October has ended. NaNoWriMo has begun. This year has been temporally bizarre. Covid time moves both slower and faster than normal time. Months have passed at a snail’s pace, and then I blink and the next month is gone.
Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter. Marcellis Stinnette and Jonathan Price were killed by police in October. The RCMP has refused to protect Mi’kmaw fishers and their rights.
I’m so afraid for what will happen, not just in the US, but also to countries and economies all over the world if Trump gets in for a second term. Not a little of my anxiety these days is due to this election.
Worldwide, we’re in the second wave. Numbers of infections are exceeding those seen in the spring in many countries are increasing restrictions. While I understand that people are tired, if we don’t recommit to reasonable restrictions like wearing masks in public, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot, governments will have no choice but to implement lockdowns again.
It’s not about inconveniencing you. It’s not about violating your civil liberties. It’s about protecting other people. It’s about preventing the spread of disease.
Do your part.
The month in writing
Having finally finished my rewrite of Reality Bomb in September, I’d hoped to map things out and revise by the end of October. Once again, my ambitions exceeded my capabilities.
I didn’t finish mapping the story until October 20th. When I got to work on revisions, it wasn’t too bad. With eleven days left on the month, I set the goal of revising 30,000 words. I managed 24,714 words, or 82%. I’ve not just been cutting words, I’ve been rewriting whole sections again, so this is not bad. This is also the first month I’ve posted substantial revision numbers all year.
For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m doing the rebel thing again and I’m hoping to revise the remaining 60,000 (and a bit) words. I’ve already cut over 2,000 words from the over 120,000-word draft. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to tighten everything up and end up with a 90,000-word story that I can present to my critique group. I’m sure there will be further revisions, but this is my short-term goal.
Thanks in part to these long monthly updates, I once again outstripped my blogging goal by 174%. I wrote 6,532 words of my 3,750-word goal.
I also drafted most of my next Speculation column for DIY MFA. I managed to write 840 word of my 1,000-word goal, or 84%.
Overall, I wrote 155% of my writing goal of 4,750 words.
Also, my poem “Visiting Endymion” was published in Polar Borealis 16.
Filling the well
My family did get together for a low-key Thanksgiving at my Mom’s. Even though there were just five of us, we had more than enough food to send everyone home with leftovers.
For my birthday, Phil ordered sushi, I had wine, and we watched a seasonally appropriate movie (more on that, below). I’m a level 51 human now. I still behave like I’m a kid 😛
Virtual event-wise, I started the month with the launch of Ariel Gordon’s Tree Talk on the 1st. On the second, I attended a Carl Brandon Society lecture by Desi authors called Our Literary Mothers.
On the 6th, I attended a talk with Waubgeshig Rice and Eden Robinson in anticipation of the CBC series Trickster, based on Robinson’s books. It’s awesome. You need to watch it. CBC Gem.
I signed up for a series of webinars from Free Expressions. So far, I’ve attended a couple of Donald Maass lectures/workshops, and a Lisa Cron presentation on story and the brain.
I also registered for Surry International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) online, which combined their usual weekend offering with the Writing Excuses virtual retreat. I have to admit that I hit peak zoom saturation on Saturday night, but the recorded sessions will be available for a month for registered attendees. I’ll catch up.
What I’ve been watching and reading
In the viewing category, the month started off on a lowish note.
We finished Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. It wasn’t as good as Three Below, but it was okay and a better interpretation of Arthurian legend than Cursed.
Season two of The New Legends of Monkey was fun, but dumb. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
We watched The Boys, season two, and it was awesome and bloody and surprising, but Lucy traumatized me.
Lovecraft Country blew my freaking mind. I’ve seen some less than stellar reviews, but Phil and I loved it.
Utopia was good as well. I enjoyed it more than Phil, but I think what got him was the lack of resolution. Every plot line ended on a cliffhanger. I’m more comfortable with this than Phil is.
We also watched two movies. The Old Guard was good, but fairly standard and somewhat predictable. Zombieland Double Tap was as delightful a romp as the first one.
Reading-wise, I finished Jade City by Fonda Lee. I’ve been diversifying my reading and quite enjoyed the Asian-based fantasy world. The characters were fabulous.
Then, I backfilled a gap with Sabriel by Garth Nix. I quite liked the world of the Abhorsen.
I consumed Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir’s follow up to Gideon the Ninth. I went in prepared for the second person narrative, the apparent retconning of many of the events of the first book, and the lack of Gideon’s exquisitely kiss-my-ass voice. There is a point to it. Trust me. The second novel is as much a mystery as the first and part of the delight is trying to figure out what the hell is going on. The pay off is worth it, though the ending still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Loved.
I also read K.M. Weiland’s Writing Your Story’s Theme. You may have noticed my book review 🙂 Yes, I’m A K.M. fangirl, but her analysis is on the mark and she has a way of making theme accessible to the reader without too much brain twisting.
I finished off the month with Alice Munro’s Runaway. There are only two standalone stories in this collection and the rest are linked in two groups. The title tale is chilling.
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Just a reminder, I won’t be doing curation for most of the month of November. There is just one each of tipsday and thoughty Thursday, and then I’ll be devoting most of my time to RB revisions/NaNo. Of course, I hope to provide you with a weekly update on my revision progress.
Until tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.
Thank you for visiting, and I hope you take away something to inspire your next creative project.
This weekend, I hope to get my next chapter update done before NaNoWriMo hits. Also, while I should get next week’s curation scheduled as well, those will be the last until December 8th. I will, however, post my progress, weekly. This year, as last, I will be a NaNo Rebel, because I will be working on the revisions for Reality Bomb. I’m focusing on getting a project completed before moving on to the next, these days, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that this year has thrown my writing for a loop.
It takes the time it takes.
Until the weekend, then, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!
These 100-million-year-old microbes are still alive. (I think I shared an article on this a few weeks ago …) SciShow
Hedy Phillips: yep, just like humans, dogs can give blood. More than half my life ago, I worked in an emergency veterinarian clinic. They kept two blood donor cats on site and assessed surrendered or stray dogs (animal control was the next building over) for blood donor suitability. SugarPop
Thank you for visiting. I hope you found something to inspire your next creative project.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!
Now that we’ve entered month seven of the pandemic, we have to balance self-care with medical compliance. Be kind to yourself and nurture your creativity with some informal writerly learnings.
Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.
Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Get your flu shot as soon as you can. Sacrifice now (and really, it’s not that much of a sacrifice) will mean that fewer people have to contract covid-19 and fewer people have to die from it. Compliance is not a violation of your rights. It is respect for your fellow human beings.
Princess Weekes critiques Antebellum and movies about slavery in general. Melina Pendulum
Ah, October. My favourite month of the year 🙂 And this year, it’s even more special. Halloween/Samhain, which is my birthday, is also a blue/wolf moon. I’ll be howling, that’s for sure.
First: Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.
President Trump, in a karmic turn of events, got the rona. He was rushed to his private medical suite the next day, given top notch medical treatment, and expects to be released within the next day or so. Of course, he’ll still be in quarantine for a week and a half. Meanwhile, the rest of America, most of whom can’t afford such medical treatment, continue to be infected and die. Almost fifty thousand on September 3rd. Almost seven and a half million to date, and close to two hundred and ten thousand deaths.
Provincially, there have been between six and eight hundred new cases of covid-19 a day for the last week. In Quebec, the daily infection rates have topped a thousand. There have been four new cases in Sudbury since my last tipsday.
Accordingly, restrictions have been increased. Masks are mandatory. Social circles/bubble are gone, though those who live alone can interact with one other household for social and mental health purposes. Phil and I will, thankfully, continue to interact with my mom. Thanksgiving plans will have to be delayed/cancelled.
Please. Wear your masks. Maintain physical distance. Wash your hands. Stay home to the degree possible. You’re not doing this for yourself. You’re doing this for someone you love. Please.
It’s been a week. Now, it’s time to feed your creative side with some informal writerly learnings.
Sara Bareilles – Brave. Why is this in tipsday? “Say what you want to say / let the words fall out … I want to see you be brave.” Every day. Facing the page (or planning, or daydreaming). It’s what every writer does.
The good fight goes on despite losses. There was no justice for Breonna Taylor. Joyce Echaquan died after enduring racist abuse from the people who were supposed to be helping her. Two of the staff were fired, but it looks like there won’t be justice for Joyce Echaquan either.
On the positive side, Annamie Paul is the first Black leader of a Canadian political party. I’m watching with interest.
We have to keep educating ourselves (those of us who benefit from white privilege), listening, reading, promoting Black and Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs, and bringing issues affecting Black and Indigenous people to the fore. We need to do better.
Ten months into this hellacious year and seven months into the pandemic. We’re firmly into the second wave in many areas of the province and country. Pre-reopening restrictions have been institutes again. We all have to do our part to protect each other.
Wear your masks, maintain physical distance, wash your hands, don’t go out unless you need to, and get your flu shots as soon as they’re available.
I’m just boggled that Trump decided to break quarantine to give his supporters a “gift.” What gift is that? The rona? I shake my head and wait to see what happens next.
Work wise, while front line workers have returned to the office (with appropriate protections), the rest of us are teleworking for the foreseeable. So, nothing new there. I’ve adapted to my new work laptop and the shelf Phil made for me to elevate my monitors over my laptop also provides additional storage space.
With respect to the assessment process I was involved in for the new job at work … the manager wanted to proceed with next steps in the informal process. If I was interested. To which I responded with a resounding “YES!” The potential start date has been pushed to November to accommodate any approvals that might need to be obtained. And then I was called for the interview in the formal process. Still nervous about it, but they did proceed to contact my references from there.
And now … we wait. Again. Did I mention these things tend to take a fair amount of time?
The month in writing
Please excuse the block caps, but I think some shouting is in order. THE NEVERENDING DRAFT FINALLY ENDED! Yes, I finished this iteration of Reality Bomb. It was basically 120k and I have to cut around 30k, but I’m optimistic. I’m currently mapping in anticipation of revising later this month.
So, 5,234 words, or 105% of my 5k-word goal.
I finished the short story I started last month and promptly submitted it. It was rejected and so will be added to my pile of revise and resubmit stories, but I feel that it was an accomplishment, nonetheless. Then, I started on another story, not expecting to finish it, let alone submit it, but I did both! I probably won’t hear from that submission process for a while yet. I’m just happy to have done it.
I also submitted a previously published story for consideration in a Canadian reprint special issue of a popular SFF magazine. I’ll definitely let you know if anything comes of that 🙂
2,489 word of short fiction in the month, or 124% of my 2k-word goal.
I blogged 6,815 words of my 3,750-word goal, or a whopping 182%. Whop.
Overall, I wrote 14,538 words. I’d aimed for 10,750 and surpassed my goals on all counts. 135% of my monthly writing goal ain’t bad.
In the poetry arena, “Fire and Ice,” one of the five poems accepted for publication in Polar Borealis was also selected for Stellar Evolutions, an anthology featuring the best of the first 15 issues of PB. The pieces for the anthology were selected by Rhea E. Rose of RainWood Press. Pre-orders start October 15th, and the anthology is officially out on October 31st—my birthday!
It’s nice to get some external validation again.
Filling the well
Over Labour Day long weekend, our small family gathered at my sister-in-law’s for what’s probably our last outdoor family gathering of the year (it’s too cold for the moms, now). Chicken wings on the barbeque and fresh-cut fries. The sandhill cranes (AKA dinos) were EVERYWHERE.
Later in the month, I went out with Torvi a couple of times for walks in the fields.
In September, I attended Jane Friedman’s workshop on Researching Agents and Publishers like a Pro, a Word on the Street event with Michael Christie (Greenwood), Kerri Sakamoto (Floating City), and Doreen Vanderstoop (Watershed), the Writing Excuses Retreat fall reunion, How to Astronaut with Mary Robinette Kowal and Terry Virts, a NaNoWriMo session on How to Unlock the Key to Your Novel (adaptation to screen) with Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Nancy Springer (Enola Holmes), and Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah), a world building tutorial with Mary Robinette Kowal, and a presentation on The Inner Workings of Spacesuit Design with Adam Savage, Cady Coleman, and (again) Mary Robinette Kowal.
Whew! That was a lot of virtual events.
I also attended several meetings for the Canadian Authors Association and the AGM for CIRA as well as several learning events at work (virtual facilitation, Orange Shirt Day, anti-racism, and mental health). What can I say? I’m a learning mutt.
What I’m watching and reading
Because many series stopped filming and/or production because of covid-19, there hasn’t been a lot on cable these days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of grateful. I get more writing done of an evening if I don’t have regular series to watch. I’m actually catching up on my streaming viewing, but I haven’t finished any more series/seasons that way, either.
I watched the first six episodes of Wynona Earp. It’s the usual wacky shenanigans, but we didn’t get much of anywhere before covid intervened. Apparently, the rest of the season should start coming out in January. I’ll reserve full judgement until then.
Phil and I endured Cursed. It’s okay to envision a new interpretation of traditional myths and legends, but you have to have some kind of cohesive story going in. This was just stuff happening, just to have stuff happen. Pirates and Vikings and fairies, oh my? In what timescape do these all coexist with Arthurian legend (the fairies, okay, but the rest)? It’s fiction. I get it. But it all felt contrived, like, oh yeah, now we have the Inquisition (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition)!
By all means, let Nimue be the one true queen, but she should act like one (some of the time, please?). She can have (indeed should have) conflicting goals and desires, but she’s running away with Arthur one minute and then making deals with Uther to save her people the next? Everyone was changing allegiances, left, right, and centre, again, apparently for no reason.
In short, nothing came together for us. We’ve watched and enjoyed shows that have done truly bizarre things with Arthurian legend, but they worked because there was a cohesive story to wrap all the crazy in. Someone let their idea monkey out of its cage and the poor dear just started flinging poop everywhere.
The rest of my viewing was long form, that is movies.
I watched Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn) and it was fabulous. I think it’s the best DCEU film I’ve seen yet. It was all style and fun and it had a legit story. Margot Robbie was *chef’s kiss.* Nice to see strong women coming together to kick some ass and save each other.
Then, I saw Knives Out. Hilarious and clever, though I did wonder how Benoit Blanc, master detective, missed the distinct scent of vomit when he got into the car. You know the scene I’m talking about. This movie isn’t a whodunnit, but a who-woulda-dunnit-if-the-intended-victim-hadn’t-dunnit-first … and committed murder, extortion, and arson to cover their tracks. It’s about true friendship and kindness and a suspect who vomits every time she lies. A feelgood movie. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.
Finally, Phil and I watched Enola Holmes. Another feelgood movie. It’s a plot wrapped in a mystery. Millie Bobbie Brown was perfect and got to use her own accent (sort of). Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter were lovely. There were a few key differences from the book as I understand it, but I think I’m going to pick it up. I’ve always enjoyed Nancy Springer’s novels 🙂
In terms of reading, I have four offerings, two short story collections and two novels.
The first collection was Lynn Coady’s Hell Going. This collection won the Giller in 2013. I enjoyed the stories, but they all seemed to revolve around absences, and how people only end up hurting themselves by not communicating.
Daniel José Older’s Salsa Nocturna is a collection of stories featuring the characters from the first two novels in his Bone Street Rumba series. Humans who can see the dead, half-dead ghost hunters, witches who trap the souls of their victims in dolls, mammoth ghosts (not big ghosts, but the ghosts of woolly mammoths), and regular folks who get caught up in the world of the NY Council of the Dead.
Then, I read Justina Ireland’s Deathless Divide, the sequel to Dread Nation. As dark as the first novel was, DD is darker. You have to read them both to get the full effect, and I’m not going to spoil it. The metaphoric nature of the story is killer (pun intended).
Finally, I read Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler. Well, I listened to it. Audible offered Giller prize winning novels for free back in the spring and I got a bunch. I didn’t expect to like this novel, but I did. The twist in the final pages is perfect. The narrator … I’m not as impressed with. He persisted in pronouncing yarmulke (yah-muhl-kah) as yarmuckel—that’s not even how it’s written—gah! I would think a professional voice actor would care enough to look up these things before he began narration … but I’ll leave it there.
Barney is the ultimate unreliable narrator. He’s starting to forget things and eventually dies from complications related to Alzheimer’s. So, basically, the reader can’t trust a word he’s written. He’s writing his memoir, such as it is, in response to former friend turned rival, Terry MacIvor’s fictional expose.
The problem is that Barney readily admits his faults and he does terrible things, but he’s adamant on one point: he did not kill his best friend as everyone thinks he did.
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next time, be well and stay safe, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.
Dylan Lovan, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, and John Minchillo report on the two Louisville officers shot during the Breonna Taylor protests. Why? “The violence comes after prosecutors said two officers who fired their weapons at Taylor, a Black woman, were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from her boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s with people inside.” AP News
Here we are at the end of September. Where has the month gone?! Console yourselves with some informal writerly learnings.
First: Black and Indigenous lives matter. All lives cannot matter until Black and Indigenous lives matter.
There’s some debate about whether we’re into the second wave here in Canada. We’re seeing infection numbers in several provinces that haven’t been seen since the beginning of May, most of them in younger people. We’ve had 9 new cases in Sudbury in September. It may not seem like a lot, but the fact that the recent cases are community spread from unknown contacts is concerning. I’ve downloaded the government’s covid tracking app even though I hardly leave the house these days.
Anti-mask protests are on the rise. As the government faces a non-confidence vote (we do NOT need an election in the middle of a pandemic), CERB and EI ERB have ended and new transitional benefits through Employment Insurance are being established. The uncertainty is distressing. I won’t mention the distress I feel over the situation in the US. I try not to watch a lot of news. Overwhelm is a thing.
Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Please.