Blog Schedule Update

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Over the past seven plus years, I’ve taken great pride in being very consistent with my posting here on Wright Words.  I picked once a week for my schedule because I wanted to be sure I could keep my posting schedule.  I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I’ve only completely missed one post since I started in September 2014.  There have been a handful of late posts, but even those are rare and I’ve always felt good about that record of consistent posting.

It’s been an incredibly strange and stressful couple years, and the weekly schedule has been more of a struggle in recent months.  With that being the case, I’m going to be scaling back on the blog for 2022.  I’ll still be posting my image prompts every second Friday, so there will be at least one post a month.  I’d still like to post my responses to those, but I’m going to give myself two weeks, so when those do happen, they’ll post on the third Friday of the month.  Other posts will happen as I am able or as I have something to share or think about through writing.

I hope to return to the once-a-week schedule in the future, but for now, I need to focus on taking care of myself and not burning out if I can help it.  I hope all of you are taking good care of yourselves during these strange times.

May your words flow freely and your ideas be plentiful.

Image Prompt 084

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day. For 2022 I’m going to be doing this a little differently and remixing old image prompts for the next twelve months instead of selecting brand new images. I’m looking forward to seeing what new inspiration I can find on these familiar images.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Where I’m From: 2022 Edition

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This is my yearly version of the “Where I’m From” poem prompt.  You can find my original prompt here and the versions from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.  If anyone else wants to try their hand at the poem prompt, I’d love to read your results, so feel free to leave a comment.

Where I’m From

I am from colorful highlighters, from Logitech trackballs and NaNoWriMo mugs.

I am from the dark, semi-underground hobbit hole with artificial sun lamps.

I am from the proliferating pathos, the unblooming Christmas cactus with tiny cat teeth marks.

I am from too many holiday treats and wispy hair, from Carolyn and Carolton and Carol Anne.

I am from the ability to get food on one’s shirt while wearing a full apron and crying when stressed.

From don’t play with your food and we believe in you.

I am from simple alters and wooden crosses.  The cycles of the moon and sun and the triquetra.

I’m from the Scottish countryside, Crack Dip and Scotcheroos.

From the news stories of Grammy’s search for ancestors in Scotland from five great grandfather Brown’s letters, the kind families who drove her to ancestral sites on their properties, and the pictures of mom and her sister by the same European statue.

I am from albums and boxes, hard drives and calendars.

From memories and stories, letters and articles, and entire collections at university archives. From inspiration, joy, and recollection.

2021 Writing Year in Review

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2021 was another exciting year.  I could do without excitement for a while, to be honest.  My writing year had some ups and downs, and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on that and my 2021 journey and look ahead to 2022.

I participated in the Get Your Words Out writing challenge again this year, with a Journeyman level goal of 240 days with at least 20 minutes of writing during the year.  Signups for that go through the first few days of January, if anyone is interested.  I think I’ve gotten what I need from the challenge over the past couple years, so I’m going to move to a personal goal tracking method based on the fancy spreadsheet made available through Get Your Words Out.  I’ve learned a lot about spreadsheets and formulas in the last year, so I’m going to try some of that out.

As for 2021, here’s some stats about my creative production this year.  I say creative production because I also tracked the time I spent on cross stitch and sewing projects this year, so if I spent at least twenty minutes in a given day either writing or doing one of those two things, it counted as a creative production day.

Statistics:

Total Days: 294

Days of Writing: 260

Approximate Total Hours: 398

Approximate Writing Hours: 179

Writing Projects Worked On: 12

Days by Month:

January: 31

February: 28

March: 26

April: 27

May: 25

June: 23

July: 25

August: 21

September: 26

October: 16

November: 30

December: 16

It’s interesting looking at the numbers like this.  I appear much more consistent than I felt like I was across the year.  Granted, a large part of the non-writing days happened in the last few months of the year, which may be coloring my perception.

I started out 2021 on a roll from my NaNoWriMo 2020 project, which I started writing character sketches and pre-novel scenes for in late September 2020 and I kept writing straight through into January and even a bit into February, though I spent a good chunk of those two months on another project as well.  That’s probably the longest I’ve worked on a project continuously since the sequel to Strong Fort Spathí (which I’m still working on, if intermittently).

I seem to be ending 2021 a bit burnt out to be honest.  My NaNoWriMo project didn’t go as expected and I’m not sure I’ll ever return to it, but I think that has a lot more to do with everything around it than the story itself.  By November the stress of seventeen months in pandemic isolation and then three months of transitioning out of that into a hybrid work situation had caught up with me.  And that’s okay.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year was that it’s okay to be tired or unmotivated and to take time to rest.  Pushing through is only going to make things worse.  That means putting some of my writing projects on the back burner while I do cross stitch (which is very mentally soothing in its regularity and patterns) and while I don’t love taking time away from my writing, I know it’s an important part of keeping my writing brain and myself healthy.

Burnout is something that’s starting to happen to me in a lot of places in my life, and where I can, I need to take good care of myself and ease back so that I can avoid the worst pitfalls of burnout and then rest and recover so I can come back stronger.

However your writing productivity has gone in 2021, I hope you can do what you need to have a productive 2022, even if that means not starting up right away in January.  Here’s to a happy new year.

Happy Holidays 2021

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I hope everyone is enjoying this holiday season, whatever holiday you do or don’t celebrate.  There are many options both religious and secular.  The common thread seems to be spending time with loved ones, so I hope you’re all having a chance to do that, regardless.

I’m off doing the same, which means limited computer access for a while, so I’ll be back with a long post next week looking at my writing year and then it will be time for the traditional Where I’m From poem in January.

Cheers!

Image Prompt Response 083 – Surprise

Chocolate frosted birthday cake with candles.
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I chose the image of the chocolate cake with candles for my twenty-minute sprint this time.

Surprise:

Riah didn’t know what they were going to do now.  They’d manage to get invitations to everyone, get the cake baked, frosted, sprinkled, and studded with candles, and even hidden everyone’s cars out of sight around the corner so there would be nothing outside to tip Jaime off about the surprise party when she got home.

And that was the problem right there.  Jaime had just sent a text to her brother that she was going to be late.  To the tune of three hours late.  How were they supposed to keep two dozen people happy for two hours and still manage to surprise Jaime when they didn’t know exactly when she’d be home now?

“Relax,” James said, draping his arm across Riah’s shoulders.  “You are far too freaked out about this.  It’s going to be fine.”

“But the surprise part,” Riah protested.

“Will still be a surprise.  So, we might not manage to all be hiding around the corner and yell, but I think that’s going to be a blessing in disguise.  When she gets home, she’ll be surprised to find us all here and delighted we care and that will be that.”

“What is everyone going to do for three hours?”

“Exactly what they’ve been doing for the hour they’ve already been here,” James replied with a laugh.  “We’re all going to hang out and have a good time catching up.  Remember that most of us haven’t seen each other in over a year just like we haven’t seen Jaime in over a year.”

“Alright, fine, I’ll try to relax,” Riah agreed.

“Good,” James said, kissing the side of her head before wandering off to talk to someone else.

“She’ll appreciate this more than a perfectly executed surprise party anyway,” someone said quietly from behind Riah.

She turned to find Eddy, one of Jaime’s grad school roommates sitting in the rocking chair in the living room.  Riah hadn’t realized anyone else was in the room.  None of the lights were on and it was already dark out.

“What are you doing hiding in the dark?” Riah asked.

“I’m always hiding in the dark,” Eddy replied, laughing.

“Fair,” Riah replied.  When she’d visited Jaime in grad school Eddy’s room always had the lights off.  He seemed to use only ambient light from outside, other rooms, and electronics to see by.  “But why are you hiding alone?  I know Tacia and David are here too,” she said, since all three of Jaime’s grad school roommates had made it.

“I see them all the time,” Eddy replied.  “They’d rather hang out with everyone else and catch up.  I’m still jet lagged and not great company anyway, so I was planning to pseudo nap until Jaime arrived.”

“Am I disturbing you?” Riah asked.

“It’s fine,” Eddy said.  Mostly I just want to sit here half zoned out and relax.  I’m going to be a zombie for the next thirty-six or more hours anyway.”

“It must have been a long trip for jet lag that bad,” Riah replied, unable to not be curious about where Eddy had been.

“I got back from Japan yesterday morning,” Eddy said.

“Wow.”  That was a lot of jet lag, for sure.  “What were you doing in Japan?”

“Research,” Eddy replied.  “A friend from undergrad moved out there to teach English and had kept in touch.  They’d made some good contacts in the cosplay world, so I came out to interview people and get some good photos and samples of their work.  They were really great, and my friend even translated for me when needed.  It was pretty awesome.”

“Sounds like a pretty amazing trip,” Riah said.  Eddy did something related to theater and costuming but not with an actual theater according to Jaime.

“Good news!” Jaime’s brother shouted from the kitchen.  “I got her coworker, and he said the boss hadn’t even asked anyone else if they could stay and help.  He told everyone and he didn’t even have to ask, they just all volunteered to take over and send Jaime home because it’s her birthday.  They all dressed down their boss for it too, trying to put all the work on her just because she’s fast at it and not asking the whole team to help when it’s a deadline.  She just left and will be here in fifteen minutes.”

“So you can orchestrate the yelling if you want,” Eddy said with a laugh.

“James is right, isn’t he?” Riah asked.  “She’ll be happier if we’re just all here having fun and she shows up not expecting us.  She’d hate us yelling surprise.”

“She wouldn’t hate it,” Eddy replied.  “But she’d enjoy it more if it was just all of us hanging out and hollering joyfully when she showed up.”

“Okay, new plan,” Riah called to the assembled.  “No gathering and turning the lights off, just make a joyful noise when she walks in, yeah?”

“Yeah!” they all chorused back.

“She’ll love it, you’ll see,” Eddy said, grinning up at Riah.

“Thanks,” Riah replied.  Eddy had lived with Jaime, so he’d know how she’d react to surprises.  She’d trust in his opinion today.

Image Prompt 083 – Celebrations

Live Christmas tree with large gold ball ornaments and a multi-pointed gold starburst topper.
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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

Chocolate frosted birthday cake with candles.

Live Christmas tree with large gold ball ornaments and a multi-pointed gold starburst topper.

NaNoWriMo 2021 Wrap Up

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I survived NaNoWriMo 2021 and ended up with quite a few more words than I anticipated.  I finished things off with six straight hours of online write-ins (hosted by various MLs in my region) and a final total of 68,999 words.  I wrote every single day in November, with a low word count of 9 words in a day and a high of 6,422.

My original story idea came with a plot outline and some solid characters.  I got distracted for over 20,000 words with a side plot romance that wasn’t even supposed to exist.  When that had run it’s course, I wasn’t feeling very engaged with the original story idea, so I ended up starting something entirely new.  This was a romance and getting from meet cute to dating managed to get me through the rest of November.  While I like my characters, I’m not sure I like the story itself enough to finish it or edit it, but maybe I’ll revisit the idea later.  It wouldn’t be the first time I thought there was nothing to be done with a NaNo draft only to reread it a few months later and find it much better than I remembered.

I hope all of you who participated in NaNoWriMo this year met the goals you set for yourselves, whether that was the traditional 50,000 words, to write every day of the month, or just to increase your word count on a project.  Since I’ve proven to myself that I can write 50k in a month (or 100k if I really put my mind to it or have more time away from work) my goal was to write every single day, and I’m proud of myself for meeting that goal.

Here’s to an enjoyable holiday season, writing through to the end of the year, and keeping the habit going into 2022.

NaNoWriMo Week Four 2021

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It’s been another strange year of NaNoWriMo for me.  No in-person gatherings changes the characteristics of the challenge a little, and I miss seeing everyone, but I’m glad we’re all being safe by not increasing our exposure risks.

I started out with one idea, spent nearly 20,000 words (or more?) on a tangent side plot that I hadn’t originally planned, and then completely abandoned it all to work on a new idea.  But I wrote my 50,000 words and then some, and I’m still writing through the end of the month, so I’m going to call that a win even if I did project hop a bit.  I plan to earn my NaNo badge for updating my word count every singe one of the 30 days of November, so I still have a few days to explore this newer idea.

If you’re making your NaNo attempt this year, I hope it’s going well, whatever that means for you.

Image Prompt Response 082 – Unicorn Muse

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I chose the image of Beau, my ML mascot rainbow-maned unicorn boy for my twenty-minute sprint this time.

Title: Unicorn Muse

Beau waited patiently for the lights to be turned off and the humans to go to sleep for the night.

He’d chosen a potentially dangerous path when he’d selected his form for the human world.  Everyone had told him that the type of toy he was inhabiting was typically bought by small children and subject to all kinds of abuse, but he’d believed in the vision his mother had before he was selected to journey to the mortal world to inspire humans.  She’d seen his final form as a Muse, so he’d selected the nearest thing he could.

He’d materialized on the shelf of a store in his tiny plush body with little or no ability to move on its own, even if it had locomotion.  The “legs” it had been given weren’t even big enough to qualify as feet compared to the rest of the plush body.  That was the advantage of magic and selecting a form that was incredibly light.  He’d explored the store after it closed and decided to settle on the very top shelf of the display of plush toys that looked like him.  It had proved a strategic decision.

The next day, before the store even opened, one of the employees selected him and two others just like him and purchased them.  He spent the remainder of the day sequestered in a bag, but then she took him home.  He could tell as soon as they were in her space that she was a very creative sort.  It permeated her little dwelling.

It was a few days later when he and the others were taken with her somewhere.  One of the inanimate plush with no spirit riding within was given to a lovely woman who was incredibly excited.  A few days later, he was presented to a different woman.  She was just as excited as the first one.

He’d been with this woman for a few weeks now.  She was just as creative as the original, but in a different way.  And today, she’d made alterations that he was fairly sure put him in the form his mother had seen.  He had to wait for her to go to sleep, and then for the man she lived with to go to sleep as well.  When only the cat was still awake, Beau carefully flew to the bathroom, locking the cat on the other side and turning on the light.

He had a rainbow.  Tail and main had both been adorned with carefully tied colorful threads, enhancing the original pink.  Beau approved.

Over the next few weeks, he began to understand the extent to which the woman he’d been given to would help spread and enhance his influence, much as she’d enhanced his mane and tail.  Once a week she gathered with other writers to talk and share ideas.  Almost a month after she’d enhanced his own colorful hair, she did the same for her own, returning home with six colors of the rainbow.  That was the week the larger gatherings began.

Beau was taken along to a large party, and then more and more gatherings of writers.  He didn’t always understand human speech properly in his tiny plush form, but he learned there was a large writing event that happened once a year, and the woman he’d been gifted to organized gatherings for others, along with the original woman and the other she’d gifted a plush unicorn.

His choice of form had led him to a ringleader of a local creative writing community.  He’d already learned that she dabbled in sewing and other small crafts, and many of the writers she met with drew or crafted in some other way as well.  The original woman who’d purchased him even painted.

At every gathering, his new owner would bring him out of his special place nestled in her bag and display him for all to see, sometimes alongside a sign or tucked near her laptop on the little stand she used.  He helped others finder her, and he brought smiles to their faces, and when she called out “Ready!  Set!  Sprint!” he let his power wash out over them as they typed furiously.