Snapshot #135 | 10 Things for 8 September 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. having… one of those weeks when it feels like I own way too much stuff.
2. wishing… Parker made gel ink refills smaller than .7mm. I love the pen, and love the ink, but it takes up so much space on the page—I just want a finer line. (Yes. This is really bothering me.)
3. trying… to find a place where my pilea gets enough sunlight, but where the cat won’t destroy it.
4. writing… the synopsis for The Black Sun. I’ll still want to perfect it a bit, but… it’s good. Another step closer.
5. troubleshooting… a really annoying email issue. (If anyone’s trying to get in touch with me right now—or has tried recently and hasn’t gotten a response, since apparently this isn’t a new problem, I’m just discovering it now—I’m sorry. I’m trying to fix it. If it’s important, try the contact form.)
6. settling… into a good productivity system. I think. Still fine-tuning it.
7. thinking… about turning ‘likes’ off on the blog. It’s not that I’m against them, really, but too many spammers abuse the feature, and I don’t know that it’s worth it. Any thoughts?
8. hoping… they finish resurfacing my street soon.
9. making… bread for the first time in ages. I finally had a weekend when I could stand the thought of turning on the oven.
10. starting… the new draft of Violet Lane. This is going to be fun.

Sketchbook #46

Art + Craft, Photography, Writing

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.

Ugh.

I’ll start with the good news, because there is good news. I’ve figured out what I’m doing with Violet Lane. 

Sketchbook #45

Photography, Productivity, Writing

I have no idea what’s going on with July. It’s been one of those months that’s simultaneously been dragging on forever and is disappearing in a flash. But July is almost over (however that happened), and I guess it’s time to think about how it went.

I’m going to start with photography, because that’s the bit that doesn’t make me want to tear out my hair this month. (Fair warning for when I get to the writing bit of this update.)

I’m still in that rut I mentioned in June, still taking far too many photos of flowers and not enough photos of literally anything else. So that’s not great. But I’m still carrying a real camera a few times a week, and I do like the photos I’m taking, even if they’re kind of boring. 

But the real progress has been in the super-secret Big Scary Project. I’m still not ready to launch, but I have made some huge steps forward this month. (That ‘next step’ I mentioned at the end of June—the one that required an incredibly tedious bus ride? I actually tackled that the day after I said that it was going to be my top priority for July. And the bus out there wasn’t air conditioned, so it was pretty much exactly as painful as I imagined it’d be. It was slightly better coming back—at least there was a/c.) 

Point is, I’m incredibly proud of the progress I’ve made on that project this month, and I’m super excited about the next steps. If I can keep the momentum going, I’ll be ready to make some actual announcements by fall.

Now. Writing. (Feel free to skip this bit. Last warning.)

Sketchbook #43

Writing

May has taught me that I really do need to build a better system for managing my writing projects.

It started off well enough—I had finished drafts of both The Black Sun and Violet Lane, vague plans for my next project (very tentatively titled These Modern Things), and I was excited to move forward. And then… not much happened.

May wasn’t awful. I’ve been brainstorming the new story and figuring out what I need to do with Violet Lane, and I’m waiting to hear from readers of The Black Sun. I’ve been beta reading a story for a friend. So it’s not like I haven’t done anything this month but… it kind of feels like it.

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.

Snapshot #125 | 10 Things for 21 April 2019

Personal

Happy Easter–or Passover–if you celebrate! If you don’t celebrate either, Happy Cheap-Chocolate-Day Eve!

Currently…

1. finishing… the third(!!) draft of The Black Sun!
2. trying… the iOS version of Scrivener. So far, so good, though it does make it a little difficult to walk away from the story. (It gets weirdly tempting to edit scenes when the cat wakes me up at four o’clock in the morning. Not that she did that twice in the past two weeks or anything.)
3. getting… my tickets for Endgame. (And making sure I’ve got waterproof mascara on hand, because I have a feeling I’m gonna need it.)
4. figuring… out a way to organize Evernote that might actually work for me. Finally.
5. looking… forward to the Veronica Mars revival. Now I just need to figure out how I can watch it in Canada.
6. wondering… why all my library holds suddenly become available at the same time every time. It’s hard to keep up.
7. finding… everything I need for my first big sewing project of the year, and I’m so excited to get started.
8. buying… a new jacket. I wasn’t planning on it, and I’m not happy about the unexpected expense, but my old one finally gave up the ghost and it’s not warm enough for my denim jacket just yet. (At least it was on sale?)
9. making… hot cross buns. I’ve mostly got the recipe down–they taste amazing–but they’re still not very pretty. (Does anyone have advice for working with brioche-style dough? It seems to have a mind of its own, and I can’t convince it to stay in nice round buns.)
10. trying… to remember the difference between em-dashes and en-dashes. I never know which one to use.

The Black Sun (Round Two Edits): Finished!

Writing

I have finished the second major round of edits on The Black Sun!

It took a little longer than I’d planned, but I wrapped up the revisions yesterday. (Considering I added approximately 20,000 words this time around… I think the extra time was worth it.)

Normally, this is where I’d take a break. Step away, let it sit for a while so I can come back with fresh eyes. But I’ve already started the readthrough, making sure I didn’t break anything too terribly, before I do a final polish and send it off for another round of beta reads. (I’m also figuring out where my chapter breaks go now, since that did break, quite dramatically.)

I am in love with this story. Still. And that’s a remarkable thing for me. I feel like I’ve said this before, but: this might not be the best thing I’ve ever written (I’ve got some snippets and orphaned scenes that are really quite good), but it’s the best complete story I’ve ever written. It’s the best thing I’ve ever bothered to make even better. And I can’t wait to move forward with it.

The next thing.

Writing

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be finishing up work on The Black Sun in a month or two. Really finishing—I’m sure there will be another flurry of work sometime in the future, but I’ve gone just about as far as I can go with this particular story right now. (I mean… assuming the next round of feedback is good.)

It’s kind of a terrifying prospect. I’ve been working on this story since the middle of 2017. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a single story for this long without abandoning it, but now I can’t quite remember what it was like when I wasn’t working on this story. (Technically, I’ve been working on Violet Lane longer—since 2016—and even finished a complete draft in early 2017, but I only really figured out what story I’m trying to tell with that in the last couple of months.)

For the first time in two years, I’m in a position where I can start thinking about writing something genuinely new.

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.

Snapshot #123 | 10 Things for 24 March 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. loving… everything about Captain Marvel. So much. Including the kid two seats down from me who fist-pumped and shouted ‘yes!’ at the end of the mid-credits scene. (He also air-drummed his way through ‘Celebrity Skin,’ which was kind of awesome. On that note: the soundtrack was pretty much just one of the mixtapes I made in junior high. Which made the whole thing even better.)
2. worrying… about Lucy. She wasn’t feeling well, and had to go to the vet. But she’s doing better now, and the vet says that she’s otherwise in very good health. I had a couple of very anxious days, though.
3. realizing… that I still haven’t changed the time on the office clock. (Which should give you an idea of how often I look at it.)
4. looking… for Cadbury Creme Eggs. I can’t seem to find them this year, which of course means I really want one.
5. trying… to wear dresses and skirts more often. I’m out of practice.
6. making… a major breakthrough in my revisions on The Black Sun. You guys. It’s gonna be so good.
7. realizing… that it’s going to be time start running again soon. I need to make some new playlists.
8. spending… a little too much money lately. Time to rein that in.
8. giving… up on the sourdough starter. Just for a little while. I’ll try again when I’m a bit less frustrated with it. (It keeps almost working, and then… not.)
10. feeling… uninspired. It’s just been one of those weeks.