2012 Goal Progress

Now that we’re almost a week into July, it’s time to look at 2012 goal list and evaluate my progress.

0. Get a more stable job or at least turn what I’m doing now into a stable business.
I had a full-time job as a teacher for a few months, but that was temporary in nature due to the school year ending. This means it’s time for the shameless plug. Why yes, I am available for work: writing, editing, community management, tutoring, and other exciting things. In the not so far future (I hope) there will be a page on this site for working with me.
1. Rewrite the first 2010 NaNo.
Haven’t looked at this at all. Oops.
2. Do some kind of physical activity every day. (I’ve been doing well on this so far, believe it or not.)
I was doing great at this for awhile and then… stopped. Granted, I walked a lot when going out anyway (consequence of not having a car), but unstructured physical activity was my aim here.
3. Launch the first Wikiwrimo Writing Month (February!). I’m writing the page for this right now.
Check! And completed!
4. Be more social outside of NaNo. This may mean (gasp) interacting with non-Wrimos.
This wasn’t a quantified goal, but it’s definitely safe to say that I’ve been more social than I was before Nano 2011, both with Wrimos and (gasp) non-Wrimos.
5. Get my finances straightened out.
Still working on this.
6. Do Wikiwrimowrimo, NaNoEdMo, Script Frenzy, Three-Day Novel Contest, and NaNoWriMo. Maybe I’ll do a Camp NaNoWriMo session too if I come up with a plot. (Holy balls, my late winter/early spring is going to be ridiculous.)
Wikiwrimowrimo: Check! NaNoEdMo: Definitely flopped on that one. Script Frenzy: Check and won! The other two have yet to happen. I also attempted Camp NaNo as a rebel but didn’t reach 50k. It’s the first OLL challenge I haven’t finished, but to be fair I wasn’t doing it the pure way anyway, so I’m fine with it as long as I can get a hold of the certificate and winner icons for Wikiwrimo purposes. August, maybe?
7. Go on a date. Note that I said go on a date, not get in a relationship. I am perfectly okay with this one date goal.
I can’t hear you over my laughter regarding my progress here.
8. Learn to cook better.
I’ve made a little progress here but am still nowhere near my ideal point. I can flavor things!
9. Install that home server. Also, if I do get a new laptop, finish The Longest Journey and install Linux From Scratch on the old one. Because I can. 😀
Haven’t worked on any of this.
10. Read 25 books I haven’t read before.
Guess who decided to read the Game of Thrones series this year? I started in mid-January and am halfway through the second book. In July. Part of me is tempted to give up so I can move on to other books, but that’s its own post.

So all in all… I haven’t made as much progress on writing this year as desired, but 2012 hasn’t been bad so far. More hours in a day would be great. There’s a Kickstarter campaign for that, right?


My life at seventeen

After asking several males for NaNoEdMo what their lives were like at seventeen and incorporating their advice into the rewrite of my novel, I figured it was only fair to go through the same exercise myself.

If we ignore the first week of January, it’s safe to say that I was seventeen in 2004, the second half of my junior year of high school and the first half of my senior year of high school, or the part of life I wanted to capture with my characters. This is where I kick myself. See, I was never a normal high school senior. I don’t mean that I didn’t fall into any of the typical cliques or anything like that. No, I mean I was not at my high school during my senior year of high school, channeling my boredom with high school classes into further academic challenge at a local college. I enjoyed this experience, but I knew it would bite me later–not in the social sense (I wasn’t very far up in the social hierarchy to begin with), but in my writing.

That aside, let’s look at my own experiences. I still knew a lot of people, and they knew me, but many of my friends from the first few years of high school had already graduated, and I was in a transitional phase. I was making new friends in lower years while beginning to bond with a few people in my own class. Despite this, I still felt like an outsider to the world around me. Everyone else knew something that I didn’t about how to be social and included. The social hierarchy had been established, and I was trying to get back in.

One of the main things that stand out in 2004 is my academic schedule in the spring of my junior year. I graduated second in a class of 285 students, and the valedictorian of my class and I were friends. I was an academic masochist even back then, and I talked her into taking some of the hardest senior-level classes as juniors. This plan partly backfired because many of the honors and AP classes conflicted with each other, thus screwing with what appeared on the surface to be a brilliant plan. This screwup only affected my schedule; because she had taken a class that I hadn’t already taken, my plan gave both of us insane schedules, but her even more so.

2004 was also my second year of NaNoWriYe (yes, it existed then). I did and won NaNoWriMo for the third time. 2004 was even more difficult thanks to my schedule, but I managed to write something on top of my academics and extracurriculars. I often doubted myself and my ability to write during this period, probably because stories didn’t just rain from the skies into my head. After all, published authors just made it look so easy. I definitely started NaNoVangelising during this time, as the only people I knew in my area who were doing NaNoWriMo were the people I told about it. Another notable writing moment was my attempt to convince an English teacher to let me write a novel instead of a research paper. Several of my classmates protested just in case she did say yes. (She didn’t, though she did think I was crazy for suggesting it.)

I was also active in many extracurricular activities: Academic Bowl, French Club, French Honor Society, National Honor Society, Beta Club, FBLA, on and on and on, but those were the main ones. The janitors got to know me very well as I left the school, and these activities kept me around after school most often than not. I met a lot of people through these groups, but I was rarely an officer, possibly thanks to that thing called popularity. I was known. I was not popular. It was definitely better than riding the bus, especially since medical conditions kept me from driving.

Church played a larger role in my life back then. I volunteered in the church library, particularly in the children’s section, and was active in the youth group. We had a close group that was rocked by the departure of a fun youth pastor. The only thing I miss about organized religion is the immediate social group you gain from the church. Church event? Let’s go! And if you were Baptist like I was, there was always food.

I also thought much less about boys than I did during my first two years. I had crushes, yes, but not to the level that I did then. Crushes were distracting, both for schoolwork and writing, the most important things in my life at the time.

I was also thinking about colleges: where to go, what I wanted to do (creative writing/English and French at the time), all those questions. In the end my decisions were based on who had a good English department and what cities had strong NaNoWriMo communities. I think I made a good choice, even if I didn’t end up studying English.

I made my first ever B during my first semester of senior year. At the time I thought it would crush me. Now I see that it liberated me, even if a small part of me hurt every time I saw a B on my grade report.

And for those who wonder, people called me Sushi back then. In fact, people called me Sushi for years before that.


A day in the life of a writer

I may be unemployed at the moment, but I’m currently editing a novel and trying to figure out a plot for Script Frenzy next month. Let’s look at a day in the life of a writer.

Wake up. Eat. Perform acts of hygiene. Dress. Ponder writing but remember that I haven’t checked email since last night, and that was a really long time.

Turn on computer; turn on music, Pidgin, and Firefox. IM people. Check email. Read Twitter before doing so would be more hassle than it’s worth. Read blogs. Cue tab explosion. Bookmark links of interest.

Realize that I’m hungry again from breakfast because the time between dinner last night and breakfast today was a long time. Ponder eating again. Possibly eat again, then return to computer. Look at time; read remaining blogs. Ponder writing, but know that other inhabitants of this house will come in and bother me before I get in the groove. Decide against it. Ponder writing blog post. Decide against it after lack of topic. Apply to jobs instead. Realize that my plans to get out of the house that day have failed yet again.

Eat dinner. Shower. Edit. Write in paper journal. Write blog post. Go to bed. Think thinky thoughts while trying to go to sleep.


A terrible loss

You may have heard that actor Andrew Koenig’s body was found today. He had been missing for several days before the body was found. This loss is obviously a tragedy for all involved, yet it brings another fact of life to the front: those who are creating sources of humor are not always the happiest people inside. Koenig had a history of clinical depression, yet he made so many people laugh and forget about their troubles during his short life.

What you see is not always what you get. Never forget that.


Truth is stranger than fiction

As a writer, I try to find the strange and make it believable in fiction. After all, reading is about escape from the outside world. Plunging into the adventure of a novel for an afternoon shouldn’t be jarred with thoughts of “Wait a minute, would that really work?” or “Why would he believe her?” or any other questioning. In a way, the writer is serving as a liar, to serve up a huge lie on a platter to the reader and make the reader believe it, if only for the duration of reading the book. This trick is harder than it looks.

Sometimes reality does the job for us. We see everyday events and ask ourselves how such a thing could have happened. Maybe it was depressing, or delightful, or downright bizarre, like the zebra found in downtown Atlanta today. I was away from the computer when the story broke, and upon returning I saw people mentioning zebras. Naturally my first reaction was “What on earth are you talking about?” before looking up the event myself. Written in fiction, much more setup would be needed in order in order for the writer to lie successfully. In real life, the story just works.

This shouldn’t stop us from writing the bizzare, though. Sometimes the bizzare stories do make the best ones. Take those and write them, cherishing their quirky nature. Just remember that you’re going to have to craft a great story in order for people to believe it, just like in life.