Blank page, here I come!

Well, technically, the page isn’t blank anymore because I’ve written 161 words of my shiny new WIP. Not a lot, I know! But I no longer have a blank page, and that makes all the difference in the world. This idea came to me during my (extensive) revisions for THE MADMEN’S CITY, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get started.

I won’t say much because I like to keep my ideas close to the chest in these very early stages, but I will say it involves outlaws, thieves and a certain, Spanish-speaking city I love.

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2014 Goals

Yeah, I realize I’m a few weeks behind on this, but better late than never, right? And at least I’m not doing this in March. My overall goal/resolution/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is to try my hardest to make this year the best year it can be. 2013 was a nice, solid year. Good things happened. I started data collection for my thesis, I visited my family and went to NYC. But I also felt a little bit in limbo. My fiction writing struggled, and I didn’t complete a new project. I took up running and promptly injured myself the day before my very first 10k race.

Writing Goals

Things I can control:

1. Write regularly. I say this all the time, but writing is just like exercise. If I do it regularly, every day (even if I only manage 100 words), it’s so easy to keep at it the next day and the next and the next. But if I step away from it for a few days, it’s so hard to get my head back into it.

2. Finish, revise and submit the manuscript I’m currently working on.

3. Focus on craft. Even though I struggled this past year, I learned a lot more about craft. I see the flaws in my past work, and I’m working hard to improve. Keep at this and don’t let it slide.

4. Finish writing and revising the manuscript mentioned above as the absolute best book that I can write, something I can be proud of and something I totally love, even if it doesn’t sell. Write with the door closed, so to speak.

Things I can’t control:

1. Sell a book.

Other Life goals

1. Stick to my running training plan.

2. Run a 10k race and don’t walk a step of it.

3. Finish the first draft of my thesis.

4. Present my research at a conference.

5. Travel somewhere new.

My Writing Manifesto!

Writing is part of who I am.
Writing is not easy.
I write stories I love to read.
I write for young adults.
I write because I love the feeling of getting words on the page.
I write when I’ve had too many cups of coffee and when I’ve had too few.
I write with Paramore, Fall Out Boy or Incubus playing in the background.

I have never written a novel for adults. Yet.
I have always written with the hope of getting published one day.
I write in spite of the rejections I’ve gotten over the years.
I don’t write a story if I don’t believe in it.
I should write more often than I do.
I might write this very second because I’m feeling inspired.
I will write for the rest of my life.

Londontown

This past week, I took a trip to London for my PhD. As a social scientist, I have to do fieldwork aka data collection. My chosen method is interviews, so I’ve been meeting people out in the field at festivals, conferences and other events.

While I was there, I got to do a bit of sightseeing and visit Big Ben, which is even more gorgeous in person than in photos.

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I also got to visit Platform 9 3/4 (again). And I’m glad I went again because this time it was different! They’d moved it inside by the Waterstones bookstore and had a whole thing set up where a guy handed you the House scarf of your choice and held it out behind you to make it appear as if you were running.

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So. Much. Fun.

I also went to a Neil Gaiman reading in Westminster Hall. He read the entirety of his new book, Fortunately the Milk, for an audience of 2.5 thousand, with the artist drawing sketches behind him and several actors and comedians and musicians joining in. It was funny and inspiring, and I loved every minute of it.

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And then to top it all off, on the long train journey to Aberystwyth, I pulled out my Macbook and wrote the entire way back. There’s just something about trains that both relaxes me and gets my creativity going.

All in all, it was a great trip. I hit a few snags with the fieldwork, but still managed to get some great interviews, saw a literary hero, saw some sights, ate some great food and made progress on my WIP.

Fresh (school) year, fresh start

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – The Great Gatsby

Here in Wales, the university school year starts fairly late, and it was only a couple weeks ago that I arrived back for the academic year and moved into my student accommodation. Since I’ve been in education in one form or another almost my entire life, a new school year always feels like the start of something new, much more so than New Years Day.

So, on that note, I decided to start my blog over, all fresh and shiny and new. I’d had a complicated, expensive website hosting plan for several years, but I’m not doing much other than posting blog updates here and there, so I decided to keep my domain and move to this simple WordPress blog. It’s all I really need.

And as with every “new year” there comes some resolutions, or goals. Here are mine:

1. Write Every Day

This is for fiction, specifically, because I’ve got plenty of academic writing to keep me busy forever. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount, just get something down every day. 100 words is better than zero.

2. Treat my PhD like a full-time job

This is important and something I’ve already started doing. I have no more traditional classes to attend. I don’t have a “schedule” at all. It’s just me and my thesis, stumbling around trying to make progress. In order to avoid the pitfalls of just staying in my pajamas in my room all day, I’ve made a goal to go into my department’s PhD office Monday through Friday and sit at my desk during regular working hours.

3. Exercise at least three times a week

Again, something I was doing already (until recently). It’s something I need to make a conscious effort to maintain.

4. Travel

I want to see the entire world, and while I’m over here, I want to see more of this part of it. I already have a trip planned to London next week for data collection, and hopefully Dublin in November, and possibly Scotland. Next year, I’m hoping to finally, finally, finally go to Paris. Maybe Rome.

5. Make the most of every day

This is a really general goal, but it’s probably the most important. What I want more than to specifically write every day and exercise at least three times a week is to look back in a year on the twelve months that have passed and know that I lived life to the fullest.