Hello there! For the last few months, I’ve been setting aside some time to design book covers to add to my portfolio because it’s something I’d love to do for self-publishing authors (if you are… More
I don’t actually believe in “Writer’s Block” but that’s an entirely different post that I plan on writing about. (I originally went very off topic with this post and decided to cut it and make it a separate post.)
Today, I’m going to talk about the opposite of “Writer’s Block” and that’s the glorious, wonderful (if not a little ironically frustrating) time when I have too many ideas. When my brain is bountiful with words and characters and worlds that I just can’t keep from bubbling out of me—and how I shut that shit down, because I have to focus on one thing at a time, dammit.
I’m not good at multitasking. Well, I’m average at it. But when it comes to writing, there’s now way I can keep multiple projects in my head. I mean, I can keep multiple ideas up in there—snippets and pieces. But, eventually, I have to get them down. Especially when I’m going through that wonderful time of having too many ideas because it’s just so much clutter. I’ll forget things. I’ll merge stories. Characters from one story will pop up in another. The detective will suddenly discover that the murder victim was killed by the fire-bending vampire who’s been secretly in love with the detective ever since they met at spy school. Wait…*writes this down*
Anyway, with too many ideas, I need to get them all down and accounted for. And this is how I do it:
Because I use the program Scrivener (for reals, it’s the best) I can have one file for all ideas and projects I want to work on soon. For example, since January, I’ve been developing ideas for…
- A new fantasy series, but specifically the first book to write during NaNoWriMo 2019.
- A full-length film script about MY LIFE. It’s a comedy…ish. Only semi-autobiographical.
- Another full-length film script about ALIENS. It’s a thriller.
- ANOTHER full-length film script about a FAMILY. It’s DRAMATIC.
- And, yet, ANOTHER full-length film script about MURDER. It’s another thriller.
- A short film that I can’t produce with such a limited budget ($0) and limited crew (just me).
- Another short film that isn’t really an idea yet, I just want to make one this year with a limited budget ($0) and limited crew (still just me lol). I used to make these a lot right out of high school and miss doing it.
Plus, I’m working on 1) the book I started during NaNoWriMo 2018, trying to finish it and 2) the book I’m supposed to be working on as “the book” that I haven’t touched in, like, a year. I Marie Kondo’d that shit. IT DOESN’T SPARK JOY RIGHT NOW, SO I PUT IT AWAY UNTIL IT DOES.
So HOW DO I KEEP ALL THESE STRAIGHT AND TIDY IN MY BRAIN?
I cry a lot.
Just kidding, I don’t. I mean, yes, I cry a lot. But I don’t keep them all in my brain!
I have a Scrivener (#NotSpon) (lol like anyone would sponsor this blog) file with all of these ideas. I set it up like this: I have one text document (and you can do this with Word or Docs with just different files in a folder on your computer, whatevs, nbd) with a MASTER LIST of all of these projects. It’s just a list of the projects (by title or short description) and projects that are completed are highlighted in yellow. The project that I’m actively working on, I highlight in blue. Projects that I have yet to start on are not highlighted with any color and projects that are outlined-but-not-yet-completed are highlighted in green.
Then, I have other text documents within that file (or if you don’t have Scrivener, just within a folder) for each of these projects. This is a dumping ground. Any time I have an idea or a thought or anything that I can’t have in my head about the project, I plop it in that text document. Sometimes there’s just a few lines, maybe a paragraph. One of them, I have an entire outline started. It’s just everything I need to get down to get it out of my head.
And it’s all in one, nice and tidy place!
So what is this magical time of having too many ideas called? The opposite of “Writer’s Block”? Let’s call it…Writer’s Flow? Creative Fulfillment? Magic Time? Heaven? Maybe it doesn’t need a name. It’s a great time, though.
Hi! So I’ve been trying to do more design work outside of work like I talked about in this post. I’ve been really enjoying just designing and creating some digital art just for the hell of it. Here’s some stuff that I’ve been working on:
So, I’ve been working on alternate book covers for some of my favorite books to put up on my portfolio because designing book covers for self-published authors or for publishing houses is something that I want to do. I’ve been working on a few more but I have finished one that I’m in love with, and that’s an alternate cover for the book Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. It’s about Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed for murder in the early 1800s Iceland. I’d wanted to feature the setting and tone of the book, using the imagery of vultures circling the farm house in which Agnes was forced to stay before her execution date, signifying her impending death.
This trio was simply doing an exercise. I just needed a refresher and some practice with layers and effects, and especially wanted to work out how to do a metallic effect. It’s not perfect here, but I like how these three image turned out.
I saw a tweet about Mary Shelley, saying how she was both a cool gothic teen and a revolutionary author who invented a genre with Frankenstein. I thought, Yeah that’s right, she’s my homegirl. Then, I thought about the “Mary is my Homegirl” t-shirt with the Virgin Mary on it. These two things merged in my brain for a second. I laughed out lout. Mary Shelley is my Homegirl. And I really, truly, desperately wanted a shirt with that on it. But none had been created yet. I was upset but only for a moment because I realized — UH, I COULD MAKE ONE? So I did and she’s amazing and I gave her a little skull necklace. It’s my first, like, illustrative design so it’s not perfect but I’m really proud of her anyway.
If you happen to be as weird as I and love this little design I made, I have the shirt up on Redbubble for myself to order and I’m just going to keep it there for anyone else who likes it.
I’ve been toying with the idea of an online shop for a while, so I’ve been slowly trying to build a social media presence and designing products that I want to sell. I have a whole big plan and everything, but I’ve just been working on some pieces casually for now. One such pieces is a calendar that I’m real excited about. So far, a few months have been completed but I recently finished “January” and I love it.
And lastly, I played with animation for the first time in a LONG time. I took an animation/motion graphics class in design school, but never really bothered with it since. But as I was working on the calendar’s page for “February,” I started to like the way I was maniplating some of the shapes and thought, “Woah, this would be cool if I saved each change as an image and animated it frame by frame.” So I did and it’s not, like, the coolest thing in the world as I’d imagined (lol) but I still think it’s neat. I think I’ll try to do more of it because it was a lot of fun. I’d love to be able to work out more complicated ones. Anyway, here’s a short clip. (Literally like two seconds lol.)
And that’s it! These are all the little projects I’ve been working on outside of work and thought I’d share!
Hello! Welcome to Further Learning, a little project of mine where I continue my education outside of school and post about what I’m learning. Right now, I’m learning about language! To start from the beginning with A History of Language – Part I, click here.
This post will probably be one of several about English specifically. I expect I’ll be learning more, especially in the book Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter and The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, as I’m fascinated with the weirdness of English, so I’m definitely going to want to know more and talk about more!
I’ve been reading primarily from John McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, but I have several books in line to learn from. Information in this post will primarily be from this source, unless otherwise stated.
What’s Up with English? – (I)
English is weird. I’m sure other languages are weird, too. But English, my native language, sometimes just doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve always wanted to know why certain words are the way they are. Like, why is “bologna” pronounced bel-OWN-ee? Why is “colonel” pronounced k-ERN-al? Or should I be asking why they’re spelled that way? There are so many more things that I want to know about English and I’m on a mission to learn as much as I can about all the weird spellings, rules, and history of it.
To answer those questions, I’ve found out: Bologna is actually Italian, a sausage named after the city in Italy, pronounced boh-LOAN-ya, which probably organically changed to an Americanized, easier pronunciation of buh-LOAN-ee over time. The spelling, for the most part, remained — except for those who changed it, sounding it out to “baloney,” which is also accepted as correct. As for colonel…or coronel…it’s still confusing. Basically, it comes from both French and Italian, and over time we acquired military terms from them, with interchanging spellings and pronunciations (like the word actually being three syllables and both ‘o’s were pronounced to be “col-o-nel” and “cor-o-nel“). And both spellings were used for a while in English. Eventually, we just stuck with the French pronunciation but the Italian spelling remained as a dumb-ass compromise. The second ‘o’ pronunciation was later dropped over time and it was just a weirdly spelled, two-syllable word. You can read about it here.
A Brief History of the English Language
As I said in the last post about language, all languages around the world are connected and derived from a singular (or several similar) language. Over time, with migration and other factors, one language because thousands. An early language to many of the European/Western Asian languages is Indo-European, a language branch that split up into many other branches. One of these branches is the Germanic branch of languages.
What’s part of the Germanic branch? Well, English, German (duh), Dutch, Swedish, Afrikaans, Danish, Norwegian, Yiddish, Scots, Frisian, Icelandic, and a few others.
English has a close relation to Frisian, but was heavily influenced by other Germanic languages, Norse, French, and Latin, which is why so many modern words are derived from so many different other languages. There’s even more than just those listed above.
Essentially, there’s four stages of English after the Germanic split from the main Indo-European language. From Proto-Germanic, one of the many languages to come from it, and is the earliest form of English as its own language, is called Old English. This early version of English was spoken in the early Middle Ages (550 – 1066 CE). This is what Beowulf was first written in. During this time, around the year 787, Vikings invaded speaking Old Norse (ancestor of Scandinavian languages) and brought early versions of the words again, get, both, same, skirt, and sky into the language.
After Old English, the language transitioned into what’s called Middle English, spoken from about 1200 – 1450 CE. This is the version of English in which Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales. After the French won against England and took over in 1066, many words from the French invaders remained in the English language just like the Viking’s Old Norse. This is where we received thousands of words like, flower, debt, people, change, wait, chair, tax, music, and beef. And, speaking of “beef,” one of my first introductions into learning about language was from this video by Lindsey Williams, in which she explains why there’s different words for the meat of an animal versus the animals themselves (beef/cow, mutton/sheep, pork/pig) and it blew my mind.
After Middle English came Early Modern English, spoken during the time of Shakespeare and the King James version of the Bible, from 1500 to 1700 CE. Around this time, is when scholars, as Lindsey Williams in the second video of hers below says, just kind of put letters wherever they wanted for the hell of it. In McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, he calls this the “Latinate” layer, where they were including more Latin derived words.
And that brings us to the latest version of English, Modern English! (Or, Late Modern English? I don’t know, we speak differently than we did in the Early Modern English phase, so I’d assume it should be its own era at this point.) It’s what I’m typing in right now. It’s been spread around the world (sometimes forcibly pushed on people, which ain’t great) and has become one of the most spoken languages in the world.
Will there be another version of English, as it changes and morphs through time? I’m not sure. Again, I’m not an expert. But there’s already so many dialects of Modern English, and it’s safe to say that they’ll continue to change on their own through each generation. It’s very clear that English today is much different from the English spoken just 100 years ago.
Favorite Facts & Tidbits
- The evolution of the alphabet is WILD. As a graphic designer who knows a bit about typography and letterform, seeing the evolution of how the shapes of our (Latin) alphabet is so cool. It’s so interesting to see the slight and large changes, to see how some letter branches off of each other, like “F” and “Y” having the same origin, and later the “V” splitting into “U” and “W”, is about the greatest thing I’ve ever learned. That’s right up my alley. That’s my jam.
- And speaking of form, have you ever wondered where the shapes of our numbers came from??? Because I sure never did until I was taught in design school that the origins of our number forms (1, 2, 3, 4…etc.) came from Arabic!
- Another fun fact I’ve learned, is that “English” words “shampoo” and “bungalow” are from the language of Hindi, one of the main languages spoken in India (also an Indo-European language). I’m sure there are others, but I think it’s interesting that so many words in English aren’t even originally our words, but they become so common, most English speakers don’t even realize it!
- AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE FACT! I actually threw the book after reading this one. Are you ready? You’re not ready. Unless you already know. But have you ever wondered why there’s “warm” and “warmth,” and “grow” and “growth,” but there’s only “slow” and not “slowth”…well that ain’t true. It’s sloth. Because of the sound and semantic changes from “slowth,” sloth is really now only used in a moral context as one of the capital sins and, of course, the adorable animal.
That’s all for now
English is a weird language, but as it’s my native one, of course I’m fond of it. I’m real excited to learn more and will hopefully have a second part specifically about English soon, but until then, my next History of Language post will be about…DIALECTS, PIDGINS, and CREOLES! No, not the bird.
And of course, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information or correction! So long for now!
So, I’ve talked a lot about my writing here. I’ve stated over and over that I’ve decided to change directions and write something different. Well, for once, that’s not what I’m going to talk about! I’m sticking with the current book, Thoughtless, which I’ve posted about before. For this post, I just want to talk about all of my writing projects for a bit and my goals for the new year. I already posted about my goals for the year, but I wanted to dive deeper into each project, what they’re about, and what I want to accomplish with each in 2019.
Let’s just start chronologically, which projects I’m going to working on and when. There’s some overlap with most, but for the most part, a large chunk of the year will be dedicated to each project. I tend to write like this anyway. The seasons changing always get me in the mood to write one particular project or another.
First and foremost, I need to finish the first draft of the book I participated in NaNoWriMo 2018 with. That’s the first goal. It’s the story of a fake family of thieves who move from town to town, stealing from their rich neighbors in an elaborate series of heists. I had such a blast starting and writing the first 50,000 words, but I believe that it’s just over halfway, and I want to finish it between now and the end of March.
Second, I’m working on the book I’ve been working on for a few years off and on, tentatively titled Thoughtless. It’s a science fiction story set in the future about a young woman becoming the youngest police officer, joining the Force, in a world in which humans have evolved to be able to read minds. I’m planning to work on Thoughtless throughout this year. I originally wrote the first draft of this book many years ago, I think in 2013? And I reworked a lot of the plot last year, slowly rewriting it ever since. I’m hoping to finish this second draft by the end of the summer.
Third, I’ve been itching since October to start a new fantasy series. I came up with the idea, which is less of an idea and more of a set of parameters (a long series, same length for each book [I like the idea of a fantasy series that doesn’t grow exponentially in length with each addition], an interesting complex magic system, and a magic school that isn’t like other’s I’ve read). That’s literally what I was thinking about when I came up with the series. I usually have a character, an idea of a plot, something. But no, I just wanted to write the perfect fantasy series for me to read. The plot and characters came much later–I still don’t know entirely what the series is about. I have a few vague ideas. So, I want to outline the series/first book this winter because…
Fourth, I plan on writing the first book for NaNoWriMo 2019! I’m incredibly excited. I’m obsessed with this fantasy series in my head. It’s not a particularly original idea, yet. It’s sort of a basic fantasy concept, but the more I research and start delving in, the richer it’s becoming.
Fifth, I want to write another script for a full-length film. I wrote one last year and enjoyed the process a lot. Writing a film is so different from writing a novel, but I’ve been an aspiring filmmaker for as long as I’ve been an aspiring author — I just love telling stories, in either form. Not only do I want to write another full-length film, I want to write and hopefully shoot a short film this year, too. I don’t have any idea what the short will be about, but I have the story worked out for the full-length one already. It’s another sci-fi, like last year’s, but an entirely different tone and way of telling the story. To begin with, the idea is that it would be a real-time, two hours of a single mother dealing with an invasion of some humanoid creatures of undetermined (by me; I can’t make up my mind) origin and fighting to save her kids. I see it so vividly in my head. I just want to watch it.
That’s the key to writing, for me. I always write what I want to read or see.
So those are all my current writing projects and what I plan to work on this year. I hope I can accomplish it all. A year seems so long and promising until it’s December in the blink of an eye, doesn’t it?
Hello! Last year, I posted about wanting to continue to learn about subjects I’m interested in, even though I’m no longer in school. I have over a dozen subjects/topics that I’m extremely interested in and I want to study them in my free time. And, I want to share what I’ve learned here. It’s kind of like a homework assignment, once a month, to summarize what I’ve learned.
One such subject, and what I’m going to be posting about for the next few months, is Language. The history of languages and how they were formed, change, and intertwine is fascinating. I’ve always wanted to know things about English, specifically, like why bologna and colonel are spelled the way they are, why the words ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ aren’t just spelled the same and be homophones, and why there’s so many other languages mixed with ours — like all the French and Latin.
And we’ll get to all that. But first, I want to start way before English even existed. Today we’re going to talk about the origin of language and how it has morphed for centuries, continuously, since from the beginning of speech to today. Okay, that’s a big topic that there’s literally an entire book about it, but I’m just going to give a brief summation of that, plus some other fun facts that I’ve learned, and my thoughts thrown in along the way.
(I’ve been reading primarily from John McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, but I have several books in line to learn from. Information in this post will primarily be from this source, unless otherwise stated.)
The First Language
So, to begin — every language on our planet originated from a single language. That’s an insanely cool fact that I wasn’t really aware of until recently (for real, this is why I want to do this — I want to learn all the interesting things that high school and college didn’t teach me). We all originated from a single village of early humans that spread throughout the world over thousands of years. With each migration, with each generation, that one language morphed into other languages, and those morphed into other languages. Each one branching off and changing itself.
Now, unfortunately, we don’t know what that first language sounded like. In fact, we don’t know what most of the languages sounded like before a certain time. Most of these pre-history languages weren’t written languages, only spoken. We have no record of them. We can, however, piece things together from more recent times.
There’s a family of languages that is spoken by almost half of the entire world. It’s the Indo-European languages, a family of connected languages that stemmed from a single language. The Indo-European languages include English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Hindi, German, Persian, Portuguese, and many others. The language these languages branched off from is known as Proto-Indo-European. This language hasn’t ever been recorded, but linguists have pieced together what they can to reconstruct the language from the many similarities between the language families across Europe and West Asia. These languages and language families include: Albanian, Armenian, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic (Greek), Indo-Iranian, and Italic (Romance).
There’s several other language families, like the Afro-Asiatic languages (Northern Africa) and Sino-Tibetan languages (central Asia). There’s many more, all of which overlap and are complicated for me to understand. I assume it’s because they all technically came from the same, there’s a lot of overlap. Everything’s a spectrum, even language.
One of my favorite images is below (illustrated by Minna Sundberg), which shows the branches of many of the Indo-European languages as well as the Uralic languages, and how they’ve branched out. It’s a beautiful illustration and shows how connected many of these languages are, even if they’re further away on the tree than others.
How Language Changes
So, how does one language morph into thousands?
I’ve always known that the Romance languages (specifically I knew of Italian, French, and Spanish, though there are others) derived from Latin. But I never knew how that was possible, I’d never even thought about what that exactly meant. How could one language be derived from another? I knew that Latin was, for the most part, a “dead” language. It wasn’t used by many people, but it had predated the Romance languages. Then, while reading The Power of Babel, it clicked with this quote and I understood:
“…French is nothing other than Modern Latin: Latin as it changed through several centuries into a new language in the area that would become France. We only happen to be able to juxtapose the two stages in the development of this one language because the advent of writing has preserved Latin for our perusal. When Latin arose, French did no yet exist; without Latin, there would never have been anything that could turn into French–in other words, French is Latin.”The Power of Babel by John McWhorter, page 18
This blew my mind. These languages, French, Italian, and Spanish are Latin. The generations of people that lived in the general region of France, spoke Latin and over time, as Latin morphed and eroded, it became modern French. This is the same for Italian and Spanish and the others. At what point in this transition was there an equal amount of Latin as there was French? Could this middle “language” — or “Fratin” as John calls it in the book — be understood by a native Latin speaker and a native French speaker? Just like there’s Old English and Middle English, there’s an Old French and Middle French. And just like we are unable to understand most of Old English, I’d assume the same would be for a modern French speaker trying to understand Old French. However, I wonder if one learned both French and Latin, would they be able to understand the ones in the middle?
Over many, many years, after many, many generations, words begin to change. That’s just how language works. There’s a good chance if I were to travel back in time to visit my great-great-great-grandparents, I wouldn’t be able to understand them, even if they did speak “English,” because “English” has changed over time. That’s why we have “Old English” and “Middle English” to reference back to. It was on its way to what we speak today, but it would be in no way intelligible to us English speakers if we were to hear it — spare a few words here and there that sound similar today (but they may have changed in meaning!) And, generations from now, our great-great-great-great-grandchildren probably wouldn’t be able to communicate with us very well. Language is always changing.
Here are some ways that it does:
The way words and sentences are spoken erodes over time. One example John gives is the Latin/French transformation of the word “woman.” In Latin, it was femina and it became femme in French, the first syllable remaining but the rest falling out of use. An English example, is the phrase Did you eat? whittled down to simply a word sounding like Jeet? It’s a simplification that worsens (or I should say, continues) with each generation until the one that is most used comes out on top and becomes official.
Many words in English changed case endings over time to simplify. The plural of fox was once foxas, the plural of tunge (tongue) was tungan, the plural of waeter (water) was the same as the singular, and the plural of bōc (book) was bēc. One plural ending took over, after many times, to become the “official” way to pluralize these words: the -s ending. Now we have foxes, tongues, waters, and books. Though, a few remain, like mouse to mice.
This is, by far, my favorite way languages change. It’s as beautiful as it is hilarious. I love that, we as humans, just change words because it’s easier to say and we forget, over generations, what it was originally. The best example is the work “nickname.” The word, in early English, was originally ekename (eke meant also, so basically you were saying also-name.) And because we use “an” in front of vowel-fronted words a lot, one would have said “an ekename” which, if you tried to say allowed right now, it would sound a lot like “a nekename.” This is how we, eventually, went from [an] [ekename] to [a] [nickname]. Amazing! This is also how we went from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus, from the Dutch “Saint Mr. Nicholas” [Sant] [Heer] [Niclaes] shortened to Santerclaes, to [Santa] [Claus].
Now this one is more about how meanings of words and phrases change over time. In early English, hund referred to all dogs and dog (originally dogca) started as a new word for a specifically large, new breed. Eventually, hund became hound and was associated with hunting dogs, and dog became the word for all breeds, gradually over time. Another such time is the changing meaning of the word silly, originally “blessed” in Old English, then changing to mean “innocent” in the 1400s and then “weak” in the 1600s and then “simple” or “ignorant” and then finally meaning “foolish” today.
Favorite Facts & Tidbits
• I’ve always wondered why the abbreviation for pound is lb. It never made any sense. So, I decided to look it up, and it turns out that it’s an abbreviation of the word “Libra.” I immediately knew this as the constellation/zodiac with the weighing scales, which made enough sense, but then I learned the word “libre” or “libra” is Latin for a pound (it’s unclear which, or if there’s another word needed, I don’t know Latin so I did my best to search for it).
• Going off of the re-bracketing thing, one other example is the word ‘apron.’ It originates from a word meaning tablecloth or napkin in Old French, nappe, which became naperon in Middle English, which became napron in English. Eventually, a re-bracketing occurred over time, and [a] [napron] became [an] [apron].
• There’s a few languages in Africa in which its speakers use clicking sounds to distinguish certain words. It’s been suggested that it’s more likely the first language ever spoken had these clicks and they eventually fell off over time as language spread, evolved, and became thousands, except for in the the few that still have them, rather than those few languages taking on the click sounds individually.
• The word “goodbye” began as the phrase “God be with you.” Over time it was re-bracketed to “goodbye,” and today, it’s been shortened to simply, “Bye!”
God be with you
Isn’t the history of language nuts? Of course, there’s conflicting information about whether or not there was a first language, or several that evolved separately and merged, but I’m going with what I’m learning, one book and article at a time. Maybe at the end of this, I’ll understand more about all of that. And of course, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information!
Next month, I’m going to be talking about one specific section of language: English. That will likely not be the last on just English, as it’s my native language and the one I’m most interested in to learn why the hell it’s so complicated. And I’m very much looking forward to that!
As I’ve started to do more design work, I’ve realized that I have done less for myself. I used to design stuff just for fun, outside of either work or while in school, like the book covers I did for my portfolio and the digital art I used to do. And I realized how important it is for me to do. Just like doing anything creative or anything that started as a hobby and turned into a business, it’s easy to fall into the mentality that what you used to love is no longer fun — it’s work.
And I think I’ve been doing that with design. The past year, I haven’t done many projects outside of work — in fact, I haven’t at all. The only thing that I wasn’t being paid for was the images I did for each blog post last year — which fell into the mental category of “work.” I hadn’t done a book cover redesign for fun, I hadn’t done anything. The moment I realized this was in November when I had an idea for a podcast — one that I will most likely never do (like I need anymore creative outlets) — and I, just for fun, designed a cover image for it. And I had a blast doing it. I was able to create a design just for myself and I’d missed doing that.
So this year, I’ve set as one of my goals, to do a personal design like that, just for fun, once a week. It doesn’t have to be big and elaborate, just a cover for a book or an album, a little graphic, a fun piece of digital art. Maybe even a motion graphics piece. Anything I want! Just for fun.
I think it’s important to flex other muscles and do things new, too, which is why I’ve been working on illustration for the last few years, trying to get better and improve my skills. I know that illustrating skills can be super valuable to a designer (depending on the type of design; it’s definitely a spectrum).
Anyway, I’m really excited to just take some time just to create something for fun again. And the best part, these are designs that I can easily put up on social media to keep content regular and I can add them to my portfolio. One a week is a lot — that’s fifty two for the entire year. Not sure if I’ll be able to do it, but I’m sure going to enjoy trying.
So for the last few years, I’ve been working on my illustration skills. I’ve been slowly getting better with practice. The reason that I wanted to improve, was that I wanted to incorporate more illustration work and styles into my design work. Not only that, I just think illustration skills can make a more well-rounded designer.
Art is something that I’ve loved since I was young. But after high school, I just sort of stopped while in design school. And even before, I was never that good at drawing. I worked hard on it but always felt like my work wasn’t good enough. However, now, I’m thrilled with my progress. I’m nowhere near some illustrators I’ve seen, and may never get there, but I’m happy to keep working and learning and growing as a self-taught, hobby-illustrator.
The images below are some sketches (I mostly do faces; it’s my go-to) and some full-color illustrations I’ve done. The bird is unfinished – I’ll get it it some day – and I did Inktober, which are all the spooky little ones on a few pages.
Here are my favorite sketches and illustrations I did in 2018:
2019 is a brand new year! I’m a big believer in setting goals, not resolutions, and working toward accomplishing tasks rather than setting out to make “big changes” in my life. Last year was rough and, even though I don’t like resolutions, I do like the blank, clean slate a restarting of the calendar can give, even if it’s kind of arbitrary.
Last year, I tried to do too many categories with too many goals to keep up with. I tried splitting my time as evenly as possible between them and realized that some things aren’t as necessary for me to focus on. And I’ve been doing a “monthly focus” where I focus on one thing more than the other each month, but found myself not devoting enough time to each. So this year, I want to focus on three more than that others. My main focuses will be design, reading, and writing — three things that suffered last year, along with everything else, even though they’re more important. I’ll be doing less illustration practice and simplifying my health and fitness goals, but keeping film on the same level. I’ll break it all down below.
Here are the goals I’m setting for 2019:
This year, I’m going to be continuing freelancing on the side — especially in the first few months, as I’m getting a large break from my main source of income with the small business I co-run until summer. So I’ll be focusing on doing more freelance design jobs this winter/spring. With that, I’m hoping to work more toward opening an online store of products (like cards, stationery, prints, etc.) with my designs. It was a goal last year, but I didn’t have the time, and now I have some so I would love to get it going — many steps before that happens, however. With that, I want to start doing some of these designs, and others, outside of work — like the book covers I did for practice/fun a few years ago. I want to do more, with a goal of one a week to keep my creativity going between freelance work.
- freelance work
- plan to open online shop
- 1 personal design project a week (52)
I never read as much as a I want to. I want to change that. That’s why reading is one of the main goals I have this year. It’s so important for me, not just as a writer, but as a person, to read more. It’s something I love. I’m setting my Goodreads goal for 52 books. I know, I know — if you’ve read my blog before, you know that I’ve done this before and every year, I don’t get anywhere near 50. But I want to focus more on reading specifically. So I hope I can do it. If I just double my reading time this year, I’ll make it. I also want to return to some old reading lists — I have several series and trilogies that I’d just like to finish or continue.
- read 52 books
- complete trilogies/series
- read more often
- Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon)
This year, my goals for writing are pretty much the same. With NaNoWriMo 2018, though I wrote 50,000 words and completed the challenge, the book itself is far from finished and I’d like to complete it. I’d also like to do NaNoWriMo again this year, outline a new fantasy series that I’ve been thinking a lot about, and continue to work on the book I’ve been working on — or supposed to be working on — Thoughtless.
- finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft
- NaNoWriMo ’19
- outline fantasy series
I’m more or less keeping my goals for film the same. Instead of wanting to see 25 new (to me) films, I’m going for 30, which shouldn’t be an issue at all because I was able to do 25 easily last year. I’d also still like to do a small, short film project — I wrote one two years ago that I love, but it’s not a feasible film to create on my own — and write another feature-length film, as I did last year.
- watch 30 films
- write/shoot short film
- write feature-length film
I’m doing a total change to my illustration practice. I’ve been steadily better in the last few years, which is great, but I’ve been taking too much time focusing on it. Last year, sketching a few times a week, everyday for two separate months, and doing several full-color illustrations a month was two much. This year, I’m going to just do two days a month where I sketch and illustrate for a few hours, and do Inktober with daily prompts. Much more doable with everything else and I think I’ll like it more, as I was getting frustrated that I had to do it every week instead of wanting to.
- sketching and illustrating 2 days a month
Health & Fitness
For health and fitness, I’m going to continue to walk everyday — though, the last two months of 2018 were spent doing nothing — and working out 3 times a week. I’d also still like to try to get up earlier and so far, I’ve been slowly going to be earlier to do so (skipping New Years Eve festivities and going to be early helped set that habit and realign my sleep schedule). I’m adding, however, a tracker in my bullet journal on how much soda I drink –both diet and the occasional regular — and would like to limit myself to about two a week instead of the one, sometimes two, a day. I already had three this week, so I’m not doing great, but if I could do without it for the Whole30 for a few weeks last January, I think I can do it.
- walk everyday
- workout 3x a week
- go to bed/wake up earlier
- 2 sodas a week
I have a few stragglers for the year that I’m adding here. This year, I want to take one work day each week (I work six days, Mon-Sat) and devote it to solely intake, filling my creative well. Whether that’s watching a film, reading, going to a museum, going for a walk, etc. — just stepping back from outputting and creating, and making sure to absorb (this will obviously help with my reading and film watching goals). This is so important as a creative, and I think sometimes I forget — and wonder why I occasionally have a creative block when working. Another thing is, I’d like to grow my social media following more — I’d like connect more with people and grow my numbers before opening my online shop. I plan on posting the designs I’m doing more often and be more engaged than I have previously. Not only just on social media, but here on this blog. I want to post more and be more active here. Speaking of, another goal is to post about my further learning journey that I posted about a while ago. I’m learning a lot about language right now and want to move on to Greek mythology later this year. My goal is post once a month about things I’ve learned, things I’ve found interesting.
- 1 intake day a week
- grow social media
- post regularly on blog
- further learning – 12 posts
As I said, I also like to choose a specific month to focus on these goals more than the others. I find it helps, especially with something like NaNoWriMo and Inktober. It makes it easier to let a few things slide and focus on just one each month.
- Jan: Design (plan + research for shop, freelance)
- Feb: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’18 draft, outline fantasy series)
- Mar: Reading (5-6 books)
- Apr: Design (continue planning shop)
- May: Film (write/shoot short film)
- Jun: Writing (Thoughtless)
- Jul: Reading (4-5 books + Reading Rush 7 books)
- Aug: Film (write feature-length)
- Sep: Design (open shop?)
- Oct: Illustration (Inktober)
- Nov: Writing (NaNoWriMo ’19)
- Dec: Reading (5-6 books)
Looking at all these goals has me wondering if I should try to choose a few less hobbies. This is normal, right? It probably is. I’m just interested in a lot of stuff. Anyway, those are my goals for the year.
2018 was a difficult year for me. It has had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. My dog died, I turned 25, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, I almost went to Spain for 9 months but couldn’t, and I’ve been in a strange, surreal funk since my 25th birthday–almost six whole months exactly. (Side note: I’ve always felt weird about having a birthday in the middle of the year. I can’t ever pinpoint how old I was during a particular year in the past because I’ve spent equally half of each year as two separate ages. I can’t just perfectly do the math in my head from my birth year. I’m bad at math anyway.) All of that and I haven’t even mentioned all the terrible things that have happened in the world. It hasn’t been the greatest year. But at the same time, looking back and from where I am now, I’m doing good. I’m at a good place at this moment in time, on New Year’s Eve, heading into 2019 with a good night’s sleep — no, for real, I’m spending tonight alone and have no obligation to stay up until midnight. I’ll be able to have the perfect start to waking up early and having a more productive year. Begin as you mean to go on, and all that.
Anyway — on to the reason for the post! How have I done with my goals for the year? Well, let’s take a look.
Design & Illustration
I had scaled back from my lofty goals of 2017 and I think I did fairly well. Although, opening my online shop took such a back burner this year that I decided against doing it at all for this year and focus on it next year. I did start freelancing on the side and had a few projects, all gone well. As for practicing my illustration skills, I started off sketching weekly well enough but fell out of the routine after a few weeks. Although, sketching every day in both April and September as my focus for the months worked well, only having skipped three or four days in each month. And I did, unexpectedly, participate–sort of–in Inktober for the first time, illustrating six or seven prompts at a time each weekend and on Halloween. This counted as several illustrations for the month and I ended up with the needed twelve to complete my goal! All in all, I did all right with these goals and I have some ideas and changes for next year.
- sketch 2-3 times a week ✓
- 2 full-color illustrations a month ✓
- start freelance work ✓
open online shop
*deep breath* I really didn’t do well this year. i mean, technically I accomplished most of my goals here, it just seemed like less because the MAIN goal I had was to finish the draft of “Book E” but decided against writing it and to focus on the book I’ve been working on, Thoughtless. So that’s what I started working on but barely worked on it. (It was a really bad year after my birthday, y’all.) Anyway, I did finish two short stories, I finished the draft of the book I did NaNoWriMo 2017 with and I did NaNoWriMo 2018 this year and won! So, I’ll take it. I did my best.
- write 2 short stories ✓
- finish first draft of
Book EThoughtless ✗
- finish the draft from NaNoWriMo 2017 ✓
- complete NaNoWriMo 2018 ✓
I’m real happy with what I’ve accomplished in this category. Technically, writing a feature-length film is a writing goal, so I did actually write a lot this year! I like the film I wrote, even though it needs a lot of work and I’m not confident in writing in this form yet, but I enjoyed the experience and it was a great start in writing for film. I also did a small project of my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary video — not the short film project I’d wanted to do, but I’m counting it because it was after my birthday and as I said before, not a great time. I’ve done a rough cut of it and like it thus far. It’s just a wedding video but I enjoy the practice in filming and editing something. I also watched 25 new-to-me films! One was even in theaters! Just a quick top five of them: Lady Bird, Incredibles II, Atomic Blonde, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Annihilation, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Okay that was six. Special mention to The Edge of Seventeen, which was a surprisingly great coming-of-age film. That’s seven. I’m bad at this. I just really liked them, okay?
- watch 25 total (in theaters or not) films ✓
- film 1 experimental short film/video project ✓
- write a first draft of a feature-length film ✓
I set a goal of reading 25 books, thinking I could trick myself into reading more. I usually set my goal to 50 and always fail around around 20-25. And how many books did I read? 23. I just can’t seem to get there, y’all. But I’m setting my goal back to 50 next year and I’m really going for it. I know, I know. I’m a masochist. It’s fine. I can do it, I believe in myself. Don’t you believe in me? (Don’t answer that.) I did read less fantasy, shorter books, and I abandoned my old reading lists that had been eating me alive for not getting to them. That felt good to just read the books I wanted to in the moment as I chose. I even abandoned the newer list I made and just went with whatever I was feeling after finishing each book.
- read 25 books ✗
- read less fantasy ✓
- read shorter books ✓
- abandon old reading lists ✓
Boy, howdy. I walked a lot (except for the last two months, I walked almost every day) and I even worked out a bit. I tried the Whole30 and had a mental breakdown because of it and lost my dog after the first week — so I needed chocolate and alcohol. I wrote a whole post about that experience. Overall, I lost a good portion of my weight (though put some back on these last few months because of holidays and not exercising at all) and am proud of that. Even if it’s not as much as I wanted. I’d rather gradually lose weight and feel better than killing myself to lose it quickly. I’m good.
- be more active, walk or bike ✓
- stick to work-out schedule better ✓
- do the Whole30 at least once ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- go to bed earlier/wake up earlier ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
As you can see, I technically accomplished a lot of my goals. I just feel sort of meh about them all, though. I feel like I’m exactly where I started last year. I haven’t gone any further in my life or career, not really. This year was rough. But I’m looking forward to 2019. I have a lot of goals and changes I want to make for next year. And I’ll post all about it soon.
So, it’s the end of the year. Winter Solstice was yesterday, officially ending the Autumnal Season and Christmas is literally around the corner. You know what that means?? It’s winter! And also it’s time to share my autumn favorites of this year!
- Sabriel by Garth Nix
I’d heard of Sabriel a few times over the years, briefly, but didn’t go further than a quick scan for it at the bookstore when there but never bothered to search for it online or anything. It had just been one of those books I had on my giant mental list of books to read. Well, after hearing about it again, I decided to actively put it on my to read list and search for a copy. I finally–as in months later–found a copy at a Goodwill, an enormous bind-up of the first three books in the series, then a trilogy. I didn’t know much about the trilogy except that there was necromancy involved and gates in “Death” but I didn’t know what that meant. This book immediately shot up to top of my “favorite books of all time” list, easily in my top ten. It’s such an incredible world the world Nix has created with an interesting, unique magic system. It’s such a great story and wonderfully executed. I’m incredibly sad I hadn’t heard of it or cared to hear of it while in high school, because I would’ve eaten it right up. But I’m at least glad that I found it now.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Quite possibly my favorite read of the year. This is a long, dense book and I read it in a month–which for many people is ridiculous, but I’m a slow reader and often read many books at a time, and for me this book would’ve normally taken several months if it were any other story. I’m a sucker for collegiate novels, for books about murder, and for books about secret clubs–this book has all of those things and it sucked me in hard and I, most of the time, didn’t want to put it down. I read it in large chunks of fifty to seventy-five pages at a time, which is a lot for me. Though I wasn’t a fan of the end, it didn’t disappoint me too much where I disliked the book because of it. The journey getting to that end was well worth it enough for me to consider rereading the book sometime in the future, which is something I rarely do.
- Alien: Covenant
Okay, so I know Prometheus is not the greatest movie of all time. I get it. I’ve read enough articles about why people disagree with me on liking it, but I’m not a complete idiot. A lot of it wasn’t great. But it’s still one of my favorites and I liked it a heck of a lot more than any of the other Alien sequels (seriously, I only like the first Alien and not the others (okay, I guess Aliens is good, too)–and don’t get me started on the crossover with Predator, ugh.) Prometheus has a lot of elements that I love, it’s gorgeous to look at, and I can look past its faults and see the goodness in it, whatever it was they were trying to say with the film. Now, Alien: Covenant? Its sequel? It started SO GOOD. The first half of that film was incredible. I couldn’t believe how good it was! And then…it just…hit a wall of crazy and I couldn’t make sense of how it had gone so bad and so wrong so quickly. Even still, I enjoyed watching the entire thing, even if I only thought the first half was good. I don’t even know if it was directly at the halfway point, it was just shortly after they found David. That’s when it started to go down hill. I loved it anyway, though.
- Incredibles 2
Seriously, just forget Marvel. I want seven Incredibles movies, a spinoff series, and a television show. I love this world so much, from this family to the rest of the supers. Everything from the animation, the music, the style, the story. Everything is good and I think I like this movie even more than the first. And The Incredibles is on my Top Five Favorite films of all time. That’s how much I loved this movie.
- Maggie’s Plan
I’m a huge fan of Greta Gerwig–from acting in Frances Ha (another of my Top Five Favorite films of all time) to writing and directing Lady Bird, she’s fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s Plan. She’s great it in, obviously, and Ethan Hawke and Julianne Moore are equally great. It’s a funny and, at times, frustrating story to watch unfold, which made it a really enjoyable film to watch. I love movies that make me want to climb inside it and give advice to the characters. Not to fix or change what they’re doing because the movie is bad, but wanting to inject myself into the story because I’m so invested that I’m frustrated I can’t talk to them to help out the situation. That’s this type of movie–and I really liked it.
- Feel it All Around by Washed Out
This is the song used for the opening credits of Portlandia, my favorite sketch-comedy shows. It’s also one of my favorite songs. It’s mellow and repetitive, an easy song to get lost with.
- Human by dodie
Dodie is one of my favorite singer-songwriters and her latest song Human is astoundingly beautiful, in both sound and lyric.
- Love is Blindness by The Damn Truth
This cover of Love is Blindness was used in an ad for Yves Saint Laurent fragrance a few years ago and I was obsessed with it–a lot of people were, according to the comments section of the video. After finally figuring out the band, I wanted impatiently for them to release it as a single. Then I forgot about. But THEN, I recently remembered about this song and looked it up and they’d released it a year earlier! It’s so good.
- Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea by MISSIO
I first heard this song on an episode of How to Get Away with Murder and just loved the sound of it throughout the scene it was playing in. After listening to it all, I couldn’t stop. It was on repeat for a solid week.
- Monster Mashup by Pomplamoose (feat. Tessa Violet)
I’m in love with this Halloween-themed mashup of Thriller and the Ghostbusters theme song (and some others). It’s such a great, fun version of these songs.
- American Horror Story: Apocalypse
I’ve had a love-no thanks relationship with American Horror Story, only having seen a few seasons in completion (one, three, and eight) but for the most part, love the ridiculousness of it. I was particularly excited for this season because it took two seasons I loved and had watched, season one and three, and crossed them over. Now, this season wasn’t great–the end in particular irritated me. But for the most part, it was fun to watch and I enjoyed getting more of the witches from Coven. I wish it was just a show about them, tbh. And I also enjoyed the addition of Cody Fern, who is a phenomenal actor–I loved him in The Assassination of Gianni Versace this past year.
- Single Parents
I was pleasantly surprised to love this sitcom as much as I did, and am continuing to do. It’s hilarious, I love the characters, all the child actors and their characters are amazing and hilarious. All the adults are funny. Everything about this show is good and I didn’t think I’d even like it! It’s a cute show!
- The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has had its ups and downs…and downs. But I’m in this for the long haul. I read the comics, I love the characters and world, and I’m going to stick it out. I decided this during the Negan Era, the worst two seasons the show has had, in many people’s opinions, including mine. There were some bright spots, but for the most part, I was just waiting for it to be over. And now that time has come! We’re getting a new start with this show and I’m digging it thus far. Rick leaving worked for me–even how they did it–and I like their big ideas with his character. I like where they’re going. I love the time jump, even! The Whisperers’ introduction was one of the best of the show in this new era! I’m ready for this show to get good again and I have–hesitantly–high hopes.
Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not into many games. But recently, in the last few years, I’ve found a few apps for my phone that I really enjoy. Fracter is one of them. This game–which I’ve already completed and am impatiently waiting for a follow up, if they were to have one–is phenomenal. The design of it alone is incredible enough to consider playing. The look is what drew me to it and I stayed for the puzzling levels that kept growing and growing in size to an overwhelming finale. I couldn’t stop playing it!
- Two Dots
The other game I play often is Dots & Co, and this sequel to the original puzzle game Dots, has now become my new obsession. Two Dots has a similar vibe and style to Dots & Co, but has different features and mechanics that are great. I really enjoy playing it whenever I have some extra time in a car ride or when I can’t sleep.
- Anker – Wireless Keyboard
Because my Macbook recently called it quits, I’ve been using a desktop for the first time in–well, since I was thirteen and used my parent’s computer to chat with friends on MSN. I miss the portability of a laptop, though, and for writing it’s sometimes essential to get out of the office. So, I bought a wireless keyboard to connect to my iPad and I love it. It’s so much better than using the keypad built-in, which takes up half the screen when I use the Scrivener app, which is the program I use to write in. It’s a great keyboard that connects automatically, lasts a while with battery, and I haven’t had any problems with it so far.
And just like that, autumn is over and winter has begun. The year is nearly over! It’s been an interesting year and I can’t wait to see what films, books, and music I’ll be enjoying next year.