Looking ahead to 2019.

Art + Craft, Personal, Writing

I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to escape from 2018, but… here we are! 2019! Only a week in and already so weird but… so far, things are marginally better than last year, so I’ll take it.

I’m not going to dwell on 2018. On a purely personal level, it wasn’t terrible. I didn’t reach most of the big goals I’d set out for myself, because I genuinely dropped the ball, or because I underestimated the amount of work involved, or because it’s really hard to focus on certain creative projects when the world is on fire. But, overall, I’m really proud of what I did accomplish. I’m happy with the stories I worked on, and the photos I took, and the general progress I made. I wish there’d been more, but… it was good.

And those big goals I didn’t reach last year? I’m moving them to this year. And, no, I’m not going to tell you what they are just yet. (Though if you’ve been reading the newsletter, you know about at least two of them.) I’ll announce them—and any other big projects I come up with—when they’re ready, or when they’re about to start. I’m really excited about all of them, and I can’t wait to share them with you. (The first major announcement will come in about two weeks.)

Big goals aside, for the first time in… I don’t know how long… I’m making something that could actually be considered ‘resolutions,’ though I’m reluctant to use that word for some reason.

Looking Back: 2016 in Review

Personal, Photography, Writing

This hasn’t been an easy post to write. At this point, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started, and stopped, and then started again.

2016 was awful, in so many ways. Starting with Bowie, and ending with the US election, this has been a terrible year for so many of us. And I really haven’t wanted to do any kind of recap—I’m too focussed on what comes next.

But if I look at the year from a purely creative standpoint, and if I think about what my plans for this year were, I didn’t do too bad.

Going into 2016, I had two major goals: to create more than I consume, and to consume with intention.

I’ll tackle the second one first, since it’s a little more straightforward. I wanted to make it a point to read and watch and listen to media that inspires me, rather than just stuff that fills the time. And I’ve been trying to do that. I’m still not quite where I want to be, but I’ve been watching more movies and reading better books than I did in 2015.

It’s a process, and I’m going to keep it up.

The first goal—creating more than I consume—is a little trickier to measure.

I mean, yeah: I track my time. Strictly speaking, I know that I spent more time consuming media than creating it—especially in the first half of the year. But “time spent” doesn’t really feel like the best way to judge my progress on this particular goal, even though it’s the only way I can think of to quantify it.

This feels like a goal that’s better judged on quality, rather than quantity.

As far as photography goes, this year was… ok. Not great. Despite all my good intentions, I never did get back on track with my 52-Week Photo Challenge. And while I am a little annoyed with myself for that, I’m also kind of ok with it. Toward the end of the year, it was starting to cause more stress than it was really worth: the motivation wasn’t there, my schedule wasn’t cooperating with some of the prompts, and my perfectionist tendencies were starting to get the better of me.

I’m glad I started it, and I really like some of the photos I got out of it, but I also don’t really regret letting it go when I needed to. And I have a photo project in mind for next year that will take some of the pressure off but still manage to give me a bit of a challenge.

That particular project aside, I’m feeling pretty good about my photography this year. I didn’t take quite as many pictures as I would have liked (or as many as I probably should have), but I’m happy with the pictures I took this year, which is a nice change.

The big change this year was writing.

When I started 2016, I didn’t plan to write a word of fiction. I was pretty sure I’d left that behind for good, even though the ideas refused to leave me alone.

And now, somehow, I’ve got an almost-complete first draft of a novel that I don’t hate.

This is huge.

I mean… is it great? No. It’s a first draft. But I’ve already figured out how to fix the biggest problems, and I’m really looking forward to the next draft. I still don’t quite know what I’m going to do with it when I’m done, but I don’t remember the last time I stuck with a writing project for this long (the vague plans started in spring, the serious outlining started in October, and I’ve put actual words on the page nearly every day since November 1) without deciding I hated everything about it, including the very concept of writing.

And I’ve got at least two more story ideas that I want to start writing right now.

For me, this goal was about finding a balance between creation and consumption—spending less time scrolling through Pinterest and Twitter, and more time doing work I could be proud of.

And I think I managed that. I’m still not quite where I want to be, but I’m getting there.

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.

2014 in Review: An Annotated List

Personal

Peggy's Cove

I debated whether or not to do some sort of year-in-review type post this year. They’re difficult for me: there’s always a lot of stuff I don’t really want to go into in a public space, I hate talking about my goals too much, and this time of year, I have trouble finding the time to actually sit down and write a proper post. I didn’t really do a review last year, or make any solid plans. (This was as close as I got, and that was in February.)

But then I realized that 2014 was actually pretty awesome for me, and I have some huge plans for 2015, and that I really should mark that in some way. That, and I love making lists. (I’ll be looking ahead to 2015 in a few days.)

My 2014 in 14 Numbers, Details, and Miscellaneous Asides

  1. Books Read: 60 (None of which were on the list of books I’ve been meaning to read.)
  2. Existential Crises: 2 (both art-related)
  3. Moved: approx. 3.5 km, and it makes all the difference in the world
  4. Movies Watched: 23 (not enough)
  5. New Favourite Recipe: Sicilian chocolate gelato, from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet
  6. Blog Posts: 72 (here & on the old blog)
  7. Most Popular Blog Post: Cinnamon Rolls for Two | Small-Batch Recipe
  8. My Favourite Blog Post: Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two | Small-Batch Recipe
  9. Photos Taken: approx. 800-900 (My count is slightly off because of my weird filing system – and multiple copies of some photos – but that’s a good estimate. It’s not nearly enough.)
  10. Road Trips: 3
  11. Coffee Shops Within a Five-Minute Walk of the New Apartment: 3
  12. Second Favourite Accomplishment (since moving is my absolute favourite thing about this year): taking the time to properly decorate the new apartment (still a work-in-progress).
  13. Kickstarter Projects Backed: 2
  14. Trips to the Vet: 6 (Just to reiterate, Lucy’s fine. But she developed an issue that required semi-regular shots. Which she hates enough that she now has a reputation–with a note in her file, to warn everyone–for being ‘difficult.’ That’s my girl.)
2014-02-01

Past and Future

Personal

Sometimes you need to start fresh.

Everyone gets that feeling at the start of a new year, I know. We think about the year that’s gone by, everything that’s changed, everything that hasn’t, all the things we accomplished, or didn’t. We make resolutions or set goals; sometimes they fizzle out two weeks into January, and sometimes we manage to see them through.

2013 wasn’t my best year. There was nothing specifically terrible about it, and it was far from being my worst year (2008 still holds that particular title), but it wasn’t great: creative projects that fizzled, drama that arose from (quite literally) out of nowhere, mysterious allergic reactions, seemingly-insurmountable roadblocks standing in the way of my goals. Even with the fantastic things that happened—and there were some truly fantastic things—when 2013 ended, I was adrift. My usual year-end review turned into a reevaluation, not just of 2013, but of everything, and it’s still going on.

That’s what this is.

I started blogging more than ten years ago. In that time, my enthusiasm for the medium, and my ideas for what I wanted to accomplish with it, have changed too many times to count. And one thing that’s become clear in the last couple of months, as I think about things, is that this is one of the areas I needed to change. The blog I’d been writing for so long was not what I wanted to be doing. I felt disconnected from everything about it: the subjects I was writing about, the way I was writing about them, even the name of the site. It all felt like a box I didn’t fit into anymore.

So I’m starting something new.

I’m not sure what it is yet. I have hints of a plan, something like a schedule, but I’m leaving room for it to evolve. It’s a place to reevaluate. It’s a place to play with ideas. It’s a catalogue of my obsessions, whatever they might be at the moment.

Welcome.

Photo by Reghan Skerry