2020 New Year’s Resolutions

Also plans and adventures, goals and aspirations. And hopes. Lots of hopes.

1. Finish all my course requirements for the Laboratory Science program.

2. Read more books.

3. Start doing yoga.

4. Drink more water.

5. Wean myself off caffeine (quit drinking coffee…0_0)

6. Develop a better journaling practice.

7a. Write more…like seriously…not every day but write more.

7b. Write 1 poem and 1 short story every week.

7c. Send out at least 1 magazine submission each month.

7d. Self-Publish 3 things. Hopefully all Slaughter Chronicles related.

8. Be more active on this blog. I pay for it, I might as well use it.

9. More positivity, less self-deprecation.

10. More hope and serenity, less drama and anxiety.

11. Pay off my car.

12. Exercise more.

13a. Be a better birder.

13b. Go out walking more so I can see more birds.

14. Have an amazing vacation with Mr. J.

15. Develop a consistent cleanup routine (aka do chores on time).

16. Wake up on time every day (do not hit the snooze button 10 times).

17. Be kinder to myself.

18. Cultivate better study habits.

So…most of my resolutions are either goals or me working on being MORE of something. More fit, more calm, etc. On the other side of that there are the lesses: I want to be less clingy and anxious, less angry and resentful, less lazy. But want are all these things going to do for me?

Will waking up at 6am every day make me a better person?

Being nice will. Taking care of myself will.

Some of these things are extremely superficial and self-serving. I don’t want to do yoga to be healthy, I want to do yoga to lose weight (yes, I am fickle and vane).

I don’t want to do new things, get new hobbies, I want to work on the things I’ve already started. I want to finish a novel and publish it. I want to be in all the magazines and win writing awards again. I want to have a “better” writing life.

Blood Tree Literature

Had some brand new words published last month at Blood Tree Literature. I wrote this poem while I was at my last job. A lot about that experience hurt my feelings.

Check out Issue 6, there’s some seriously awesome writing inside. I’m so grateful and honored to share space with these amazing writers and artists.

Thank you so much!!!

*

Photo Credit: Blood Tree Literature

Bucket List

1. Get a job I don’t hate.

2. Find the scariest haunted house EVER.

3. Do an escape room.

4. Get an RV and travel across the country.

5. Get a boat and live on the river.

6. Go to Comicon.

7. Go to Dragoncon.

8. Have nice cosplay ideas for 6 and 7.

9. Cultivate a yoga practice.

10. Learn Tai Chi.

11. Meditate regularly.

12. PUBLISH MY BOOKS.

13. Visit the Grand Canyon.

14. Be a better birder.

15. See all the birds on my Life List.

15. Learn how to sing. Like, properly sing, not in-the-car-sing.

16. Write a crown of sonnets (sonnet corona) and do it properly…following all the rules…(kill me).

17. Learn how to ballroom dance.

18. Go to a ball and wear a big, floppy princess dress.

19. Grow my hair long. The last time I had long hair was in 1997.

20. Learn how to play a musical instrument and play at shows with all my favorite artists.

21. Join a prestigious writing association.

22. Hitchhike or just walk across the country. Or live in my car.

23. Become an “extreme” minimalist.

24. Be invited to talk about poetry at AWP.

25. Have one of my books nominated for a Locus, Nebula, or Hugo. Just the nomination, I don’t have to win, just tell me you love me.

Talking about the rest of NaNoWriMo 2019 in the middle of December because…

Am I at the muddy mushy saggy middle already? (Week 2)

SO! (Week 3)

Here’s what happened: (Week 4)

The mushy middle past my by and the bitter, bitter end bit me in the ass.

I did not do any writing past week 1 because finals are a bitch and I visited my in-laws for Thanksgiving. Zero. Writing.

But before all that happened, at the tail end of Week 1, Mr. J and I had a wicked 2.5 hour brainstorming session about my paranormal horror/contemporary fantasy book series The Slaughter Chronicles AND

*deep breath*

I’ve reorganized the whole thing.

Because book 1 was actually books 1 through 3. Has that ever happened to you? You think you’re writing one book and it splits apart in what I can only describe as some kind of overzealous meiosis. Not mitosis because of the fucking Law of Independent Assortment. (Yes, I just took a Biology final. No, I made a B but I have an A in the class. I digress.)

So the bad news is I don’t have a finished draft. But the good news is I can put all these pieces from previous drafts together and have a finished draft maybe by the end of the month if I can just stop taking naps every day.

I’m burned out. From school. From vacation. All of it. Burned. Fucking. Out.

I wanted to be diligent and blog about Nanowrimo every week. And I really, really wanted to win this year.

I want to talk about developing writing routines and share helpful tips and tricks but I’m all out of ideas and motivation.

When I get like this, overwhelmed by all the promises I made myself and all the disappointment I feel at not meeting my goals, I need to step back and re-asses. And that’s what you’re going to see here on this blog in the next few months.

I’m going to try to document how I make a routine from nothing, or how I fail miserably at making a routine, or how I throw the routine out the window and still manage to write all the things.

I’m not making sense right now but I don’t care. Check out my future blog post about how I get all my thoughts in order and detail my master plan for 2020 like a neat and tidy recipe. Haha. Like that’s ever going to happen.

Anyway, I didn’t want to leave this month, a month that was conceptually very important to me, without making some kind of comment.

Writing is hard. And I feel like I’ve lost communication with all the fun things about it. But I’m not going to stop. And if you are unhappy with your progress and if you didn’t reach your goals this year don’t stop. Keep going. You’ll get there.

And just so you know, when the setting sun hits the branches of my neighbor’s trees just right the branches are all lit up in gold and look like a massive spider web.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Week 1

Hello world! Hello writers and readers! Hello NaNo people!

Week 1…wow…all the writing…

When I turn on my iPad (that’s what I write on) or open a notebook I’m terrified nothing will come out. I’m not terrified I won’t write anything good. I’m terrified of writing NOTHING. So, naturally, like a weirdo, I do what I most fear because part of my brain has convinced itself that the writing won’t happen no matter what I do or no matter how hard I try so why even bother?

Gross thinking, right?

Anyway, this week has been a real struggle because it’s so easy for me to find excuses to not write (school, homework, chores, etc.). But at the same time I’ve actually been doing pretty well keeping up with my word count even though I didn’t write at all on Tuesday. If I treat the writing like a homework assignment I feel better about writing.

Here’s what I need to remember:

1) Writing is supposed to be fun.

2) Nanowrimo is supposed to be fun.

If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong. And stressing out about not having any ideas is not a good way to write.

3) There are resources I can use to get ideas. Writing sprints with topics, for example. Watching live-streams on YouTube of people writing and talking about their writing.

4) You don’t have to do this alone.

Just because writing is a solo activity doesn’t mean you need to ignore the writing community. I’m a very shy person and I don’t like participating in chats and groups but I do have writer friends who I love talking to and resources outside myself that I can use to grow and cultivate my creativity.

Things I’ve learned during week 1:

1) Start the writing day with a new blank page.

I hate having lots of word documents for one project. But if I start with a fresh blank page every day I’m less tempted to distract myself with re-reading what I wrote or doing a quick grammar check that turns into a long procrastination session.

2) Make a list.

I’m one of those writers who loves to edit as I draft. I use the excuse of, “If I re-read what I last wrote I’ll remember where I left off and what I wanted to write when I stopped.” That logic has led me to revise the first chapter of my novel 10 times and the last chapter only 3 times. Not useful.

So one thing I started doing this week was remember WITHOUT LOOKING at what I wrote the day before and made a list of things that I wanted to add to that section/scene. I can add those things later when I start the second draft.

3) Work on other things.

I know this sounds counterproductive but whenever I can’t find the “motivation” to work on my NaNo project I skim through some of my other WIPs and add a paragraph here or there. Because the urge to edit is still there. And I can treat it as a warm up to drafting.

I got 1000 words in for the plot of Book 5 and then wrote my daily word count for Havoc’s Moon.

Some people would count that extra 1000 words as part of their word count in NaNoWriMo but because I am determined to get to 50,000 words on just Havoc’s Moon, I don’t count any other writing towards my word count on NaNo.

Happy Writing all you lovely people! Keep being awesome!

Until next week!

#gowrite

The Librarian

(for Suzie, my best librarian friend)

THE big table makes you look smaller than you are. Like a little morsel, a macaroon, a petit four alone on a dinner plate. You twitch, fidget. You curl your spine protectively over your phone screen despite the towers of books that surround you. Ponderous tombs of science, philosophy, and madness.

The World Atlas Extraordinaire sits on a stand older than this building next to you, propped open to the Pacific Islands, resplendently corralled by the cartography of the currents, dancing whorls of sacred scarification.

Each time the door slides open your eyes dart around in your skill like scared rabbits. You’re looking toward the door now; the shining glass, the herald of the morning sun. You are waiting for someone.

I like to pretend you’re waiting for me—but the girl walks in. (Besides, I’m already here.) The girl with the navy blue sweatshirt and hair the color of milky oil sliding off a dead whale. Her face is younger than mine. Of course, she is younger. All of you are. Her uniform skirt bisects her thighs perfectly, exposing her beautifully formed knee caps and the lacy pattern of veins and arteries flowing under her skin. Her sock-less feet are so dainty that her sneakers could easily be mistaken for ballet slippers.

She should be a ballerina with long, tangled hair. But she is a student and so are you. But you are not wearing a uniform. What day is it? Sunday? Monday? Where is the nearest school?

More importantly, what time is it? It must be near Lunchtime. I’m beyond famished. Even when I eat Breakfast and Second Breakfast I’m still a bottomless pit.

She sits as you stand. You do not hug like I expected you to but you do touch her shoulder as you lean over her chair. You ask her if she needs anything. She doesn’t. She pulls out a notebook and her headphones from her pink polka-dotted tote bag. (I have a bag too but it is not made out of polka-dots.) You walk away and she begins to scribble viciously across her blank page, her ears full of music I cannot hear.

Maybe she is a poet. Poets are delicious. They taste like burnt sugar and apricot pipe tobacco. (As opposed to artists, who usually taste like soggy, fermented herbs.)

When you return her head is bowed as if in prayer and your arms are bursting with books. Paris, Venice. Belgium, Madrid.

Travel or History?

What war, if any?

What’s your poison?

And why ignore the atlas? It’s been sitting right next to you the whole time. Just like I have. Surely maps are not obsolete. I know GPS exists now-a-days but you need more than travel diaries to travel. You have to know how to get where you want to go before you even think about going there. (I speak from personal experience, of course, but rarely does anyone listen to me…listen and survive, anyway…moving on.)

She plucks her headphones out of her ears and gives you one of the most dazzling smiles I have ever seen one human give to another. Her pink-frosted lips form the shape of the softest thankyou I have read anywhere, on paper or on flesh.

Maybe you’re planning to run away together. She’s already ready. Her tote has extra clothes and a very sharp knife hidden at the bottom (a gift from an overprotective mother, no doubt. Mothers should be overprotective). And you look like you have the money to buy anything else you two might need for a—what is it called? Funny, after all this time I still don’t know your words for it.

Getaway? Suicide?

When you only live from one meal to the next? No worrying about where to sleep, what to see next? Vacation?

No, you will have nothing to go back to. When you leave it will be for forever. Your family will disown you, will harry you through the halls and hedgerows, mazes and ballrooms and strip the skin from your sorry carcass if you ever return—no wait, that’s me. Not you. Sorry.

I’ve been living from one meal to the next without worrying about where I will sleep or what I will see next, unless it’s food. I eat food, dream food. I always look for food. But my version of you abandoned me long ago.

How long will you wait before you change your mind and leave her?

Good thing you’ll never find out. You’ll never get the chance to betray her. As you sit and study the geography of possibility I creep closer.

The shadows ebb and flow around your feet.

She doesn’t have time to dig out her knife.

(Copyright 2019 by Jessica Halsey)

The Librarian isn’t interested in working today. Don’t bother her.

*

Photos by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

The Promise: a dystopian short story

The tunnels are deep and full of poisonous fog.

There is no exit, at least not for the very first or the very next.

Would you survive the end of the world? For Pyre and her friends that is a terrifying question. She may not want to know the answer.

For fans of Garth Nix’s Shade’s Children and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

Disclaimer: This story contains mature themes including sickness and death, and the death of a child. Reader discretion is advised.

Continue reading The Promise: a dystopian short story