best to move along
’cause they can only offer
smiles that aren’t kind
Also posted on
best to move along
’cause they can only offer
smiles that aren’t kind
Also posted on
Before I start sharing my goals for 2021, let me briefly talk about 2020: it was a bad year for everyone including myself and I found myself dealing with certain personal things and became somewhat overwhelmed and tried to cope. In any case, I lost interest in writing, blogging, and social media for the most part. Now that it’s 2021, have I regained my interest in them? Who knows. But I was doing okay before, so I kinda want to (regain interest). To facilitate that, here I am setting goals for 2021…
1. New Year, New Name.
Starting 2021, the name I’ll be using for my writerly self shall be Steph Arven. I’ve decided to separate my writing stuff from my Sathepine pseudonym and channel it all to the Steph Arven persona. In case I haven’t mentioned before, Sathepine is an anagram for Stephanie, which is my real name. I’ve used it for other things, not just writing stuff. As for the Steph Arven name, we know where the “Steph” comes from, but not the Arven. Arven is a combination of my grandfathers’ names (Ar = Arceo, ven = Venancio). I hope to use this name from now on, especially in social media, even if it means I’ll lose all my previous followers now (at least, in Twitter and Instagram). But I’m not counting anyway, so it’s all good.
2. Read and review the top ten books in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards for: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Poetry, and Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi.
Not all these books may be to my taste but the challenge is to read what is popular, what is mainstream, what readers in general enjoyed (or at least got hyped up enough to vote for). Then we’ll see if I enjoyed them just as much.
For books that are part of a series, I’ll only commit to reading and reviewing the first book of that series, although, of course, it would be great if I manage to read up to that book itself.
3. Read and review at least five indie novels.
I do have plans to self-publish in the future (though I’m not in a hurry as my work is a priority right now), and would like to support self-published authors. I have a condition, though, and that is I will not be posting my review of self-published books that I didn’t enjoy. So, for self-published books, at least, I’ll only be posting my review of those that I rate to be 3-stars or more. (My 3-stars rating means I enjoyed it enough to say it’s worth the time and money I spent on the book.)
4. Write at least one poem per month.
By doing this, I could hopefully ensure there’s at least one post in this blog per month. I’d really like to keep my blog active from month to month, and not just have a ton of posts at the end of the year or something (which I fear might happen). I also have some past poems that are not posted (or are privated) but I’m not sure yet if I want to post (or un-private) them. (Also, can “private” be used as a verb? lol)
5. Watch and review at least one movie or show based on a fantasy or science fiction novel.
I was planning to do this for The Witcher last year, but, well, I didn’t. This year, I could still do The Witcher (before the new season), or I can do The Expanse (I’ve been wanting to read the books and watch the show for some time now), or Dune (I’m not sure how much of the first book I’ve read but I haven’t finished it that time and hoping to read from the beginning before the movie), or Shadow and Bone (I’m excited! I didn’t really like the main character but I love the world building in this series and I hope the upcoming Netflix show does it justice!)
6. Post at least one instagram photo, and one tweet per week.
I’m gonna populate my Steph Arven social media slowly but surely… with nice things of course! And for sure I’ll be following a bunch of nice accounts too.
7. Complete plotting the outline for my next NaNoWriMo project before November.
As I’m going the plotting (rather than pantsing) route, an outline is a must. My pantsing gets me everywhere but the ending so I feel that plotting — with a little bit of pantsing — would provide much better results for me. Ideally, I would like to finish the outline early so I can send it to someone for feedback (like I did in 2019 — thank you for the helpful feedback, Jennifer Jarrett!)
8. Win NaNoWriMo 2021.
It’s been a while since I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I’d like to do that this year. I haven’t lost in Nano yet! (Unless you consider 2020, which I didn’t even participate in — though I’m sure I would have lost it if I did — I was quite busy at work and dealing with personal issues…)
8. Turn my zero draft of COTC into a first draft.
COTC stands for “Claire of the Corpses”, which is a temporary title so I’m simply gonna label it COTC from now on. This was my project for NaNoWriMo 2019 so I have roughly 50,000 words on it. There are missing scenes, descriptions, worldbuilding elements, etc. so my goal is to fill in all of those to complete the draft. (Of course, once I have a complete first draft, I’d still have to revise that.) I plan to use Camp Nano in April for this activity.
9. Rework my TMM outline.
TMM was my project for NaNoWriMo 2018 and it stands for “The Moonseeker’s Medallion”, which is a temporary title, so, like COTC, I’m just using it as a label. It’s a huge mess. Well, it’s a bit less messy now… but still a mess! So it’s not really a priority, but I still enjoy this world so I’ll try to get it a bit more organized for Camp Nano in July.
10. Go on a one-week “writing retreat” by myself.
Most likely, it will be a staycation at some hotel, where my activities will only be writing, eating, and sleeping. (And some other stuff for hygiene.) We are anticipating that work will be busier this year so I probably won’t have that much energy or mood to work on my writing on normal days. So this “writing retreat” shall be my answer to that.
To be frank, I have no idea right now if these goals are modest or ambitious. In theory, I feel like they’re totally doable, but then again, I had planned to do some of them last year… yet I didn’t (grr, 2020!) What I am sure of, though, is that I’m definitely feeling hopeful and have a much brighter outlook for 2021.
Happy New Year!
For Nanowrimo last year, I decided to tackle a brand new story from one of the ideas I had that I’ve never really drafted. My WIP at that time was incredibly ambitious – for me, at least – and I’ve decided to put it on hold for this new project. However, because of what I’ve learned from tackling that ambitious WIP, I realize there are things that seem to be holding me back from fully fleshing out my new WIP.
The most significant one, I feel, is the fear of world-building. I felt that this time, I’m not going to start on the world-building until I’ve fleshed out the plot. Yet even when I’ve completed the outline of my story, I still find myself afraid to really focus on the world-building. In the previous WIP, I was engrossed in the world-building and not so much in the story, and as a result, I built a story that would serve the world-building rather than the other way around. It was a mess (and still is, actually). Right now, I’m afraid I’d do the same thing again, even though I have a somewhat solid outline where I can pull out the parts that need world-building – and do only those parts. This is something I’m gonna have to tackle if I’m going to complete the story.
Another thing holding me back is fleshing out other characters. This is another fear borne out of my experience with my previous (still unfinished) WIP. That one had a ton of characters with POVs and some significant ones without POVs. For these characters, I know their character arcs, personalities, and relationships with other characters. And because of that, I have far too many subplots. For the new project, I found myself afraid to even touch the secondary characters’ backstories. I feel very little connection – or none at all – to the characters aside from the protagonist. A few of them would need some backstory – of which I have a general concept, but only in broad strokes – to sort-of explain their relationship or interaction with the main character, and I’m just afraid to flesh them out, afraid I’d end up with a runaway subplot and create random characters or conflict or scenes for that specific subplot, even though I know better now.
The last thing that I feel could be potentially holding me back is my resistance to writing in first person. Objectively speaking, I’m starting to believe that a first-person POV would enhance the storytelling given the character’s internal struggle, but I refrain from doing it for a few reasons. Let me start by saying that this story idea was inspired by depressing things, and I believe at that time, I was really into dark depressing anime. And for some reason when writing this story, I somehow wanted to preserve that kind of depressing tone which I feel works well with it being a dark fantasy. I don’t want it to end up being some kind of self-insert but in a depressing way, with me remembering how I felt back then when this idea came to mind. Or, I might mess up the tone because, at the time of writing it, I’m not really feeling depress-y. Also, the main character is supposed to have a personality different from mine. Would I lose track of her personality and end up inserting mine instead? I don’t know. Well, this issue is really just a thought and it’s not a big deal. I’m quite comfortable with third person limited and will continue to tell the story that way. (I also suspect these are all based on my own misconceptions of what it’s like writing in first person.)
If you are currently writing, is there anything holding you back?
I was planning to post an update of my current progress but decided on this topic instead because there’s really not much to update as of now. I am updating my outline based on the 50K+ words I’ve drafted and have grouped and regrouped the scenes into chapters. The outline is basically for me to check if everything flows well structurally without having to read through everything, but apparently, it’s not easy to summarize a scene (in paragraph or list format) and not that much fun either. I also can’t seem to make up my mind on which scenes should go together in a chapter. Right now, I’m looking at about 35-40 chapters for around 70 scenes. I hope to complete the draft and the updated outline by the end of Feb this year. We’ll see if I can accomplish that.
Entangled Lives by Imran Omer
Raza, a poor orphan trapped in the slums of Pakistan, is sent to a strict madrassah where he meets and falls in love with Perveen. They attempt to flee the city to escape their respective fates but fail. Perveen, pregnant, is sent back to her family, and Raza is sent to Afghanistan to fight as a Taliban solider. American journalist, Rachael Brown, travels to Afghanistan to cover the political unrest. When she meets Raza for a brief interview, she sees for the first time the true face of the Taliban: poor and desperate young men with nowhere else to go. As the war unfolds, their paths cross again, and each must decide what they owe the other.
Eye-opening and bittersweet
The novel follows the heartbreaking story of Raza who lives a life of hardship and sacrifice in Pakistan. Although we do follow a journalist Rachael who has her own struggles, this is very much Raza’s story. His story is quite compelling for me especially that I don’t live and definitely can’t imagine living in the circumstances and environment he lives in. The glimpses of politics, societal dynamics, human interaction, and relationships are eye-opening and thought-provoking for me, albeit depressing. I love that it ends on a sweet note, even though I do wish things had turned out better for both Raza and Rachael.
once again, we wish
that dragons and unicorns
might somehow exist
I want to set realistic goals, but at the same time, challenge myself. I also want a clear list from which I can refer to at the start of 2021 to see what I have achieved and what I have failed to accomplish. Aside from that, I want to include in my list those that I have failed and keep doing so yearly until I achieve them (unless if they don’t make sense to be redone). And for those that I have achieved, I should either keep it or increase it – although, this only applies to countable goals (like how many books to read).
Now that I have set some ground rules, here are my goals…
Aside from the above, I’ve decided to include some personal goals as well. Typical personal goals are financial goals and fitness goals. So I’m gonna go ahead and give those a shot:
Do you think these goals are feasible? Am I challenging myself a little too much? Or maybe, it’s not enough and I need to challenge myself more?
I mentioned my 2019 goals in this post and it’s now time to check if I achieved them.
Reading Goals in 2019:
Why did I not read those 4 other books? It probably was because the other indie books from the Indiecember prize pack arrived and… I got distracted by them 😅
Blogging Goals for 2019:
I’m hoping to finalize my 2020 goals this weekend and will be posting them soon.
Did you also have reading, writing, and blogging goals in 2019? Did you achieve any of them?
(click here for the full text of the poem)
Long story short, I thoroughly ENJOYED the show! I was hoping to enjoy it, of course, but, being a fan of the books by Andrzej Sapkowski and the video game by CD Projekt Red, I was incredibly nervous about this show. These were my reasons for this nervousness:
Showrunner’s Agenda. There was some controversy on the casting for this show and the showrunner’s response to this controversy, and how it was being reported in the media. It made me feel that the showrunner, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, may be using this show to insert her own agenda rather than be respectful of the source material, as well as the fans of the books and video games who love it and made it so popular to begin with. I didn’t know if I could trust that kind of person to take good care of this property.
Having diversity is great, but there’s a lot of properties you can do that with (X-Men, for example). You can also create your own original property for it even, rather than try to hijack an already existing one. So my question is: is it necessary and fair to do that with The Witcher? The characters of The Witcher were already diverse, but there’s just not that many black people in that world, for example, so for Hissrich it wasn’t enough.
After being aware of this controversy, I was just disillusioned. I had hoped they’d pick someone who had loved the games and books for years, not someone who came into it fresh and with an agenda.
But I didn’t lose hope. Casting was just one aspect of it. There’s still a chance to be blown away by the storytelling and world-building, in terms of cinematography, musical score, action, special effects, etc. So I was nervous, but stayed hopeful.
The controversy actually helped me mitigate my expectations when I finally did watch the show. So seeing Triss, Fringilla, Vilgefortz, etc. didn’t end up to be jarring, as they probably would have been. Especially for Triss, who was a significant character in the game. And because the world in the show is already diverse to begin with, it didn’t feel off at all, though I admit, I still would have liked to see the old Triss (the one in Witcher 3. Now that I think about it, this wasn’t the first time Triss was changed). Anyway, overall, the diverse casting did not hurt my enjoyment of this show. The actors themselves did well.
Cavill as Geralt. I have seen Henry Cavill in a lot of things, including The Tudors when he wasn’t Superman or that well-known yet. Based on those, I felt he would not be the best Geralt. I was hoping for Nikolai Coster-Waldau who played Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. It was nice to know that Cavill loved the games and the books and really sought out this role. But the question here is: can he actually play it well?
Yes. The answer is yes. When the trailer came out, all my fears about Geralt were gone. And when I finally watched the show, I absolutely loved that aside from the voice
and accent (note that Cavill is English, not American) (EDIT: on second viewing, he sounded English now, sorry about that), Cavill even captured the little quirks that Geralt had in the game, like his grunting, the way he talks to Roach (his horse), his facial expression and mannerisms. The Superman in Cavill completely disappeared, and all I saw was his Geralt.
Yennefer and Ciri. When the trailer revealed Yennefer and Ciri, I was just disappointed. Also, why was Ciri all grown up? She wasn’t even supposed to be born yet. As much as I loved Cavill as Geralt, I did not like them at all! It didn’t help that the Yennefer and Ciri in the game were already so compelling, in their nuance and charisma, and so the actors featured in the trailer paled in comparison.
Both Anya Chalotra and Freya Allan, who played Yennefer and Ciri respectively, did solid acting in their portrayal of their characters. It took me a while to get used to them because, well, I supposed the bias for the game is just so strong in me. However, by the end of the show, they’ve completely won me over, especially Anya Chalotra whose Yennefer of Vengerberg had great chemistry with Henry Cavill’s Geralt of Rivia.
Nilfgaardian Armor. In the game, Nilfgaard is a formidable empire and it showed in their armor. I feel that the show didn’t exactly capture this. They already had the game to compare to, shouldn’t they have at least enhanced from that, for the show version? I don’t know. But anyway, I got used to it, so I just tolerated it, I guess. Besides, there’s new leadership in Nilfgaard and who knows, we might get a different design in the future. (Also, this is clearly a nitpick.)
I started out criticizing Lauren Hissrich, the showrunner, but in the end, I commend her for producing such a wonderfully realized version of The Witcher. I’m in love with it and cannot wait for Season 2!
This is by no means a complete review of the show. There are so many things I loved about the show that I haven’t discussed here, and things I wished they’d done differently, knowing the source material. I am still deciding whether I should review the show as a whole or per episode. And what about the books? Should I review them as well? Can I even organize my thoughts well enough to come up with any of these reviews?
As I gather my thoughts and decide on that, let me end this post with the official trailer: