This Week

READING RECAP:

This week–like this entire month, heck like this entire year–has just blurred by. Blurred. Days just *blinked* past me.

I didn’t even finish any one of my books that I’d borrowed from the library! #readerfail. I’m still planning on reading them though. I will make it a point!

A new book that popped up on my radar is The Bird and the Sword, by Amy Harmon. My friend raved about its beautiful words, and I was curious enough to eyeball Amazon and get a feel. The first page ensnared me, and I quickly sent myself a free sample and now I have to have it. Did you click over yet to experience it yourself? No? Seriously, check it out HERE and if you’re not rolling around in awe at all the delicious words, then I don’t know how we’re friends.

WRITERLY RECAP:

So, as I said, my recent life has been a blur. That’s because I have been a nonstop working machine. Just this week alone, I averaged 18-hour workdays with 4-hour breaks to sleep. (Yesterday, I worked 20 hours straight for the second day in a row, with breaks only for food. I think.) (I’m here on just right under four hours of sleep, so if I’m a little loopy, well, you know why.) If I wasn’t at the pay-the-bills job, I was writing. Website content, emails, feedback, stories, you name it, I was probably writing it.

I feel like most of the people around me think I am an obsessive workaholic. They’d be sort of right of course, but it’s in a weird, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” kind of way. Like, I’m doing something torturous or something.

Uhm, I’m in my creative cocoon where I feel untouchable and in control of my life. I “do this to myself” because I freaking love it! I told a friend just the other day: writing, ideating, creating…it energizes me. This isn’t the soul-sucking work of unfulfilled potential. Writing–the creative and business side of it–calls to me and compels me to work until my eyes give out. THIS is what people talk about when they make those clickable quotes that are splattered all over Instagram. Stuff like: “Do what you love, love what you do” or “Do what you love and never work a day in your life”…those kinds of quotes.

I get all of those quotes because I live it every day.

Speaking of clickable quotes, let me add a fave to it: “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Buddha. I like this because it doesn’t shame the word “Work.” Work to me is wholly positive because I see the redemptive power of work every day of my life. My work gives me purpose, and I love every minute of it, and won’t apologize for it or make myself smaller just because others perceive “Work” as this horrible thing.

(If your Work is horrible, choose another form of it, or gain a new perspective. Completely transformative experience for me.)

I used to sleep as much as possible because I was a vivid dreamer. I loved that in-between feeling of falling asleep, anticipating the stories in my dreams. (They usually revolved around epic, end of the world type struggles…or whatever I’d been reading at the time.) And then my alarm clock would blare and I would be so miserable thinking about the day ahead, of the long hours of uselessness and busy work. All for what? A paycheck?

Now, as soon as my alarm sounds, my eyes open, and I can’t get up fast enough. Recreating the snippets of my imagination into whole, fleshed-out stories is so much more fulfilling than the shadows I experienced while dreaming. Creating is intoxicating and satisfying and addictive all at once. AND I’M DOING IT ALL FOR FREE. (Mostly. For now. 😉 )

Of course it’s also tedious and challenging, but the reward of seeing a story come together in a meaningful way is just beautiful. ::le sigh:: Just yesterday, I was reading through my manuscript, and basically had been feeling like a beachcomber, inspecting every bit of sand under a magnifying glass. I was so tired of picking at the beach that was my manuscript with what a backscratcher, that I put down my pen, grabbed more coffee (and kept both hands on the mug), and decided to skim for a few pages.

I got so lost in the story, that as I read over one of the main turning points, I literally started tearing up. At my own words. Like, I smeared my untouchable eye makeup wiping my eyes because I was crying.

I know I was basically sleep deprived, but forgetting for a moment that I wrote this thing, and the thing made me cry in a good way, was so, so gratifying after what has seemed like a neverending suckfest of words. (And I mean “neverending suckfest” in the best way possible.) It’s like, once I stopped looking at every grain of sand and only seeing imperfections, I was able to take in the entire panorama and be in awe of all the elements of what makes a Beach so spectacular: crashing waves, sunsets, long stretches of send…this is what I think of when I think Beach; all the elements together and not just the sand. It’s a very important part, but it’s not the only part.

(If it were, I’d hate the beach. Ew. Sand is tenacious and gets everywhere. Everywhere.)

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Anyway, that’s been my week (and month and year…) so far. Hopefully, I have some fun recaps for you next week after my upcoming writing workshop.

So, what’s been happening with you?

This Week

This week had started out hopeful. Even though I spent a part of a “day off” on Sunday at The Job, I still spent most of it with the hubs. We even went out to both lunch and dinner–amazing!

We spent the 4th mainly indoors. Even though it’s a national holiday, it was basically the only day off I had from The Job to catch up with my writing projects, and also finish one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time: Healer, starring Ji Chang Wook and Park Min Young.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it is easily one of the best “TV” shows I’ve seen, hands down.

I say “TV” because I stumbled upon it on Hulu.com and it was like a gift! A beautiful, amazing, shining beacon of happiness and positivity that I can look back on for this week. Because after Monday, the week slowly crumbled and devolved.

(That’s saying something when Monday was the highlight of an entire week.)

Local tragedy where two coworkers died in completely unrelated circumstances days apart…National news coverage of needless, inexplicable deaths…International news coverage of militant attacks in Bangladesh and Baghdad.

My heart is heavy. My eyes are hazy. My mind is numb.
These are not the best conditions to write.

I know I should focus on the positive…that I should count my blessings…that I ought to be grateful for what I have…tragedy happens all the time…etc.

I know all this.

But sometimes, it’s OK to shut down my brain and just sit and feel.
So I read. I’ve been listening and soaking in others’ stories, and pray that others have love, support, and light that they can huddle around to give them a semblance of peace at this time.

Hopefully, next week will be a little bit brighter. As for this week, I’m done.

This Week: July 1, 2016

BOOKISH FINDS:

I used to be a voracious reader. I’m talking like four books in one day kind of gluttony.

I was one of those people who would side-eye someone if heard them say, “I haven’t read a book in months/years.” Craziness. Seriously impossible. My ravenous brain monkeys were relentless; I couldn’t read fast enough to satisfy them.

I’d bring home piles of books from the library and read the entire pile in a week. Heck, sometimes I’d read an entire series in one day/night. (I’m looking at you, Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewls Trilogy. I started the series on a random weekday afternoon and finished it sometime around 7 or 8AM the next morning, napped for a bit, then went in for my closing shift at the Job. Totally worth it…one of my best reading marathons EVER!)

…but now…

I’d be lucky if I could finish a book in a week.*

I do have competing priorities for my time now like never before, which has made me pickier on which books to spend my time. And, I have decided to *Adult* and focus on getting enough of that Sleeping thing that so many people have told me was beneficial for my health.

(And, yes, OK, so my eyes don’t bother me as much, and perhaps my skin and overall immune system is a thousand times better…still…)

But, I ‘d gotten overwhelmed with how many books I’ve acquired and have a list of books I have been told I NEED TO READ, that I ended up doing what I’ve always done with things that intimidate me or make me anxious.

I avoided them. I either read something else entirely or ignore reading altogether.

Since reading makes me happy (my original blog title!), not-reading makes me not-happy. So, I’m embracing my first love, and making it a focus to read All The Books (and why I’m returning to this Reading and Writing blog format).

All that said, here are some titles that I was so excited to see available in my digital library (I promise next week I won’t ramble on and on so much before sharing 😉 ):

  • Lair of Dreams, Libba Bray (audiobook)
  • Shadowshaper, Daniel Older
  • Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  • Truthwitch, Susan Dennard

I absolutely LOVED The Diviners, by Libba Bray, and had waited so long for the sequel that it fell of my radar! So, when I saw it available, I immediately snatched it up! I also loved the hype around Shadowshaper…anything Urban Fantasy intrigues me.

Some people can’t get into audiobooks, but as someone who commutes to the Job and values efficient use of time, audiobooks are an amazing way for me to get through my lovelist of books. (And, when my eye is irritated, which it often is, audiobooks are a great escape for me!)

Plus, there’s something about audiobooks that makes it easier for me to read books that were “too boring” to read as a physical book…I’ve found and finished so many amazing books this way!

For those who love audiobooks, SYNC is a free summer audio book program for teens 13+ that gives away two audiobook downloads a week (powered by the Overdrive App) from May 5-August 17. I really love this program, because I get to test out books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up, or re-read a fun classic. (It was through this program that I’d read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys three or four years ago? Worth it!)

This week, SYNC is featuring Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (easily one of my top ten fave books of all time) and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. (They have weekly themes, which I’m always delighted by!)

WRITERLY RECAP:

Most days, I’m staring at my WIPs wondering WHAT DO I WRITE NEXT, but today all I want to do is work on my NANOWIP (my clever code name for my WIP that I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2014). Maybe it’s because I watched a whole slew of comicbook movies recently. Or maybe I have a whole load of feels because I may not be able to do my annual summer trip to NYC. Or perhaps it’s the news that this year would be Stan Lee’s last year at NYC Comic Con.

At any rate, I’m really excited and motivated to revisit the rough draft and get a game plan started on it. It’s the only YA Contemporary that my brain elves have fashioned together that survived past the seedling idea stage to bloom into a full-blown story. Hopefully, other people will enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of a teen-aged Filipino girl who secretly works on her art projects while at science camp.

As for WIP 2, I have printed off the manuscript and am currently sifting through it. Oftentimes, I feel like I’m raking through a Maui beach with a back scratcher, but I’ve found so many typos and tense/POV shifts (still!) so, it’s a tedious-yet-necessary step. Considering it took several back-and-forths for my query to finally be typo-free, I was inspired to re-read my manuscript and I’m so glad I did!

Speaking of the query, I’ve sent off my latest, shiny query to Writer’s Digest’s Chuck Sambuchino for a workshop critique. I’ve already gotten positive responses from my writing buddies on this version, so I’m eager to hear his feedback! Then, in about three weeks, I go to my writing workshop! So excited!

My goal is to get the manuscript all cleaned up without these silly typo/spellos, so that it’s ready to send off into the world in August! (After re-reading it a million times, of course.)

Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to bribe myself enough to submit to Pitch Wars in August. We’ll see.

So tell me: anything new with you?