A Ramble About My Writing Classes

A few weeks ago, I started attending an evening writing class. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time now but I’ve always lived too far out to go to any. Luckily and seemingly completely by chance, the tiny little town I live in now has one set right in the community centre! Never having any formal lessons on the craft is always something I’ve been self-conscious about, even though at this point I think I’m self-taught enough to have a fair idea of what I’m doing. Really I’m here for the reassurance and quite simply the fun of it, with the hope to learn some great stuff along the way.

Writing is one of those vast, nebulous things that has no definitive answer. There’s always ideas or theories or tricks that you don’t know, that you won’t have thought of or stumbled across on your way through the journey of discovering your voice. For instance, I had never heard of the “save the cat” method even though it’s actually found its way into the latest draft of Through the Black (scary, subterranean bat people count as cute little kitties, right?).

It’s also a really good feeling to meet with people face-to-face who are interested in writing. I’ve talked before in my posts about the workshops in the past about how lonely writing can feel. Even with the hugely supportive online community, you can feel very disconnected from the world around you. There’s something homely and reassuring about meeting with like minded people every once in a while – especially after so long flying solo. This class, unlike the one off workshops I’ve been to before, means actually getting to know people a little too, which is great.

The class I’m in is very small—there’s five of us on a good day—so there’s lots of room for discussions and input and no one gets left on the edges, which is both nice and terrifying for an introvert like me who normally hides on the edges intentionally. To add to the scary factor, and something I’ve never done before, it’s a common exercise to do a short period of “free writing” and then to read it aloud. Let me tell you, that is not easy. That said, it’s probably a good thing to get experience and practice of for later down the line.

So to sum up, there’s lots of new things to learn, new experiences to be had and new friends to be made! All in all, a success if you ask me (even if the reading out loud drives me to chocolate). If you’ve ever been thinking about trying out a writing class, even if you think you don’t “need” it, I’d definitely recommend trying it out. I’m having a great time with mine!

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Post Move Update

Things have been a bit quiet here of late! Apologies for that, life has been very much on the hectic side of things. My last few weeks of work were incredibly busy due to staffing issues and then I was moving home! We’re all settled into the new flat now though we’re still without internet, which is another reason why I’ve been very quiet both here and elsewhere. Things are still going to be pretty busy as I get settled in and find work in the area. Either way, I hope to be back to posting bimonthly consistently again.

As for updates on the creative side of things, here’s how things have been going.

I’m on the last chapter for this sweep of The Fairy Godfather, which is slowly turning into an actual story instead of a horrifying jumble of gunshots and one liners. Overall, I’m feeling relatively happy with how it’s shaping up but excited to go back and implement a lot of the changes I’ve got listed as I think they’re going to add greatly to the story. I’m hoping to get back to Through the Black in the next couple of months and have recently reached out to my beta readers, so once I’ve got enough feedback I can press on with that!

My art practice has taken a serious hit but now that we’re settled in I managed to pick it up again last night and to my shock it didn’t go completely terribly. I’ve been watching other artists’ online streams and it’s helped me figure out some stuff with my own line work that might help me improve, so more practice on that coming up! Maybe I’ll finally be able to get a new character profile up in the not too distant future. Unfortunately all three attempts at drawing Xin from The Fishperer turned out unfit for eyes human or otherwise.

I’ve managed to keep up slow but steady progress on my Snowflake Method project, slowly fleshing out the basics. I’ve been doing little bits of progress on The Fishperer and I’m going to be focusing on that for a couple of weeks once this sweep of The Fairy Godfather is done, just for a bit of head clearing time while it sits.

I hope you’ve all had a good summer so far and have been making excellent progress with your own projects!

The Resolutions Post, 2017

So I’m a few days late but here is the resolutions post to keep me accountable for the year. I’m expecting a lot more upheaval just over halfway through 2017 so I’m not going to try and set myself too much and just focus on dealing with life a little better than I did last year.

 

1.) Submit short stories – So, this was a resolution for last year that I managed to keep up with. This year I’m going to set myself a higher goal for submissions and try and hit that, to slowly work up to being consistent with submitting work. After all, the only way it’s going to get accepted is if it gets submitted!

2.) Get author logo and website banner – So last year I attended the fabulous Jill Marcotte’s author branding workshop, during which ideas for these two things were brainstormed. With Through the Black ready for its second round of betas it’s time to start getting things sorted out.

3.) Put writing samples on website – Another action coming direct from the workshop, we discussed the importance of having samples of one’s writing on one’s author website. Eeep! As a direct result of this I have this (tiny) page here with a couple of links but resolution number three is to flesh this section out a little more with some samples from novels and maybe some short stories!

4.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – So some of you may remember this post where I realized I hadn’t written down half the things I thought I had and that the vast majority of my delicate world building was precariously stored in the worst of places – my head. That is rather like trying to ask my dear cat Pandy to protect that block of cheese. So while I’ve been working through things, most of my world building doesn’t actually appear in Through the Black. (Writers, right?) So what I want to do is make sure I’ve noted all things relevant to book one to ensure consistency as I work on book two.

5.) Art more – I’m constantly lamenting that I don’t have time among everything to keep up practicing art, because like writing it’s one of those things that you really have to work at. I used to not be too bad but I haven’t had time to practice consistently since I was in school so since then I’ve really gone downhill. I’d like to work slowly towards getting it back, even if I’m not doing more than a sketch a week just to get in the habit.

 

As for what I’m going to be working on, novel-wise, last year the main project was Through the Black (insert Nick Cage face here) with The Deconstructor as my ‘official’ side project. Well I got the first done, got Deconstructor to a couple of readers and even managed to finally finish the rough draft of One Dead Prince!

This year the main project will be Twyned Earth book 2 The Fairy Godfather with my official side project being The Fishperer. We’re already eleven days in so time to get cracking!

Resolutions Roundup 2016

Happy 2017!

I meant to have this all posted before the turn of the new year but the holidays are a busy, busy time so sorry about that! Right at the start of 2016 I posted up my resolutions for the year so here is the roundup of how I did!

 

  1. Diversify my reading – This went well! While I didn’t read as much in general as I would have liked last year (and I blame the curse of 2016 for that one!), at least 50% of the books I read had diverse main characters written by diverse authors. I found some absolute gems that I would have missed if I hadn’t gone on the hunt for them specifically. This highlighted part of the problem as well – at times I struggled to find reads within the genres I was looking for. In future I’m going to continue putting more effort into hunting out these novels – and yelling about them on Goodreads!
  1. Start leaving short reviews on Goodreads again – Not quite a success unfortunately. I didn’t manage one a month like I had planned (the second half of the year really was an event and a half) but I got more than half of my goal done which is something. I think I’ll aim for one a month again this year, though it won’t be an official resolution, to try and help me keep a more critical eye as I read—and learn—from books.
  1. Lose weight – Finally an actual success! I not only hit the numerical value I was aiming for half way through the year, but I ended the year on it too. Huzzah!
  1. Finish next draft of Through the Black This is the big one! And a success! Excitingly, this shiny revised draft is completed! Which also means I need to send it to people again soon! Eeeep! I’m currently doing a last final read through and then I will be compiling a list of beta readers. If you’d like to be on it, drop me a line!
  1. Get tattoo – Tah daaaaaaaah!

Tattoo

  1. Move in with partner – Another success! And the shiny beacon in an otherwise awful year.
  1. Submit more short stories – Success! I hit my set submission goal and got what had to be one of the quickest rejections in history (it took them less than half an hour) but if you don’t submit you can’t succeed. Considering how long a year is, it wasn’t a huge number of submissions but it’s a start. I’m building up to getting things sent out relatively regularly.

 

So I didn’t do too bad, all things considered. Now it’s time to start working on those 2017 goals, which you’ll see next time! How did you do on your goals for last year? And Happy New Year all!

Take Care of Yourself

Some of you might have noticed I’ve been very quiet online recently and I apologise for that. Things have been a bit tough and I haven’t been able to keep on top of much. A few posts ago I spoke about suffering from anxiety related to my day job. Unfortunately that didn’t get better, in fact it got worse until I hit breaking point.

I don’t want to go into it further but I’m no longer in that job and am instead looking for something new and less awful for my health. A bit scary but definitely the right decision. Learn from my mistake and take your mental health seriously. And by seriously, I mean keep an eye on it. I still find it hilarious that the anxiety pills I’ve been put on have the common side effect of NIGHTMARES. I still think laughing at things is the best medicine.

Don’t let things get bad if you know they’re going that way. Don’t pretend that nothing is wrong, that everything will get better if you just persevere. Listen to the signs.

Anyway, my point is I quit my job yesterday and had my best night sleep in two months last night. Time for a fresh start, a more suited job, and a bucket tonne of writing. And hopefully after a couple of weeks of recovery, a more myself me.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.

Really.

New Job Blues

Hi all!

So, the new job has been throwing curve balls and things have been pretty rough. I’ve been writing a little on weekends but not a lot. There’s been some big upheaval and uncertainty and thanks to that I’ve been hugely stressed out. I’ve been dealing with anxiety pretty much constantly and must admit that I’ve been struggling.

This week though, after work, I’ve been writing. And not just sitting forcing out a couple of lines from a brain made of mush. I’ve had a proper good writing sessions.

I’m finally starting to settle into the new job and getting better at handling things. And so I finally have the energy to stick bum in chair and face the screen. It’s really hard to not be able to do the thing you love because of something you have to do, especially when it’s something that makes you anxious and unhappy. I’m moving through that though and things are looking up.

Unfortunately right on the heels of this I’ve received another short story rejection but I’m not going to let that get me down. Regaining the ability to write at all feels like too much of an achievement and I’m happy with just that.

Not to mention, if you’ll have a look to your right at the progression widget, you’ll see that Through the Black edits are now OVER 50% COMPLETE! We’re over the hump now and as I get more and more settled in with the new job I’m hoping things are just going to keep rolling!

Also next week we should be back to proper blog posts instead of just me grumbling! Huzzah! They might even make it out on time. What on Earth next?!

I’ve Been A Bit Quiet.

I’ve been very quiet online for the past week and that’s because of the continuation of my massive life upheaval. As some of you know, three weeks ago I moved from my little town in the Highlands south to the big city. As of Monday, I also started my new job. As such I haven’t had much time for anything other than working, commuting and collapsing into an exhausted heap when getting home. New jobs are like that. Loads of information, meeting dozens of new people, new places and being so far out of a carefully crafted comfort zone. On the plus side, I’ve watched a lot of Voyager.

On the downside I’ve missed a whole week of writing from tiredness alone. Good job I used my time off well. Still, I have survived the first week which is usually the worst. I’m hoping that next week I’ll handle things better and be able to actually get some writing done.

It’s a bit of a downer having to neglect the thing that I love because of the day job but in the end it will be worth it. I’m already loving living here and the new experiences and people this opportunity is opening me up to will vastly increase the knowledge I can draw upon for writing with. People and experience are research tools that can’t really be replaced. Plus, I’ve already got a couple of boxes of tea sitting ready for cracking on next week.

Also, since this post is apparently more about my boring life than actual writing, I got a place in a Pokémon gym yesterday, so that was nice. I was knocked out again in the five minutes it took me to get home but I shall treasure that screenshot forever.

Are any other writers out there facing massive upheaval? How do you handle the changes and balance your writing?