Monday, January 12, 2015

Year In Review Part 1: January-April

Image by Nabhan
Enjoy your fall, 2014. I'm not sad to see you go.

It was a really rough year, and not just for me. My Facebook has been filled with people joyfully saying farewell to a "bad year," and I've had at least 3 customers say the same. So... here's to hoping 2015 is better!

Not the best of starts, though: a skipped blog post right out of the gate, and already up to a handful of Zero days. To my credit, however, it wasn't for lack of trying; it's for lack of time - and my epic ability to be long-winded.

See, I tried to find SOME good that came out of 2014. I wanted proof that it was at least a good year for my writing. True, not as good as 2013 was for me, but maybe proof that I made SOME improvement. I know I really went gung-ho on my X-Future reboot, and that I also did some world-building for Gyateara again. However, I also knew that I didn't post as many stories as I had hoped, that I gave up on NaNo, that most of my posts this year were confessions that I didn't write much, and that poor X-future - the PBP game - sort of fell to the wayside.

Still, I wasn't sure how much I could trust my failing memory, and so I wanted to go through and do a sort of "year in review" to get the truest image of how 2014 went for me.

It kept me until 11:15am this past Wednesday morning to finish re-reading all of the posts I put up the past year...

The notes I have are four-and-a-half pages long! A much larger undertaking than I had originally imagined. So large, in fact, that this is going to be a multi-part post. I'm hoping this important recap for me is at least interesting to you. I also hope that so many posts going up so close to each other will make up for me missing last week and having a dinky thing up for New Years.

So, without further ado, let's get started on this journey together, shall we?

Last year started off with Ali Luke starting up a Winter Writing Challenge for Writers’ Huddle, and "yelling" for me to join. It didn't go as well as planned. More often than not I missed my writing goal and I only completed about half the weekly challenges that Ali set up. The high hopes of the new year were already failing me. However, I did post the X-Future Snippet "Wings". I also talked about the last The Second Generation Begins chapter "Something I've Never Seen Before". Although, that chapter was actually written and posted at the end of December. Which means I haven't touched TSGB in over a year....
On a more positive note, though, I had learned that right around Christmas my mom and sister talked to my eldest cousin. Turned out that he's one of my readers. He had told them that he loved what I wrote, even if he didn't really understand any of it. Apparently he said virtually the same exact thing when my family saw him for Christmas this year. I'm paraphrasing here, but according to my mom and sister he told them something to the effect of "I still don't understand what she writes, but it's amazing! She's so good!" Honestly, I'm not sure how he could know I'm "amazing" if he doesn't understand what I'm saying - plus I'm a bit bummed because I thought I was fairly good at writing so that everyone can understand; I'll have to improve that - but I appreciate the compliment. I also love that he reads my stuff at all; especially since he gets so lost. Anyway, my mother also apparently gets easily lost. I guess I geek it up a lot more than I thought. I told her that I place links everywhere so that if someone doesn't know what I'm talking about they can go to the link, but she stated "the blog takes too long to read as is to be bothered with also reading the links explaining things".


For one of Ali's weekly challenges during the Winter Challenge, I showcased the different notebooks I use in order to organize my writing based on what subject I'm working on. While I used the Willow and Lia ones briefly, the only one I routinely wrote in all year long was that teal and white spiral notebook: my "Catch-All" that I bring with me wherever I go. That thing has notes about blog post ideas, character reworks for the X-Future reboot, character designs for Vampire LARP and D&D, and Gyateara world building. LOOOOOTS of scribbles. Sadly, even though I've been using it all year, I'm not even 1/2 way through the notebook. I need to work more on that. I need to write more frequently. It's just I only ever seem to really use that notebook while on my breaks at work, and they haven't been as productive as I would have liked this year.
This month also started off - literally, it happened on the first - with Ronoxym excitedly sending me the start of a story he had brewing for a little while. It's a tale of Devon and Willow interacting after a horrible miss-communication had ruined Devon's life. Ron sent me the first half of his story and was going to send me the second the next day; when he wasn't so tired. However, his story sparked my inspiration and I couldn't go to sleep. I wrote my version of his story from Willow's POV, but it turned out completely different. I didn't mean to shanghai his story or to send him my version as a re-write, but he liked it so much he decided to keep what I did. It was a struggle to direct the story back to where he was taking it, and it converted a simple little story in to a 13+ page tale that isn't even done yet.
Well, Ron and I work off each other so well that we decided to collaborate. However, once he got the story back to where he was originally going with it - and therefore I can't do anything without him since I have no clue where we're headed - that's when work got too much for him. He stopped updating the story in March and hasn't touched it since; aside from a few edits. I've periodically gone back to edit as well, but I desperately want Ron to come back and finish the tale.
I'm afraid it's not going to happen though. The drive isn't there anymore. The reason why he wrote the story in the first place is now moot on the X-Future boards. As much as I'm trying to get him to finish because I believe it's a really good story and/or I can use it as a tale in the comic reboot, I don't know if that's enough to get him started up again.
Regardless, I decided to put up the first part - where I completely derailed him - for you guys to see what I've been so excited about all last year. We never came up with a title other than "Devon convincing Willow" and so I chose "Please, Let Me Explain." I'm also breaking it down in to chapters, so below is the first chapter: "At the Cell".
Oh, who knows... maybe people posting here - or on the story itself - about how much they want it updated will light a fire under him to finish.


While I was on the "my character interacts with Devon" train, I also whipped together the Trish snippet: "Confessions"

Geez! February sure was a stuffed month last year; surprising considering how short it is comparatively. On top of everything I stated above, I also discovered the concept of "No Zero Days" last Valentine's Day. I failed more often than not for the rest of the year, but I always kept the concept somewhere in the back of my mind. I tried to get SOME sort of writing-related activity in every day - even if it was simply brainstorming - in order to avoid "Zero" days of doing nothing towards my writing goal. A lot of people seemed to really like this concept when I introduced it here. A few people at Writers' Huddle commented about the concept in a forum thread. However, it was in April that I got the biggest kick out of Ali linking to this blog - and the No Zero Days post specifically - in her own post: 17 Ways to Make the Most of Your Writing Time – Even When It’s Limited. The No Zero Days concept - and her mention of me - are under #7: Don’t Set Unreachable Targets. I'm so grateful that I inspired her, and that she used it to inspire others, and that I've had more readers since then. AWESOME!
I concluded February with the first real drive to convert X-Future in to the webcomic reboot. I had been thinking about it and itching to do it for a while, but 11 months ago was when I really caught the bug.

Finally moving on to a new month! It was a good month, too. I started it off with a full Non-Zero week. That means I did SOME writing every day of it! Try as I might, I already hit four Zero Days this year - this past Sunday and Monday, and again Friday and Saturday - so having 7 straight days of writing is still quite impressive to me. During the month I also managed to write and publish two more X-Future Snippets:
       Training with a Mind of Its Own  and  It is So On!
I rode this "I want to write" high by deciding to start up a local writing group. I was so excited about it, too. Sure, I'm a member of Writers' Huddle, and I love that. However, as welcoming as they are over there, it's still a bit intimidating to talk about my writing with people I don't really know; especially ones that seem to have far superior skills. Plus, I didn't have my netbook back, and so it was hard for me to read anything on the computer. On the other hand, Ronoxym and I had an awesome back-and-forth going. Then I noticed that being able to talk to people in real-time - such as Ron, Cyhyr, and Phfylburt - worked fantastically for my brainstorming. It just seemed a logical choice to set up a way for me and my three local writing buddies - Ron, Cy, and Omnibladestrike - to meet in person and talk in real-time about our writing. Build and feed off of each other. Grow together. Omni named our group "Writers Block." Sadly, Writers Block seemed to be what hit our little group. We met in person once and then on Skype the following week. We haven't met again since. HOWEVER, I do have a Map Making Party date with Omni on the 17th.
In March I was also excited to see that Ron and I feeding off of each others' writing momentum urged him to finally create his own blog. He only had two posts before giving up on it, but he did post again last Wednesday. Funny, isn't it? I missed my Wednesday update and he finally restarts his blog then...
Anyway, his writing shorts that he posted on the blog just kept inspiring me to write. Not just for X-Future, though. I had a strong urge to work on Gyateara some more. I started to finally put my nose to the grindstone when it came to figuring out the pantheon. I got a digital copy of the Deities and Demigods D&D handbook and used it to start figuring out the gods of my world.

Finally figured out a few myths about the gods of Gyateara. I gathered them up and published my first original story; allowing me to finally do something other than read on my FictionPress account. For The Divine Legends I had three tales: an overall "world creation" story, a follow-up story focusing on one of the goddesses, and a revised version of the Four Sisters story I had created for my NaNo project a few years back.
Up until April, I had attempted to keep my posts at weekly updates at noon on Sundays. Hubby would normally be napping, and so it would be a nice time for me to just sit and write. Plus, I used to have insomnia while he was at his overnight shift, and so I could work on my blog then too. However, as the years went on I began to sleep again on Sunday mornings, and the time between when Hubby finished work and I went in to work kept shrinking. It became more of a hassle to update on time. On the other hand, Wednesdays became the perfect time to make up for my missed Sunday updates. Hubby had to go in to work first thing in the morning, I usually had Wednesdays off, and I discovered that I have the most writing drive right after waking up. As of April 2014, I officially switched my updates to Wednesday at noon. Of course, Irony is never far away, and as soon as I decided to switch my update time I started getting scheduled first thing Wednesday mornings too, and I no longer work Sundays...

April started the real craziness of work. We had a lot of people quit or retire or get fired. We dropped down to a skeleton crew, and we haven't really gotten anyone new since. Nearly a full year of working with barely anyone. It's stressful, and a bit of a powderkeg with the same people working together all the time. It's exhausting and really took its toll on me the rest of 2014. Namely, I really stopped writing on my work breaks; opting to instead just veg out in the break room. I'm hoping work improves enough - or I get a different job - so this stress doesn't spill over on to 2015.
Because of this issue I've been really drained and my writing dropped. To start, I didn't even bother attempting Script Frenzy this year. For those who might not know/remember what Script Frenzy is, it is a program that was held by the people in charge of National Novel Writing Month, except the goal is to write a 100pg script in 30 days instead of writing a 50,000 word novel. Unfortunately, not too many people were participating and/or donating to the program, and so Script Frenzy itself got cancelled. I still aim to still keep Script Frenzy as my April writing goal, but if anyone else is interested, NaNo now has a Script option if you wish to write one in November.
I did manage to keep SOME sort of writing going in April, however. I focused more on my desire to convert X-Future in to a comic, and I did a bit more world building of Gyateara. The bit that surprised me the most though was that I managed to stumble upon writing a sort of informative advice post that actually helped out a few of my readers.


Wow! I'm actually super glad I went back through my old blog posts! I was a lot more productive in 2014 than I recalled.

Just in the first four months of the year, I added 4 new shorts in X-Future: Snippets, and I started up my first batch of original work in The Divine Legends - with three more short stories there too. I started up a collab with Ronoxym and got up to about 13pgs of that story before it died off. I inspired Ron to start up his own blog; which he abandoned, but did just restart a week ago. I started up a local writing group - which quickly failed, but I have more to say about that later on. I also managed to write a couple of informative posts that actually helped people with their own writing; one so much so that I got a nod on Ali's blog. I discovered No Zero Days and have taken that practice to heart.

Now to see what I learned and accomplished in the second third of 2014. Part II coming up ASAP.

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