More on the upcoming year, in regards to writing. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about voices in my stories. It’s a tough subject to tackle, especially in a short-form blog like this, because there’s so much nuance packed in there. What kinds of voices? Whose voices? Am I talking inclusiveness of characters, or am I talking about the style of storytelling I happen to be using? Am I talking about dialogue or am I talking about language? All of the above or something else entirely?
Sometimes I feel as though I keep writing the same story over and over again, just using different backdrops. Granted, I’m reading and rereading and revising my own words over and over again for so long, to the point where it all starts to blend together and I can’t help but see all the similarities between a character in A Division of Souls and a character in Meet the Lidwells, two completely different stories with completely different settings and styles. What I have to remind myself is that I’m not hearing the different characters…I’m hearing me writing those characters.
This was one of the reasons I was thinking of taking some time off in 2019 before embarking on another novel project. I want to find a new voice within myself. I want to continue to tell my stories, but I feel like I’ve written everything I wanted to write with my current voice. And that voice has changed over the years, but my stories haven’t. It’s time to get realigned and bring that new voice to the forefront.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working out how I’ll do this and start fresh on January 1, like I always do. I’ve already done my Year End/Year Ahead post the other day, so I can just post my whiteboard schedule plans and call that done.
As expected, I’ve spent the morning switching things over. Calendars to put up (Hokusai prints), whiteboard schedule to lay out (see above), plans to put into motion (ditto). I said I was going to have a busy 2018, and I wasn’t planning on spending Day One being a lazy ass. Wouldn’t make a good precedent.
There’s not too much different on the whiteboard, as you can see. The blog update schedule will remain as is. I decided to put the Dreamwidth blog (DW) up there on Sundays and Wednesdays, as I consider that my personal (non-writing or music) site and I really should be a bit more social there. It’s also time to reinstate the daily words (750) to get me back up to creative speed. Lastly, I reinstated the Art, Poetry and Music beats to the schedule, more as a ‘get back into the habit’ than an assignment prompt or deadline. The only two things I don’t have listed are my personal longhand journal — which I always write during my morning break on weekdays anyway — and whatever Main Project(s) I happen to be working on, which don’t need reminding.
[Out of shot to the left, which you may have seen from my Christmas picture, is the clipboard that has a more detailed, long-term To-Do list that I will be working on over the course of the year. And yes, it takes up a few pages.]
I’ve also decided this morning that I’m going to change up my morning routine as well. I’m not entirely sure what this will entail, but we’ll see where it goes. My normal routine at present isn’t anything I have to do right then — email, Twitter, webcomics, usually in that order — and it’s not as if I’m really wasting time, but I’m curious to see if I can utilize that time better with other things. Maybe a bit of longhand work? Or stretches/exercise? This is less about me being economical with my time and more about mixing it up to keep from getting bored or stuck in a rut. This sort of thing tends to change every couple of years for me, and it’s about that time now.
This isn’t to say 2018 is going to be All Creativity All the Time. I’ll take nights off to watch movies and anime with A. I want to expand my reading list, and maybe check out more audio books and podcasts. I’d really like to get back into shape so a few days a week at the Y will do me good, as will cutting down on snacks and junk food. And just getting out more, being more social, getting some air and sun. I spent a lot of 2017 in self-imposed hiding for one reason or another, and I’d like to change that.
Here we are, second day of 2017. The writing whiteboard has been updated, the blogs have been updated, plans have been made. Sure, January 1 is an arbitrary First Day of the Year, but that hasn’t ever stopped me from the ritual of taking stock of the past and making plans for the future.
So I say this: Bring it on, 2017. I’ve got plans for you.
As you can see above, I’ve reinstated the daily 750 Words to the whiteboard. I’ve also added a second day for ‘art’ — which is actually a catch-all for multiple platforms, including photography, drawing, and more. The blog schedule remains the same, as it’s been working quite well.
But I also have plans that aren’t on that whiteboard. Longer-term plans that are currently in my head, waiting to be sketched out on my normal calendar (this year’s selection is lovely paintings my Hokusai). The release of The Balance of Light, the scheduling of new writing projects, the planning of future ones.
Will this work, in reality? Well, I have to make it work. Sure, I’ll be juggling all this with the Day Job and IRL stuff, but I’ve done it before. I kind of let most of this get away from me near the end of 2016, though for an honorable reason: I had to do some serious longhand surgery on TBoL before I could attack it digitally. And once that’s taken care of (current deadline: end of this month), I’ll have a lot more time to work with.
I’m also in a good frame of mind to be able to focus on these goals with little distraction. That was a long time coming, with a lot of false starts and frustration, but I believe I can even further this year. I’ve got a lot more clarity and focus this time out. And as mentioned previously, I’ll be attacking the business end of my writing career with gusto this year as well. It’ll be tough, but I’ll do the best I can.
I plan to be busy, in a good way. And I’m looking forward to it.
2015 was definitely a banner year for me. One of my best writing years in a long time.
I trunked a majority of dead story ideas and created a number of new ones to work on in the future. That was a big move for me; finally letting go of stories that no longer sang to me, and making the decision not to revive them. That’s always a tough move for a writer, but it has to be done to clean house, so to speak, to make way for newer and more robust ideas. By retiring many of these stories, I’ve given myself more room to focus on the new Mendaihu Universe story, as well as others not in that universe.
I was more consistent with my other creative endeavors that aren’t exactly for public consumption (yet): writing daily journal entries, photography, poetry, artwork, and playing guitar. Are these ever going to be shared elsewhere? Who knows…I’m not aiming to be a semipro poet, artist, photographer or musician for the moment, as these are personal and not professional projects. Things I do purely for selfish enjoyment. I’m able to push myself and get better at them without having an expected plateau to hit.
I hit one of my highest goals of seeing the trilogy out in the wild by self-releasing A Division of Souls as an e-book (and soon to be available as a trade paperback). I was also included in Uniquely North Quabbin, a collection of essays about the area of Massachusetts where I grew up. The trilogy was an extremely long term project for me (spanning over a decade, technically over two), so releasing it has very much given me a sense of closure. I can finally move on to new projects, both within the MU and elsewhere.
So what does 2016 hold for me?
On the professional end of things, I’ve already made the choice to have at least three books to be self-released next year: the second and third book of the trilogy, The Persistence of Memories and The Balance of Light; and my memoir/music book Walk in Silence. I’ve been working on all three since October, just after I released A Division of Souls, so I’m still on schedule to see these come to fruition. TPoM should arrive early next year, WiS sometime late spring or early summer, and TBoL by autumn.
After that, my writing calendar will be disturbingly, frighteningly clear for the first time in ages.
Which means that I should look for another project to focus on. If I’ve learned anything from the trilogy project, it’s that I now understand the level of dedication and focus I should give to my writing. Whatever project comes next will be given that same amount of dedication and focus.
Do I have ideas? Yes I do! There’s the new Mendaihu Universe novel that’s currently on pause while I get its related novels out. This one probably won’t see the public eye until 2017. Then there’s the musical family idea (aka The Lidwells Story) that’s also on the backburner. That one’s a compact standalone, and a very rough draft has already been written via my daily words earlier this year, so this one could very well be another quick turnaround.
But other than that? It’s wide open. I’m as curious as you are about what I’ll write next.
Speaking of daily words, I’m hoping to return to writing them via the 750 Words website in the new year, especially now that I’ll have more time for them. This is where many of my recent ideas have arrived on the scene, so I think I’d be remiss in passing it up. The key is to not be stressed out about it. The point is not to ensure I write 750 or more words on a daily basis, but to exercise my imagination and have fun with it.
I haven’t updated my whiteboard schedule yet, but I usually end up doing that on January 1, so you’ll see that post tomorrow. Oh! And speaking of updates…I plan to have a much tighter and more frequent schedule here at Welcome to Bridgetown as well as Walk in Silence. Maybe one or two posts a week for starters, but I’d like to expand on that later on. I’d like to expand on the subjects I write about as well. As much as I love talking about college radio or how I write, I’d like to investigate different avenues related to writing and music. Different genres, different processes, that sort of thing.
Other than that, I’m going to revel in the fact that the road looks much clearer than it has in years. I want 2016 to be the Year of New Things. I’m really looking forward to where it takes me.
Between the trips to New York City and London, the weekend plans, multiple work-related issues and everything else, I’ve been so full up that I’d made the decision to clear the whiteboard schedule, temporarily stop work on a lot of creative projects, and focus only on the most important ones. That meant that I focused almost all my creative juices on the new Mendaihu Universe story. Little by little, I let a few things in as time permitted, such as guitar practice and photography.
Now that all the major events are out of the way for the time being, it’s time to get back to the grind and open up the floodgates a bit more. I’ve replanned the whiteboard schedule again; I’m not filling it up too much just yet, but I’ve added art, music and work on the Walk in Silence book back into the mix, and moved the updating of the WtBT blog to Mondays. I may revisit the daily 750 Words if time permits. And musically, I have a few ideas I’d like to record in demo form as part of the Drunken Owl project.
The temporary hiatus did have its positives, as I was able to provide better focus on what needed it, and still have time to relax. I was also able to recalibrate how I viewed my writing — not just the output but the style, and looking at what can be adjusted — to the point that I should also be able to do the same with my other writing projects that I put aside. Long story short, I’ve realized that the best practice (to borrow an annoying work-related phrase) for me is to do most of my writing longhand and use my PC time for revision and rewriting, and that’s how I plan to work from here on in.
These last few months have been a relaxing reprieve, but I’ll say this: it’s great to be back on schedule again.
I’ve been hinting at a new and improved writing process for a while now. Taking a hard left and going in a completely different direction. Looking at my creativity from a vastly different perspective. Working with a new whiteboard schedule. Being more consistent with updating my WordPress blogs. Starting totally new projects, and seeing old ones off.
Well, it’s a little bit of everything, really. Let’s just say I have a very busy 2015 ahead of me, in a positive way.
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Let’s start with the new whiteboard. [For those not too interested, scroll down to the next break for some fun news!] Each day has something to do, as you can see from the picture…but noticeably missing is any mention of a main project. This is a continuation from what I’d been doing with the previous whiteboard the last few months. I know what main project I’m supposed to be working on, so I don’t feel I need to put add it to the board. Also, I’ve decided that this is not going to be a “this is what I’m doing today” to-do schedule but a “this is due by today” deadline schedule. This gives me more freedom to create something when I feel like it, and also gives me the impetus to create a surplus if need be (more on that in a few moments). Here’s what I have set up:
Sunday: Welcome to Bridgetown blog. Even though this blog is dedicated to the stories within the Mendaihu Universe that I’m writing, I will also be featuring more entries about the writing craft. My weekend blog entries (such as on the good old LJ) tend to be longer and more contemplative, and channeling that into writing thoughts and MU extras seems like a good idea.
Monday: Storyboarding. What is this, you say? Am I thinking of going into film or animation? Well, no, not as such, but this is something new I’d like to try out. It’s an exercise in brainstorming. It can be anything from brief outlining of a current work in progress to playing around with new ideas. But yes, it could even include art!
Tuesday: Art. Doing the Inktober meme last year definitely inspired me to start drawing again, so this is a reminder to keep that alive. This will also serve as reminder to post any ongoing or finished artwork up on the Tumblr site.
Wednesday: Poetry. I’m starting to be more consistent about this one lately, as I’ve often been using my daily word run on 750 Words as a playground for poetry ideas. It might be just a few stanzas, or it might be epic in length, depending on the subject and what I want to write about. These will most likely remain offline for now, although if I’m particularly proud of the end result, I may post it somewhere.
Thursday: Walk in Silence blog. This one remains my all-purpose blog to write about music, and I felt that moving this to Thursday would be perfect, for two reasons: One, new releases come out on Tuesdays and it sometimes takes me a day or so to connect with the ones I buy or download. Two, because in my aim to become more consistent in my blogging, I’m going to be posting micro-reviews of new releases, alongside other music-related subjects I may want to talk about. As with this blog, I’m planning on writing more entries than releasing them so I can create a backlog, and therefore have a more consistent release schedule.
Friday: Photos. I’m continuing to get better at my photography, learning more how to tweak pictures using Photoshop, and so on, and I’d like to feature more pictures on my Tumblr. Taking inspiration from a photographer I follow here on WP, I’d like to challenge myself by taking things other than panoramas or architecture; I’d like to try still life and nature, turn it more artistic, even if it’s just for practice.
Saturday: Music. One major project for 2015: start recording! I’ve got feasible software on my computer (Audacity), a small microphone, and a handful of song and melody ideas, so I think it’s high time I reignited the Drunken Owl project by making demos here in Spare Oom Studio. I’m not planning on anything big, so it could be anything from short snippets to revisiting old Flying Bohemians tracks, and playing around with them. I’d also like to do more research into more extensive software that could possibly let me record and mix multiple tracks.
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I should also add that a good portion of this year will also be spent submitting A Division of Souls to agents and publishers. I’m hoping to get the Mendaihu Universe out into the wild within the next year or so.
All this, in conjunction to whatever main writing project I have going on. And my day job. And a personal journal. And my daily words. Did I manage to leave some time for eating and sleeping, and hanging out with Amanda? Let’s hope so.
But wait, there’s more!
I’m proud to announce that I have not one but two self-published projects I’m planning on releasing into the world sometime this year as well! I’m thinking epub at this point, although print could be involved, depending on which self-publishing company I end up working with to produce and release it. These are two projects I’ve been working on over the last few years; one is complete and the other is about three-quarters of the way done.
The first will be a book version of Blogging the Beatles, the series I started over at the WiS blog a few years back, in which I listened and talked about the Beatles’ discography in chronological release order. I had so much fun writing it, and learned so much musically as I studied the songs, that I felt it would be perfect for an ebook. I’ll be revising it and adding new items as I do so, and hope to have this one out at least by midyear.
The second will be Walk in Silence itself. This one’s the biggie. I’m about three quarters of the way done on the more personal side of the story, with revision number two to add in more about the music. This one may roll into 2016 if other issues pop up, but the aim is to get it out into the wild by autumn 2015.
Of course, releasing books about popular music could be tricky considering the rights involved, but since I’m not directly quoting the music but only commenting on it, I think I should be okay. These are both books focusing on my love of music, in particular about a band and a genre that inspired me and shaped who I am.
So yeah…you should be seeing more of me here at Welcome to Bridgetown and elsewhere, so stick around–it’s gonna be a fun ride!