Random Summer Is Random

I’m the kind of person who likes to have some structure to my life. It can be a little bit of structure or a lot of structure, but preferably a mix. If I need to practice piano earlier in the day than usual to accommodate something that can only be done later in the day, I like having that flexibility. But if I didn’t have my piano lesson at the same time every week, I’d have a hell of a time planning around it and remembering when I need to head out the door (note to self: you need to leave in about 45 minutes for this week’s lesson).

But trying to maintain any kind of structure to my days this summer? Didn’t happen. Too much flux, which is one of many reasons I’ve been so scattershot about blogging the last few months. Hopefully, though, September should bring a touch more stability with it. Classes for my MLIS program start this Thursday. Regular weekly choir rehearsals start up again next Wednesday. My last day at Ye Olde Day Job was a week ago; I’m hoping to find something part-time and library related, but in the meantime, there’s a freelance database project I’ll probably be taking on. And with all of those things set, maybe I can get back into something resembling a regular routine for writing and exercise, both of which I’m ashamed to say I’ve been mostly neglecting lately. Bad me. Bad.

Related to all of the crazy flux in my life right now, trying to answer the question “What do you do for a living?” at my grad school orientation last week was far more difficult than it used to be. “What do I do? Up until a few days ago, I was a grant writer for a theater company. Why did I leave something that sounds so cool? Well, working in the performing arts was cool, but fundraising made me miserable, and I really loved the two years I spent working in a music library, which is why I’m pursuing my MLIS now. Why didn’t I stay at the music library job? Because it was a temporarily funded project, or else I would have. No, I’m not going to be a fulltime student now. I’m hoping to find a part-time library job, and I’ll probably be taking on a freelance database project.  

“Oh, and I also write fiction.”

What I Didn’t Blog About On My Summer Vacation

*taps the blog mic*

Is this thing on?

So, yeah, I’ve been rubbish about posting lately. Life has been consumed by a big busy combo of workshopping craziness, vacationing, trying to finish things up at Ye Olde Day Job before my last day (two more weeks!), and preparing for that whole wacky grad school thing I’ll be starting in September. There has been precious little time for writing, which makes me cranky.

As for the aforementioned workshopping craziness, that would be TNEO (aka The Never-Ending Odyssey), which I attended last month, and it was all manner of awesome. Awesome people, awesome feedback, and awesome moments of writing-related light bulbs going off. Like three-act structure. For some reason, I always had the hardest time getting a firm grasp on three-act structure, but this time it finally clicked and I could finally see where I had (unknowingly) used it in some of my stuff.

I had two short stories and a novel chapter critiqued at TNEO this year, and I’m totally stoked to get the revision work underway on them. It’s easy to walk out of critique sessions overwhelmed by feedback overload, especially when you get conflicting opinions. But this year, there was so much consensus as to what was and wasn’t working in my submissions and so much helpful brainstorming that I feel like I know exactly what I need to do and won’t be bogged down trying to sort through conflicting reactions.

One really helpful session we did at TNEO was a plot breakout technique. Each person presented a plot they wanted help with, after which we would do about a half an hour’s worth of brainstorming that involved lots of adding and rearranging and deleting of various plot elements, done with index cards on a board. I was looking for ways to strengthen Act 2 (now that I know where Act 2 is!) of one of the major plot threads in My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel and got lots of great ideas, including more characters to kill (always a plus in my book). My collection of index cards ended up looking like this:

That big mess o’ cards down the middle would be Act 2, with Act 1 to the left and Act 3 to the right.

Now if only life would settle the hell down and let me get in some more writing time, I could make better use of all that crazy awesome brainstorming!