Friday, January 3, 2020

(Belated) November + December 2019 Doings!

It feels a little weird to be doing a recap post for November and December of last year after doing all my New Year 2020 posts earlier this week, not gonna lie. But I also know that if I don't do this post, I will eventually need to look back at it for some reason and then be frustrated that it doesn't exist. (For the record: I do occasionally go back and reread my Doings! posts, so this isn't out of the question.) So, let's get going. Because I'm covering two months, I'm going to try to stick to just the highlights and general themes — which is really going to be all I remember anyway.

Writing!

  • NaNoWriMo occupied most of November, obviously, and is 50% of why I basically didn't post at all in November. As you may or may not remember, my goal was to complete a nonfiction piece and a D&D episode every week, and I pretty much accomplished that. Was it anywhere near 50K? No. But I didn't think it would be, so I'm counting it as a win.
  • I have also determined that I have roughly the same relationship with creative nonfiction as I do with poetry: it can be fun to write, and I can do some really cool stuff with it, but it's not my natural state. I can't just sit down and write creative nonfiction if I haven't been mulling over an idea for a few days (a fact that caused more conflict than I'd like between my professor and me). Fantasy, on the other hand — if I'm not burned out and don't get distracted, I can sit down, review where I am in my novel or my campaign, and get a solid chunk of writing done regardless of how "inspired" I am.
  • But I did submit some of the pieces I did to actual lit journals and stuff, so we'll see if anything comes of that.
  • And Season 1 of my D&D campaign had a pretty good finish! Everyone had fun, and while the finale wasn't quite as awesome and amazing as I hoped (mostly because all the prelude to the final battle took waaaaay longer than I expected and we were all tired by then), I think it still worked well. And I've been working on Season 2 over break, and I have about half the episodes summarized. (Are they the half of the episodes I need? No. But they're there.)
  • In terms of actual novel-writing, I was able to write some over Christmas break. I've adjusted my novel's timeline a little to make certain things happen sooner than I originally planned. And I'm still trying to figure out how to get my POV characters to actually interact. But I'm excited about what's coming up, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to work on it a lot more this coming semester.
  • And, of course, I wrote the New Year's short story that I posted a few days ago! If you loved Luis in Mechanical Heart, you want to meet Luis, or you enjoyed last year's New Year's story, please do check it out!

Reading!

  • I actually read a surprising amount in November? Most of which I could've sworn was in October? But apparently, I did a lot of stress-reading.
  • Definite highlight of the two months: Sorcery of Thorns, which is basically one of my top three books of the whole year and absolutely amazing and yeah. In case you missed my Best of 2019 part two post, it's pretty much what might happen if someone took Howl's Moving Castle and crossed it with The Invisible Library and Abhorsen. So, yeah. It's amazing. Read it.
  • I've also been working through the Grishaverse books over Christmas break. So far, the original trilogy was ok but not amazing (other than Sturmhound, who is awesome), the Six of Crows duology is as excellent the second time around as it was the first, and the four chapters I've read of King of Scars are solid but cause considerable pain in the feels.
  • The main highlight from November was Death Be Not Proud, which is Snow White in jazz age New Zealand. It's every bit as good as that description implies, and I definitely recommend giving it a read.
  • Besides that, I read H.L. Burke's latest books, and both were pretty enjoyable. Heart of the Curiosity is steampunk, which Burke does well, and features a sister duo who I greatly appreciate. And Prince of Stars, Son of Fate was fun and twisty and somehow made the forbidden romance trope work in a way that I liked for once.
  • And, of course, I have to mention Heather Dixon Wallwork's The Enchanted Sonata, which is a pretty delightful retelling of The Nutcracker and which was my Christmas read for this year. It's more of an inspired-by sort of book, though, when it comes down to it . . . but, honestly, most Nutcracker retellings are more "inspired by" than "retelling." I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I don't think it had quite the same spark as the author's other books.

Watching!

  • I basically watched nothing at all at Cedarville, mostly because I didn't have time to watch anything.
  • At home, I watched the usual Christmas movies — A Charlie Brown Christmas, White Christmas, The Grinch. I finally watched the new version of the Grinch and thought that it was ok, but it's far less powerful than the original. (I have a long-ish diatribe on why that is, and it hinges a surprising amount on the Grinch's treatment of Max. If you're curious, ask in comments.)
  • I also watched a couple more episodes of Doctor Who (I'm almost done with Season 2), an episode of Psych, and the first two episodes of an anime called Made in Abyss because I needed something to do while knitting and didn't feel like listening to audiobooks. Doctor Who was good, though the episodes I watched were all a bit weird. Psych I watched because I'd seen two partial episodes while watching over friends' shoulders and enjoyed those, but I don't think it's a show that I'll continue watching on my own — the concept is fun; the humor and main character are more enjoyable when you're not watching alone. And Made in Abyss is . . . interesting? A bit weird, but the concept is good.
  • The most recent thing I watched (and possibly the best thing) was The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (as usual, I'm about a year behind everyone else). It was honestly a really good movie — it kind of felt as though someone had combined The Nutcracker with Entwined and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I saw a fair number of the twists coming, but not from a mile away, and artistically speaking, it was a pretty gorgeous film — frosted fairytale-toyland aesthetic with some delightful hints of steampunk throughout. A bit cliche at times, but still, I'd rewatch it.

Life!

  • The semester is over; glory hallelujah. It was a great assortment of classes, and I learned a lot of cool stuff, but I had too many high-workload classes and too many extracurricular responsibilities going on at the same time, and that became very apparent in November and December, and the quality of my work suffered because of it. And, yes, everything got done on time, and I'm fairly satisfied overall with how my final projects and exams and such turned out in terms of quality, I am not 100% satisfied with the grades I got. And I know it doesn't matter long term, but . . . yeah. It happened, and I'm going to leave all the school stuff there.
  • (I did learn how to do paperback binding, though! And actually bound multiple paperback books! And taught other people how to do it too! So that was cool.)
  • There were three highlights to November: birthday celebration, Thanksgiving, and cheese night.
  • For my birthday, my friends and I went to the new Mexican place that just opened in Cedarville and then went to the Ayo dance showcase, and it was a seriously awesome time. I'm not sure if I enjoyed the food or the showcase more, to be honest. But I do know that I'm definitely going back to the Mexican restaurant.
  • Thanksgiving was fun; my sister, my sister's roommate, and I drove back together, and we survived the trips both there and back. It was nice to have some relaxing time at home, and I got to do some baking. (I made two types of roll, one regular yeast and one sourdough, and both turned out well.)
  • And then when we got back, we had cheese night in my dorm. My roommate and I have been toying with this idea for a while; basically, we invite a bunch of people to get together, bringing with them assorted fun and fancy cheeses and things to eat with cheeses, like crackers and grapes and apples and sparkling cider, and then we just hang out and have a good time. And it was a very good time! Even though I was loopy for most of it! I ate much yummy food, and we played Avalon, and it was just generally a lot of fun.
  • December, of course, was mostly occupied by Christmas, which was had in stages: the TDK Christmas party in November (a success), Christmas with my roommate (featuring gingerbread cookies that she decorated while I did statistics homework, because situational irony is a thing), Christmas with the Bible study (featuring a kids' Christmas play that didn't involve people playing multiple roles, along with some very delicious baked potatoes and a surprising number of people my age) and Christmas at home (featuring me, as usual, working until the last minute to get knitted gifts done).
  • Christmas at home also featured a lot of baking; I made super soft molasses cookies two days before Christmas, sourdough pizza Christmas Eve, and a cranberry apple pie on Christmas day. (And I helped my mom with biscotti because I've never made it and want to learn how.) Everything was pretty delicious, even if my sister thought I put too much cheese on the pizza.
  • AND I FINALLY MADE A SOURDOUGH LOAF THAT WAS THE RIGHT SHAPE! Behold the beauty:
  • (And then I made another loaf for my aunt when she came to visit after Christmas and it was not as pretty. But oh well.)
  • (I'm also currently making a non-sourdough artisan loaf based on the latest baking challenge on Sally's Baking Addiction, and I'm super excited to see how it turns out.)
  • As I mentioned two points ago, my aunt and cousins came to visit after Christmas. It was nice to see them again, and we went to the Air and Space Museum while they were here, which I haven't been to in ages. I kind of ended up getting separated from the rest of my family at the very start of the museum . . . but it's fine. I had fun.
  • New Year's Eve was also pretty fun; we got together with our Bible study as usual for an early countdown and lots of good food. And I got to see some of my old friends who moved away two summers ago, so that was fun.
  • I feel like a lot of these highlights center around food. Mostly bread and cheese. I'm not entirely sure what that says about me.

January Plans

  • I already talked about writing plans in my 2020 Vision post, but as a recap: I'm aiming for 300 words or 30 minutes of writing per day on either my novel or my D&D campaign. I'm also going to try to start gathering some info that I need to figure out my rough publishing plan.
  • (I'm also messing around with a D&D one-shot for some friends who are interested in trying D&D but don't want to commit to a full campaign yet, so we'll see what happens with that. My main campaign takes first priority, obviously, but I have a rough outline for the one-shot, and . . . yeah. We'll see.)
  • Classes start up again next week, so obviously, that's going to take a lot of my time. I'm excited, though; I have my last two professional writing classes, two web design classes (well, one and a half), a graphic design class, and a one-credit honors class. And even though I have a 9 AM and an 8 AM, I have nothing in the afternoons any day except Monday (when I have the honors class), and I only actually have two hours of in-class lecture time per day (with, again, the exception of Monday). Online classes are glorious.
  • (I'm also hoping very much that I can do a repeat of last spring semester and get a couple weeks ahead on one of my web design classes so I'm not as stressed later on. That would be nice, but we'll see how it goes.)
  • Speaking of stress, as I mentioned in my 2020 Vision post, I really need to buckle down on figuring out the after-college stuff. So, applying for jobs, obviously . . . but also thinking about grad school? Maybe? My parents recently brought it up as a possibility that I should consider, so I need to figure out if it's worth doing now, later, or not at all. And obviously, that'll take longer than just January, but I need to meet with people and get advice and all that sort of thing.
  • Beyond that, most of my plans revolve around trying to make sure I have time to do fun stuff like watching Avatar and other shows with my roommate, actually going to Nerf wars (and maybe ASL club, if I manage to relearn enough of what I've forgotten), and having a board game night or two (assuming other people have time for that . . .). Y'know, fun stuff with friends, since I only have a few months left with most of them. (And now I'm sad . . .)
How were your November and December? Did you get any good books (or other stuff) for Christmas? What plans do you have for January? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)    

2 comments:

  1. I'm currently watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars for the first time on Disney+. Hasn't been available in NZ except at huge prices until now and I'm really enjoying it. I'm currently in the middle of the Geonosis arc in the second season. The first two of four have been a strategic campaign and that type of episode is my favourite in this series.

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    1. Oooh, cool. I want to watch that, but I don't want to commit to Disney+ until I know I'll have time to make it worth the money. :P Hope you continue to enjoy!

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