Monday, January 1, 2018

Ring the Old Year Out; Ring the New Year In!

Happy New Year, y'all! It's 2018 . . . and just in time, because y'know how after a new year begins, there's that transition period of trying to remember to date things as the new year and not the old one? My brain decided that we had to be different and so I keep accidentally dating things as 2018 instead of 2017. It's very annoying, especially since I thought 2017 was actually a good year. Among other things, it included:
  • Writing and editing a total of 129,321 words in three major projects and a handful of short stories, which included:
    • Fight Song (draft completed; editing and posting in progress)
    • Blood in the Snow (written, edited, and submitted to Rooglewood's 5 Poisoned Apples contest)
    • Destinies and Decisions (first edit/third draft in progress)
  • Participating in two Camp NaNoWriMos and NaNoWriMo, including my first November as a NaNo Rebel.
  • Assembling a professional portfolio and completing a substantial number of design projects, including two infographics (which I may share at some point, because I'm super happy with them).
  • Moving from New York back to Virginia (huzzah) and repainting my new room.
  • Watching the rest of Merlin and roughly one third of Fairy Tail.
  • Cosplaying as Captain Elizabeth Britworth, steampunk time traveler and airship captain.
  • Reading 93.5 books (which is a little lower than usual but at least they were mostly good books).
What, then, does 2018 hold? Obviously, I don't know for sure, seeing as I'm more Lightweaver than Truthwatcher, but as usual, I have several goals for the year in a few different categories. For the record, these aren't exactly hard and fast, I-must-do-this-or-die-trying goals. If 2019 rolls around and I haven't accomplished all of them, I'm not exactly going to be torn up about it. They're just things I want to aim for on the principle that even if I fail, I'll have gotten somewhere beneficial.

Writing Goals!
  • I am setting myself a writing challenge every month so that I write more regularly.
    • I have built myself a reputation for finishing things. For getting things done. For being someone who works steadily, if not always swiftly. It's accurate . . . but when you look at my writing, it's not as accurate as it once was. Not as accurate as I want it to be. There was a time I wrote every day, or nearly so. I finished one story and started another the same week. Not everything I wrote was good, but enough of it was, at least for my level of skill. But lately, I feel like I write and edit in fits and starts, bursts of words during NaNo events or when I feel particularly inspired, and nothing in between.
    • I cannot let this go on. I can't afford to. And I don't want to. I want to know what I could do if I wrote now like I did once. How much could I finish that's been in progress too long? How much could I begin or revisit that I've denied myself because I have so many projects unfinished? I have stories growing that I want to tell, some of which have been maturing for a long time, and I want to get myself to a place where I can write them and write them well. That means I need to start writing on a regular, daily, basis. And so: writing challenges.
    • That's not to say that every month will be a NaNoWriMo-level goal. I know that's not sustainable, not when I have classes and work and friends to attend to as well. Some months will just be a hundred words or a short poem per day. But as long as I keep writing or editing daily, or nearly so, even a small goal will be enough.
  • What do I intend to accomplish with all this writing and editing? Well, I have a few main projects:
    • Finish editing and posting Fight Song. This should probably be my top writing priority, seeing as I've left y'all hanging for several months now. (Sorry about that. Blood in the Snow kind of consumed my writing life.)
    • Write a short fiction piece a month. Ideally, this will be something that I can post here on the blog. It could be anywhere from a few-hundred-word sketch to a five-thousand-word short story, depending on the idea. But I'm becoming steadily more wordy, and I need to recapture the ability to write short. Plus, I really need something to balance all the editing I plan to do, and I hope this will help.
    • Finish rewriting Destinies and Decisions. Honestly, I need to sit down and decide exactly what plot changes to make and what to keep. Once I do that, I think this whole process will go a lot more smoothly, especially since I was at one point pretty excited about where I was going with the story. And after I'm done with the rewrite/edit, I can figure out where I'm going with the series from here.
    • Finish editing Between Two Worlds. Katelyn keeps poking me and reminding me how fun she is to write and hinting that she's ready for another adventure, and I can't do that until I complete this edit of her first story. Plus, this should be comparatively easy project, since I don't plan on any major changes to the plot.
    • Participate in all three NaNoWriMo events. I'll probably be editing things for at least two of them so that I can continue to work on the other goals I've already outlined, but NaNo is fun, and I missed it in 2016, and this past year has proven that I can do NaNo and college as long as I don't mind being a bit of a rebel. So, yeah. I'd like to write something new for at least one of the events, but established projects are higher priority.
    • I suspect all that will keep me busy for most of the year, but if I finish early . . . well, I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe I'll start a new novel or novella; maybe I'll work on another editing project; maybe I'll actually start actively trying to get published. After all, Between Two Worlds is one of my two top picks for a novel debut. We'll have to see what happens.
  • My goal for the month of January is 15 hours of writing, editing or worldbuilding. That'll be about half an hour a day, which should be doable even allowing for homework, friends, and exercise, as long as I don't procrastinate. It'll also allow me to build up a bit of a buffer if I need it. Depending where I am about halfway through the month, I may adjust the goal, but we'll see what happens.
Reading Goals!
  • I'm setting my Goodreads reading challenge at 77 books, as opposed to my usual 99. This is for a few reasons. For one thing, I wasn't able to make 99 this year, and I don't want my reading challenge to be a stressful thing. For another, all the writing and editing I already talked about is going to keep me pretty busy. As for the third reason . . . well, C.S. Lewis told me to do a thing, and so I'm doing it.
  • Confused? To make it more clear, a quote:
    • "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones." - C.S. Lewis, "On the Reading of Old Books"
    • I read this essay in November and have been chewing on the ideas ever since, and in the end reached the conclusion that Lewis is, of course, right, and therefore I'm going to take his challenge. I'm not bold enough to try one old book for every new one, but one old to every three new I can do.
    • As for what that means exactly, I've laid down a few ground rules for myself:
      • An "old book," for purposes of this challenge, means anything written before 1963. Most people whom I've asked have agreed that a book is "old" if it's more than 50 years old, so 1963- 55 years ago- works on that end. 1963 is also the year of Lewis's death, which I thought was quite fitting.
      • The old books do not have to be entirely first time reads, but at least some of them should be.
      • The exception to that: anything by Tolkien qualifies as an "old book," even though some of it may have been written after 1963 and quite a bit of it was published after his death in 1973. This exception mostly exists because I don't feel like sorting out when exactly he wrote whatever book of his catches my eye. Also, I eventually want to read the Beren and Luthien book that just came out, as well as his translation of Beowulf, and now seems as good a time as any.
      • I cannot read exclusively Lewis, Tolkien, and Austen, even though Lewis alone could probably last me a year or two and I want to read literally basically everything he wrote.
      • I don't have to count books I read for class or official news reviews towards my "new books" total if doing so will cause unnecessary stress. Likewise, if I'm home on break, have a large number of new-release library books out, and need to read them quickly so I can return them before I head back to college, I can delay reading the old books that should accompany them. The goal of this challenge is to broaden my streams of reading and thought, not to place undue burden upon myself. 
Life Goals!
  • Finish reworking the blog. If you haven't noticed, I have three nice, new writing directories up top. I haven't had much time to work on the blog design since I finished those, but the next thing I have planned is a new header. I have the design in mind; I just have to see if I can make it work!
  • Keep doing martial arts. I've really enjoyed the class this past semester, and I want to keep going- especially since some of the new people in the class are catching up to me and thus I should get to start learning new stuff within the next month or so, as long as they keep coming! I'd also like to start going to the gym on non-martial-arts nights more regularly, even if all I do is walk on the treadmill or read on the exercise bike for half an hour. I've slacked off this past year, and I need to step up my game!
  • Continue to survive college. Obviously. If I can keep my GPA too, that would be lovely. (Not that it matters greatly, since I don't plan on going to grad school and I'm not in the sciences, but it's currently a very shiny number and I want to keep it that way.)
  • Actually try tabletop roleplaying. I said this last year too, and I thought I'd found a group at one point . . . but no one responded to my attempts at contact, and so I've come to the conclusion that it was a hoax. At this point, I'm about ready to advertise for other players if I have to- the problem is that at least one of those other players has to be willing to be the GM.
  • Brush up on my German. Not that I have much prospect of going to Germany any time soon, but still, you never know when it'll come in handy. And if I pick it up again now and stay in practice this time, I'll be more than ready when I eventually do get to Germany- which I will someday, one way or another. I'd also like to pick up another language if I can, but we'll see how that works out.
How was your 2017? What goals do you have for 2018? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and have a great year!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)    


  1. I have not been reading your blog long, but I do have to say that I love your Sanderson references! Have you read Oathbringer yet?!?!?!

    1. Well, thank you! I'm actually reading Oathbringer now- I only have about 200 pages left, and I'm pretty sure that the Sanderstorm's either hit or is just about to hit. It's magnificent. Have you read it yet?
      Thanks for commenting!

  2. That idea of committing reading old books is intriguing! (Buuut... I'm not sure how many non-Tolkien/Lewis/Austen classics are on my TBR... maybe this would be a good way to broaden my reading experience!)

    I think it would be really interesting to try tabletop roleplaying - sadly, I'm nowhere near Virginia xD And I'm trying to learn German through Duolingo; I started with the intention of seeing how it and English are similar.

    Sounds like you have an exciting and busy year planned - I hope your writing, especially, works out well! :D
    - Jem Jones

    1. I'm glad you think so! (And yeah, that is an issue . . . I hope to end up reading a bunch of epic poetry, though, plus there's Shakespeare, so . . .)

      Aw, too bad. :( And cool! How do you like it so far?

      Thank you! And thanks for commenting!

    2. Romeo and Juliet is the only Shakespeare I've ever read (thanks, Senior English) - the rest are all firmly in the "maybe one day" category! Epic poetry sounds cool.

      There are a few fascinating elements of German that I'd never even considered - such as the articles changing depending on whether they're for a subject or object, and the nouns being capitalised (I guess I just thought the mid-sentence capitalisation was random??). I'm enjoying it!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.