jacquelineb: (storykeeper)
At last I come to the final part of the review. And without much preamble, I'll jump straight into the big question I suspect a number people will be wondering: how is the Dragon novel going?

Well...the novel is still no where near finished. I spent a good chunk of last year working on a few other projects, which did take some of my time away from it, I'll admit. That said, those projects did lead me to be something that I wasn't really before: someone who writes, rather than someone who wants to write.

Somewhat tangentially: a major bit of work that I was quite pleased to get out of the way was transferring the work from SuperNotecard to Scrivener (not a simple task as it involved a lot of copy-and-pasting from one file to another, and as these programs break everything up into smaller scenes...). It was in fact because of Scrivener that I chose to buy a Mac laptop rather than a PC...and I have to confess I've not at all regretted the move. Well...apart from the time (which came about during the attempted transferal of writing) I managed to wipe the laptop completely. Who knew you could do that to a Mac? Thankful I had the whole thing backed up on my external hard drive via Time Machine, so I lost some emails but that was about it!

So I've been getting very acquainted with Scrivener, and I have to say I love it to pieces. Being able to have all the research files in the one spot along with the text is particularly good.

Anyway...as I was saying, it has been good to feel that I can actually say 'I'm writing' rather than 'I want to write.' The result also has been that I've learned a lot more about my own writing habits, needs, and quirks.

For instance, it turns out I work rather well having an outline and a direction. But whereas when I was a lot younger (pre-teen and teenager) and attempted to write novels, I sat down and wrote outlines before the writing process had started, and then got stuck because the outline felt fixed and immutable. The Dragon novel has had a solid outline for a while now, but solid doesn't mean inflexible. And also, while the outline of the *story* is pretty tight now, after a good two years of thinking about what I wanted the main plot to be and the message to convey, the *structure* is definitely highly flexible (that is, just *how* the story is conveyed is always changing in my mind. Not too long ago, I realised that I'd crammed all this plot info into the first chapter, which actually would be better to appear incrementally throughout the novel and in subtler ways, so Chapter 2 has now become Chapter 1).

Have also reaffirmed my need for word goals...whilst realising that I do not need them to be enormous either. As you'll read below, even the tiniest ones are quite effective.

Another really great thing I discovered was that the more I wrote, the more ideas I got, and the more inspired I became. The constant flexing of the creative muscles did in fact make me more confident at what I was doing. It's one of those aspects of any art or skill you read about, and I finally know what they mean by it. And it feels really good. Really, really good, actually.

Thus in short; Dragon novel still plugging along and the end is still way off in the distance, but I'm feeling a lot more confident as a writer and am happily more consistent with being one.

So...what are my hopes for Writing in 2010? Well, thus far, I've mostly managed to stick to my goal of at least 100 words a day. The brilliant thing about that goal is if I slack off, the catch up isn't so onerous. Put it this way - last week I major slacked off, so come Saturday, I had 1000 words to catch up on. And I can certainly manage 1000 words in a day if I need to.

The other benefit of this goal is that I am so far looking at the novel on a much more regular basis than I have previously. The constant 'contact' with it is proving very good, actually, my mind is more flexible with it and I'm less afraid of taking risks with it then when I was only touching it semi-regularly.

Besides which, I'm generally managing to do about 200 words a session anyway, so the plan is to stick to the '100 words without fail' (even if catch-up needed) till March, then think about setting it to a higher count of '200 words without fail.' Who knows, the mental trickery just might work.

(Note: if you are interested in my word goals, check my blog page itself, and you'll see two counter bars in the column on the right.)

I've also finished (unless told otherwise) the writing for the composition collaboration, and I believe it will be performed sometime in May. I'm waiting eager to hear what the composer has come up with for it.

Also want to get the short story I did the draft of last year finished by March, and then start sending it around to magazines, online or otherwise (online will be good as it means I can easily show them to people). Time also to start thinking about other possible shorter works.

And that brings 2009 in Review to an end. Wasn't meant to take all of January, but at last it's done. Now we will return to regular programming with hopefully more consistent updates throughout 2010. :)
jacquelineb: (beanstalk)
Gah! Finally getting back to the updates! Really want to get this done before the end of January (doing a 2009 retrospective in Feb 2010 would be a bit pathetic...)

The short story on my travelling: I managed to see a wee bit of England and other parts of Europe in the earlier part of the year, but was a bit more located at home for the later half. Hope to do more this year, with plans for Ireland on the cards as well as Madrid.

Long story...see below (cuts for length as well as several pictures).

(Note: I wrote the bit of Florence way back when I was just back from there, hence it is a bit longer than most.)

In England: London, Manchester, Stroud, High Wycombe, Statford-on-Avon, Suffolk and Essex )

Paris and Surrounds )

Florence )

And then the rest of the year I was a wee bit skint, so I kept mostly to Cambridge. :)

I have more pictures of all these places, and if you're on Facebook you can see them all, but I'm trying to figure out how to get a nifty one-stop place for my pics so everyone can see them without too much hassle...something to think about for Feb.

Next and final 2009 in review: Writing
jacquelineb: (lonely Lawrence)
One thing you should understand when I read or watch something; I rarely do it purely to relax. Unless I'm putting on a film or show I'm familiar with, I am usually constantly analysing it, assessing, judging.

This is not to say that I'm being objective. Far from it. Nor is the enjoyment lessened. I'd even argue the enjoyment is enhanced; because I have a sense of what a writer/creator goes through to make a story work, I get even more excited when it does - and also more disappointed when it doesn't, when the flaws are so obvious that it grates.

I've given brief reviews of the plays I saw but not of the books or films because that would take up more time than I can put to it - though if anyone wants an opinion on something I'm happy to comment on it.

Theatre viewing )

I really want to get more on top of my reading, which I have talked about in an earlier post. So here is my rather (in my opinion) dismal list of books read last year.

Books read in 2009 )

One of the best things I've joined this year is LOVEFiLM. Why? In the past when I've gone into a video rental shop, I tend to have a small fit as I try to decide on what exactly I want to hire, because there are an awful lot of films and TV shows I want to watch. LOVEFiLM takes the pain out of that in so many ways by letting me put hundreds (I have close to 300 titles on my 'to rent' list now) on there, and send them to me as they become available. Takes so much of the 'angst' away from it, and I've been able to see so much this year as a result.

Films and TV series seen in 2009 )
jacquelineb: (dancing shoes)
Slightly shorter post this time.

One thing I did even before leaving Sydney was do a quick check online to see if there were any Scottish Country Dancing clubs in Cambridge. Or rather, I highly suspected there would be, but I wanted to confirm my assumption with actual evidence. I was keen to continue with dancing, both as a social activity and to maintain my standard of footwork and other dancing skills. Further more, I wanted to be able to complete my teaching certificate.

And I was in luck. Cambridge has a very active dance scene - the University Reel club has classes on Monday night, and hosts a joint advanced class on Wednesday with the RSCDS branch class too. Tuesday is the regular branch class, and Thursday the Scottish Society holds a social night of general dancing. I have tried out all the classes now, and having decided that dancing four nights a week is perhaps a wee bit much, aim to go at least for the Wednesday class, and if I can manage it the Monday one. I may do the Thursday night classes again, but we'll have to see, time permitting and all. The Tuesday night branch classes, however, I will be more likely to be teaching rather than actually attending, which I did for a couple of weeks before Christmas as part of my certificate training.

I've also been going to plenty of dances and balls and the like, and they are often tiring. Cambridge has a reputation for putting on dances that include very intricate, quite complex dances that tax the brain as much as the feet. And they will often neither recap or walk them through! I should add this has only been two of the balls I've been to; there are plenty of others that are more standard.

Then there is the certificate classes. These full-on weekend classes, and are being run in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and I have made the trip over there twice so far, and will make it there several times more before June 19-20 when the exams will be taking place. They are intense to say the least, last time in particular, but I have learned an awful lot and will continue to do so throughout the rest of the year.

The next thing I do need to plan is a trip to St Andrew's Summer School. Something else to add to the to-do list, I think...for those who don't know about dancing, this annual event is the event for Scottish Country Dancers, the place that a lot of people who dance want to go to at least once in their lives (if overseas). It runs for a month, and you can select the week you wish to go to during that month. So we'll see if that happens this year.

I've also been asked to be Branch Secretary for this year...and I have perhaps stupidly accepted. Well, will accept at the AGM, unless something untoward happens before that time. So we'll see how that goes...

And I suspect that's all I have to say about dancing for now. No doubt I'll be posting more on it as the year goes on (post will likely be replete with 'OMG WHY DID I DECIDE TO DO THIS CERTIFICATE THING ARGGHHH!' come close to June...)

Next entry - Pretensions to Culture (or, stuff I've seen and read in 2009, but with a pretension title. Aptly enough...)
jacquelineb: (Default)

I've been meaning for months to send an email to a lot of people with a general update. I started to write one...then decided the easiest way of doing it would be to make several blog posts here and link to them in the email. And this time, I'm actually going to do it (unlike my promise from a few months ago...)

So I'm going to do it thematically. First of, a little bit about my life in Cambridge thus far.

But to start, this needs to be said:

New Year Message )

All the best wishes to everyone for 2010!

It occurs to me that I never posted on my trip with A. earlier this year to Tasmania. It seems so long ago now, and indeed it is almost a whole year. It was a good trip, which became somewhat more adventuresome than we anticipated after our car skidded off the road, up an embankment and into a tree. Luckily, we were fine. It gave the rest of our driving around the island state a rather tense edge, but we did manage to have fun. The highlight for me was our day in Port Arthur, the historic convict site. It has remained in the back of my mind as a possibility for a writing project...but not for another few years. Mainly because I was fascinated by the fact that it was an entire functioning community, and I'm intrigued to see how everyone living there (or perhaps rather imprisoned there) interacted and affected each other.

But I ramble. One day I'll get back to Port Arthur, one day.

Life in Cambridge - cut for length )

The garden throughout 2009 - picture heavy! )

Next entry...on dancing.

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