Phew! Haha! So that Sunday Circle thing, am I right? Yeah… So it’s been a while. But I have been working, so that’s something. About mid-December I hit the wall on the summary rewrite draft and realized some of the basic assumptions I’d made in the Original Draft just wouldn’t stand, and that obliterated the logic of the summary draft I’d been working on. Then Christmas hit. Then New Year’s. I actually had a wonderful holiday season. I got to spend some quality time with my sister and brother-in-law visiting from California, and got to meet my adorable, awesome, hilarious baby nephew for the first time (he’s eleven months). It was great fun, and Andy actually got the holidays off this year, which was a nice change of pace. Writing-wise, after the draft collapsed, I decided not to stress out about it over the holidays, and that worked out well enough because I had no idea where I was going to go or how I was going to restructure the project.

But! Almost two weeks into the new year, I’ve got a healthy new summary draft for the rewrite going that makes much more sense, sets up a healthier pace of action, and actually saves a LOT more of the original content from the rough draft, so that’s kind of encouraging. We’re getting into the sticky bits now where all those multitudes of secondary storylines are all coming together and I’m definitely having to do a lot more thinking, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased with where it’s going so far.

This week, I’m working on: Continuing to chew away at the summary draft. I’m past mid-point now, which means I need to spend a little time thinking about the next major plot-point in order to direct everything towards it. I’m hoping to get the summary draft wrapped up by the end of this month.

What’s inspiring me: I finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert week before last, and I’m finding it’s still resonating with me. I’m sure it’s approach to creativity isn’t for everybody, but for some reason, it’s precisely what I needed to hear right now. It kind of rang in on the same frequency as Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which I’ve also found very helpful. Just contained a number of useful ways to keep the mind’s criticisms and obsessions at bay.

I’m also starting to do some really rudimentary urban sketching about the house (I’m calling it “suburban/domestic urban sketching”), which I’ve quite enjoyed, though am still very much learning the skills. But it’s a great way to squeeze at least a little art into the day-to-day.

What action do I need to take?: I’ve actually been really dedicated this week, putting aside my typical TV habits for reading in the evening which has really helped up my reading hours (and that feels so good!). Mostly, I need to kick this wretched cold that’s been plaguing the Slater household for a week or so now. Sleep and healthy eating. :)

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You know, despite lots of upheavals and surprises and new time constraints and toddler and politics and houseguests and a bit of traveling, 2017 as a writing year wasn’t terrible for me. (How’s that for optimism? I’m working on it…) I managed to complete the one major goal I would have cried if I’d not accomplished (the rough draft of a novel), and while I came nowhere close to reading 60 books this year, I at least managed an average of one book a month (*sad*), which is I suppose better than nothing. I’m just glad I read over ten, because for a while there I thought I wouldn’t even hit that. And I really enjoyed most of the books I did read (this year included an introduction to Nnedi Okorafor via Who Fears Death (amaaaaazing), and Lois McMaster Bujold via the beginnings of the Vorkosagan saga and comic artist/writer Moebius via The World of Edena, and a pair of truly life-enlightening books in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as well as Judith Pierce Rosenberg’s A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood). The goal to write a new draft via NANOWRIMO this November fell completely flat, and I did not in any way create or keep up a reading log (look for this goal again this year…)

But overall, when I look back on the year, I’m not disappointed. Sure, I could have done more. Sure, I let other hobbies and activities run away with me for a time, some of which I’ll scale back this year, and some of which are here to stay and simply need to be acknowledged and included in my day-to-day routines. Still, I hammered out 90k of rough draft material, and I think I may be able to save more of it than I initially realized, which is helping a little on the rewrite-panic that set in at the end of September. It was a good, solid year. There are improvements to be made, and lessons to be learned, but all in all, I’m happy with it.

In 2018, I’m going a bit ambitious again, though I hope only a *little* ambitious (meaning: doable).

  1. Write one new summary draft (with the world-building done) for a new book.
  2. Write & edit three new short stories.
  3. Continue the edit/rewrite of Frosthaven (to 2nd draft).
  4. Read 50+ books and keep a reading log (for real this time).

Here’s to a fruitful and enjoyable 2018! Happy New Year, everybody!

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Trying to keep it brief this week so I do it on time(ish)!

To find out more about the Sunday Circle, check out Peter M. Ball’s blog, Man Vs. Bear.

This week, I’m working on: Summary Draft! I got through the questions that needed thinking on (to a mostly satisfactory degree), so after plugging those into my notebook, I’ll be plunging ahead with the summary draft of the rewrite. I’m going to try to put in an hour a weekday working on the summary draft and see where that gets me by end of Friday. That should give me a better idea of how fast (or slow) this quick draft will take.

This week, I’ve been inspired by: More last week than this week, but Season 16 of Project Runway just wrapped up, and this season more than any other has made me think about creative confidence, aesthetic comfort, and what it means to push oneself creatively. All four of the final contestants were very unique designers, and their method of approaching their final shows were very different. It really drove home the balance between aesthetic/thematic vision and confidence in one’s ability to create (and how that confidence works with or is undermined by (both good and bad) criticism). One of the finalists had a really concrete grip on his aesthetic vision, but was so confident (and had gotten very little criticism) that he didn’t really push himself outside his usual (and somewhat surface/detail-oriented) comfort zone. One was a train wreck of lack of confidence, heavily impressed-upon by negative criticism, until she put confidence in the aesthetic she liked most, and then found confidence in herself through exploring that and ignoring criticism, which served her very well. Another had a very clear thematic vision, and confidence that she had a point of view that needed to be shared, and yet also felt the push to always go further, to apply whatever criticism she received in the way that truly spoke to her (even if it counteracted judging criticisms), and in that way, grew and strengthened her work. (The thematic rather than totally aesthetic vision seemed to help, too: thematic allowed her to reinterpret challenges and diversify her own work, without losing the core of her vision. The designer with the clear aesthetic vision knew what he liked in terms of details and silhouette, but struggled to get outside of that specific style.) The last was confident, then destroyed by negative criticism, and instead of just giving up, he allowed his lack of confidence in his ability to win to drive him to do exactly what he wanted to aesthetically without fear of “not winning” (since he took that as a guarantee), and that ease and joy in his work not only showed in the final products, but also took the pressure off of him and allowed him to take risks he might otherwise have tried to reign in to please the judges. It was a very interesting viewing experience.

Also just started Poldark which I think is my new go-to show.

What action do I need to take this week? I need to commit to a regular work schedule, since I’m getting back to prose-words rather than purely thinking. An hour a day is do-able, but still plenty challenging to fit in.

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Oh man, I was completely planning to have a Sunday Circle up on time this week, and yet here we are again, Monday night. Ah well. Sundays must just be tricky days for me to get online. On the plus side, I’m not often on my computer much over the weekend, so I suppose that’s not a terrible thing.

Still chunking away at the novel rewrite. I’ve gotten some good feedback from a few beta readers, and am rounding the bend on getting down some concrete (ish) solutions to all of those issues prior to sitting my tail down and getting a summary draft of the rewrite together so I can truly see if the changes I’m thinking of will be functional fixes.

This Week, I’m Working on: Getting the last handful of issues resolved and answering some final questions regarding secondary character motivation and world-building concerns. I’ve been carrying around a pocket of notecards with the questions scrawled on them, and I’m trying my damnedest to answer at least one a day. If I can manage that, then by Saturday, I should be able to import the solutions into the revision notebook, and hopefully kickstart Sunday by beginning the official Summary Draft – Version 2.0.

This Week, I’m Inspired By: Just finished reading A Question of Balance: Artists and Writers on Motherhood by Judith Pierce Rosenberg, and it’s been very helpful in squaring my inner critic with reality. The vast majority of the women interviewed were fairly career-established by the time they had children, but it’s been really comforting to see their takes on the day-to-day struggle of creating things with small children about. I definitely came away from it feeling charged, challenged, and in many ways vindicated that yes, it is hard to create with toddlers around, particularly because producing art of any kind is so much a mental process, and mental space is often hard to come by when surrounded by little ones. It’s also helped me to recognize where I may at times excuse myself for not getting quite as much done when really, I could get a bit (not a lot, but a bit) more accomplished with a little more time given to achievable goal-setting, and by simply (—AHHHH, since typing this paragraph I’ve had to get up three times to get my son various items for the game he’s playing, and the near incessant stream of chatter is making it very difficult to concentrate on writing a cohesive sentence…AAAAANd…I’ve lost my train of thought…) ANYWAY: It’s hard. Pro-artists and pro-writers find it hard, too, so it’s not just me. It will get easier. It will get harder, in ways, too. But I picked up quite a few nuggets of inspiration and support along the way, so I’m feeling a bit rejuvenated and ready to hit the words running.

Also, any notebook threads on Pinterest. PILES OF NOTEBOOKS. They make me so happy… <3

What Action Do I Need to Take?: Well, I actually kind of tackled this yesterday night, but I needed to sit down and take a serious look at long-term goals and what smaller steps I might take towards the end of this year and into next year to get closer to those goals. And I did that! So I’m feeling pretty confident that I can end the year strong and be a little more focused next year. Otherwise: reading. I’d really like to wrap the year with a couple more books under the belt, so I need to make sure I give myself that time.