Creative Ink Fest 2016 – Recap

No pressure.

Creative Ink Fest was the most relaxed conference I’ve ever been to. I’m not sure if it was just because I wasn’t on any panels, or because I knew a few people there. I think a large part of it was that we were all writers (or artists) so it felt like a gathering of peers.

This is the conference’s first official year, so it was quite small, but incredibly organized (thanks to real life wonder woman Sandra Wickham). No panels ran overtime and they pretty much ran themselves. Even if I wasn’t feeling particularly social there were plenty of panels to attend, so there was never any awkward standing around. I even got a little writing done during Ink Club time.

It was also nice to reconnect with local spec fic writers. I met a few new people, and recognized a few from VCon a couple years ago.

The idea is to keep growing this festival on the When Worlds Collide model. I’m looking forward to next year and being more involved when the kiddo isn’t as needy.  It’s nice to refuel the writing fires.

Now the downside: I’m still writing a first draft, but now I’ve thought up a dozen ways I need to edit it. I know that if I do I’ll go down that rabbit hole and never climb out. BAD Theresa. STOP.

Do you edit as you go, or not until you’re done?

April Recap

P. S. Will you be at the Creative Ink Festival? If you are, see you there! You won’t find me on any panels this time, but I might be helping out. As always, just say hello if you spot me.


And next, here’s April’s stats.

Writing days: 12
Brainstorming / Research / Plotting : 11
Days baby slept through the night: 8

Read:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

Recap:

I was worried that the story wouldn’t come together, but things kind of gelled at the end of the first week of April. I’d been jotting down scene ideas for the past month, without a clear idea of where they’d go, but there was enough plot there to get started with.

4 novels later, I also finally set up a template for organizing characters and world building. This way there’s only one place I need to go if I forget what the currency is called, or what countries there are on the map, names of minor characters and when they show up. I always forget these things, especially names. I’m horrible with names. This falls into the territory of boring, but necessary.

I’ve also got some (terrible) pictures for you.

Office improvements

An update on the standing desk wobbliness: fixed by adding an adjustable table leg from Ikea. My key requirement was that it had to be adjustable like the other side of the desk. It’s not screwed in, but stable enough because I added some some non-slip rubber padding. Bonus points because the leg is the same colour as the other legs!

Office improvements

I have a small bulletin board but it was clear it wouldn’t be enough to handle the plot for an entire novel. Instead, I put some painter’s tape up behind the door in this weird little niche. Unfortunately the toddler has discovered the pretty papers and likes to pull them down, so I’ve had to only use the upper portions of the wall. It still works. :)

And, still not luck on the sleep front. I was sick. Baby was sick. Teeth are showing up left and right. There is much screaming at bedtime… so I’m going to focus on the words, because damn, it was a good writing month.

The first draft of this novel is already 30% done, and it’s only really been two weeks of writing. That’s crazzzzy talk. I’m never this productive – ever – except now. I wish I could bottle this. I’m not sure how long the lightning is going to last, but I’m going to ride it as long as I can.

And how was your month?

A Book Breakup Letter

Dear Book,

I know we got off to a tentative start. You were packaged beautifully enough, and so many people said we’d get along, so I took a chance. I was happy to invest my time even though we didn’t seem to have a lot in common. I thought that I might have to get to know you a little better to see if we really clicked.

I’m sorry to say that this is the end. I don’t want to waste any more of your time, or mine, because clearly this is going nowhere. It’s not you, it’s me. Work’s been so busy lately, I haven’t been getting much sleep, and I just don’t have the energy. Maybe the timing was all wrong. Maybe we could have had a good time if I was younger, or maybe if I was a little older. I don’t really know. Maybe I’ll run into you again someday, we can pick up where we left off, and by then we’ll have grown into one another’s tastes.

You did show me a few new things, and I’m still grateful for our acquaintance. I hope that you won’t take this the wrong way.

Regards,
A recovering compulsive book finisher

Being a Parent Can Make You a Better Writer

Being a parent can help you be a better writer, and that doesn’t get talked about enough. Instead, you usually hear about how little time you’ll have, and how hard it can be to look after a young child and keep writing. When I found out that I was pregnant, I was honestly terrified I’d never find time to write (or have time for myself) ever again. I’d seen friends drop off the face of the earth after having kids, and that scared me too.

This post isn’t really for those of you who already have kids, but maybe for those of you thinking about children and a little worried like I was. Yes, your life will change, but it can be a positive change.

First of all, a caveat for the women: your hormones will go up and down before and after having a child. You don’t know how your mood might be affected, and sometimes the bad effects snowball when you dump sleep deprivation on top of them. Post partum depression is real too (and you should see a doctor if you suspect it). If you breastfeed, your hormones might not balance out until months after weaning. For me it wasn’t until more than a year after giving birth. For you it might be weeks or months. If it’s taking longer than you expect, don’t worry, you haven’t lost yourself. Be kind. If you can’t write for a while (I couldn’t), it’s okay. Eventually baby will sleep through the night and you’ll feel new again, I promise.

Some of the good things…

You get super good at squeezing tasks into short bits of free time.  The baby is napping, QUICK! eat, shower, do laundry! There’s nothing like a crying baby for a timer. Pomodoro technique? Try ‘while the baby sleeps.’ It’s like rolling dice.

You just experienced something crazy and wonderful. You survived sleepless nights, you know how much punishment your body can take, or not. You get to be reminded of what it’s like to be young again. All of it is more realism for your story toolbox.

You have a little person to write for and to tell stories to. You get to watch their imaginations develop and help them grow into future readers.

You gain perspective. Yes, rejections are still tough, but they’re nowhere near important as the kiddo tugging on your leg. You might find it’s so much easier to let them go, not just because you have no time to dwell, but because they are just a small part of your life.

And you know, sometimes you need a break to recharge. By the time you have time to write, you could be itching to create so badly that you’ll have super amazing outputs.

Yes, parenthood can be really tough at times, but there’s so much good stuff to experience too. It’s all worth it.

Related Reading: If you feel like you’re falling behind in life, don’t. You are exactly where you need to be.

ALSO NEWS!!!! I’m super excited to announce that I have a story coming out in POC Destroy SF. You can check out the table of contents here.  This is the first story I wrote post baby :)

March Recap

Writing days: 1
Brainstorming / Research / Plotting : 18 days
Days baby slept through the night: 5

Read:
Salt and Iron by Tam MacNeil
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

As you can see, there was DISASTER on the sleep front, but the new novel’s boiling away nonetheless. The world and characters have fattened up enough so plotting was possible.

This time around, I’ve been trying to imagine where the story might actually go if it were to become a trilogy (whether or not I ever write more than the first book). I’m finding great pleasure in sewing the seeds of future discontent.

But things have been going slower than I’d planned. I’ve only just begun plotting, though my goal was to be done with it before the end of March. We’ll see what April brings! I’m excited to start the writing.

Invisible Returns

After reading Julie’s post, I started thinking about how many of those ‘invisible returns’ I’ve gotten from writing, because on those rough days, sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this at all.

There’s a reassuring sense of purpose you only get when you know what you want to do or accomplish in your life. Writing gives me that. No matter if I sell a story or not, it feels like I’m using my gifts/talents towards something instead of wasting them.

There are all my writer friends. You are the best. Honestly. You’re all amazing, and so quick to cheer one another (I see you) whenever someone is having a bad day, or cheer along all those mini milestones (like daily word counts) that no one else would think is a big deal. No one else gets it like you do.

I get to live multiple lives at once, to make my dream worlds real enough for other people to experience. I get to daydream and call it work.

Writing gets me out in the world. It’s a way to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise, or possibly affect people I’ll never meet. I’m a very introverted person so I have to actively work on not shutting everyone out. It’s good to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, and writing workshops, conferences, or even just reaching out to people are online are some ways I can. Even submitting stories into the wild is an opportunity. Each story is a little sending from my heart. Who knows who might answer?

And yes, I think I’ve gotten better at this writing thing. I think I may have finally cracked the short story nut, even though I still prefer novels. I can plot like mad. Level up. 

So who knows what’s next? I’m happy that there are possibilities for my work getting out into the world. Whatever happens, I just know that I’ll still be doing this. I couldn’t stop even if I tried.

What do you get out of your writing?

Procrastinating As Usual

The first words are always the hardest and I don’t know why that is. Whenever I start a new story, it feels like there’s a dam I need to break down before the words start to flow. Right now, I’m scratching around the base of that concrete block by throwing some outlines down, trying to be clever on twitter, and pretending that I’m not really writing.

Why is it so hard to begin? (You don’t really need to answer) The blank page is intimidating. It’s worse than a spotlight on a stage. These are different butterflies, ones that don’t say “if you mess up it’s okay, just smile and keep going”, no one will notice. These are more like moths, threatening to eat through your sweaters so you’re standing there naked.

As always, the cure is just to write.

But, maybe after I’ve checked my twitter feed and written a few blog posts…

(It always begins the same way)

February Recap

Just thinking about the goals I set down at the start of the year and how things have gone so far. After more than a year away from writing, I’ve been so hungry to see progress.

Feed me.

January
Writing/editing days: 6
Days baby slept through the night: 8
Other: Adjusting to full time day job again

February
Writing/editing days: 15
Days baby slept through the night: 18

Completed fiction: 1 flash piece 1500 words (SOLD), 1 science fiction story 4300 words (on submission), 1 horror(ish) story 3700 words.

January / February Reading list

  • Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  • Deathless – Catherynne Valente
  • Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  • The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes
  • House of Shattered Wings – Aliette de Bodard

Recap

As you can see, I’m also trying to see if there’s a correlation between sleep deprivation and the amount of work I can manage. My reading did drop off in February, because I’ve been a little more focused on writing. 3 finished stories is also a record for me. I’m not very prolific in the short form and my average output is 1 short story a year. I think that the time off has actually done me well, writing wise. Who’d have thought?

Onwards, March! It’s time to brainstorm and pick a novel project. I’ve got two options, both of which have potential and problems. I need to figure out which one looks like more fun.