The 2022 Round Up

It should come as no surprise that this year has not been good for the goals I set out earlier in the year. However, while I’ve missed the mark on almost all of them, I’ve been very successful on some other stuff which was arguably quite a bit more important. For example, I no longer live in a country I hate and I own a home. I also have a lovely little cat and have passed my probation to make my new job permanent. All very successful! We’ve also had a few additional disasters this year which, while sorted now, certainly set me back. Still, let’s have a look at those goals.

A white and grey cat, curled up asleep on a keyboard, with two angry looking plushie octopus on her.
  1. The Halfway House – The goal was to get this to beta ready and we never made it to the finish line, however, I am pretty happy with the progress I did get. On the printed out line edits stage so not too far from being done. 
  2. NaNoWriMo – This was the big one for me this year and fortunately I delivered! Ten years and ten wins. Huzzah!
  3. Reading – I didn’t get through as many books as I would have liked but I did get through a fair number and I’m pleased with how diverse my selection of authors was. Not technically a win as I didn’t hit my arbitrary number but still happy with how I did and hoping to keep it up into the new year.
  4. Health stuff – Very early into October this changed to “just keep yourself together” because even that was a tall order thanks to some illegal work being done outside my home and completely knackering our water and boiler. I did keep myself together just about, even if I went backwards on a lot of the progress I’d made. Hugely disappointing but sometimes life is like that.

I think only one win out of my yearly goal list is a new personal low for me but I’m trying to look on the bright side. I got a lot of very tiring, time consuming, and essential things out of the way this year and while I’ve thoroughly had the “next year will be better” attitude beaten out of me slowly but surely since 2016, I am hopeful that next year I will at least be able to focus on writing a little more.

Future Goal: Self Publishing

I’ve been thinking a lot this last year or so about my writing and what it means to me, and even more so what my goals for it are. Writing has always been a pursuit of passion, of fun, and I didn’t even think about trying to get published when I was a kid or even when I got “serious” again after university. Somewhere along the way though I realised that I wanted to put my work out there. If I was putting all of this time and effort into it, I wanted something tangible that I could hold in my hands and be proud of. For a while, I thought traditional publishing was what I wanted and even spent a good chunk of time querying. It was during that time though that I realised something.

I had lost a lot of my passion. I wasn’t writing what I wanted to and was worrying about what an audience would want to see in my books. My themes had changed and my characters flattened. I was thinking too hard on what an agent might want and not what I might want. This was all very subconscious, so subconscious that I would only much later realise that I was losing my love of writing and of my stories. 

Some of you may recall around the end of 2020, I decided to spend NaNoWriMo writing a story that was just for me, with no intention of ever sharing it with anyone. One with every trope and trash that I loved without worry. 

That was the easiest NaNoWriMo I ever won, and only the second time I had ever actually COMPLETED the story within the month (the only other time was my very first year). This was when I started realising that I was making a mistake. Yes, I wanted my novel to become something more than a private file on my computer, but I didn’t want to think of it like a business. I didn’t want to worry about markets and trends or anyone else even liking it.  

Now this may sound like a strange conclusion, given the title of this post, as self publishing surely means you have to be even MORE business minded, right? Not necessarily. The beauty of self publishing is that you can pursue it in line with what your actual goals are.

It can be for the most hard-core of career writers, who put in their hearts and souls, and who create amazing and fruitful writing careers from it. But it can also be for the ones like me, the ones who just want the joy of sharing their story even with a handful of people. 

There are a number of benefits to self publishing that have made me realise that it is right for me, specifically.

  • I can write what I like without worrying about the market
  • Complete creative control
  • No querying to stoke my anxiety
  • I can set all of my own deadlines
  • I just want to share my work with those few who might be interested

All of these things have made me realise that self publishing is the way forward for me. It aligns with both my end goals and with the way I want to enjoy writing. It gives me control over my work and also the process. And that is why I’m really pleased to finally say out loud, even though I know that there’s a lot of work ahead, that I’m going to do it.

I am going to self publish my work.

Long width-wise image of two stacked bookshelves filled with books.

The 2022 Goal Post (Finally)

Where have I been? The start of 2022 and the year’s goals.

I did, many months ago, promise an update about where I’d been and to come up with a list of goals for the year. Considering we’re already  over halfway through said year, they aren’t going to be anything to write (ahaha) home about. I’m sure that comes as no surprise, considering my last post. So, where HAVE I been?

Mentally, very low. And in and around all of that, I have been: job hunting, starting new job, moving cross country, living in a less than ideal situation for a few months, enduring the joy of house hunting, going through the process of buying a home (which they make far more stressful than it needs to be but I’ll save whining about that for elsewhere), trying not to mess up my probation at my new and very challenging job, moving again, getting the whole place furnished, and getting a cat. 

I now live in a lovely flat which has furniture and a small furry family member named Scone. I have officially passed my probation period at the new job, and slowly my brain is coming back around to being vaguely useful once more. How nice. Almost at the point now where I feel like I have time to breathe. 

Now I’ve already been doing a touch of writing here and there, but I now have my new office set up (words cannot describe how excited I am about this), and it is time to WRITE!

But what am I working on?

  1. The Halfway House – I really want to get this beta ready. Not sure it’s totally achievable since I want to be prepped well for NaNoWriMo and we’re already well through the year, but I’ll be aiming to at least have my line edits on paper finished by the end of December. 
  2. NaNoWriMo – This year will be my 10th year doing NaNoWriMo and, if I win, will mark a 10 year win streak. It’s happening, even if I’m mashed potatoes by the end of it.
  3. Reading – When my mental health is bad, I get into the habit of either rereading books over and over or not reading at all. As a writer, reading widely is one of the most useful things I can do to improve (plus it’s just really fun and I miss it), so I’m going to be focusing on getting back in the habit of reading every day like I used to, even if it’s just 20 minutes before bed. 
  4. Health stuff – A few things I want to do to help myself feel better. Mental health going splat has a great way of letting your physical health go splat too.

I wouldn’t expect blog posts to become regular again until next year at least but I’ll try and post things here as I can. Overall going to be focusing on the fun stuff though. I hope everyone has had a better 12 months than I have, and hoping things carry on the way they’re going now.

To cheer everyone up from my whining, may I present, Scone:

The beast.

Rest in Pieces, 2021.

It is me, the one who disappears randomly for long stretches of time! I made a post on Twitter at the start of January stating that pretty much everything was on hold thanks to life really laying it on for a while. I’m really glad I went into 2021 with the expectation that it was going to be more of the same shit as 2020 because that way it wasn’t too much of a shock to the system that 2021 turned out to be much, much worse. 

On the plus side, 2022 is off to a far better start, so that’s something. More on that and what I’ve been up to in my next post. For now, let’s finally put that godforsaken year to bed with the round up of my goals and how I did. Spoiler alert: not well. 

  1. Write 1 short story per month – This one never recovered and I can’t say that’s surprising. 
  2. Get something beta ready – Considering how my year was, I’m proud of how well I did on this one. I didn’t finish but I’m very close to being at the line edit stage and I can’t wait to carry on working on this. The Halfway House was one of the few things keeping me going last year, even when I couldn’t work on it. 
  3. Read new books – Another big flop. I’ve done better already this year than I did the entirety of last year. Not sure if that’s a tragic thing for last year or a good thing for this one. 
  4. Keep Through the Black on submission – This started off well, and it wasn’t until relatively late in the year when everything really went sideways that it stumbled. Another fail but again, it was a bad year and a bad time. 
  5. Keep up blog posts – I think we all know the answer to this one. 

Moving on to some non writing related ones:

  1. Draw 1 piece of art per month – My poor 2021 art folder didn’t even get 12 finished pieces for the whole year, never mind one per month. Pretty gutted about it but other things needed to take priority. 
  2. Weight goal – Ell oh Ell. 
  3. Voice Therapy – I technically succeeded at this one! My goal was to speak on voice chat to my gaming peeps and I did! Like twice. It still counts, and I’m planning on being more consistent this year. The first time is the worst time and that’s out of the way now. 

One out of eight is a new low for me, and I’m hoping this is my rock bottom for bringing myself back up again. Though I’m going to be cheating by setting myself way less than I normally would, especially since I’m expecting more disruption through the year (though if all goes to plan that’s going to be far more controlled and exciting disruption).

Here’s to 2021, may you rest in a ditch somewhere!

The Halfway Mark 2021

Well. Halfway through the year already. My goodness.

This year has certainly been a strange one. I didn’t think there could be much more upheaval for me personally than Brexit drama and a global pandemic but life likes to keep things spicy. Who knew that going into lockdown would be a lot easier than coming out again? I mean I, as many introverts did, liked to joke about that a lot at the start but I truly wasn’t prepared for the emotional and mental toll it’s been taking. It turns out as well that there may be another issue contributing to that but I need to get to a doctor first before I’d feel comfortable talking about it (it’s nothing to worry about, just something that might explain a few a lot of things). It’s not been the easiest environment to focus on my writing goals.

So, in the middle of everything that has been going on, how have those 2021 goals been progressing?

  1. Write 1 short story per month – This has completely flopped. I managed two and then it all went wrong. Oh well. I tried! And I’ve not (totally) given up. The “per month” part might be dead and buried but I can still bash some out before the end of the year. There are a few old short stories that I’m planning on refurbishing and posting up here for your viewing pleasure and there are a few that I’ve got ideas for that I may eventually get around to scrawling somewhere. 
  2. Get something beta ready – Actually going well! No one would have expected at the start of the year (especially not me) that I’d stick working on one project for 8 months straight but here we are. Looks like The Halfway House just really speaks to me. I’m about three quarters through what is for me the slowest and least enjoyable part of editing, and then I’m on what normally feels like the downhill. I don’t want to jinx it but this one is currently ahead of schedule.
  3. Read new books – I’ve not kept up with my goal (and I’ve given up on hitting it) but I’ve managed to chalk up a few on this one. Hopefully without any big beta reading obligations for the rest of the year I might increase pace a little but I’m not holding my breath just yet.
  4. Keep Through the Black on submission – Technically yes. A few months I’ve left it a bit longer than was probably reasonable to hear back before sending it out again but I have kept up with sending it out, even if I’ve dragged my feet for a couple of weeks here and there. I’m still classing this one as on track, considering, well… everything.
  5. Keep up blog posts – Whoops. You haven’t heard from me since mid-May, so I think we know how this one’s going. That aside, I haven’t been doing too bad for me and I’ve got a backlog of ideas I just need to get on paper. Then hopefully I can post weekly for a while to catch up. So shaky, but I have hope on this one.

Moving on to some non writing related ones:

  1. Draw 1 piece of art per month – Failed this one too. Currently at four months out of six. However, some of the pieces I’ve made I’m really proud of and I can see a marked improvement on where my art was last year. A fail on paper but not one I’m too broken up about. Again, I’m hoping to ramp this one up again once things become a little more normal again. Just…  just don’t watch the news, okay?
  2. Weight goal – It’s gone in the right direction? That counts. Not enough yet to help with dysphoria but I’m taking that as a win for where we are in the year.
  3. Voice Therapy – I started it, just need to get consistent and then get the courage. I was even relatively consistent for a bit but fell off the wagon. Still, it’s a starting place and I’m building up my skills again. Gonna mark this one down as on course. 

Not the most hopeful midpoint of a year I’ve ever had but I like to think that I’m doing pretty well, considering. It’s been a rough year and I hope you’re all doing well. We’ll get there together.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021 Update

Well, it’s been a while. My last post was about a bad mental health episode which unfortunately got way, way worse before it got better. But better it has gotten! Kinda. We’re getting there. Anyway, the short version is that I decided I would sign up to Camp NaNoWriMo this month to jump back on the horse, and it’s the halfway point now so let’s do an update. 

This month I set myself a goal of 25k worth of edits on The Halfway House, including finally finishing off those pesky additional scenes I wanted to add in. The good news is that I’ve finished off those additional scenes (though last night had a brainwave over a new one that I’d like to add…). The bad news is that I might have been ambitious signing up with even a 25k goal.

My poor graph didn’t know what hit it.

That said, yesterday I had an EPIC catch up session that left me incapable at performing basic puzzles in the new game I’m playing my way through, but it DID mean that I caught back up to where I should be – and then some. I did over 8k, which was double my total word count for the rest of the month. Phew! Goodness knows what those words actually look like but at least now I have a handful of scenes that aren’t just dialogue and punching.

No wonder my brain was mush.

Life is difficult and sometimes it’s not even possible to hang onto the few things that keep us going. Coming back to them always helps boost me up further though once I start getting my head above the water. I like NaNoWriMo because it gives me a goal to aim for and something to focus on that feels productive while being fun. Signing up might have been ambitious, but I have no regrets.

2021 Goals

Hoooooo boy, here we go again. New year, new goals, though a lot of them are going to be veeery similar. Still, I find announcing them makes me more focused and less likely to abandon them. 

  1. Write 1 short story per month – Writing short fiction is not something that I do often, nor is it something that I’m good at. It is, however, a good way to improve your writing and a much quicker way to get samples of your writing critiqued, which is an invaluable thing for developing as a writer. As such, I want to try and write at least one piece of short fiction per month, be it as a random prompt or for specific submissions. 
  2. Get something beta ready – I don’t want to commit to a specific project this year as things happen and the way I feel at the start of the year certainly won’t be indicative of what I want to be working on later on. I want to commit to getting another draft beta ready, but this time around I’m not going to commit to a specific one. 
  3. Read new books – Another in the essential tasks for honing my writing skills. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of constantly rereading old favourites which, while safe and enjoyable, aren’t helping me broaden my skills. I’ve a set number of books I’ve never read before that I’d like to achieve before the end of the year.
  4. Keep Through the Black on submission – Fairly self explanatory. I don’t want to let myself get disheartened or lazy. This is something I need to keep on top of and plan to, no matter how harrowing it gets. 
  5. Keep up blog posts – I know if I don’t keep some accountability for this one is going to go straight out of the window. In 2020 I got more blog views than I have done any other year! Moving into 2021 I want to keep up that momentum and do more interesting posts about writing and resources (for example, my Trello post that got a lot more engagement than I’m used to!) and hopefully some more stories as well. 

Moving on to some non writing related ones:

  1. Draw 1 piece of art per month – This was a success last year and not only made me keep up with my practice and facilitated a real, visible improvement in my art but it gave me an awesome collage at the end, and I’m a sucker for a collage. It also gave me the confidence (lol kinda) to finally bring to the canvas some of my characters(!) which has been one of the main reasons I wanted to draw anyway. Bringing up those skills to give my favourites faces is definitely an end game goal and one I intend to keep working towards this year! 
  2. Weight goal – Yup, the usual one. It’s a lower priority one but one I want to deal with to keep on top of dysphoria and stuff. 
  3. Voice Therapy – Same as above, although this one has been SEVERELY neglected since I moved away from my local GIC. Time to get back on it properly. If I get the confidence to talk over Discord again while I’m gaming before the end of the year, I’ll consider this one a success. 

So there you have it, my goals for 2021! I’ve tried to keep it easier this year so no big, specific goal really, just little things I can chip away at throughout the year. I have a few manuscripts that are close to beta ready and one that isn’t but I’m completely obsessed with currently, so with any luck and a bit of work at least ONE of those will be ready by the end of the year. 

I’m anticipating a pretty rough start to 2021 thanks to the UK handling Coronavirus like a toddler handling Gran’s favourite porcelain and some essential staff at my place of work moving on to better pastures, but after last year I’m moving on with a new attitude. None of this new year “fresh start, clean slate, all gets better from here” nonsense. Going through 2020 was like going through the washing machine, and I’m fully expecting 2021 to be the spin cycle. I’m keeping my head down, eyes on what’s in front of me, and am just going to do what I can.

Happy New Year everyone!

2020 Goals – The Review

Many, many, many people are saying this about 2020 but I have to add my voice asking “what in the everliving fuck was that?!?” Whatever, let’s grab a big glass of vermouth and have a look at how I did on this year’s goals.

1.) Start doing blog posts again – For this one I managed to post 73% of the planned blog posts for the year (one every two weeks) which, in this year of 2020, I’m counting as a win. As Meatloaf would say, 19 outta 26 ain’t bad.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – Success! Not only did I finish the full query packet but it’s been on submission ever since and the rejections are piling up! Yaay! I mean, every one of them is a gut punch but I’m treating this like my training montage right before the film KICKS OFF. That’s how you do it, right?

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – I made a lot of progress on this at the start of the year and then in the second half it kinda went out of the window. Still, it’s a lot closer to being done than it was so that’s something I suppose. 

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – Yeah, this one never recovered. It’s not been a good year for reading new books at all. This year was far too much about the comfort zone. Oh well. There’s always next year?

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – I DID IT! I made enough art and made the meme. Despite September to November being very phoned in, I’m still very proud of myself for it. The best thing about this goal is that I can look at my January art and my December art and actually see a difference. I’m hoping to make this one a tradition because I finally feel like I’m making some progress with my drawing skills and I don’t want to lose it again.

6.) Hit weight goal – Zero shits given about this one. It’s 2020. I’m just along for the ride. This one will probably be back next year as I want to achieve it for my dysphoria but if we’re up for 2020 2.0 then I’m not going to stress about it too much.

If we include the very shaky “win” for goal number one, that’s a 50% hit rate. Sod it, it’s 2020. I think I did good. Happy New Year everyone, let’s raise our glasses, cross our fingers, and enter the brace position because like it or not, here comes 2021!

The 2020 Halfway Post

It’s July, which means it is time to review how I’m doing on this year’s goals! As I’m certain most of you are also feeling, this has been a very odd year. This post feel about 9 months overdue and also about 3 months early at the same time. Seriously, 2020 really needs to get its act together. Anyway, on with the post!

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1.) Start doing blog posts again – This has gone well so far! Two posts were one day late but aside from that, we’ve been rocking and rolling. I’ve managed to keep this up through some pretty rough patches so hopefully the momentum sticks and we keep going for the second half of the year.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – You may have guessed from my last post that the time lines were derailed on this one but good news prevails in the end. I hit the original deadline of 28th of February but then… Just didn’t send it out. Working with my therapist has been really helpful though, progress has happened and as of June 15th Through the Black has officially been on submission! I also have packets ready for the next couple of agents for when this one comes back. There’s a plan in place to keep up this momentum so there’s no stopping me now! 

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – This is on track! Been working away at it and all of the comments have now been addressed. It’s scene by scene time now, then it’s onto the big print out and check, then bish bash bosh we’ve got a beta ready MS! Just need to keep at it. Handy that a certain Camp NaNo event just started, amirite? 

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – This is one that has started terribly but I’m hoping to pick up a little in the second half of the year. I don’t know with so much time wasted if I’ll hit the endgame goal but I’m determined to make a decent dent in it regardless.

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – Some months have been better than others, and at least two have literally only had ONE piece of art, but that still fits the criteria so I’m counting that as a win. What I do count as a big win is that my folder for 2020 art now has more in it than any other year since… well, since before university. And we’ve still got six months to go! Let me tell you, that’s a great feeling and I can really see some improvements with my stuff. I missed art so much. It feels great to have it back in my life. 

6.) Hit weight goal – Not great progress on this one but with everything else that’s been going on in my life and the world in general, I’m not too surprised or worried about that. 

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Overall and considering the on goings both personally and not, I’m pretty pleased to have gotten to where I am. Some things are going slower than I would like but everything is moving forward. I hope you’re all out there smashing your 2020 goals, but if you aren’t I’m pretty sure there was never a better excuse.

Take care of yourselves and do what you can. Personal progress is nice but in the face of a global pandemic, looking after yourself and those close to you is the number one goal.

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.

Books