Sunday, October 22, 2017

The End of a Season and Revealing My Real Name

Time, that elusive thing.

Every writer has a certain amount of "writing time" in their lives. It's the time that we fit in between work, school, friends, family, church, and other important activities (i.e. Netflix). In our writing time, we have a certain amount of words to spend, and we have to choose where to spend them. I have gladly spent a lot of words on this blog. Over the past few months, I have clearly spent very few words on this blog. During that time I have been thinking about where this blog belongs in my writing life.

I love A Splash of Ink, and I love how the blogging community has shaped me as a writer. When I was a teenager blogging was so important because it connected me to other people who were doing what I was doing: writing. I was very insecure in my identity as a writer. Over my university career, I have had a lot of great people invest in my writing. People have told that I have something of value, which as much as I hate to admit it, is important to me. All of these kind words have developed my confidence in my work and the legitimacy of pursuing writing.

That brings us to now, and my thoughts on blogging. I have decided to take a semi-permanent break from A Splash of Ink. I am working on my fourth year of university and life is busy. I've been forced to make certain activities priorities. The blog is one of those activities that had to take a back-burner at this stage in my life. It doesn't mean that I'll never blog again. Perhaps I will return to SOI (it will stay online), or perhaps I'll start a new blog. I don't know what the future holds when I finish my degree. But for now, I have to take a break in order to spend time working on long-term writing goals.

I decided that I wanted to pour 100% of my "writing time" into my long project and the short fiction that I have been working on. I am working on submitting to literary journals and entering contests. Eventually, when the series of vignettes are finished, I will query them for publication. I have been beginning to work on many of these goals in the months that I have been away, but I thought it was time to to give proper closure to this blog.


Looking Forward (My Real Name): 

Taking a break from A Splash of Ink is not a negative moment. It is not giving up on a teenage dream It is simply the ending of a season in my writing life. The new season that I'm entering is so promising. For the first time, I have a real-life writing network. I host a writing circle at my apartment each month, and my work is starting to be recognized. 

I am still writing.

However, I am not publishing under the name "Sunny Smith". I'm sure it will surprise no one that "Sunny Smith" was a pseudonym that I made up for the blogging world. It was a fun persona that I held for many years. Using a pseudonym allowed me to explore my writing self without the (mostly imagined) judgement from anyone who knew me in real life. Now that I am finally beginning to be comfortable with naming myself as a writer, my two worlds are blending together. I feel like it's finally time to use my real name: Jenna Hazzard. 

Under the name Jenna Hazzard, I have been the runner-up/honourable mention in a few local writing competitions. And most excitingly, I was a runner-up for the Elle Canada personal essay competition. My piece was published online here

I decided to create a Twitter account with my real name and my real picture. This is going to be my social media presence as Jenna Hazzard the writer. If you wish to keep in touch, you can feel free to follow me here @jenna_hazzard . I am going to be following everyone (and by extension your lovely blogs) on Twitter that I followed with my "Sunny Smith" account. I don't want to drop of the face of the Earth, but I do want to transition to a new stage in my writing life.

Thank you:


And finally, it wouldn't be right to end this post without a huge thank-you to everyone who supported A Splash of Ink over the years. And I'd like to give a special thank you to those of you who were kind enough to wonder where I was on my long break. This would not have been as fun and as encouraging to my writing without all of you in it. 

All the best! 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Writing Update and a Return to Blogging


Hello Everyone,
It's been another long stretch without blogging. When I left you last, I talked about focusing my creative efforts into my novella-sized creative writing project. I've been quite private about the work, but it's at a point where I don't think it's going to fizzle out, so my insecurities have deemed it shareable, haha. And, here we are four months later, and I'm finally filling you in on what I've been up to, and saying a few words about why I have returned to A Splash of Ink.



The Creative Work

The Style:

The creative writing project started when I was in my first year of university, and has since evolved into something that I hesitate to call a novel. I know this explanation is going to make me sound like a total literary hipster, but stay with me. The Project, as I somewhat affectionately have begun to call it, is a series of vignettes that piece together to tell a bigger story. Some of the vignettes are very short stories, some of them are lists, and some of them are more poetic. The vignettes that are the very short stories (usually 500-1500 words) are the foundation of the work, and the more experimental vignettes are used to fill out the story with extra-textual features. 

Let me break it down with a simple example: first you have a short-story style vignette about Sally anxiously examining ingredient lists on processed food at the grocery store. The following vignette could be the Sally's to-do list. If we see that Sally has to schedule a doctor's appointment and go to the pharmacy on her to-do list, then we instantly get information about her character. We could make the connection that Sally has dietary restrictions based on an illness, and perhaps is anxious because she's worried it's getting worse, thus the doctor's appointment. 

I'm interested in this style of writing because of how it engages the reader, and forces them to make inferences about the work. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I've really been enjoying writing in this style.

The Plot:

Okay, okay, so now you know the style I've been working in. But the big question is, what are you writing about?

Spoiler alert: It's not about Sally and the doctor's appointment.

In the very basic terms, it's the story of the staff at a public library as they deal with relationships within the workplace and the effects of what I've been calling "second-hand grief." 

The Progress:

I took a blogging break to get some major work done on the project, so let's take a quick peek to see how far along it is:

When I returned to working seriously on the project, back in November of 2016, I had 15, 772 words written and 27 vignettes. These words were written sporadically between the Fall semester of my first year of university (Sept. 2014) and when I started again in November. As all young writers do, I went through phases of self-doubt before I fully committed. 

As of today, I have completed 38, 332 and 79 vignettes. 

Okay, so word counts are all well and good (I included them mostly for posterity and to make myself feel good, haha). However, they don't really give you an indication of the progress. My initial goal was to finish a draft by the end of December, so my prof could read it during her sabbatical. It's difficult to say when the first complete draft was finished because of the fluid nature of the vignettes. I'm forever moving vignettes around within the large document, and inserting new content. I have written the last chronological vignette, but I know there's still a few missing pieces in the middle. 

That being said, the work was complete enough for my professor to read the piece, so I would consider it a win in my books (pun intended). I would consider myself to be solidly in the rewriting phase. I'm not overly concerned about word counts. I know this will be novella length, and that is fine. I expect it will be between 40, 000 and 50,000 words when it's finally done. That being said, the new goal is to have the project entirely complete by the end of the this calendar year, but we'll see what happens.

You might have found this entire writing update quite boring, but hopefully this final section piques all of the non-writers' interests.

Blogging 


If I think about the reasons why I took a blogging break, it was because the blog felt like a burden. I was a (fairly somewhat) regular weekly blogger, even twice weekly for a time. My self-imposed schedule wasn't fun anymore. I was experiencing a bit of blogger burnout. 

The reason why I knew it was time to come back was that I kept encountering books and ideas and would think, I should blog about that. I hadn't thought that for a long time. I think the appeal of blogging is that it's partly cathartic to hash out some ideas on the internet and partly validating to know that a few other people read it.   

My blogging style might look a little different, and I am still focusing on completing the project, but I want to ease my way back into this lovely community. I've missed it.



I hope you are all well, and thank you to everyone who so kindly asked when I was coming back. That meant the world to me. And thank you for sticking around in my absence. I'd love to hear what you've been up to in the comments.  


Reading: Through the Narrow Gate by Karen Armstrong
Watching: Anne
Listening: Lumineers
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