Long-term goals

Warning: Long, rambly post ahead…

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about the future. In a few months I’ll be quitting my current job, which I like a great deal, and starting a new one, which pays a lot better. In time it means the end of my financial troubles, and I am 100% it was the right decision, but I was surprised at how little enthusiasm I felt. Some of it was pure shock, of course, since the job was not even one I applied for (I asked my former boss for a reference and she gave me a job instead), but nonetheless I found it strange.

 

Having thought a great deal about it, I think it is for the same reason that I decided not to go into the field of linguistics, even if I do have a master’s degree and did apply for a PhD once (though certain things I’ve heard about the work environment at the university wasn’t without importance, to put it that way). It’s not because I don’t like linguistics. It’s not because I don’t like what the new job entails, because I really love some parts of it, and I really like my former/new boss too.

But with regards to my dream, of what I want to be? It feels like a step back. I’ll work longer hours and have a full work week – but of course that’s not even close to true. For the past year I’ve worked two jobs, and after Christmas I’ve worked on translations every spare hour I had, in addition to dancing. Let’s just say there hasn’t been any time for writing, and whenever I had an hour to spare I was too stressed or too tired to get anything useful done. So really, considering I can finally settle in just one job and still pay all my bills, and won’t have to work in the evenings – it’s a huge step forward.

Still, it made me think about what I really want. With my writing, linguistics, painting and those things. Do I want to keep it as just a hobby, something in which I dabble every now and then? I guess it’s obvious that since I’m actually asking the question, the answer is no.

My dream wasn’t just writing books. My dream has always been to be able to have my interests as a job. Writing and illustrating my own books, if not full time then at least almost full time. Make a name for myself. Painting pictures from my books that people actually will buy. I also dream about having a video blog about language (mostly), and (this is very, very, very much at the “what if” stage) perhaps even go to linguistics conferences as myself/my own company/whatever you call it, instead of representing a university, and do the research I want to do, not what attracts the money. I even have the name.

I am 32 years old now. If there was ever a time to start making dreams into reality, it is now. And I’ve realised that I cannot treat my dreams as just dreams, or as if I need to wait for luck to come my way before going after them. I need to start acting and start making them a reality. Really, other people can make far wilder dreams come true, why should I (or you) be different? I’ve also realised that I cannot treat writing and painting and conlanging as if they exist only in their little bubble. I won’t be able to write if I’m worried sick about having enough money to put food on my table, or if I work myself into the ground to get that money. So I have made a list of things I need to do in order to make the dream a reality. Not necessarily right now, but sometime in the future; the end goals of my smaller, more specific goals. (As you probably can tell, I like goals)

  1. Become financially independent. I saw this mentioned on a “how to save money” blog I came across a few days ago, and the idea really clicked. I am horrible at saving, but the idea of saving enough money so that I won’t actually have to work… that’s tempting. And hard work. But it would allow me to not work full work weeks, and thus have more time to write. Step one is to repay all my debt. I’m not counting my student loan here, because it’s so big, but all the rest. Step two would be to save enough money to have a buffer, so that I won’t have to take on more debt if there’s any unexpected expenses, as well as for dance expenses. Step three would be to save enough money for a full year off work. That’s more than a few years into the future, and it will be hard, but there you have it. Of course the real step one is to become more frugal even if I’ll have more income.
  2. Finish the damn book. No explanation needed, I guess.
  3. Look into other, little ways of gaining extra money for writing that still allows me to write my own stories. One example is Patreon, although you need at least some fans already to make it work, or short e-books or something like that.
  4. Do point 3, only for painting. This also involves becoming good enough at painting to be able to create something people would want to pay money for. My current benchmark is getting a picture accepted to Epilogue.net, but hopefully I’ll become good enough to raise that bar.
  5. Look into the video blog thing. A friend of mine really liked the idea, but I have to figure out how to make it work. I always envisioned it as a two-people blog, however, so I need to find someone to help me out. Hmm…
  6. Improve the website and the galleries and, well, all that. Start using Twitter more. Use my art instagram account more. Blog more. Comment more on the stuff of others. Get more active on deviantART and other art sites, as well as on Wattpad and other writing sites. You know, that magical web presence thing that everyone talks about.
  7. Never forget why I am working towards those particular dreams.

So there you have it. It might seem overly ambitious, but how would you ever fulfill a dream if you didn’t work towards it? I don’t believe in that kind of luck (though I hope…). And the fact remains that a writing career isn’t very lucrative unless you’re really good. Besides, a career won’t do you any good anyway if you don’t have the skills to back it up, unless you are a couple of really well known authors whose names I won’t mention.

Well, this became too long as usual, so I’ll stop. Tomorrow I have most of the evening free, so I’m planning to re-write an old story of mine. I rather liked it, but it didn’t work then, and I wrote a new ending on the bus today. I’ll upload it to Wattpad as soon as I finish it!

Deadlines galore

Sorry for the lack of updates here in what seems like forever. I’ve been completely buried in work and have hardly had any time off whatsoever, neither for blogging nor writing. Cicilie and I had two write-ins, I believe, but neither of us was able to write anything at any of them. On the positive side: Extra money.

Lots of work or not, 2016 is the year I’ll do things with my writing. As such Cicilie and I (well, mostly Cicilie, to be honest) have come up with some deadlines to help us reach our goals. I also made some sub-deadlines for myself:

  • Goal: Finish second draft of Rogue Sorcery. This time Cicilie will be able to read a fully finished draft. I hope…
    • Revise the ending. Something feels off, and I don’t know what it is. Finish by 1st of April
    • Write the entire draft from start to finish. Finish by 25th of April
    • Double-check the new scenes and hand the draft to Cicilie. Finish by 30th of April.
  • Goal: Publish a short story on WattPad. I’ve had an account since sometime last year, but I’ve never posted anything. Mostly because I’ve been writing Rogue Sorcery, which I’ll try to get published, and because I haven’t finished much else and suck at writing short fiction. I also suck at actually uploading my writing. Time to do something about all those things!
    • Plot the story. Finish by 15th of May. Wanted it to be on the 10th, but considering I have an exam on the 9th… Not gonna happen. (Look, I can be realistic!)
    • Write the first draft of the story. Finish by 23rd of May.
    • Revise and publish the story on Wattpad. Finish by 29th of May.
  • Write a novel to be published on WattPad. This has quite tight deadline, but the idea is to plot it so carefully that the actual editing process will be relatively short and sweet. In addition I have already started the plotting, so I might just have the first draft done well before June starts. Famous last words, I guess, but at least the actual deadline isn’t overly optimistic… I hope.
    • Plot the novel completely. Finish by 15th of May, but preferably in April.
    • Write the first draft of the novel. Finish by 10th of June.
    • Revise the novel fully. Finish by 30th of June.
  • Aaand what would this blog be without overly ambitious painting/drawing/misc. goals? They’re all related to my stories anyway. I’ll not write individual deadlines for these, but a collective one of 30th of June:
    • Finish the new version of Queen of Sorcery
    • Paint illustration of Shanni’s cottage
    • Make an artsy map of Ayamar
    • Paint Arodhi’s fortress OR Wirun OR Whitebridge OR the village in the forest.
    • Use up my sketchbook (mostly because I want a new one :P)
    • Make a city map of Wirun and/or the village. Doesn’t need to be fancy, but I certainly need to know what’s where.
  • And finally… DON’T accept so much translation work that I don’t have time for any of this, and/or work myself into another breakdown. In other words, the most important goal of them all. 

I know this amount of goals seem overly ambitious and probably are. But most of the things need to be done anyway in order to meet the three actual deadlines (30th of April, 29th of May and 30th of June). I work far better under pressure, and the specific deadlines are the tools I need to ensure that I spread the work over a reasonable period of time instead of just the week before the main deadlines, as well as to make sure that I actually get the work done AND prepare properly. I won’t have time for endless rounds of editing for the Wattpad projects. Besides, I really like detailed lists (who hadn’t guessed by now…?)

To be honest I don’t intend to be too firm on the painting goals. I would like to get everything done, and these deadlines make sure that I actually work for it, but I’m not going to panic if I’m unable to paint/draw everything on the list. I do need the city maps, though.

 

Shameless Self-Promotion Saturday!

Today I met up with Cicilie at Starbucks for a write-in of sorts – it’s becoming quite the tradition – and I got absolutely nothing useful done. Well, I got some work-related business done (some e-mails that needed to be dealt with), but apart from that… I’ve had problems sleeping for the past week, so I wasn’t exactly focused or able to do anything that involved much thinking. But the coffee was good, at least 😉

The Saturday Snippet will start again in two weeks (next weekend is the Sketchbook Saturday, and yes, I do like alliteration, how did you guess?), but I wanted to post here anyway. I am redoing the galleries on the site (my photoblog is officially dead, long ago, and so I’m adding the photo galleries here), but I’ve talked about redesign and organisation and such so many times that I don’t want to inflict that on you guys again. And yet I found a way to talk about it…!

Instead, I decided that a little self-promotion is in order. I am normally hilariously bad at it, since I feel I’d be putting myself far too much forward. On the other hand, if you want to sell something, you can’t exactly hide it, so I thought I’d just mention that you can actually buy my art and services. I will freely admit that my art has certain room for improvement, but that improvement is happening (I hope), and I’ve seen far worse for sale.

Free at last - new

Fiverr services

Fiverr is a website where people offer their services for 5 dollars. That is, 5 dollars is the base price, and then you can select add-ons or get custom offers. I have two gigs currently active:

Translation between Norwegian and English: This is my most-selling gig, where I translate between the two languages. It has somehow also become what people order when (by agreement in advance, of course) they need something else done that is too specific to make a gig for. In other words, you may not need translation, but there is a whole lot of other things you may need done.

Portrait of your character: This is a newer gig, where you can request a portrait of your character. If you can write but cannot paint, this is your solution! The header was a bit rushed, but I haven’t had the time to redo it.

Green

The deviantart prints shop

 

I may have talked about my account at deviantART (or I may not), but I also have a print account there. Yes, that’s right, you can buy my art! People have actually bought my art, as a matter of fact, and I only know one of them. No threats or bribery here, in other words 😉

You can find the shop here.

I have not put all my deviations (art uploaded to dA) up for sale, but that’s merely a matter of coincidence. If it isn’t already too full of awesomeness, you can also take a look at my regular deviantART gallery. You can request a print to be made of any picture not already available as a print (it will be stated underneath the thumbnail). I thought there was an actual button for that, but it seems as if they removed it in the last redesign. But just send me a note, comment or e-mail and I will fix it.

I also have a separate account for my photography on dA, but it’s mostly old stuff now. I will update it as soon as I’m finished redoing the galleries here on my own site.

Commissions

If you cannot find anything you like in my shop, I am open for commissions! You can request one through my Fiverr gig above, for example, through e-mail or via deviantArt. I do require that you contact me first, however, just in case I have my hands full with other work at the moment. In addition to portraits I also do things like custom fantasy maps and similar.

Well, that’s it! Go and check it out!

 

 

 

The magnificent list of 2016 goals!

As promised, here is my list of 2016 goals. But I also remembered that I forgot to mention whether or not I reached my writing goals (or writing wishes, as I called them) for 2015. I forgot everything about them, actually, as soon as everyday life began again…

  1. Do something writing-related at least three days a week. I forgot to keep track, and I don’t think I managed it in the first half of the year, but since the summer I think I did it more often than that.
  2. Win NaNoWriMo. Which I did, with a new personal best and three stories.
  3. Win and overachieve at least one Camp NaNoWriMo. Yeah… no. I don’t think I even tried.
  4. Write at least one second draft for a story, preferrably Rogue Sorcery or the Madness. I actually did this for Rogue Sorcery! Granted it’s more like a second first draft, but still.
  5. Finish Ancient Elvish. No, I didn’t do this, but it was a conscious choice since I did a LOT of worldbuilding instead.
  6. Update blog at least once per week. I didn’t do this, but I came close in periods.

Now for this year’s goals!

Not all of these are purely blog- or writing-related, but as they are related to my creative pursuits, I’ll include them all. Most of them, if not all, should be very measurable, and while some of them are optimistic, I look forward to going through them again next year.

  1. Write 2000 words per week. Perhaps this is ambitious, but I also think that it is necessary. Not only will I have to write considerably more than this if I want to be a published author, but also I have several first and second drafts I really need to work on. Besides, it’s less than an hour’s worth of work at my writing speed.
  2. Read Cicilie‘s manuscript. I cannot remember the deadline we set, but this is in the “very soon” and “absolutely non-negotiable” category.
  3. Update the blog once per week, in addition to the Saturday Snippets. Yep, new year, new attempt. Time will tell if it goes better this year.
  4. Work on painting and/or drawing at least once per week. Because I am done with using all my (admittedly rather scarce) painting time getting back whatever skills I lost during the last break. During 2005 and 2006 my painting skills improved by leaps and bounds, but the last five years they’ve felt stagnant. I’ve thought a lot about it for the past week, and have come to the conclusion that, while I have prioritised writing in the past few years, painting is a just as important part of me, and thus this year will be an experiment in doing both.
  5. Comment on at least two other writing blogs per week. Because a writer should not exist in a bubble.
  6. Comment on at least five pictures on deviantART and/or Epilogue per week. See the previous point – you don’t get feedback if you don’t give it, and I think it’s important to be aware of it. I’ve missed my little corner of the deviantART community, whatever else you may say about that website (for good or bad). There’s a lot of good stuff there if you know where to look.
  7. Get a picture accepted onto Epilogue in 2016. This was my number one painting goal for many years, and I think it’s time to dust it off and start working on it again. You see, Epilogue has quality requirements which I haven’t been able to meet, at least not when I so rarely paint backgrounds.
  8. Post at least one new picture at deviantART per month. If I manage point 4, this will follow quite naturally as there’s no point in not posting what I’ve painted, but again, useful to have a definitive goal.
  9. Figure out what to do with my photography website. Keep the gallery? Keep the blog? Scrap it all and move my photos here? It’s time to figure it out and stick to that decision.

So! Quite optimistic goals this year, but after this autumn I feel like I can accomplish anything, and I really don’t want to waste another year when I know what I really want. In other words, this is the year to pursue my dreams and to do my very best at making them come true.

2015 wrap-up

2015 isn’t quite over yet, but since there’s only two days left, I figured I might as well do the 2015 summary post now. 2015 has been an intense year. I had some health-related breakthroughs, I started a new part-time teaching job in addition to my regular job, I started studying again (only part-time, but still), and dance class and working on Rogue Sorcery were still top priority. Apart from that there was very little time for other creative pursuits in the autumn, though I’ve tried to make up for it now during Christmas break.

Writing and NaNoWriMo

It’s been a productive year when it comes to writing, and this year’s NaNoWriMo was record-breaking. I wrote 211k (my personal best was 175k) and finished three stories. One of them is my old shopkeeper story which keeps evolving, but which finally has a completed first draft. Hopefully it will end up on Wattpad very soon. I also wrote a brand new story (only based on an old beginning, but still) which I really like.

Rogue Sorcery has been my main project, and I revised and refined the plot. There’s still a lot to do. I also wrote a second first draft (with all the changes), which has now been handed over to Cicilie as per our agreement (she reads my manuscript and I read hers, and then we will give each other feedback). Just giving the manuscript over to someone else is a major mountain that has been crossed.

 

Painting and drawing

While 2014 was an utterly miserable year, drawing-related (I didn’t upload a single thing to my deviantART gallery that year), 2015 ended up being a little better. Well, actually, when I look through my gallery there are quite a few new pieces there. I think I uploaded some of them here, but here is a list of all of them:

Nell Black-haired girlPencil portraitWinter’s child remadePurple portraitWitch queen remake WIP

 

The first two are from earlier in the year, while the rest are from the Christmas holidays. One pencil drawing (plus a lot of random sketches and doodles, mostly ball-point pen though) and the rest digital, most of them remakes of older pictures (wonderful when I don’t know what to paint). I finally re-installed some custom brushes on my laptop, which made everything a LOT easier.

 

Summary

All in all it’s been a good year, everything considered. I would have liked to have been a bit more active on various websites, other blogs and deviantART (not to mention this blog), but it is what it is. After NaNoWriMo began, the Saturday Snippets apparently and unfortunately went on an unplanned hiatus, but they will resume after New Year’s. I also started a character drawing gig at Fiverr (here), but it’s very recent and it’s too early to say anything about it yet.

As usual I have some New Year’s resolutions, but I will write a separate post about that in a few days. Suffice it to say that I have plans, but I will try to be realistic this year. Try.

How has your year been?

New sketches

In the midst of some rather exciting changes in my life, which I will tell more about in a later post, I’ve completely forgotten to post my new sketches. It’s months since I last drew anything, and it felt SO GOOD to finally be doing it again.

The first picture, which you can also see in my gallery at deviantART, is a semi-finished picture of a character in Forgotten Sorcery. She is called Nell and is the daughter of an innkeeper in a village they travel through. So far she doesn’t really have any important part to play in the story, but it kind of… bothers me a bit. I like her. Maybe things will change…

Nell

 

The second picture is a lot more sketchy, and is a hastily coloured version of an old pencil sketch. Even if it’s just a brief sketch I like it – I feel like there’s a character in there just waiting to get out. So far I’m stuck at “what Tiaden (in Rogue Sorcery) would look like if he was female” – but he is and will continue to be male. So who is she? Time will tell! I had intended to refine it a lot more, but… I don’t know.

Coloured small