Camp Nanowrimo success

Long time no post (not even Sunday recs – sorry about that). This month has been ridic busy. So much work, so many other things I’ve been taking care of… I think I haven’t even mentioned that I decided to do Camp Nanowrimo this month. Anyway, I did! :D

Because of all the busy and the stress, I had times when I thought I’d just give up on my Camp Nanowrimo goal of writing 10,000 words for the novel (let’s call it Beast). Well, last weekend I finally came up with some things that turned the plot around and made me excited for the project (yay!). Yesterday I finally had time to actually knuckle down to writing some scenes. Unfortunately, I was feeling exhausted and a bit flu-ish, so it was all rather painful… but I managed a lot of words. And today, I sprinted 4,851 words, bringing my word count total beyond 10k! Including worldbuilding notes and such – but that was within my parameters for Camp Nano. Around 7k is actual novel text, anyway. Written in two days.

So: MUCH CAMP NANOWRIMO SUCCESS. Also: I love Scrivener. I bought it at last, and it’s working out so well. Am thinking of trying it out for PhD stuff too.

Now I can just keep on improving the outline for Beast and writing more scenes. Note to self: it’s allowed to be zero-draft level text even if this novel is based on a previous novel draft of mine. After all, a lot of things are different both plot- and character-wise.

In addition to continuing Beast, I have a few stories I want to write and submit for various things. And May will be super busy PhD-wise. I’ll have to be mindful of self-care as well: I don’t want to collapse just because I’m doing too many interesting things.

Still, writing-busy on top of work-busy is worth it, after all – because sometimes there are moments like today, when writing makes me lose all sense of time and the words hurtle out. When I want to write even when my ears are blocked and ringing, when my body is aching for rest.

But now I’ll go and engage in some self-care. To sleep, perchance to dream!

Advertisements

“Palimpsest” in March issue of Snakeskin

Nice poetry news for this grey Monday: my poem “Palimpsest” is in the March issue of Snakeskin.

Read it here!

I wrote “Palimpsest” in August 2013, during a poem-a-day week (which I enjoy doing occasionally, especially with my friend Kat). I do love comparing textual/manuscript things to emotions and such intangible things.

2014 in review

On 1 January I made a post about my writing in 2013 and my hopes for 2014. I like looking back on the past year at its end, so here we go again.

My writing goals for 2014 were (slightly abridged):

  1. Get a story published!
  2. Get more poems published.
  3. Work on a poetry collection.
  4. Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day.
  5. Rework Dim Vanities and decide what to do with it (whether to continue editing it smaller-scale, or do a total reboot, or just stick it in the trunk).
  6. Improve my plotting skills.
  7. Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.

So, how did I do?

1) I exceeded my goal of getting one story published – I now have three stories out and two forthcoming. I am really proud and happy about this.

2) I got more poems published – nine of them. And to some highly awesome magazines, too. Yay!

3) I haven’t got the poetry collection into a submittable shape yet, but it exists! and it’s looking pretty good. Finishing it up and submitting to potential publishers is one of my goals for (early) 2015.

4) I haven’t managed to write fiction or poetry every day (except during Nanowrimo), but I have increased my writing output, I think. But this is something to work on – writing something creative every day even if it’s just an exercise.

5) Haven’t had the energy to start reworking Dim Vanities or do anything too much with it. However, a couple of weeks ago I got a flash of feeling that made me decide something: DV needs a radical rewrite. It might still not be publishable even after that rewrite, but I’ve got to give this novel one more chance. I still love so many aspects of it – I just need to rewrite the plot and give the characters higher stakes and more emotion. This is, therefore, a project for 2015. (Camp Nanowrimo, perhaps?)

6) I haven’t worked systematically on improving my plotting skills. I’ve been writing more stories, which I think helps, but plotting is definitely still something that I need to work on.

7) I have been trying to finish more things that I start! And I’ve managed to edit at least some first drafts of stories into a submittable point (and sold a couple of them, too – “Chrysopoeia” and “The Ruin”).

***

As for more concrete evidence of my writing in 2014, here’s a list of my publications this year:

POETRY (9 poems)
02/14 “Ninety-Eight” and “City of Stones” in Issue #33 of Chantarelle’s Notebook.
02/14 “Helsinki Love Song” in Wild Violet Magazine.
05/14 “The Alchemist’s Lover” in the “Alchemies” issue of CSHS.
06/14 “Looking-Glass Lover” in Issue #28 of Niteblade, “Looking-Glass Lover” (after my poem).
06/14 “Shrug Charm” in the Spring 2014 issue of Goblin Fruit.
11/14 “Kuura (extract from a Finnish-English dictionary)” in Issue 11 of Stone Telling.
11/14 “Sorrow-stone” in the “Summer Is Dead” issue of Goblin Fruit.
12/14 “Raw Honey” in Strange Horizons. Listen to me reading the poem in the SH December Poetry Podcast.

PROSE (3 stories)
07/14 “Wind Chimes” in 365 tomorrows. Flash fiction.
10/14 “Chrysopoeia” in Issue 9 (Fall 2014) of Quantum Fairy Tales. Short story.
12/14 “Munankuorikehto” (‘Egg-Shell Cradle’) in issue 3/2014 of Spin, the quarterly magazine of the Turku Science Fiction Society (TSFS). The magazine can be ordered from the TSFS webpage. Flash fiction. (in Finnish)

Oh, and rejections? There were many. It’s especially heartening to see some poem or story published that has previously been rejected (many times, even). I don’t really post about my rejections, but of course they happen. A lot. Way more than acceptances. I’ve learned how to deal with them pretty well – I usually don’t take them too personally any more, although getting a rejection is always a disappointment of course.

In addition to this published stuff, I also wrote oodles of poem drafts (I really can’t be bothered to count, there’s so many), several writing exercises with potential for more, one Nanowrimo novel (crapola zero draft, but with definite potential), and some short stories. Oh, and I edited two 10k+ novelettes. NOT BAD.

***

Now, what about the coming year? Here are some writing goals for 2015 (many of them, as you can see, carrying over from last year):

  • Get more stories published.
  • Get more poems published.
  • Revise the ms and submit poetry collection for publication.
  • Start gathering poems together for a speculative poetry collection.
  • Increase writing output – get back into the groove of writing, preferably every day, even if it’s just a short poem or writing exercise.
  • Continue to write more in Finnish. It’s been so great to tap into that part of my writing brain this year, so I want to continue experimenting in my other native language too.
  • Rewrite Dim Vanities entirely. Do this with the help of a proper outline.
  • Improve my plotting skills.
  • Finish more stuff and edit previous work to a submittable point.
  • Submit more stuff, both prose and poetry! Try to submit something at least once a month.

In general, I’m really pleased with how much I’ve written this year and how I’ve improved as a writer. So far it’s been easy for my PhD work to coexist with my writing life – I really hope that state of affairs will continue! And I think it will, if I just make good use of my time.

***

In conclusion: Dear readers, I wish all of you joy and fun writing times in this coming year!

Some silly doggerel

I was reading a book relevant to my PhD research yesterday, and happened upon the delightful name Gabriel Gostwyk. He was some dude in 17th-century England who may have owned an alchemical manuscript.

In the silly poem that crept out of my pen inspired by his name, however, he became something more sinister. I will share it here because it’s silly. Thursday silliness!

***

He Does What He Likes

Gabriel Gostwyk baked a pie
and sang his wife a lullaby
Gabriel Gostwyk stitched her lips
up tight, drank tea in careful sips.
Gabriel Gostwyk laughed to hear
her muffled screams of rage and fear.

Gabriel Gostwyk’s under your bed.
Gabriel Gostwyk wants you dead.

***

Short story publication: Chrysopoeia

Be still, my heart!

Quantum Fairy Tales has published my short story ‘Chrysopoeia’! This is officially my first story publication of more than 600 words, so I’m super excited.

Read it here. A wee snippet from the middle:

When his alarm clock rang, Simon snapped awake with the word chrysopoeia running through his mind like a fleeing stag. Chrysopoeia: the transmutation of base elements into gold, his lifelong goal. In order to achieve chrysopoeia, he had to create a true philosopher’s stone, not just the unerringly delicious drink that he mixed several times a night.

It’s about an alchemist bartender. I originally wrote it in a more fairytale-like style ages ago, and because I started it before I knew anything about alchemy, the alchemical theory in it was utterly nonexistent. I rewrote it at the start of this summer, which included adding some “genuine” touches concerning alchemical theory and history, from the readings I’d been doing for my PhD application. I’m really proud of the story in its current published incarnation. (Code for: when I found out it got published just now, I jumped up and down yelling happy obscenities and poured myself another glass of wine.)

I hope you enjoy ‘Chrysopoeia’! Check out the rest of the Fall issue, too. It looks great.

Academic and creative

Earlier this week I got great news: I’ve been accepted into the doctoral programme at the University of Turku. I’m incredibly happy I’m getting to do a PhD, as continuing in academia has been my goal ever since I got my MA two years ago. Now it’s going to happen for real: I get to work on Middle English, concentrating on contemporaneous evidence in the form of manuscripts. A fizz of academic creativity is building up in me as I think about all the interesting stuff I’m going to study and do!

I hope that concentrating on academia will also help me with my creative writing. Quite a lot of my poems/stories are inspired by the stuff I come across in my research: history just has so much weird and wonderful detail begging to be elaborated on or twisted into fantasy worlds. And of course, compared to a 9-to-5 job, the self-made schedules of academia will leave a lot more leeway for integrating creative writing with the rest of my life. Yay!

On the other hand, it’s going to be busy. Things always are (with me, at least). So, I’m going to have to teach myself new ways of self-discipline and how to balance academic work with my creative writing. Both are important to me, but I don’t want to become overwhelmed.

Brandi Schillace wrote a really inspiring post related to this topic over at Magical Words. I read this post back in April when it was published, but it’s even more useful now that I know I’ll actually be doing this PhD thing. Brandi has some sound advice for overachievers regardless of whether you’re working in academia or not – a really good read. Being “good enough” is so hard for people like me who tend towards perfectionism, but it’s essential to learn (and re-learn).

This is something I especially want to keep in mind (from the blog post):

Balancing academic, work, and writing life isn’t about roguish daring and a willingness to burn the candle at both ends. It requires re-seeing, a new vision of what balance means.

Starting this autumn, I’ll have to find out what that balance is for me.

Poetry sale: ‘The Alchemist’s Lover’

I’m amused by the fact that my most recent publications both have ‘lover’ in the title. In other words: ‘The Alchemist’s Lover’ will be published in the next issue (‘Alchemies’) of CSHS. Yay!

I’m currently applying for a PhD, and since my data consists of some medieval English alchemical texts, of course I had to submit alchemy-inspired poetry to the ‘Alchemies’ issue. I’m really glad this poem in particular has found a home. The issue will be up very soon – I’ll post a link when it’s available!

(Now back to tweaking my research proposal. Editing is fun but challenging – in academic as well as creative writing.)

Interfictions #2 is out! Including my most personal piece so far…

This wasn’t intended to be a two-post day, but I just checked the Interfictions webpage and noticed that Issue #2 is up!

Thus, I am extremely proud and happy to say that you can now read my piece ‘Orthography: A Personal History’ here.

You can also listen to me read it – God, it was terrifying to do a reading of this poem, but I managed it, and hopefully did not entirely mangle the piece.

Why was it terrifying? Well, even submitting the whole piece in the first place was terrifying. As I mentioned in this post, it’s the most personal piece I’ve submitted and had accepted so far. To have it online now is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

What the hell, I’ll just quote myself:

‘Orthography: A Personal History’ is a mixture of things. It consists of poetic prose and verse “lectures”. It deals with palaeography, orthography, multilingualism, language history, and (surprise!) my personal history.

It’s the most personal piece I’ve submitted so far, delving into my childhood history through writing and my relationship with my two languages, Finnish and English. Fictionalised, of course, but still: me, my deepest self. It’s scary and exhilarating to think that other people will read such a thing.

The fictional cover is so much thinner in this piece than in most of my others. Did I mention this is terrifying? But that’s part of what writing is about: having the guts to put your soul out there for others to see.

So, dear readers. Go forth and read a piece of my soul.

(And read the rest of the issue too! It looks amazing. I am in love with this magazine.)

Stimuli

Today I wrote a poem for the first time since mid-September. It was inspired by the manuscripts & codicology course that I’m on right now: two days of getting back into the groove of manuscript studies. I’m so glad I was allowed leave from work. History is a precious thing and being around medieval stuff makes me feel awed and curious. I really need to get into academia – studying manuscripts just makes me so happy.

Also, when my brain gets new stimuli instead of being bogged down in too little sleep and the same old routines, words start stirring again. I hate it when I’m too busy/stressed out to write poetry, so this tiny eight-line poem feels like a promise that I won’t be too high-strung and sleep-deprived forever.

Speaking of sleep-deprived, I think I need to get to bed. It’s always so damn late. Have I mentioned I hate being a night owl in an early-bird world?

Knights and snails

I had a glass of white wine with my dinner (mushroom burger, very tasty), and I feel ridiculously fuzzy now. I’m going to post nonetheless, dammit, because I’ve been meaning to ever since I came across this link in my RSS reader:

Knight v Snail, from the British Library medieval manuscripts blog. I think this quote from the post sums it all up:

one of our post-medieval colleagues noticed a painting of a knight engaging in combat with a snail. […] This struck him as odd, which struck the medievalists in the group as odd; surely everyone has seen this sort of thing before, right?

That, my friends, is medieval marginal art for ya. Knights versus snails is only a part of the awesomely weird shit going on in the borders of Serious Medieval Works. (See Got Medieval’s post on knights and snails, and check out his marginalia category for some amazing entertainment.)

Anyway, what does all this manuscript geekery have to do with writing? Currently, this: one of the stories I’m currently working on is inspired by medieval knight-v-snail marginalia. So, of course I had to link the BL blog post, since I think everyone should be educated on this intriguing phenomenon.

Sadly, I’ve been too busy and stressed out to work on the snail story for the past week or so – but this weekend will bring with it some free time for editing. Huzzah! I’d also like to get some poems submitted.

(I need to get back into the writing loop properly, but a chronic lack of sleep is gnawing at my energy resources rather too persistently to let writing happen. Thus, I will now finish off this blog post and go to bed early.)

*

PS: If you haven’t donated to the Strange Horizons fund drive, there’s still five days to go! Help SH get another year of awesome stuff.

SH really is one of the most diverse I’ve come across – for instance, the current issue is an Indian/diaspora SF special! I haven’t had the chance to read the issue yet, but it looks really interesting.