On Reading and the Writing Life

Apparently, there’s communities of folks making Book and Authortube videos, in which they essentially talk about books, writing, and publishing. Since I’ve been wanting to get back into making videos, these community topics seemed a good way to focus my ideas around.

One of the things that a lot of folks in this community do is the Newbie Tag  — which is essentially a list of questions about you and your interests as a means of introduction. It sounded like fun, so I thought I’d go for it — although with my own flare.

Booktube and Authortube each have their own unique set of questions (listed below), created by Brenda C. and Jenna Streety, respectively. Rather than making them as two separate videos, I decided to incorporate them together, editing to avoid repeated questions and (hopefully) making things flow.

I hope you enjoy the video, and if you decide to do your own newbie tag, please let me know. I’d be happy to check it out.

Continue reading “On Reading and the Writing Life”

Dealing with Mental Exhaustion

and breathe
Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

Over the previous two weeks, my day job has been eating my brain. During this time, our leader was out for medical reasons — and so, faced with an an oppressive and immovable deadline, I was working 10-11 hours days in order to complete a total of nine articles (each 3,000 words or more) over the course of eight days, as well as keeping the website updated with new articles. This was in addition to two hours of daily commute.

The exhaustion during this time was intense. I could measure how tired my brain was by the level of pressure inside my skull. I started developing headaches and back pain. I had trouble concentrating. My emotions were chaotic.

One night, I came home so tired that I felt drunk. I was dizzy, couldn’t keep my balance, and when I flopped down onto the bed to sleep, the room began spinning.

I don’t recommend this.

If it had been possible, I would have pushed the deadline back a few days or even a week — a more reasonable timeframe that would have enabled me to work at a pace more conducive to my physical and mental health. Since, that wasn’t an option, I had to find ways to provide self care that would help to keep me going and finish the work.

Read the rest on substack.

My Top Ten Things from 2019

Here doth exist a video in which I talk about my top ten favorite things from last year — books movies, games, travel, writing stuff, and more. The hardest part was choosing a single novel and poetry book for the year — which is why I have separate top ten lists for each.

I’ve had a youtube account for about 11 years. For a few years, I was posting regularly on a variety of topics with no real rhyme or reason — and then I took a seven year break because of lack of time, access to technology, and other challenges. But I’ve been wanting to jump back into it, so hear we are.

This video was a fun challenge to put together. Talking to a camera is weird thing and it takes practice to get back into the rhythm of it, so it took 49 minutes to record — followed by and hours and hours of editing over the course of several days in order to eliminate all the awkward pauses and unnecessary rambling asides, finally reaching a more manageable 22 minutes. Still long-ish, but I’m pretty happy with it.

I hope you enjoy it, and I would love to know some of the things you’ve loved in 2019.


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The Annual Experiment of Renewal: Thinking About My Goals for 2020

Photo by Christian Joudrey on Unsplash.

I’m an optimistic soul. I tend to be flooded with ambition at the beginning of each new year. THIS will be the one, I tell myself. This is will be the year when I will do better, be better, accomplish all the things. In past years, I’ve set clear goals — sometimes massive lists of things I’d like to achieve, sometimes a single goal (as with last year).

There is value in taking stock of where you’ve been and envisioning a path for where you want to be. The way forward is sometimes confusing, and it helps to come up with a roadmap.

Figuring out how to shape that map is a form of experimentation in and of itself — setting up resolutions, goals, or habits, and testing them out to see what works. Maybe it’s a single word to embody the year. Maybe it’s a specific habit you want to create. Maybe it’s a new area of learning or craft you want to pursue. Maybe it’s a list of specific things you want to get done.

Coming into 2020, I’m feeling a little more tentative about my goal setting. The single goal that I set for last year locked me into path that caused more confusion and frustration than pleasure. I learned a lot from that experience, though it left me a little tender.

Continue reading on A Seed to Hatch

Write in the Now: NaNoWriMo 2019 Week One Check In

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing, with writers around the world diving into their novel or rebel projects. Words are spattering themselves upon page like rain — either in drizzles or downpours. Plotlines are taking root. Characters are waking up and blossoming into shape. Scenes are growing lush and vibrant.

At least, that’s the blessing I send out to all my fellow writers this month.

When I announced my intentions to partake in NaNoWriMo this year, one of the main methods of preparation was to eliminate all future considerations — all the little thoughts of what this new novel might be or become. In my first four days of working on the project, I have managed to get ahead of my daily goals, reaching just over 8,500 words. Along the way, it has been interesting to observe the little games my mind started playing, jumping past the present to future possibilities. Each time, I had to rein those thoughts in and find a way to keep writing.

Brain Game One: Future Success — The first day of working on my new novel was incredibly successful, which was a surprise and a delight. It had been a long time since I had such a smooth writing day, and I was proud of the words I wrote and the direction the story was taking. My brain, noticing me reveling in the pleasure of my success, immediately began jumping ahead. THIS would be the novel, this will be the one to achieve an agent and a publisher, oodles of money and awards, and —

Knock it off, I told myself. None of that matters right now. All that matters is here in the story. Who is this person you’re writing? What comes next? Stick to writing in the now.

Brain Game Two: Future Editing — As I continued on the second day, I found myself discovering the characters and what would happen to them through the act of writing. I allowed details and traits and events to evolve throughout a scene, allowing contradictions to take place and letting them lie, knowing I could come back and visit it later. My brain, however, would not let it be, insisting on telling me all the ways the previous passages would need to be fixed and fixed immediately.

Story Idea vs draft meme

Thank you, I told myself. But let’s worry about those things at another time. We’re focusing on the first draft. Let’s write in the now.

Brain Game Three: Future Failure — The process of writing is always shifting and not every day will flow smoothly. It was inevitable that self doubt would make its appearance, and it did on the third day. My brain fell right into lock-step, questioning whether these words would be good enough or whether this would just be another novel to sit languid in a drawer, ever unfinished.

Hush, I told myself. Everything’s okay. It’s a draft. It doesn’t have to be good enough. Just keep going, stick with the story and see where it leads. Write in the now.

. . .

As the month continues, I’ll have to face thoughts like this over and over again. It’s a continual process of pulling myself back to the present moment, taking a deep breath, and writing from where I’m at in the her and now. For the moment, I’m just enjoying the act of writing — which is exactly what I was hoping to get out of my NaNo experience this year.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or working on any kind of creative projects this month, let me know how you’re doing. Do you find yourself fighting future thoughts? How do you deal with such thoughts and keep moving forward?

. . .

Note: This was first published in A Seed to Hatch, my (semi)-monthly newsletter on the writing life and things that are interesting to writers. If you enjoyed reading this, please check out the archives and/or subscribe:

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