Kayt Ludi
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the audiobook version. While some of the advice was stuff that could be found in any other self help book, some of it was wholly original and exciting. And the author fully owned that not every word she was communicating could be called earth shattering. But the best reason to read this book as opposed to others is the style of the author. Jen Sincero writes like your best friend telling you the truth. She writes without pulling any punches, in a straightforward vernacular, but with a perceived underlying concern for your well-being and self improvement. It's basically impossible not to listen.

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Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was assigned this book in my latest creative writing course. And, overall, it's a good read and a mostly helpful book. I admit some of it is redundant for anyone who has ever taken a previous course, or written anything of their own. But even when the subject being discussed was boring, the book often found a fresher take on it. We jumped around in the book, and didn't read the entire think in our 7.5 week course. I so liked what I read during the class that I went ahead and read the rest. Having done that, though, I can see why we skipped those parts. They didn't add much really. However, the parts we covered in class made up for that, I think, so I'm still giving this 4 stars.

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I'm something of a compartmentalizer.

I had a personal blog and a writing blog. I had a website to advertise my freelance writing and other marketable skills, and a separate site to talk about my fiction writing saga. I have a personal twitter and a writing twitter. I didn't want to "bother" people from one area of my life with stuff from another. Didn't want to bore personal friends with talk of writing, or posted poetry. Didn't want to offend fellow word-lovers with my politics, or bore them with monotonous check-ins to the same handful of places (I'd be depressingly easy to stalk if anyone were so inclined, lol).

But I'm done with that.

Maybe it's the New Year, or my new word. Maybe it's just my age showing - I am in my fuck-it-forties, after all. Maybe it was an article I read which said that having a website under a cutesy online pseudonym (like my qwertyKayt) is best if your 'brand' is talking about writing, while having a site under your own name is best for authors. Maybe it was all of that. Maybe it was none. If I knew myself better I wouldn't need to write to figure things out.

But I'm consolidating and streamlining things as much as possible. For now, twitter will remain divided because a)Twitter doesn't let me join two accounts, and b) my personal feed is SO crowded that even with Hoot Suite, lists, notifications about individual accounts, etc., I fear I'd miss some really good posts. I reserve the right to change my mind about this in the future.

If this blurring of lines offends, or bores, or bothers anyone I apologize ... ok, not really. This is my life, and ultimately the only person who has to be made happy by it is me. If some previously compartmentalized part of me really turns off some hitherto unexposed component of my tiny tribe, maybe we were never soulmates anyway.

But I hope that we are :-)

I don't know what rock I've been living under, but this concept of having a guiding word for the year is brand new to me. I only know about it because of a vlogger I watch regularly: She's in Her Apron. But the idea is SO up my alley.

I've never been a resolution-maker, but a word? I love words, obviously. I live for them, by them, and though them. To use one to define all my many intentions and goals for the year is one of those ideas where I'm mystified that I never thought of it!

My word for 2018 is: RELEASE

When December started I was riding a wave of perceived accomplishment. And I imagined / assumed it would continue to flow. I had huge plans for the month. I was going to put the 40,000 words I managed for NaNoWriMo on the back burner for the month and write the first draft of a second, unrelated, novel.

But something drowned my plans (ok, done with the water metaphor, I swear).

It's happened the last few years, and it has been getting worse, but somehow the pattern escaped me. It's not the depression I'm familiar with - the one that arrives for no reason, at no particular time, and leaves only when the drugs drag it out the door kicking and screaming. It's not a weather-related case of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). First of all, I live in Arizona, our weather is only slightly more existent than my native California. We have only: lightweight sweater weather, 3 days of pleasant perfection, hot, hotter, and 'the armpit of hell' hot. Those of us who aren't native get our Starbuck's pumpkin spice in the icey frappuccino variety because we're still running our air conditioning in November. Second of all, I'm the pasty-skinned beach-hating girl whose favorite seasons (in locales which have them) have always been Autumn and Winter. I love grey, overcast, rainy weather. I love snow, unless I have to go out in it. But the bottom line is, if I were to suffer from SAD, it'd be in summer when all I want is a cool cave in which to hibernate.

But over the course of the recent past, I've been doing what I lovingly refer to as 'collapsing in a heap' every December. It seems to start around Thanksgiving, and starts to fade almost immediately after Christmas. At first I blamed it on perpetual holiday poverty. Then I thought it must be coming down from the adrenaline which governs FINALS season. And I think those probably are factors. As are the compulsory reevaluation funks we all tend to feel around our birthdays and the end of the year (which are 10 days apart for me). And this year, I had the added excuse of running myself extra ragged by doing NaNoWriMo. But I'm not convinced what part, if any, of that contributes to the collapse.

All I do know is that I do see the pattern finally, and I will try to plan to withdraw and regroup next year at this time. After all, what exactly is wrong with taking a month where you sleep more, watch tv too much, eat too much, watch movies and read FOR FUN Instead of assignments, ponder your past/present/future, and come out of it feeling more in tune with yourself, and interested in going forward? What's wrong with taking a month to act like a tree? Letting go of all your outside trappings and pulling inside to do the quiet persevering hustle of survival at your core?

Now to go kick ass in 2018 :-)

I had signed up for NaNoWriMo eons ago, and by eons I mean over a decade. And yet, despite the initial, and recurrent, desire to take part, I never did. First and foremost, it's taken me years to come to terms with the idea of sharing the odd goings on which call my head their home. Secondly, there has always seemed to be some perfectly convenient excuse, as there always is, for why it's not convenient to do it now.

But despite the eternal headaches of holidays, schoolwork - and this year, actual final exams - coinciding with NaNoWriMo, I decided to shut up and just try it this year. Something about feeling that I had such lovely, and valid, excuses built in for any possible failures, made it seem somehow less frightening to think of doing so. So what if I only hit 20,000 words, I thought, that's way more than I had, and I can always blame it on school.

In the interest of honesty, I must admit, I started with about 4,000 words I'd previously written. But since I am a dyed in the wool 'pantser' and didn't pre-plot a thing, I feel like that's an advantage that probably just sets me on level ground with those who knew exactly what they were about to write. See, I used NaNoWriMo to work on one of the two novels I had started which are destined (or doomed) to become a couple of series I want to write. Both of which I had taken to about 4-5,000 words, and left to languish earlier this year. I like the ideas, and believed I was excited to work on them, but also was convinced I lacked the time.

My novel was originally conceived as a caper series. My MC is a woman who just turned 40 and is deeply dissatisfied with her mundane job and boring life. She decides, half as a joke, half as a dare to herself, to see if she could ever pull off a heist of her own, like the ones in the books and tv shows she loves. She ends up completely changing her life, and the character ended up going off in some directions I wasn't expecting - as I said, I'm incapable of outlining - not that that's a bad thing. She's wound up becoming less of a thief and slightly more of a crusading Robin Hood. I like her, perhaps even more for the fact that she went places I wasn't expecting. I want to keep coming back to her and seeing where she goes. And, really, what more can you ask from a character you birthed with the goal of writing a series?

So NaNoWriMo 2017 ended with my novel hitting 40,004 words. Not the 50,000 we were all aiming for during the 'competition'. Not the 60,000 - 80,000 of many typical novels. Not the stated goal, admittedly. But a number of which I am quite proud. I know as I revise it things will be added, while others might be cut. I will try to take it up to 50-60,000, but I also feel like I hit a genuinely good breaking point for the series. I think most of the word growth will have to come by fleshing things out throughout the story, rather than adding on to the end. And fleshing out is not my strongsuit. I'm a cutter and a gutter, more than a fluffer and padder. I like short sentences. But I also know I'll get it where it belongs.

And all of this leads me to what valuable epiphanies I've had in the wake of NaNoWriMo 2017.

  • I can write 35,000 words in a month.
  • I can pull off 6,922 words in one day if I try hard.
  • I can write most of a novel, I'm mostly happy with, without outlining it the way people say you must - meaning, I can do it my way (even though it might be harder or slower).
  • I can write 2,000 words, most days.
  • My writing flows best between midnight and 2 am.
  • I can write a novel at the same time I'm finishing, and taking finals, in a 7.5 week long class where I pulled off 95%
  • I HAVE NO MORE EXCUSES (aside from mental hang ups or general laziness) to not write more. I can certainly never again use lack of time as my scapegoat.

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