Monday, May 28, 2018

New Blog

I'm not sure how many people still keep track of this blog, but if you are reading, I wanted to let you know that I have recently started a new blog. This blog is called Jenna Hazzard (my real name!) and can be found a . I'm blogging about writing and photography. If you are interested, please check it out and feel free to give it a follow!

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.


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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Where I've Been and Where I'm Going

Here's a picture of our Christmas tree, just in
case you're interested.
It's been a few months. The last post that I wrote outlined how we moved out books into our new apartment. Then I just sort of dropped off the map. There's a few reasons for that.

Let's talk about the most obvious, the move. At first we were so consumed with setting up home in our first-time apartment. Although I had more time, because I'm living closer to school, I had much more on my plate. It's not like I didn't do my fair share of cooking and housework when I lived at home, but it became different when it was my own place. Suddenly there was a different type of ownership involved. I wanted to make sure my apartment was clean, and I wanted to cook well-balanced meals. And all of the sudden I had complete control over how I did those things. I could put the spices wherever I wanted, I could vacuum my floor and know that no one else would come along and mess it up in the next fifteen minutes. Keeping house was fun satisfying; it is satisfying. But sometimes it's exhausting and time consuming. So the blog got pushed to the back burner.

I'm sure you know what happens once you get out of a habit, and that's what happened with me. I used to post, fairly religiously, once a week, but then I missed a week, two weeks, a month. Suddenly it didn't seem as important as it used to.

There was the usual business of school, but that's never stopped me before. What was different about school this semester was that I'm taking a Creative Poetry Writing course. Being a part of this course helped kick-start some of my creative energy again; it validated me as a creative writer.

I knew I wanted to make good on my creative writing identity. I was surrounded by people who were accomplishing creative things, and I wondered why I wasn't doing that too. Then I began thinking about my creative writing, taking my project more seriously, and it started to fill my spare "creative time." I wanted to finish the project that I've been picking at for years now.

Along with some of my writer friends, we formed a writing circle, and writing became real again. Not just some silly pastime that was a teenage phase. But I was a feeling creatively frustrated. Too many things that I didn't care about where filling my time, preventing me from writing. Often these things where self-inflicted (*cough* excessive Youtube *cough*). I realized that if I wanted to jump into writing again, some things had to be put on hold.

What solidified my blogging absence was a deadline of sorts. I was talking about my project with a professor of mine, and she offered to read it over her sabbatical next semester. So that means that the draft needs to be done by the end of December. I'm about half-way through.

At some point over the last few months, I made the conscious decision to put blogging on hold to pursue my own creative writing project. It's not forever, I hope. I still love the community of blogging, but I just have to take a break.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts and concerns about my absence. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Reading: Unless by Carol Shields
Listening: Cleopatra, The Lumineers Album
Watching: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Art and Science of Moving Books (Also, BOOKSHELF PICTURES!)

I am officially back from my unofficial hiatus due to moving. Thank you for all your kind comments that you left on my last post.

This past month, my sister and I moved out of our parents house. As we both love read and both work at libraries, we had a lot of books. You know what's not fun? Moving books. You know what is fun? Setting up new bookshelves. So this post will have a bit of both.

On Moving Books: 
As you know, books can really heavy really fast. The classic way to move books is in small, sturdy boxes. This method is fine, but I feel like we stumbled upon a much, much better way to move books. It all started when we realized that we didn't have any boxes, and were too lazy to track some down, so we started packing stuff into re-usable bags. They say laziness leads to innovation. The reusable bags turned out to be a great solution for us because you can carry a bag in each hand, which is way more books than one box. Since we were moving in the same city we would fill up all of our bags, empty them at the apartment and then fill them up again. We probably filled up about thirty bags, overall.
Some of the bags we used to move books. 

Tips for Using Reusable Bags for Moving:

  • Get the sturdy bags that can hold two piles beside each other in the bag
  • Periodically test the weight of the bag as you're filling it. Stop before it gets too heavy. 
  • Mix light books (e.g. paperbacks) and heavy books (e.g. hardcovers) in bags for maximum fill-age 
  • Tie the handles together once you've filled a bag, so they don't spill during transportation
  • If it's raining use a regular plastic bag to cover the books that could be exposed
On Setting up Bookshelves:
Between my sister and I, we had seven bookshelves. By the end of the move, we had 6.5 bookshelves. I'm not going to give any tips on moving bookshelves because we clearly are not experts. During our move we had a bookshelf snap in half. It was getting old and it was just a cheap Canadian Tire shelf that I built incorrectly in the first place. Ahem. Luckily, it split at a natural joint in the shelf, so it's now been made into a half bookshelf. A blessing in disguise really, because we now use it as a place to throw our keys/mail/other junk on when we come in our door. 

Moral of the story: Build things properly and be careful when you move them. 

Now, let's look at how we set everything up!

We decided to put the majority of our fiction in our dining area. Then we added a little gallery wall and a few other decorations, and of course our dining set that I painted. 

We originally were going to have all of our books in this area, but we though that it looked a little crowded. Here's a picture of how it was going to look: 
We nixed this idea because of how unbalanced it looked from the other part of the room with the bookshelves sticking out from the wall. This plan also required us to buy another skinny bookshelf to fill in the gap on the back wall. I glad that we changed to what we have now, because it feels a bit more modern and way more open (also, we didn't have to buy ANOTHER piece of furniture for the apartment). 

So where did the other 1.5 bookshelves end up? Right here:

This is along the wall in the our living room. To the right of the picture is our bedrooms and our front door; to the left is our kitchen and behind is the actual living area. We decided to incorporate my sister's desk into the setup, because it blended in so well. It was narrow enough that it didn't stick way out from the shelves and the colour matched perfectly! We added a few prints over the desk and a mirror over the half shelf and now it's all balanced out. No one would ever know that the shelf was supposed to be the same height as the other, haha. 

I had to include this picture that I took at night, because I love how cozy it looks with the lamp on the desk like that. And finally, a few other detail pictures:
My sister and I are so grateful to be in a position where we could move out of our parents house, and we're really enjoying our new space. If you have any ideas tips (or horror stories) on moving books, you should definetly leave them in the comments. Let me know what you think of our new digs! Also, how was the end of your Summer? I was away for that last month, so I'm anxious to get caught up with everything. 

Reading: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
Listening: The Lumineers
Watching: Scandal season 2

Friday, August 19, 2016

I'm Moving!

Hello Everyone,

Long time, no blog. I've had a not-so-secret project going on since the beginning of August. I'm moving! Not on the internet, but in actual, real life. The time has come to move out of my parents' house.

My sister and I had been casually searching all the Kijiji ads for a place to live, not with any urgency, when we stumbled across a lovely little apartment. Within a week we had seen the place, put an application in and got accepted! We signed the lease starting August 1. It was a bit of a whirl wind, but we're knew something good when we saw it. So over the month of August, we've been packing and moving and packing and moving some more. Every spare minute has went into the moving project. Luckily, we're in the same city as my parents, so we've had the luxury of moving slowly gradually. However, that's left very little time for blogging.

Now, with our move winding down (hopefully done by Monday!), I wanted to drop everyone a line and give you a little peek into my life outside of the internet. I will be back within the next few weeks with a post all about the enormous task of moving books and probably other chronicles about the move.

Here's a little sneak peak of our moving process: 

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Be sure to leave me any last minute moving tips in the comments!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What Do Your Bookshelves Say About You?

Photo of where we camped last week.
Last week I was up in Manitoulin Island area working at a children's day camp on a First Nation's reserve. The week was wonderful, and when we weren't running camp we had the opportunity to explore the reserve, which was beautiful. One afternoon we went into the second hand store of the reserve and of course I looked at the books.

If you've read SOI for awhile, you'll know that I'm in love with used books. Practically, I love them because they're cheap, but on a more romantic level, I love reading a book that has a history to it. Someone else has owned the book, maybe someone gave it to them, maybe they read it on a  vacation, who knows! I especially love it when some of that story peeks through. Maybe it's an inscription or some underlining, but whatever trace of the previous owner, that's left in the book, creates that history that I find so interesting and meaningful.

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