Jan 4, 2017

Self-Improvement & Support

I had so much I wanted to do in December and didn't so I ended the year feeling a little weird - upset I didn't finish things, but happy to hang out with family. And really, as a year, 2016, personally, wasn't all that bad.

I couldn't keep up with my resolutions. I had all these daily allotments for working out, reading, writing, learning...I quickly realized I didn't have enough time. Meeting my goals took at least 2 hr a day. And that's impractical when you have a 9-5 with an hour commute.

But I did have a theme for the year, self-improvement, that I kept to. I did a lot of things to help me get better at a variety of things - networking at BookCon, participating in #PitMad, leading workshops for the Writing Journey, learning new skills that got me the first 9-5 job I'm happy with, and I figured out how to market me to build up freelance income.

Granted, my GR reading challenge and personal attempt to read around the world? Failed.

This last year, with it's focus on self, also made me re-evaluate whom I identify with and how I label myself. I've spent several months embracing the idea of not being straight, coming out to people slowly and in different manners, and getting miffed at slights and stereotypes from people just not understanding when I  explain the ace spectrum. Most people in the world have never heard the word asexual, let alone demisexual. Some refuse to admit it's real. Other think it's so foreign, such a dividing line, I'm classified as an 'other' to avoid.

(Dating, inevitably, has been hard.)

Now I like advocating for those on the spectrum, answering questions and educating people. Seeking out media. I told all my friends when a book series I love added an ace character. In Stars, I'm officially making Trilutha ace. Which can present problems as she's a child bride...

But the whole process of my 'make a better me year' made me realize:
  1. My support network is so much bigger than I thought 
  2. I underestimated how easily friends, and even acquaintances, would accept a new facet of me
  3. I stressed about each and every one of these conversations, but didn't need to
  4. I would have gotten no where without my support network in all things, be it my identification or my efforts to grow
And so that's going to be my theme for this year, supporting others. I've been really bad, despite being an indie author, in supporting that industry. So I'm gonna write down the titles of writers I follow, read their stuff, and review. I'm gonna host more workshops and help people, taking on more Journey projects. Even at work, I want to automate processes for some of my co-workers once I learn VBA better. Plus, I think I'm gonna be more vocal about causes to show support for my values. There's a women's march for the inauguration...

Here's to a new year!

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Dec 2, 2016

NaNo High

Deep in the midst of NaNoWriMo, or even the last ten minutes of the very last Write In when my fellow WriMos watched me push out the last 100 words I needed, the only thing I could think of (aside from winning) was December 1st.

December 1st, when I could crack open all my waiting books. Turn on Netflix. Do more mundane things, like grocery shop, wash my sheets, and put away the Halloween decorations. As much as I enjoy writing, I couldn't wait to be done for awhile.

Except, driving home from work yesterday, despite my large Dec 1st list, all I wanted to do was write.

A different story, of course, I gotta leave my project from this year to the side for awhile, but I apparently wasn't as sick of writing as I expected. Just ready to move on to something new.

This is one of the reasons why I always love NaNo. Not only do I finally push out a story that's typically been haunting me for awhile, but I feel like I get an adrenaline shot of creativity and productivity that can carry me through a few months. (Which I really need in December cuz I'm making a bunch of Christmas presents.)

NaNo is full of this swirl of creative energy, from talking to others about their novels. Even processes. There's a new critique style I wanna try now. I've got ideas galore clamoring in my head, and a new bunch of people to talk to about them. I'm excited and eager and above all feel accomplished in a way I rarely feel during the earlier parts of the year.

*sigh* I'm so ready for NaNoWriMo 2017.

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Oct 31, 2016

Some years, The-Day-Before-NaNo is more important than Halloween

It's Halloween! A day that escaped my notice until I got to work and realized some people dressed up.

And I even brought a costume from my parents' place to wear. Dang it. Why couldn't I have remembered my pumpkin earrings at least?

I blame the fact that I celebrated on Saturday. That I woke up thinking must dress warmly today. And that I'm dreading Nov. 1st.

Well, not dreading. NaNo always gets my blood pumping and I'm excited to get going. But I wanted to wrap up a chapter of a different project before hand and that's not happening. Nor did I clean my house like I wanted, or participate on the forums, or even go grocery shopping so that didn't cut into writing time this week.

I'm gonna try and push through and do all that I can tonight - grocery shopping, dishes, and maybe that chapter, but I'm not super optimistic.

Onward to November!!!
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Oct 18, 2016

Pantsers turn into Plotters

It's October!

Which means NaNoWriMo is heavy in my mind. My region has done a couple prep workshops, but something that came up in discussions stayed with me - that pantsers eventually turn into plotters.

I found the concept strange.

One does not simply become a plotter

Personally, I've never used the term pantser to describe myself. I like "discovery writer". Often I do have a loose outline in my head, but it shifts and changes as I develop my worlds while writing. I'm not flying clueless, but I might have done all my training in a 4-person aircraft and have suddenly been placed in the cockpit of a 747. I do a lot of inference and rely on common sense/similar enough experiences. 

And then I realized that this year? I outlined my story. Three pages of my notebook are full of plotted out bullet points . Two pages are filled with history, world, and just-before-event  notes that influence the plot. My writing history tells me at least a third of my plot points will shift and my perchance to "discover" while writing means this story will be close to 50K instead of the 30K I want. It doesn't change things. Somehow, I turned into a plotter.

Strangely, I feel disappointed in myself. I liked saying I developed things as I went. I liked the thrill of discovery, of entering NaNo not knowing what the outcome would be. Of channeling characters to learn the ending at the same time they did.

woman writing in a notebook on the grass
But as my ML and our workshop leader expounded upon, this is natural. Moving from pantser to plotter happens to us all as we gain experience in plotting, character building, story structure, and all the mechanics of writing. Beethoven was said to be able to write a sympathy on on his deathbed, but that's because he had years of experience in creating them to build off of.

Writing is the same, my ML said. Plotters have simply internalized the process and know what do before pantsers. Pantsers, once they understand how to get a story out and the elements it might need, do all that work in their head before they start. They might not physically write an outline, but they have a plotter zone. Mentally, they are plotters.

As I mentioned before, my own style has shifted. My outlines have gone from "what if" mind bubbles to detailed play-by-plays (and in the case of one WIP, I had a story outline but got stuck on a chapter, so plotted that out. Chapter 7 has more bullet points than the first half of this novel. *rolls eyes*).

I want to know if other writers experienced the same. As the years went by, did you pantsers turn into plotters?
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Sep 21, 2016

Ok Google and Siri

Google speech-to-text logoI like talking to my phone, specifically using voice to text software.

While driving, I can speak a text to my sister and Google will have it (most times) word for word correct - punctuation aside. When I just finished reading a story on my phone, and don't want to review it on my dinky keyboard, I can say it out loud and then add the periods. Picking out my clothes in the morning, I ask my phone about the weather and it tells me it while I'm moving hangers.

Recently, I started getting back into using DuoLingo - a foreign language teaching app. Some of the exercises include saying phrases out loud to your microphone and the app checks your pronunciation. I'm not learning Spanish from scratch - I studied it in high school and uni - and I've had teachers from different areas. My accent is a bit mixed.

So sometimes it's frustrating when the app thinks I said something wrong when I know I didn't. The fix is to usually slow down my speech and really enunciate, speaking clearly and struggling to really pronounce my 't's.

(Here in the Midwest, our "ts" often sound like "ds". I remember talking to a foreigner about a waterfall, and he had to stop me to ask what 'wader' was.)

tap to speak on Samsung Galaxy phone
Yes, Google capitalizes first letters.
Once I noticed it with the DuoLingo, I became aware of all my speech interactions with JARVIS. I use the same adjustments to my speech, though less extreme, when talking out texts.

Personally, I think this is fascinating. I'm changing my speech pattern for my phone. I speak slowly. I make sure to distinguish between sounds. I pause longer between sentences, to break up 'phrases' as google understands them. Sometimes, I even change my vocabulary to avoid longer words I think my phone will have problems with.

Deep into my edits of Stars, and the prevalence of computers in this story, I can't help but wonder if, as we talk to computers more and more, human speech patterns evolve to make those conversations easier to comprehend. And what those changes are.

A reduction in vocabulary? More small word phrases? A loss of rambling? Slower conversations? Will we speak punctuation marks? "Are we still on today - question mark - tell me by noon - full stop"

I'm curious - do you guys do this too? Notice and change your language as you interact with technology? If so, what? 

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