Sketchbook #44

Personal, Photography, Writing

“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.

Sketchbook #42

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

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.

Sketchbook #41

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

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.

Wall hanging to display enamel pins, by Reghan Skerry.

Sketchbook #40

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

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.)

Snapshot #121 | 10 Things for 24 February 2019

Personal

Currently…

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.

Snapshot #116 | 10 Things for 16 December 2018

Personal

Currently…

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.)

Snapshot #111 | 10 Things for 7 October 2018

Personal

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend!

Currently…

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.

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.

Sketchbook #22

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

I knew going in that April wasn’t going to be a very productive month. There were a million little disruptions to my schedule (this is actually the first full, uninterrupted week I’ve had this month), but I’d planned for them, and I’ve (mostly) been able to work around them.

The story outlines are progressing nicely; I still really love having two different projects on the go. It slows both of them down, of course, but it’s fantastic being able to switch from one to the other when inspiration starts to flag. (And inspiration always starts to flag at some point. It’s inevitable.) For now, I’ve pretty much abandoned the daily freewriting that I was trying—I still haven’t found a way to make it work.

And I’m still looking for another writing project, something low-pressure to work on in my downtime, and that doesn’t require months of world building and outlining. It’s… surprisingly difficult. I’ve got a few ideas, but nothing that’s quite clicked for me yet.

But, yeah: it’s been a pretty good month, despite everything.

Anyway. Photography!

I’m actually really happy with how that’s going this month. The 365 project is still my main focus (though that’s going to start to change, now that the weather is improving) and I don’t think I’ve used a real camera for any of this month’s photos, but I am genuinely proud of some of the photos I’ve taken this month.

In some ways, I kind of like the limitations imposed by using my phone for so many of the pictures. On good days, I start off with an image in my head that I want to create, but I’m still kind of lazy about the whole thing. I could pull out the DSLR and tripod and choose the perfect lens and wait for the perfect lighting. And I’d be pretty much guaranteed to get the shot I’m imagining.

But most of the time, I can’t be bothered. This is supposed to be a quick-and-easy project, and most of the time, I just want to grab my phone and take the picture. Which actually makes me work harder to get the photo I want, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all and I have to come up with an entirely new plan, or I end up with a happy accident that’s so much better than the photo I’d planned.

That’s the good stuff.

I’m struggling with drawing lately. Or… not struggling, exactly. I’m just not feeling it lately. Part of the problem is that I don’t feel like I’ve got a goal to work towards, or at least not one that I can define. ‘Get better at drawing’ (or even ‘get better at drawing people’) is ok, but… it’s kind of vague. I don’t have a specific project to work on, or a reason to want to improve.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how I spend my time. Lately, it feels like I’m being “productive”—I’m checking everything off my to-do list—but I’m not actually doing the things I want to be doing. Some of it is kind of obvious (I’m really hating the entire concept of grocery shopping right now), but some of it is just a matter of focussing on the wrong things. And drawing might fall into that category. I’m not sure if all this practice is because I want to draw, or because I kind of want to be someone who can draw. (If that makes sense? I don’t know if it does.)

I need to think about it some more.

And the sewing project that’s been on my list since last fall, and that I’ve been working on since sometime near the beginning of this year… hasn’t gone well. It seemed like it was going well. I was all ready to finish up the assembly. And then it just… didn’t work.

It’s entirely my fault. It’s weirdly complicated for what amounts to a tote bag, and I’ve been improvising the whole thing. In the end, the pieces just didn’t come together the way I’d been picturing.

I’m not sure if I can salvage it, or if I can even make the project work at all the way I’d been planning. I do know that I can make a simpler version of the bag, but… meh. I’ve set the whole thing aside for a while, but I’ll probably come back to it eventually.

So… yeah.

The things that went well in April went really well, and the things that didn’t go well… I’d rather just forget about entirely.

The good thing is, May isn’t nearly the scheduling disaster that April was. I’ve got time. I fully expect to start writing the next draft of the NaNoWriMo novel, and I feel like it’ll move fairly quickly once I start. (I probably just jinxed it, didn’t I?) I’ll be able to really dig into the outline and research for the next story. I’m ready to start work on the painting that’s been kinda-sorta in the works for a couple of years, and I’ve been thinking about a couple others. I’m finally starting to feel inspired photographically, and excuses to get out and take pictures.

And I’ve got some time to think, and to play with my daily schedule a bit. There are things I want to do, with both writing and photography, and I need to figure out how to make them happen.

Snapshot #74 | 10 Things for 9 April 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. fixing… a weird problem with the site. (Basically, if you looked at the site a little more than an hour before this post went live… there was nothing here. At all.) I’ve got the issue itself sorted, but there might still be a few little problems. Trust that I’ll have it cleaned up in a day or so.
2. working… on two different story outlines (one new, one for draft 2 of the NaNoWriMo novel). I’m having way more fun than I expected.
3. having… one of my occasional creative/existential freak-outs. It only lasted two days! This is progress!
4. running… into problems with the tote bag I’ve been making. (This is why I shouldn’t improvise this kind of thing.) The project’s on hold while I sort out the logistics.
5. re-watching… Prison Break. Not the whole thing… just enough to remind myself where we left off before I start watching the new season.
6. finalizing… plans for the huge painting that I’ve kinda-sorta been planning for a few years now. I will get it done within the next few weeks. (… and I’ve already started planning a second painting. So.)
7. doing… a little research. I have plans.
8. looking… for a good casual game for iOS. (Since I started limiting my news & Twitter browsing, I’ve got weird little empty blocks of time that I don’t know what to do with.)
9. playing… with HeroMachine. I suppose it’s technically procrastination, but I have my reasons, and it’s not a complete waste of time.
10. making… deep dish pizza, for the first time in ages. So good!