Saturday Check-in: all about the readathon

Instagram @mizwriterlady

Hello my lovely fellow story seekers!

When you got into a relationship (platonic or romantic), did you find yourself starting to like things you never thought you’d like? Or initially disliked but grew to like it? That’s me right now with the band Dance Gavin Dance. I have a pretty broad musical taste–regardless of genre, I’m looking for a hook in the music–but the most hardcore I ever really went was Three Days Grace in high school. I wasn’t initially down with DGD but the more I listened… honestly, the music is really clever and I like the dude’s voice. So lo and behold, I have eleven of their songs in my playlists now. Go figure.

So I have been pushing myself. Now that I have complete control over my schedule, I’ve been filling it with goals and I am so, so, so pleased to report that I have been killing it!

My self-imposed readathon

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I have recently decided to make a desperate push on the unread books on my shelves. I’m planning to move states by the end of the year and LET–ME–TELL–YOU. I have so many unread books on my shelves.

But I don’t want to haul them 1,000 miles when I might not even want to keep them in the end BUT I do want to read them.

Easiest way to go about this conundrum? Please line up shortest to longest, folks.

If Only Packing Were This Easy GIF - TheSwordInTheStone ...

I can’t even tell y’all how many books I own that I haven’t read. Or, rather, I can but I dare not from shame. Can we just agree that it’s for the best that I don’t work at a bookstore anymore (where I got a 30% employee discount?)

What I’ve read this week

If you follow me on Goodreads, you may have seen these already. By the way, how often do you read reviews? Do you read them at all? I’m curious.

Currently reading

I’m still reading…

  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (it’s fallen by the wayside but I will finish it!)
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (can’t believe I made it 300 pages in, but it took me so long to get there that it has to go back to the library already *cry*)

And I started and will soon finish…

Are you doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge by the way? My goal this year is for 50 books. I’m five books behind at the moment but this push will get me caught up in no time.

The rest of the books in the readathon

So I started with the shortest books first: I pulled down all the books under 250 pages. You know how many I have unread that are just under 250 pages? Eleven.

Correct Friends GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

To just get through the books under 250 pages, here’s what I hope to finish by the end of September:

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  • Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making by Catherynne Valente
  • The Dark Tower by Stephen King

So I knocked out three (almost four) in a week! There’s hope for me yet.

Blog recap

So this week was a light week in terms of posts (just the one) but since the last check-in, I’ve published:

Next week will be about how I did with my writing these past few weeks. I am SO PSYCHED about it!

How many books do you own that you haven’t read yet?

I’m Going to do a #Challenge to Overcome my Fear

It’s that time. It’s time for change. All my weight has settled into one slump and my bones are shrieking for the mercy of movement–any movement. I’m ready (am I? the doubtful mind gremlin asks) to shake things up.

I’ve tried challenges in the past. On this here blog, I did a 30 Day Restart Challenge leading up to my June 2018 residency. I only got about halfway through that one. Whoops.

But I’m ready to commit more to my writing. I’ve been dragging my feet for years now and I’m done. It’s time to pick up these weary bones and park myself in front of Perseverance and Discipline and wait for the blood drops to form on my forehead, if that’s what it takes.

Having taken a step back and looking at myself, I’ve been ridiculous these past few years. What’s stopping me? Why am I not taking this glorious opportunity I’ve been given to make writing my life? To live and breathe it? What’s stopping me?

Fear is very likely the top answer. Well, okay. That’s all well and good but I’m going to refer myself to one of my favorite passages from one of my favorite writing gurus:

Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting–and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are a part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still–your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

My favorite part of that entire passage is “You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote.”

Here’s to not giving fear a vote.

So, what will this challenge look like? After watching Cynthia Koo’s How to Start (And Finish!) Your Very Own 365 Day Project, here’s what I’ve decided.

Starting February 1, 2019, I will write everyday for a year.

I hesitated saying a year. Why not just start with 30 days or 100 days?

But then I thought about it: what’s a year in the career of a writer? And if I can’t write every day for a year, that doesn’t exactly bode well for my aforementioned career.

Also, I feel like I’ve fallen so out of touch with my writing these past few years since I started college, so I want to get to know my writing again.

So with that, here it is: with this challenge, I want to

  • overcome my creative fears
  • become more disciplined
  • up my productivity
  • rediscover my process

Thus begins my #WatchJeanWrite365 Challenge

Drawing up Battle Plans: Weekly Update

It’s not that I have a million things that need doing this month, but the items on my to-do list feel so big and insurmountable that it feels like there’s an army of to-do soldiers charging at me.  (Something akin to Mulan facing down the Hun army on the mountain.)

First step to dealing with stress:

The space around you is your first line of defense.  Armor up.

The first thing I do when I’m getting ready for battle to write is clean up my space.  Doing this on the front side minimizes the occurrence of “Well, I can’t think of what to write next, but look, that pile of papers could use a sort-through, that’s very doable.”

It also makes me feel more prepared.  Exercising control over my environment makes me feel more in control of myself.  Which is a good feeling to have when sitting down to write IMHO.

Desk clean, I get into it.

Current battle: the dreaded synopsis

Now there are those of you out there who love writing synopses.  You’re all freaks.  That’s fine, but it isn’t my thing.  Especially when I have to write a 2-5 synopsis for a story I haven’t outlined yet.

This is the to-do item that has taken on Godzilla-like proportions, and of course it’s making a feast of my fear.  Thing is, I’ve never written a synopsis before.  And whenever I approach something I’ve never done before, there’s the possibility hanging over me that I won’t be good at it.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten to the point in the last few years that I acknowledge I’m scared but do it anyway.  In this case, the only thing getting my butt in the chair is the fact that I have to do this.

(Which was the main appeal of doing an MFA, not gonna lie.  I need the damp breath of a drill sergeant on the back of my neck to get me to do things I don’t want to do–like write 25 pages a month and figure out a synopsis for a story I haven’t planned out yet.)

The Battle Plan

Obviously, I’m a list person.  So when I’m panicking about getting stuff done, I make a to-do list.  Only this time, that wasn’t enough.  I needed a comprehensive approach to exactly how I was going to tackle this Godzilla problem.

Fortunately, I know that when I’m stuck like this, the thing to do is bring in outside help.  So I’ve recruited one of the girls I work with, who has no previous knowledge of my story, to sit down with me next week and help me brainstorm the rest of this novel.  A fresh pair of eyes is just what this novel needs.

My goal is to make a first attempt at it myself by this Saturday.  And then work with my friend next week to see what we can come up with.

And of course, this isn’t the only major thing I have to do this month.  I have to write 25 new pages (versus my critique partners, who are working on revising their first 50 pages).  I have to read a craft book (Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig) and write a 700-word response to it.  And write a 700-word self assessment.  The 700-word responses induce only nominal stress.  The 25 new pages and the 2-5 page synopsis are the things that get me.

That’s just for my writing course.  I also have to read two novels this month and write essays for each for my reading course.

Until next week!


Currently playing: Side Effects (feat. Emily Warren) by The Chainsmokers

Currently reading: The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch