Weekly Blog 2/11/19: My Writing Journey, the Art of the Novel, and Future Plans

Hey guys, it’s Taylor and today I’m writing a blog all about novels and my love of them – and how that love figures into my plans for my creative life, going forward.

So, the story so far: I’ve been reading since beyond memory, which means either that I don’t remember as far back as most people or I learned to read before most people, or maybe both. According to my parents I was picking out word at 3 and reading at 4, but I honestly don’t remember much before I was 5 or 6, so it’s kind of all conjecture and “he-said-she-read” at this point. The important thing, though, is that I’ve been reading for about 25 years at this point, and that it started early.

I’ve always loved books, but novels are really my sort of cozy, happy place. You know that awesome commercial where Nick Jonas paired with Cigna to recommend talking to your doctor about your mental/emotional health? Well, if Nick’s happy place is a cozy little living room with a fireplace, music, and a puppy, then mine is just about anywhere as long as I’ve got a novel.

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(A few of my favorites. Image: a stack of paperback novels, including Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Half Life by Shelley Jackson, An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle, DUNE by Frank Herbert, and Book One of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.)

But at some point there was a big shift in how I viewed novels and what I thought of them – and that was the moment that I realized oh, there are people who actually write novels, for a living. The awareness of the existence of novelists changed me. I suddenly decided (at age 8 or 9) that I was going to be a novelist.

Over the subsequent 20 years, I got into art, comics, and illustration – and I do love those things, don’t get me wrong – but see, I’m not one of those people who believes you can’t do all your passions, that you have to limit yourself, and that even some things you truly love have to fall by the wayside for one or two to succeed. I do believe in prioritizing and working on a limited number of things at a time; but I also really believe in following all of your deep passions.

For me, art and comics and Tarot are a big part of my heart, but another big part – that hasn’t seen the light of day much lately – is writing novels. And that part of me is starting to come to light again.

I was on a trip recently that involved a lot of plane trips and airport layovers, and I am not exactly a comfortable flyer. I often half-joke “I like flying – I just don’t like airports, security, takeoff, landing, or turbulence!” So, despite it being a business trip (not much time to write), I brought a traveler’s notebook and pens and wrote pretty much constantly on my travel days.

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(I didn’t bring ALL of these notebooks – just the traveler’s notebook on top. Image: a pile of varied notebooks, planners, and journals, topped with an overstuffed, over-decorated traveler’s notebook.)

Now, I hadn’t made plans on what I was going to write, so I kind of just wrote whatever. Part of it was journaling, but a bunch of what came out was scenes for a rewrite of a story I’ve had in my head for several years. It was originally called Prysm and was going to be a straight romance, and it’s somehow morphed into more than just a romance, and definitely not straight. It’s also taken on the working title Freefall – or, as a friend of mine has nicknamed it, “Lesbians In Space.” (Hey, my friends are awesome, what can I say?)

So, honestly, I have to acknowledge that I have a lot of projects right now, and I’m shuffling them around a little. Some things are being back-burnered, some things are being shelved, but so far as I can tell, nothing that I’ve promised “coming soon!” is getting put on pause. I promise that the Millennial Mystic Tarot is very much still coming out – I’m actually working steadily on that; it’s just a big project that takes a long time to do regardless. The stuff that I’m shuffling around is mostly behind-the-scenes, in-the-works projects that I haven’t made public yet.

I have mixed feelings about shelving anything, and I’m not doing it without serious consideration. My experience with the Millennial Mystic Tarot has taught me that the key to completing a big project is to stick with it and not allow distractions to drag you away. But at the same time, I can’t deny that being a writer is still one of my dearest dreams.

So I’ll keep you posted – about the Tarot deck, the novel, and all other future plans. If you’d like to stay informed on them, please hit the follow button on the sidebar.

And until next time, I hope you’re having a fantastic day.

-Taylor

Weekly Blog 11/19/18 | Fountain Pen Collections, Notebook Management, and My Thoughts on “Noveling”

Hey everyone!

It’s Thanksgiving week here in America, so to anyone involved in this holiday, I hope your Thanksgiving week is going very well. Whether you are engaging in a huge Thanksgiving meal, warming up your credit card for Black Friday, or fasting in protest of the entire holiday’s bloody, genocidal history, I wish you the best in you ventures.

If you are in the rest of the world, I hope you benefit from Cyber Monday.

I have spent the past few days writing, writing, and writing more. I have been a novelist far longer than I have been an artist or blogger or painter; my novel-writing actually goes back to age eleven, if you can count a 12,000 word document as a “novel.” (Hey, it was a children’s chapter book! I was aiming for a realistic goal for the time.)

I wish i could say I never stopped or looked back, but I did falter, in 2010 or so, when my health was getting bad. I just couldn’t write, for years, even after getting into recovery. I had written off writing (no pun intended) as something lost to the Crazy Years, something that wasn’t ever coming back. I made my peace and started drawing more instead.

And then, very recently, I just picked up a notebook and a fountain pen and started writing a novella based on an old idea I’d had as a teenager. A story of love, losing touch, and letting go; a story about risking reality for something better; a story about a girl who existed only in a reflection, and the boy who knew she was no mere mirage.

The result so far? 30 pages and about 2ml of fountain pen ink used up in two days. I’m so excited to see how this develops.

I’ve changed my notebook system. For a year, I was doing all of my journaling, to-do’s, and planning in one place – a Traveler’s Notebook. It worked great for the past year, but I’ve gotten so damn busy that I can’t really fit it all in a standard TN. So I’ve switched into…a bullet journal!

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I never saw myself as a bujo person, but here we are. I don’t do the super fancy style that a lot of people do, but I do use some of the standard features, mixed with my own planning systems, and it’s in what many people refer to as a bullet journal – a hardcover, dot-gridded, A5 notebook with a vertical elastic closure.

It’s helped me a ton, especially the habit tracking. I use a “Calendex” style habit tracker, and it has helped me a lot in the effort to track both my work and my self-care, because it lets me see at a glance how I’m doing in a certain day/week, and also lets me see which habits seem to be falling by the wayside more often than they should.

As for my other writing, I’m mostly using the same notebook in different copies/versions: my diary is housed in an A5 lined notebook with a soft cover, and my novella – the one I’m currently working on, anyway – lives in a bullet-journal style A5 hardback lined notebook.

My creative writing has always been on the computer, typed, but honestly, I think that the sheer novelty of hand-writing a story is challenging my mind to be more creative. I’m writing in fountain pen, and the romance of that alone helps me to get into a daring mood. Some people, when writing in pen, think “It’s ink, I can’t erase it…I can’t write at all.” Me, I think more along the lines of “It’s ink, I can’t erase it…might as well just go for it!”

It’s November, which means NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, if you didn’t know, is National Novel Writing Month, a project intended to challenge people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. It (or its surrounding community) is also pretty much, as far as I can tell, the source of the term “noveling,” a much-reviled word meaning, in rough terms, “to write a novel without really being a novelist.”

Now, I’m the first to admit that I used to hate the term “noveling.” I thought it implied that literally anyone could scribble down any 50,000 words and call it a novel and call themself a novelist. I still don’t agree with that ideology – but I don’t hate “noveling” anymore.

Honestly, my feeling is that any creative effort, however half-assed, is valid and valuable. So if someone wants to casually pen a 50,000-word YA romance, not let anyone else proof or edit it, publish it on Wattpad with poor formatting, and call it a day, that’s their right. In fact, I applaud it. Because the next novel – or the fifth one, or the tenth, or the twentieth – after their debut might be amazing. And if the pressure of being a “proper novelist” would otherwise keep them from writing at all, then maybe “noveling” is a saving grace, not an atrocity against the art of the novel.

So there are my thoughts on my latest novella, notebooks, and noveling. I’m going to close out and get writing. 🙂

~Taylor