Saturday, January 17, 2015

Year In Review Part 3: September-December

I was hoping these would all be posted in quick succession; most likely all three on Wednesday. However, I didn't anticipate how long it was going to take me to write these posts. Which, seriously, is kind of silly. I SHOULD know by now how insanely long it takes me to do ANYTHING writing wise. Anyway, realizing that I'd be hard-pressed to post all three on Wednesday, I attempted to do one after the other - Part 1 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday - and have this one posted Wednesday as a way to conclude the series and properly set up 2015.

Well, it's now looking like I'm following Ronoxym's posting schedule: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or, at least, I WOULD be, except yesterday turned out to be a disaster between fighting with computers and Hubby working a split-shift. Either way, I don't think I can keep up this momentum, especially if I want to write something other than this blog. So, starting this upcoming Wednesday, I'm back to my normal "Wednesday at noon ET" updating deadlines.

Okay then! Let's finish up this backtracking through 2014, shall we?

September actually had a lot more writing breakthroughs than I recalled. For starters, I managed to get over quite a large hurdle in regards to the X-Future reboot. Over the summer - with some help from Ali Luke and Writers’ Huddle - I was able to figure out that the webcomic reboot would be a near-future cyberpunk environment, and the iconic Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters would be a school/orphanage combination campus. I figured out that mutants would be called "Glitches" in my world, but I just couldn't figure out the issue with the crucial Danger Room element. It kept me stuck nearly all summer. For those who don't know what the Danger Room is, the long and short of it is that it is a large room that Professor Charles Xavier used to train his X-Men. He did so through the use of physical perils, and later with solidified holograms. Anyway, it was hard for me to figure out how to use the concept of a room with both holograms and physical obstacles - used to train mutants - without it seeming like a direct Danger Room ripoff. September brought me the epiphany of The Arcade instead. Both this bit of world building and something that Omnibladestrike confided in me made me remember an article I read years ago. An article written by someone I recently began to follow for writing advice, but someone I had no previous knowledge of when I first found the article. A concept of being able to "steal jewels to make your own crown": How to (Legally and Ethically) Steal Ideas by Holly Lisle.
While coming up with The Arcade, I also came up with a new original character: Geoffry "Fidget" Wilkins. Months later, and I'm still not really sure how Fidget looks. All I know is that I keep seeing a gangly little guy with red hair whenever I try to picture him. The big thing though, aside from just breaking through the roadblock of "what do I do for the Danger Room?", was that it sparked the start of my ability to rewrite the few Marvel canon characters that I needed for X-Future. I started off rewriting Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde and Logan "Wolverine" before also including Jamie "Multiple Man" Madrox and Remy "Gambit" LeBeau. After sending MASSIVE amounts of questions, suggestions, options, and rewrites to both Hubby and Phfylburt, I managed to get a large chunk of each of these characters rewritten. I was also able to use the character rewrites to help me figure out a new backstory for Phfyl's character Lucas Kinney; since his original backstory would be WAY too complicated, and involved far too many Marvel elements. I'm proud of the progress I made this month with X-Future, but there is still much to figure out. I need to get back on rewriting canon characters; as well as get started on converting other characters like St. John "Pyro" Allerdyce or Amara "Magma" Aquilla.
Also in the world of X-Future, my co-worker and friend Spink started role playing on the boards. It wasn't much, and the holidays killed the momentum, but it got me to play Lia for the first time since June. So, there's that. The fact that people were on X-Future again also resparked my desire to work on the next chapter of X-Future: The Second Generation Begins. However, the chapter I had posted the previous December was the last one based off the posts I already had organized. Working on the next chapter meant I had to once again go through all of the posts and try to organize them according to post date and time; this way I could figure out - chronologically - what happened next on the board, and then weed out the parts that don't affect over-all story. It was such a daunting task that I gave up on it after about a week. I need to bite the bullet and go back through them all; getting the next chapter up before the summer - hopefully.
Everything that happened in September also got me thinking enough to write two more semi-informative posts.
The first was about my Bite-sized Chunks Epiphany. Namely, that I could possibly write a 90,000-word manuscript within a year, simply by adding about 250 words a day to the story. That's about a half-hour of writing every day! I'm already fifteen days behind on this, and I'm most likely not going to get started any time soon because I still have to world build for my two main ideas, but it's comforting to know that I COULD do it once I have everything figured out.
The second post was in response to an article I had read about procrastination: Why Writers are the Worst Procrastinators. I felt the article went a bit off-topic on occasion, but I dismantled it a bit and brought out the parts I felt truly did explain why writers procrastinate so badly. You can check out my take on the subject here: Procrastinate to Avoid Fear

I started the month by writing another response post aimed at a different article about procrastination. This one I actually really enjoyed and took it to heart; a concept I frequently reference in everyday conversation: Why Procrastinators Procrastinate.
I then concluded the month with one more response post. This one started off as an agitated, six-page essay about how the author Laura Miller was horribly wrong in the majority of her article condemning NaNo. Thanks to ChibiSunnie's suggestion, I decided to tone it down a bit, and then posted my response to Miller here; explaining why NaNo was actually a fantastic idea. Bookended by the article responses, I spent October working more on the X-Men canon character rewrites. I also worked on a new X-Future: Snippet. I was struggling to figure out Lia's mindset about certain things, and so I had a conversation between her and 2-feathers-and-a-stone's character Sasha. After waiting a week or two in order to see if Feathers would give me any notes - mainly whether or not I kept Sasha in character - I added the last snippet of the year. The other bit of writing came after I introduced my readers to Lottie. She's my latest vampire for the Live Action Role Play that I participate in. I had decided to use Lottie for my NaNo story this year, and so I had also started researching Southern United States during WWII in order to get more info for Lottie's backstory.
On a more personal level, October was the start of me HATING Tuesdays. Corporate has been cutting back available hours at work, and so my boss had to cut back on morning help once a week. Tuesdays are his best option since he has to have paperwork and other red tape taken care of on Mondays, Wednesdays are a large delivery day coupled with a weekly promotion for our department, and Thursday through Sunday is crazy busy with weekend shoppers and setting up for another weekly promotion. On top of that, Tuesdays and Mondays tend to be the slowest days of the week. While I get his reasoning of cutting back and not giving me any help Tuesday mornings, Tuesdays are a lot busier than he gives credit; especially since he NEVER works Tuesdays so he doesn't know more than what the sale numbers tell him. Tuesdays are crazy busy for one person to handle, and I always come out exhausted and run ragged. It wouldn't be so bad if I still had Wednesdays off to write and recuperate.
So, my posts began to miss their noon updates at this point. I was working Wednesday mornings more often than not, and I couldn't even try to write and schedule my posts on Tuesdays because I was so exhausted and zoned out. It just created a steeper slope on an already downward spiral for my writing.

NaNo time! Well, for a week at least. It was a struggle to get anything going. I was originally really excited about writing Lottie's story, and figured I could use the bi-weekly games as inspiration for the next part of her tale. However, the last game we played in October resulted in Lottie barely doing anything aside from stand in a corner. Then Game was either cancelled or shifted around, until we only had one session the Saturday before Thanksgiving. What I was hoping would give me inspiration all month had dried up. Work also got crazier due to the holidays, and so the free time I had to write was limited. Not only that, my writing sessions also routinely turned in to "pass out with the netbook on my lap" sessions. I managed to get one chapter up within the first week of NaNo - just as I wanted. However, it was only about half the word count I should have had at that point, and I just didn't find time to continue any further.
I became stressed and depressed as more days slipped by where I couldn't write anything. NaNo became more of a hated chore than an exciting and fun experience. Finally, Hubby convinced me to just give it up. I felt like a failure in doing so, but - as stated here - it was the best decision I could have made, and I'm grateful for Hubby convincing me to stop. Writing returned to something that was greatly fun and stress-relieving for me. Plus, with more character development for Lottie freely flowing again, I realized why her story was so hard for me to write. I had a great CHARACTER concept with Lottie, but I didn't really have much of a PLOT concept. Yes, I had plans for her life, but I didn't have a way to walk her along that path. How would this event help bring her to that one? So, I'm not sure if or when I'll be going back to that story. I know that it needs a complete revamp, even the first chapter. Introducing people to about a dozen characters in one short chapter is just too overwhelming.
While I didn't get very far in NaNo, ironically I was able to get Cyhyr to pull the trigger and get on board. In the FIRST DAY of November she was able to write more than I did throughout the week! Not too shabby for someone who was going to let another November pass her by. I never did go back and see if she ever did more than that one-day writing sprint. I hope she did. Anyway, November just isn't a good time for most of the people in my online writing group Struggling Writers' Society. Between college and the holidays and workloads picking up due to the holidays, NaNo in November is a horrible idea. So I decided to start up a poll on the forum for the group to see what month would be better for us to attempt to write 50,000 word manuscripts. Not many of the members we have actually joined the forum - even now - and so at the beginning of the month I redid the poll on the Facebook group. There are only three votes, but it seems like August might be the best bet. So, either our version of NaNo will be in August - like how April is still Script Frenzy to me - or a delayed Camp NaNo, since I believe the real summer addition is in July.
So, aside from more brainstorming and character developing, I didn't really write in November. I instead decided to use the month to get a head start on the crocheting projects I had lined up for Christmas gifts. Didn't work as well as planned. I ran out of yarn for my mother's gift, and so we had to change gears for that. I just could not for the life of me figure out the pattern for my sister's gift - and I even found three similar patterns that I also struggled with - and so she ended up with something we had stashed away for her birthday in March. I had to quickly change gears for my bestie and her son - my godson - because I didn't even have time to START their gifts. We justified me not making Phfylburt's gift(s) since he lives in another state, and we can always just finish for his birthday instead - besides, he didn't send us gifts so we didn't feel as guilty. We then justified not making celestialTyrant or The Bard their gifts by stating a) they don't really celebrate Christmas anyway, and b) Hubby ended up making them Christmas treats as gifts instead. What I DID manage to finish up, though - after working all through November AND December - was the giraffe I was making for our niece, and a fairy for Spink.
So, November was a bit of a wash - I didn't NaNo, I didn't write recreationally, nor did I get my long list of crochet projects completed - but it was also a learning experience. Giving up on NaNo allowed me to really learn and grow; I now understand the importance of patience and really building the world/plot around characters. November was also a good month because it was the start of Hubby and I really building great friendships, and finally having "couple" friends to hang out with; much like we used to with Ron and Cy. November was when Quarthix started stopping by nearly daily, him and his fiance coming by weekly for Sunday Football, Spink and I really hanging out, and us becoming better friends with Spink's fiance - who was actually Hubby's friend to begin with, and we met Spink through him. Hubby and I also finally got around to watching Game of Thrones which would later inspire both of us.
I finished the month with a nod to a tradition my mother started when I was a child. She would post a cardboard, bare tree on the wall of our house and we would each be given enough construction paper leaves to write one thing we're grateful for each day throughout the month of November. By Thanksgiving the tree would be overflowing with our blessings. Well, I didn't have a tree or leaves, but I did write a list of things I was grateful for; blessings that helped me shake my growing depression away, even for a little bit.
My Giving Thanks Tree
I think the most impactful part of this whole exercise was what I wrote for November 25th:
The growth I've made with my writing over the year. From day to day it didn't seem like much, similar to watching a child grow, I'd wager. However, when I think back to everything I've learned since January, I really have changed to a more mature thought process and perspective. I've struggled, but grew with each struggle. I now have a better idea of what I want to do during the upcoming year.
At the end of the year I had already forgotten that. I already forgot the growth I had made, which is why I went on this Year in Review journey in the first place. It is good to know that, at least for a brief time, I had truly seen the year as it was; a year of not much actual writing, but of great growth, learning, and development.

For the first time in about a year, I had a vivid dream. It was nothing that I could really use for my stories, and it was too weird and disjointed - perfect for dreams - to be a stand-alone story. However, it was nice to witness my imagination have free rein. There's something about my mother's house, I guess. I used to remember my vivid dreams at least once a month. Since I moved out of my mother's house - even when I went to college - I haven't been able to really remember too many dreams. Maybe once or twice a year. Yet, whenever I'm visiting my mom I almost always seem to remember my dreams again.
While it wasn't a true vacation for me - I had to do a lot of driving, and I was obligated to do a lot of visiting while spending Thanksgiving with my mom - being away from work and home for almost a week was enough to recharge my batteries at least a little bit. After Hubby's birthday concluded my mini-vacation, I was actually chipper at work the next day. While I focused more on the crocheting in order to get them done in time for Christmas - back when I thought I was going to get more than two projects done - I was once again inspired to work on writing too. Getting away does a world of good when stress and monotony drags you down.
Using some money he got for his birthday, Hubby bought season 2 of Game of Thrones, and we devoured the show in one day! Much like he did when we went on an X-Men TV show binge a few years back, Hubby used his love of Game of Thrones - both the world and the struggle for central power - to finally do what I had been begging for all year: start up a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. He created five main families that all the players would either be a part of, or a bannerman for. Much like how he has people roll in to their parentage on X-Future, Hubby had us roll in to our families for this campaign. I happened to be the eldest child of the ruling family.
My character Airis Castilien is a pompous brat hungry for power, but knows she has to be patient and tactile in order to get it as a woman. Funny thing about Airis' name. Originally, when Hubby was reading off names from the generator he found, he pronounced it "Air-ess", and I picked it simply because it nearly matched the pronunciation of "heiress"; which seemed too fitting. However, we are now discussing that with a last name like Castilien, her name might actually be pronounced "Air-ee"; very French-like.
Anyway, Hubby spent the first half of December building his world for our Game of Thrones-inspired D&D game. I even gave him one of my nicer notebooks recently, that way he can keep main things - such as city names and main family trees - organized in a permanent place. Between witnessing Hubby do his own world building, studying the maps included with the GoT DVD sets, and watching the EPIC title sequence, my own desire to work more on Gyateara was rekindled. We also recently purchased the GoT board game - thanks to some Amazon gift cards for Christmas - and so the whole thing is basically Risk played out on the main continent of Westeros. Which means I have a huge and more detailed map of the main setting for Game of Thrones. I have something else to really research for my own world building. Awesome! Plowing through the 3rd season earlier this month didn't hurt matters, either.

Using the generator Hubby found to help him world build really helped me too over the past month. I love it, and swear by this thing!
Fantasy Name Generators
I also had a bit of a confidence boost when I found out that George R.R. Martin - the writer of A Song of Ice and Fire; the book series Game of Thrones is based off of - has been writing these since '91 and is still only about five books in; working on the sixth since 2011. I also finally officially committed to the world name of Gyateara. It was always a placeholder that I just happened to fancy, but felt it was a bit heavy-handed. "Oh, you took the Greek and Roman words for Earth - Gaia and Terra - and mushed them together; changing out some letters? How crafty..."

However, after really thinking about world names from successful shows, movies, and books they were based off of, I felt more confident in Gyateara. I mean, it's no worse than Pandora, Terra, Middle-Earth, Gaea, or Westeros.
I don't know if it was the world building in general, or if it was my realization that this world I'm working on IS Gyateara, or if it was simply because of watching Game of Thrones, but I became inspired to work on another of my Divine Legends. However, it turned out to be more than just another story about the Gods of Gyateara. I ended up creating a whole people and culture based on the story I was working on. I was so entranced by this concept that I even missed an update week in December because I was too busy working on it. The people I created were based off of the Dothraki from GoT. I ended up writing in a way I never have before: like a tour guide talking to the reader, but not truly in first person. There was a LOT of research in to wolf anatomy, as well as a combination of my own mind and the generator for coming up with my own original Sandikir terms. All-in-all, when I was done it was definitely too much for The Divine Legends, and so I created a new anthology specifically for this story and others I might make similar to it: The People of Gyateara.


Throughout the year of 2014, I managed to write five new short stories to include with my X-Future: Snippets. I had four original stories written this past year. Three created my first original series anthology - The Divine Legends - the fourth needed that second original anthology: The People of Gyateara. I hammered out a chapter during NaNo. I also shortly worked on a collaborative story with Ronoxym; Please, Let Me Explain. I'm really hoping he'll start that back up again.

So... for a year that I thought was pathetic in regards to writing, I managed to write and post nine short stories, one chapter, and 13pages of a collab story. I also did a decent chunk of world building for the X-Future reboot idea. Not too shabby after all!

I also started up my own writing group twice; doing a bit better the second time around. Plus, most of my posts started with "I had no clue what I was going to write about because I didn't do much writing this week" but I always found something to talk about and ended up with about 1000-word post. Just proves that I am indeed a writer and I can always find a story; I just need to motivate myself to get to typing.

It was a trying year and one I'm glad I'm past. However, I'm also happy that I ended up doing a LOT more writing than I thought I did. All-in-all 2014 was actually a fairly good writing year. Go me!


  1. I am glad to see that you have not given up writing. You are a writer but you just have a lot on your plate. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Goals are important but make them realistic. I enjoy your Zzzwritings but like your cousin Evan said, "she is a great writer but I don't understand what she is writing about", I agree. You have s gift to tell stories. You write about things I don't understand which is ok because I see pictures in my head as I read your work. You write like the author of the Harry Potter books. They are great but just not my thing. I am still waiting for my love story which some day you will write for me I am sure. Also never give up on your dream. You Are A Writer! !!!! You have your Dad's talent. He wrote stories about worlds I didn't understand also. So go forth and concur.
    Hey I am still waiting for my paved driveway. I love you. MOM

  2. LOL. My "zzzwritings"? Does that mean I put you to sleep?!

    Still not sure what you two mean by "don't understand"... what parts can I clarify? Or do you mean the actual stories? Because I HAVE written love stories... they're just Hey Arnold fanfiction. XD

    I guess I put so much pressure on myself because if I allow myself to slack it may take me until I'm 60 to finally get anything published! Just like getting a new job, a home, and a kid, I need to keep focused and constantly work towards my goals. So when I slip it's painful for me.

    1. It was early my finger got stuck you turkey lol.
      Like the author I spoke of, you use weird names and talk differently that I get lost or confused.
      You also don't write for me. You do write for your father and he isn't here so I try to read your stuff. Though exist in his world which is nice just not what I am interested in. No offence just honest. He couldn't read some of his stuff either too weird for me. So again nice writing just my cup of tea.