Writer’s Journal: Jan. ’21

Currently Drafting:

Currently Editing:

  • Cut From Mother’s Bones

It feels so good returning to these posts. As I’ve mentioned before, these posts are a form of accountability. They force me to track the different projects I’m working on in a month, which is so important for someone who struggles to maintain a balanced schedule or organizational system. They also help me put into focus the amount of work I’ve started or completed within a month. I’m trying to develop new habits and reinforce old ones and writing these monthly posts is one of the habits I hope to stick to in 2021. So with that preamble done, here is a recap of my January:

I read one of my short stories! I participated in a reading showcase that my writing group organized. It was one of the highlights of my month! If you don’t know, I meet with a group of writers, called The Saturday Scribes, every Saturday from 1-4 pm to chat and write. Our first reading showcase was an intimate experience with a few close friends and family members tuning in to support us. The last time I read in front of an audience was back in 2018 when I read a portion of my MFA thesis, so it was nice reading for an audience of 15-20 people. And the story I shared during the showcase is one that I genuinely love. Hearing the feedback from my friends after the showcase inspired me to return to this story. I’ve already workshopped this story with a group of friends and their comments will guide my edits and revision. Participating in the first Scribes’ showcase felt like breathing new life into my writing career. I’m not sure when I’ll read again, but I’ll jump at the next opportunity when it arises! And if you’re interested in receiving news and updates on the Saturday Scribes, be sure to follow us on Facebook!

I also had the opportunity to participate in an outline course. While scrolling through Twitter (and avoiding my to do list), I came across a tweet mentioning the Idea to Outline in Five Days challenge. In the ‘pantser’ vs ‘plotter’ dichotomy, I definitely fall into the ‘pantser’ camp. I typically start with a vague idea for a character and a story, usually I have an opening line or paragraph and I throw these fragments in a blank Google doc and go from there. For a while, it worked. I used my first draft to gather all my ideas and sift through them during the first round of edits. But I think this system has reached its limits. I’ve attempted to outline stories and novels in the past with varying degrees of success. But I think I’ve reached the point where I’ll need to spend some time outlining before the first draft. The challenge broke down an outlining system that is simplistic and allows for enough flexibility during the drafting process, while still providing a roadmap for the big plot points. One of my goals this year is to draft, edit and submit a speculative fiction novella to some markets and I’ll definitely use this outlining system before launching into my first draft.

I’ve flirted with the idea of writing and illustrating my own graphic novel in the far future (when my art skills are better). When I saw that Clarion was offering a class titled, ‘Reading and Making Diverse Comics with Rachelle Cruz,’ I immediately signed up. I came away with a new way to critically examine what I see in a comic. And my ‘TBR’ list grew by the end of the class.

Last, but certainly not least, I ended my month by attending DVCon! There were a lot of phenomenal panels with some amazing authors, agents and editors. Like FIYAHcon last year, DVCon left me inspired and ready to tackle my projects. And since the convention was aimed at marginalized authors, it was great listening to panels discuss some of the fears I experience. One of my favorite panels was the ‘War of the Worlds’ panel. It featured several authors that I deeply admire and look up to. Plus I love hearing how other writers approach their world-building because I’m a person who struggles to not feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes into fleshing out a world. The panels are available on YouTube, so if you missed the convention, you can watch them at your convenience.

Now to the writing portion of my month! I’m currently drafting two short stories to submit to two different anthologies. This is where a writing group comes in handy. A substantial portion of these drafts were written when I met with my friends during our weekly sessions. My goal for February is to outline and complete the first draft of my novella. When I’m not focusing on the novella, I’ll spend my time editing and revising these two short stories. The two anthologies’ submission periods close in March, one on the 1st and the other on the 31st. Needless to say, I don’t have much time. But between my Saturday group and the local speculative fiction group that I plan on joining in February, I’m sure I’ll meet both deadlines. I love the two stories equally and would love for one or both anthologies to publish them. *Fingers crossed*

What’s on my docket for February? The most important task ahead is completing both short stories before the submission periods closes. And I need to finish a draft of my novella. I want to give myself some breathing room between now and when it’s time to submit this. And I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any writing challenges and classes that may strike my interest. I also hope to join another writing group that meets every two weeks via Zoom, though when we’re not in a pandemic, the group meets at a local cafe. I love my Saturday Scribes, but I genuinely want to connect with writers who live close to me. Oh and I’d love to find some beta readers or critique partners to share my novella with! As much as I trust myself and my skills, a critical eye would be a godsend!

Let me know how your January went and/or what you hope to accomplish in February! Stay safe, wear your mask, keep your distance and Happy Writing!

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