Snapshot #139 | 10 Things for 3 November 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. wishing… for a normal week. It’s hard to build a routine lately.
2. getting… inspired. I’ve got a bunch of new ideas for These Modern Things all of a sudden. (Probably because I’ve also got a huge list of revisions to do on The Black Sun.)
3. accepting… that my Lomo’Instant is dying. (It still technically works, but only in full sun, and even then it’s iffy.) It’s such a cute camera, but… yeah. I’m annoyed that it didn’t last longer.
4. trying… not to go overboard on Hallowe’en candy. (And failing.)
5. daydreaming… about converting a school bus into a tiny house. Someday….
6. waking… up at 4:30 in the morning because the cat hates this particular time change with a passion.
7. watching… so many movies.
8. shifting… to a traveler’s notebook for my bullet journal and other day-to-day stuff. (I’ve had it for a while, but I wanted to finish up the book I was using first.) I’m not sure what I think of it yet; I might end up switching back to a Moleskine in January.
9. recycling… another bag of stress-inducing clutter. Such a great feeling.
10. feeling… a bit overwhelmed.

Sketchbook #48

Photography, Writing

I thought that October was going to be busy, that there were a lot of things that would get in the way of my creative goals.

It turned out to be even busier than I expected: I’ve only had one full week without interruptions (even today they’re testing the fire alarms in my building, which is always a joy—that’s why I’m working on this blog post instead of fiction), I’ve had inconvenient (but not serious) health issues crop up, and it’s just been generally difficult to stay motivated.

But I did it.

I’ll start with Violet Lane. I wanted to reach the midpoint by the end of the month. I’m not quite there, but I’m close. It’s on the horizon. And I like the story. It’s really good (considering it’s still very much a first draft, and ‘really good’ in this context means disjointed and messy and kind of terrible in some places), and more importantly, I’m having fun with it. It’s still not easy to write, and I’ve definitely had days when it just wasn’t working, but overall, writing it is a good experience this time around.

Also, I mentioned it on Twitter, but getting back into a proper mid-writing-session coffee break has done wonders for my writing routine. The caffeine helps, obviously, but mostly it’s the process of actually grinding the beans and heating the water. It gets me away from the work for a few minutes, but in a way that focusses, rather than distracts. It’s fantastic, and I love it.

Snapshot #138 | 10 Things for 20 October 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. putting… off the upgrade to Catalina; it’s going to break too many applications I rely on.
2. reaching… the point where I have to decide whether I’m going to try (again) to grow out my hair, or if I’m going to chop it all off.
3. falling… down a rabbit hole entirely composed of Japanese stationery supplies. I might have a new obsession.
4. planning… the final (for now) round of edits on The Black Sun.
5. emptying… another one of those boxes I’ve been hauling (unopened) from apartment to apartment since at least 2008. The decluttering process is slow, but it’s still moving along.
6. thinking… about making some changes to the newsletter. Is there anything you’d like to see? Writers or photographers who do it particularly well? If you don’t subscribe, is there something in particular that would change your mind? Let me know in the comments, or via the contact form if you’d rather get in touch that way.
7. starting… my Christmas shopping. In early October. There were specific budget-related reasons, but I’m still pretty sure that’s a new record for me.
8. feeling… relieved. I took care of a few chores that were really stressing me out—nothing serious, I’m just terrible at adulting—and I’m so glad to be done with them.
9. realizing… that I’m a little bit out of practice when it comes to grinding coffee by hand. I had a good routine down in the spring, but I’ve been drinking cold brew in the office all summer. It might take a week or two to get the muscle memory back.
10. finding… my way back into a good writing routine.

Sketchbook #47

Personal, Photography, Writing

September wasn’t terrible.

It wasn’t great. Losing power for two and a half days knocked me off my stride, and it took me longer to recover than it should have. I haven’t been happy with my photos lately (I already mentioned that). I’ve been dragging my feet on pretty much every big important project I’ve got going right now, and looking for any excuse I can find to avoid working on them.

But I’ve made it through the first act of Violet Lane. It’s been slower than I’d planned, and I’m still having a hard time settling into a consistent writing rhythm, but I’m having a lot of fun with the story. For the first time since that very first draft, lo these many years ago, it feels fresh and exciting. Tearing everything down to the foundations helped immensely in this case, and I’m glad I took the risk.

I’m taking photos. Even if I’m not thrilled with the results, just the fact that I’m carrying a camera on a regular basis and taking photos is a win. 

September hasn’t been terrible, and after July and August, I’ll take it.

But I do need to get past ‘not terrible’ and start making real progress again.

I said last month that I haven’t been pushing myself hard enough, and (obviously) that’s still true. Creatively, it’s because I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock, in both my writing and photography, where I’m not quite sure what the next steps are. I’ve reached the limit of my skills; that’s not a bad thing (it happens to all of us, all the time), but it does mean that I need to think about how to ‘level up.’ I’ve got some ideas for how to do that with photography—I’m more aware of my weaknesses there, and as a medium it lends itself to dedicated practice—but I’m having a harder time figuring out my options for writing. (If you have suggestions, let me know. I might have an idea, but I have to think about it a bit more.)

The other reason I haven’t been pushing myself hard enough is simple fear. 

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.