What I’m Into (April 2017)

Reading

Oh, boy. It was a good reading month; I read a lot of amazing books. I finished both The Iliad and The Odyssey this month, and loved them both. The writing was beautiful, and I loved the metaphors because they gave such a glimpse into life of the time–they were full of images of herding and weaving and all these tasks we never think about today. I love those reminders that life was so different in ways that we don’t even think about, like the hours and hours and hours of work it took to weave cloth (let alone harvesting of the fiber, cleaning it, spinning it, and maybe dyeing it) or prepare food. And both books were full of very strong, human emotions and characters.

I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale. What a powerful story. It was so well-written that I had to pause from reading every ten chapters or so; the emotions were just so vivid, even overwhelming. Offred was such a poignant, self-aware, and observant narrator. It was a good (and by good I mean haunting) example of how religious legalism often isn’t about religion at all; in the official religion there was no mention of Jesus, and barely any, really, of God. I was so blown away/horrified/intrigued by it that I held on to my library copy for an extra week, because I couldn’t quite bear to give it up, and have now spent several hours discussing it with various friends. I’d love to do some more of that, if anyone’s interested; seriously, leave a comment or email me.  I’m now intrigued by the Hulu show; I don’t have any way to watch it right now, but I’ve heard really good things. Anyone else seen it?

And I’m in the middle of a few other good books that I’ll save for next month.

Listening

This month I intentionally searched out fiction-based podcasts, and I found some amazing ones.

Clarkesworld Magazine regularly posts short stories from their magazine (science fiction and fantasy). They’re always narrated beautifully, and they’re really interesting stories.

Escape Pod also posts short stories from their magazine. They’re just sci fi, but they have really cool noise effects and good narrators.

ars PARADOXICA is a time travel story (yes, please!), which unlike the others is one long story continued in episode form. So far it’s been creepy and fascinating, and I love our spunky scientist narrator.

The Bright Sessions is another longer story, told entirely through recordings made by a psychologist trying to treat multiple patients with special abilities. It has such good voice acting! The wider plot has been slow-moving so far, but the characters are interesting enough to keep me listening.

Welcome to Night Vale has such a dry sense of humor and I love it. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to start listening to this; a lot of people I really trust listen. I thought it always sounded weird, honestly, which is true, but it’s also hilarious and strange and fascinating. Although I’m not sure if it’s fiction so much as a series of shorts set in the same town?

Whew! I really got into fiction podcasts this month!

Watching

The Arrow, because I finally got on board that particular fan train. I’m really enjoying it, because the novelty of having an intelligent character who makes overall good decisions is just too good to pass up. Besides, season 2 of Supergirl isn’t on Netflix yet.

Writing

I had an article published on Off the Page, on finding God in nature.

On the blog, I wrote about my Lent disciplines this year.

I did a lot of personal writing, and a lot of writing that hasn’t been published yet. I worked on a short story that I’m super excited about. I submitted to a lot of magazines, and so it looks like it was pretty quiet on this front, but I got quite a bit done.

Doing

Lots of dogsitting! I don’t have anyone’s permission to post pictures of their dogs, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they were all adorable and so sweet (if not always obedient).

Carnegie-Mellon has a gorgeous campus; I walked around for half an hour, taking a phone call, and otherwise spent an afternoon buried in the library getting work done.


I enjoyed the fact that the weather has been warm and the plants are starting to grow and bloom again–so much so that I have no pictures of that, either! But it’s been wonderful.

That’s it for this month!

 

I’m linking up with What I’m Into at Leigh Kramer.

Not a Robot


Here’s my latest writing update. As you can see, it’s not very consistent or prolific. I reached my goal of an hour a week only twice. And I’m frustrated that I made so little progress. I know I can do better. 

However, it was a difficult few weeks emotionally. Nothing happened, really, but I struggled again with being unemployed and with what I have been learning or should be learning. As much as I’ve loved a lot of the past few months in really unexpected ways, making what feels like little progress is frustrating, and I let that frustration overwhelm me and keep me from writing. 

So… Not as good as I hoped. At all. 

But: I am not a robot. I cannot expect myself to always feel like writing. I cannot expect myself to always write one hour, exactly, not one second more or less. I cannot expect myself to always write well, always be completely undistracted. I am not a robot. It’s okay if I don’t feel like writing, or if I need a day off. Yes, I would like to build writing into a more regular habit, and yes, not feeling like writing isn’t always an excuse to not write. Yes, absolutely, and I am working to write more consistently. That’s why I post these updates. But, as I work towards building this habit, sometimes I need to remember to give myself a little grace, instead of being frustrated that I’m not perfect. 

Give yourself a little grace. You’re not a robot, either.

Writing Update

I really enjoyed updating you on how much writing I’ve done. It was a nice way to feel accountable and inspire myself to keep going, which is why I decided to continue doing updates.

Here are my totals for the past two weeks:


I kept the same goal of writing one hour a day. As you can see, I’ve been more successful this month at reaching at least an hour of writing in a day, which always feels like the big mile marker. Actually reaching it is such a rush! 
It’s funny that I’ve reached an hour more this month, because my focus has shifted. I started focusing more on the every day part of my goal, and just being excited when I wrote every day. If I only wrote ten minutes–well, I wrote. If I didn’t write anything for publication–well, I wrote. Taking the pressure of reaching sixty minutes off of myself was so helpful and freeing, because then I could just focus on writing. Once I took that pressure off, I started to write more days and to reach an hour of writing more often. 

I always forget how important it is to give myself grace and be kind to myself, but I learned that lesson again these past few weeks.

Here’s to learning it again as we go forward!

What have you been writing and learning?