Updates, Recaps, and Goals for the Rest of 2018

We are nearing the end of July and I think it is about time to revisit some of the goals and plans I made earlier this year.

In my very first blog post, I set some writerly goals for 2018. Now, at just past the middle of the year, this is where I am in terms of reaching those goals.

1. Consistently update my blog.

More or less, I feel proud of how well I’ve done keeping up with this blog. We are in the 30th week of the year (if my math is correct—it rarely is, I might add), and counting this post, I have done 27 blog posts. So I’m happy with how this blog is shaping up as the year progresses.

2.Write a variety of short pieces.

I have been working on this! As you may remember, I started the Micro Fiction Challenge in March where I challenged myself (and you) to write a 100 word story every day for a month. I didn’t get 30 stories done, but I did get some experience crafting stories in only 100 words. Besides that, I have left this goal slide from my radar, but I will be revisiting it soon.

3.Start working on a long term novel project.

I am doing this! I started the pre-planning process for my pirate novel early in the year and spent the month of April worldbuilding. In May I started the novel and though I haven’t worked on it in a while, I plan to return to it in the next couple weeks.

In my March recap post, I went through my short-term and long-term goals for the rest of the year. Here’s the progress on those:

1.Complete Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2018
I was able to do this and I thoroughly enjoyed working on the project, and I am excited to continue working on the project.

2.Look at the future of “The Man in the Bookshop”

After making it onto the longlist for the 2018 CBC Short Story prize, I knew I had to do something with the story. I’ve made some progress in that regard and I’m working with an artist to build an anthology of stories with the same light-hearted whimsy as “The Man in the Bookshop”. Everything is very preliminary at the moment, but as time passes, I will share more about this exciting project!

My long term goals included:
1.Doing something with my children’s stories
2.Editing one of my projects
3.Finishing the first draft of the last book I didn’t finish
4.Write a play.
5.*Read 15 books.

During July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, you may remember that I was scrambling when I changed my project. I changed my project to be focused on my children’s stories. The month has been going splendidly—for the most part. I’m currently about 18,000 words behind, and with 1 week to finish, it is going to be tight, but I’ve been enjoying the story and the way the rewrites and edits have been going.
I haven’t made any progress on the other goals, and looking at my half year to come, it seems they are not likely to be accomplished.

*Except for my book goal, which I have started! I have one book finished, and a second one nearly done! Yay for reading!

With that, here are my revised goals for the rest of 2018:

I want to write a variety of short pieces.
I want to finish the rewrites and editing of my children’s story and query it to agents and publishing houses.
I want to return to the project I put on the side during this NaNo and write it during November’s NaNo.
I want to continue working on my long-term pirate novel project and have something resembling a first draft done by the end of the year.
I want to read 15 books.
I want to continue blogging as consistently as I am able.

Did you make any writerly goals for this year? How are you doing with completing them? Are there any goals you have dropped or swapped out for others?

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What I’ve Been Neglecting as a Writer

It’s right there in the header of my website, yet I’ve let it slide from my routine. It’s not writing (though I haven’t touched my Camp NaNo project in over a week!), nor is it dreaming—I do that plenty.

No. I have neglected reading.

In recent years, the amount of leisure reading I do has dropped dramatically. It could have to do with the amount of academic reading I now do. I have grown in my fondness of various types of reading because of the academic reading I’ve done. These past couple years, I’ve been saturated in literary fiction, poetry and drama and I’ve discovered a love of British literature and Russian drama, but despite loving what I get to read for school, the experience of reading for school or oneself is very different.

It could have to do with the different ways I fill my time as I’ve grown and gone through high school. Whatever the case may be, I don’t do enough reading, I miss the amount of books I consumed during junior high school, and I want to return to that.

Reading is one of those essential pastimes for writers. How can you expect to write stories if you don’t read other stories? Reading fuels the imagination, it informs us about style and form, and lets us experience the community of other writers by immersing ourselves in their work.

When looking for writing advice, one of the things that comes up time and time again is the advice to read. To read lots, and to read widely. The advice is to read widely in your genre, but also to venture out to the vast world of literature. It is advisable to read well-written and highly acclaimed books as well as poorly received books. Reading is never far from the heart of writing.

From the reading I have done, I know there are certain tropes and cliches that I love and some I hate. But I also know that even a trope I dislike can be written well and done in a way that puts a new light on it. I know I’m a sucker for a good hero story, but I also I know I don’t like love triangles.

I love reading and trying to identify what it is that is drawing me into the story or losing my attention. I take note of the words the author uses and avoids. I read for inspiration. I read for entertainment. I read for the attachment I feel to worlds and characters. And of course I hope that one day all the things I love about reading will be presented in my work and other readers will feel the same way about my worlds, characters, and stories.

Clearly, there are benefits to reading as a writer. And clearly I need to push myself to get back into reading.

So, I’ve decided to challenge myself to read 15 books before the end of the year.

I want to reread the Chronicles of Narnia, I want to read some middle grade fiction for ‘research’ with my Issac Normal stories. I want to read a couple fantasy books I’ve been eyeing and finish the books I’ve currently started.

As I complete books, I will update you on what I’ve been reading.

In the meantime, if you have any books you think I should put on my 15 book list, let me know and I’ll add it to the TBR list!

What books have you been reading lately? Which books/stories have you found most helpful to you as a writer?

Being Flexible During Camp NaNo

Two days before Camp NaNoWriMo started, I abandoned my project and switched to another. I’m the planning kind of person, so I was reeling from the drastic change. But despite that, it was definitely for the best. Here’s why it was a good idea.

(Throughout this post I will be referring to both projects, the original project is nicknamed “Home” and the second, current project is nicknamed “Issac Normal”)

The first reason was about being ready.

The project I was going to do is something I really want to write and something I really want to write well. I spent the latter half of the week before Camp NaNo trying to think of the title instead of fleshing out the characters, the plot or refining the conflict.

I was not and am still not ready to tackle Home. The idea for Home is there, but that’s about it. Everything is vague and undetermined and while this is not entirely a bad thing, I’ve found that during NaNoWriMo especially, that is not how I like to work. I’m more familiar with the characters and world of Issac Normal than I was with Home. I would have struggled to find character voices and fit them into an underdeveloped world that I haven’t done enough real life research for yet.

The second reason it was important to switch to Issac Normal was because of duration.

I had been thinking about Home for only a couple weeks. I’m still in the pre-pre-planning stages, not the writing stage. This idea is so new that I struggled to figure out the perspective and form I wanted to use to tell the story.

For Issac Normal, I’ve had this project sitting on the back burner since last year. Not only have I passed the writing stage, I’m in the rewriting and editing stage. Since first writing Issac Normal, I’ve created an animation for it, I’ve rewritten it to be longer and I’ve started a sequel. Suffice to say, I know Issac Normal inside and out because of how much time I’ve spent honing the story and its characters.

The third reason and perhaps the most telling reason for why I needed to change was because of my enthusiasm.

I’m excited to write Home. I really am, but the combination of it being a new and underdeveloped idea means I’m more cautious and unsure of what it will turn out to be.

On the other hand, something quite random and insignificant in my life reminded me of Issac Normal and my brain turned on its head and I’ve been giddy, yes, giddy, with excitement to be working on Issac Normal. My head is swirling with possibilities and inspiration for Issac Normal whereas ideas for Home were sorely underwhelming.

Trying to force myself to work on Home while my heart is set on Issac Normal would have only led to an unsatisfying, unproductive, and draining Camp experience.

Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a fun, productive month of writing, and so while it was difficult to completely change my project, it was important to give myself permission to change paths and follow a new plan. The first couple days of Camp have been great and I’m looking forward to the rest of the month!

How is your Camp experience going so far?