Tag Archives: Sustainably North

Hello 2020!

Oh my gosh, it’s a new year already! I can’t believe how fast 2019 has gone!

Last year I did things a bit differently.  My plan was to set smaller goals every month to give me the flexibility to accomplish more through the year (especially as plans inevitably change).  But then that didn’t really work; the goal I set for January (finish the Make Your Way story I started writing) – took until May to finish the first draft, September to finish edits, and I finally submitted it in November.  And by the time fall rolled around, a few other commitments popped up (ThunderCon and the book editing I’m still working on), which pretty much brought me to the end of the year.

In the beginning of 2019 I was also trying to balance working on Sustainably North with other writing goals.  I even dedicated the entire month of March to working on the blog.  But over the spring, I started to feel like I was spending far too much time on the blog to the detriment of everything else; by the end of July, I decided to stop working on Sustainably North.  As much as I was sad to do this (and still am – I feel like Sustainably North was a good thing to be working on), stopping the blog freed me to work on other things; I’m pretty sure if I didn’t stop working on it, I’d still be trying to fit in finishing the Make Your Way story!

One thing that I did in 2019 that I was very proud of was I started setting weekly goals for myself.  In a notebook I’d write down the things I wanted to accomplish in a week, then break them down into really small-pieces and check them off as I accomplished them, like so:

weekly goals example

Here’s an example page from September 2019, where I broke down editing sections of the Make Your Way story.

This worked surprisingly well for me, keeping me on track and motivated, while allowing me to chip away at things and a very sustainable pace.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to use this method with the book editing project because I have no control on what I’m working on when.  But as soon as that is finished, I’ll definitely be going back to this!

I also did accomplish the year-long reading goal I set in 2019.  I actually blew past my goal of 25 books in June, finishing with 40 (well, Goodreads says 40, but it was a bit less because I added a few short stories on at the end – my goal for the year was 25 novel-length books, which doesn’t count those or graphic novels like Die, which I added because I loved it so much).

Based off of what happened in 2019, for this year I’m going to go back to having only one or two major goals I’d like to accomplish for the year, rather than trying to break things down by month.  I’m also going to just list personal projects and goals, rather than the book editing project which I have been contracted for (even though that is a big project I will be working on, at least for the next few months!)  So with that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2020:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books. 25 books continues to work really well for me so I’m going to keep the same goal.  This number takes the pressure off of me and makes reading more fun.
  2. Finish Memories.  The RPG I’ve been calling Memories is close to being done. The game is pretty much built, but I need to fix up a few points and figure out how to end it.  I really want to finish it this year!
  3. Edit two of the short stories I’ve already written so they’re ready for submissions. I’ve got several stories on my computer right now (including “A Friend from the Deep”) which definitely need to be edited.  I may not have places to submit them to, but having some of them ready to submit would be fantastic!

So what about you?  How was your 2019?  Do you have any goals for the new year? 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Goodbye Sustainably North

Apologies for missing last week’s #WriteTuesday.  I was dealing with some health stuff and wasn’t at all thinking about blogging or any other writing (and honestly was having a bit of a hard time concentrating on stuff).  So I’m dealing with that now and altogether feeling better (I don’t want to get into any details on it, but I have type 1 diabetes and was having a lot of low blood sugars).  It’s going to take a bit of work, but I should have things back to normal soon (and I’ve already seen a difference – I mowed the lawn over the weekend without going low! That was a hugely positive step!)

While I was dealing with everything, I was also kind of thinking over my priorities and goals for the future.  I really do want to get some of my game and writing projects finished.  But I keep putting them off, in large part because of the pressure of having Sustainably North going consistently (both writing-wise and reading-wise thanks to all of the books I’ve been reviewing there, too).  I’ve bought a few books on blogging that I had every intention of reading before now in an effort to improve the blog, but I’ve been putting them off, too (generally in favour of the reading I’ve done for Sustainably North, which I don’t regret – I’ve read some extremely interesting books on the environment, which I probably would not have read if not for the blog). But between Sustainably North and a few special projects I’m working on at work (which I am very excited about), I feel like I’m stretched too thin right now.  Something has to give.  And unfortunately, even though I have really enjoyed writing the blog, it has been too much of a time sink, taking away from the other projects I would really like to see done.  Plus if I don’t put even more time into it (through reading those blogging books), right now I lack the tools to improve Sustainably North.  😦

While the decision to stop working on Sustainably North was made over the weekend, it’s been on my mind for at least the last month, if not even longer.  As I said back in June, I have other projects that I want to finish.  And I have a large project potentially lined up for the fall (which is not official yet though), so I’m very aware that time is going to be at a premium for me soon.  So something really does have to give.

So while I am proud of the fact that I’ve been consistently posting on Sustainably North for over a year, it’s unfortunately time to say goodbye to it, at least for now.  I’ve paid for the hosting until the end of the year (which is honestly the reason I didn’t give it up sooner than this).  But after a talk with my brother about it, I decided that it was okay to let it go now, rather than continuing to stress out about it.  I told another friend about my decision and he suggested that maybe I should just take an indefinite break from the blog.  I suppose that’s an option to consider, especially since I have paid for the blog hosting until the end of the year.  At the very least, I intended to save the blog’s XML files (and possibly move it to a free WordPress site at the end of the year).  But that’s a decision I’ll make down the road.  But for now, this is goodbye to the blog. 😦

If you’ve been reading my posts on Sustainably North, thank you so much for supporting it!  There are still posts scheduled until the end of the month, so you’ll still be able to read a little bit more new content on the blog if you’d like.  🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Catching Up with Family and Friends

Over the last week, I ended up spending a lot of time with family and friends, rather than working on writing. I went for coffee with my brother, which we haven’t done in quite some time.  My aunt and uncle were visiting from out of town; it was nice to see them again.  It was a friend’s birthday party on Saturday.  And I visited with another friend on Sunday.  Oh, plus I rode the local bus for the first time in years, and went out on my first bike ride for 2019!  It’s been a very busy week. 🙂

While most of the week was spent socializing, I did manage to get the book I wanted to review for Sustainably North read, too (the book review is written and scheduled for later this month)!  The book was Urban Cycling by Madi Carlson; I tweeted about finishing it, and Carlson replied saying she was looking forward to reading the book review.  I’m not going to lie, that put a bit of pressure on me to make sure the review is really good.  I struggled with writing it all weekend, but I’ve done my best with it and finished earlier today; hopefully she likes it!

I also started going through some of the emails I had piled up.  I let the Pinterest emails pile up in my Sustainably North email account; I actually decided to unsubscribe from most of their emails because it was getting to be too much (plus they keep sending me pins that I’ve already pinned on my boards!)  So for this coming week, I’ve got two main goals: I want to continue going through more emails, and I want to get more work done on the Make Your Way story.  Next week is my birthday, and I doubt that I’m going to get very much done, so hopefully I can get a lot accomplished this week!

What about you? What are your plans for the coming week? 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – Progress on Make Your Way story!

On Sunday, I was really proud of myself – I was able to write and schedule most of the remaining Sustainably North posts for May!  Prior to Sunday, I got a few quotes and the May bUneke post scheduled.  But on Sunday I wrote and scheduled the two essays for May, as well as the final Friday post (it’s going to be another taste-test!), and of course the editorial post (which I didn’t want to write until I had the two essays figured out).  So all that’s left for May is to finish reading the book I’m reviewing, then write and schedule the review!

Then yesterday afternoon, I actually did some work on the Make Your Way story!!!  I was going to plan out all of the endings before writing them up, but as I started working on it again, I found myself doing a little bit of planning, then a little bit of writing.  Going back and forth really helped me when I got stuck.  I also had to remind myself that this story isn’t a full game book, so it’s okay to end some of the threads quicker than others.  I wrote up one ending (hurray!) then took a break for dinner.  When I got back to working on the story an hour or so later, I managed to plot out the endings for the rest of the story threads!  And from there, I actually got four of them written out!  Check out the new graph:

story graph with four endings

The different blues are RPG choices the player can make. The light green marks the endings. And the reds/purple were just for me to mark different story threads.

I added about 20 sections to the story today!

Since today is the last day of the month, I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to get this draft done before May 1st.  But that’s okay; even if I don’t, I should be able to have it finished by the end of the week! 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – After the Easter Weekend

Happy Easter everyone! 🙂

I’m really excited – on Friday I finally finished reading the book The Great Transition by Lester R. Brown for Sustainably North (that was the book I chose to review on the blog for this month).  With it read, I was able to write a book review for it and schedule it for the end of the month; now all of the April Sustainably North posts are finished and scheduled!  Next I need to get working on the May ones.

But writing the May ones wasn’t part of the plan for this week; once I was done with the April posts, I wanted to get some work done on the Make Your Way story.  Now I don’t know what my problem is, but I’ve had a heck of a time working on it and getting that first draft written (this has been an ongoing problem since last year).  I actually Googled “why do you have trouble working on a writing project” and came across this article on starting but not finishing a project, which gave some great tips depending on what you have trouble with.  I know I’m definitely someone with starting energy who gets distracted by new projects, so I really need to sit down and actually work on it if I want to see it through.  I also found this article on recapturing your motivation for a project.

While neither of those articles specifically answered what my problem is with this particular writing project, they at least reaffirmed that I need to just get it done.  So even though I (for reasons still unknown) didn’t want to work on it, on Saturday night I made myself read over what I had written to date.  The story is in definite need of editing, but the basic threads seemed pretty solid.  I also flipped through my notes a bit. Unfortunately most of those were from when I was working through a couple of issues with the City of the Dead setting (which is where this story takes place) and not actually notes on the plot.

Of course, rather than getting to work directly on the plot, I ended up going through this blog and eliminating some of the categories I had.  I really had way too many (I didn’t count, but there were three full pages of them!)   I’m hoping to cut the categories down to 15 or less, which is going to be a big job (especially once I’m through all the really small sub-categories).  By the time I finished for the night, I was down to 33.  I also rediscovered the blog post I had written back in 2014 about Keith Barker’s Stories and Dice, and decided to post it rather than delete it.

But that was okay.  Sunday was Easter dinner, so I spent the day cleaning and cooking.  The plan was to get back to the Make Your Way story on Monday.  But then I accidentally set off a fire extinguisher Sunday night in my storage room, and had to spend Monday cleaning that up, too.  I didn’t get nearly as much writing done this weekend as I had hoped to, but life’s like that some times.  Hopefully I’ll be able to cram everything I want to get done into this week instead. 🙂

So how was your Easter weekend?  Anything planned for the coming week?

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Oops – Missed This Week’s #WriteTuesday

Oops, I was busy with some training for work over the last few days; I thought I had posted yesterday, but it looks like I forgot!  Sorry! 😦

Last week I made my first Friday post on Sustainably North!  I chose to post a quote from David Suzuki and Ian Hanington’s book Just Cool It! The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do About It. I had a bit of a hard choosing a background for the quote.  I originally wanted to use a picture I have of skunk cabbage, because looking for skunk cabbage is such a spring activity.  But the background was too busy to put text in front of it, and I ended up going with this lake scenic instead.  I was originally going to change the background picture up monthly, but now I think I’ll probably use that background for the remainder of the spring, then maybe choose something else for the summer.  I’m not quite sure if I should write more of a post accompanying the quote (like explaining why I chose the quote), or just kind of leave them like this – what do you think (or what do you do if you post quotes on your blog)?

After that, I got a few more posts for Sustainably North finished/polished/scheduled, including Monday’s post on Thunder Bay’s bike lanes.  Once that was done, I went through Sustainably North’s categories and fixed them up.  When I first started the blog, I made categories all willy-nilly; now that the blog is a year old, I have a better idea of the kinds of categories I want it to have.  I paired them down to ten, leaving a few as-is and combining a few others.  I’m hoping the categories I chose are more relevant than the ones I had before.  I’m planning on reevaluating them in the future to see if they’re working or not.

Reorganizing Sustainably North’s blog categories also made me think about maybe doing the same for An Acquaintance with Letters.  I have so many categories here and a lot of them probably don’t need to exist (like all the sub-categories for different writing and game projects).

Since this weekend is a long weekend, I’m actually planning on working on the story for the Make Your Way Anthology!  I’m rather excited to take a break from Sustainably North (with the hope of actually finishing a first draft!)  I’ll let you know how that goes next week. What are your plans for the coming week?  Also, I hope you have a Happy Easter! 🙂

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#WriteTuesday – April Off to a Great Start!

I didn’t do much (other than work my day job) for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  But wow, this weekend was really great!

On Saturday, I worked on drafts for some upcoming Sustainably North blog posts.  One of them is pretty much ready to go; I want to read it over one more time before scheduling it for next Monday.  The other one is mostly written but still needs a conclusion (hence why it’s going to be posted in two Mondays instead).

Then on Sunday, I got yesterday’s Sustainably North intro post written and scheduled.  I didn’t want to do that until I knew for sure what the other posts for the week would be.  Since Sustainably North is now one year old, I decided to go with the topic of “celebrations” for the rest of April.  I’m currently calling these intro posts “editorials” on Sustainably North, but I might change that to something like “notes” or “editor’s notes.” Any suggestions for what else might work?

Then yesterday, I got a good draft of next month’s bUneke column written.  The magazine requests all articles in by the 10th of the month.  Normally I have mine ready to go a week or two before that but I really struggled with this one.  The topic they chose was “clean water initiatives” and I had no idea what to write about.  Part of the problem was that they ask for pictures to go with the articles, and we still had a ton of snow here!  So even though I had ideas for the column (rain gardens, plastic pollution in our lakes and rivers, or rain barrels), I couldn’t get a good picture of anything (no one is going to care about seeing a picture of a rain garden under a few feet of snow).  I ended up going with rain barrels because that seemed to be the easiest for pictures.

frozen rain barrel

It’s not perfect, but at least you can kind of tell this IS a rain barrel.

After this experience, I’m thinking I’m going to go around this summer and take a whole bunch of pictures of things like the rain garden, just so I have them on hand should I ever need them.  I’m thinking I might post them on Pixabay since that’s where I’ve gotten a bunch of pictures for Sustainably North from – it’ll be good to give back to that community. 🙂

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s feeling really good to be kind of on top of these things right now.  This week I really need to get reading the book I want to review on Sustainably North, plus I want to post some pictures and/or quotes there on Fridays; I need to figure out what that’s going to look like (at least for this Friday).   I’d also like to fix up the Sustainably North blog categories (some of them are fine, but others are more appropriate as a tag), but that’s something that can wait until these other priorities are done.

How about you?  What have you been up to?  What are your plans for the week?

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