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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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.

 

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!

I Won’t Ignore It

I used to ignore my feeling with little to no problem. I don’t need to go into the reasons behind that right now, but after a while brushing them aside became second nature to me.

However, that attitude has started to change.

Since I started this site over a year ago, there have been some ups and downs. I’ve had more jobs than I can count on one hand for multiple reasons. I moved to a new city simply because I hadn’t lived in that part of the country before. I took time for two fantastic roadtrips to incredible parts of the United States.

It’s been a busy year for my friends and family, as well. One of my best friends got married nine months ago, and several friends and classmates got engaged. Quite a few friends earned their Masters Degrees and are starting either their PhD, law school, or a job in the career they’ve been pursuing for the past six years. All their hard work is finally paying off, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Meanwhile, I took several steps backwards. Instead of using my Biology Degree in a Masters Program, doing research, or anything that relates to Biolgy in the conventional sense, I decided that writing is what spoke to me the most. I’m talking about world waiting to be explored. I’m talking about fiction that everyone can relate to. I’m talking about taking people for a ride that excites them or even makes them think.

Like most things in life, starting a new career is hard. Boy, that’s an understatement.

One one hand, I chose this for myself. I shouldn’t complain about how difficult it can be sometimes.

On the other hand, I can’t ignore my feelings all the time.

I can’t ignore how frustrating it feels to see the sonogram of a couple’s second child while I’m sitting over here still learning the nuances of being a functional adult.

I can’t ignore the envy I feel as my friends toss their caps into the air after two gureling years or don their white coat for the first time.

I can’t ignore that little voice that drives me up a wall as it whispers “You haven’t written a word today. How can you call yourself a writer?”

Here’s the thing about those negative feelings that I never fully understood until recently: if you ignore them, they fester. Like mold in a house, they start to spread from their little corner, this little black spot growing larger and larger until the damage is done and everything is rotten.

I’m sure this simile’s been used before, but it’s certainly accurate. The effects those thoughts have can’t be removed easily, just like mold. They shape your words and actions, possibly for the rest of your life.

Sometimes I’ll complain about being frustrated, envious, or disappointed. I’ll be acknowledging that something’s not great, and that complaining may be what causes me to realize that something’s not great.

I know I chose this path for myself, and I know it’s difficult beyond belief.  I do my best to keep a positive attitude, but if something’s bothering me, then by all means I won’t ignore it.

 

 

Intimate Moment (a writing exercise)

Sometimes I get stuck when I write. If I don’t do something about it, I won’t write anything new for a few weeks. Usually, I can dig up a prompt stashed away in the recesses of my computer and write about that for an hour. Sometimes people-watching is the best thing. Just sit in a coffee shop, a train station, a library, even a busy intersection, find someone, and make stuff up about them. This is one such story/stream-of-consciousness/sketch I did recently. Enjoy!

They’re both gorgeous humans. He has a strong jaw and probably has a toned body under his clothes, maybe a runner? His glasses work perfectly on his face, probably helping him immensely. Her blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail. You can’t see it from this angle, but the left side is buzzed like Natalie Dormer in The Hunger Games. She’s probably a runner, too. Tall, long legs, clearly strong. She’s wearing boots with a couple inches of heel, making her legs even longer

She’s getting emotional. She wipes her eyes, legs crossed as she sets her yellow legal pad down. The guy’s been talking to her (from across the room it looks more like at her), gesturing with open hands and an honest expression on his face. Maybe it’s support, but my guess it’s been feedback. She had been writing since they sat down two hours ago, holed up in the corner, and it’s getting to her now. He’s leaning forward, elbows on his knees, hands resting on her legs or caressing her when he isn’t gesturing. She slouches a little bit when she talks, using her words less than her facial expressions to convey her message.

He points to the legal pad, and she picks it up again. They’re back to critiques at this point. She’s looking around the coffee shop again, perhaps focusing on the paintings hanging on the walls. He hasn’t shut up for a while now. She doesn’t make eye contact with him, briefly now, but never sustained for more than a minute. Maybe it’s a memoir, maybe a love letter.

Oh. My. God. He looked away. It was only for a second, but he turned his head to the corner of the room. Pausing to think, if I had to guess. He dives right back into it, though. When they first sat down, I immediately thought they were a couple. They’re certainly familiar enough with each other. The longer they’re here, the less sure I am. He’s certainly affectionate, but she doesn’t return any of it. Maybe it’s the heavy material she’s got on the legal pad that’s distracting her.

I can hear him now. Not any words, per se, just his tone and timbre. Supportive, but not overly masculine. He hasn’t finished his ice coffee.

There’s an asian couple whose voices carry much better than the runners in the corner. If I listen carefully enough, I could probably hear what they’re saying. The runners are honestly so much more interesting, though. Everyone latches on to drama, no matter what. I’m not a dramatic person, but I’ve been known to gossip when it concerns my friends and how it affects me.

The guy’s sitting up straighter. The girl’s still slightly slouched, but she smiled. The pep talk (or whatever he’s doing) is clearly working. She’s engaging with him more now, actively participating and laughing a bit now and again. Hopefully her project goes well.

I really should be editing Elements instead of musing on other people’s personal moments.