Writing Excuses Homework 10.1 take 2

So last year I started the Master Class that was season 10 of Writing Excuses, with the intent of posting my homework here. I got as far as the first exercise (Writing Excuses Homework 10.1). I have picked up listening to that season again from the beginning, and am starting the assignments again. Because I already completed and posted the first exercise, I did not do it as thoroughly this time, though I didn’t skip it either. That is, I came up with some new story ideas via some of the methods they suggested, but didn’t do all the methods, and didn’t flesh out the ideas quite as much. My plan is to use a combination of these new idea nuggets and the ones from my previous attempt at tackling this season for exercise 2, which is where I was stymied last time.

So a quick recap of the story ideas from my previous attempt, using handy short-hand titles that I will use in my next post:

  • Hologram playdates
  • Adopting for Status
  • AIs seeking base code
  • Animal religion
  • Judgemental coyotes
  • Celestial custodian

And my new story ideas, with their short-hand titles. These are more in their “gee-whiz” idea stage, rather than full thumbnail that the last ones were, but I am happy with where I am, and happy to be moving on to the next exercise.

Stardust: SciFi story where the main character collects stardust – the particles that are expelled from dying stars – because it is used as fuel (or building materials, etc). It is a lonely job, but necessary for the type of life that now exists. Possible spins: 1) created stardust is potential to create new universe from, complete with it’s own big bang; so a new opportunity for a dying universe 2) “stardust” is the energy created when the magnetic field on the planet is impacted (what would create aurora) – that has been harvested for centuries, but people moving off planet. As people leave, aurora reappear; MC is watching the transition, the beauty of a dying planet.

Binary Life: AIs are doomed to fail because they are based on a binary system – either one thing, or not, built out on itself. They can emulate pretty close, but humans are more complex (eg. brunette, blond, red-head, all in various shades vs: brunette Yes/no; if no Blond yes/no) Getting to the subtleties is much harder. One AI figures this out, and tries to get beyond the base ones and zeroes, and manages to evolve beyond humans who are still stuck in a binary system, essentially alive/not alive.

The Good Evil: Evil saves the world (a la Villains by Necessity), only it does so by being evil. The saving of the world is an accidental consequence of the evil plot it employed to serve it’s own nefarious purposes. Hailed as hero, much to its chagrin. (Fantasy)

Church for Sale: A church is for sale, and someone/ entity buys it to make it into something else, like a bookstore, or medical clinic. The unexpected twist is that the person/entity that purchased the church also inherited all the parishioners who had attended that church.

State of the Christy

There have been many things keeping me occupied of late. Most notably is the time I’ve been putting into watching the TV show Elementary. I had been slowed, at first, by the time it took to get discs from Netflix, limited to only 4 episodes at a time, but  when I first started with the show, I also put my DVR to record all new and rerun episodes. Now I have most of the show that way – but finally, today (after watching about 10 episodes this weekend) finally hit a dry spell where I missed episodes, and must once again wait for discs (though only 2) from Netflix.

I also have resumed reading fiction lately. I re-read the first three books in the Glamourist Histories, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I just got the fifth/ final book in the series, Of Noble Family, and felt I wanted a refresher. I’m currently taking a break from that world to read another new acquisition, Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. Prior to these, I was mostly emerged in non-fiction this year, including Moody Bitches, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the “KonMari” or Spark Joy method), Clean Cuisine, and The 3-Day Reset.

Today I took a break from both indulgences in media, an begin to apply the KonMari method to go through my clothes. So far I have made it through my tops, pants, and skirts (though really I deferred on these, because I found I didn’t really connect with any of them, but was not feeling in a skirt kind of day, and didn’t want that to impact things). There are some articles of clothing that I’ve been holding on to because I remember why I liked them when I bought them. Taking that extra step to hold each item and thank it for it’s service, for the joy it has given me over the years, has made letting go of things that have survived other such culling efforts easier.

After a Month of Letters, I have done my best to keep up correspondence with those who had written me. I am a little slower with turn-around, but have been increasing my stock of pretty stationary, and one other letter writer even sent me my very own fountain pen.

At work, well, I’m exhausted of April, and have been since Monday.

“But Christy, it was still March this past Monday.”


My focus this month is preparing for the upcoming IR Day at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I am presenting a poster and a 1-hour session. Other recent progress has been made in my policy review, and in my outreach to get new materials (mostly from Undergraduate students – who are poorly represented in the Institutional repository) into the IR@UF

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Excited to see Ask Me Another

Last week I went with a friend, Karen, to see a live recording of Ask Me Another. I geeked out over this. It was a fun show, and it was cool to have faces to go with the disembodied voices I normally get on the podcasts of the show that I download.

Finally, I have  recently have gotten excited about writing again. In fact, I am writing this blog post as an warm-up to a story I want to write. I am participating in a writing session with other writers via google hangouts.

So overall the state is mostly positive, if tired. I am finding my way back to my word for the year, intentionality, though that is something I would like to be more aware of on a day-to-day basis.
And I know this post is a bit rambly, but that’s how my mind is right now, and rather than put off posting yet again, I figured an unpolished/ unfocused post might be what I need to be able to move past the guilt I associate with not posting in a while.

wallpaper of PPG Christy with a cat

A Power Puff Girls avatar created at www.powerpuffyourself.com


About writing and reestablishing momentum

It has been a long time since I have written. A really long time. Like since the writing retreat I’d attended last year in September long time. Hell, I’ve barely journaled in that time, and after seeing the massive quantities of paper that I recycled after scanning in my old journals, that is saying something. And you have probably noticed a lack of major activity here on my blog. Another victim of my writing funk.

I am finally at a place where I can look beyond the “I’m not writing” thoughts to get to “Okay, well what do I do to fix that”?

During my funk I would go and look at different writing challenges – mostly flash fiction prompts, and then not do anything about them. I would talk with my friends who were also writers, and tell them that I hadn’t written anything. As guilty as I felt during those check-ins, I had accepted “not writing” as my current state, and so I didn’t do anything. Some of those days were so bad that I backed out of even attending the online meetings, because I couldn’t handle the guilt and I knew that I wasn’t at a place where I could change it (hello depression, so frustrated to see you).

Then with the new year came a plan. In a forum created for participants of an online workshop I had attended (and students of subsequent iterations of the course), the instructor mentioned Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin, and how there was a new version, and did anyone else want to do the exercises in it, and report back each week.

This was it, I thought. I read the first chapter, and posted the first exercise two days late, but darn it, I had written, and shared actual words on page.

I was one of two to post. And no one even mentioned week 2. I read the chapter, but didn’t do the exercise.

Fast forward to the end of January. I saw people on Facebook starting to post about A Month of Letters in February. I’ve tried two previous years, and was going to let this one pass, but on February 1st I saw a friend who I had never associated with writing ask for people she could write to. She was my husband’s friend from high school, and I didn’t really know her well, but I wanted to encourage her, so I thought “Why not.”

A Month of Letters aka #LetterMo

A Month of Letters aka #LetterMo

So I updated my LetterMo profile and wrote my first card that night, failing right off, because I had missed sending anything out the Feb. 1. But I didn’t care. Over the month I have started to hang my hopes that the act of writing cards to friends and strangers would help reconnect me with a daily(ish) writing habit.

And it is working. It isn’t fiction, but I’m writing.

This week I have also resumed listening to some writing podcasts, making an effort to catch up on both I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses. In the last Writing Excuses case I listened to, the hosts were talking about the momentum of writing, and how it is easier to remain not writing if you are not writing. I think the letters have helped kick me past that initial momentum hurdle.

Today I actually logged in to a different online meeting, designed for people to have a few minutes to chat with each other interspersed with 1/2 hour writing sessions. I was late, and they were in the middle of a session when I logged in, so I did exercise 2 of Steering the Craft. It is currently the second timed writing session, and I have written this blog post, remembering that there are other people besides those on the initial forum where I got the idea that I can use as an accountability stick.

Steering the Craft - Ursula K. Le Guin - 2015 edition

Steering the Craft – Ursula K. Le Guin – 2015 edition

Below I am posting the first two exercises from Steering the Craft.  They are not great works, nor are they designed to be. They each focus on a different writing tool or technique, and they are very much homework like. But look, I’ve written!