Upcoming: 4/8 – 4/14

It’s the start of a new week, and I’m feeling particularly motivated! I have to do my best to ride this small burst of energy for as long as I can; who knows what I can get done while I’m really in the mood to work?

This week I’m focusing heavily on two things: short fiction (for Nanowrimo, since I was once again not novel-ready), and jewelry making (’cause I need money!). I have a ton of concepts for shrink plastic pins, pendants, and earrings, and by next week I hope to have a handful of items ready for sale. My main priorities are figuring out the best combination of cuts, coloring tools, sealants, etc, and working towards an end result that I can be proud of. I think I’m probably just going to sell to people via Paypal, until I decide the best course of action regarding things like marketing and distribution.

As far as the fiction goes, I’ve decided to just do a few long-ish prompt responses and add the count up for Camp Nano. I set a low goal of 25k, and even if I don’t meet that, I’ll at least have made some progress! Last week’s prompt response will be posted this Friday. The response to this week’s prompt will go up next week, and so on. My concept for this seemingly-cute prompt has veered into the thoroughly creepy, and I’m looking forward to sharing it.

I guess that’s all for now, folks. Anyone have anything awesome going on this week? Let me know!

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Guess who’s back (back again)?

Heeeey! It’s been awhile, I know, but I’ve returned with a lot of new things on my plate (and with a shamefully dated music reference in tow). Updates and whatnot below!

*****

Back in late October/early November, I finally worked up the nerve to make a big change, packing up some of my clothes and moving from New York back to Alabama. Once I got back to town, I worked a retail job, just to get settled in…aaaand I quit about a week ago because, frankly, I was going nuts there. I was tired of retail and all the stress that comes with it, from the physical strain to the interpersonal politics infesting every bit of daily operations. I was sick of having to smile with all my teeth and virtually no soul because yes, it is free if it doesn’t scan, and aren’t you SO. FUCKING. CLEVER. I was sick of being called incompetent and unintelligent (both insinuated and outright, because some people are ballsy as fuck) because customers refused to understand either company policy or comprehend basic fucking math. I was…tired. Drained. And it wasn’t just this job that made me feel that way; this was the culmination of nearly seven long, tedious years of retail work. I was bound to snap at some point and, frankly, I’m surprised this breaking point didn’t come much sooner.

I did what I had to, and I have virtually no regrets when it comes to leaving this job behind.

My birthday was yesterday. I turned 31. And I realized that I’m not where I want to be, personally and professionally, and the only way to get there is to just…do it. Write, if I want to write. Make and sell art, do crafts, find ways to turn my passions into profit, rather than pushing what I care about to the side in favor of a “steady” job that leaves me exhausted and dispassionate about everything, including my interests and hobbies. I want to do what I love.

So. The new agenda:

  • This blog is going to be active again! Sundays and Saturdays I’ll be posting about my projects for the week, what I’m starting and what’s being wrapped up. Mondays, I’ll be bringing back writing prompts. Fridays I’ll post prompt responses. Oh, and I’m going to be doing Camp Nanowrimo, too, but that’s a subject for a different post.
  • I’m also starting a pop culture blog here on WordPress, called BlerdBabe! I’ll be writing tv/movie/comic reviews, op-ed style essay pieces, posting pics, and more. It’s very casual, but a lot of fun. The blog will go live next week, so expect to hear more about that ASAP! In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/blerdbabe
  • And on a related note—I’m going to be selling art and jewelry through the BlerdBabe site, too! I’m working on a bunch of pieces now, and some of the things I plan to sell include geek-chic canvas art, shrink plastic jewelry (earrings, pendants, pins), and I plan to expand my list of wares as time goes by. I’ll post pics/listings when everything is ready to go!
  • I’m also going to try my hand at essay editing and writing tutoring on both the high school and collegiate levels, and I want to start an admissions essay consultation service as well. I would love the opportunity to put my degree to good use!

It’s…a lot. Like, a whole lot. But I like keeping myself busy, and because I care about all of these things I definitely don’t mind putting in the hard work. In the end, it’s not about getting rich; it’s about being able to sustain myself on the income earned from enjoyable, challenging, enriching work.

I’m excited. Operation: Be My Own Boss is now officially a go.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that so much can happen in two months. Sooooo much.

My last post was in late August, and at that point, I’d made tentative writing plans for the next few months. For those who don’t feel like clicking the link, a summary: I resolved to work on short stories and flash fiction until mid-September, which I did…albeit half-assedly. From 9/16 to 10/31, the goal was Nanowrimo prep. And I also made the foolish mistake of asking my Facebook friends if any of them would be interested in buying a list of horror-themed short stories, if I made a collection available in October, so I threw that onto my ever-growing To Do list and hoped for the best.

As things stand, at midnight on Halloween, I am soooo not ready for Nanowrimo, and I don’t have a single story ready for my horror collection. But I do have excuses, explanations, and a plan to rehabilitate my less-than-productive situation.

Explanations/excuses first, yeah? Yeah.

So, back in July, I broke a tooth. It hurt, it was humiliating, and I hated it. It pretty much consumed all of my time and focus, outside of work. After a lot of back and forth with my home dentist, specialists, etc, they determined that I (possibly) needed a root canal–a procedure not covered by my insurance. I struggled with this situation for over a month and a half, until an unexpected solution presented itself: I made an appointment with a dentist in Alabama, recommended by my brother, and flew home to have the root canal done; I would have to cover the expense out of pocket, sure, but at least it would be done by someone I could trust. Luckily, when I went for my consultation, it was determined that the cavity wasn’t right on the root, and I could get away with a very (very!!!) deep filling. With that taken care of, I could finally stop stressing out and get back on track with…everything. Maybe.

Now, I also decided to multitask, since I was heading south. I put in a bunch of job applications, with mixed results. I had an interview at Michaels while I was in Tuscaloosa, and it went well enough, but the position was part-time and the manager was open about the fact that they could only offer me minimum wage…three dollars less than my current hourly wage. I was considering the offer, when something better presented itself, unexpectedly. It’s still retail, but the pay is better, they’re offering more hours and, most importantly, it’s in a town I like which gives me the opportunity to move back in with the most awesome friend/roommate in the world. It’s a welcome change, and I’m excited to move…

But.

I’m flying home on the first. Nanowrimo starts on the first. I only got back to New York on October 17th, and I got the call from HR on the 20th, which means that I’ve been trying to pack and clean and prep for the last eleven days, in addition to working. Needless to say, my novel prep time has been limited and my output has been virtually nonexistent. I considered not participating this year…but I really, really feel like Nano-ing this November. I need to redeem myself for the past few years of failure and my current lack of creative output. But with no outline and no time to come up with a solid, pants-worthy novel concept (I’d reeeeally have to have a lot of faith in an idea, to even consider pantsing), I needed a Plan B.

Enter the horror anthology.

I’m going into November as a Nano Rebel, working on short fiction instead of a novel, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun! I already have a list of story ideas that just need to be written. I even have a list of backup concepts, in case I don’t actually like some of the completed stories in the end. Short fiction will be easier to jump into sporadically, unlike a novel, which demands a more singular focus; I’ll need to be able to write in random bursts, as I settle into a new job and re-acclimate to the area. Obviously, this collection won’t be ready for Halloween this year, barring some major time travel on my part, but I’m hoping that I’ll have something I’m proud of when I’m done editing and compiling. If so, I may self-publish the collection next fall.

Sooo…that’s where I stand right now. I’m going to take a nap, finish cleaning, review my story synopses, and get ready for my flight. I’m going to write my first 1k while I’m in the air on Wednesday morning! I’m excited for what’s to come in November.

Good luck, fellow Wrimos! May your last day of writing prep be filled with coffee, candy, and a minimal amount of stress. Hope we all make it to that 50k finish line together at the end of the month.

 

Updates, etc.

So. Yes. Updates. Because I am good at this updating thing, obviously.

(Note: I like to call this one “Update: Count the Ellipses Edition” because they are excessive, and I am too lazy to go back and restructure those sentences to make them less grammatically atrocious. sorrynotsorry.)

I decided to return the Short Stories and Flash Fiction categories to their rightful place on the menu bar, since putting virtually everything into an archive made it impossible to find anything; if you’re interested and you haven’t already read the handful of short pieces I’ve posted on here and have kinda-sorta-maybe been coasting on since *cough**mumble* 2014 *cough*, just click the links and take a peek. In the meantime…well, the blog’s still a disorganized mess, but at this point I’m really trying to survive the rest of the year and maybe (maybe) I’ll be buying my own domain in January to give this place a much-needed makeover.

The last time I posted, I talked about starting my first draft of Magic Story. “And how’s that going, Ash?” you may be asking. If so…shut up. It doesn’t go. Not at all. I keep writing and deleting and writing and deleting and abandoning and screaming and wishing I wasn’t too broke to buy vodka because drunk drafting is amazing. It feels like a cop-out, admitting this after all the prewriting work I put in, but I honestly don’t feel like the story’s ready yet. Or more accurately, the story is ready, but I am not, and sitting in front of a blank document/notebook/etc. for so many nights has started to feel even less productive or useful than doing absolutely nothing.

I can’t not write. But, y’know…I’m also not writing in my half-assed attempts to write. Something has to give. So, I’m going in a different direction for the time being.

Yes, again.
Yes, really.
Again…just shut up.

The new game plan:

  • Short stories, flash fiction, training wheel/back-to-basics sort of stuff for the rest of this month, until September 15. I want to strengthen my writing muscles and play around with style and structure without the commitment/stress of a long-form project.
  • From 9/16 to 10/31, I’m going to reacquaint myself with this novel idea and its characters, to prep for Nanowrimo.
  • Nano in November, gods help me.
  • Continued writing in December, with 12/31 as the deadline for the completion of November’s draft. Editing in January. And from there, who knows? Maybe finding betas. Maybe just stuffing the draft in a drawer of shame and lighting the desk on fire. We’ll play it by ear, yeah?

Honestly…a lot of my “process” lately is screaming at myself to get my shit together. It hasn’t happened yet because I am, first and always, a hot mess. But I keep trying, damnit, and that counts for something. I’m barely getting any hours at work, so I’m home for most of the week, and instead of working I’ve been watching a ton of Netflix and feeling guilty about doing nothing (but not guilty enough to do something about it). I need to make better use of my time.

So this is me, trying again. And again, and again, until I get this right.

We interrupt this prolonged radio silence…

To bring you an update post. Hoo…ray? Sure; let’s go with “hooray!”

How’s your summer going, lovelies? Working on any big projects? Seen any good movies? Gone on any adventures? I’ve spent most of my time trying not to melt, and eating cold foods (ice cream) in alarmingly large quantities. I’ve also gone on several shameful Netflix binges, and read a bunch of books in my desperate attempt to hide from the sun, ranging from “meh” to “amazing” on my oh-so-detailed personal book rating scale. Oh, and much to my surprise, I’ve completed a lot of work this past month!

I know, I know…I’m as shocked as you are.

Last month, I once again found myself participating in Camp Nanowrimo. I was cautiously optimistic about the whole thing, but when the month began, I realized that I was by no means prepared to begin writing my first draft for Magic Story (obviously a code name, since titles are hard and I hate picking them). Instead, I decided to work on prewriting, settling in for extensive work on developing my characters, charting my story arc/subplots, and compiling everything into a massive zero draft. The end result? Twenty-one pages of emotional beats, plot twists, rambling notes, characters with names that change on every page, characters who appear on one page and disappear completely after that, a magic house that somehow contains a labyrinth…messy, weird, ugly, fun stuff.

And now, despite the fact that the zero draft trails off into nothingness toward the end of the second act, I feel far more prepared to start the first draft. I do have notes for the ending, detailing the major points I need to hit and a general idea of how the conflicts are ultimately resolved, but I want to leave it vague for the time being; the ending may change completely, depending on the ways in which the drafting process twists and turns my original ideas into something (hopefully) more cohesive and organic.

I’m excited to see how this all turns out, and also a bit terrified to see the artless way my clumsy hands will undoubtedly mistranslate my dreamy visions into text. The end result is bound to be hideous. But it’s the sort of hideousness only a writer can love, all jagged edges and clunky phrases and stilted dialogue and walls of exposition, which (again, hopefully) can be chipped away, buffed and polished until it reveals something beautiful.

My goal for this month is 1,000 words per day, bare minimum, on the days that I have work, and a 2,000-word minimum on my off days. I have no idea how long this draft will be, but ideally I’d like to wrap things up by the end of September and start copy editing, so I can send a semi-legible copy to my writing buddy/beta reader/favorite person.

Drafting begins tonight. Let the madness begin!