Week of: 3.11-3.17

I am officially on Spring Break at the time of writing.

The week leading up to this was a bizarre, uneven week. Classroom teaching was hard, don’t ever mistake me for that, but there are different challenges when you freelance. You make your own hours, you set your own schedules, you plan in your own vacations, and no one is ever going to tell you, “Go ahead. Take some time off.” Everyone expects you to work all the time because that’s what they think of you.

You are a tool. And not a negative “tool,” or even the band, “tool,” I mean, a literal tool. An object to accomplish a task. No one is going to give a hammer a break after hitting a nail on the head 15 times. You just expect it to keep working.

That is what you are as a freelancer.

A hammer.

I finally managed to line up all of my clients’ students’ Spring Breaks in the same week, so I have a week off. No trips. No family. Nothing. Just a fat stack of books and an abandoned manuscript to get to.

Yesterday was March 17. St. Patrick’s Day.

My 2-year anniversary.

Nothing better to start the week off on.

I just finished the 2nd Draft of Project: GREY, my middle-grade science-fiction adventure, last Friday. I set the deadline on a whiteboard next to my desk back in January. I Called my shot, and, it’s awesome to say, I hit it.

Printed up, 117 pages, a red Pilot Frixion Erasable pen themed around a Pokeball I got in Japan, and enough soundtracks on Spotify helped me through.

It was getting pretty close towards the end, there. In fact, with only 3 days remaining, I had 17 pages or something to finish.

I was supposed to only do 4 pages a day.

Sooooooooooooo I fell a little behind. That’s okay! At least, I had to tell myself it was okay. Otherwise I would have beat myself up and just quit. I’ve discovered that trying to become an author has many tough battles, but this one is the toughest.

To forgive yourself as you fall.

Anyway, now that that’s out of the way I have a week off to play around with some old stories. There’s Project: PAN, a middle-grade horror (but maybe a young adult? I think it offers a little more when the protag is older and a litte more awful things can happen), which I started as a novella, maybe only 15-20,000 words long. Something short, simple, with an easy to understand premise. Gotta just get it out this week, for fun, you know? Nothing that I’d plan on sending out, but for fun.

Writing for fun.

Who would have thought…

Hilda Series (GoodReads)

No, I haven’t watched the Netflix series.

I picked up the only 3 my library had: Hilda and the Troll, Hilda and the Bird Parade, and Hilda and the Stone Forest. Even from these samplings, I’m already set to order the rest.

The oversized format lends itself well to these books. Luke Pearson’s art is beautiful, but simple. I’ve never known how to describe it. Even when I worked at a comic book store, this type of style was always hard to get across to folks. “It’s cartoony, but detailed!” There’s a double-page spread in the first book where you everything on Hilda’s wonderful monster hunting desk that more than sells it for you.

A young girl, ready to explore the world. Such is the life of an adventurer.

Hilda and the Troll

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1: The Case of the Missing Moonstone (Goodreads)

This one snuck up on me in the best way.

I picked it up at the library with my students when we went for our weekly field trip. In all honestly, I was looking to pick at it and see what author Jordan Stratford would make of writing young, intelligent female characters.

At the end, I loved his interpretation of 1826 London, a vibrant place but not filled with overly obnoxious details. More importantly, I loved his representation of Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley, two girls born years apart in our world yet shown to be reluctant best friends who put together their own detective agency to catch the criminals who are too smart to appear in the newspaper.

It was fast, steadfast kept to the plot, and was solvable so long as you were paying attention. Highly recommended to anyone with young girls looking for role models. Definitely going to pick up the rest in the series.

Ada and Mary in hot pursuit. Yes, this scene does happen in the book.

“Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.”

Neil Gaiman shared his 8 Rules of Writing here in an article for Brain Pickings. Like most things Gaiman writes, its artsy, but simple to understand.

I actually used that in last week’s blog post about what to do with that weird, churning feeling in your stomach when you’re about to start writing.

Finally, I really, really, really like these jackets and coats.

Thought, honestly, looking at them just makes me think I’m not doing enough push-ups to pull it off and immediately want to run to the gym. I feel like this is a purchase I can only make right after I work out.

Going back to what I was discussing earlier.

Do NOT compare yourself to established writers when you’re working. That’s a death knell you ring yourself.

See, when we write and plot and plan and prepare to writewritewrite, all we think about are the finished products of our peers/idols. It’s impossible to write while you think of Harry Potter making J.K. Rowling more money than any teacher ever as she sits around for the day. (That’s not a slight to J.K. She’s an incredibly hard working person and is due all the success in the world. Just saying. If she took a day off to relax, clear her head, and think about the net part of her story, she’s probably making more than a teacher does in a year.) Trying to write your manuscripts 3rd draft, where it’s starting to take shape but is still not good enough, is heartbreaking.

You have to put that all out of your head and just go. Fail, yet, still reach the end.

That’s the job.

And I’m out! Feels good to get another one of these done.

If you did something, anything, even if it was small but needed to be done, and it feels good that you did it, chase it. Follow it. Hunt it down, wrangle it, and do that good feeling “thing” again, and again, and again.

Every day.

Thanks for reading,

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