Monday, December 28, 2015

Reflection On 2015

I didn't think I was going to be able to find time to work on this blog again next week. I might have to deal with the fact that yet another year passed that I wasn't able to get 52 updates in. I've done a lot better than the last two years. A lot closer with 50 posts; maybe 51, we'll see how this week goes. The last time I had 51 posts in a year was 2012, so there's that. Maybe 2016 will be the year of true weekly posting all year long.

As possibly the last post I make this year, I want to reflect on how 2015 treated me in the writing department. I don't want to think about how it treated me otherwise...

I won't go as in depth as I did last year, but I do want to do a reflective overview.

I had six resolutions that I wanted to follow this year in order to improve my writing and make it a much more serious part of my life. I started out real well with all of them, but none made it through the full year.

Resolution #1: No More Than Three (3) Zero Days In Any Given Week

    I haven't talked about Zero Days in MONTHS. That in an of itself is a bit pathetic. What I need to do is what I've been suggesting to my fellow writers at my bi-weekly groups: get a small pocket calendar whose sole purpose is for me to mark what days I write. This way I can keep track of my Zero Days and try to eliminate them. As of now, I have no real recollection on how long I was able to keep up with this resolution. Heck, with help from my MasterClass in September and October, I even had a set writing hour. Still, I barely wrote anything this month, and I don't recall writing much more the previous month. So, at the very least, this resolution fell apart two months from the finish line. Most likely died months before that, though. I guess I'm trying to tackle this beast again this upcoming year. With the improvements I made this year, though, maybe I can actually follow through with this in 2016.

Resolution #2: Read At Least One Book A Month

    Oh, this one died and died hard. I missed January. I read in February. And then I spent the rest of the year painfully slowly reading two different Rick Riordan books: "Percy Jackson's Greek Gods", and "Kane Chronicles: The Throne of Fire". Normally I tear through Riordan's books, but there's just something about these two. Hubby and I try, lord we try. We love Riordan's Percy Jackson books so much. Even when the first Heroes of Olympus book didn't include Percy at all, we still loved it. The Kane Chronicles though.... Out of all mythology, I was also the biggest into Egyptian, and so I thought I'd love this series the most. Nope. Something about how he wrote the two main characters Carter and Sadie just makes them seem whiny and spoiled. It kept a while to go though the first book in the series too. Still, I try. And here it is, like eight months later, and I'm only about half way through the book.

    As for "Greek Gods"? Well, it has Percy's playful snarkiness, but there's something a lot more childish about the whole thing. Sure, the whole series of Percy Jackson and Kane stories - and now the newest, Magnus Chase - are written for middle graders. Basically, for 10 through 14 year olds. However, none of the other novels, even the Kane Chronicles, really READ as aimed towards kids, per se. "Greek Gods" just really hits home to me that I'm reading something aimed at a 12-yr old. It's still fun, but I ended up using it more as a reference book than one to read cover-to-cover. I'll give it another go, though.

    All-in-all, my point is that I have struggled through two books, and even then, I barely set any time aside for reading. At least I read three books last year. This was just pathetic. Granted, the main reason why writers should read is to see how others have honed their skill to tell stories, therefore improving the reading-writer's skills as well. And me? I do that, just through analyzing TV show, movie, and video game writing instead. It's not an excuse for me to have such a pathetic reading record, but at least it's proof that I AM doing what reading is supposed to for writers, just, with other medias...

Resolution #3: Log On To Writers’ Huddle Forum At Least Once A Week

    I was doing really well on this one too. After I caught up on my backlog of posts, I even did what I suggested at the beginning of the year: evolve the resolution to "be an active member of the Huddle at least once a week". I was doing soooooo well. Then November happened. Once again, during the last two months of the year I fell off the face of the planet in regards to that site. If any Huddlers still read this blog, know that I love you, I miss you, and I'm going to try this resolution again next year.

Resolution #4: Complete At Least One Writers' Huddle Module

    Oh, yeah. Didn't even bother with this one. Not even the module where Ali Luke Skype interviewed me for part of the lesson on NaNo. I kept meaning to, but just didn't have the discipline to sit down and go "OK, This one. Now. Go."

    I feel a little better that I at least did the MasterClass that my mom gifted me. It's the same basic principle as to why I wanted to do at least one module this year. However, I still feel like I'm wasting my WH's membership by not being more active on the forums, and by never doing any of Ali's modules. This is yet another resolution that is getting another go in 2016.

Resolution #5: Beta Read And Return Notes Within A Fortnight

    Um, yeah, about this one.... Especially after the MasterClass, and hearing how quick James Patterson is with his notes for his co-writers, I really REALLY wanted to stick to this one. However, no one really gave me anything to Beta this year. I mean, I did hop on whenever Ronoxym had something new for me to read, but that was mostly because I was so excited about the story that I was ready to gobble up any advancement he made. Plus, I knew that if he was in the mood to write that I needed to jump on that and get notes back to him ASAP before his writing attention drifted to a new project.

    The only true beta request I received was from poor DFL just before Thanksgiving, and I have yet to do more than open the document she sent. Considering it's a good 100pgs, it's a bit daunting, but I still should have read at least 15pgs by now to get back to her about things. Baby steps. Still, November and December have been a complete writing hole. I think THAT'S what I need to conquer next year. In the meantime, I REALLY need to start beta-reading DFL's story!

Resolution #6: Have At Least Six New Stories/Chapters And 52 Blog Posts Published Before The End Of 2015

    You know what? Aside from missing two weeks this year, I think I actually accomplished this one. It didn't look good for most of the year since I was so laser focused on Please, Let Me Explain, and I haven't been able to update that since February. However, I did post a couple new chapters of X-Future: The Second Generation Begins after Ali's Summer Challenge on the forum. I also started posting those super-short one-shot writing prompts after joining the writing group a couple months ago. All of that bumped me up to my goal for this year; barely at eight total prose updates, and nearly all at the end of the year. Still, it's one resolution I didn't completely fail at, and so I'll take it!
For any of you that somehow missed the stories I posted this year, here's my complete list.

From "Please, Let Me Explain":
"Chapter 1: Devon's Cell"
On DeviantArt           On FanFiction

"Chapter 2: In the Kitchen"
On DeviantArt           On FanFiction

From "X-Future: The Second Generation Begins":
On DeviantArt           On FanFiction

"You're In Trouble, Son!"
On DeviantArt           On FanFiction

And for my original writing, I have the newest anthology of my Writing Group writing prompts:
"Fashion Gone Bye"

"Memory Tap"

"The Power of Pink"

"What a Crumby Day"

Alright, so I at least have that. I have eight updates this year. Not the larger chapters or fresh new stories that I was originally planning, but it's something. So. Tada!

Even with all of my failings at these resolutions, I have grown a lot as a writer.

I may become busy and miss one or two, or post a few days late, but for the most part, I have learned to set aside time for me to update this blog regularly. That's the first improvement.

I've taken that MasterClass, and I joined that local writing group. Even if I don't feel up to going, or I'm too busy to take two hours out of my week, or I slacked off and don't have anything to read, I still force myself to go. It's a way to really demonstrate to myself that writing is important enough for me to make a priority in my life. Plus, I always feel weird NOT having something to read at the meetings, and so it forces me to sit and write out the writing prompt at the very least. It may not be much, but it keeps me writing even if I don't feel like I have the time to. It forces me to MAKE the time. Another improvement.

It only lasted about a month or so before life got chaotic, but for a brief point in time I spent an hour a day on my writing. I may have spent that hour researching. Or spent it plotting. Or spent it character/world building instead of actually sitting and writing prose. However, it was still more than I usually allotted myself, and so I am proud and going to try to get back to this again. I enjoyed making writing a priority, and seeing how Hubby really supports me vanishing for an hour a day doing so. Improvement number three for 2015.

I've become a bit more confident in my writing, and have picked up on what I need to really focus on in order to make my stories better. I've taken a few chances with writing decisions I've made - you'll see this when I post my next writing prompt - and while I may not be 100% on board with how the story turned out - such as with "What a Crumby Day"- others seem to enjoy it, so that's what I care about. I'm challenging myself to break from my comfort zone in writing. I'm also enjoying being a sort of writing mentor of my own with a few of my friends and the ladies at the writing group. I still feel like a teenager in a world filled with mature, accomplished writing adults, but at least I now feel like an 18 year old instead of 14. Small improvement, but improvement none-the-less.

While I am hoping for a drastic improvement in my overall life come 2016, I am content knowing that I can build on this year's writing success to improve on my craft even more next year.

Who's coming with to see how it turns out?

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