Monday, November 7, 2016

Has it been over a year?

Yes, yes it has.


Well, there have been a couple of updates since then, but really the big one is that I FINISHED MY BOOK. Hurray! *pops champagne bottle*

It's about magicians and archaeology and a semi-sentient chateau with questionable motives. It's got romance and dead bodies (not related), abandoned theatres and underwater ballrooms. Three young people who can't seem to shake off the weight of the past.

And secrets. Lots and lots of secrets. Think Howl's Moving Castle with We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

It's weird to finally label this as done when I've been working on it for so long, and though the slog of finding an agent is underway - a wrestle of unending anxiety and time - part of me still wants to shake it up and re-examine every word yet again. Does this fit here? How many angles can I take in this scene? How much is being said through what the characters don't say?

Blah, blah, repeat. But for now, at least, I'm moving away from it. To a new book! To a new (actually really old, have been working at this forever) book.

I don't know what it's called yet, but it's going to be awesome. If The Assistant is ultimately a domestic drama, then this is the opposite. Large scale, heavy world-changing stakes. Questions of allegiance to kings, guardsmen, old friends. Wanted princes and forgotten kingdoms. Children of the gods. And of course, my favourite reluctant protagonist.

It was the first NaNoWriMo novel I ever wrote, and it's this year's do over. Of course what I'm writing now is in a... peculiar shape, shall we say, but that's to be expected. Bones, then muscle, then all the delights that skin has to offer. Muscle before skin. Brush strokes before detail. (insert favourite writing cliche here).

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, September 28, 2015

A job!




Now that's out the way, I'm sure you can guess that I am employed. Yup. Me. Full time job and everything as a bookseller at the big W. It's hectic and I'm usually exhausted by the end of the day, but I love it. Genuinely, it's everything that I thought it'd be, and more. I love the way that the company's run, and my new co-workers (colleagues? fellow book-people?) are incredibly kind and patient. God knows I've needed that. I didn't think it was possible to be clumsier than I am, but it turns out I was wrong.

So very, very wrong.

A lot of the fears and questions I've expressed over the past year or so have largely been assuaged, though the job's come with new and surprising ones. Like:

Have I peaked in life? Is this it?


How crap am I at this job? Why can't I find anything? Why don't I know anything?

and on a less fearsome note:

When's lunch?

On the writing side of things, I've been... well, absent. Again. Part of it has been the sheer exhaustion of this job; bookselling is hard. It's insane how much you move, and how emotionally and mentally there you have to be, if that makes sense.

But I'm two and a half months in, and that excuse is wearing thin. All of my other hobbies are getting some well-deserved attention. I'm getting better at piano, and I got new brushes the other day (!) and gouache (!!!) paints, which I have no idea how to use. I've even pulled out the good old embroidery and made some work on it.

On the one hand, it's been wonderful to have both the time and funds to use on things like sheet music and new paint. All without the guilt of "but I should be learning", by which I mean, the academic pressures are no longer there. I don't care if I spend three hours a day painting or learning music BECAUSE I CAN DO IT YEAHHH.

And then again, on the other hand, I'm not really using that time to write, though I certainly continue to think about it all day. TA is at a snail's pace, and though I'm writing the ending (!) there are still large chunks in the middle that have yet to materialise as words. It's moving, though. I've sketched out the overall plot, including all those pesky middle bits, and I've certainly written some of them down somewhere.

Plus, you know, NaNoWriMo and Inktober are coming, and I plan to be present and active for both. So to the stars I go!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

So about that deadline

Yeah. I lied.

I came home, settled in, and for the first couple of weeks, everything went well. I was editing the thesis stuff, absorbing the notes from my professors and generally trying to re-find my footing in the story's structure. I finished most of the thesis edits. I started work on the ending.

Then I got past the couple of weeks and to the 'what next?' of post-grad life.

I panicked. I think everyone does, at least a little bit, but my version of panicking unfortunately does not come engineered with a kick up the ass and lightning bolts of productivity. God, if that was how it worked. Instead, I get the exact opposite, which is lethargy, a desire to burn the whole fucking manuscript, and the creeping dread that I might be a fraud.

I kept vacillating between all out focus on my novel and the equally all out focused search for jobs and a career that involves a stable income, but because of the seriousness of these two ultimatums, I ended up ignoring both, choosing instead to take the post-college break that I thought I needed. But then again, it wasn't so much a choice as 'guilt time' - time in which I fretted that I wasn't being productive, and so was unable to enjoy much of it at all. It's so very easy to let today slip past when you can spend hours worrying over what you didn't do the day before.

As a result, I don't really know what's happened to the last two months. My birthday's in there somewhere, sandwiched between the books I read. I've written a couple of other things that amount to some thousand words, though not much more. I haven't even read as much as I thought I would.

This isn't the first time it's happened, and in fact, this always seems to occur when my novels are ready for revision. I'm really fed up of it, not least because it's the main thing holding me back from the life that I really want.

There's no real answer out there for me, except to try to move forward. I wish there was.

So these are the struggles I'm going through right now. Nothing major, or life-threatening, but I thought it was worth documenting.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


You heard that right. I handed in my thesis, put on the cap and gown, and walked. My diploma is... somewhere in my room right now, but it's there. It's all in Latin, so I can't read a thing, and my cap and gown are currently in the bottom drawer, where they'll rest for the foreseeable future/ until some weird Halloween function comes up. It felt really weird putting it on, and even weirder packing it back up. Somehow, I feel like it should have had a longer lifespan, given its significance.

And now, I'm home.

I've never actually been in London for anything other than holidays. We moved here while I was in boarding school, and then I went from here straight to uni, so I haven't really experienced life in action at home since I was fourteen. That's about eight years. I've been here for less than two weeks, and it still hasn't really sunk in.

But, hey, more writing time!

My novel, TA, is undergoing serious revisions in the wake of graduation and thesis feedback. Everything's been very encouraging, so I'm pumped! I'm planning to have a full, revised draft by the end of June, which means that I've got to really push myself.

It's kind of strange to have all of this free time suddenly open up before me. For writing, for reading, for music, for drawing, for running, for binge-watching QI on Netflix. I'm a little afraid of it, to be honest. It's a glorious, terrifying freedom that requires a fair amount of self-discipline to govern. I can do so much with it - or nothing at all. I can come away with a finished book, or not. I can be ready to query, or not.

The craziest part is that I can see myself heading down two timelines. In one, I fight for my story, and I pursue my dreams to the endgame (well, endgame, pt. 1 of many). In the other, I'm not a writer. I'm someone who writes occasionally, but not with any real intent. Who's forgotten their dream.

This is what I'm really afraid of - that I lack the self-discipline to make it, or even that I lack the confidence to believe I can make it. I know so many talented writers who've simply decided that their options are better in a pragmatic, nine to five job, and as a result, have put their publishing dreams in a box at the back of their mind.

I'm so worried this will be me.

But the truth is, I don't really have an answer for that kind of worry, except to continue onwards and upwards, and to believe that I am capable of achieving all that I set my mind to.

So... onwards and upwards?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring is here (and so is my thesis deadline)

Well, a whole month has gone by. My days have looked a little like this:

- work on thesis
- work on thesis
- oh god french why
- work on thesis

And I'm sure they'll continue to look like this as April comes forward, except more intense. Le sigh.

But also, it's nice to see grass again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Raven kings and tarot cards

Today Maggie Stiefvater posted about The Raven King and gave me all kinds of a need to reread the books again. I'm trying to stay away from rereading at the moment, since I have so many new books to catch up on. Just this weekend, I bought The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, and The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead. I've had my eye on The Rook for ages - like three years or so - and I figured it was time to suck it up and take a look. I've also been toying around with The Art of Asking for a while, and well, The Ruby Circle just came out. And I have to find out what happens to Adrien and Sydney.

So no Raven boys for me right now. Maybe over Trin Days, or Spring Break.

However, I was inspired by Maggie Stiefvater this semester to create my own tarot deck based on my thesis a.k.a. TA, as the project for my Concepts and Processes class. After doing a bunch of sketches, I've finally done the first two cards: The Lovers, and Strength. I will post them at some point maybe.

I've been steadily working on TA, with lots of help from my advisor in the form of creating a timeline and summary. I never thought I'd find it useful, but it's actually one of the things that's propelling me forward right now.

The snow is still here. It was a balmy 4C today and we were all wondering why we were so warm. Makes me wish it would get a little warmer still.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

More snow and terror

I am sick. With mono. Ugh.

I was feeling really tired during the first couple of weeks back at Trinity in an unusual, past-the-jetlag kind of way, even though I was getting nine hours of sleep, so I went to the health centre. A blood test and week later, I got a call from one of the nurses. Yes, it's mono. Quit your physical classes, and sleep lots. No alcohol for four weeks.

Le sigh.

Of course this is all past the add/drop period, so this past week has been a medley of emails to all my professors, a meeting with the Dean of Students, and trying to withdraw from ice skating. But it's done, and I'm more or less sorted. This could also be way, way worse. My roommate got mono last year and at one point she had to go to hospital to have throat abscesses drained, which sounds not at all fun.

Anyway. We've still got a ton of snow - in fact, we're due some more tomorrow! And Wednesday! It's really pretty from the inside, and every weekend feels like a special snow day, which helps to keep me productive.

On the terror front, I'm still working out what I want to do and where I want to live, as well as figuring out who will actually employ me. I wish I had some hardcore advice about what to do (art school? France? Publishing?), but I guess I'm more or less on my own for this one. Trying very hard not to think about that.

On a slightly cheerier note, I'm still working on TA, and I'm on track for my first draft deadline. It's been tricky trying to balance it with all of my other work, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.