8 some odd years in and I finally come up with something better than “things of” for my annual post. When I started in 2014, I probably avoided something like “retrospective” because it was obvious. But now I want something new.
It’s the year for new things–a new Tattered Heart, a new website layout, a new plan for next year and a new drafting method to put into practice with new books.
Rest and acceleration.
While we rest, God will accelerate and bring things to pass. Amos 9:11-13. Enter God’s rest by spending time with Jesus, do things God’s way–be led by the Holy Spirit, not depend on our self-effort to make progress. Acceleration of the harvest we’ve been waiting for. Amos is a picture of accelerated and abundant harvest.
I started the year off by getting lasik surgery. It’s odd how something like wearing contacts can become a part of not just daily routine but the psychology of habits and rhythms. I wasn’t scared about them messing with my eyeballs. The doctor convinced me pretty well that they’d completed the procedure so many times they were competent. And it didn’t hurt, really. But there was something traumatic about it–partly the machinery sitting on my skull and the feeling of being trapped because of something simple like being unable to blink. It lasted less than two minutes for each eye but my body knew something had happened. I spent the rest of the day after the surgery wanting to curl up under a heavy blanket and feel comforted. Then I recovered (by the next day) and was surprised again and again for months that I could just see clearly.
In an odd way this feels like a rest activity. Like I did something that made the other things in my life simpler and easier and the rhythms of my day more restful. I know that sounds silly, but that’s how it felt.
Before I got lasik I went to Dallas for work. It was a quick trip for a one day meeting where they didn’t serve lunch. A room full of CEOs and VPs and not only no lunch but no bottled water or snacks or anything to sustain us through the hours of talking. Not cool.
I went to see Uncharted with my nephew. Fun movie, begging for a sequel that I hope we get because Nate’s brother was barely in the movie and still one of the most interesting characters.
I went to Hawaii! Kaui to be exact. I snorkeled and wrote. I drank coffee and watched the sunrise over the ocean.
I should probably say at this point that I spent the first part of the year leading up to Hawaii working out. Centr Unleashed was spectacular for me. Then I came home and kept working out all year long (more Centr and some Tracy Anderson, a little barre though I wanted to do more and some Metabolic Renewal at the end of the year).
I also tried a new social media platform. Vero was decent. I liked the chronological feed and the easy way of posting reviews for books and movies. But there weren’t any people around to talk to–it was lacking the social of social. Also, there were not enough books. Half the things I tried to review weren’t available so that didn’t last.
I went to Arkansas for work. A fairly unremarkable trip except for the tulips.
I also had family come to town to visit. My mom’s dog gets along quite nicely with my dog.
My church had a Women’s Tea that I got to take my nieces too. It was sweet and adorable and fitting with the theme of spending time with family whenever I could. Which is not the theme of the year but always one of my life themes. It is an abundant harvest of love.
I attempted to volunteer with a GED/ESL program with my nephew. When we got there to help they had a small crew of 3 or 4 and still they didn’t really need us because there wasn’t much to do. We spent more time standing around than helping, despite our best intentions so that didn’t work out as I’d hoped.
I saw Jurassic World with my nephew. It was a good end to this series in the franchise, mostly because of the way it brought the two casts together. But both of us walked out rather unimpressed. It wasn’t bad, it just also wasn’t as fun or exciting as we’d hoped.
And I started work on my thesis. Let me say first that I had no idea what I was getting into or how to go about the whole thing. The way it was structured for me was that it was two classes, one for research and one for defense. So I kind of assumed the “class” would include instruction on coming up with a topic and structuring the paper and…well teaching. That may have been a naive assumption, but I assumed it nevertheless. Then when I applied for that first class I had to enter my topic and felt rather blindsided. Shouldn’t someone have told me I needed to be thinking of a topic throughout my courses? Could an intrepid professor have said, “That might make an interesting topic for your thesis” at some point? So I made something up that was connected to interests I have but that I had no idea what to do with.
Then, about a week or so later, I was completing assignments in a different class that did prompt an idea which I thought would make an interesting thesis topic. I talked it through with a few people then reached out to my university and got a new thesis advisor and in June we were off to the races.
Arkansas for work again. In some ways I feel that I should say more. I like my coworkers and enjoy seeing them in person. But beyond that, it’s work.
Then Chicago for work. We had this mini-halfday conference and then watched a baseball game. And when I say “watched” I mean sat around and talked and ate ballpark food.
And I went home to celebrate my aunt’s 80th birthday.
Looking back it seems odd that my thesis program was only three months. At the time it seemed to take forever and was so much work. But by the beginning of August I’d officially completed my Master’s in Creative Writing.
I don’t know if it was an accelerated harvest. Or an abundant one. I think that’s one of those things we can’t see in the moment but that becomes clear in hindsight. So I need more time, but it was a good harvest, nonetheless.
I had this beautiful plan of taking a vacation when I finished…which didn’t happen and instead work somehow knew that I had this void of time in my life and decided it needed to become super busy and stressful… for almost the rest of the year. I’m grateful for a good job and grateful to have finished my Master’s but I miss the week of relaxing, reading and writing somewhere on a beach that I never had.
I did manage a week of hanging out with my family. I also enjoyed a rather unremarkable birthday because I can’t remember it.
I worked with a book coach on Arizona. If you’ve read much of my blog you’ll likely have seen Arizona mentioned and the struggle to figure out what the plot is. When I decided to get my MFA I fairly quickly also decided that Arizona would be the text I’d workshop through all my classes, hoping I’d learn something or gain some insight that would bring the story together. That did not happen. So when my friend Dahlia reached out to say she was getting her book coaching certification and asked if I would like to work with her, I jumped at the chance. Our workshop sessions finally brought out a key in the story that didn’t give me the plot but set the course of the plot and the main conflict. There’s still a lot of work to do on it but for the first time I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.
My cousin had a fashion show which I went to with various interested family members. Her work was great, but really the best part was my niece’s enthusiasm for the whole thing. They were fabulous.
And the Queen of England died. We all know this but if these posts are about marking events in a year, that seems significant enough to mark even if it wasn’t a part of my life. I was especially moved by the removal of the crown, sovereign’s orb and sceptre which ended her reign and let her pass into the next life as a simple Christian woman. That sort of symbolism is the stuff of fairy tales and we need more of it in real life.
Another trip to see the family and hang out for a week. I like being there long enough to settle in and be a part of the routine.
I did not start watching Rings of Power. Mostly because it’s the sort of thing I’d like to binge and so I’d rather wait for all the episodes to be out.
I also went to Arkansas for work, again. This time for a video conference which required me to be on video for 10 minutes, maybe 15 and yet somehow it took up a whole lot of focus and energy.
After a good bit of work and writing and thinking through things (along with trial and error) I launched agilefirstdraft.com. It’s a home base for the drafting method I crafted through my thesis work with a 6 week free workshop that walks writers through the process.
This is an early rain endeavor, rather than a harvest. Or maybe it’s the results of a harvest, from which seeds have been gathered and planted for a new season. It’s morbidly amusing that my thesis has been downloaded more than my books (by a not insignificant margin). It probably helps that the thesis is free, but still.
Belatedly, I realized the timing of going live with Agile First Draft made an interesting counterpoint to NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is all about writing 50,000 words in one month. It’s the modern epitome of traditional drafting. An agile draft is all about iterations and segmented, focused work. It would be an interesting experiment to run the two in parallel and compare the experiences. Grad school has almost turned me into a creative scientist.
Fabulous trip to LA. I hadn’t been back in years. Friends introduced me to a new cafe (Toast Bakery and Cafe) which is now my favorite. It’s a gentle, delicious coffee.
I did some shopping. I sat around a lot in the sunshine and wrote a ton. In fact, I outlined the next 6 episodes in the Helion Chronicles and came up with a mini-outline for the next fairy tale retelling in the Princess Kingdom series. Also, I discovered pluto.tv and watched way too much Stargate SG-1.
The whole point of the trip was a dear friend’s wedding which was lovely and I made new friends at the event.
Work sent me to Minnesota. In December. That’s all that needs to be said.
I also released an exclusive new behind the scenes “video” from recording the Tattered Heart audiobook. I put video in quotes because it’s all audio and stock footage like the previous two videos. Unlike the other two behind the scenes videos, access is exclusive for newsletter subscribers.
And I finally I put my new drafting method to the test over the holiday week between Christmas and New Years when I wrote the MVP of all 6 episodes of the Helion Chronicles season 2. I am beyond excited and grateful that I got them all done and that several aspects of my drafting theory proved themselves out in reality. THIS is an accelerated and abundant harvest! I found the process so much easier than previous stories. Quick is hard to measure because there isn’t a comparison of how long it would have taken me to write using a different method (though I did find a note in an older annual post that I wrote 9,000+ words in 5 days and this time I wrote 11,000+ words in 6 days so it seems close). Once I finish all phases of this drafting process, I can measure it against writing season 1 and have a rough comparison. I can say it felt fast and easy.
And now I get to roll into a new year primed to write a good bit more, looking to write some academic papers and solidify my drafting theory, connect even more with family and friends and see where God takes me next.
Books of 2022
I read 18 books in 2021. Not many, I know. And a lot of them were rereads. Attribute it to grad school, thesis work and a profusion of writing.
There really isn’t a Friday playlist this year. I became quite insulated in my music experience, listening to large playlists of songs I know I like so I didn’t get bored and didn’t have to flit around different radio stations or bother with skipping songs when I was busy doing something else. Also, the tv I watched didn’t have a lot of great music… and I rewatched a lot so the songs they did have I’d already “discovered” the first time around.
That being said, I did make a Hawaii playlist so if you’re in the mood for some groovy summer tunes… enjoy!