Happy Hanukkah (ongoing), and happy solstice (tomorrow) for those who celebrate! Here’s my gift to you: informal writerly learnings. Yeah, I share them every week, and you know what, every week they’re gifts 🙂 Enjoy!
December is here! Time to trundle out the seasonal decorations 🙂
I’ve been mulling over a few things, and I’ve made a couple of decisions. First, using my current system (template and fill it in as I go in dribs and drabs) I’ll be converting my monthly updates into weekly updates starting in January 2023. This will be in anticipation of converting my updates into a newsletter, down the road. (Perhaps way down the road? Honestly, I’m not sure.)
Second, I’m going to be trimming down thoughty Thursday, cutting out the newsy bits (y’all get enough of all that in the real world) and refocusing on articles and resources that will either a) generate ideas, AKA get your mental corn popping or b) help you in your research, worldbuilding, or other non-writing aspects of craft.
TT has always been the less visited, less liked, and less commented-on curation post.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments if you like the idea of shorter, more frequent updates and smaller TT curations. Or if you don’t. I’m happy to hear from you, either way.
Your monthly PSAs:
All lives cannot matter until Black, Indigenous, and people of colour lives matter.
Continue to observe public health guidelines (washing hands, maintaining physical distance, masking where you can’t, getting your vaccinations as recommended). Covid is endemic. That means it’s here to stay, like the flu or colds. Take care of yourselves and the people you love.
Russia’s unprovoked war in the Ukraine continues and continues to be deplorable. I stand with the Ukraine!
Reproductive rights are everyone’s fight!
The month in writing
It was refreshing to focus on drafting a new novel idea after so long working on revision. For that reason alone, NaNoWriMo 2022 was a win.
Here’s how the month broke down.
Week 1 – 3,378 words on Assignment1/Reality Bomb; 3,469 words on Alice; 1,219 words on the blog; total 8,066 words.
Week 2 – 8,492 words on Alice; 320 words on the blog; total 8,812 words.
Week 3 – 6,548 words on Alice; 380 words on the blog; total 6,928 words.
Week 4 – 7,718 words on Alice; 364 words on the blog; total 8,082 words.
Last three days – 2,072 words on Alice; 1,880 words on the blog; total 3,952 words.
I wrote 28,299 words of the 50k-word goal of Alice in Thunderland, or 57%. It’s definitely going to be a novella, which is something new for me. I usually write long. Like way too long.
There were two curation posts (the last of October) plus a weekly NaNo mini update for each week of November. I also counted whatever words I’d written in this post as of November 30th. This resulted in 4,163 words of my modest 2,500-word goal, or 167%.
Finally, I also counted the assignment I wrote up for my book coach, Suzy. That was 3,378 words.
This adds up to a grand total of 35,840 words for the month, all of which I counted toward my NaNo goal of 50,000 words. That worked out to 71%. So, I didn’t “win” NaNaWriMo 2022, but I made good progress on a new story and got a few other things done.
Filling the well
In writing events, Wordstock Sudbury took place from November 3rd to 5th. I split my time between online events and in-person events. The venue’s just up the road from me, so it’s convenient, but when Torvi sees me (or Phil) walk away without her, she is inconsolable for at least an hour. I didn’t want to inflict her howling on Phil more than I had to.
The solution? I drove to the venue on the main day of the festival. Torvi was just fine.
The sessions were great, both online and in-person. I particularly enjoyed Kathy Friedman’s “Writing Our Lived Experience” workshop and Tanis MacDonald’s “Measure Twice, Cut Once,” all about the editing and revision process. I got to see Danielle Daniel’s workshop on writing across genres and Liselle Sambury in the “YA for Everyone” panel. David Robertson was also in that panel, and I caught him again in the “Tell a Good Story” panel, with Ernie Loutit and Waub Rice.
It was probably the best Wordstock yet. Already looking forward to next year.
Something else that happened at Wordstock: I now have an editor for my poetry collection (!) She won’t have room in her schedule for me until Spring, but I think we’re going to work well together 🙂
I did what I could with the first assignment and submitted it to Suzy. We met to discuss it on the 22nd. It was good, but I rambled on … Things are taking better shape. I now have a second assignment and another meeting on Dec 7th.
I attended the launch of my friend, Kim Fahner’s latest poetry collection, Emptying the Ocean on November 24th. It’s always a grand time. And I got to catch up with another friend from out of twon who’d also come to support Kim.
I attended AugurCon online (November 26 and 27). It was fabulous.
Finally, on November 30th, I attended another webinar by Mary Robinette on short stories. Though I have gotten better at writing these over the years, I can always improve.
Another filling the well thing:
I watch Shaelin Bishop’s YouTube channel, Shaelin Writes. Recently, her vlogs have been a great comfort. Though she writes literary fiction, I find I really relate to her. She was originally a pantser, switched to outlining, and discovered that she preferred pantsing. Which is something I’m learning myself.
She did a great vlog on why telling isn’t a bad thing 🙂 and several about how she thinks of structure in short stories and novels, which have been revelations to me.
More recently, she was lamenting that, after years of revision and editing, she was finding it difficult to get back to writing. In fact, she thought her most recent novel was crap. It wasn’t sparking joy for her like her other novels did. She decided to work on it for NaNoWriMo, not with the intention of “winning,” but with the intention to work on it every day. After the first week, she thought she was going to have to shelve it, but in the second week, the story broke for her, and she decided to stick with it.
It’s so nice when things work out—she was so happy! It gives me hope for similar breakthroughs in my own work.
In non-writing-related events, I celebrated a friend’s retirement on the 19th. Low key. And I celebrated my mom-in-law’s 81st birthday on the 25th. Also, low-key.
Finally, I engaged in some self care with an RMT appointment and a meeting with my support group.
In the health issues department, my semi-annual outbreak of blepharitis has decided to complicate my November. This means four to five sessions of hot compresses a day, and the necessary sacrifice of writing time 😦
What I’m watching and reading
In the viewing department, I have to rewind a bit. Because I wanted to get October’s next chapter update out before the end of the month, I missed out on a couple of October viewings.
The first was that I finished my rewatch of Veronica Mars (Crave). The fourth season ending wasn’t satisfying. The true bomber wasn’t caught. I’m a little disappointed. Though I really like Kristen Bell and the series. Up next, the movie, which takes place between seasons three and four.
Then, on Hallowe’en night, Phil and I watched Altered Carbon: Resleeved (Netflix). There’s a nice set piece that can make the animated movie standalone, but there are also call backs to the series that, if you watched it, will help everything make more sense. Take or leave that caveat as you will. Kovach is resleeved and assigned to protect a tattoo artist for the Yakuza. Lots of blood and violence. Decent story, though.
Phil and I also watched Weird Al, the parody biopic, when it came out on Roku. Hilarious, and we were pressed to identify the actors playing various cameos (and sometimes the cameo characters, like Gallagher).
Then, we watched Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix). I think it was better than the first one. Fun, fourth wall-breaking protagonist, witty banter, and a whole bunch of butt-kicking women.
The Handmaid’s Tale (network) finished its latest season on the 9th. With Commander Fred literally torn apart at the end of the last season, this season focused on June and Serena and issues of motherhood. Both characters vacillate between out-for-revenge bloody-mindedness and motherly solidarity, ending the season on the latter.
The series seems to be diverging from the books (which are, admittedly, bookends to the series), but I’m still interested in seeing how it all works out.
I watched Horns (Amazon). This is a 2013 movie based on a 2010 Joe Hill novel. Ig (Ignatius), the protagonist, has been accused of his girlfriend Merrin’s murder, and everyone believes it’s true except for his best friend and lawyer Lee, his brother Terry, and another of their childhood friends, Glenna.
After a drunken and grief-driven one night stand with Glenna, Ig sprouts horns. After that, everyone is seemingly compelled to share their deepest, darkest secrets with Ig, except Lee. Ig uses this paranormal ability to find out who really killed Merrin.
I watched the ill-fated first (and only) season of Tom Swift (network). It’s considered a spin-off of Nancy Drew, because of the character’s appearance in one episode last year. It wasn’t terrible, but it suffered from the same problem many CW series have, which is characters doing 180s continually (i.e., acting out of character for no discernable reason).
I also watched the first season of Vampire Academy (network). Fairly standard YA fare set against a political backdrop. I was curious to see what Julie Plec would do with it. If Paramount+ renews, I’ll probably watch it.
The first season of The Time Traveller’s Wife was great. I’ve seen the movie but haven’t yet read the book (guess what’s next on my TBR list?).
Moving on to the month in reading, I read Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club Guide to Slaying Vampires. The concept is straightforward. Hendrix imagined what would happen if his mother had to deal with a vampire. It’s set in the 90s, but it read like the 50s. A weird dissonance.
Then, I dove into Maggie Stiefvater’s Greywaren, the third in The Dreamer trilogy. I always feel sad when I finish a Stiefvater book, and then ravenous for the next one, but this was the end. The. End. Epilogue and everything. I read the first book of the Raven Cycle and listened to the rest in audiobook. Will Patton really gets these characters. I’ve decided that next year, I’m going to start rereading and studying my favourite books. I’m starting with The Raven Cycle.
Next, I read Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man. It’s The Thin Man, in spaaaaaace. If you think you’d enjoy Nick, Nora, and Asta … in space, then read this book. Loved, loved loved! Another book that I was sad to finish. That’s all Ima say.
I finished reading Lauren Beukes’ Shining Girls. I’m also watching the series on Apple +. The two are quite different. I’ll probably finish watching the series next month.
Through a strange series of events, a man in the Depression is drawn to a house, which sends him on a series of quests to murder the girls that shine. The house takes him through time to accomplish his grisly tasks, until one of the shining girls survives and hunts him down. It ended a little abruptly, but I was okay with that.
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!