reddit

I hate to say it, but I have finally joined reddit.  I am a redditor. *tips fedora*

I have always thought of reddit as a meme site, a ripoff of 4chan and, at its least offensive, a pale imitator of my beloved Livejournal communities.  In fact, I have actively resisted signing up for reddit despite finding amazing articles and posts there over the years about any topic you can dream of.  However, I am sick at home today and probably a little delirious from cold meds/pain meds/accidentally huffing gas from the fireplace I’ve been laying in front of for 5 straight days, and in my internet browsings I came across a few subreddits that compelled me to bite the bullet:

r/learnart — I have a little bit of natural artistic talent that I’d like to nurture beyond drawing realistic dicks like that kid in Superbad, and this seems like a great place to gain resources and inspiration.

r/SketchDaily — this is exactly what I’ve been looking for, to be honest.  If left to my own devices I will just draw chicks from magazines, random old-timey body parts from my Grey’s Anatomy textbook, or realistic dicks.  So it’s nice to have some variety to challenge myself with daily.

r/worldbuilding — I feel like this is the answer to all of the problems I’ve ever had in writing.  Even if I can only avoid cringeworthiness in fantasy life instead of real life… I’ll take what I can get, and hopefully avoid making some shitty goblins in a Tolkien rip-off in the meantime.  There’s also a reading list that I’d like to tackle at some point.

A couple of the above subreddits are included on an incredible list of 30 subreddits that may assist aspiring artists in attaining their goals.  I hope that this gives you some inspiration in nurturing your own interests, whether they include art, drawing, some other creative pursuit or maybe even something useful and valuable to society.  Take it from me — I am 31 and I’ve recently learned that you are never too old to find more things to fail spectacularly at.

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2017

What up, punks???????  Time to fan the flames of mediocrity for another year of pointless rambling!!!!!!!

Seriously though, 2017 is already off to a great start.  I’ve only broken one of my dishes.  I’ve read a book that has been on my list basically since its publication (Hannibal Rising, and it only took me an actual decade to get started) and I’ve eaten roughly 3/4 of a kilogram of brie in addition to various other fancy cheeses left over from our quiet New Year’s celebration.  There’s still an oppressive half pound of cheese sitting in the fridge that mocks me every time I open the door looking for more wholesome, less caloric items like lettuce or maybe water.  Aren’t you going to eat me, fattycakes?  You know you want to.

But 2016 wasn’t a total loss either, despite everyone on Facebook constantly complaining about it.  I lost some weight, and by May 2016 I was down 45 lbs from my weight in spring 2015.  I started running (!!!) and even ran a 5K without dying.  I came in third last, which is good enough for me — I even beat my ister-in-law in the race, and since then my time has gotten a lot better.  I also started roller skating, with the intent of someday benchmarking and playing roller derby on Prince Rupert’s fledgling team.  I hurt my back a few more times but then I did some physio and fixed most of the things I was doing wrong.  I started playing Ingress, which is sort of lame, but at least it gets me out of the house more than any of my other dumb hobbies.  I did not participate in National Novel Writing Month, although I had intended to, as I was working on a career-related course through November and had no time.  But I did get a new computer, and bought a bunch of books, and worked on my house, and I did do a FUCKTON of non-Stephen King reading which is always an important life goal.

I do have some resolutions which I can summarize with the statement “stop being dumb and lame”.  Said resolutions basically entail spending more time on skills I want to improve on, instead of drinking alone with my cat and looking at YouTube videos every evening.  Some of these skills are things I think I can improve on with only a few minutes a day of dedicated practice.  For example, I was taking some art classes at a local studio in 2015, but the studio unfortunately shut down in early 2016.  I had vowed to continue sketching and painting on my own in 2016 using the skills I’ve learned and the art supplies I’ve amassed… then didn’t, for a whole year, and the supplies are all just gathering dust in my spare room.  Same with writing — other than a couple articles and random attempts at jotting down ideas and paragraphs, I haven’t finished anything or really started anything.  AND my husband and I both now own guitars but I haven’t been practicing as much as I should.  My husband isn’t impressed about my lack of practicing, and constantly threatens to kick me out of our hypothetical metal band — tentatively called Childbarf — but even the threats haven’t been enough to inspire action.

I also resolved to drastically cut down on the amount of alcohol I’ve been drinking, going from several bottles of wine per week to maybe one a month or less.  Alcohol doesn’t improve my life in any measurable way.  It makes me look old as shit (even though I already am), disturbs my sleep, eradicates any caloric deficit I create through exercise, tires me out, and causes me to waste time and money for no good reason.  Like the time I was shopping online after a bottle of wine or two and bought a black shower curtain with a stylized picture of the crucifixion on it.  I was mildly surprised when it arrived from the US two weeks later as I didn’t even remember buying it.  I also immediately identified two problems with the purchase — one, black shower curtains/religious imagery doesn’t really go with my tastefully inoffensive basic-bitch bathroom decor, and two, I have a shower stall so there’s no place to even hang a shower curtain.  Said shower curtain has been sitting on the bathroom shelf in its original packaging for the past year as I have no idea what to do with it.  Thanks, wine.

As part of my plan to put my resolutions into action, I spent today going through this blog and putting snippets of writing together, and have resolved to write for 20 minutes before going to bed.  I’ve also put together some images that I find ~*~inspiring~*~ and will bust out the sketchpad tomorrow, shortly after I spend a few minutes practicing chords.  I feel like these are all very immature goals, better suited to 16-year-old Alyssa had she had her shit together in any sense.  But honestly, it all leads back to providing structure for my life and challenging my mind and body with new skills while also spending time on things that aren’t passive or destructive.  And it makes me feel better about myself to pursue things I’ve always wanted to get better at, instead of spending too much time of Facebook meme pages debating post-ironic doggo images with teenagers and then crying softly into my wine glass about what my life has become.

So, yeah.  2017.  Shit’s happening.

Winning at NaNoWriMo, Losing at Life

winnar

So, I finished NaNoWriMo, edging past the 50 000 word mark — just barely! — at about 9 pm on November 30.  My total word count was 50 169 and at least 40 000 of those were just “fuck”.

I’m kidding, kinda.

I’m actually pretty impressed with myself.  I managed to finally do what I’ve been meaning to do for years and years.  This is the longest thing I’ve ever written and probably the most coherent.  I also seem to have busted open a years-old writer’s block, established a writing habit, and shut down some of the negative statements I used to tell myself — messages like this shit sucks and you’re lying to yourself and writing isn’t a real job nor is it a good use of your time when you have budgies to clean up after.  As a result, writing has gotten easier and more pleasurable.  I get daily inspiration from regular things around me both for this story and new short stories, and I’m always on fire to write.

Plus, my husband has been super supportive and pushed me to finish, which gave me a new trust in him too.  I mean, I did trust him before, but I hadn’t really been open about my artistic endeavours.  He’s the type of guy who tinkers with car engines, not story plots.  The thing is, I don’t need him to be a writer (or even a reader) in order for him to show support and help motivate me.  Now I know that, whatever I decide to do with my time, he’ll be there and he’ll help me in whatever way he can.

My Nano project, temporarily titled Teen Angst and Necromancy, turned out to be a pretty interesting story, too.  I mean, it’s pretty good for something I randomly came up with at 3 in the afternoon standing in the middle of the library on November 1.  (Turns out Nano people have a nickname for derps like me — I’m a “pantser”, meaning I don’t plan and have no organizational skills, and my major writing strategy involves cheap wine, implausible events, and weird stuff I saw in some bizarre dream I had the other night.)  The only problem is that, while I have finished NaNoWriMo, I have not finished the story.  I feel like I’m smack in the middle of it, with no clue what my characters are going to do next and no idea how it ends.

So that’s all well and good, right?  Well, not so much.  While I’ve been succeeding at writing, I’ve been failing at everything else at my life.  At the beginning of November, I injured my neck and shoulder at work, so even typing at the computer was excruciating.  All of my new hobbies, like knitting, were pretty much off the table because it was so aggravating to sit there with my neck in a fixed position using repetitive movements.  Then, three weeks later, I managed to roll the truck I had just spent several thousands of dollars repairing and outfitting with sick new studded winter tires.  And now I have a back injury, and no truck.  Thanks, Highway of Tears!

My injuries have made it kind of tough to do basic things like sleep, cook food and clean my house.  I’ve managed to get it together enough to not live in squalor, but everything else is kind of suffering.  My husband has helped as much as he can, but he lives in a different city, and he could only take so much time off to help me.  So here we are, and not only do I not know the ending of Teen Angst and Necromancy, but I do not know how to continue with the plot that is… my life. (omg, so dramatic)

Anyway, it will probably work itself out.  The life part, I mean.  I will probably end up getting a used Subaru so everyone can make lesbian jokes at my expense, but it would be a vast improvement over all the accident prone/shitty car/hobo lookin’ jokes everyone already makes at my expense, so whatever.  As for the novel, I have not written one word on it since November 30, but I do intend to finish it in time to edit it in January and February.  My new friends from the NaNoWriMo group have proposed starting a writing club so that we can edit each other’s novels (they, too, are winners) and encourage others to join.  My strategy for the next 50 000 words is basically more booze, more random bullshit, and about 40 000 more f-bombs.  I think that is the secret to a manuscript that is truly winning.

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Progress

snorlax18

As you can see, I have been making totally bitchin’ progress over the past few days, and also I have a sweet title for my novel.

I have been told to basically write whatever I want until Nov 30, even if it’s totally shitty, and I have definitely been taking that to heart.

NaNoWriMo, continued

So, when I last updated, I was sitting in the library about to begin my NaNoWriMo adventure surrounded by children and hobos.

Only a few minutes later, things changed pretty drastically.  But to explain why I was totally bewildered, you have to understand some things about me.  One is that I usually have no idea what’s going on or where I am at any given moment.  Two is that I did not in fact understand the realities of the library in the 21st century — I assumed that, being a homeowner and contributing several thousands of dollars per year to the City, that my tax dollars would somehow magically make the computers free for everyone’s use, the way they were at the Beamsville Public Library back in the good ol’ days of 1998 before I had the internet at home or knew what a furry was.  So the plan was to use the library’s computers to write the first 1667 words, then email them to myself or something, and continue like that each day until my own computer was working again.  But no, you have to actually PAY for each use of the library’s computers, for everything beyond the first half hour of use.  And this includes access to the word processing programs, not just the internet.  And of course I didn’t bring any money.

Third, I had brought a huge and conspicuous 1L bottle of diet Coke to the library for some reason, despite the fact that libraries are pretty much known for being places where food and drink are definitely not allowed.  After writing the last entry and also doing some quality creeping around the ‘new releases’ section, I became really thirsty.  It’s just that I was too ashamed to take a sip from my pop, which I was sure would make an embarrassingly loud HISS noise as soon as I opened it, and draw everyone’s attention to where I was sitting at the now useless computer desk (since I had exhausted my free half an hour) which just happened to be situated smack in the middle of the library.  Right in line with everyone’s disapproving stares.

I decided the best course of action would be to leave the items I wouldn’t mind being stolen (including the pop bottle) on my chair to save my seat while I wandered into the library hall to see if there was a water fountain.  What I found was both water and AN ACTUAL SIGN pointing to the NaNoWriMo write-in that was actually happening in a separate room.  This sign was huge and obvious and would have been immediately noticed by anyone entering the library except… well, me, apparently.  This whole time I had assumed that the copious NaNoWriMo stickers and posters all over the place meant that the library was just encouraging people to generally show up to write novels there, not realizing that an actual event was planned out in its own designated space.

I used my best sneaking skills, snuck over to the special conference room, and poked my head it.  I saw three writers sitting at a long table with their backs to me.  Two of them were equipped with laptops and one was writing on note paper.

More importantly, I saw snacks.

I went back and gathered my random shit that I had sloppily left all over the library.  I tried to shake off my crippling fear of social interactions by mustering as much bravery as I could and holding the promise of homemade Rice Krispies squares and Halloween candy firmly in my mind.  I then marched into the room, where I was then accosted by a lady in a tiara who informed me that in order to participate in the write-in I must read aloud, and then sign, a contract stating that I would write 50 000 words in 30 days.

I was terrified.

But I signed it, and I did so witnessed by four people who now know how to harass me on the internet if I don’t keep my word.  I also mentioned it to my husband who makes sure to remind me daily that “YOU SIGNED A CONTRACT” if I don’t feel like writing or if I decide I’d rather just my free time looking at gifs of Kim Kardashian crying or kittens toppling over or something.

(And I also got my hands on some sweet, sweet delicious snacks.)

Tiara Lady turned out to be a lovely person who also lent me a few sheets of paper so I could get off to a good start (remember, at this point my netbook, Craptop AND desktop computers were all broken, and I had brought no paper to the library).  She also lent me the official NaNoWriMo rules book, where I learned that my whole premise for this month’s novel was completely invalid since you have to start a new manuscript, and the wizard one was something I’d already put a few thousand words into over the past year.  I had to come up with a brand new idea, right there, on the spot, at 3:30 pm on November 1.  And I did.  The new idea shall be a secret until it is completed, and I guess I will be saving Billy Bob’s Magical Gangrenous Space Odyssey for December 1 (or never, at the current rate that I’ve been working on it).

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is going well.  I’m ahead of my word count, and my story is hopping along — I still have no idea what I’m actually doing, but I have new ideas every day, and kind of have a general idea of what the middle of the story is going to look like, which is pretty legit.  I also have a character who gets more “real” by the day, and supporting characters that just keep growing in complexity.  I don’t even know what the story’s ABOUT yet, but I feel like I’m off to a strong start for my first NaNoWriMo.  And it turns out I ended up meeting other local writers, people I never would have known existed if I hadn’t walked into that room.  So I am pleased, and things are going well.

Now… back to the story.

November

It has been a tough year.

It’s been one of those years where every problem seems grow bigger and then clumps together to snowball into one raging disaster that smashes through and consumes your life.

Outside of the super dramatic metaphor, though, it turned out to be mostly okay actually, except for a bunch of my immediate family being hospitalized, some medical diagnoses for myself and a couple of other Issues to deal with.  So I mean a couple of my loved ones are missing internal organs now and we’re all on a lot more anti-depressants but the snowball did NOT, in fact, crush my life.  We survived, but it was hard.  And that’s why I haven’t been posting.

But everything has more or less cleared up, and I am not dead, in jail or pregnant (which is how I measure success at life) and therefore I am a champion.  So now’s the time to relax and try to put life back to normal again… just in time for NaNoWriMo.

As a result of one of the aforementioned Issues, I have adopted a new super-frugal philosophy of living.  I refuse to buy clothes, food or literally anything else I don’t desperately need.  I immediately regretted this once I realized that I idiotically spent like a hundred dollars on Halloween candy and decorations for the TWELVE CHILDREN who showed up at my door last night, and yet can’t ‘allow’ myself to buy a new computer.  Of course, this morning I woke up on the first day of NaNoWriMo to discover that not only was my laptop cord chewed up, but my wireless keyboard is also dead and I can’t get my desktop to move past the ‘safe mode’ option screen.  None of my technology is working.  So here I am, at the public library, about to begin the first 1200 words or so of my soon-to-be shitty fantasy novel with a bunch of school children and hobos looking over my shoulder.

I guess it’s not properly fantasy, actually.  It’s speculative fiction.  It combines elements of horror and sci-fi and shit.  In my head it’s a mash-up of Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination and the third book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  Also my main character is a wizard who is basically Billy Bob Thornton with magical powers but also brain damage and gangrene.  HOW CAN THIS NOT BE A BEST SELLER.

Stay tuned, jerks, I’m about to rock your world.