Saturday, March 3, 2018

February 2018 Doings!

I'm tired, y'all. Of course, that's par for the course this time of year. Even when I have an easy courseload (which I currently don't), the spring semester is much harder to get through than the fall. As a result, this won't be a terribly long Doings post, but there's still some both good and bad to report.

Writing!

  • Confession time: I've been struggling with writing and editing this month. As in, I've spent the whole month editing one chapter. Part of the problem is what's in the chapter; it's basically one long fight scene. The other problem is that I decided to expand the fight, so I'm writing new material instead of streamlining existing prose. To top it all off, the chapter ends with the entrance of a friends character who I really want to get right but haven't worked with in a while. So, yeah, that's been a struggle.
  • Original writing hasn't been much better. I've dabbled a little bit on a short story for the Indie e-Con contest, but I haven't worked on it long enough to get anywhere, and I'm not quite sure what's going to happen with it. This is the second half-finished short story for the same contest, mostly because I keep starting things without knowing how they're going to end and that's the worst possible thing to do with a short story.
  • I did join up with Kendra E. Ardnek's Golden Braids writing challenge, so that's something! The challenge was inspired by (and, to some degree, created to replace) the 5 Something Somethings writing contests hosted by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Essentially, a lot of writers are, over the next year, going to write retellings of a particular fairy tale, in this case, "Rapunzel," and those so inclined will take part in a big group release like the Three Sleeping Beauties one that happened this past August. So far, all I've done with the challenge is list off my many Rapunzel ideas, but I'm excited for what's coming.
  • Overall, I managed to write and edit a total of 5,619 words and 10 hours. That's less than my goal, but I guess it could be worse.

Reading!

  • Even if writing hasn't gone well, I've had a decent month reading-wise. The first week was a little dry; all I read was The Reluctant Godfather, a unique take on Cinderella. I enjoyed it, though I definitely wasn't as in love with it as a lot of my friends are. Part of the problem was that I spent a fair bit of time wanting to shake both halves of the main couple for various reasons . . . but overall, it was pretty enjoyable.
  • Next up was Into the Wild, a worldview book written by one of my Cedarville professors about the problem of evil. It's definitely not my usual genre or subject matter, but I still enjoyed it. It's insightful and doesn't pull punches, but it's also extremely readable, the sort of book you can get a lot out of even when you're tired.
  • Beyond that, all my books this month are from my college library's Blind Date With a Book event. I love this event for a lot of reasons and this year, I took full advantage of it by checking out four blind date books. The first two, Court of Fives and The Adoration of Jenna Fox, both had interesting concepts and worldbuilding but were flawed by cliche characters. The third, a graphic novel of A Study in Scarlet, was a good adaptation of the source, but I didn't care for the artist's style. (The fact that I, like 90% of the internet, now have Benedict Cumberbatch firmly established as my picture of Sherlock Holmes probably doesn't help.)
  • My last blind date book, which I'm currently reading, is Watership Down. I'm fairly certain that people have recommended this to me before? Or, at the very least, it's almost a classic, and so I've been pointed towards it for that reason. I'm enjoying it; it seems like the sort of book that would happen if C.S. Lewis, Megan Whalen Turner, Brian Jacques, and one of the major classic-dystopian authors (not sure which one) sat down and decided to write a story together. However, Watership Down has also raised a question in my mind: what is it with books about small, cute animals turning out so storming intense, even dark? I mean, Watership Down reads like something between dystopian and Queen's Thief-esque fantasy. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is on the lighter side, but it still involves characters being experimented on? and then characters die at the end and you don't know which ones? (unless you read the spin-offs/sequels, but those are less well-known, I think). The Tale of Despereaux involves, among other things, a girl being abused and essentially sold into slavery by her father and a minor character who's doomed to die by wandering a pitch-dark dungeon until he starves. And, much as I loved Redwall as a young teen (despite the predictability of the plotlines), and much as I applaud its portrayal of good as good and evil as evil and its emphasis on peace, community, and food, if the series were written about people instead of animals? They'd be considered adult books just because of the intense situations and the number of characters who die or almost die, especially the books based in Salamandastron or around the hares and badgers in general. (If anyone reading this doubts me, go reread The Long Patrol and reconsider.) Seriously, does anyone know what's up with this? Because I'm really curious.

Watching!

  • Fairy Tail, as usual. I'm still working through "Key of the Starry Heavens" and facepalming at character stupidity, both of the usual honest idiocy kind and of the "MY VOWS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY MORAL COMPASS!" kind. I think I find the second type more annoying, personally, because with the first type it's kind of like "Ok, you can't really help it," but with the second I'm like, "You have proven in previous encounters that you have a brain. You used it to beat up the people I like, but I can see why you did that. SO WHY AREN'T YOU USING IT NOW WHEN THE FATE OF THE WORLD IS AT STAKE?"
  • Yeah. If you can't tell, this is a really painful arc to watch.
  • Also, I've been right about almost every plot twist I've predicted so far. I'm not sure whether to be satisfied or frustrated by that. Since I haven't guessed every single plot twist that actually happened (but was right about the ones I did guess), I'm going to call it a good thing. Good-ish, anyway. So, yeah. Hopefully, I'll finish the arc over break, since we still have a lot to watch and we want to be done with the show by the end of the semester.

Life!

  • So, this whole month has been characterized by swinging from insane busyness to totally chill with no middle ground WHATSOEVER. It's very frustrating and, frankly, exhausting. That's probably another reason why writing didn't go very well this month . . .
  • Most of what I've had to do has, naturally, been schoolwork, including two shoe illustrations, an editing exam (which was super stressful, just so you know), a problem map about discrimination in media, at least one short paper, and a ton of reading. Most of it was relatively interesting, except the exam and the paper, but yeah. Still a lot.
  • The first weekend of February was the spring play, which was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. My C.S. Lewis class from last semester got back together for the afternoon and went to see it together, and then the professor had us over for dinner— he's pretty awesome, if you can't guess, and his wife makes some of the best chili I've had outside of my own home, so I really enjoyed that bit of the day. The play itself was ok; the set design, the acting, and the costumes were all pretty great. However, the script they were working off of wasn't the greatest and was definitely meant for a younger-than-college audience, so . . . yeah. Not the theater department's greatest triumph, though they definitely did the best they could with what they had.
  • Then, the weekend after the play, my aunt came down to visit, so that was nice. We went to see my great-aunt (who doesn't live too far away) and then had dinner out. I got back just in time to dash off to Bible study . . . only to find that I was the only one who wasn't too busy to show up. So, in lieu of meaningful conversation about 1 John, the professor who runs the study and I played two games of Carcassonne, both of which I lost but enjoyed anyway. And the day after, I ran into one of the other people who usually attend and teased him about how he'd missed a rousing theological discussion
  • I'm still going to swing classes, if anyone was curious, and so far I haven't been dropped during any dips or other moves, nor have I stepped on anyone's feet that I can remember. So, despite the fact that I can't pull off a quarter of the steps or moves we've learned so far, I'm calling the whole affair a success. I think the biggest struggle for me is that, although I understand in my head what's going on and how I should be doing everything (well, almost everything), and although I generally trust the guys I'm dancing with not to drop me, I tend to stiffen up when I actually try to do the thing. And since swing dance seems to rely a lot on being flowing and relaxed, my tendency is a touch of a problem. I'm working on it, though.
  • Unfortunately, although swing continues, martial arts doesn't. The instructor ended up having to cancel because he had a lot of schedule conflicts and some other stuff was going on as well. Someone else wanted to take over, but the people in charge of the gym decided they didn't want to hire anyone new until next semester. So, no more martial arts for me. I'm disappointed, but at the same time, I'm now only spending a half hour at the gym on Monday and Wednesday instead of a full hour, which is nice. And lately the weather's been so nice that I've just gone for walks in the afternoons instead.
  • Besides midterms, the month ended with PWID's Portfolio Review, an event where all the PWID students who have portfolios get those portfolios critiqued by field professionals. And that meant scrambling to update my portfolio and fix some of the issues that people noted last fall, only to be told that some of my major changes needed to be either undone or changed again. I'm not complaining; the advice made sense. Still, it was a little frustrating.
  • Of course, I needed to fix up my portfolio anyway, since I've finally started applying for summer internships. I didn't find as many in my area as I expected, but there are a couple that I like the sound of enough to try, and I'm going to look again sometime soon.

March Plans!

  • March begins with spring break, and let me tell you, I'm ready for it. Granted, it won't be a full break; I have projects I have to work on and class reading to do and so on. But not going to class and spending time with my family will be very pleasant. Plus, I've The Lost Plot and Ink, Iron, and Glass on request from the library and I'm thoroughly excited to read them.
  • As far as writing goes, I think I'm going to aim for an easier goal than the last two months. In some respects, I feel like that's cheating— like I ought to keep trying for the half-hour a day until I can achieve it. But I didn't create these goals just so I could wear myself down, and that's what's going to happen if I keep on as I have. Besides, I can use a bit of a break before Camp NaNoWriMo, and I need time to try to get ahead on assignments so I don't die come April.
  • All that to say: my writing goal for March is 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week, or two chapters of Fight Song and a plan for April. If I can accomplish one of those goals, I'll be happy. (That said, I'm giving myself a free pass until tomorrow because of midterms and travel and all that insanity.)
  • As far as classes go, I'm not anticipating anything out of the ordinary. I have a few big projects that'll come due in the second half of the month, but nothing horrible. Of course, as I said, I want to try to get ahead a bit, so I'm not sure how that will work out.
  • As I said already, I plan to keep looking for internships I can apply for. Motivating myself in that area is a bit difficult, to be honest; summer seems a long time away. But I need to do something to earn money this summer, and an internship sounds much more appealing than running a register at Chick-fil-a.
How was your February? Have any fun plans for March? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

6 comments:

  1. The books you're reading sound really interesting! And where are these writing contests you're entering? They sound cool too. I've been meaning to look into more writing events just to stretch my writing muscles outside of my main novels.

    Good update! Sounds like your life is as busy and interesting as usual. I hope you're able to keep your spirits up throughout stress and tight schedules. :)

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    1. Thanks! As for the writing contests, one is here: https://kendrasgiraffecrafts.blogspot.com/p/indie-e-con-2018-writing-contest.html
      And the other isn't a contest, but it is a writing challenge, and it's here:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/276129629536348/?ref=group_header

      Thank you very much! And thanks for reading!

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  2. I'll be praying for internships! (I'm in the same boat, although it's a little more imperative for me considering I'm graduating, lol.)

    Let me know how Ink, Iron, and Glass is. I traded for an ARC but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

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    1. Thanks! And best of luck with your job search!

      I definitely will!

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  3. Wow, it looks like you've had a busy month. I'm always impressed by the writing that you do manage to get done despite this massive list of doings. You deserve all the cookies. :P

    I hope writing gets easier for you. Your goal for April sounds challenging, but doable. *nod* YOU GOT THIS. And good luck on the internship. :D

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    1. Yeah. Yeah, I did. And thank you very much. The cookies and the praise are both appreciated. :D

      Thanks again! I think this month should go better. I gave myself the first few days off because of circumstances beyond my control, but last night I actually wrote rather more than my required 15 minutes and finished up a conversation I'd been struggling with and YES.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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