A Decade In Review

You don’t really think about how much happens in just one decade. It’s hard to think of it like so many posts out there have as one big chunk of time because there were so many different states and transitions. It can’t be thought of as one entire entity, at least for me.

At the start of the decade, I was still in university. I was struggling. I struggled all the way. I only got through it the way I get through most things. With bullheaded determination. I didn’t have a natural talent for chemistry. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like I have a natural talent for anything I enjoy. But I fought and struggled and I made it. During this time, since the start of university, I didn’t write. I was too busy or exhausted to write. If I was doing something like writing or reading, it felt wrong if it wasn’t university related. I had barely done any on the build up to to university because I was working so much to save up the money. 

It wasn’t until 2012, five years on (in Scotland degrees take longer than some other places), that I started writing again. I started with a rewrite of a shockingly bad fan fiction I wrote in school. Unsurprisingly, my writing hadn’t improved much. That was the year that a friend told me about NaNoWriMo. I was so excited about it that I couldn’t wait for the main event and when I heard about the Camp event in August, I was sold. I thought all day about my story (I worked on a production line at the time, which was convenient for plotting purposes) and when the month came I poured it all out. By July the next year, I had full rough drafts of the Twyned Earth trilogy and a rekindled passion for writing that even the most difficult of periods couldn’t quash – even if they could slow me down. 

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I still have my original drafts of everything. I like to keep stuff archived, so that I can go back and make sure I haven’t removed anything important or otherwise useful for the story. Comparing the original 54k word draft of Through the Black to the current 96k word one, it’s clear to see that my writing has vastly improved (another good reason to keep old drafts, if you can handle the cringe of reading them). It also goes to show that, as with all writing advice, the “cut 10% when editing” spiel is not as cut and dry as it appears. 

Since that first Camp NaNoWriMo event, I have participated in and one every official November NaNo since, along with 7 additional camp events (with 2 participates and misses on top). That feels like I’m missing some as well – the website is a touch buggy at the moment. The 10’s were absolutely the decade where I not only reaffirmed my love of writing but took it to a whole new level. 

It may not be immediately obvious about me, but when I was a child/young teenager, art was just as much a part of my life as writing. I loved it and I was decent enough at it that I even sold a few pictures at school events. That stopped at the same time as the writing, when university just devoured everything that wasn’t itself from my life. That was a lot harder to get back into. My skill level seemed to have plummeted a lot more on the drawing front and I felt too demotivated whenever I tried and failed. It was only within the last couple of years, since 2017, that I started trying properly to push past my insecurities and accept that it’s okay to start from the ground up again, that it’s okay if I spend the next several years just learning how to draw again so long as I wasn’t avoiding something that I loved. Hardware held me back a lot but since getting a new tablet last October, I’ve been drawing and studying and I’ve done more art in that time than I have in ages and it feels great. 

It’s made me think a lot about a silly fantasy I’ve always had, to combine storytelling telling and art. It sounds daft but I don’t know if I’ve ever actually voiced my desire to draw comics before. It’s just always felt so far out of reach – both the artistic and storytelling telling skill required to do comics is immense. Even being able to say out loud that I’d like to try it someday is a big thing for me. 

Since leaving university, I have moved way too often and been through the hardest times of my life. I worked a plethora of jobs before finally landing in the field that I wanted. Some were okay, others were horrendous. I had a severe mental health incident that I’m still not fully recovered from. I finally understood and came to terms with my sexuality and gender. All in all, it’s been busy. 

In the 00’s I abandoned the things that defined me in the pursuit of something that would benefit the rest of my life. In the 10’s, I have taken what I gained from university, my degree and my partner, and clung to those while rediscovering the self I left behind. I am now a partner, a scientist, a writer, and an artist. And coming to that realisation that at the end of the decade I am all of these things, wow, it actually feels kinda good. 

The 2020 Goal Post

Shocked

I hope you were sat down for this one popping up on your feed. Even by my standards, that was a long absence.

A lot has happened, non-writing wise. Relatively, not much on the writing front but life threw a lot at me over the last year and a half. I’ve still been writing but not seriously. I’ve had to focus everything I had at my life circumstances and my day job just to keep my head above the water. I’ve been through a few rough patches but coming out of the other side I’ve grown professionally (just not in the writing department unfortunately) and personally. I finally feel ready to turn back to the things I love. To return to my creativity. It’s time to move on again from just small, sporadic pieces of writing for fun and go back to pursuing my dream of becoming a published writer. 

What better way to do that than to return to the annual resolutions post? Though I’ve changed the name to “goals” partly because it makes them seem like friendly ticky boxes that are less scary and also because of that sweet pun in the title.

 

1.) Start doing blog posts again lol – We all know how good I am at this one. However, I need writing accountability and the old “building the author brand” chestnut that I’m so terrible at. I kept up fortnightly posts for quite a while in the past, so I’ll be trying to return to that schedule.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – This is something that I should have done a really long time ago. Honestly though, I haven’t had the time physical or mental strength to get it done. So this goal is to get a query packet complete for Through the Black (which is just the full story synopsis left now) and then get it on submission, and keep it there. 

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – This is another one that is so close that it’s actually quite frustrating that it isn’t finished by now. Time to put it in writing that this is a focus, and not check it off as “done” until it’s in the hands of some beta readers. Volunteers welcome!

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – Over the past few years I’ve fallen into the easy habit of re-reading old favourites. When everything in life just feels difficult, sometimes the brain can try and make everything it can that little bit easier. If I ever want to be a good writer though, I’ve gotta read wide. I’ve already started that by picking up a book I apparently bought and put on my TBR list in 2015. Whoops.

A couple of non-writing ones to finish up with:-

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – If you follow any artists on Twitter, you’re probably familiar with the meme, or at least a similar one. To fulfill this goal, I would need to produce at least one piece I’m happy to post per month, to form them all into a collage in December. Makes me practice and gives a tangible goal I can complete to keep focused. 

6.) Hit weight goal – Not much to say about this one, I just want an accountability record of it. Hit and maintain chosen goal.

 

So that’s it from me – for now. It’s good to be back. Happy New Year!

Where’ve I Been For The Last Three Months?

What happened to me in the last three months?

 

Well

  • I had an incredibly busy period at work
  • Quit that job
  • Moved
  • Moved again two days later, to the opposite end of the country, into temporary accommodation
  • Panic flat hunted
  • Flapped about a lot as we tried to finalise everything for the permanent flat before our temporary one ran out
  • Finished the novel I’ve been working on for six years
  • Got the new flat two days before our accommodation ran out
  • Hand built a whole lot of furniture
  • Restarted the ever so fun process of job hunting

 

It’s been… a touch busy. And stressful. Don’t forget stressful. But I now have a home (with furniture!) and am settled. Once I’ve organised a new day job everything will be all back on track. If you’ve been around for a while then you’ll know well that the last few years for me have been a string of moves, new jobs, and health issues. However, this time things are a lot more permanent.

The reason for such a dramatic move was my partner being offered their dream job, so of course we jumped at it. That also means that we don’t plan on going anywhere for a long while. Finally, we’re sticking some roots down and let me tell you, that feels amazing after such a long period of temporary living and uncertainty. Things aren’t perfect yet as I’m still unemployed but knowing that we aren’t going to be up and moving again in a year makes everything seem so much more worth it. So much more rewarding.

And now, hopefully, I can get back to posting regularly!

An Update and an Apology

The great disappearing writer has returned once again! I’m sorry to keep vanishing. Unfortunately, as you’ll know if you’re a regular visitor, my life away from writing has been a huge turbulent mess for the past two years and it is once again about to be turned upside down. However, this time there is the glittering promise of permanence and life being a touch easier.

To be very brief about it, after struggling to get work for seven months, I finally managed to get a job though it’s left me with very little time and being very tired when I am home. That said, I won’t be here much longer as it turns out. My partner has secured a new job. Not just any job. Basically their dream job. So naturally we’re both ecstatic and excited. However it does mean that very shortly we’ll be moving to England where, hopefully, we’ll be sticking down our roots and finally getting ourselves some stability. I certainly hope so. It definitely feels as though we could do with a bit of luck finally.

What I’m hoping for is that we can get settled down there, get some stability and some routine, get back on top of the mental health issues as a result and then, finally, get back to regular writing properly. Right now, I have no idea if it will pan out. Everything in recent years seems to turn in on itself and end up a nightmare. With this move though, I have a real hope. I think this could be the one.

The first step is to just work on getting my life back on track. Move somewhere permanent, find work, get settled. Then, once life is working out the way it should, I can go back to pursuing The Dream.

That is, getting published.

I’m going to keep writing whenever I can but I’ve learned that first my life needs to be on the rails before I stress myself out more worrying about my life ticking away. Now I’ve got a plan, a little hope, and two sets of crossed fingers. Let’s get on with it.

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The Resolutions Post, 2018

So after last year’s clown fiesta I’m back with a list of resolutions for 2018! This year is all set to be a bit of a mess as well but hey, I’m going in swinging. I’ve had two Bad YearsTM, will 2018 make it three in a row? I dunno but I’m going to try and go with no. As such, here’s some stuff I want to achieve! Let’s go!

 

New Year

 

1.) Submit short stories – Guess who’s back? This year’s resolutions are going to be a bit déjà vu thanks to last year. THIS year submissions are going to be happening. For one thing, I’m going to need to practice, for reasons you will see below.

 

2.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – Not much more to be said about this one aside from I still haven’t done it and really, really should.

 

3.) Keep arting – now with more tutorials – I was actually impressed with myself and how much I managed to draw last year. Now, this year is again going to be a turbulent one so I’m not going to set a goal to beat last year’s twenty posted pictures. What I will aim for is one a month and to start looking up tutorials to try and get technically better at stuff instead of bumbling along by myself as I did last year.

 

4.) Get back on the FitBit thing – For a good year and a bit, since I got my FitBit, I was really good at keeping up with step goals. It was wonderful for my health and general wellbeing. However, last summer I got a foot injury (I was just playing Diablo dammit) and then with the latter half of the year being a puddle of despair everything went to pot. Now I intend to get back to hitting those goals every day. For one thing, it did wonders for my mood which helps with the writing.

 

5.) Read more – This year was a terrible one for reading. There are so many books I’ve wanted to read and just haven’t. I’m hoping to be in a much better place for reading this year and start hacking through that To Be Read pile again. Even ignoring the fact that reading is the best way to improve your writing, I just love it and miss it.

 

And finally, the big one…

 

6.) Start querying Through the Black – Yes, I know I already mentioned this one a couple of posts ago but this is big for me! It’s what I’ve been working towards for the last five-and-a-bit years. I’m aiming for the MS to be ready by March 31st and then to have the query packet sorted by April 30th. Then, after I’ve had a few people look over the packet and whatnot, it’s query time. Hopefully by the end of May depending on how long it takes for people to get back to me. Then I’m hoping the rest of the year will just be a steady stream of me bothering agents with it and sobbing into desserts.

 

Whatever you’re aiming to do this year, I wish you the best of luck and I hope things work out. If not, don’t worry. Just keep on pushing. That’s how I got through last year and I already know this year is going to be tough but I’m not giving up before it’s started. Let’s get out there and show 2018 who’s boss.

Resolutions Round Up, 2017

Wow, 2017, eh? That happened. Apparently. I try not to think about it.

So here is the yearly round up post from 2017’s resolutions! Let me warn you, it’s definitely not as good as last year. In fact, it’s so bad I’m going to be looking under every tiny rock for a little beckon of light like “hey I ALMOST did this lookit!” So just to warn you. Let’s get started, shall we?

 

1.) Submit short stories – Yeah, this was a flat out fail. I got a few submissions out but not a lot and I didn’t get any new stories ready to send out. I blame job applications for that one. Getting beaten down by one kind of rejection was quite enough, thanks.

 

2.) Get author logo and website banner – This was a half success. As you can see, I have a shiny new logo courtesy of the talented Nat Furman! Unfortunately, due to financial issues in the latter half of the year, there was simply no chance that I could get the banner sorted out.

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3.) Put writing samples on website – A partial if very minor win. I did manage to stick up a handful (okay, three). It’s a start. Though, thanks to my writing workshop and a small serial I’ve got ready, there’s going to be a lot more going up in the New Year – which will also hopefully help me catch up with blog posts as well, since this is technically the post from November 5th. Hey, we’ll get there. 2017, amiright?

 

4.) Put all relevant info from Through the Black into my Twyned Earth World Building encyclopedia – Hoooooo-ey, this is another big splat. I got up to a certain point but we’ve still got a loooooong way to go. I’m hoping to throw that back into this year’s plan because it really needs done.

 

5.) Art more – Okay, you know what? This one is a win. In 2017 I posted up TWENTY pieces of art to my DeviantArt account and there are several that I didn’t post. They aren’t good but they’re there and I did them. And, I think maybe at a push, I’m getting better and that’s the whole point, right? That’s more than one picture posted per month (close to two even) and for me that’s a lot. A lot a lot. You know how much I posted in 2016? Two pictures. So yeah, this one is a win and I intend to keep it up.

 

I hope last year treated you folks a whole lot better and I hope you had a Happy New Year! I spent mine in bed playing Skyrim and after that twelve months there was no where I would have rather been.

I’m Back! With Updates!

So sorry about the complete lack of activity on here. Things have been a little hectic and difficult lately but now it’s time to get back on track. I’m going to be working hard on catching up on posts and getting back to regular service! So here’s a quick update from me.

1.) It’s that NaNoWriMo time of year again! I’m doing a rewrite again because I have too many open projects to start drafting a new one guilt free. I’m working on the Fishperer because it’s great fun and I’d love to be able to get it to a readable point somewhere in the near future. I’m currently a little behind but no where near as behind as I was a couple of days ago, so that’s something. I’ve never missed 50k on an official NaNoWriMo and I do NOT intend to start now.

2.) Writing has still been going strong, despite the lack of blog posts. Things have been a bit tough and it’s one of the things that’s been keeping me going.

3.) That said, very recently I came to a realisation about myself. For the past few years, I’ve been letting things other people say restrict some things that have been… let’s just say a massive part of myself since I was very young. With that realisation, I’ve decided to re-embrace that part of me. It feels as though I’ve reached the end of a four-year long identity crisis I didn’t know I was having. Not only is it hugely helping my mental health but I’m also hoping to channel it into certain side projects. Exciting times ahead.

4.) I’ve still been attending my writing classes and have been getting some really nice feedback on the assignment pieces and free writing exercises we’ve been given so I’m hoping to post a few of the ones I’m more happy with. That way posts will have some more flash fiction and not so much of me waffling. What’s not to love?

5.) Now finally, THE MOST EXCITING NEWS OF ALL! Which, unlike the majority of my exciting news, is actually pretty exciting for me. In the light of recent beta feedback and with a date set by my partner to stop me dithering for eternity, THROUGH THE BLACK will be QUERY READY by March 31st. That’s right. I have a deadline and I’m serious about hitting it. As of December 1st, things will be full steam ahead. I’m excited and terrified and I definitely need some more tea over here right now.

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