Welcome to the first next chapter, back in its monthly format. This means it will be epic. Sorry, not sorry.
The month in writing
I’ve had to completely revamp my annual plan. Well, not completely, but mostly 🙂
My original plan had been to finish mapping out Alice in Thunderland in January and finish the first draft in February and March while continuing to work with Suzy on Reality Bomb. But a budget situation at work and the attendant loss of income meant I couldn’t continue working with Suzy. We parted ways at the end of January.
I then thought I’d continue working on my own and sign up again once my position and salary had been restored, but Phil had his accident (on Valentine’s Day, I’ll remind you), and all writing work was suspended until such time as he recovered.
In the interim, I got the hare-brained idea to start applying for grants. All of them.
Now that Phil’s recovered, I’ve committed to …
Finish my #ActuallyAutistic Author presentation script and resources,
Revise my poetry manuscript from now through June (in progress),
Write a creative non-fiction (CNF) piece for a call due in early May (in progress),
Work on another CNF piece,
Revise a short story for an anthology call later in May (started),
Start working with Suzy again (come hell or high water, as they say),
Revise another short story for a potential project,
Apply for more grants in May and June (working on one, now),
Deliver my #AAA presentation in June or July,
Revise yet another short story for future submission,
Revamp my web site (some of it’s already done—just bits and pieces left),
Work on new poetry,
Work on a CNF project,
Start work on my new fiction project in September, and
Apply for more grants, September through November.
You can see why I’ve decided to cut back on blogging in the interim.
Alice is taking a back seat, for now. I think it was a good project, but I don’t have the head space or energy to get back to it right now. I do have the outline finished and a solid idea of where I need to head when I do get back to revisions. So, it’s in a good place.
That was the only big change from my original plan, aside from pushing out some timelines because life is what happens when you may other any plans.
So far, the experiment in rearranging my creative life (i.e., giving up curation and returning to monthly updates) seems to be working. I’m a lot less stressed out, that’s for sure. Or I was.
Unfortunately, the universe couldn’t take it easy on me. An added stress is that a general strike was called on April 19, 2023. I’m showing up and showing solidarity, but the first day was bitterly cold and I had to take a nap after I got home (which I never do) to warm up and recover. Subsequent days weren’t any easier, though I planned a bit better each day.
My executive function is definitely compromised. Meltdowns each morning, naps most afternoons, and I’m having trouble functioning on any level. At least I didn’t have to picket on the weekends. As of today (April 30, 2023) there’s a new offer on the table, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I expect we’ll be back on the picket line tomorrow.
I received another bit of amazing (ah-MA-zing!) news this morning, but I’ll have to wait a bit before I make that announcement. Stay tuned! And yes, I’m a tease.
Filling the well
Just picking up from where I left off in my next chapter weekly updates. I’m not recapping the whole month (!) As you’ll see, it’s been a month FULL of events.
I attended the online book launch for Fonda Lee’s The Untethered Sky on April 10th. A great conversation between Fonda and Andrea Stewart about all aspects of the creative process.
I had signed up for a FOLD Academy webinar with Liselle Sambury on April 8th, but was unable to watch it live, because recovery. I watched the replay once it was posted to their YouTube channel. It’s an interesting method, and Sambury offered a lot of alternatives for outlining and tracking your novel.
I signed up for an Authors Publish webinar on a new (to me) poetry form, the zuihitsu, with Eugenia Leigh. Because it was held during the workday, I watched the replay. Zuihitsu is a fascinating form, but I don’t know if I could manage the consciously disordered nature of a zuihitsu collection. It does track with some of the ideas I’m hoping to play with poetically, though. We’ll see where it leads.
I met with my poetry editor, Tanis MacDonald, on the 12th. It was less fraught than I thought it would be (and that would have been on me—Tanis was lovely). Now I have my marching orders and some work to do 🙂
I attended the Writing Success Series Discovery Night on April 13th. I’ve signed up for the Donald Maass six-webinar package and will return for individual sessions by Eric Maisel, Janice Hardy, Tiffany Yates Martin, and Beth Baranay.
I signed up for another Dan Blank webinar about defining your identity and creative voice on April 14th. Again, because it was during the workday, I watched the replay. Dan has a lot of good information about how to engage with social media on your terms and it all begins with defining your identity and creative voice.
On April 15th, my friend and former poet laureate of Sudbury, Vera Constantineau, launched her poetry collection. Enlightened by Defilement is a collection of haibun inspired by the 108 defilements of Buddhism. It was a lovely afternoon at the Hilton Garden Inn, good food, and a lot of familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a while 🙂
That was a big week of writing-related events, I realized, and dialled it back a bit. Yeah, all of the above was in one week. I might have overdone things a bit.
Just four more writing-related events in the month.
I purchased a Rambo Academy webinar on revision that I could watch at my leisure, which I did.
I attended Mary Robinette Kowal’s Barriers to Writing webinar on Sunday, April 23. It was extremely helpful in a few different ways.
Finally, I registered for a TWUC webinar on marketing and self-promotion presented by Rod Carley and Ali Bryan, which I also watched in replay. With my debut poetry collection coming up next year, it was very helpful!
I almost forgot! The FOLD started on April 30th, but as the bulk of the event is in May, I’ll leave the details until next month’s update.
In the self-care department, I had an appointment with my doctor because of a bump on the inside of my wrist. It’s a ganglion cyst and nothing to worry about unless it gets bigger and/or starts causing pain or impeding my range of motion. Something to monitor for now.
Phil had another physio appointment and an appointment with an endocrinologist for his type II diabetes. Unfortunately, the diabetic clinic is being shut down. It’s disappointing because he was finally getting the treatment and support he needed. And then his appointment with the endocrinologist was cancelled. Super frustrating.
I took Torvi to the vet for her annual exam and flea/tic/worm medication. An expensive trip, but she was her crazy, adorable self for Dr. Andrews, and she’ll be protected for the coming year.
What I’m watching and reading
I finished watching The Witcher: Blood Origin (Netflix). An interesting origin story for the witchers, with great characters, fight scenes, and a tie-in to the main series. Also, it was only four episodes, so it didn’t have time to fall prey to some of the gaffs other series suffer from.
Next, I watched The Wonder (Netflix), based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. Mystery and pathos. Lib Wright is a nurse who is called upon, with a nun, to perform a 14-day watch on a girl is a small Irish village who hasn’t eaten in four months. Ah, my heart.
I finished watching the first season of The Peripheral (Amazon). Bizarre and brain-twisty, but I loved it. Virtual reality isn’t just VR. It’s time travel and the creation of alternate realities called stubs. A VR gamer and her ex-military brother are inducted into a program with new technology, and a whole new world of complex future and present political and corporate intrigue changes their lives.
I also finished off the first season of Extraordinary (Disney +). In a world where most people develop powers (some of which are bizarre, and others, totally useless), protagonist Jen is powerless. She’s also a horrible person who has no money to pay for the expensive treatment that could rectify the situation. Growth happens. British series. British humour.
Then, I watched Ghosted (Apple +). It was the fun escape I needed after three days of picketing. Lots of cameos by popular action actors. I was laughing out loud. It might have been the dysregulation, but I enjoyed it. There was some problematic content, though, like the white male protagonist getting all stalkery (repeated texts, tracking her, a surprise trip to see her) on his love interest after she apparently ghosts him. Unfortunately, the stalking is critical to the plot. Like, there would be none without his intrusive and unwanted behaviour.
In reading, I finished T.J. Klune’s Wolfsong. The protagonist, Oxnard, or Ox is clearly autistic coded. And bisexual (pan?). I loved the book for that alone, but it was a love story between a human boy and his wolf pack. Correction, packs. There are some explicit sex scenes if you’re not into that kind of thing. My heart (again)!
Then, I finished The Bookwoman of TroublesomeCreek by Kim Michelle Richardson. A fascinating historical fiction based on true events. Look up the blue people. They were an actual thing. And the packhorse librarians. Loved it!
And that was the month in this writer’s life.
Until next month, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!
This week, I pulled the King of Swords from the tarot, and The Horse from the Celtic oracle deck.
The King of Swords represents a catalyst or wise council. This is good, because I’m meeting with Suzy this week, and a mentor at work. But really, I’m thinking that it’s time I seek the wise council within, know what I mean? I really have to develop (or redevelop) my self confidence.
The horse represents Epona, Gaullish horse goddess, the Great Mare. She was the protector of horses and possibly a fertility goddess. She was the only Celtic deity to be worshipped by the Romans as the goddess of cavalry. Unfortunately, her origins are lost because no one recorded the mostly oral Gaullish myths and legends. There is a Roman tale that survives about a guy that, fed up with women, decided that a horse would make a better mate and produced Epona. Typical Greek/Roman stuff.
I did find this on the OBOD web site, though:
“Epona is the Patroness of all journeys, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. She is the Goddess of the Land and its seasons, of fertility in all things. …. I feel Her presence beside me keeping me safe, giving me strength for each day. I see Her touch in every new green shoot of the Spring and in every fruit of the Autumn. I hear Her voice in the whispers of the breeze through the trees and in the song of the river.”
So, I think I’ll take it as a sign that I’ll be going on a metaphorical journey (I have no plans to travel physically). We’ll see where it leads 🙂
The week in writing
Continuing as I have so far this month, I aimed to finish my map for Alice in Thunderland by Jan 20th and then leave the project for the rest of the month before returning to it and finishing the last four chapters. I submitted my fourth assignment to Suzy on the 15th, so I had a few days off Reality Bomb.
But things changed mid-week. It was a busy week with appointments, sometimes several on the same day. It was a bit hectic and thank goodness for Phil, who managed to get me supper on the busy days. I didn’t get any work done on the Alice map after Monday. I decided to take it easy for the rest of the month and get back to it in February.
I met with Suzy on the 19th. Again, it was a fruitful meeting. But just as we were getting some momentum, I had to withdraw (because of that work/financial situation I mentioned a couple weeks back). We were at the end of our scheduled meetings, and I don’t have the disposable funds to continue, though I really want to because I’m learning a lot. The accountability is also great. When I have external deadlines to work toward (i.e., someone’s waiting/depending on me to do the work), I tend to get it done.
She’s going to check in with me mid-April to see if a resolution is on the horizon.
On that topic, I received notification on Friday that I was successful in the assessment process and am now part of a qualified pool of candidates. Though my employer won’t be able to take any action until at least April, the way has been cleared. So, I guess the resolution (partial though it may be) to my financial difficulties has come through within ten weeks. Thanks, inverted ten of swords 🙂
On the downside, my application for an OAC grant was not successful. I received that notification Friday morning. Another Sudbury writer was successful, though. All congratulations to her. She deserves it.
I’m really getting the vibe that I should take December and January off. From big projects, anyway. Mapping in preparation for revision, poetry, short fiction—I think these would all be doable, but heavy revisions or drafting may be out of the question, at least for my neurodivergent brain.
Here’s how the week broke down.
I wrote a net 16 words on RB on Sunday, and then left the project to rest.
I added the last two drafted chapters of Alice to the map and started freewriting ideas for the next chapter before the week got to be too much. That, too, is sitting for a bit.
I blogged 1,731 words for the week.
So, total revision 16 words and total writing 1,731 words for the week and a net -606 words in RB and 5,540 words in the blog for the month.
Filling the well
I attended the Spoonie Authors Network Launch on the 15th. It was a lovely reading, and I won a copy of Nothing Without Us, Too 🙂
I had a massage on the 17th and a meeting with my support group on the 19th. This month’s topic was trauma. Both informative and cathartic.
What I’m watching and reading
I didn’t finish any series this week, but I did watch Where the Crawdads Sing (Amazon). So good. Gave me a Grisham movie (at their best) vibe. Another book that’s moving up on my TBR list.
This week, I finished Stephen Fry’s Secrets of the Roaring Twenties (Audible original). It was an interesting historical podcast and, because it’s adjacent to the time period Alice is set in, very informative.
I also read Lori Devoti’s One Soul to Share. A vampire looking for a soul meets a mermaid looking to make a deal with the sea witch Melusine for the same. A straightforward paranormal romance.
And that was the week in this writer’s life.
Until next tipsday, be well and stay safe; be kind and stay strong. The world needs your stories!