July’s Short Story

It’ll be up by Sunday at the latest! Honestly, I haven’t started on it yet, but I will, and I’m sure it will be good.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a lovely weekend! And for now, enjoy this picture of Annie (the Snow Dog), who doesn’t like this heatwave any more than the rest of us.

On Caffeine, and Cutting It Out

I love coffee.

I also love tea, and I’m too fond for my own good of Diet Coke. As vices go, caffeine’s not so bad. Nonetheless, I haven’t had a drop since June 21st.

This is a change I’ve been thinking about making for a while. I was experiencing some really bad heartburn, and I’ve never been the best at sleeping. I figured cutting caffeine – especially coffee – would be helpful, and so I finally did it.

And, well…yeah.

I’m fine. Totally fine. Really, I’m completely good. Except…

I had no idea how essential caffeine was to my creative process!!

Y’all, I have had so much trouble writing anything good for the last month. Poems are a struggle, and I truly don’t know how I’m going to manage this month’s short story (which is coming this week, by the way!).

So, tell me, writer friends: How do you get yourself into a good writing headspace, especially if you’re also going without caffeine? I’ll take any advice. HELP. Please. And thank you!

(I’ve also cut out alcohol. But that’s been much easier. Which both surprises me and doesn’t surprise me at all.)

Am I a writer this week?

It’s been a week, y’all. Last week was a week, too. I don’t feel like I’ve been able to focus and spend time on the projects I care most about lately, including my writing. In fact, I don’t feel much like a writer this week at all.

It’s not a great feeling. And it’s also not true.

On weeks like this, when I’m tired and stressed and when my impostor syndrome gets the better of me, I remind myself that creating is fundamental to who I am. It’s part of me, just like my hair and my nails and my eyes and that weird little wrinkle I get in my forehead when I think too hard about math. It’s like breathing.

Every day, I’m thinking about a story, or an idea, or just some words that fit nicely together. Even if I can’t do anything with them RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, we live in a world where RIGHT NOW is often table stakes, a requirement of any job and an expectation in any undertaking. There’s just not a lot of value placed on someday soon, or on letting your mind meander even when your hands are busy elsewhere. It seems, in many ways, we’ve lost the will or the way to appreciate the art of daydreaming.

So, I’ve not gotten much writing done this week. But I am a writer. I can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I wouldn’t want to.

And if you’ve had a week like mine, this week or in the future, I hope you remember: You are a writer. Even when things get in the way, and even when it feels like you’ll never get back to your trusty old pen and paper (or laptop). YOU ARE A WRITER.

In conclusion, TL;DR – Yes, I am still a writer this week. And I wonder what next week will bring.

What are you reading lately?

One of my goals for 2022 is to read a fiction and nonfiction book every week. So, two books a week, essentially, trying to branch out into new topics and push myself to read new things. I’m a little ahead of the game right now at 56 books read. (Not a contest, but yay! That’s three more than I was able to read during all of last year.) But as you can imagine, I’m always on the lookout for my next read.

So tell me, what are you reading? What have you read lately? What should I read next? And if you’re looking for recommendations, too, feel free to leave me a comment! I’ve read lots of good stuff this year. 😊

April’s Short Story

It’ll be up tomorrow! In the meantime, here’s a preview. Enjoy!

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I don’t like the term “monster hunt.” Humans can be monsters, but everyone goes on and on about Bigfoot. Spare me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We set out around noon on the first warm day of spring. There were two of us. There was me, and there was Ty, my best friend. Ty carried the map, the tent, the food, all the other “useful stuff” (his words), and the dog’s leash. So, I guess there were actually three of us – Ty, me, and Septimus.

I asked Ty once why he named the dog Septimus.

“Because,” he said, “he looked like a Septimus. Just look at him”

In front of us now, walking up the trail into the woods, Septimus sniffed and explored, nose to the ground with his floppy, pendulum ears dangling into the leafy brush, drool trailing along behind him in a silvery, viscous path. He didn’t carry anything.

I held the camera.

“I don’t know what you think you’re going to find,” Ty said, craning his neck around to get a glimpse of me behind him. “And I don’t want to be in whatever video you make when this is over.”

“‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep…’” I replied.

“You didn’t come up with that.”

“No,” I said, “that was Robert Frost. But it makes my point.”

“Which is?”

Ty walked on ahead.

“Which is,” I said, “that you’ll never find anything if you don’t go looking, and there’s no place like the deep, dark woods to get started.”

Friday Writing

Hello, Friday! Hello, Spring!

It’s so hard, when it starts to get warm again, to focus on work, and it’s been a busy week. But I’ve managed to stay on top of everything, and I’m spending today just writing. And drinking coffee. Which definitely helps with the writing.

And you know, I think this is honestly my favorite way to spend a Friday.

Imagining the Unimaginable

This is not a book review.

For one thing, I don’t really do those, and for another, I haven’t finished the book yet. But I started reading Imaginable by Jane McGonigal yesterday, and I’m finding it really interesting so far.

I have anxiety. I don’t talk about it a lot, but it is something I’m dealing with. I tend to catastrophize when I’m stressed, and I fight off invasive thoughts – especially about the future and what I can and can’t do about it – all the time. Not as often as I used to, but still pretty often.

Like many people, these last couple of years have been a challenge for me. And with the news coming out of Ukraine, the state of American politics, the very real threat of climate change, and just the general list of “unknowns” that we as humans have to accept every second of every day, it’s easy for me to get bogged down in desperation and hopelessness. I’m a positive person, and I look for and work for good things, but man, it’s hard sometimes.

So when I came across Imaginable, I was immediately intrigued. McGonigal is a professional futurist (what a cool job!) and a game designer (also a cool job!), and the combination of those two fields makes for a really compelling exploration of how to imagine possible futures, how to think about the unthinkable, and how to then cope with it and get our minds around it.

I have a big imagination. It works for me creatively, but can definitely lead me down some dark alleys and scary paths when my anxiety decides to join the party. I’m really looking forward to diving into this book more deeply. I’m about three chapters in, and I’m hooked. I expect to finish it today.

And if you read it, too, let me know your thoughts!

Just writing…

Today it’s cloudy but not snowy, and as of this moment, we still have a hole in our basement wall, and I’m just feeling sort of…blah. It’s been a stressful week. We ran out of propane yesterday, a problem which has since been sorted but was terribly uncomfortable for the better part of the day. And we’ve both been busy and trying to balance work things with the house chaos.

All of that to say – today, I’m just going to write.

I’m just going to write, because aside from reading, it’s the thing that makes me happiest. The writing zone – that spot when you’re really into what you’re creating, and the rest of the world just sort of melts away – that’s one of my very favorite places. I love the feeling of letting everything else go, and just being carried away by words and by story. It’s magic. There’s nothing else quite like it, and no other place I’d rather be right now.

And it comes with the advantage of marking some stuff off of my very long and ever-growing to-do list! I’m working on a script for an upcoming podcast episode, and a longer-form fiction that I have some ambitious plans for, and of course, January’s short story, which I think will be very inspired by the winter season and the quiet, cold time in between Christmas and spring.

So, that’s me. Just writing. And also there’s coffee. As Fridays go, this one’s not so bad. And hopefully by the end of it, I’ll have some good stuff down on the page.

Happy Friday, and if you’re spending time writing today, too, then I hope that it’s fun and rewarding, and that you create something amazing!

My 2022 Reading Goal

I fear it might be a bit ambitious, but this year, I aspire to read two books every week – one fiction and one non-fiction. I’m off to a great start, I think, in that I’ve read ten books already, but I know it’s going to be a challenge to keep up the pace, and y’all, I’m going to need your help. Send me your favorites!

And, in case you’re looking for something good to read, I highly recommend:

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan

Or, if you’re looking for something a little different, this one’s next up for me:

The Heroine with 1001 Faces by Maria Tatar

I’ve said I think 2022 is going to be a good year for stories, and that includes reading them, as well as writing them. I can’t wait to see what ends up on my reading list this year!