New Years Resolutions Faltering Already?

I started out the year strong, eager to jump into my goals. I felt a bit worn from constant work and pushing myself a lot these last few months, but I was excited to start the new year. It wasn’t going to be a “new year, new me” type of deal, but more “I’m going to get to work finishing what I started.” I want to do a lot this year.

Already I’ve slipped off. I started forming a habit, writing in my novel every day and reading every day in addition to blogging every day, but I slipped. I have an excuse, my mom’s friend was visiting and took over my room and I didn’t sleep well on the couch. But it’s still an excuse. I could have hoarded my time a bit more and written or read. Could have but didn’t.

I have the rest of today and all of tomorrow to get back on it. If I write and read extra the next few days I’ll catch back up to where I wanted to be. Heck, it’s my day off so I should get ahead. I only have one other thing I have to do tomorrow, so I’ll have time. No excuses!

The Mingling of Inspiration and Goals

This whole blog has a lot of unplanned content written when I sat down to write. I’ll readily acknowledge that this is one of them. But I had some great ideas while driving home, and that inspiration led to the idea for this post.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how I experience inspiration. This idea is similar but is specifically on the intersection of inspiration and goals.

On the drive home I suddenly realized I wanted to write a sequel to The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. I recognized despite my excitement, though, that if I want to finish my novel, I need to focus on that first. This idea is thrilling and has more appeal because it’s shiny and brand spanking new. But I committed to myself that I would finish my novel.

My approach to this dilemma is two-fold. On one hand, I won’t be giving up my goal of finishing my novel in 2019. On the other, I may allow myself to start the new stories after I finish the short story I started and in addition to any daily work on my novel I’m doing. Because I have a big goal and I’m sticking to it, I have to be strict with myself. I want to do both, but I have prioritized one over the other.

Inspiration has at least initially fueled all my story ideas, but it doesn’t decide what I do when. I wrote down the ideas I had, so I will more easily recall inspiration when I’m ready.

My Plans and Goals for 2019

I’ve done a lot in 2018, and there’s still a few days to do more.

I created and published a poetry collection. I started two blogs, Insanity’s Hiding Place (this blog) and Over the Invisible Wall. I took my novel-in-progress over 30k words. I finished my novella The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan.

Next year I want to do as much as I can.

I’ve made a habit of daily blogging and that will be continuing. Writing every day is important to me, so I will not quit.

In April I’ll be moving to apprentice with one of the business partners with Praxis. That’ll be at least six months, maybe longer. I’m going to do great work, push myself, and grow a lot personally and professionally through this experience.

January is the philosophy module at Praxis, which has a lot of reading, but it will be an adventure. That’ll kick off the new year with some hardcore thinking.

inish my novel-in-progress, Mystical Warriors. I don’t know how long it will be, I don’t know how much work it will take. But it’s taken long enough so far. I need to finish it. I’m not sure when I want my target to be for the first draft’s completion, but I want to push myself to finish it.

Make the manuscript for my next poetry collection. I don’t want to release another poetry collection for a while, but I have the start of another poetry collection. I’m going to scrap what I have and start over, though. Now that I know the basics of making a collection, this one should be a breeze. It will be much longer, though, so that might present its own troubles.

Develop Gràďlutut to a point where it’s possible to have conversations. I’d like to make short video lessons about/for the language, but there’s not enough to it yet for that to even be possible.

Develope N’Zembe, write more stories, develop more species, write more history. I have so little knowledge of the system, I’d like to change that. The worldbuilding is still so lacking, and that’s the whole point of the project. I’m creating a whole star system to host stories, and the process is fascinating to me. I already know I will never stop working on this, and I made it vast purposefully. There’s 10 inhabited planets out of 18, and a ton of moons, which may or may not be habitable or inhabited. The base language is the same, but the derivations and evolution of that on different planets will be drastically different.

These are my main writing and career goals for 2019.

Maintaining Dedication

I’ve been working on and off on my novel-in-progress for three years. Even for such a long time and spread out work, I haven’t quit.

I decided that I would finish this novel. Even if I decide it is terrible and I hate it, I will finish it. I will take it from an empty page to a published novel.

I committed to finishing it.

Not for my friends or my family or anyone else. For myself.

I’ve had a lot of trouble finishing large projects.

Four years ago I started crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin’s daughter. I never finished it.

Between the ages of twelve and fifteen I started countless stories that were intended to be novels. I have finished none of them.

I realized I had a problem. I start projects but don’t finish them.

So I went through all my novel projects and ranked them from highest to lowest current priority. I decided I would focus my efforts on the first project on the list, then the second, and on.

That was two and a half years ago, and I’ve made great progress. Mystical Warriors, my novel-in-progress, is over 30,000 words. That’s the longest of any writing project I’ve ever had.

What made the difference was a commitment to myself.

I decided that I had to do this, that it was going to happen. I am not willing to give up no matter the obstacles. I will finish this novel. Even with it on the backburner, I know I will be coming back to it.

I prioritized my projects such that I have no excuse for working on a new novel that would prevent me from finishing this one.

For a long time, I had a daily writing habit that included my novel. I wrote at least one sentence in my novel every day. That has fallen off, but I will be reviving that practice. I keep making excuses for why I haven’t done that yet, and I need to stop.

I stayed dedicated to this project over the last three years because I committed to it for myself. I maintained my commitment by focusing my time and energy on the project. I remind myself of my obligation to myself by writing blog posts about it and talking about it. I also take my novel with me on vacation to write in the car or during down time.

I need to reprioritize my projects, not just my novels, but my short stories and worldbuilding too. I will be incorporating progress on my novel into my daily habits. I want to say “after I finish x,” but I should start tomorrow. No more excuses, I need to deliver on this commitment.

The Journal: 22 May 2017

This is a new series comprised of past journal entries I wrote followed by some current thoughts about it, if I have any. The reason for sharing a particular entry will vary. Some may be recorded story ideas, interesting events from my past, or some weird or fun thought I had that I wrote down.

There is an extent to which the way you write tells the world a little something about how you read. I, for example, write very much as though the events are happening and I’m recording them as they do — almost like writing a book based on a movie, only better. The words are meant to be very visual, the reader should see in their mind the events as they unfold, watch as the characters move around, listen as they speak. It’s almost as though Mystical Warriors was meant to be a movie script but I wrote it in plain prose.


I think this was inspired at least partially by my friends telling me the opening scene for my novel-in-progress felt very much like a movie scene.

Mystical Warriors: My Novel-in-Progress

Disclaimer: This project is on a temporary haitus as I adjust to my workload with Praxis, running this blog, running Over the Invisible Wall, and working more hours at Walmart. I will be finishing it. I will come back to it.

I mentioned Mystical Warriors in a post last month. I shared how far I was into writing this to-be novel. Since then I have shared two backstory pieces, Thief!, and Befriending Vinny (parts one and two).

What I neglected to do, however, was share a bit about the novel and what the story even is. Today, I am going to fix that.

Mystical Warriors is the working title of the project and is the same name as a video game in the story world. One half of the setting is a fictional version of the real world. The other half is inside the video game.

Mara Williamson, James Richards, Drake Meltzin, and Vinny Kituma are four long time friends who live in the same neighborhood and go to the same school. It was a normal Friday afternoon comprised of homework and video games at Mara’s house after school. Until it wasn’t. Unexpectedly, the four friends find themselves inside the video game, Mystical Warriors. How will they return to the real world and their lives?

When I started this story, I knew it bore basic similarities to the manga and anime Sword Art Online. At the same time, I had the idea that led to this story long before I knew anything about anime.

About ten to twelve years ago, my aunt and uncle went on vacation to France. During that time, my two cousins stayed at my family’s house for the week. I invented a LARP-like game, as is common for children to do, with almost the same premise as Mystical Warriors. My cousins had to beat the video game to return to the real world, but they were brought into the video game to help out the people and various creatures solve some problem. For Mystical Warriors, being in the video game is the problem.

That is the gist of the project. If you have any questions, comment below and I’ll answer as best I can so long as it will not spoil the story to do so.

Befriending Vinny (Short Story P2)

Be sure to read part one!

This is a backstory piece I wrote for Mystical Warriors. The main characters, Mara, James, Vinny, and Drake, are probably about seven. This takes place after “Thief!”

It was almost time for the Kitumas to come over. The Williamsons had finished making their food, and James’ family had come over after preparing theirs, and Drake’s family was on their way over.

“Mara,” Mrs. Williamson called from the kitchen.

“Yes, mom!” Mara said, running downstairs.

“You can go with James to take the Kitumas that the food is almost ready,” Mrs. Williamson said.

“How did you react when Dellie told you you were having a potluck for the new neighbors?” Mr. Richards, James’ dad asked Mr. Williamson.

“I wasn’t surprised, really. Think about what we did when the Meltzins moved in!” Mr. Williamson said. “It could have been way more of a hassle.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mrs. Richards said laughing. “Lara, why don’t you go with James and Mara.”

“I don’t wanna. I want to wait for Patty to come,” Lara said.

“Okay,” Mrs. Richards said. “She thinks she’s–”

Mara and James ran out the door, oblivious to the adult’s conversation happening as they left.

“Mr. Kituma! Mrs. Kituma! Vinny!” James yelled when they reached the door, and before Mara had rung the bell.

Ding, dong!

“Yes?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“The food’s almost ready!” Mara said.

“And you can meet my family and Drake’s!” James said.

Mrs. Kituma was shocked. “So it’s a party now?” she asked.

“Kind of. It’s to welcome you to the neighborhood!” Mara said.

She softened. “Well thank you very much. We’ll be right over.”

“okay! See you soon!” Mara and James said.

**Mara and James ran back to Mara’s house.

“They’ll be here soon!” They cried, interrupting the adult’s conversation mercilessly.

“Thanks. Why don’t you play for a few minutes until they and Drake’s family come over?” Mr. Richards asked.

“But!” James said. “They’ll be here in just a minute!” Mara said.

“Okay, okay.” Mr. Richards conceded.

“Mara, it was rude of you to interrupt our conversation,” Mrs. Williamson chided.

“I’m sorry,” Mara hung her head.

“Thank you.” Mrs. Williamson said.

“Anyways–” Mara and James tuned out the conversation and talked about whatever came to mind, from toys, to the new neighbors, to what was taking everyone so long, to being hungry, to school, to the new neighbors, to Vinny specifically, to siblings, back to the neighbors, and did they mention they were hungry?

It was, in reality, only about five minutes before The Meltzins arrived, and two minutes after that for the Kitumas, but Mara and James were excited enough that time passed in milliseconds that they could perceive. Forget minutes, they experience milliseconds.

Lara scoffed. “Why do you care so much?” she asked.

“They’re the new neighbors and they have a girl our age!” Mara exclaimed.

“That means new friends!” James said.

“So what?” Patty, Drake’s older sister asked.

“Why are you so rude?” Drake asked. “We just like to have fun!”

Patty stuck her tongue out at her younger brother.

“Mom! Patty stuck her tongue out at me!” he said.

Patty glared at him. “Did not!” she said before Mrs. Meltzin could respond.

“Patty, don’t stick your tongue out at people, it’s rude,” Mrs. Meltzin said.

“Okay,” she said, sulking.

Ding, dong!

Mara, James, and Drake sprint for the door.

“Hi!” Zmara said. “Come on in!”

“Hello!” James said.

“Hi, we’re so glad you’re here!” Drake said.

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smile.

“Thanks,” Mr. Kituma said.

“We’re glad to be here,” Mrs. Kituma said.

Vinny hides behind her parents, silently watching the others.

“Vinny, why don’t you say hi,” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“Hi,” Vinny mumbled.

“Hi, Vinny!” Mara said. “Everyone’s in the kitchen,” she continued, gesturing and leading them into that part of the house.

Mrs. Williamson stood up from her seat. “Hello, I’m Dellie,” she said. “You must be the Kitumas.”

Mr. and Mrs. Kituma smiled.

“Yes,” he said. “You can call me Bill. This is my wife, Lou.”

Lou waved.

Everyone introduced themselves.

Mr. and Mrs. Williamson or Dellie and Erik were Mara’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richards or Lloyd and Margie were James’ parents, and Mr. and Mrs. Meltzin or Gregory and Kalen were Drake’s parents.

Patty and Lara introduced themselves to Vinny, after being asked to do so.

Vinny forced a wave and said, “Hi,” after her parents told her to because she was being rude.

“Can we eat now?” James asked.

“Yeah, I’m hungry!” Drake said.

“We’ve been smelling the food for hours!” Mara said.

The Kitumas laughed, but the other parents chided their children.

“It’s fine, really. You all worked hard to make all this for us, and they were very excited to meet us and invite us here,” Mr. Kituma said.

“Yes, it is all quite a lot, and we really appreciate it,” Lou said.

“I’m hungry too,” Vinny mumbled.

“Okay, then we can start!” Dellie said. She passed out plates to the children, first, and the parents helped them with what they couldn’t reach so they wouldn’t make a mess.

After they went through the potluck choices, the kids were made to sit at the kitchen table, while the adults would sit in the living room for lack of space.

~~~

Time passed, and mara, James, and Drake repeatedly tried to convince Vinny to come out and play with them. Each time, they were soundly rejected.

“Vinny, why won’t you play with them at least once?” Mrs. Kituma asked.

“I don’t wanna,” she said.

“Please, today if they come to the door, go out and play with them,” Mrs. Kituma said.

“Fine,” she mumbled.

“Thank you.”

Sure enough, later that day, the doorbell rang, and it was Mara.

“Hey, is Vinny home?” she asked.

Mrs. Kituma smiled. “Yes. Vinny, Mara’s here to see you!”

Vinny came to the door. “Hi.”

“Do you want to come play at my house?” she asked.

“Um… I guess so,” she said.

“Cool!” Mara said.

Vinny put on her shoes and a jacket and followed Mara over to her house. “Is it just us?” she asked.

“Yeah, James is sick and Drake had a birthday party to go to,” Mara said. “We can play whatever you want. I have dolls.”

“Okay,” Vinny said. She thought about it. She hadn’t played with anyone since she moved in, not even at school. She played by herself or read a book, even outside on the playground. Was she lonely? She would never say so if she was.

“And my mom said we could have a snack if you want,” Mara said.

“Okay,” she said. “What kind of snack?”

“Whatever is fine. We have lots of choices. Fruit snacks, cookies, real fruit,” Mara said, listing a few things off the top of her head.

“Okay.”

They walked into Mara’s house.

“I’m back!” Mara called. “Vinny’s with me, we’ll be in my room!”

Mrs. Williamson peaked out of the kitchen. “Okay. Hello, Vinny, it’s nice to see you.”

**”Thanks,” she said. She followed Mara upstairs to her room.

The walls were a muted pink, and there were a variety of toys, from dolls and action figures to stuffed animals to books to electronics.

“What do you want to do?” Mara asked.

“Um… I don’t know… Dolls?” Vinny said.

“Okay. I have loads to choose from, but I don’t have any houses or anything. We can use this shoebox structure I made, though,” Mara said. She pulled out a bin from a shelf against the wall. It was overflowing with dolls and what would be called action figures, really just “boy dolls,” but they were all the same to Mara.

“Wow, that is a lot,” Vinny said. “What are these?” she asked, pulling out some of the more oddly shaped ones, which were army men or superheroes or other figurines that sold more to boys than girls.

“They’re dolls too,” Mara said. “I think they’re supposed to be boy dolls, but they’re cool.”

“Oh, okay. I want to be this one,” Vinny said, pulling out a doll with braided blond hair.

“Okay. I’ll be this one,” Mara pulled out a doll with short cropped, jagged hair that was a ghastly shade of green.

“What happened to her hair?” Vinny asked, astonished.

“I tried to give her the same haircut as my mom, but it didn’t work out. Then I wanted to dye her hair green with fruit juice mix, which my mom has done to y hair once, but it didn’t work either,” Mara explained.

“Oh.” Vinny looked at the doll kind of sideways. “It doesn’t look too bad,” she said.

“You don’t have to say that, it’s bad,” Mara said, grinning. “I don’t care though, she’s still my favorite.”

They played dolls for a while until Mrs. Williamson knocked on the door.

Mara jumped up to open it. “hey, Mom. We’re playing dolls.”

“That’s wonderful. Would you like to come downstairs for a few minutes and have a snack?” she asked.

Mara looked to Vinny. “Do you want to?” she asked.

“Sure,” Vinny said.

“Okay. Thanks, mom.”

They went downstairs and Mrs. Williamson helped them get their snack.

“Vinny, I’m glad you decided to come over and play with Mara. Are you having fun?” Mrs. Williamson asked.

“Yeah,” Vinny said. She smiled.

Mrs. Williamson smiled. “That’s good. Do you think you’ll play with Mara some other time?”

Vinny nodded.

~~~

It took a long time, but Mara, James, and Drake didn’t give up on befriending Vinny. They kept trying, and eventually, she decided to be friends with them.