What’s Next?

“2016 was the worst.”

If you haven’t seen or heard that expression at some point during the year, I would be beyond impressed. Between dramatic shifts in the political climate, worsening of humanitarian crises across the globe, and a slew of celebrity deaths, it’s been a tough year for humanity and the planet.

Not everything was terrible about 2016, however. Renewable energy sources have grown more affordable than every, there were notable moments of compassion amidst the chaos of mass shootings and civil wars, and despite an overwhelming number of dissappointing blockbusters, surpising gems such as Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them delighted audiences (review pending on the latter, since I may need to see it a second time).

Personally, 2016 was rough. I waded through tricky employment situations all year long, which in turn led to some serious effects on my writing productivity. Hence, my absence since early November.

I also realized I’m not nearly as well as I thought I was, mentally. Someday soon I’d like to write it all down and share those revelations to people, but not just yet. I’m still figuring it all out.

It wasn’t an awful year, though. I took several road trips to visit people and meet some new ones, connected with a bunch of incredible writers and learned a whole bunch about how the world worked.

As a writer, I took ninth place in a writing contest, finished both the first and second drafts of Elements, and started my second novel, Uncommon Eyes. Not too shabby, and there’s definitely room to grow.

Writing all this down certainly helps me look at everything anew. Yes, this past year was a challenge, but there was a lot that came out of it that I’ll be able to build on moving forward this year. A positive attitude goes a long way, right?

Since it’s the time of making goals, here’s what I plan on doing for my writing this year:

  • Send Draft 3 of Elements to an editor, possibly an agent, by March 1st
  • Submit five short stories to magazines (only one of which is written and polished)
  • Write the first draft of Uncommon Eyes
  • Publish here at least twice a week: one blog post on Monday, one review every Wednesday, and (if possible) one story or writing exercise every Friday

That’s all I can think of for right now, as far as getting things started for the new year goes. For better or worse, 2017 will be an exciting year for everyone out there. Here’s hoping it’s more positive than 2016 overall!

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The Day Before: Happy Monday!

Life beat me down last week, so I didn’t get very much written. That’s why I was absent all last week. There was a scare with my car which ended up resolving itself, although it threw me into a panic. Despite living in a big city, when your needs depend on owning a car, it definitely puts a hold on your life.

On top of all that, work is work and it’s now November. That means NaNoWriMo, which means a new book to start! It’s called Uncommon Eyes. It takes place in the last weeks of a high schooler’s senior year and follows his ruminations and life as he nears the end of this chapter of his life. There’s a good cast of characters that I’m having a blast fleshing out, and it’s shaping up to be a good story.

However, I’m already behind. I need to write around 2,000 words a day to reach my 50,000 word goal by November 30th. Doable, but difficult. I’m excited for everything to come together, and it should be one hell of a November.

Tomorrow, however, I have one item that absolutely has to get done: voting!

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Yeah, the President is on the ballot this year, and no matter your beliefs, odds are you find at least one of the candidates terrible, so why bother? But the President can only do so much. Congress and the Senate all have substantial power, and tons of Congressmen and Senators are up for reelection. There are also plenty of local positons and laws, as well. That’s why I’m heading to the polls. There are too many important choices to be made on all levels of government, and it’s up to us to make it.

Voting talk over. I can’t wait for this election to be over. For now, I’m done writing for the day.

Last Week Tonight (sort of): Happy Monday!

Last week caught me out of nowhere. I couldn’t write or do much of anything. That’s why I didn’t share any reviews or blog posts. I guess something like this has happened before, but I never really recognized it. Not sure what it is, but I’m working on that.

This weekend, however, I managed to bounce back. I stayed off social media and took stock of where I’m at, personally and professionally. I’m not doing too bad, to be honest, but I’ve got a long way to go.

That’s why this week’s update is pretty short. There wasn’t much that happened the past week or two, but I know if I write, even just a little bit, I’ll make one more step towards ramping up for NaNoWriMo and finishing edit 3 of Elements. Maybe then I can start searching for a professional editor or maybe even an agent. Who knows?

As I let my mind wander, I gravatated back to my travels. This is one of the less impressive, but more historical photos.

 

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Petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. It’s not the most well known park out there, but you can walk through geologic and Native American history. I highly recommend visiting it when you get a chance.

I’ll have to write more about my travels at some point.

 

 

Happy Monday! 15 Minute Writings in an Old House

The mainenance guy hasn’t come by yet to prep the radiators for the coming winter, so the apartment grows colder and colder each day. I don’t mind the chill, honestly. I prefer to wear sweaters or flannels. It’s cozier, cheaper, and it makes it feels more like fall every day. The leaves have yet to change, but they will soon. I can’t wait.

This is my new place, by the way.

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Nestled perfectly between two busy streets, it’s surprisingly quiet. No car alarms going off or sirens every other day. It’s closer to my climbing gym than the old place, there are plenty of trees around, and it’s in a part of the city I have yet to learn.

The weathered linoleum in the kitchen feels good against my bare feet. Just like the kitchen back home. Every other room is old hardwood, perfect for pacing around.

My roommate acquired most of the furniture himself, either from his family or from yard sales and such. I’m grateful for it; my bed is currently two couch cushions with a sheet over them on my bedroom floor. It’s way more comfy than I expected.

The adjustment into a routine didn’t take long. I wake up, check email, open up some Write Practice tabs and maybe a tv show, make some breakfast, and figure out my day. Sometimes I write original stuff, other times it’s a review. Regardless, there’s always something to be done for work or an errand that needs to be run to break up the day.

Speaking of running, I ran this afternoon! It was only 2.5 miles, but it felt good to get back into the habit. I’m doing a 5K in November with my sister, so training for that’ll be loads of fun.

Another neat little habit I picked up is the 15-minute writing burst. If you’re looking to increase productivity or build up a habit, pick up The 15-Minute Writer: How to Write Your Book in Only 15 Minutes A Day by Jennifer Blanchard. Geared primariy towards non-fiction writers, her approach to writing and her advice on achieving bursts of productivity are surprisingly simple, yet highly effective.

Granted, I can’t get all of my writing done in 15-minutes. It usually ends up being at least two bursts, if not four or five, before I need to step back and take a quick break, especially with fiction. Character development and scene building take time to work out, especially when planning to write a novel in a month.

NaNoWriMo is going swimmingly, by the way. I have five charcters realized, with two more in the works. All that’s left to figure out is the plot. Time to comb through my resources and figure out what’ll happen to Jai. It’s not an adventure, thriller, or crime story. I’m taking a literary approach to this one, so the whole ‘incident -reaction – incident – reaction’ principle to storytelling will be more subtle here than some of my other writing. It’ll be a fun challenge to figure it out this week.

Happy Monday!

 

Moving Fun and Sprained Feet: Happy October!

I’m thinking about doing weekly updates every Monday, just so I can get in the habit of blogging more regularly. Thoughts?

This past week I moved to a new place and had tons of work related issues going on. Hence, an abscence from reviews. I’ll be putting up two this week to make up for it.

The moving aspect of things was pretty fantastic, simply because I was more active than I’d been in two weeks. I sprained my foot in the middle of September, which meant that all the physical activities I love, from climbing to running, were out of the question. I could bike sometimes, but the weather didn’t always cooperate.

The good news is: my foot’s healed! Climbing awaits once again!

Despite the craziness, I still found time to write! I’m polishing a short exercise I did last week, so keeep an eye out for that in the next few days (it’s less than 300 words, I promise it’s a fast read!).

Prep for NaNoWriMo is in full swing. I’ll go into more details in a couple weeks, but I’ll be doing everything I can to keep myself accountable during November to finish this time around. All I have so far is the setting, a couple characters, and a title: Uncommon Eyes.

That’s all I’ve got for now. My life’s fairly quiet at the moment, which I’m perfectly content with.

 

It’s Not Just Caring: Why Sharing Your Work Is Necessary

It’s cause for a small celebration, because I just received tons of great feedback on the second draft of my book! I may have dragged my feet over the past eight months working on other projects, but I finally did it. I edited my first book!

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As friends and family write back to me about their thoughts on my story, I’m grateful that people express interest in my work, since I know very few people have actually read what I put out there (from my reviews and blog posts to my stories), so it always warms my heart to learn that people want to see what I’ve been working on. It’s also made me realize how necessary it is to share your work with others, for a few reasons.

1. You know your story too well.

You’ve been living with this story in your head in your head for a while now. Maybe it’s only been a week, maybe it’s been two years that you’ve been developing every facet of your world. The point is, you know how the story’s supposed to go, so a few of those important details that make it tick may have slipped through the cracks somehow.

When other people read your story, they’ll ask questions about character development, where this important plot point came from, etc. You can answer their questions right away, but they help you realize that – oops – you forgot to include something! Thus, making your story stronger.

2. Everyone interprets things differently

Sometimes you come up with what you think is the perfect line that helps out with worldbuilding or gives a character the perfect closure they deserve, but then it falls flat on its face. Other times you’ll write a little line that’ll resonate  with readers more than the main conversation that makes you rethink the whole purpose of the story.

People have different experiences that shaped them, and even the smallest things can elicit a response from them. You never know what people will connect with, which is always exciting and, at times, satisfying.

3. Friends and family are curious about what you’re working on.

I try to stay busy during the day. When I’m not working on my job, I’m critiquing other writer’s work  in my writing group, working on my own stories, or editing something for myself. I’ll go out and do stuff from time to time, but typically I’ll sacrifice socializing for writing.

I also tend not to share much. That’s why when I asked people out there if they wanted to read my book, I was surprised by how many responses I got. I ended up sending my book out to a dozen people, and so far about half of them have written back to me with better feedback than I could have imagined.

I know I’m referencing mostly books and short stories here, but this applies to music, poetry, blog posts, and any creative medium. You’ll never grow if you don’t put yourself out there. Sure, it’s scary, but trust me on this. If you share, you’ll be a better writer for it.

No Review This Week

Life gets in the way sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some writing and gotten some terrific feedback on Elements, but writing around a day job with highly varied workflow makes for an interesting challenge.

In the interest of planning my NaNoWriMo book, I’ve decided to skip the review for this week and focus more on developing one of my characters. I may even share it here at some point, who knows?

I’ll be back to regular reviews next week with another of Neil Gaiman’s works. Enjoy your weekend, y’all!