Looking Back on 2016

This has been a weird and wacky shaped year indeed. So, since I was terrible at keeping things up to date, here is a quick overview of the things I did. Which I may, or may not, be able to put posts up about next year should I get through the brain fog.

Part of the reason for the lack of posts has been exhaustion, some of it’s been a change in medication and the resulting brain mush, and part of it has been that I wasn’t sure what to even say anymore.

I honestly believed I had done nothing and therefore there was nothing to tell. Yeah, I was wrong about that.

This year, I have moved house, got a cat, and a dog, had to say goodbye unexpectedly to Duchess bunny, learned a little about gardening, and done a lot of reading and listening to craft discussions. That’s not even counting the writing I’ve been doing.

So, in no particular order, here are the things I’ve managed to do this year.

I have worked on a modern fantasy novel I actually plotted, with the working title The Black Dog. I only got about 27k into it in Camp NaNoWriMo, but I had run into a plot problem and had no idea how to fix it. Then I found Save The Cat by Blake Snyder, and I found out I had been putting the points in place for a different kind of conflict than the ones I’d thought. What a neat thing that was!

For NaNoWriMo, I took the Beat Sheet from Blake Snyder and whacked it over my ridiculously fun fantasy world for Abernath and the Mermaids’ Tears, which I managed to finish. I hit word count, and I wrote The End. All while managing to be largely accurate to the plot points and having enough room to move. When you have a young griffin as your point of view character, a little room to fly is always handy.

I also managed to get two spontaneous story ideas, which is a big thing since I had been going through the process mechanically for the last few years due to brain medication. It was glorious! One was a cute little story of a young Abernath rescuing a wet kitten, and the other was a story from the same world but that will be a bigger piece. Princess Astrid has a war to stop, and that’s no short thing.

Of course, that mechanical, skill based process means I have been reading craft books on everything from the actual words to the writerly mindset. Those notes I will put up in posts, because they are going to be handy to go back to.

There are some good podcasts I’ve found as well. There are writing craft ones, self publishing ones, author mindset ones, and ones I’m not entirely sure about. Those I will also post about somewhere, because I had recommendations that led me to the good ones.

I’ve started the terrifying task of editing my vomit copies, and it’s messy! Especially the things I wrote well before I had managed to work out the delicate balance between plotting and discovery writing. I’m still working on that, but I have a better handle on it than I did.

So, all told, I did a lot in 2016.

Who knew?

Here’s hoping 2017 is as productive, and that I actually remember to post things.

birdget-farrier-1-301216

Bridget, showing me that it’s not just writing I’ve done a lot with.

Journal: That Story

This weekend I discovered that doing something different can give you a new outlook on where you are, emotionally, mentally, even in relation to your goals. I helped my dad build a fence, and even though my first response was ‘I can’t do that’, I managed somehow and felt better for it.

Today, I was talking to my amazing Thesis Supervisor, and she asked me about how I got so organised. I’m not organised, by the way, I just make it look like it. And I learned it through being sick. Which, as I sat on the train staring into the rainy night, I realised Alicia doesn’t know she’s learning.

Suddenly, the block I has been happy to leave there shifted a bit and the story moved a little in my head.

And a black striped cat stuck his head through.

Jax: a small, short haired black cat who appears on the fence post of Huey’s yard. He has green eyes, and he really would like a cuddle if he doesn’t have to go too far from his big furry friend. Often seen stalking the sparrows, but yet to be seen catching one, he claims Alicia as his person. He is actually really striped up close, but it may take a while for anyone in the book to find out.

Journal: That Story, 8/8/2013

Guess what? I did it! I met my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 20k!

And then curled up in a ball and hid under the blankets until today. Not the most productive outcome to a Camp NaNoWriMo, but considering the struggle to get from under 5k to 20k in about three days, I think I did pretty well.

Needless to say, something had to happen in that mad-dash 15k, and I am happy to say that not only have we met the potential Male Romantic Lead, but Hubris has arrived as well!

Hubris, or Huey, is actually a rather large, funny looking bay Thoroughbred ex-racehorse that was going to go to dog meat, but Casey and Greg (MRL) saved along with his half sister Ivory Tower. He’s a dopey, sweet natured sort of horse, who I think will cause some interesting moments in the story to come.

Thank you Camp NaNoWriMo, I actually made it to where the story starts to get interesting! And that is pretty awesome.

Journal: That Story 23/7/2013

There is something to be said for pushing on regardless.
This is particularly true of NaNo. Which I should have remembered instead of whining that my story was terrible.
Of course this story is terrible, it’s a NaNo, that is exactly what it’s supposed to do. This is not a story that will sparkle and gleam as soon as it hits paper, it’s going to be messy and unbalanced and about something I never intended or realised when I wrote it. That is the glory of NaNo.
The best bit, however, is the use of the fabulous trick of ‘the general idea goes here and stuff happens and then we get to a bit I actually know’. All those bits I don’t know how to get to, I can skip the bits I don’t know and it still counts! Yes, I will have to make up the words later, but given my appalling progress this far, I think anything will be better than what I have so far.
Time to knuckle down, and get to work. This week will be hard, but it will be worth it.
Week 4, we’ve got a lot to get done, so I’m planning to meet you running.

Journal: That Story 17/7/2013

There is a reason it’s been so long since my last journal entry on this project.

I haven’t done much.

Honestly, that’s what’s happened. I though July would be an awesome time to actually get my head back in the productive space, but apparently July and I have other ideas.

The story, because of a few things that have to go in to make it work, has been really hard for me to really think about. However, despite not wanting to write about the things that come up, I know I need to. I would be able to do something in my usual genre otherwise.

On the good news: I managed to get what feels like a chapter done! Which is brilliant considering how much I haven’t been doing. Which means that I have somewhere to start, and a character who has left a note in the letterbox. Because that’s what she did…

The bad news: I have to get back to doing uni work in a serious kind of way. Assessment time is going to leap up and try and kill me if I don’t do the work, so that has to come first.

The Ugly: I’ve managed to make myself sick, somehow. Nothing serious enough to actually go to the doctor about, just the kind of sick you get when you’re overtired. Unless you have some magic way of not getting sick when you’re overtired. Or not get overtired. I need to work on that…

The hopeful: There are still some days left in July. I can do this!

And because I should keep a note of her somewhere. meet the letterbox messenger sender!

Casey: 16yro, with older and younger siblings, she goes to the local high school and walks up the road from her house to the bus, which takes her straight past Alicia’s. She’s a pretty friendly girl, though she doesn’t really have close friends at school. She wants to do something with horses or animals when she grows up, but that means getting through the next two years of school well enough to get into uni. She loves her family, and doesn’t really want to move, which makes her that  much different from the other kids she goes to school with.

Journal: That Story, 4/7/13

Today has been a surprisingly good day, for me and That Story. Much thanks for that must go to the comment I got on yesterday’s blog. Thank you!

I actually managed to get some words done, not that it’s reflected on my Camp word count at this stage. This, I have discovered, is what train trips to uni are for. And from uni, if I can get a seat.

Someone very much wiser pointed out to me that I was looking at the story all wrong, and what I should be looking for was ways to draw out tension and drama since I’m not used to the genre. Which, really, makes a lot of sense.

And on the way home, I encountered a rather interesting individual:

Jessica Kelly; Alicia’s older sister. She lives in the city with her boyfriend, and is making a niche for herself in marketing and PR. Ambitious, gregarious, she’s always tried to look after her little sister, but sometimes it can be very difficult to figure out what that is, so it’s much easier to just make her laugh and then that’ll make everything better. Determined to find the up side, because practice makes her job easier, Jess keeps in contact with her sister as much as she can around work, and her boyfriend. She’s thinking about buying an inner city flat, with her boyfriend, but she’s not sure about it. There is something in the wind with this one.

Now I have two characters! And we’re only in Week One! Good news!

Journal: That Story, Camp 3/7/14

This is the first journal entry for this project. Honestly, this project isn’t going well at all. At three days into Camp Nano, I should be able to bring myself to write some words, any words, but instead I am struggling to put anything down at all. Not entirely surprising considering that the only project I can think of is pretty terrible.
I am not a brilliant creative mind, I have no illusions on that score, but I do normally pride myself on having stories with a bit of meat in them from the get go, something to explore and push and shape.
That Story is not one of those pieces. It is awful, even as a concept. I can write more about it in a rant than I can bring myself to put down on paper.
But, this is Camp. So, without further ado, here is a little about the main character of this terrible effort.
Alicia Kelly is 23, and suffers from a medical condition that has baffled her doctors over the last few years. None of the treatments have worked, and her only option is to move to the country and see if that helps. Her parents have secured her a small farmhouse just outside a country town, in the hopes that it will make it easier for her to get better. Alicia, unable to think of anything else that might work, has just moved in, and the task of making herself at home in the middle of nowhere for the next year is all the more daunting now that her boyfriend has confirmed what she knew was coming. He won’t be moving with her, and perhaps they should take a break. Never one to want pity, Alicia got him to say what he really meant, and they’re no longer an item. She misses having someone there for her, but the things he said haunt her and make her both glad and despondent. Who, honestly, would want someone who can barely get out of bed some days as a romantic partner? There are sacrifices made in all relationships, but not having a bright, happy partner on his arm was too much for her now ex. Alicia is left to unpack the boxes of non-essential things alone.

If it’s not immediately obvious why this story is terrible, it should get clearer over Camp.
Maybe if I write some today, tomorrow will feel better. We’ll just have to see.