For a long time, each year has simply felt as if it rolled into the next through reassurance that the transition was just another day. Perhaps it softens any regret or anxiety that there is something left unfinished. It’s possible that reflecting over the year has evoked a need to make a concerted effort toward certain desires. Life seems like such an aperture setting.

This year I was published in two anthologies: The Mammoth Book of Urban Erotic Confessions and The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica Vol 13. In both books I found myself sharing an index with fellow members at ERWA and admired writers in the genre which still renders me speechless.

Alongside so many this year, I have also experienced loss. I generally find it difficult to not be moved, but hearing of other losses these last few months has just felt so incredibly weighted and sad. Although these experiences can sharply render perspectives, it can also reflect some negativity (naturally). I think of doing the best one can, but trying to be a little more creative about problem solving, and taking more action (on my part).

In September, I enrolled (on recommendation of Remittance Girl) in The Fiction of Relationship with Prof. Arnold Weinstein (Brown University & Coursera MOOC).

What an experience. (I’m in awe of such platforms that are freely provided for users and I cannot begin to estimate the cost of running such programs.) I admit I struggled during the course, unable to commit the full time that it required and only wish that I had more time to participate in the forums. From academic through to personal, the level of discussion was excellent. If you’ve ever felt starved for conversation, this would fill your cup, and then some. I also found the lectures enjoyable. (Lectures are able to be viewed at faster speeds.) I would consider re-taking the course (some participants had completed the course previously and were back for another round). I submitted all essays, but the final was not as strong or developed as it could have been. Disappointing, but lesson learned. (Though I had suspected it would pan out this way for myself.) Some of the subject matter is challenging, but worth it.

On a side note, I found the app version of Coursera cumbersome. Course updates took a long time. Suitable for watching lectures, not so much for forum participation.

Scrivener and Grammarly are two writing tools I have tried this year. In the latter part of the year, I wrote very little. I’m a simple writer, so I don’t believe I used the features enough to give an in-depth review; however, here is what I did like:

Scrivener (Software) $40 Grammarly (Online Subscription/Plugin) Up to $30+ p/m
  • software opens at last story worked on
  • ability to organize into folders and include images in organization
  • current word count / target word count
  • split pane (I often cut paragraphs and scenes, so its helpful to me to read them side by side)
  • .rtf files saved in folder (a cloud sync corrupted my file and I found a .rtf file in a nested folder)
  • online
  • highlight missing words (I seem to lose transitional words)
  • ability to select the type of paper you are writing (e.g. creative/essay etc.)
  • plagiarism check (double-edged sword, some phrases/sentences are common)

When I was using Scrivener, I felt an iPad version would have made the software complete. During that period of writing, I was often inspired while away from my keyboard. Lately, I’ve been reverting to Notepad++ for quick notes and OO, though I have just switched from OO to LibreOffice. I’ll likely be returning to Scrivener as that was where I moved the majority of my unfinished works when I first purchased the software.

In my concerted effort, I have pared down personal items and old correspondences, and made ruthless decisions on hoarded things. This need to hold on is a fascinating dilemma. Often we’ve forgotten what we’ve stored, yet still attempt to justify keeping them. That goes for more than just the material, but I’m finding it more of a process and not so much a matter of feeling lightened. Although, perhaps it’s a little early to speak.

And what did I learn from the Fiction of Relationship? For myself it was a highlight of varying constructs of relationship and relationship as a ripple effect, unconsciously formed. Unknown.