lately. (Always.)

Sketchbook #11

Writing

I’m thinking about fiction.

I’m thinking about writing. I’m thinking about how I beat myself up over it, how all I can see are the plot holes and frustration and I swear I’m never going to do it again. I’m thinking about how I manage to keep that promise for a year or so at a time, until the urge creeps back to read over those old abandoned drafts.

They’re never as bad as I expect.

They’re never as good as I’d hoped they’d be when I started, but they’re nowhere near as terrible as I believed when I gave up.

It just takes me a year to see that.

And when I see that, I get tempted to start writing again, even though I know it’ll end in tears. Just like the last time.


I’m thinking about painting.

Not art (though I’ll get to that in a minute). I’m thinking about painting walls. I know by now that it takes three coats of white paint to cover the awful beige the management company thinks goes with everything, but that doesn’t go with anything I own or love.

When I’m working alone, it takes a week to paint a room: a day to tear everything down and clean up, a day to do the cutting-in, three days to paint, one day for the trim, and one to touch up and clean up. It stops being fun after the first day of painting. But I get up every day, and after coffee and email, I go to work. I take a break or two (mostly to feed the cat), but other than that, I work all day—all week—until the room is painted.

I never get frustrated. I never wonder why I’m doing it. My perfectionism doesn’t disappear (three coats, remember?), but it doesn’t gnaw away at me like it usually does. Like it does when I’m trying to write, or when I’m sorting through my photos, or when I’m drawing, or thinking about the painting—on canvas—I want to be doing.

I just do the work until it’s done.


For years, I wrote (almost) every day.

I’d get up in the morning, and after coffee and email, I would write. Depending on how I was measuring my progress at the time, I would write until I hit 1500 words, or 2000 words, or 5 pages, or two scenes. I’d aim for four days a week: I took weekends off, and I’d give myself one day to accommodate outside plans that couldn’t be changed, or just a lack of motivation.

The trouble was… the work was never done.

I’d finish one project and immediately start another. I’d finish that project and go back and edit the first one. I never got to a point where I was happy—or even content—with a story, where I could say that I’d achieved what I set out to do. Eventually, I’d just abandon drafts entirely, hoping that I’d like the next one more.

(Now. It should be noted that I was the only one who ever hated these stories. The few stories that made it past my insecurities and into readers’ hands received nothing but glowing feedback. Even my beta readers—good beta readers, writers themselves, who pointed out genuine problems and helped me come up with ways to fix them—never saw the systemic flaws in my work that I did.)

Still. I’d write (almost) every day. And I’d hate it a little more every day, because there was never an end in sight, never a real target that I hoped to hit.

Eventually, I had to stop entirely. It was making me too miserable. (I’ve talked about this before. So. Many. Times.)

I’ve drifted back into it a few times, trying to find ways to tell the stories I want to tell without letting perfectionism get out of control, and it never quite works. The stories never go away—I’m constantly thinking about plot and characters and trying to make them fit together—but I’d sort of accepted that they were always going to be in my head, rather than on the page.

I thought about painting again: a short, intense burst of energy with something tangible to show for it in the end. And then, through an odd twist of fate and Twitter hashtags, I was reminded of National Novel Writing Month: a short, intense burst of energy with (hopefully) something tangible to show for it in the end.

While I was thinking about that, one of the stories that I’d been thinking about clicked into place; a structural problem I’d been trying to solve made perfect sense, and I suddenly wanted to write again.

And, so… I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

And I’m not going to do any serious writing before that.

I’m going to prepare—do some free writing to get myself back to a place where 2000 words or so doesn’t take all day, and turn this idea into an outline that makes sense—but I’m not going to try to write any real stories, not going to force anything.

I still believe that, for some people, and at some times, the key to creativity—writing, art, anything—is just showing up. Putting in the work day after day until it’s as natural as breathing. There have been times in the past when that was exactly what I needed to do. But I think that sort of process is only helpful (for me) when there’s something to show for it. It could be a finished product (or at least a draft of a finished product), or it could be genuine progress, or it could be simply creative or technical improvement. Otherwise, it’s just writing for the sake of getting the words on the page, and then it becomes just another chore.

I’ve run into the same problems with photography. I don’t do 365-Day projects anymore, because eventually they just turn into boring snapshots, taken just so I can check it off my to-do list. I’ve been much happier with my weekly photo project, even when it frustrates me: it gives me just enough structure to keep me focussed, and it’s got a built-in deadline. (I’m still looking for something to do with the photos that’ll give me the same satisfaction as a finished manuscript….) Drawing is still something I can do for a few minutes every day, because I’m seeing progress (however minor) every day.

Right now, if I want to write (and I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I do want to write), I need limitations. I need structure and a goal and a reason. Deadlines are good, too.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I don’t know if it’ll get me out of the rut I’ve been stuck in. I don’t know if I’ll like this particular story any better than the others when it’s done. But it’s a relatively small commitment, and I’ve got plenty of time to prepare. I’ve had success with it in the past; I only stopped doing it every year because it would have meant losing momentum on the other projects I was working on. That’s not a problem right now.

Six months to get ready, one month to do the work. No problem.

Sketchbook #9 | Reghan Skerry

Sketchbook #9

Art + Craft, Photography

It’s the last Monday of the month, which means it’s time to check in with how my various creative projects are going! (Not sure that really deserves an exclamation point, but whatever.)

First off, my 52-week photo project is still going strong. The photos have been enough of a challenge to keep me interested, but (usually) not so difficult that I get frustrated. And it’s doing what I’d hoped: giving me a reason to think about photography every week, even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired. I’m starting to think I might do something even more ambitious next year. (Though it’s still early… we’ll see how I feel forty-eight weeks into this thing, and after I’ve tackled some of the really tricky prompts.)

As far as drawing goes, I’m back to practicing nearly every day, but I’m also in another one of those phases where what I want to do doesn’t quite match up with what I’m able to do. I’m mostly fine with that; it’s frustrating, but I know it’s just a matter of sticking with it and figuring out what my next step is.

That said, the big projects this month have mostly been about figuring out my goals for the year (and beyond) and changing the way I work. The office is finally starting to feel like an office (I love the white walls so much), and less like a storage room. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it won’t be too long before I can start working at my desk again, rather than the dining table. (I love my desk. I miss my desk.)

I’ve also been putting a lot of thought into what I actually want to be doing with my time and with my work. (The existential crisis I’d been expecting since the beginning of the year finally hit, though it was more of a slow simmer than a middle-of-the-night panic attack.) I’m setting firm goals for the rest of the year, surprising myself, figuring out ways to track my progress, and generally starting to feel pretty good about things again.

So, yeah. It’s been a good month.

Snapshot #45 | 10 Things for 28 February 2016

Personal

Snapshot #45 | reghanskerry.com

Neko Atsume. I’m obsessed.

Currently…

1. thinking… about what to make for Easter dessert. I’m leaning toward cupcakes, but I don’t know what recipe….
2. playing… Neko Atsume. Well. I say ‘playing.’ (I don’t have a lot of neighbourhood cats to befriend in real life, and I’d missed it. ;-))
3. making… plans. And I’m being very systematic about it for once; there are multiple notebooks and colour-coding and stacks of index cards.
4. getting… about as far with the office as I can, at least until new bookshelves are delivered and I’ve bought some more storage boxes. Still, it’s so much better than it was.
5. staying… up to watch the Oscars. I’m not even sure why, except I always have, and it feels weird not to.
6. listening… to Cavern of Secrets. A.K.A. new favourite podcast.
7. looking… for either the perfect tote bag, or the perfect tote bag pattern. I have something very specific in mind, but I might have to invent it.
8. trying… to sort out an odd password issue. (It’s going to be something dumb, like I used my Google account to log in originally. I just know it.)
9. wondering… if I’m going to be awake enough to do anything tomorrow.
10. ordering… that French-language novel I’ve been hoping to try to read forever. It’s happening.

Snapshot #44 | 10 Things for 14 February 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. getting… ready for a serious planning session.
2. using… my Twitter client’s ‘mute’ function so much. (And looking forward to using it even more as the US election cycle drags on….)
3. painting… the office. Finally. It’s still going to be a while before the room looks like I want it to (I don’t even have the furniture back in place), but even just painting—and the decluttering that went along with it—has been a huge improvement.
4. feeling… tired. I tend to forget how much work is involved in painting a room.
5. starting… the search for new conditioner. It looks like my go-to has been discontinued, so I have to start reading labels again…. ::sigh::
6. loving… Habitica. Part game, part my new favourite to-do list app.
7. waiting… to get the cable fixed.
8. falling… behind on some of my non-room-painting projects.
9. fine-tuning… some of my routines. And still thinking that I need to get out of some routines.
10. wondering… whether I’m going to get a chance to bake anything this weekend. I want to, but… painting.

First Snow of the Year | Reghan Skerry

Looking Back: My Goals & Plans for 2015

Personal

As the year winds down and I start to make my plans for 2016, it seems like a good time to look back at the goals I set for this year. (I did a quick assessment back in September, which goes into more detail on the creative goals.)

In 2015, I wanted to…

Find a New Workout
Done. I still haven’t started running (for a few reasons, some of which are good, some of which are just excuses), but I have found a new indoor workout that works for me. (I’ve been using the Sworkit app, and it’s exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to find: customizable, randomizable, and not annoying.) I did struggle a little with keeping up the habit in the summer and into the fall, but I’m back on track now, and not bored, which is all I really care about.

Focus on Photography
The year didn’t start out as well as I’d hoped it would, and the two major projects I’d been thinking of never materialized. But I threw myself back into it as the summer progressed, and the trip to Montréal really helped. I’m feeling good about this.

Do Something With the Office
Here’s the thing: the room I’m calling the office is terrible. It’s the biggest bedroom in the apartment, and I feel guilty for not really using it for anything right now. But it doesn’t work as a bedroom (the closet is too big for my minimalist wardrobe, and has huge sliding doors that are too heavy to deal with all the time, and it really makes more sense to use it as storage for things like the vacuum and mop and other things that don’t belong in the basement). I’m still not entirely how to make it work as an office, either—there’s only one wall that isn’t taken up by closet doors or baseboard heaters (so, only one wall where the bookshelves can go), I’m struggling to figure out how to best use the natural light, and I don’t know where to put the modem, router, and backup drive. (Because the cable outlet is on the wall opposite the wall where the bookshelves can go.) But! I did hang a ceiling lamp (since none of the bedrooms have built-in lighting, which is dumb but seems to be common in buildings from the 1960s-1980s, and I’d been relying on an LED camping lantern in there). So that’s something. (It’s really not.)

Get My Digital Life in Order
I… forgot that this was one of my goals for the year. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t made progress—I have—but not as much as I might’ve if I’d actually, you know, thought about it.

Read a Novel. In French.
Um… no. It’s not that I haven’t been meaning to, it’s just that it’s more difficult than it should be to find the sort of book I’m looking for. I did finally decide what to read (Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan, which is on my list anyway, though I was originally planning to read a translation), but decided to put off ordering it until the new year. (Because it’s not actually in stock(!), and would have potentially delayed the rest of my order until after Christmas.) I’ll move this to next year’s list.

MAYBE Think About Writing That Thing
Well. I did think about it. And then I started writing something else. And then I decided that I’d been right the first time, and I’m really happier in general when I’m not writing fiction. Which is fine—that’s what I’d been wondering, and I like that it’s not pulling my attention away from other things anymore.

That said… ‘That Thing’ hasn’t really left me alone. I still feel like there’s something there, and I still keep feeling like I need to write it. I don’t know. I have to think about it some more. (ugh. I know.)


In general, I’m happy with how things went. I got distracted (by life and by other projects), and I didn’t manage to do as much as I’d hoped, but from where I am right now, at the end of 2015, I’m feeling good about things. I made progress where it mattered, and put myself in a position to make 2016 even better than I’d hoped 2015 would be.

It was a good year.

My Creative Toolkit | reghanskerry.com

Snapshot #33 | 10 Things for 13 September 2015

Personal

Currently…

1. tackling… my reading backlog. The stack is getting a little smaller.
2. rethinking… a few things.
3. making… an effort to do something with Twitter for once.
4. feeling… like a grown-up. A boring grown-up.
5. working… on some behind-the scenes stuff around here. Time for a new coat of paint, I think.
6. watching… Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. So much fun. (And the costumes!)
7. looking… for a good iOS game. I’m getting a bit bored with my usual.
8. starting… work on the office. Not quickly, but things are finally moving in the right direction.
9. waiting… for fall. I’ve hit my limit with summer.
10. trying… to wake up.

Change of scene.

Admin, Personal

This is going to be a slow week, I’m afraid. And, yes. I realize I’m telling you this on Thursday.

I’m deep into a decorating project: new paint (and a beige this pale and boring should not be this difficult to cover), new furniture, everything. It’s kind of fantastic: all the fun parts of moving, without any of the truly awful bits. Though I am picking up a surprising number of bruises, and I needed to take today off because I’ve been too exhausted to form a coherent thought since Monday.

I’m having fun. And I’m not being sarcastic.

There will be pictures at some point in the future. I’m still waiting on one delivery, and I’m still agonizing about art, and there are still a million little details that I have to get to, so it won’t be soon, but it will happen eventually. In the meantime, I should be far enough along that regular programming will resume here this weekend.