Go and Get’em, Tiger– Short Story Challenge Week 2 Update

Besides managing to not melt into a puddle, despite current apocalyptic temperatures, I also managed to get my reading up to date! What some sense of responsibility and determination can do for a person, right?

I also wrote the second short story, nearly 4000 words, about a woman who gets stranded in the town and has to get help to fix her flying contraption back to work. This one’s not so much about the action, but the characters.

Use sunscreen, kids, and keep yourselves hydrated. Yes, even if it’s Winter for you.

What’s up? — Short Story Challenge Week 1 Update

This week’s update is a bit late, I was supposed to have done it yesterday, but whatever.

To refresh your memories, I was supposed to have read one short story a day and written one short story a week. The short story came out great, around 6000 words waiting for me to eventually edit and revise. For those curious, it’s about a group of kids who travel to the other side of a river to find out if the rumours of the existence of monsters are true. It was mostly to set up some of the characters and the setting for my Big Damn Thing, but I like how the characters turned out and am looking forward to expand the universe.

As for the reading part, I have to say that I’m two short stories behind, because I tend to get distracted with things and when I realize it it’s almost 11 pm and I’m too tired to read and retain anything. (I guess technically I’m only one short story behind, because there was a day I read two short stories for a test I was having, but the goal is really to read one a day). I’ll get back on track, eventually, and I’ve read today’s already, so yay!

Right now, I’m going to start on this week’s story, for which I have already some vague ideas.

Sitting at the Edge of Land, Looking at the Horizon — What the Hell am I doing in June?

It’s that time of the year again. Summer. End of classes. Holidays. The sinking feeling that you should be doing something more productive, like an internship or a job or really anything to not make your resume look as pathetic as it looks now. I have two more tests this week, German oral evaluation on the 22nd, hopefully no exams (this threat, I believe, has been neutralized but it’s never bad to remain cautious), and no classes until September returns and I have to redo the painfully stressful process of signing up for the new year (and no one will take that Creative Writing class from me, I swear to Cthulhu). It will be my third year, my last year, in college. Yeah. It’s funny how life creeps on you.

I think this whole anxiety about the future, which I suppose is a way for the brain to tell me to prepare for the changes ahead, has the ironic side effect of making me do nothing about the future. The more you worry, the less you do (the more you procrastinate). Instead of fight or flight, you get freeze.

Anyway, I’m digressing. June. New month. What am I doing?

I want to pick up steam this month. Things have been very mellow and slow, because I do not have the capacity to deal simultaneously with the stresses of college and the creation of a writing habit, it seems, but now that part of the equation is temporarily out of the way, I can concentrate on the other.

I’m taking part in Rachel Giesel’s Short Story Challenge (I know, I’m late, May was… a month I’d much rather not think about, thank you very much). Basically, read a short story every day, write a short story a week. It’s good, it’s structured, it’ll give me a concrete goal and no excuses for me to go all over the place just because I can. I will eventually publish these stories here on the blog, though maybe not as I write them. I’ll check back at the end of the month/first day of July.

Speaking of July, that’s the next Camp NaNoWrimo! I have to think about what to do. I remember in the beginning of the year saying that I was dedicating one of the two Camps to edit the stories I was writing at the time, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be doing just that. But that’s not all I’m doing. To keep things interesting, I’ll also be working on my worldbuilding project which I, sadly, have been neglecting. Like how I neglect all other aspects of my life. I’m pretty sure I need help.

Anyway, I’m expecting the stories to already be related to that, somehow, either in setting or characters or both, just to give me a better idea of the place. Right now, what I have is just country and town names, basic history and geography, but nothing really concrete about the town itself, for that I’ll have to look at some pictures of riverside towns.

I’m also bringing back weekly updates, which makes sense since I’m actually doing something productive with my life and writing, for once. These, I suppose, will be similar to my earlier updates, and I think it’ll do me good to return to a familiar format. At least until my brain becomes bored again. I’m pretty sure I need help.

Without further ado, I shall end my update here. It’s late, and I have a test tomorrow.

WORK, WORK!

So, I just finished what I can call a two-day marathon to complete an assignment for university. In my defense, not a lot of time was given, but hey, it’s going pretty well. The classmate I’m working with even praised my work, and now I feel all giddy and happy because I was feeling nervous and that the work I was doing wasn’t good enough.

I think that’s important, to have people reminding you that you’re doing a good job. And I think it’s particularly important if, like me, you struggle with having confidence in your work or yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the hurricane of negativity in your mind, especially when your mind can conjure all the times that went wrong while ignoring the ones when it went well.

And that’s really one of the reasons why I started this blog, too. Right now, I don’t really have anyone I show my writing to, due to lack of confidence and because, honestly, there aren’t a lot of people I fully trust, let alone to show my writing to. Nor do I have anyone who I can speak to more or less openly, due to the above reason. One day, when I do have something to show for and post here, I want to do so with the confidence that it will be read, enjoyed, and that people will tell me what I did well and what I can improve.

Anyway, last week I may or may not have forgotten to write a post here. And by forgetting, I mean I procrastinated a lot. I need to set up alarms. I think the problem is that, most of the time, nothing really happens and I don’t have much to say. Writing-related topics have been relegated to when I finish classes, since those posts always take a lot of time for me. Maybe I could use prompts, or something? Or maybe someone could ask me something or suggest a topic, that would be interesting, too.

Oh, and as for my “I shall write every week not matter what” challenge, I have, in fact, been writing. I have been doing it twice a week (though there was a week when I only managed once), and with tests coming up I’m unsure if I can manage more than that. Sure, it’s 750 words minimum and I can do that in 25 minutes (today I managed 22, whoa), but a girl still needs to spend four hours on Youtube laughing at memes watching videos on several interesting but unrelated topics *rolls eyes at self*.

For now, that is all. See you next week, if I come up with something.

So… Now What?– The Map

Lo and behold, the end of April! A very stressful month in more ways than one, and unfortunately not as productive as I had wanted it to be. To top it all off, I kind of fell off the project I was supposed to be working on, probably due to exhaustion caused by everything else, so the plans I devised at the beginning at the month don’t seem all that appealing right now, at least not in their current form.

So… Now what?

The Map– May 2017

I want to get back to writing regularly. Like, I don’t even care what it is– a short story, a character profile, a rambling mess– I need to write, and make a habit out of it again. Problem is, I’m kind of shit at creating habits for myself and making them stick. I’ve tried all sorts of methods and apps, all failed so far. I’ve already scrapped that schedule I created a while back, because I simply cannot stick to schedules and, anyway, life tends to throw stuff at you that end up invalidating them, so what’s the point? I don’t like micromanaging myself, though some sort of structure in my life would be nice every once in a while.

So, how am I planning on doing this?

There is a site I’ve been a part of for a few years now and that, like everything else, I have neglected. Like, a lot. That site is 750words, and I’ve had an account there since… March 2012. Wow. It still amazes me how I’ve been on my ‘becoming a writer’ journey for about six years now, it seems much longer…

My goal for the month will be to write there. I’ll be starting slow, maybe twice a week or something. And increase until I’m writing every day. This might happen this month or during the months to follow, but I think it has to be a steady progression. No rush, just increase and decrease the number of days as I see fit. One day I might even be able to write every day and take part in the site’s Monthly Challenge!

Now, I would also like to focus on a project, because it’s also an area I kind of suck at, too. It’s a big project, too, because I either don’t do anything or try to do everything at once.

Basically, when I decided to venture once more into the realm of blogs, I had this ultimate goal in mind. It was born from my desire to share my writing and improve, but it’s something slightly different, and it’s actually something that I’ve been thinking about at least since the blog I had before this one. I want to have a blog dedicated to a single world.

Not a bunch of short stories or series with no relation to each other, but an overarching thing. Maybe the stories don’t have a connection to each other, at least at first, but they all happen in the same world. I don’t know when this idea started, all I know is that I have a world in my head where I want all my stories to be in. Most of them do, others I need a way to fit them in it.

What I want to work on this month, and for the forseeable future, is just a small part of it, and not even the main part that currently resides in my brain and in numerous notes scattered along my notebooks and whatnots. It’ll be a testing ground to things to come, things that have been locked up inside me and that I want to pour out into pages and shape them into something great.

I’ll still be posting weekly updates here, not sure how much more I’ll be posting besides that, but hopefully something.

Happy holiday, and hopes for a better month!

That Tingly Sensation At The Back Of My Head

So, hey.

In case you’re wondering, I did finish that essay. It didn’t reach 8 pages and was probably one of the most embarassing things I’ve ever sent to a professor, like, ever. I’m expecting to be pulled aside next class, or whenever he manages to check my essay, and have a Conversation about it. I imagine the only thing I will be able to say in my defense is that I’ll work harder next time and that it won’t happen again. I mean, at least I sent my essay, as flawed as it was, unlike some hypothetical people who didn’t send it. B for participation?

Anyway, this week I was actually on a break, starting on Tuesday (it actually started on Wednesday but Tuesday is my free day so whoo, extra day!) and ending this Wednesday. Maybe someone out there imagines that, since I had so much free time, I would have spent it writing. Maybe even, I don’t know, studying for that test on Wednesday.

Hahaha, no.

The thing is that, given the oportunity, I’m very good at ignoring my life. I can somehow distract myself for hours and then, when I look at the time, realize that I probably should have done other things. Sure, some of the time what I do relates to subjects or activities I’m interested in and enjoy, but other times I find myself just browsing aimlessly and doing stuff I won’t even be able to recall the next day. Those are the times I later regret, when I’m rushing to finish an assignment I should have taken my time on or when I realize I didn’t publish a blog post that week. Uhh, yeah.

But today I want to focus on another aspect of my life, besides the fact that it’s a slowly progressing trainwreck. I spent a few days watching a series some friends of mine recommended, and I really enjoyed it! In fact, it has been a long time since I took the time to actually watch a series, even ones I’m a big fan of. Hell, I haven’t even read much these days, but I chalk it up to University. The only things I’ve been following are webcomics and podcasts, but I figure that’s because they update regularly and I’m too emotionally invested at this point to just give them up. In the case of series, there’s the effort of finding out if they’re even airing here at all, and if they aren’t I have to use certain… means to watch them, which is a whole other effort I mostly am not willing to make unless I am very motivated to do so. And even if I do start a series, I need to make watching it a routine (if I don’t binge watch it in three days) or else I just kind of… stop. This happens to other things as well, which is why I have to keep a webcomic/article/story open in my browser or else I’ll abandon it.

The point is that, I need this. I need the time to immerse myself in stories. It’s what gets my imagination going, it’s what gives it fuel. And it has been that way since I was little and spent the day watching cartoons and making up stories in my head based on them. I always read about how I need to find the things that give me inspiration to write, and one of the things for me is stories, whether they’re fictional or real, written or told or filmed or drawn.

When I finished the series, I felt a buzz, a tingly sensation at the back of my head. I knew what it was. It was that sensation that comes when I really need to write. It wasn’t even inspiration, or a specific idea, it was just a need to write. I guess this post is just me scratching that itch, but I still want to write a short story soon. Dunno when that’ll happen though, but it will.

And now back to catching-up-with-uni-stuff-and-what-do-you-mean-I-still-have-to-study-for-that-test hell.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave an 8-page Essay for the Last Day…

… Especially if you never wrote an 8-page essay before.

At least I have the introduction, which took up most of the first page… And I have an idea of what I want to write… But it’s just so much stuff, so much information, and I have no idea how to start structuring it. I’m using information from a book, from which I didn’t take notes because I read it on my phone, since I’m through with printing entire books (maybe one day I will express my complete loathing for printers, and it’s not like I’m made of money and can go print it somewhere), and taking notes was never really my thing/wasn’t really practical at the time, anyway (try taking notes while on the train/bus). I’m also using information from a documentary, which I actually rewatched yesterday AND took notes of, so that will probably help (never used documentaries for papers, fyi, so I have no idea what I’m doing here). I also have to use an article, which isn’t so bad since it’s relatively shorter than the other two sources, and there’s an actual specific part where I know I’m going to use it. The others are to be used in the essay in general.

Now, I only have to take all of this and answer the prompt questions the professor sent, which I have actually done, for the most part. Where I’m stuck at is developing that into a coherent text, and making sure it lasts 8 fucking pages. My problem with this is that I know that I’ll have to go in circles, and explain stuff I normally wouldn’t feel the need to explain. When writing this sort of thing, my natural method is to synthesize. Broad images, specify and explain where necessary, no repetitions or filler. This is how, during tests, I can answer a question in one page or less and have a good score, while some take up an entire test sheet and end up with the same score. I have never been good with writing a specific number of pages, and when it comes to a specific amount of words I sometimes have to drag it out beyond what I would consider necessary.

There’s also the fact that I had to come up with an “original argument”. This was difficult, because my essay’s subject, while we have been studying it since the beginning of the semester, is a bit too far removed from me. It’s not that I don’t understand it or empathize with the people involved, I just think that, since I’ve never gone through the situation, I don’t feel like I have the authority to opine on it and can’t come up with something more coherent than “I can’t believe people can do this to others, seriously fuck this, if the world ended it would be a favor for everyone because, honestly, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.” I want to point out that I, usually, am a pretty idealistic person. It’s just that I somehow managed to reconcile “people are good” with “people are assholes” in my mind. Still, I eventually managed to come up with something, so that’s out of the way.

If this weren’t enough, my parents failed to tell me family would be visiting today, so I’m also distracted because of that. I’m also having a test tomorrow, which is going to be fun. At this point, I’m entering the stage when I just stop caring whether I’m doing it right or not, when I just do whatever bullshit crosses my mind and hope for the best. Right now, I just want to finish this and move on. Still… It’s just not me. I like to make an effort and put my best into my work, even if it turns out to not be exactly what I had envisioned or what my professor wanted. At this point, I’m pretty sure I’m not reaching the 8 page mark, no matter how hard I try. Honestly, the length of a paper is never the priority for me. My priority is always the content, if it is clear and correct and if I’m using the proper citations. Then I’ll think of length.

(And this is how you write a blog post longer than what you wrote for your paper, and in less time :P)

Marching on When Things Don’t Go to Plan + Plans for April

So… yeah.

It’s April 2, and tomorrow I have a test I really need to study for. I have an 8-page essay I need to deliver on the 10th, and a test on the same day. On the 19th I have two tests, and on the 23rd I have something I need to deliver and that I’ve been postponing since at least January, or something. Not to mention my responsibilities to my course’s Commission, which I joined because I can be an impulsive idiot when I want to. Basically, what you need to know is that this semester was specifically designed to spite me, and that if a teacher warns you that he will be giving out a lot of classwork, DO NOT TAKE IT AS A CHALLENGE. Seriously, it seems like my stubbornness only comes in situations when it will only harm me. Why can’t it come when I’m trying to improve my writing life, or when I’m trying to stand up for myself?

Also I turned 21 two weeks ago. Yay, me?

I don’t mean this to be an excuse, or anything. It’s just that I feel swamped right now, and kind of disappointed because I’ve decided to not join Camp NaNo this month after all. And I’m glad I’ve decided not to, because it means that I’m actually sane and that I remember what happened last November– complete disaster, as I was super busy back then as well. I don’t remember if I even got halfway through or not. Probably not.

Like, part of me insists that I could achieve something, at least during Easter break, which to me will happen from the 12th to the 18th. And, sure, I have two tests on the 19th, but only one of them requires real study (the other requires me to stay awake, since it’s at 6pm and my classes start at 10am and I have no breaks, so that’ll be fun). Oh yeah, and there’s that little detail that I probably wouldn’t be able to write every day, anyway.

The problem is that I haven’t even finished the outline, yet. I reached the Character Summary part, but even that is unfinished. I could try doing it without the outline, but the story is a bit too jumbled right now, even for me, and I really want some extra time to work on it.

Despite all of this, I would still like to do something this month. I thought about taking a break until my life isn’t a complete disaster, but I still want to keep working on my writing. Hell, I even bought two more books on Creative Writing and I’m dying to get to them. I won’t be able to do so for now, though, since I already have enough to worry about, but there’s that to look forward to!

So, I came up with a plan.

Plans for April

This is a bit different from a Map, because a Map generally has a clear path that I want to take. This is just me stranded in the middle of the sea and trying to find a way back on track. So, what am I doing in April?

I would like to keep working on the story outline. I don’t know if I’ll reach the end this month, and I won’t force myself to do so in detriment of everything else I have going on and the story’s quality, just for the sake of completing the outline. I would like to get it done before Camp NaNo in July, when I can finally work on it without worrying (unless I have to go somewhere, but I won’t know until then because no one ever tells me anything). If I do manage to complete the outline this month, which I think is unlikely, I’ll do an improvised Camp NaNo in May and use the July Camp for editing.

I won’t be updating the project page, in fact I’m going to hide it after publishing this post. This is for personal reasons, really, though I will keep updating on my progress. I’m also planning on making at least one post a week, like I used to, for the simple reason that I feel that I’ve been neglecting the blog. The whole point of this was to make me feel comfortable posting to a personal blog, so I’m kind of failing in that regard, though I do feel more confident as time passes.

These posts won’t have a specific publishing day, because my real life schedule is wild right now. They can be about anything, from my life or a subject that I care about, or even a short story if I feel up to it. That’s something I should start considering doing again, I do miss writing short stories.

That’s it from me. Now, I’m going to get ready for the day, study a little and see if my grandma can offer me lunch.

No, I Didn’t Chicken Out — A Late-ish Update (+ My Camp NaNo Project)

So, it’s the second week of March. It’s been so long since I was here that WordPress’ UI changed, and that I’ve been kicking myself for not posting anything. But it’s ok. I was kind of sick for a few days; I was busy as hell (still am, but I have decided to ignore my work because everyone needs to procrastinate a break every once in a while); briefly went down the MBTI hole, as I do on a semi-regular basis; and last week I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do for Camp NaNo. If I had written an update, it would have been just me navel gazing and complaining and honestly it wouldn’t have been fun for anyone, including me.

Anyway, this post comes not only from a sense of personal responsibility, but also because I actually did, finally, figure out my project for Camp NaNo. Yay, happy dance!

Basically, this idea is based off something I started last year, and that has probably since then been lost due to my last computer dying and because I suck at making backups of yWriter files (or files in general, really). I do think I still have it, though, somewhere in my email exchanges with my sister, but, to be honest, and in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a lazy fuck. Plus, I think it’s really better to start this one from scratch to create a more extensive story, and I still have the basic concepts in my mind, so it’s really not bad.

As for the reasons I chose this project, it comes down to the fact that, right now, what I really want to do is write something fun. Something focused on various characters, not just one, and their struggles and growth. Something that analyzes, that will make me think. Something about people and the world and how they’re simultaneously wonderful and awful.

So, why not go ahead and tick off some of the steps of the Snowflake Method, shall we?

Step 1– One Sentence Summary

This one is kind of tough, because there’s going to be a lot going on in the story, including in the way I’m planning on telling it (a sort of mix between epistolary through electronic means, and narrative). In fact, from this one sentence, it sounds kind of boring.

Oh, look at me overthinking. Cut the crap and just do it, will ya?

My story, in its most concise and simple terms:

A group of friends’ last months before College and Adulthood.

Sounds cool? Let’s keep going.

Step 2– One Paragraph Summary

This one took a little longer, because I didn’t have a clear idea of where I wanted to go. This is also not 100% like what it’s described in the Snowflake Method page, since this story is focused on the actions of several people and what happens to them. The sentences below correspond to the main conflict of each character, and roughly to their position in the plot (Sabrina starts in Act 1, Sonya and Nate’s in mid-Act 2, and Tod’s in the end of Act 2). This will, of course, be expanded on as planning continues, since each of these plot points will have their own acts.

Five long-time friends are about to finish highschool, and Chad creates a chat group to keep in touch after they all move on. Sabrina, a high achiever, risks losing her scholarships and advanced program after a violent conflict with a member of their school’s staff. Sonya and Nate, half-siblings, are punished when they fight against their family’s expectations and strictness in order to pursue their own choices. Tod discovers he has feelings for Chad, and struggles with them as he finds out he will be moving overseas with his family. In the end, Sabrina is able to win the criminal case set against her and keeps one of her scholarships; Sonya and Nate return home and their family support them the best it can; and Chad, unsure of his own feelings, convinces Tod that he shouldn’t give up on the chance to pursue his dream carreer because of him, and they promise to remain close friends, at least for now.

Writing this paragraph has led me to have a good idea of the story, even if it’s not exactly what the Snowflake Method details. Remember: you can, and should, adapt the planning and structures to your story, they’re just guidance.

This is all for today, hopefully I will be able to complete the rest throughout the month. For things to be easier to follow as I advance and modify the story, I’m creating a new page here on the blog dedicated to the project. It will also have links to resources that I will use throughout the planning process and, later, during the writing and editing processes.

The Map

the-map-march

This month is going to be different from the ones before, which is especially good because I was already feeling the need to do something besides what I’ve been doing so far. As I’ve probably mentioned over five times now, Camp NaNoWrimo is in April and, like every year for the last four years, I plan on taking part in it. If I had any ounce of self-regard I’d probably skip at least the April edition, considering what this semester promises to provide me with. However, since I’m stubborn and think I can deal with superhuman amounts of work, and since I survived last year’s NaNoWrimo despite the disaster that was November, I think things aren’t going to be that bad and that I’m going to reach the goal I set during Camp– 25,000 words.

(Looking at my last Camp, it seems I didn’t even reach 11,000 words. Uhm…)

Anyway, the past is in the past. Right now, my goal is to plan to write 25,000 words during the month of April, no matter what. But how?

I never made extensive plans for my stories. At most, I have a beginning, an end, and a general idea of what I want to do in order to connect the two. And that’s how my mind works, really– I have a general idea of what I want, maybe some established checkpoints and events, and adapt my plan as I go. That’s why planning was never appealing to me, since I didn’t want to limit myself in case I encountered a better idea for what I wanted to do, or my established plan stopped being appealing, and because my stories tend to stray from the plan regardless.

Still, during these last two/three years, I tried planning. This mostly involved establishing the beginning and the end, and figuring out all the bits inbetween. I’ve seen planning stategies out there that outline every single scene (sometimes down to the number of words/pages), but honestly that is just not how I work. If I’m going to put every single scene in a spreadsheet, why not just write the story right away? (And don’t get me wrong, I actually like spreadsheets,  and have found that using Airtable to plan my last project was both fun and efficient.)

I think that, in a way, I’ve already found my method, though it needs improvement. I just don’t know how to do it. Establish the beginning and end, and the major events that lead one to the other. Do the same with characters, figure out how they evolve throughout the story, how their arcs relate to the plot, if their internal and external goals are achieved and how. Have at least some idea of the space where the characters move, and weave it with the rest. Plot, character, setting. That’s really it, isn’t it? Who, what, where, when, why. A story’s DNA.

I’ve decided that, this month, I’m going to try a method I’ve known about for a few years and that I’ve been meaning to try– the Snowflake Method. From what I’ve read, I think it might be the closest there is to my “ideal method”: start from the general and go into the specific. I fear it might go into the too specific, but I can always adapt it to how I work and, this way, find out how I can improve.

So that’s what I’m going to do this month: I’m going to plan my project, once I figure out what it is, of course, using the Snowflake Method and write about my experience. I’m probably also going to write some short stories with my characters, regardless of whether they’re set in the story’s plot or not, in order to provide me with some development and perspective (and, hopefully, something I can use later on).

That leaves me with one pertinent question: what am I going to write?

I don’t really feel like picking up an old project, nor do I have any ideas for a new one. Camp NaNo is that time of the year when I just write short stories during the month, instead of focusing my energies on a single project, but then again it’s still early. Right?

Maybe I’ll take one of the stories I wrote these past two months, most likely one from January, and flesh it out into something bigger. And I have been interested in writing some Noir…

I also ask myself whether this project would be something that I would like to publish here on the blog, or maybe another blog dedicated solely to my writing projects, or if I want to get it published properly. Definitely not in a “traditional publisher”, at least for now, but maybe as a self-published ebook? I don’t know, these questions will have an answer when I’m on my way to actually finishing it and I know what this project is, and if it’s even good enough in the first place.

In any case, I’m giving myself this week to think of something, and I’m announcing it in my weekly update. See you then!