Stuff To Which I Am Up

Fun fact: when you arrange “Stuff I’m Up To” in order to remove the preposition at the end, you still end with a preposition.

Anyway, I told you I was going to fill you all in on my productivity plans, and here I am.  I don’t usually do this, because sometimes I can’t be as productive as I’d like to be and I never get to the things I say I will.  But that’s human, and I hope you all understand that I, too, fall into that category.

So let’s jump in.  Here, in no particular order, is the Stuff To Which I Am Up.


I’m not an artist!  I don’t even play one on TV.  I’m good at taking something I see and putting it down on paper, so I can sketch simple things okay, but I don’t draw that well or that often.  Well, recently, my classes took a turn for the boring.  Faced with empty notebooks and nothing worth noting, I began doodling.  I’d draw a bad picture, add a caption, and that was that.  It produced bad drawings and bad jokes, I amused myself, and my grades haven’t suffered yet.  That’s as far as it went.

Until I got really bored, after finishing Spoon-Fed Camel, and read an old issue of Mental Floss that mentioned someone named Karen X. Cheng and a project called Give It 100.  I looked it up.  As a method for productivity and self-improvement, I approved, but I also tried to apply it to myself.  I thought, If I had to spend a hundred days learning a particular skill, what would I learn?  There are millions of possibilities, but not all of them apply.  A hundred days of writing?  I think I’ve been there— and it’s time to edit now, not write another first draft.  A hundred days of dancing?  Nah, I’m fine with dancing badly for a while longer.  A hundred days of… what?  Learning to mop?  Dyeing my hair?  Playing the kazoo?

Aha, I thought to myself as I reviewed notes for a test the next day.  Aha, I thought to myself as I noticed all the doodles artfully placed around the margins of the page.  Aha, I thought a little less enthusiastically as I realized how bad the drawings were.  Yes, I could get better at this.

Armed with a sketchbook, a website talking about the very earliest stages of drawing, and a determination to pay no attention to any of my teachers for the next hundred days, I started last Thursday.  By my count, this should take me until August 26th.  (For your own counting purposes, a hundred days is 14 weeks and 2 days.)  It will be an interesting time.


Yeah, I play a lot of music, even at this school.  I enjoy playing songs that I hear, but also just making stuff up as I go.  I recently picked up guitar, and while I’m no master, I can mess around pretty well.  But what’s the use of knowing a million different instruments if you can’t play them ALL AT ONCE?

Okay, not all at once.  But I want to create more involved improvisations that include more than just piano or guitar.  (You can hear some of those piano improvs here.)  How to do such a thing?  Well, record it.

My main goal is to improvise, but once you record something, you can touch it up and make it better.  It’s like writing— if it stays in your head, you can’t do anything with it.  But once it comes out, you can mess with it all you want.  So, if I ever want to write any music, I’d also have to record.  And believe me, writing music is a big plan of mine.

I don’t know how all of this is going to work yet.  I’m talking to people, messing around with different setups, figuring out how I can best record multiple things at once, or record one thing over another.  But that’s another goal I’m working toward.


I’ve sort of fallen off the wagon with German, which I did for almost a year a while ago, and French, which I did for a couple days a while ago.  The wagon is halfway around the world with Latin, which I haven’t touched in years.  But learning another language is something I’ve always wanted to do.  In general, I plan to use Duolingo for that, since they have a system I enjoy, but I’m looking into finding a partner for this stuff that I can practice on.  It’s no use without actual practice.


Yeah, reading has suffered a bit since coming here.  But if I need to write, I need to read.  I’m currently halfway through Game of Thrones, and courtesy of the signing yesterday I have now started The Raven King.  Courtesy of myself, I’m also reading… well, that’s the next section.

On the to-read shelf are Robert Jordan, Sara J. Maas, Patrick Rothfuss, Marissa Meyer, and Brandon Sanderson.  Those are just the high-profile possibilities.


Now that I’m done with Spoon-Fed Camel, and have had a lovely week’s break from hard work, I’m back to editing.  I’m working on The Tailor’s Song, which I finished over a year ago, and, um, apparently I didn’t post the news on this blog or something.  I don’t know why.  It was my seventh novel.  It was a blast to write.  And now, I get to edit it!

So far, it’s hilarious.  I’m reading through it and loving my work.  Yeah, there are problems, but there are problems with everything.  My plan is to make an assessment, make a list, work through the list, and then repeat the process a couple times.  I want to be done by November.  The stretch goal is to query with it by then.  The more reasonable goal is to finish the macro stuff and maybe leave the micro for another time.

Other goals

Duh, I have other goals.  But I’m not going to post them here.  Sure, I think they’d be interesting, and they’re taking up plenty of my time, but they’re more specific to where I am and what I can do.  The things I’ve detailed here are things that I might possibly report on in the future— I could write a post in Latin! or post a comic strip! or share a recording I’ve made!— but my other goals are between myself and my surroundings.

You’ll notice that, while each of these goals are actionable, I’m only focusing on two or three of them at once.  I’d love to draw, edit, read, record, and learn a language all at once, and I probably could, but I’d make a snail’s progress in each of those things.  That doesn’t even account for school and anything else I’d like to do.  But guess what?

I’ve got time.

You’ve got time too, no matter how old you are.  Sometimes it feels like we have to do everything right now, but that’s not the point.  The point isn’t to get there— the point is to work toward it.  If that means practicing a language once every three months while I work on editing, I’m fine with that.  If that means reading in the five minute chunks between classes, I’m fine with that.  There are a million things to learn in the world.  That’s going to take me a while to work through.

I’ve decided to work intensively for a while on drawing as I chug along on editing, and as I chug along even more slowly at school.  For me, that’s the perfect balance.  Come August 26th, I’ll dive into another project and let you know how all this went.

Now I’m going to read something by one of my favorite authors: myself.  Enjoy life, and tell me: what’s going on with you?  What are your big goals, and what are you doing to achieve them?


2 thoughts on “Stuff To Which I Am Up

  1. “Learning to mop”–Wait, you’re telling me you don’t know how to mop? We need to fix this…I can set you up with my chores for a week or two and that should work.

    Er…but the rest of this sounds good as well. The 100 days thing is interesting. Two quotes I’ve heard that relate to that: “You can do anything once you’ve tried 200 times” and “Mastery isn’t practicing until you can do it right, it’s practicing until you can’t do it wrong.” And I’m looking forward to some of that music.

    *raises hand sheepishly about the runaway language wagons* Yeah…um…I finished my Duolingo tree but haven’t done much in particular with languages since. Oops.

    Also, you’re going to have to tell us what you think of TRK. Hopefully you already knew this.

    Current goals:
    1. Finish Algebra 2. What am I doing to achieve this? Avoiding Algebra 2. Um…yeah, maybe that’s why it’s taken so long.
    2. Finish studying for and pass the Intro to Psychology CLEP on Friday. What am I doing to achieve this? Well, I sat down and studied until my eyes were swimming yesterday afternoon (fun fact: this amounted to almost 3 hours). Probably that process needs some work.
    3. Learn to play in the F major key on violin. What am I doing to achieve this? Every so often attempting a song in that key. Probably not super helpful.
    4. Also learning the proper key names because I had to look that one up.

  2. That Give It 100 project sounds really interesting. I’m going to check it out.
    I got really excited when you listed drawing first. Do you have anything in particular you like to draw?

    I’ve got a couple of goals that I am going to try to meet this summer.
    1. Get my driving license. Seeing as how I haven’t even taking the written test for the permit…I’m doing terribly on this one. I have a huge fear of driving but I really, really, REALLY should learn so I can commute to college next fall.
    2. Work on my ink painting skills. Now that I have more free time, this will be easier. All I have to do is practice a ton and make a huge mess in the process.
    3. Read a bunch of books I’ve been meaning to read. This is going a bit slower than I anticipated because my brother got me into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. But, I’m making steady headway with the reading.
    4. Learn some harder piano rep. Now that my hands are mostly back to normal *knockonwood* I’m looking forward to starting some more physically challenging pieces.

    I wanted to say that “You’ve got time too, no matter how old you are” is so true. Last summer I was very frustrated and upset when I realized I wouldn’t be able to learn a certain Rachmaninoff prelude in my senior highschool year because my hands hurt too much. At the time it felt like I’d never get a chance to learn the prelude after I graduated. Well, here I am, hoping to tackle it this summer, and I’ve graduated! Sometimes the goals need to be put away for a little while until we’re truly ready to do them.

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