Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in October: stories that are neither character- nor plot-driven, the good guy/bad guy myth, thoughts on digital privacy, the history of women’s restroom lounges, and more.
I ended last month’s creative review by wondering if it might be time for a reset. I knew I had to figure out some stuff with how I manage my time, and I had to figure out what I was going to do about Violet Lane. From a technical standpoint, I was happy with the photos I’d been taking, but from a creative standpoint, I was getting bored.
I must have forgotten about all that as soon as I wrote it, because when I sat down to write today’s review, I was sure that this funk I’m in has only been a couple of weeks. Not a couple of months.
I’ll start with the good news, because there is good news. I’ve figured out what I’m doing with Violet Lane.
“Maybe I’ll have some answers by the end of June,” I said.
Why do I set myself up like that?
I’m being a little overdramatic. The first two weeks of the month were good. Really good. It took a few days to figure out what I was doing with Violet Lane, but I’m well into the second draft now, and it feels like the big changes (cutting down the number of point-of-view characters, eliminating one character entirely, et cetera) are the right ones. I’m still wavering a bit on the tone (I want to make it darker, but it doesn’t seem to be working. I might have to rework the main character again), but in general, I’m happy with it.
My progress with photography is… ok. I’m in a bit of a rut—so many flowers—and I’m trying to figure out how to push myself out of my comfort zone with that. Part of the problem, I think, is that I’m in a bit of a rut when it comes to my routine in general—I do the same things and go to the same places, travelling the same routes, at roughly the same time every week—so I’m not seeing anything new. Nothing is feeling fresh or interesting. (I haven’t gone on as much as a day trip in over a year. The logistics for that kind of thing get tricky when you don’t drive.) Plenty of photographers have found inspiration in mundane environments, but I’m dealing with a general sense of frustration that’s just feeding on itself right now, and I need to figure out how to break myself out of it.
That said, the flower photos are ok—some of them have been quite good—they’re just boring.
Other than that things have been pretty much progressing as expected: I’m having fun with the website redesign, I’ve been making some real progress when it comes to figuring out my long-term plans (which… yeah, I kind of worked on that a few months ago, but I’ve been refining the ideas and framing them in a way that means I can work toward them rather than just dream about them), and I took a few small steps toward that big project that I’m still not announcing, even though I fully intended to do so this month. (More on that in a minute.)
… and then I came down with a cold. Nothing much has happened since last Wednesday. At all.
The end of April kind of snuck up on me, but here it is: time to check in with how I’m doing with my overall creative goals, and figure out what those goals are going forward.
My big goal, of course, was to finish up the third draft of The Black Sun. I’m technically still working on that, but I’m counting it as ‘done.’ The work is done; all that’s left is the final polish—tidying up a few typos and making sure the big edits didn’t introduce continuity errors, that sort of thing. I’ve done the read-through, and… I’m happy with it. I should be finished the polish in the next couple of days.
I’ve also been brainstorming the next projects. I’ve got a good basic plot and world for the next novel, and should be ready to start character work and outlining sometime in the next month. I’ve also got a vague plan for another thing, but… it’s very vague (as in, I still need to figure out the characters and plot). I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be able to get to that, but I’m mostly treating it as a side project right now, so there’s no rush.
The brainstorming for that side project also helped me clarify some of my plans for the second draft of Violet Lane. I haven’t started work on that, but that’s my big writing goal for May: to come up with a clear plan of attack for that draft, and to complete the outline.
(And I’m finally getting a handle on Scrivener. I still don’t like the file sizes, or the proprietary format, but I’m absolutely in love with the organizational features, and I’m slowly figuring out how to make the application work the way I want and need it to. I like it enough that I broke down and invested in the iOS version… and at $30 Canadian, it is an investment, so I’d better make good use of it.)
Overall, I’m happy with my writing progress this month. Normally, I’d take a break after reaching major milestones in two different projects, but… I don’t really want to. I want to keep this momentum going.
It’s the end of March! And, since it’s also the end of the first quarter of 2019, this feels like a particularly significant creative check-in. I’m trying to focus on 90-day goals this year, or at least breaking down my bigger goals into smaller milestones, and… well, the end of March is my first big deadline of the year.
In a lot of ways, February is when my real work starts—even in a good year, it takes me a few weeks to find my routines and start moving forward again with my writing, or photography, or… whatever.
This year, February has been a very good month.
My goals going in were to move forward with the photo-a-day project I started at the end of January, to find my rhythms in Violet Lane and The Black Sun again, and to start making time for the creative hobbies I want to explore over the course of the year. (I was also hoping to make up my mind about Scrivener, and to start moving forward on my big scary photography goal again.)
1. going… a little overboard on the coffee station (I now have a coffee grinder in my office…), but it’s seriously the best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity, so I’m not going to worry about it.
2. thinking… about trying to get my old MacBook Pro up and running again. I’ve got a weird emotional attachment to that thing, and I miss it. I’m not sure if it’s salvageable, though (at least not at a price I can justify).
3. making… another attempt at sourdough starter. (The first try was doing well, until suddenly it wasn’t.) Still not quite there. Sticking with my usual bread recipe for now.
4. trying… to be a little better at Twitter. (Pretty sure I go through a phase like this every six months or so, don’t I?)
5. reevaluating… the office setup. Some of it isn’t working quite as well as I’d hoped.
6. remembering… that the Oscars are tonight. I’ll be staying up. I always do.
7. finishing… my first sewing project of the year (you may have already seen it on Instagram; if not, I’ll show you tomorrow), and starting to plan the next one (which is significantly more complex).
8. feeling… really good about both of my current works-in-progress.
9. starting… my annual search for the perfect pancake recipe. (I’m picky.)
10. getting… used to Scrivener. I think. Maybe.
1. feeling… sleepy. The cat’s been waking me up in the middle of the night.
2. watching… the trailers for Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame, over and over (and over) again.
3. solving… story problems. Or trying to. (I think I am.)
4. making… cookies. The actual marathon doesn’t start until tomorrow, but I had a jar of peanut butter I had to use up, so….
5. hemming… yet another set of curtains. Thankfully, I’ve only got one room to go, and those will be nice and simple. I’m done with the sheer and/or slippery fabrics.
6. trying… to balance my time. I’ve still got a lot of things I want to get done in the next two weeks, but I don’t want to stress myself too much.
7. listening… to DJ Riko‘s 2018 Christmas Mix. Still one of my very favourite holiday traditions.
8. thinking… about my plans for next year.
9. muting… so many keywords on Twitter for the rest of the month. It’s a good time for a break.
10. wondering… why it’s so difficult to find good quality felt around here. (I’ve got a couple of craft projects in mind, and it shouldn’t be this much of a challenge.)
Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend!
1. reading… some very good books.
2. feeling… inspired.
3. getting… irrationally frustrated every time I see someone talk about “fonts” when they mean “lettering.” (Actually. No. It’s not irrational. Fonts and lettering are not the same thing, and I love them both.)
4. buying… one of the dress patterns I was swooning over a few weeks ago. I’m sure it’ll drive me batty, but that’s fine. It’s worth it.
5. starting… to narrow down my options for the Christmas baking marathon.
6. enduring… a cold.
7. resisting… the temptation to buy a bunch of new camera gear. (Sort of. I’m channelling the temptation into research, planning, and motivation.)
8. waiting… for the new series of Doctor Who. Only a few hours to go!
9. accepting… that I’m not going to reach my running goals for the year. I’m going to be spending the rest of the season just getting back to where I was before the humidity derailed me. But that’s ok. There’s always next year.
10. looking… forward to getting back to work. I’ve got a lot of plans for the next few weeks, and I can’t wait.
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.