Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Here’s to Nano (Again)

My writing life has suffered lately. Sure, just life in general has played a part in that. The whole job, kids, husband, running (then injuring myself, resting, and running) kind of life in general. But it’s not just that.

Like so many other writers and creative types, I suffer from depression. I’ve written about my depression before, and every time it still feels fresh and strange to put words to keyboards. Through it I’ve managed a few submissions and queries, lots of rejections, and finished a new short story. But…that’s been about it. For months and months on end. The idea of exorcising these ideas and stories and characters from my head felt physically exhausting.

I slept too much and too little.
Ran too little then too hard, hurting myself.
Ate too little then too much.
And stubbornly, desperately, achingly refused to write.

I’m coming out of the other side of a really bad depressive episode, and what good timing! NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual, month-long literary event. In short, you write 50,000 words in a month. Long version, you drink lots of coffee and tea and alcohol, write a bunch of shitty words, and then in December and January whittle and edit it down into a better second draft.

Here's to all the beer that will be
drunk this November.
NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow for second guessing of work. It allows for plot holes and characters who switch names halfway through a manuscript. It creates a 30-day period where you’re just racing to create your story. And right now that’s what I desperately need.

I first participated in NaNoWriMo back in 2005 or 2006, but created a new account when I wanted a new username. According to this account I’ve been at it since 2011 and haven’t missed a year yet, although I’ve only “won” twice. So who am I to break this streak?

Anyone else participating in NaNo this year? If you are, add me as a writing buddy!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Banned Books Week 2017

Chances are that you’ve read at least one banned book in your lifetime. Judy Blume usually springs to mind around this time of year, but what about Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, JK Rowling? That’s right, someone read Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and thought, “Hmm, not appropriate for children.”

Guys. Guys.

Banned Books Week occurs every year and serves as a “celebration of the freedom to read.” The reasons behind challenges to books can vary, but they all come back to the same thing – censorship. Attempts to censor literature often comes under the veil of trying to shield children from so-called inappropriate subjects. Which is probably one of the worst things you could do for a child’s curiosity. Taking away information doesn’t sate the hunger, it only makes it grow stronger.

Banning books (or attempting to have them banned) is still going on today, which is absolutely crazy if you think about what kids and teenagers can more readily access on the internet. I am one Google search away from videos about fetishes I didn’t even know existed. Exposure to difficult topics inside the context of a story can be much more beneficial than a quick few minutes on the internet, which lacks the nuance of characters and plot that can put things in perspective.

They have no choice but to be nerds.
I normally try to read a banned book during this week, but ended up not doing so this year. Although, I’ve been reading Harry Potter with my kids (we’re up to Prisoner of Azkaban), so technically I’ve been on board the banned books week for months now. Look at me, ahead of trends!

What banned books have you read lately? Or were some of your childhood favorites commonly banned or challenged?

Monday, January 9, 2017

I Bit the Bullet (Journal)

To say that notebooks are my thing would be like saying that dogs have a mild affinity for bouncing tennis balls. I buy notebooks like I buy books: ravenously and in quantities that border on wholesale. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate used book stores and the library.

When I first saw bullet journals popping up on Pinterest I ignored them because I already journal, make daily to-do lists, track my runs with an app, and use Goodreads for books that I’m reading. Adding something else in just didn’t make sense, especially since I’m not a particularly artistic person.

Eventually I gave in to Pinterest peer pressure (but I won’t be handcrafting birthday goodie bags, dammit). I'm not doing it strictly by the books (ba dum tss) or using any type of specially-designed notebook, because if I'm going to stick with something, it needs to be on my own terms.

I'm using it to make my daily to-do list which actively replaces what I was using before, but otherwise the bullet journal is in addition to everything else. Because I’m a person who likes lists. They make my life feel tidy and organized even when it’s anything but.

Read #3 was awful. Just awful.

I'm only a few days into the bullet journal, but I'm liking it so far. It combines: 
  • my love of lists
  • bright pens
  • keeping track of the little things that happen throughout my day.
I still journal in my, well, journal, but I usually only sit down to do so at the end of the day, and the bullet journal is handy for jotting down a quick thought, story idea, or just something that happened that I'd like to remember.

Plus, I may not be creative, but come on this is kind of cute.

I hope that you all had a fantastic winter break and enjoyed your holidays. We spent our time being lazy, reading, and enjoying this bomb-ass fire pit that my parents got us for Christmas.

Have you started any new habits recently? Or do you journal regularly?