Category Archives: writing

2016 in Review

By many accounts, 2016 seemed like the year that wouldn’t end. The phrase “dumpster fire” comes up frequently in relation to it. And it certainly wasn’t without its share of awfulness. It becomes very easy, though, to overlay the big arc of things over personal triumphs. But when one of my friends issued a challenge to list off good things that we’d experienced last year, I realized I had a growing list of accomplishments and things to celebrate.

The biggest one, the first thing I’m likely to boast about when given half a chance, is completing NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It took about another 20 days and another 20k words past the end of November, but I completed my first long piece of writing in… ever, really.

I don’t know that I would have done that if not for the spark to revisit writing that was kindled with attending WorldCon and a local sci fi con in 2016 and chatting with different authors, sitting in on panels with so much speculative food for thought. My to-read list grew, but more than that, I’ve realized there is a conversation to a genre, one that I’d like a seat at eventually.

I still have so much to learn with the craft of writing, but I know one thing already: it can’t edge out my time for other crafts. The ability to make yarny things is important to me, and in spite of my crafting grinding to a near halt in November with drafting a novel, I still managed to make a ridiculous number of shawls and burn through about 15,000 yards of yarn, after revising my goal up from 10,000 in September. I didn’t get around to really learning to use the spinning wheel my dear husband gave me for our anniversary, but that’s right at the top of the list for this year.

One of my annual goals is to read 100 books, something I managed to first achieve in library school, of all places. I guess grad school can unlock reading superpowers. I’m sure that goal will creep upward with time, but for now, it’s a comfortable, achievable goal that I’ve met for the last three years running. Pretty proud of that one. I was able to participate in Library Reads top 10 books of the year for the first time, having made a goal to better keep up with current publications. I plan on a few end-of-year reading retrospective posts, too. Soon. I’ve got some more librarian- and personal-development-oriented goals in mind for next year, which I’ll also share.

Oh. Yeah. Library school. I finally finished that. I think it’s testament to the self-actualization and branching out of personal goals that this year has brought that it’s consistently something that falls mid-list of achievements rather than first. Am I officially using it yet? No. But I’ve got my eye out for opportunities, and while my dream job at my former library system didn’t pan out, there will be other opportunities. And hey, people rarely get the dream job right out the gate. One thing that is awesome about my current job? One of my long-distance friends is now my coworker, and that’s pretty cool.

Friends, as always, remain awesome. This was a year full of plenty of gaming, both board games and roleplaying games, and good friends to enjoy them all with. We rang in 2016 with friends and rang it out with friends over a tabletop game, pausing long enough to take note of the arrival of 2017 before going on to win against a villain bent on destroying the world. Not too shabby.

I suppose this retrospective begets a question of “what’s next?” I’ll hold that up as a teaser for a future post. For now, happy new-ish year!

How about you? What did you accomplish this year that you’re proud of?

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Here’s to a better 2017. *fingers crossed*

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Rumors of my Demise…

My  best bloggish intentions always seem to fall by the wayside. Sometimes I have no excuses, simply failing to regularly review what I’ve been up to. Other times, things like, oh, grad school get in the way.

And sometimes, other large undertakings get in the way. Good undertakings, the sorts of things one tried for years ago and failed, but somehow here, now, the planets lined up right, and I jumped for it.

I’m writing a Thing. It feels pretentious to call it a Novel yet because it’s a heaping draft of messiness at present, but I dove into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year for the first time in seven years.

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I didn’t write about it here because I wasn’t sure I’d do it. In fact, right up to October 31st, I wasn’t sure about committing to it. I hadn’t drafted an outline yet, hadn’t read enough craft books yet, hadn’t really prepared much of anything. If I waited for an outline, I’d lose the momentum of November and its accompanying deadline of 50,000 words in one month, and maybe there’d be next year, but by another year, I’d be even rustier at writing and possibly more reluctant to get back on the bike. However, what I had in mind had a pretty straightforward plot structure, and if there was ever something I could reasonably “pants” my approach, this would be it. So on the evening of October 31, I dashed out some notes for myself, and on November 1, I dove in.

I tried this once before, but it was a bad year. I was teaching and still on a semester schedule, and aspects of my life were falling apart around me. The month started out grandly, with writing being a much-needed escape, but it meandered around, and I chased myself into a corner with a plot that wasn’t driving toward a real conclusion, giving it up at about 32k words. I discovered that file recently, and it’s every bit the hot mess I remembered it being, though there are nuggets I think I could rework into something more cohesive another time.

This year has been the first November in over a decade now that I have been off of the semester schedule between grad school, teaching, and more grad school. Life’s calm these days, not thrown into upheaval by school or learning a new job. If there was a time that I had a decent shot, this would be it.

And readers, I’ve made it.

Technically, a NaNoWriMo win is 50k words. I’m there already, well ahead of November 30. The biggest hurdle to writing is ass-in-chair time, and I’ve been putting that time in every day this month, even with an election that went in an alarming direction, even around a work schedule that includes working some evenings (my prime writing time). My yarn crafting has suffered a bit in the process, but I’m crafting something else in a different medium, so I guess that’s a small cost to pay.

It turns out hitting 50k is easier than finishing a novel, because 50k has come and gone, and I’ve still got story to go especially since some of the early word count material is stuff that would’ve been background sussed out in pre-writing if I’d done it “properly” and will probably be whacked out mercilessly in revision. That’s neither here nor there, though. I’ve won the month, if not the novel yet. But I’m feeling pretty good about my chances now, and I’m requiring myself to write every single day until it’s done, which should be before the year’s end. I know there will be plenty of editing ahead of me before it’s any good, but I’ve taken a big first step.

I’m writing one of the sorts of story I want to see more of. There are other, bigger stories I want to write too, but I’m not ready for those yet. And I won’t be ready for them if I never start somewhere. So this is my somewhere. One word at a time.

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