Novel Progress #5 (Zero Progress + Philosophical Musings)

After nearly a month of success at making writing a priority, I’ve slipped up this week. I went to visit my parents a long weekend for my birthday and I did not manage to get any serious writing work done. Not even brainstorming. Well, I thought of some ideas while I was driving, but nothing has been recorded. But since I haven’t read or blogged for the past week either, I think we can just say that it was an overall unproductive week and not just me avoiding writing! I was just a little too busy with life and school.

I decided to do a Novel Progress this week, just to show that I’ve not completely fallen off the wagon. I’m pretty sure professional writers have their weeks off as well. It was good. I feel a little refreshed and don’t really regret taking an unofficial break. It made me miss writing. So in this week’s post, I wanted to just talk about where I hope to go from here and also some random philosophical writing-related musings.

➵ What I’m Working On

I’m still working on the beginning of my story. I’m currently at 673 words, which consists of an introduction to my protagonist and her guardian and a flashback to the scene where they learn about the celebration they will be attending in the guardian’s honor. So I like what I have so far. I guess I have been procrastinating about moving forward because I have a bullet-point list of things I would like to happen at this celebration but I’m nervous about how it will unfold. Because I don’t know!

I think my biggest fear in writing (other than self-doubt) is my fear of the unknown. If I don’t know what exactly is going to happen, I hesitate to try and write it even though I know from experience that if I pay attention to the details as I write I discover my way.

Trust in the details…

Today, I’m hoping to dedicate to writing. I say “hoping” because I have a lot of other things competing for my time. But I’m hoping that if I set up at least a couple of hours with no Internet and think of nothing but the story, I’ll work myself out of my writing slump and rediscover some excitement that will motivate me to write this story! With luck, I’ll have finished the beginning of my story and be able to move forward with other parts next week.

➵ What I’ve Been Thinking About

Even when I’m not sitting down with my MacBook Pro or my writing notebook, I’m often thinking about my story, specifically details about what I can include. As I was driving home last week, a song inspired a bit of imagery I’ll be including immediately once I finally sit down to write. And this past Sunday, after I got upset about something and went to my room to cry. In the moments that followed, I managed to write a short paragraph of my protagonist experiencing what I felt. I don’t know how or if it will be included in the story, but in hindsight I liked that my first instinct was to apply my own experience to my protagonist.  It’s moments like these that give me hope that I might have a future as a writer.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is why I write. I read a book called Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud this weekend for my Digital Textuality class. One of the final chapters dealt with the question of why the artist is motivated to create.

Does the artist want to say something about life through his art or does he want to say something about art itself? – Understanding Comics, p. 178

Another related question is whether I have something to say at all. I don’t feel like it’s a secret, given my past Novel Progress installments, that I don’t know exactly what is going to happen in my novel. My novel was not born of a brilliant idea or need to communicate some moral lesson. I’m just trying to write something that my 11-year-old self would have loved to read. Something with vibrant characters and a world she would have wished she could visit. And at the same time, something that would have empowered her.

I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy at this point in my life, and I feel like the main thing I’m trying to do is avoid what I tropes I dislike and write a protagonist who is in some ways an extension of myself. A lot of my favorite fantasy series either have male protagonists (i.e. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Bartimaeus Trilogy) or inevitably has a strong romantic arc (i.e. Howl’s Moving Castle, His Dark Materials, Throne of Glass). Neither of these are necessarily bad, but I do feel like I’m trying to do something different with my story and protagonist, while inevitably drawing upon my favorite stories for inspiration.

By focusing on what I think is making me and my story unique, I like to think that it’s making my writing better that it otherwise would be. So that hopefully will result in my happiness with the end result and also help in finding the right publishers.

End Note

That’s all I have for this week’s Novel Progress. In case this is the first Novel Progress you’ve stumbled upon, I encourage you to read about my more productive weeks in Novel Progress #1, 2, 3, and 4. Hopefully, I will have a lot more to share next week. Next Wednesday will be March 2nd, which means I’ll only have a month left to meet my self-appointed deadline for completing this first draft of my novel!

One more thing I have been thinking about is trying to start YouTube again. I’ve done two BookTube videos (a TBR and a Wrap Up) in the past but since pulled them down because I didn’t like the quality or how nervously I talked. But I’m thinking of trying again, specifically to do book talks and talk about my writing. I love watching others talk about writing and I’d like to try and expand my platform in that direction. Especially as I’ve been rethinking the direction I want to take this blog…More on that later!

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Text Object 1.0 | Multimedia Portfolio

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Introduction

In my Digital Textuality class, our major project is a Multimedia Portfolio which adapts the same story or argument in four different mediums: text, image, sound, and video. I had announced last week my intention to adapt the myth of Persephone, but ultimately scrapped that idea for multiple reasons I don’t care to go into. In my crunch for time, I somehow landed upon the idea to work on the tragic love story of Inuyasha and Kikyo from the famous anime/manga.

This Monday the first versions of our text objects were due. I had planned to share this post then, but I was still working on it until the last minute and wanted to make sure I explained what it is. Below I will explain the object, provide you with a link to read it (!) and share some ideas for revision.

The Curse of the Shikon Jewel

I decided to call my project The Curse of the Shikon Jewel because it’s descriptive of the specific story from the source material that I decided to adapt. If you are not familiar with the series, Inuyasha is a half-demon who falls in love with Kikyo who is a priestess charged with guarding the Shikon Jewel. When they fall in love, Inuyasha is willing to sacrifice his dream of being a full-fledged demon and Kikyo her duty to protect the stone so that they can be together. Unfortunately, another demon seeks the jewel for himself and deceives the pair to turn them against one another and corrupt the jewel.

This tragic tale is not the focus of the anime or manga series, but it is very important in that it does set up what happens the story which focuses Inuyasha, 50 years after his love story goes awry, and Kagome, the main character of the show who happens to be Kikyo’s reincarnation from modern day Japan.

>> The Curse of the Shikon Jewel <<

If you click on the link above, you should be able to access the Twine HTML file I’ve uploaded here on Ink Keys & Other Things! There are three different perspectives you can follow throughout the story. Altogether the story is about 900 words, so it’s a short read!

As you’re reading, keep in mind that it will be revised in the future. If you have ideas for how to enhance the text object in my revision, specifically how to better utilize the medium of Twine, let me know in the comments below. Below I’ve compiled a list of the suggestions provided to me by my class.

Revision

In addition to sharing our projects on Monday, we also workshopped them. So I received feedback from the instructor and my peers on how to revise the piece in the future. As is typical with all workshops, some critiques are more helpful than others. So I’ll only be sharing what I agree might make my text object stronger:

  • Make links consistent. There was some method to my madness, but it wasn’t consistent. So I think I would like to try and make linking more consistent throughout.
  • More artistic formatting. I had a positive response to the formatting of the introductory passage where Kikyo shoots Inuyasha. So I might try to do that with more of my passages, if not all.
  • More visual elements. I use an arrow glyph twice in the story and people really liked it. So I want to try and include more visuals with the text. I have already have an idea for how to make a trees out of the writing which will help enhance the “digital”-ness of the text as I was encouraged to do.
  • Finally, I need to find a way to include more choices/paths. I intentionally only had one ending to this story, but given the affordances of Twine I’ve been encouraged to create more branches. I’m not sure if I want to clutter the story with storylines that distract from the tragedy of original story though. So it will be interesting to see what I come up with here.
End Note

I hope you enjoy reading my Twine project! I’ve long wanted to start sharing my writing online, and even though the story is not my own, I’m proud of the interactive adaption I managed to create. I really like Twine and am excited to create more interactive narratives in the future based on my own original work. If you do not know what Twine is, feel free to check out the text tool review I published last week. It is free to use and you don’t even need to make an account, you can use it online as soon as you enter the website.

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Novel Progress #4 (Lots of Changes)

So much happened over the course of the last week with regards to my story that I’ve struggled with what to share in this week’s Novel Progress. I feel like this has happened the past few weeks since making writing a priority. I think this is because I’m planning so much at the same time as I’m writing. I actually had to revisit last week’s Novel Progress #3 (Progress on the Hook) to see exactly what I last told you about the story so I’d know where to start this week.

Story Direction

This weekend I developed a more clear direction for the plot of this story that is nothing like what I described in last week’s post. Last week I had decided on a Hook that was ultimately discarded this week as I realized I just wasn’t able to bring it to life and it was stumping my writing progress. It’s kind of funny how I decided to scrap the idea and so I’ll share it with you.

I had been inspired for some reason to write an end scene between my protagonist and her guardian. In this scene, we were seeing the protagonist after running away on an adventure and coming back a changed person and how she and her guardian are able to make amends before the the guardian dies. In writing this scene, I was able to discover something interesting about the guardian which would set the two characters at odds in the beginning of the novel. So it helped me decide on a better event to kick off the story that would establish their complicated relationship.

I have currently written about 350 words of this new beginning and it’s going well. I’m liking the words I have and hope I can keep up the momentum. I’d like to see myself finished with the scenes I have in mind before next Wednesday, but realistically I’ll continue to jump around.

✃ Discarding Words

The most significant development in my writing this week was my decision to start discarding words. I’m not deleting scenes or info dumps that might become useful later, but I did feel like I needed a blank slate to start from after establishing a different story direction in which I only had words that were not distracting from the story I want to tell.

In my Scrivener project, I created a folder called Displaced Scenes where everything I write and might decide doesn’t ultimately fit into the most current story I’m writing can be placed for future reference. It includes most of the writing I did over the past few weeks. It was little sad to see these words taken out of the main manuscript, but I feel like it was necessary. Some of these scenes I still like and were important for me to write, but I just don’t see them fitting into this novel. There are two scenes I know would be good material for future books in the series.

✓ Revised Goal

A couple weeks ago I announced that I wanted to finish the first draft of this novel with at least 60,000 words by April 1st. After my latest plot revisions and further plot developments, I’ve decided to not think about a specific word count goal and revise my goal to be to specifically to just finish a coherent story. Meaning a story with the beginning, middle, and end. I want to have the most important scenes and story arcs in place so that my main task past April is including more detail as I edit.

End Note

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s installment of Novel Progress! I know it can be hard to keep up the motivation to write, and one of my favorite things to do to get pumped is to read or listen to others talk about their process. Just this morning I was marathoning Katytastic’s NaNoWriMo 2014 vlogs (here’s a link to her playlist). I feel like it’s always going to be a struggle to make myself write. But one thing I remembered this week that the story will come to life through the process of writing.

If you’re hesitating to write because you don’t know what needs to happen yet, but you can discover it as you write if you’re paying attention. I find that writing small details like clothing or setting can help me visualize the scene and often trigger characters’ memories and help me move the story along. So usually the hardest part of writing, and most things in life, is just getting started and not letting fear of failure stop you from trying.

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Sunday Snapshot #1 (Valentine’s Day)

Instead of doing a Week in Rewind this week, I wanted to shorter, less formal post in which I muse about life. I’ll call this new series Sunday Snapshot. It’s funny that this Sunday happens to be Valentine’s Day. I’ve never had a special person in my life during on Valentine’s Day, but it’s never been a day that I’ve dreaded or resented. It’s always just been a very peaceful and reflective day for me.

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This Valentine’s Day happens to be the anniversary of the first time I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. This book was a very quick read and it was one that has stuck with me since I first experienced it. It focuses on three generations of women who have had tragic romances with men but have continued to live on. I found this book really personally inspiring to live without fear of loss.

I think a common narrative most people strive for in their lives is to find a significant other so their lives can truly begin. But I’ve never felt comfortable in my young adult with the idea that my life and happiness could be dependent on someone else. I honestly think I’d just be happy if I could get to point in my life where I can support myself and be able to provide a good home for a dog of my very own. (Right now my dream is to adopt a rescued Greyhound. Don’t ask. Couldn’t tell ya.)

This Valentine’s Day will be my first spent in Texas since high school. For the past four years, I had lived in Iowa while I worked on my undergraduate degree at Iowa State University. It is a beautiful campus on which I felt very safe and miss it tremendously. After six months of living in Dallas, I know I’m done with Texas and want to live up north again. Perhaps not in Iowa, but somewhere where I can experience a fuller range of the seasons and not need to rely so much on driving a car.

I’m really happy with where I’ve ended up at this time in my life, all things considering. I feel like I did not know fully what I was getting into when I applied to the Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) graduate program, but I’m so happy with what it’s turned out to be. I’ve learned so much in just the few months I’ve been in this program and have been made to think so much about the implications of living in today’s digital culture. I’m perpetually feeling inspired to inquire more into topics introduced in my classes and never quite feel like there’s enough time to do all the things I wish I could. It’s a really exciting time in my life right now.

Most significantly for me, in the past couple of weeks I have begun to think seriously about applying to a PhD program next year after I complete my MA. I’d never thought I’d want to do such a thing. I feel like it was never in the realm of possibility for me. Neither of my parents really went to college and I feel like their expectation was for me to get my BA and start working right away. It certainly would have been the safe thing to do. But boring as well. I’ve never quite felt like I was cut out for a regular life. And now I’ve become much more comfortable with not settling for anything less than what I think would really make me happy.

It will be interesting to see where my life takes me over the course of the next year. I’d like to think that by next Valentine’s Day I’ll know where I’ll be going next in my studies and professional life, but that might be hoping for too much. So much can change in a single year. All I know is that I have a lot of work to do right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

101 Dalmations Love Books

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Novel Progress #3 (Progress on the Hook)

I struggled with how to write this week’s Novel Progress and what I wanted to share. This post honestly could have been upwards of 2,000 words, but I didn’t know who would benefit from that. So I ended up trying to be concise here and share things unrelated to my novel in other posts scattered across this week which I hope you’ve seen and liked.

Unlike last week, when I didn’t have much progress to report on so I talked about deadlines (see: Novel Progress #3 (On Deadlines)), this week’s post is entirely to do with my story which I hope you enjoy and find motivating. This is definitely the direction I want to see these posts take as I get deeper into my writing!

Progress Made

I’ve made a lot of progress on my story over the last week. I’ve only written about 3,000 words of the actual story (consisting of two scenes and one setting “info dump”), but I’ve made a lot of progress in world-building, discovering the direction I want the story to take, and how I want to continue writing from here on out.

World-Building

Last weekend I decided I needed to make a map so that I could have a better sense of the world in which I have chosen to write. I wanted to know cities and geography and wanted these places to have names to which I could refer. So I did that and it opened up a world of possibilities for me. Nothing is quite set in stone and I don’t think many of the places with feature within the overall story, but it has been so helpful in helping me visualize the world with boundaries.

Story Direction

Last week I was really stuck, wondering how the story was going to beginning. I felt like I needed to know how the story was going to begin before I could do much else and I knew I wanted the story to start off with a big bang. What I had been imagining early on was something very simple and low-key, but then I thought about all the books that I’ve loved and realized they start off in a really exciting place. So I knew there was something missing from my story, until I realized it was what I’ve been calling a “Big Day.”

So I did some brainstorming and realized what my protagonist’s “big day” could be and realized that it could also actually provide an opportunity to introduce the villains and the world conflict at the time. So that’s what I’ve been working on for the past few days, trying to get a feel the setting and characters. As well as decide specifically is going to happen, because I want to carefully orchestrate these opening scenes to hint at what will happen at the end of the story and possibly even future sequels.

Shifting Points-of-View

I have not been happy with the way I’ve been writing, I’m writing from the third-person omniscient, but I feel like my narrative voice at the moment is kind of…removed…from the story. And I really want readers to be able to connect with the characters or at least become immediately invested in the story, so it needs to be stronger.

I realize I could change the point-of-view later on in future drafts, but I think I’ve decided to go back-and-forth as needed in this draft between first- and third-person. I’m also jumping between characters and writing a lot of things that I’m not sure I will want to end up in the final version of this first novel, but I need to write them to understand the characters better. So I think doing first-person writing will really help there.

Goals for the Week

I am actually going to be pretty busy this week with reading for Bookentine and completing my Twine-powered adaption of the myth of Persephone & Hades for my Multimedia Portfolio which is due next Monday. But I still have a goal I want to achieve before next Wednesday.

I would like to reach 10,000 words in my novel or finish writing the Hook of my story, whichever comes first. We are almost half-way through February and I’d like feel like I’m half-way through my novel by the 29th, so I really do need to start writing more. Now that I have a map and ideas for how I want the Hook to foreshadow the rest of the novel, I’m hoping the rest of this story will be easier to complete.

End Note

I hope you’ve enjoy this week’s installment of Novel Progress! I actually had two previous versions of this post, as I take notes throughout the week and try to write these posts throughout the week so I don’t forget anything. But I ultimately decided to scale back and stick to reporting on what I accomplished and my plans for future writing. I’m hoping to do the same next week and have even more to talk about.

If you want to hear more about my writing that’s not novel-related, earlier this week I shared my post about my new project Persephone & Hades | Multimedia Portfolio and shared my thoughts on Twine | Text Tool Review. I also have two more writing-related posts going up this week. Thursday I’m going to share some thoughts and ideas about fanfiction. And Friday I’ll be sharing some news about my potential use of Wattpad in the near future! I hope you enjoy!

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Twine | Text Tool Review

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Last week I explained that for my Digital Textuality class I had to prepare two text tool reviews to help expose my classmates to available tools that could be used to create our first digital text assignment. I decided to share these (revised) reviews here, because I’m proud of my work and think a lot of my readers might also be writers and find the tools as exciting as I do.

If you’d like to see the first tool review about the community-based writing platform Wattpad, I encourage you to check it out. This week’s tool is Twine, which I talked about a lot on my old blog so if you followed me from there it might ring a bell! I hope this review helps you get a better picture of this tool and what it makes possible. I’ll definitely be mentioning it more in the future!

Description  

Twine is a free and open-source software you may download for Windows, OS, or Linux and/or use in an open browser. It is great for non-linear storytelling and interactive narratives such as Choose Your Own Adventure games. As result, Twine can result in products that give readers/players much more agency in the story being told. With Twine you can use HTML/CSS and JavaScript, and you can insert images, variables, and conditional logic with very little technical expertise required. When you are finished, Twine publishes directly to HTML format.

Access

Twine is free to use and may be downloaded at Twinery.org. You may also use it online where everything you create is automatically saved within your browser. You do not need to sign up for an account.

Sample Usage

The screenshots below reference a short Twine project that I created for my Digital Textuality class. These screenshots show you what Twine looks like from the back-end, and I’ve included some pink annotations which will help you get make sense of Twine 2.0’s interface.

The first screenshot directly below shows the blue grid view of Twine 2.0. The space is presumable infinite, you can scroll and scroll and scroll and not run out of space (in theory). Each square of text represents a passage which you can create with the green button at the bottom right of the screen or from within a preexisting passage (instructions in the second screenshot). In this grid view, you can click and drag each unit as you please, which helps make room and keep this view tidy as you add more passages.

The screenshot directly below shows what the interface looks like when you create/edit a passage. The default title is “Untitled Passage” and the default text in the body field is “Double-click this passage to edit it.” In the screenshot below, I have deleted that default body text to show this view of tips on how to achieve specific style effects, including bolding and italicizing. Note that it is not like HTML.

When you have finished your Twine project and want to publish it for sharing, click the ‘Publish to File’ selection shown at the bottom of the first screenshot. An HTML file should automatically download to your computer and you can send it to someone or upload it to a webpage.

What the Tool Does Well

Twine helps to see the skeleton, or outline, of a story. Because the passages can be arranged to lead to and from multiple locations, it allows the user to create and organize a story as if each piece is notecard on a cork board. Nothing is set in stone. The menu choices are not extensive, which makes the creation of the story uncomplicated. It’s a fun and easy tool to create an unconventional story with twists and turns. Stories created with Twine provide more interaction opportunities for readers/players to shape the story they experience.

Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials

Twine is not easy to the first-time user who may stumble upon the software with no prior instruction, but it is simple once you get the hang of it. Twine has changed a lot since it was first launched, but developers have made it easy to learn how to use Twine and make the most of it. For the official resources see: the Wiki and Forum. Below I have listed some tips things I think you might find helpful if you choose to work with Twine.

Sharing your project

To share your Twine project with others, you are either going to have to have a place (like a domain) where you can publish the file so you can link it to readers with an internet connection. OR you will need to explain to people how to download your file, direct them into Twine (which they will need to open the file), and explain how to upload the file so they can see it.

I have recently discovered that if you use WordPress, you can upload a Twine HTML file through the ‘Add Media’ button! It will link to text that will allow readers to directly start the interactive narrative experience! (This is how I will be linking to my Twine project on Persephone & Hades.)

Linking passages

Linking passages depends on you knowing the names of the passages to which you want another passage to lead. There’s no quick an easy way to indicate a link without identifying the passage directly in the text fields. So if you want to link a new passage to an existing one you also need to remember to spell it correctly or you will create a completely new, different passage. Twine does have a drop-down menu that will help you find the title, so that helps a little.

What it Does Poorly
  • Twine will struggle to cooperate quickly when a story gets very big.
  • Twine can handle multiple links to the outside world of the internet, but it is hard to link to from other places. You’ll have trouble sharing a Twine project via social media platforms like Twitter, for instance, unless you’ve uploaded the Twine project somewhere that will make the HTML file launch as it is meant to.
  • Also, you can’t really link to specific passages in a project. Readers generally have to start at the beginning and make their way properly through a project to get to the specific destination.

End Note

I hope you found this text tool review useful! I really like Twine and would like to use it more in the future. I see interactive narratives becoming more and more prevalent in the future of digital media so it’s great that such a user-friendly tool like Twine already exists to help writers experiment with new modes of storytelling.

In case you missed it, yesterday I published Persephone & Hades | Multimedia Portfolio about my latest creative writing project that I will be creating with Twine. And tomorrow expect the next Novel Progress #3 installment in which I share about all my writing progress over the past week!

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Persephone & Hades | Multimedia Portfolio

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The major project for my Digital Textuality class is a Multimedia Portfolio which will consist of a text, image, sound, and moving image object that are all an adaption of the same story or argument (for more information see my Portfolio page). The first digital media object is text, so I have needed to choose a story I would like to work on all semester. The one I have chosen is the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades.

One of the main reasons I was interested in choosing to adapting this myth is because of Sarah J. Maas’ upcoming sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses. A Court of Mist and Fury is supposedly to be based on Persephone and Hades and I can’t wait to see how it’s done! I’ve decided I’d like to work with the source inspiration material myself and see what kind of adaption I come up with. I also just love fairytale retellings and as Persephone and Hades’ story is so compelling, I’m really excited to see what I can come up with.

I have a few options for how to do this assignment. The only real requirement is that text object must be between 900-1,200 words. So the exact medium I use is completely my choice. I had three ideas which I was originally debating:

  • Twine. To tell the story within interactive format that allows readers to play a part in how the story unfolds.
  • Storify. To compile related text items that when looked at as a whole conveys a narrative.
  • TweetDeck. To schedule posts that could tell the story from a specific character’s POV.

These all sounded like a lot a lot of fun to do, but ultimately I think I’ve decided to pursue my Twine idea. I’ve been really intrigued by how interactive narratives give readers agency in the story and the possibilities of Twine stories in the future and think this assignment would be an excellent opportunity to experiment with how to tell an old story embedded with choices that feel authentic and allow the reader to tailor the story they consume.

End Note

The first version of this text object is due next Monday, February 15, 2016, so I am hoping I’ll be able to share it here on my blog at that time! It will be awesome to finally share some of my written work of which I’m truly proud. For more information on Twine, stay tuned for my text tool review of the free and open-source software tomorrow on Ink Keys and Other Things!

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Week in Rewind #2

I’ve decided to continue on with this Week in Rewind feature on Ink Keys and Other Things. But unlike last week (see Week in Rewind #1) where I kept a short log of the productive parts of each day, I’ve decided to just do random highlights this week! I don’t want this feature to become a time-consuming, stressful thing to write so I’ll continue to experiment each week with how to record what I want to share and remember. I might never formally adopt a permanent format.

This Week

➴ Grad School

I had my first presentations of the semester this past Monday in my Digital Textuality class which went well. There were only like five people in the class that night and it was a really positive experience. The topics of my presentations were my reviews for two text tools of my choice. I chose Wattpad, which I’ve wanted to start using since about last November, and Twine, which I’ve been somewhat obsessed with since learning about it last September. In case you missed it, I did post a revised version of my review of Wattpad on Tuesday and I hope to post the Twine review later this week.

➴ Reading

Reading took a bit of a backseat this week. I started The Girl from Everywhere last week, and it’s not been a captivating read yet. What I really want to do is finish up all the books I’m “currently reading” on Goodreads and finally begin to reread some books I’ve been wanting to revisit, which is a hefty list in itself. I don’t where I’m going to start when I finally get the chance. To see what’s on my immediate list of books to read, see my Bookentine 2016 TBR post that went up on Friday.

➴ Writing

This was a big week for writing! Something I’m not sure I mentioned in Novel Progress #2 this week was that I had hit a road block over the past week in my story. While I had plotted my story very loosely a couple of weeks ago, I had gotten very hung up on the fact that I didn’t have a strong opening Hook to my story and that my protagonist’s parents were a lot more interesting than my protagonist. So I while I have been busy with school, I’ve also just not written much because I didn’t know what to do. But I’m happy to report I’ve worked my way out of this problem!

I don’t want to talk much more about what I did, because I plan to share everything in Novel Progress #3 this Wednesday! But I will say that I’ve had so many ideas I want to share and I think this week will have a post nearly everyday on specific writing-related projects I have started or have in mind.

➴ Blogging

This was also a big week for blogging. I experienced my first blog failure on Wednesday. I got first-hand experience with what experts “The White Screen of Death” which was terrifying because I’m not used to working on back-end web development and had not yet backed anything up. (Still haven’t! I need to do that!) Luckily I was able to fix this problem with a FTP program, all on my own on Thursday! I’m very proud of myself, although I will admit it was an easy problem to fix after I had calmed down.

The reason I had run into the problem was because I was trying to delete the code for my Meta Slider in the functions.php and I missed a piece of the code. I like the idea of the slider, but I don’t have motivation to make the most of it and I didn’t like the way it was appearing on my static pages. Some other design elements I changed on the blog were the Google Fonts I use for Headings (which I’ll probably do a tutorial one day).

As far as blog content, I updated my About and Portfolio pages, which I still consider works-in-progress. Because I think of this blog as something semi-professional that I want to put on my resume I am always trying to emphasize the best possible version of myself and my work. It’s not easy! But if you’re interested in looking at my Portfolio, you’ll get a glimpse of the some of the projects I’ll be sharing soon.

One final thing concerning the blog is that I’ve decided not to do full-length book reviews anymore. I’ve liked doing them for myself, but ultimately they take too much time to write and time is becoming precious. Also I don’t think that my thoughts reach many people here anyway so I’d rather just get better about reviewing books directly on Goodreads.

Next Week

Next week I am participating in the Bookentine 2016 Read-a-Thon, so I’m hoping to read a lot but also keep up my work on my novel. My new deadline for my first draft (announced in Novel Progress #2) is April 1st, so I don’t want to lose any momentum. As far as what will be going up on Ink Keys and Other Things beyond my text tool review of Twine and Novel Progress #3, I think I will be doing three additional writing-related posts, including: an introduction to the text object I’ll be creating for my multimedia portfolio, my future plans for fanfiction, and the works you will soon be able to see on Wattpad!

I hope you enjoyed this post and are excited for what’s coming up here on Ink Keys and Other Things! As always, thank you for taking the time to read. See you soon.

Thank you for reading!
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Bookentine 2016 TBR

♥ ♡ ♥   Bookentine 2016   ♥ ♡ 

This February 8–14th is the second annual Bookentine read-a-thon which was created last year by the Australian book blogging duo Michelle & Ely from Tea & Titles! I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since the original read-a-thon because that is how I met Ely and really began to feel like a part of the book blogging community. It was quite by chance that I discovered this read-a-thon, and I’m happy to participate once again this year!

I don’t do many read-a-thons anymore because I generally burn out after I’ve read my first book and lose all excitement. Also, I really loved read-a-thons when I felt like it was a race for me to complete my reading goal for the year. This year I know it’s more than possible, so I’m in no hurry and just want to enjoy being able to read whatever I like.

You can read whatever books you like, but Michelle & Ely created three optional challenges to help inspire your selection if you feel like spicing things up.

The challenges:

  1. Read a contemporary set outside of America.
  2. Read a 2015 release you didn’t get to.
  3. Read a book by an author you’ve never read before.

I personally will not be focusing on the challenges, although I will be completing the second one, as what I really want is to use this read-a-thon to read books I’ve been meaning to read and think a read-a-thon would be perfect motivation for me to hunker down and finish.

First, I would like to finish Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I started this book in January and although I’ve enjoyed the first 80 pages or so, I’ve felt the need to finish other books first. I think this book would be perfect to read during a read-a-thon because of the unusual format.

I also would like to read a book called Status Update by Alice E. Marwick. It was assigned reading in one of my classes this past semester and I found it really interesting and important for anyone interested in working in social media, which I think I would like to do. Also, it’s non-fiction so I don’t think I will have trouble reading it after Illuminae if I get a book hangover after reading it.

And if there’s anytime left over from that, I’d like to make a dent in my writing buddy’s first novel draft she gifted me for Christmas! I want to provide her with feedback as she is already going through edits for this story, so I need to finish it up soon!

If you are also planning on participating or have read any of the books I’ve mentioned, let me know in the comments!  Also make sure to use the hashtag #Bookentine16 on Twitter to keep up with everyone and get to know fellow participants.

Thank you for reading!
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Novel Progress #2 (On Deadlines)

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It was very difficult making the time to sit down and write or even think about my story this past week, which might not be a surprise if you read my Week in Rewind #1, in which I talk about everything I did last week. My biggest personal priority was finishing a dense novel (Six of Crows) I had to return to the library last Friday that I had barely even started. Which gave me a book hangover because IT WAS AMAZING! Then I was preoccupied with homework I was trying to get done early so that I could focus entirely upon my first presentation of the semester.

Despite my busy-ness, I had decided writing would be a priority this year. So I managed to make sure I was thinking about my story throughout the week and did a little bit of work on it here and there. And I did in fact manage to start writing some real words too; words I will not try not delete until I reach the editing stage.

In this post, as I don’t have much progress to share, I wanted to talk about my thoughts on writing deadlines and the specific deadline I have given myself to complete the first draft of EMatST.

Deadlines

In my experience, setting myself deadlines could be either really motivating or really soul-crushing. I think which way the deadline ultimately ends up affecting me has depended on how determined I am when I first set my deadline. This January I realized how serious I am about my goal to write a novel this year, so I’ve decided to up the ante and set myself a deadline for when I’d like to complete my first draft.

What’s the hurry? You might be wondering. Well, I don’t really have the best reason. I just feel like everyone around me is editing and I want to get to that stage too! It seems like a lot more fun. And I feel like if I don’t push myself, I’ll never stop worrying about getting every little detail right. I’ve already noticed myself beginning to procrastinate from actual writing by telling myself I need to figure out more story specifics first. But I’ve realized that not knowing everything yet doesn’t mean I shouldn’t start writing yet.

It’s very disheartening reading advice from published authors that often major chunks of their first drafts get cut out completely. It should be a bit freeing. But for me it is daunting and has led to a tendency for me to put off writing in the hopes if I know more about the story from the outset less words will be useless in the end.

Anyway, so I decided to set myself a deadline of:

April 1st

That gives me two months to complete my first draft of EMatST. I don’t know how many words that will be, but I’m hoping it will mean more than 50,000. I thought about trying to pretending February is NaNoWriMo (NaFeWriMo ^_^), but I realized I’m not in such a rush to finish this novel that I’m willing to potentially sacrifice my performance in school. So two months seems like it should be more than enough time if I remain diligent.

End Note

I hope to have more to share about my novel’s progress in next week’s Novel Progress installment. I have an impending deadline to create my first Multimedia Portfolio piece on the 15th, so I might share something about that next week as well. In the meanwhile, I hope you found this post helpful in thinking about deadlines and whether they might be right for you, now or in the future.

I’d like to do more of these conversation-based writing posts in the future. If you have a topic idea you’d like me to explore and report back on, let me know in the comments! Also let me know whether you’ve found success or failure in setting yourself writing deadlines.

Thank you for reading!
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