A New Story

Well, it’s coming up on the final week of school, and of course I’ve got more work than I can shake a stick at. But there is one piece of good news: my IPP (Independent Professional Project) got approved. For the next year, the tables will be turned. I’m going to write a book.

Well, it’s really a novella, only 20,000 words, but I’ll be writing, editing, publishing and marketing it all myself. A big job, but I’m really excited to take a crack at writing a story of my own. Stay tuned here for all the excited behind-the-scenes action, including more yelling about young adult fantasy fiction, and the inevitable questioning of my life choices. More details to come, just as soon as I can figure out what they are.

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Adventures of a Country Mouse

Today’s assignment-based adventure was the Manitoba travel assignment: go to a small town outside the city limits and write a tourism article. It was actually a lot of fun for me, because I was lucky enough to be the first in line to pick my group’s town, so I could pick a place I knew well. So my classmate an I spent about three hours today driving to and from Pinawa, Manitoba.

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Pinawa’s sundial

I know the town well because my grandparents live up there, and I’ve spent a good portion of my childhood summers roaming the town’s streets whenever I wasn’t tied up in swimming lessons. But I got to experience the town in a new way with Jenina, who by her own admission has scarcely ever ventured outside of Winnipeg, and was not at all accustomed to country living.

Like a baby deer taking her first steps

Like a baby deer taking her first steps

Her delight at the swinging bridge and taking selfies with the surprisingly tame deer wandering the town’s streets was amusing to watch, but it also re-opened my eyes to some of the great parts of a town that I had begun to take for granted.

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The view from above

And it also helped me get back in touch with my rural roots. I may be stuck in the city for now, but I think the simple life is what I ultimately aspire to.

Expectations and Disappointments

I love starting a new book. Everything from picking it off the shelf at the bookstore to coming home and settling down in my chair, ready to crack the spine. There’s something special in that anticipation, the feeling that you’re about to embark upon a magical adventure. You get ready to be swept away.

Only that doesn’t always happen. Instead of sinking into the story, I’m more and more finding myself stuck on the outside, criticizing character exposition and picking apart every piece of prose. Maybe I’m just getting pickier, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to read writing that makes you forget all the rules and sucks you in, pulling you along behind the story like a can behind a wedding car. I want writing that makes me feel, that makes me anxious on behalf of the protagonist when they’re in trouble and makes me throw the book across the room when a character does something particularly stupid. Which has happened before; you should see the looks I get at home when I start yelling at a paperback.

I’m sure CreComm hasn’t helped: when you spend all day every day picking apart your own and others writing for minute flaws, it will inevitably transfer over to your daily life. But I can’t help but feel like it’s ruined my ability to enjoy a piece of fiction for what it is, be it mindless entertainment or otherwise, without going all editor brain on it.

And don’t even get me started on my new favourite phenomenon of getting too anxious to read the really good books. It’s only been in the last few years, but I get too invested in the characters, can’t handle the narrative twists and turns, and end up putting the book away about halfway through because I’m too scared of what might happen. To fictional characters. Oh, anxiety brain, what would I do without you.

For someone who professes to be a reader, I do precious little reading these days. Hopefully it won’t stay that way.

Taking Time to Ease your Mind

So this week has been crunch week, or as our student association has so charmingly coined it, Hell Week. The week before Reading Week during which it seems like everything and the kitchen sink is due so that we can go into our break with a clear plate and time to relax and unwind (as if we didn’t also have a pile of stuff due after reading week, but that’s another story). But when I was talking to one of my classmates and happened to mention that I had been playing some video games in the evening, he seemed amazed that I had found the time to do that.

And that made me wonder, am I really that bad at time management? I mean maybe I am, lord knows it’s one of my weak points, but I really thought I was getting better about it. The thing is, I always make sure to block out time in my day for myself. Even if it’s only an hour, I need the time away from my schoolwork to keep my brain from becoming a Gordian knot of stress and anxiety. I just don’t have the ability to be working constantly.

Maybe it’s a function of how I work. Working on something gradually over the course of several hours really isn’t my style; I like to sit down with something, give it my full attention, and hammer it out as efficiently as possible. I also work best early in the morning, so rather than stay up till some ungodly hour trying to get something done, I’ll cut my losses, go to bed early, and get up at 5 am or earlier to take a fresh crack at it.

But this is one of my nagging worries about going into communications: more than a lot of other careers I’ve seen, communications people (especially journalists) seem to have to be able to be working constantly, or be willing to work outside the office. And that’s not the kind of career I’m after. When I’m at work, I’ll work as hard as I can, get as much done as I can, and that’s fine. But once I leave the office, I want that to be my time. I want to be able to leave my work at work and not have to be stressing 24 hours a day. (This is how the kind of bad brain stuff I was talking about in my last post happens.)

Maybe the only lesson to be learned here is that I’m just too laid back to be in CreComm, but I really do think there’s something to be said for setting aside time every day just for yourself.

A Jar of Some Kind, Anyway

First of all, I’d like to thank my classmates for spurring me to talk about this: their bravery has inspired me to open up about mental illness and its impact on my life, and hopefully it will for others as well. If you have the time or inclination, please read their posts here, here, and here.

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I’m a Fraud

I have a bit of a dirty secret that I’m going to confess to you all: I didn’t read much of anything over the Christmas holidays. It’s not like I didn’t have the opportunity – I spent a week at my parent’s house with its notoriously poor internet and plenty of free time – but I just didn’t get around to it. I did receive a couple books for Christmas, but the one I started was not nearly as good as I had been hoping, and I gave up halfway through.

Instead I’ve been sucked down the abyss of the RPG (Role Playing Game), video games that take100 hours or more to complete (if indeed they can be completed at all). So I’m going to yell about my feelings on games for this post, and return to your regularly scheduled book yelling next week. Continue reading