July Updates: Writing Goals & Back September!

July Updates:

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all well πŸ™‚

July was very hot and very windy, with birthdays to celebrate, pizzas to make, and takeaway to eat. I didn’t get as much writing done as I wanted to, but I figure easing myself back into writing with a few hours a week is better than rushing back to loads of hours and burning out again.

Anyway, here’s what happened in the writing cave last month!

July Writing Cave Updates

Blogging:

I reviewed Shadow and Bone in July, and plan to review the book Six of Crows in September. I’m still not done with my review of my MA in Creative Writing either, which is proving tricky to write. I’m hoping I’ll have the perspective to write a balanced review by the end of the year though, and I’m also thinking of writing the occasional short story again.

I’m taking a break from blogging in August to focus on writing, drawing and enjoying the sun. The hotter it gets the harder it is to use my laptop, which overheats massively, and since most UK houses don’t have aircon I need to use the computer less to avoid melting!

Writing:

In July my goal was to focus on writing for 6 hours a week. In the first week of July I managed 3 hours, as for the first eleven days of the month I had minor cold symptoms, a bit of a cough, ran a little hotter than usual and was exhausted for no real reason.

In week 2 I looked at some of my writing files but I don’t think I managed more than an hour. For week three I adjusted my goal to 3 hours a week, and managed 11 hours, including falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking for inspiration for Blaise/Leo from The Frozen Rose and sketching Blaise.

Very Rough Sketch of Blaise from The Frozen Rose
Very Rough Sketch of Blaise from The Frozen Rose

In the last week of July I wrote for an hour. After our second trip to the arcade since Covid restrictions ended, I caught an awful cold that left me too exhausted to write. Unlike whatever I had earlier in July though, this time I was physically exhausted but mentally raring to go. I can’t stop thinking about my projects, and when I’m well again I’m sure I’ll write!

Brightly lit amusement arcades with air hockey, machines to win tickets and gambling machines.
It was amazing to go out and have fun again, after a year of staying inside. I have no idea how I got a clear shot with no people in it, it was super busy!

The hardest part of a 6 hour a week goal was not beating myself up if I failed to meet it. It was also tricky to adjust to counting writing time by hours, not words. Not counting words meant I struggled to feel like I was making any progress, but it felt way less stressful so I’m going to stick with it.

All in all, 16/24 hours of writing in July. Goals for August? 3 hours a week. I’m setting my goal low, in the hope I can exceed it, but low enough that I shouldn’t miss a week!

Reading:

I read Six of Crows in July and plan to review it in September. Crooked Kingdom is next, probably quickly as Crows had a bit of a cliff-hanger. Normally I hate cliff-hangers, but in this case I wasn’t too bothered. A lot of the main plot was resolved, and I’d already bought Crooked Kingdom!

Merlin:

My partner’s birthday present, Jelly Beans, arrived in a big box, which Merlin has taken for his own:

Merlin, aginger and white cat, making himself comfy in an Amazon Box
Merlin in an Amazon Box. Boxes are his favourite thing ever!

He’s also learned how to turn on his interactive toy by pressing the button at the top. Good to help keep him amused, bad if we leave it lying around at night!

Discount Store Problems:

The problem with discount stores, like the one where my partner works, is they have nice things in for a few months, like dairy free cheese, dairy free ice cream, or chocolate fudge syrup to add to hot drinks, but after that the stock vanishes and reappears in a supermarket for double the cost. I now need these things, because they’re so delicious, but can’t justify paying twice as much!

Bottle of Barista Chocolate Fudge Syrup
I’m addicted to Barista Chocolate Fudge Syrup. In Tea. I used the last of my Christmas money on 5 bottles direct from the company website in the end, with a voucher I found!

Beach & Other stuff:

I was cycling along the seafront the other day at sunrise when I spotted a seal near the shore. If you look closely, you can see him between the waves. I love living near the sea!

Seal swimming in the sea and seagull flying above it
The picture didn’t come out well, but that’s a seal, swimming in the bay at our beach!

I’ve also decided to unsubscribe from emails that teach me things I’m not ready for, like marketing. I can’t action the advice yet, and by the time I publish things will likely change. I need less pressure, less clutter, and more focus on what’s important right now, like my first drafts.

Truthfully? I don’t want to treat writing like a business anyway. I want it to be fun, to write stories without worry over trends or marketability. If my stories sell, great, if not, I told a story I loved and had fun doing it. I think my MA made me lose sight of that, as the focus was on making things ‘publishable.’ Time to move on from that mentality and finish a draft of the stories close to my heart.

scales divider copy

Thanks for Reading!

How was your July? Do you have any interesting wildlife where you live? Hate discount stores and their temporary bargains?

Chat in the Comments, and I’ll be back in September!

41 comments

  1. I love that last paragraph! It is right to the point! ” I want it to be fun, to write stories without worry over trends or marketability.”

    I read a couple more books last month. My favourite was The Stars Wait Not by Anne Wheeler. What I loved most about it is kind of a spoiler (from the latter half of the book), but it is one of my favourite books despite being Sci-Fi, a genre I don’t really like. For a while, I was re-reading a bunch of it. If you’re one of those people who like to know the spoilers, I’ll tell. I bought one book after having someone partially spoil it for me… πŸ™‚

    I also finished the draft for one of my Works-In-Progress (still needs a lot of copy-editing), but I also started another so I still have four … and I really need to do more work on getting Sorceress of the Dryads ready for publication.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting that your MA focused on “publishable.” I would have thought it’d focus on intellectual artsy stuff. Then again, I don’t know anyone IRL with an MA in writing, so I wouldn’t really know. Yes, I see the seal, how cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, my MA had a lot of focus on being a professional writer, making money, and being publishable was one of the marking criteria. I’ve heard other MA courses approach it differently though, and some even focus on helping you finish an entire novel. In hindsight maybe one of those courses would’ve been better, but ah well πŸ™‚ Hopefully next time I can get a better picture of the seal, if he returns!

      Like

  3. Hi Louise! Take your time with your review of your MA. I support you.
    Your art is awesome! I like your sketch! How big are the biggest flames that Blaise can make? Glad you got to go to the arcades and have fun! I’m sorry to hear about your cold and I hope you feel all better soon! And I know what you mean by beating oneself up – I do the same 😦 But you do what you can and all progress counts. I support you.
    Crooked Kingdom is the 2nd book in the SoC duology, right? And haha, glad Merlin enjoys the box! He’s adorable and I’m glad he’s enjoying the toy too.

    Yikes. Not good how the products show up in the supermarket at double the price. I wonder if that will change. I see the seal and I think it’s so cool how you live by the sea! I’m also glad that you’re focusing on what’s important and not stressing about marketability. The most important thing is that you’re happy with what you write. All the best. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to your September post! Take care of yourself :).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess with my MA I’m finding it hard as I don’t like writing negative reviews, but I know people thinking about doing an MA would find my perspective valuable. Plus it wasn’t all bad, and some of the things I found negative would probably appeal to others.

      Thanks πŸ™‚ Blaise has ice powers, but they do kinda look like flames! (His name is like a huge contradiction xD) The arcades were great, well worth getting sick over. I’m feeling a little better, but not well enough to cycle yet, which is frustrating as the weather is awesome right now! I’m sure you do what you can too, and I support you too πŸ™‚ I find chatting about my characters and stories makes me want to write them more.

      I think companies use discount stores as a kind of advertisement for their products before they appear in bigger stores to test the market and get people interested, so I doubt much will change. Good strategy from a business point of view, but sucks for those of us on a budget!

      Even the word marketing/marketability makes me cringe, and it’s so nice to choose to ignore it πŸ™‚ Here’s to being happy with what we write, whenever we get the time/motivation to write it πŸ˜€ Take care too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s understandable. I don’t like leaving negative reviews either. I’m sure your post will provide some excellent insight. And I’m sure it will be helpful too. I support you.

        Haha that’s cool! Has anyone ever told him that his powers are different than his names? Do you think you caught the cold at the arcade? I hope you feel all better soon! Is it expected to stay nice and warm for a while?
        Thank you! Same here! Drawing them and discussing them inspires me to write more for/about my characters.

        That makes sense. Def hard for those on budget. What are the most famous discount stores in the UK?

        Yes!! Most important thing is that you’re happy with what you write πŸ™‚ Go Louise! :].

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks πŸ™‚ You’ve inspired me to write a scene where Leo comments on Blaise’s name and powers when they meet!

          For sure, the arcade was super busy, there were children everywhere, and I suspect I got it from one of them. I went for a bike ride yesterday anyway, and although I was slower than usual I was mostly okay. Hopefully that means I’m getting better. Last August was very hot, so I expect the nice weather to last πŸ™‚

          We have Home Bargains, B&M, and Poundland (where everything is Β£1). Does the U.S have discount stores?

          Liked by 1 person

          • You’re welcome! I’m honored! I was wondering if you may please share the scene with me? No worries if not- all good πŸ™‚ I’m just happy that I inspired you! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

            Oh wow. Yeah kids often get sick and spread germs a lot. Which games did you play in the arcade? I’m glad you were able to ride and that you were okay. That seems to be a good sign! I hope you feel all better soon! Have you been drinking tea too?

            Yes, the U.S. does have some discount stores. I’ve seen stores called “Dollar Store” and 99 cents store (not sure if they’re still around), Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, etc. It’s where everything is $1 or less, just like how Poundland has everything at 1 pound :). There’s a Japanese store in the U.S. called Daiso that sells products very cheaply too. I heard Costco is considered a discount store too. Have you seen a Costco in the UK? I know they opened up some stores in different countries πŸ™‚ :).

            Liked by 1 person

            • I haven’t written it yet, still recovering from this awful cold, but if/when I do maybe I can email it to you? πŸ™‚ Feel free to do the same if you write anything you want to share πŸ™‚

              We played 2P nudgers mostly, where you put the coins in and they pile up and nudge prizes closer to the edge. We won so many prizes πŸ˜€ Thanks, I’ve been cycling, despite not feeling 100%, but still not completely well. I’m hoping the exercise will help though. I’ve been drinking far too much tea!

              I’d love to visit an american discount store to compare to UK ones. Ours are very random with toys, games, food and cooking utensils. There are Costco in bigger cities but none near me, and you have to be a member. Daiso looks cool, they have a UK website with lots of Japanese foods on πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • Sure, that sounds good! Before you do, may you please provide me the trigger warnings for it?
                And that sounds good! Will do πŸ™‚ Thank you!

                Interesting! I don’t think I’ve played that before. What do you do to nudge the prizes? That’s awesome! What kinds of prizes are there? I hope you feel better soon. How is your recovery going? WHat kinds of tea are you drinking?

                That’s cool! It’s similar here. I’ve seen toys, utensils, party decorations, and school supplies. Snacks too. Sounds like the discount stores are similar in the UK? How much does Costco membership cost in UK?
                Nice, I’m curious if there is a Daiso in the UK :). πŸ™‚

                Liked by 1 person

                • Will do, there shouldn’t be any trigger warnings as it’ll be a pretty innocent scene πŸ™‚ Still not written it, or anything this month, with the exception of one hour of scribbling. I’m so behind on my goals, but since I’ve not been well I’ll let it slide.

                  The coins slide down a chute, pile up, and nudge other coins towards the edge of the machine. The prizes are piled on top of the coins, so as the coins move the prizes do too. It’s pretty fun πŸ™‚ There are mugs, sweets, and stuffed toys: I got Toothless from HTTYD! I’m hopefully nearly better, but symptoms keep going and coming back, annoyingly! I usually just drink basic tea, as flavoured ones taste weird to me.

                  Yeah sounds really similar. No idea how much Costco membership is, as I’ve never looked into it. We have something called Makro here, which seems similar, and membership is free but only if you own a business I think. I don’t think there’s a physical Daiso store near me, but could be in bigger cities. Sometimes living at the edge of nowhere sucks πŸ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • That’s cool! I look forward to reading it! But no rush, it’s okay. Take your time. πŸ™‚ When did you create Leo and Blaise?

                    Interesting! I don’t think I’ve seen a game like that in arcades in the U.S. πŸ™‚ How long have you played it? Those gifts sound so neat! I’m sorry to hear that the symptoms come back. I hope you feel all better soon. Don’t scare people with loud sneezes now (kidding lol, I remember you told me your sneezes are quiet, right?)
                    Cool – do you like green tea?

                    Cool. Marko sounds pretty similar to Costco. They allow those with business accounts to go in Costco one hour before opening in the states. Hopefully you can go to a Daiso when you visit a bigger city next time. I’m sure there are some nice benefits to living in a smaller town though, no? πŸ™‚ (like quieter streets)? πŸ™‚

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Leo and Blaise were created last summer, based on a fanfic I wrote a few years ago, so they’re based on Barry and Len a lot πŸ™‚

                      We must’ve been at the arcades for a few hours lol. U.S arcades look pretty awesome from what I’ve seen on Youtube. My sneezes have been pretty loud with this cold, Merlin hates it πŸ˜› I don’t think I’ve ever tried green tea.

                      There’s a Daiso in London, so if we’re ever up that way again I’ll try and find it πŸ™‚ Yeah smaller towns are quieter, which is especially good in a pandemic. Our trains, buses, shops etc are rarely crowded, nothing like London tubes πŸ™‚ Less to do though, which can suck a little!

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chocolate syrup and tea. Hmmm, sounds…. different.
    Six of crows was a good read, but not so much crooked kingdom. But mostly, it was the ending of the duology I didn’t like.
    Well, I’ve been so long away from the blogosphere, I suppose I’ll be seeing your thoughts on the duology soon.
    Hope you are enjoying your break.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I thought chocolate syrup would be odd in tea, but it’s really good πŸ™‚

      I saw a spoiler of Crooked Kingdom, which suggests I may not like it as much, but we’ll see.

      I’m enjoying my break so much I’m thinking of extending it, sometimes a break is necessary to refill the creative well I think!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rad! Were Leo and Blasie based off a Prison Break or Flash fanfic? πŸ™‚ So cool.

    Haha nice! Do you like the 80s arcade games too? (And Street Fighter as well?) Yeah, I like the arcades in the U.S. though I probably get too into the Terminator game lol. Aww, bless you! The cold must be pretty bad then since you mentioned that it’s making you sneeze loudly. How are you feeling this week? Are you feeling better?
    Do you like black tea?

    Cool! I hope you enjoy Daiso when you visit London next time. I guess there is a trade off to everything. Are there double decker buses in your area too? Take care, my friend, and I hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flash fanfic, based on Flash and Arrow, although I’ve changed pretty much everything except the basic plot πŸ™‚

      My brother is really into 80’s arcade games but there’s nowhere we can play them that I know of. I’m feeling better this week, still have a bit of a runny nose but I think that’s allergies! Nah I prefer tea with milk, although it has to be Soy milk.

      Yeah, I’d like to visit London again, although it’ll be a while I think. We have a mix of double and single decker buses, local ones are single, ones that go outside our town are double. Hope you’re doing well πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      • That’s great! How long was the story?

        Wow. I wonder why the arcade doesn’t have the classic games. Are there any ones from the 90s or 2000s, like Street Fighter? (Or any ones with aliens?) I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better and that it might be allergies now. I hope you feel all better soon and wish you all the best! Did your loud sneezes scare Merlin? XD

        I too hope to visit London again. Interesting how they use single for local trips and double for trips out of town. How long do those trips take?
        I’m doing well, thank you, my friend. How are you feeling? Hope you’re doing well in spite of the allergies.

        Liked by 2 people

        • 70000 words, give or take a few. It’s the only long story I’ve ever finished.

          Nah our arcades are all full of modern stuff now. Yeah Merlin hates sudden loud noises, poor thing, especially if it startles him out of sleeping!

          I think it’s about an hour to the nearest city by bus, but it makes lots of stops at small villages so takes ages. I much prefer to drive or take the train.

          I’m doing okay, probably taking a much longer break from blogging to focus on stories, but everything’s good πŸ™‚

          Liked by 2 people

          • That’s cool. A great accomplishment. πŸ™‚ Not everyone finishes a long story and it’s awesome that you did. I’m proud of you :).

            Aw, I guess there’s no demand for retro games? Are there any modern action ones?
            Aww poor Merlin! At least you’re feeling better now, so no more loud sneezes, right? All the best, my friend.

            Yeah that sounds like buses in the U.S. – they take forever too. I too prefer the train. πŸ™‚ I forget – did you try the trains when you visited the U.S.?

            Glad you’re doing well :). Sending you much support. :).

            Liked by 2 people

            • Thanks πŸ™‚ And nope, not much demand for retro at all nowadays. We have a lot of modern shooting games, but I don’t really play those. Mario Kart is a popular one too!

              Yeah, no more sneezing, and plenty of bike rides too πŸ™‚

              The only trains we took in the U.S were in the New York subway system. I spotted a rat down there, which was pretty awesome xD I imagine cross country trains would be better though? Although given how big America is it’d probably take a long time to get anywhere!

              Liked by 1 person

              • That is quite different than the U.S. lol Do you like Mario Kart? Which genre would you say are the types of games that you like most?

                I’m glad to hear that! Sounds like you’re feeling much better? πŸ™‚ How’s biking going?

                Haha a lot of people would hate seeing a rat. But it’s cool that you got to see a rat πŸ™‚ Yeah, a cross country train might be better, but a subway is more efficient at getting people intracity better. But yeah, it takes a long time for a train to go to various locations in the country. The DC-NYC one is not bad though – it takes 3.5 hours and it takes about the same length to drive.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I prefer Mario Kart on console as arcades is really expensive. I like games which are hard to learn and a challenge best, I get bored if something is too easy. In general JRPG’s are probably my favourite though for the story aspect.

                  Biking is good, and because the weather’s not great it’s quieter too πŸ™‚

                  We used to have pet rats, so I think they’re cute lol. That’s pretty good! Our trains are usually slower than driving, and more expensive, so less people use them. Bad for the environment, but people won’t be encouraged to use public transport unless its convenient.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • That’s understandable πŸ™‚ I didn’t know there were JRPGs at the arcades (then again, pretty much all of the arcades I’ve been to have mostly retro and action games, particularly ones where you shoot aliens or cyborgs lol). Are there any Godzilla games at the arcades in your area? That’s cool that there are JRPGs and that you enjoy them πŸ™‚

                    Awesome! Is it rainy? (Curious b/c you said the weather’s not great). Glad it’s quieter! As much as I love summer, I wish we had some rain here in California (we’ve had fires for most of the summer, if not all of it).

                    Aww! That’s so cool! How many rats did you have? That’s interesting – many trains within the cities are slow here and they take forever, so people in most cities, except for maybe NYC and probably San Francisco, usually drive. How are the trains that go between cities? I wonder if they’re like the Amtrak here. :).

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Ah the JRPG’s aren’t at arcades, I play those at home πŸ™‚ I think I’ve seen Godzilla, although House of the Dead is the most common one I think. And Dance Mat machines!

                      It’s been the weirdest August, very windy, a little bit of rain, and colder than usual. Hopefully you get some rain soon, and no one was seriously hurt in the fires!

                      We had 8 rats at one point, over two cages πŸ™‚ Very clever animals and very sweet! One outlived two sets of cage mates, she was so healthy! Where I live the trains are so bad between towns and cities. Sometimes the train gets delayed for ages because sheep wander onto the tracks ^_^”

                      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s cool. You played House of the Dead earlier this summer, right? Is Dance Mat like DDR?

    Wow that is very strange. Here, it’s sunny and hot. And it’d be unusual to see any rain. But I certainly hope there will be some. Is it typically hot and sunny where you are in August? And unfortunately, a lot of people have lost their homes in these fires :(. I can only hope they are put out soon.

    Wow that’s cool πŸ™‚ What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen the rats do? She sounds so cool. How long did she live?
    Wow! I didn’t know they had to stop for sheep. I guess they don’t travel very fast then. lol. Here, it would take a long time for a train to stop, so any sheep that steps in front of a track would likely be doomed unless it ran past the track quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nah, I don’t usually play House of the Dead or other games, just look at them. Yeah Dance Mat is exactly like DDR πŸ™‚

      It’s weird, usually August is hot and September is rainy, but this year it seems to be the other way around! So sad 😦 I hope the fires were dealt with!

      Rats can do assault courses and jump through hoops, if you bribe them with food! She lived nearly 5 years, which is pretty old for a rat πŸ™‚

      We’re a little bit rural, and trains cross through farmer’s fields, so they have to be a bit slower for livestock, to cross bridges for rivers etc πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s neat. Is it harder than DDR? πŸ™‚

        Wow. That’s strange. Is it expected to stay hot and dry all month? Unfortunately, the fires are continuing.
        It may take a while for them to be extinguished, especially since no rain is expected for a long time. 😦 I hope there are no wildfire problems in the UK.

        Haha that’s neat. I guess they must like mazes then. That’s intriguing. Do they only live about 3 years usually?

        That makes sense. πŸ™‚ Are there a lot of pigs too?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I find all dance mats hard, same with guitar hero, but I have very little coordination xD

          We’re heading for a heatwave apparently, but yesterday there was a bit of rain and thunder, so who knows? That’s sad about the fires, we rarely have issues with wildfires partly because our weather is so unpredictable and heatwaves don’t last long before it rains again.

          Rats love mazes πŸ™‚ Yeah, 2-3 years is an average lifespan, so 5 is really good! We mostly have sheep around here, pigs are more in the midlands and I rarely see them unless I drive further.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Haha they are hard. I don’t have much coordination either – and I can’t catch beats well lol. Are you able to catch the beats of the songs well?

            Wow, sounds like the weather changes often. Does it rain heavily in summer in your area typically?

            Nice. Did you build mazes for your mice? 5 is def good :).
            lol that’s cool. Have people used the sheep to chew on grass by the sides of roads? I’ve seen that being done here for grass – especially dry grass – in various parts of publicly owned spaces.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’m much better with my arms than feet, we have a VR headset and I can play beatsaber pretty well and love music πŸ™‚

              We sometimes have maybe a week or two of sun at most followed by torrential rain and thunderstorms. Usually it’s a few days of sun, a few dull days, then more sun, very varied πŸ™‚

              Nah, our rats preferred cuddles to mazes xD I don’t think I’ve seen sheep used for that here, how cool! We have council workers to cut the grass at the side of roads when it gets too long πŸ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • I didn’t know you could use your arms. That’s cool! How do you use your arms for the dancing games? πŸ™‚

                Wow,t hat’s a big mix of weather. Has it always been like that? I’m more of a fan of stable weather…but with how there have been fires here, I think my state can use the rain (just not the lightning XD)

                lol aw that makes sense! Were they pretty affectionate?
                Aww yeah, the sheep are good for land maintenance. But, I can see why council workers would be used too (and why they may oppose using sheep as that could lead to some job loss).

                Like

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