Friday, February 2, 2018

January 2018 Doings!

Hallo, all! So, January is a weird month. The first half, the holidays are over and you're on break and everything's chill. You've got plenty of time to read or write or whatever you want to do, and you're only really limited by the hours in the day. And then halfway through the month, you head back to school, and suddenly it's all due dates and reading assignments and your professors start off the first non-syllabus class with "so your first project is . . ." and it's honestly a little overwhelming. And it doesn't stop. It doesn't even slow down. You just get used to having too many things to do and accept that it's going to be that way for the next several months. And, on that note, let's look back and see what my too-much-to-do looked like!

Writing!

  • If you remember, I said at the end of December that my first writing goal of 2018 would be 15 hours of writing and editing over the whole month, or about half an hour per day. I didn't quite make 15- I ended up with 14.86 hours- but I think I still did pretty well. Most of that was spent in editing, but I did have a few really awesome writing days when I got in a solid hour or two.
  • That said, after spending all of November and December working on Blood in the Snow edits and all of 2017 in general working on either writing or editing 30K+ stories, my inspiration kind of revolted against long projects. So, a lot of my actual words this month were tied up in four short stories.
  • Two of those short stories are for the Indie e-Con writing contest, which is kind of cool in that it gives you a prompt that seems pretty characteristic of a particular genre and then tells you to not write in that genre. The other two short stories are just random bits of narrative that I came up with. One, "I'll Take the Lashes," I posted here earlier this month. The other is urban fantasy involving dragons and was going to be posted here, but then it informed me that it has a sequel, or might possibly be the start of a novella, and now I don't know what to do with it. So, yeah. That's a problem.
  • I did manage some editing on Fight Song, though! Updates will hopefully resume by the end of February, assuming I don't get hijacked by short stories. I'm currently in the middle of what is simultaneously one of my favorite and least favorite scenes in the novella- favorite because I like what happens as a result, least favorite because it contains a more physical fight scene and is therefore very hard to write.
  • And I finally downloaded Grammarly, after being told by multiple people that the ads actually aren't lying. I'm . . . not sure how I feel about it. For the web, it's great. For Word . . . Well, it's better than the default spellcheck, which was starting to mark errors that weren't there, but it's not as context-aware as I'd been led to believe.

Reading!

  • So, the picture is a little deceptive, because it says I read ten books, but one of those was a short story (A Blazing Seal of Approval; it's fun and on C.B.'s blog; go read it), and another I actually only read about 300 pages (out of 1200-some) of in January and the rest in December. For those who can't guess- yes, I'm talking about Oathbringer, which is amazing and awesome and the best in the series and ADSLKJFLKSDJF. There's intrigue and politics and epic battles and Kaladin and Important Revelations and Shallan and Dalinar having crises and humor and Lift and new places and an absolutely magnificent climax and more info on surges and Wit and screaming spren. Also, Taravangian is a dragon-kissed snake and I want to scream in his lying face.
  • Anyway. Obviously, nothing else I read this month could top the magnificence of a new Stormlight Archive novel, but there were some other pretty fun reads. The rewritten My Kingdom for a Quest is good, though I almost think I like the new Sew better. Exiles wasn't my favorite in the series, but it did show us around more of Ilyon and put more spotlight on Daniel, both of which I enjoyed. I also finally got around to Magician's Rivalry, which Deborah O'Carroll has been recommending to me for absolute ages, and I quite enjoyed it. The Prisoner of Azkaban was also good, but it suffered from the fact that I've seen three million and fifty-one Mauraders headcanons on Pinterest and therefore know exactly who Sirius Black is and what he did and did not do and yeah. Also, Remus is kind of a wonderful person and needs a hug.
  • As you might notice, I did start rereading Tolkien, but only finished The Hobbit this month. Then Fellowship of the Ring got interrupted by my newspaper-review book for the month, An Enchantment of Ravens, which I just finished yesterday and am a little in love with. It's an excellent story on its own, with a sensible artist heroine and a dramatic faerie prince (as if there were any other kinds) and intrigue and excitement and snark. However, it also critiques a trend I'm growing increasingly tired of and frustrated with: recent literature's obsession with fair folk and other magical, immortal beings. Now, I will readily admit that I enjoy a good portrayal of the darker side of faerie courts as much as anyone, and faerie princes tend to be snarky-but-noble, which is just plain fun. However, I do think that a lot of literature lately has taken those things to an extreme, and An Enchantment of Ravens nicely shows the folly of such obsession, with a heroine who succeeds not by finding some hidden magical power within herself but by her own humanness.
  • And, yes, as you've noticed, I didn't really manage a classic for every three new books . . . hopefully February will go better.

Watching!

  • I started off the year right by watching the Lord of the Rings extended editions with my sister! Other than FotR in September, I haven't watched the trilogy in a couple years, so revisiting it was definitely awesome. And the fact that my sister was watching for the first time made it extra special. The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains my absolute favorite movie ever (yes, I qualify it as a single unit), and it just gets better the more times I watch it.
  • Otherwise, my watching has just been more of the usual: lots of Fairy Tail! The S-Class Trials arc was pretty awesome, even if it did include an angsty emo villain. Actually, come to think of it, there were multiple angsty, emo, or just weirder-than-usual villains . . . but there was also Gildarts and Loke and Freed, who haven't been getting enough screen time lately, so I'm not going to complain. The current arc, Key of the Starry Sky, is . . . less impressive. Still not bad, though, so far.

Life!

  • So, like I said, the month started out pretty chill: writing, reading, watching LotR, and so on. My dad and I attended a portrait photography workshop, which was . . . well, not exactly what I expected, but still cool.
  • And then I headed back to college and CUE THE PANIC THE CLASS SYLLABUS SAYS WHAT?????
  • So, yeah, long story short: I decided to pick up a minor in graphic design, having been assured that my total lack of drawing skills wouldn't matter except in maybe one class. Then I looked at the syllabus for what should've been one of my two easiest classes this semester, and I HAVE TO KEEP A SKETCHBOOK what I did not sign up for this!
  • Thankfully, the professor is very understanding and assured me that I don't have to be a good artist to do well in the class; I just have to improve. And, since there's nowhere to go but up from my current skill level, I should be fine. It's still magnificently stressful, though. So is Professional Editing, which is absolutely, without a doubt, my least favorite class of the semester. The material isn't hard to understand, but it's arguably the least creative of anything I've learned so far in my major, and it requires a particular type of patience which does not come naturally to me. It's not that I hate editing as a whole; I'm happy to go over a friend's paper or story or whatever else and help them make it better. I actually enjoy that, but my enjoyment comes more from my investment in the person (or sometimes the story) than from the actual editing. Do I get some satisfaction from correcting a mistake or finding a way to make an idea more clear? Sure I do. But that satisfaction is compounded according to how much I care about the piece I'm editing or the person I'm editing for, and so the class, in which I'm pretty detached from everything I edit, causes more stress than pleasure.
  • On the upside, the two classes I thought would be most stressful- Documentation Design and Adobe Illustrator- have actually been super fun and chill, so that's nice. Apparently "documentation" includes a lot more than I thought it did? So I just finished making a cookbook with recipes that can be made in the college dining hall and I'm super happy with how it turned out. And now I'm working on a quick reference guide to go along with the cookbook. And I can make things in Illustrator now,  and they look actually nice and it's so satisfying even though half of what I'm doing is really just tracing or shape manipulation and yeah. I love it.
  • In non-class-related news: I got to do a lot of board- and card-gaming this month, which was super fun! One of my hallmates owns Exploding Kittens, and my roomie got Codenames for Christmas, so I've been playing a good bit of those. Plus, the roomie introduced me to Fluxx, which is a super-fun card game with ever-changing rules and objectives, and I love it. Hopefully I can find an excuse to play it again soon . . .
  • I'm still doing martial arts, of course, despite a few hiccups with the instructor not making it to class. Thankfully, another student (who also teaches martial arts when he's at home) filled in and showed everyone some jiujitsu-based self defense. While I really like the usual instructor, and I look forward to his return next week, I enjoyed getting some lessons from another perspective. The substitute instructor basically built on what we'd already learned in the class, showing us what to do if some of the self-defense we'd learned didn't work and how to actually use some of the other moves we'd gone over, along with answering random questions about how to defend ourselves in this, that, or the other situation. And the way he had us practice felt sort of like sparring, which was exciting . . . and also exhausting, but you know. It was still good.
  • In addition to continuing martial arts, I decided on a whim to finally give swing dancing a try as a sort of reward for finishing my first big project of the semester. Friends have been telling me since last school year how fun it is, but I just never made time to try it. Now that I have, I really enjoyed it- but I'm also glad that I waited, so I could have someone show me the basics one-on-one, instead of trying to catch up with the rest of the group. I'm definitely going to continue to go to the class the rest of the semester, as long as time allows.

February Plans!

  • Aaaaand now it's February, which is arguably the dullest month of the year. For being two or three days shorter than all the other months, it always feels astonishingly long. Classes will keep me plenty busy, though; I have reasonably large projects coming up in almost all of them.
  • Outside of schoolwork, I intend to keep my half-hour-a-day goal but modify it slightly. I'm now aiming for a half hour a day, five days a week. That'll give me a bit more buffer for when schoolwork (and, occasionally, events) keep me busy but still ensure that I'm keeping a regular schedule.
  • I also hope to join in on the February is Fantasy Month festivities hosted by Jenelle Schmidt. Last year, I didn't do much, but hopefully that'll change this year. We'll see. Jenelle is hosting word wars on Facebook, so I'll definitely try to take part in those, if nothing else.
  • That's . . . pretty much it, honestly. Like I said, February isn't all that exciting a month.
How was your January? Any plans for February? Are you excited for February is Fantasy Month? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

2 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed An Enchantment of Ravens! And yes, Remus is wonderful. He's tied with McGonagall as my favorite Hogwarts professor. I love how kind he was to Neville. Oh, and the cookbook you put together sounds like so much fun!

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    1. Agree! And McGonagall is wonderful as well.
      The cookbook was fun! Plus I had an excuse to make yummy food, so, yeah, that was great.

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