Tag Archives: clarion

Books and pictures and programs

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, so in departure from something more organized, I think I’ll just list off a few of my projects. Hopefully some of them will inspire you to something; at the very least, I know I can come back here when my own motivation wanes (it always does, it always will, we just have to learn to re-energize it).

  • In the last few months, I’ve assembled a science fiction and fantasy anthology for my writing group. I did all the formatting and editing and layout. Last night we had a binding party in which we put together several handmade copies. Soon it will be available for the kindle (after a little more work), but here are pictures of the first bound copy of Bizarre Tales from the Three Notch’d RoadSONY DSC SONY DSC
  • I’m taking a watercolor painting class through a local art community. Everything I know now I taught myself, and I’m sure there are new things I ought to learn. The next Zish and Argo will be even more beautiful.
  • I’m taking the plunge and going pro with my photography. Check out my new website karenblahaphotography.com.
  • I’m learning database design, something I knew zero about before June. You can just pick up a new skill, if you give it time and realize that it will be a slog at times. I’m using this book by Michael Blaha, which as the name suggests, my dad wrote. Nearly 30 years of osmosis didn’t teach me anything, but two months with this book has been inspiringly instructive.
  • I’ve been learning the Adobe creative suite, using videos from Lynda.com. I learned InDesign for the anthology pictured above. I learned a ton about Illustrator after being unable to make even the simplest graphics in it. Although I’ve been using Photoshop for years, I’ve learned more about it in the last month than I have in the last ten years. Immensely eye-opening.
  • I made the switch from Aperture (the mac photo-managing software) to LightRoom (the Adobe photo-managing software). LightRoom ties into creative suite better, and Mac is not supporting Aperture sufficiently anymore. And I’m using Lynda.com videos to speed my adaptation to LightRoom too.
  • I discovered a wikipedia for classical music whose copyright has lapsed. Imslp.org has sheet music for hundreds of composers for dozens of instruments. It even has some free recordings. I am working on learning Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore for piano, Grieg’s  Peer Gynt for piano, and Saint Saen’s Swan for viola. The only trouble is knowing which music you want!
  • I continue to work on short stories for my Clarion Write-a-thon goal. I’m on the second one, and I need to pick up the pace. Check out my profile page here.
  • And finally, I continue to work on my 100 scenes of Vironevaehn life. I’m up to 42 color illustrations.SONY DSC

Whew, that was a lot, and time to get back to it!

2014 Clarion Write-a-Thon

Motivation is key to writing, and yet it can be hard to summon. You lock yourself away for hours slaving over a product that, for us beginners, has a 99% chance of rejection. To improve that product, we have to accept criticism; beyond ego, this is tricky too. We must be able to discern which criticisms are useful, and decide how to incorporate them. It’s a rocky road; I frequently struggle with motivation. I enjoy writing and the play of it, but sometimes the short-term assurity of failure looms large. But if we don’t tackle that short-term failure, long-term failure is even more assured. Yesterday marked one year since I began submitting fiction consistently. I’ve submitted 78 times, with 3 acceptances.

So, any help at motivation, be it friends, clubs, or whatever, is helpful. Participating in NaNoWriMo was wonderful. I attended RavenCon in Richmond in April, and that was exciting and motivating as well. And yesterday, the 2014 Clarion Write-a-Thon began.

For those who have not heard of it, the Clarion workshop is a 6 week workshop in San Diego for science fiction and fantasy writing, with such alumni as Octavia Butler, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Cory Doctorow. I would dearly love to go some day. In the mean time, this Write-a-Thon allows participants to challenge themselves with writing goals in those same six weeks.

You can visit my Clarion Write-a-Thon page here. So far, I especially like the ability to set different goals. I loved NaNoWriMo, but frankly I feel that I need to improve my short stories to improve my writing skills. My goal for the Write-a-Thon is to write 8 short story drafts. Wish me luck! I’m looking to join a writing team, so make a profile, and we can team up!