Friday, March 6, 2020

February 2020 Doings!

Behold! I live! I apologize for dropping off the face of the earth, blog-wise, the last two weeks. With classes, writing, social events, and the need for decent sleep all coming in front of the need to write blog posts, blogging just didn't happen. And, fair warning, I might be a bit spotty for the next couple months as well. But for now, I'm here (and on spring break!), so let's get on with the Doings of the last month!

Writing!

  • My goal for February was to write 500 words or 30 minutes a day, five days per week. I kept that goal for the first three weeks, and then I gave myself the last week as a grace week because I had a lot to get done before I left on break. Still, I wrote a total of 16,707 words, with an average of 756 words per day, so I'd say that's pretty solid.
  • Most of those words were D&D-related, unsurprisingly. I wrote a one-shot, plus three campaign episodes (one of which could have been a one-shot in its own right — that one involved homebrewing my own monster villain, which was interesting), plus the Valentine's Day short stories. For anyone who missed those, they showcased the first meeting of a pair of NPCs from my campaign from each person's perspective. Ardent's perspective was on Light and Shadows, while Tiria's was on Dreams and Dragons.
  • Outside of that, I did a little more work on Blood in the Earth/Soil, which mostly consisted of finishing up the scene I'd been working on and then writing the first line of the next scene. (That next scene is what I've been working on during break; it's going well. One of the sisters who hasn't been in the spotlight much gets to play a bigger role and interact with Eun-Ji, plus plot stuff is set in motion. It's great.) I also toyed with another writing project, but ended up dropping it because it conflicted with a different novel (or novella) that I plan to write in the future.

Reading!

  • I did a little better with reading this month than I did last month, which is good. I finished up my reread of the Illuminae Files around the beginning of the month. Everything I said about them last month stands; they're excellent books and I anticipate coming back to them many more times. Also, can I reiterate how much I appreciate that the authors didn't give us a grimdark ending? Or grimdark anything, really? I think it's become almost a trend for endings of YA fiction to focus almost as much on what was lost as what was gained, but you really don't get that in this series.
  • How To was also excellent! I think I may have enjoyed What If? just a little bit more, but I think How To is a little more helpful in certain respects. If you're a writer who tries to get some measure of scientific realism in your stories, I'd recommend picking it up; even though most of the advice is sarcastic, there is some genuinely useful information in here (especially if you tend to write dramatic, over-the-top villains).
  • At the end of February and beginning of March, I did a little early celebrating of March Magics by rereading Charmed Life and The Many Lives of Christopher Chant (the first two Chrestomanci Chronicles, nicely contained in one volume) and Castle in the Air. I actually enjoyed both of the Chrestomanci books more this time around than I did the first time — which is saying something; I really like Chrestomanci. And Castle in the Air was, of course, delightful.
  • Continuing the reread trend: Redwall's been on my mind on and off throughout February, so I decided to reread Lord Brocktree to see how it held up. The answer is "surprisingly well" — the prose and technical quality of the book are nothing special, but it's refreshing to read a book where the good characters are solidly good, the evil characters are truly evil, and friendship, bravery, and appreciation of life are celebrated so honestly. I'm toying with the idea of doing a Great Redwall Reread now and perhaps even blogging about it if I have time. We'll see.
  • I also reread 101 Dalmatians after we watched the movie a few days ago. That one didn't hold up quite as well, but it was still fun. There are some delightful interactions that didn't make it into the movie. And, y'know, it's a fundamentally family-oriented story and we all know that I have a soft spot for those.
  • In terms of nonfiction, I've spent the better part of the month slowly reading The Design of Everyday Things, which is, contrary to what I expected, not about the history behind how various ordinary items developed into their modern forms. What is it about? User-centered design, that's what. Is it giving me flashbacks to User Experience for the Web (aka my second-least-favorite PWID class)? Also yes. But it is actually a good book, and it's honestly relevant to some of what I want to do professionally, so I'm going to finish it or go down trying.
  • Not reading but still bookish: I did participate in Jenelle Schmidt's February is Fantasy Month again, though not as extensively as usual. I did manage to sort of keep up with the Instagram challenge for a few weeks, which was fun.
  • Finally, a quick update on how my reading goals are going! I've read twelve books so far this year, which puts me five books behind schedule, but I should be able to catch up without too much trouble, especially if I end up rereading Redwall — those aren't short books, by any means, but they go quickly. I've also only read one non-speculative-fiction book, but I'm in the middle of a second. I'm doing a bit better on reading older books — I've gotten in four of those. I mean, they're all middle grade-ish, and three of them are by Diana Wynne Jones, and pretty much all of them were published after 1956, but still. It's progress.

Watching!

  • Once again, I haven't really watched much of anything this month; I've mostly been too busy. My roommate and I did watch the third episode of Avatar season 2, but that's pretty much it.
  • Well, and my family rewatched 101 Dalmatians while I was home for spring break. That was quite fun. (That's why I ended up rereading the book as well.) It's kind of underrated, and if Disney tries to make a "live action" version of it like they did with Lion King and Lady and the Tramp, I shall be immensely annoyed. (I'm already annoyed about Lady and the Tramp, but there's nothing I can do about that.) Also, the art on older Disney movies? Gorgeous.
  • (I also have a new appreciation for the title sequences of Disney movies after having taken graphic design classes. I know it's not exactly graphic design, but it's related, and yeah.)

Life!

  • Most of this month was, to be honest, taken up by either classes, homework, or writing. As such, my main impression of most of it was of being busy and tired.
  • (Not that classes and homework are bad things, of course. I actually got to design the branding for a fictional university for one of my PWID classes, and it was SO MUCH FUN. Like, yes, it was tiring and it took effort, but there's a reason I want to go into branding and marketing if at all possible.)
  • My roommate and I did make it down to Orion to take advantage of their drink of the month and their Valentine's blooming tea special. So that was fun. The blooming teas look pretty cool, and they come in this adorable glass teapot and it made me quite happy. (Also quite warm, as it was snowing that day. I was distinctly displeased.)
  • On an exciting note, I went to the spring career fair that Cedarville hosts and actually had several very good conversations! I'm not sure if anything will come of them, but I'm hopeful. And the companies that seem to have the highest potential would both mean I'd be spending a lot of time around engineers and scientists, which I would honestly be fine with and would probably even enjoy. (I mean, I already hang around STEM people a lot; why not continue the habit?)
  • On a less exciting note, I officially stepped down as an Inklings workshop leader this month. This is a decision I've been contemplating for several months, and I finally made up my mind after the TDK Academic Integration Conference (which I'm not talking about here because it was largely frustrating for me for entirely personal reasons, but some good things did come out of it). My workshop group has only had one person regularly show up (other than me), and it's been frustrating for both of us — and workshop, in general, has been taking up more emotional and mental bandwidth than I can spare ever since the start of the school year. I feel bad about not seeing the year through, but I think that this was best for everyone (especially since the one person who did come to workshop can now move to a group with actually active people in it).
  • I also spent several afternoons in Centerville so my roommate could take a series of exams that she needs to get into grad school. That wasn't great for my productivity, but it was a nice change of pace. And now she's done with that, and we celebrated with a trip to Lola's Mexican for chimichangas, which were, as always, delicious.
  • And this past week, I've been home on spring break — thank goodness! I've enjoyed being able to relax and spend time with my family and not have anywhere particular to be. It's possible that I should have been more productive over break than I was, but at the same time, I've gotten a reasonable amount done, and I needed the chance to rest.
  • As per the usual, being home meant trying a new sourdough recipe. This time, it was crusty sourdough rolls, and they turned out super well (as you may have seen on my Instagram). If not, behold the deliciousness:

March Plans

  • I'm going back to my January writing goal of 300 words or 30 minutes of writing per day, five days per week. 500 wasn't unbearable, especially with how much I was writing D&D stuff, but I think this will be more manageable. Plus, next month is Camp NaNoWriMo, so I don't want to exhaust my writing inspiration in March and then have nothing left when April hits.
  • I also have lots of books to read, especially since I've gotten ahold of ARCs for several upcoming releases: the Wingfeather Saga rereleases, Moonscript, and Let the Ghosts Speak! I think this is the most ARCs I've ever had at one time, haha. (On the downside, I'm behind on the Wingfeather Saga ones because I can't figure out how to get the ARCs from Netgalley to my Kindle. The emailing thing doesn't seem to have worked. It's a problem.) Plus, of course, I have plenty to reread, and I may try to join in with the Fellowship of Fantasy book this month. We'll see.
  • More importantly than either of those: classes still exist. I want to have my Honors final project at least drafted, if not completely done, by the end of the month, and there's the usual deadlines in other classes as well.
  • In terms of social activity: D&D will continue to be a thing. Also, my friend group is doing a second cheese night the night we get back to Cedarville, and I'm psyched about that. And part of the TDK Quizbowl group — myself included — is going to a tournament at the end of the month, which I'm really looking forward to. (Not just because that means I get to be back in Virginia for a weekend, but also because it's going to be fun.)
How was your February? How do you feel about rereading books you used to love? What movie do you never want to see Disney remake in "live-action"? What plans do you have for March? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah Pennington

2 comments:

  1. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Disney already made a live-action 101 Dalmatians, back in the mid 90s. On the other hand, perhaps this will prevent them from doing a re-make with CGI Dalmatians?
    You get to ARC the Wingfeather Saga and Moonscript! I've never heard of Let The Ghost Speak, though.

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    1. Oh, LOL, I should've phrased my complaint better. I know about the 90s live-action version; we actually own it (though I haven't watched it in ages). I don't have a problem with that one. My problem is with the modern remakes. (Which I think are unnecessary.)
      Let the Ghosts Speak is Bryan Davis's new book. I've read previous drafts of the first few chapters, and I think it'll be good.
      Thanks for commenting!

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