Interesting Finds

I’ve decided to change things up a bit and post my Interesting Finds segment on the last Tuesday of the month regardless of whether it’s the fifth one or not. I come across so many interesting articles during the month I’d love to share anyway so this won’t be a hardship for me.

Enjoy!

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Recently, a member of my book club discussed possibly reading a book by Lionel Shriver. And an anthology I just finished (and LOVED), contained a story by her. It makes me made that she’s a good writer because I have issues with how she uses her platform. Why? Read this response by a POC who walked out on her speech at the Brisbane writers festival.

Here is Shriver’s whole speech.

And here is an excellent discussion of both of those links by Jim C. Hines.

Moving on, have you heard of the Lone Stars Program? Basically, it’s Librarians making (awesome) book lists. Here are their next great reads.

If you don’t have Pinterest (why don’t you?), you’ll have to print this last one. It’s a reading challenge for 2017 that might help you expand your reading life. If you go to the actual website you can print the graphic for the 26 or 52 book challenge. I printed the 52!

Spring Cleaning in Summer

If you’re anything like me, a neat-freak, you abhor mess and grime. Yet despite your hatred and diligence against these interlopers, your home inevitably gets dirty. Hence the necessity for Spring Cleaning.

I’m horribly behind this year. It’s mid-August and I just dusted and reorganized my bookshelves. I have one excellent reason for my tardiness and one excuse. The latter involves time, I haven’t eked out time to tackle my spring cleaning chores around work and other obligations. The former involves an even larger cleaning project: de-junking my basement.

Over the weekend of July 25th and 26th, my mom and I hauled every piece of junk out of the basement to a large garbage bin we’ve been hounding my dad to rent for months. My mom and brother also cleared out the junk that’s been filling up our yard too. No, we’re not hoarders, this is pretty routine when you have a carpenter for a father. They like to collect things.

That thing is about 14' x 5' x 5'!

That thing is about 14′ x 5′ x 5′!

I need to go back a bit further in this story. I’ve lived in my current house for about seven years now. For one reason or another I didn’t anticipate staying here very long, so initially I didn’t unpack much of my stuff. On top of that, my dad likes to move in a frenzy. We usually do it ourselves over the course of two days. It’s horrible. And it means you pack all the garbage you’d normally set aside and toss.

Right now I live in the basement, along with the all the crap my dad doesn’t want to store in his workshop. I can usually deal with it, but every now and then I take a long look and get fed up. This has happened in four waves over the past few years.

The first wave happened after I finished high school. I was ready to move into the next phase of my life. I wanted to organize myself, and that usually involves organizing my environment. I got my mom and brother involved and we rearranged the major pile taking up the most space. There were still heaps of junk, but I had room to use my treadmill and a bit of walking space. I was content.

The second wave happened after my brother left home. His room was left in such a state that my mom and I couldn’t repair it on our own, so I decided we should make it a storage room. Around this time I also adopted my cats and was having nightmares about them getting into my dad’s powders or cutting themselves on an errant tile. I consulted with my mom and started hauling stuff into the room soon after. Not all of it would fit, but I crammed the majority in there. Granted, there was a pile of stuff left out that was 100% garbage and all my personal stuff that I wasn’t ready to go through. Again, I was placated.20150726_182851

Between then and the next wave, I had to teach everyone that an empty space doesn’t need to be filled with more stuff. We’ve reached a happy truce.

The third wave happened a few months ago, after I got the idea from a neighbour that what we really needed was to rent one of those huge bins people usually reserve for their renovation garbage. We couldn’t afford it at the time, plus my mom and I wouldn’t have had time off work to do all of the hauling, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be prepared. I pulled on my big girl pants and went through 90% of the boxes I hadn’t unpacked since we moved when I was 11. That was a rough time for me and not something I’m willing to go into. Suffice it to say, it’s taken me 13 years to feel emotionally stable enough to confront the stuff in those boxes.

I had to share the book organizing mid-project. It took me around 7 dusty hours.

I had to share the book organizing mid-project. It took me around 7 dusty hours.

There was so much treasure to be found, and so many things I was more than ready to let go of. I set aside all of the old writing I found which is both inspiring and embarrassing. That was a long day emotionally and physically, so I did what I could.

July marked the fourth wave. And the final one for a while. I went through the last 10% of my stuff, which was a lot easier to handle than the first 90% because it was mostly clothes. The basement has designated areas now! There’s so much space, it’s incredible. But there’s still a lot of stuff I need to find a storage area for because I can’t let it go.

I’m sure you noticed the symbolic catalyst to each wave. Something momentous happened and my eyes were opened to my environment and I decided I needed to better it. Plus cleaning is usually my response to stress.

Writers really are as sensitive as they say. I like to ignore my sensitivity but that doesn’t make it any less palpable. Yet I feel that having tackled my past I am much more ready to focus on my future, and of course I feel strongly that my future is writing.

I needed to let go, to delve into my own depths, to see if I could. Maybe confronting difficult things will help me be a better writer. Perhaps having less baggage will do that trick. All I know is that now that the physical clutter is finally gone, my mental clutter seems better organized.

Thanks for reading! Writing this out is part of the catharsis and I appreciate you bearing with me.

National Novel Writing Month

For those of you unfamiliar with National Novel Writing Month, or the far catchier NaNoWriMo, it is a writing event in which each participant attempts to write 50,000 words, or a novel, during the month of November.2013-Winner-Certificate Signed

I have tackled and succeed at NaNo once, in 2013, while I was jobless and motivated. Not to say that I’m not motivated to write now, but I devised an attack plan in 2013 so that I could not fail. It was marvelous.

There is nothing like a whopping success the first time you try something.

I did not have the guts to tackle NaNo last year. I was too busy with work and other things to get into the proper head space. Last year and this year I did attempt two other NaNo events, April and July Camp NaNo. The difference between the original NaNo and Camp is that “at camp”, you get to form virtual cabins with writers you know, or strangers, and you get to set your own word goal. It’s much more of a social endeavor than traditional NaNo, in my opinion.

2014-Winner-Facebook-ProfileI won Camp in April 2014 by surpassing my goal of 10,000 words by over 2,600. That month I had two projects I knew I wanted to work on in advance and I made time to write around my day job. I did absolutely no planning for any of the other NaNo Camps and I failed miserably.

Coming off a very recent fail, I decided I don’t like this streak of mine. I’m a good strategist and I can tackle anything as long as I have a plan going in. Furthermore, I just made a promise to myself to focus more on my fiction writing and schedule time for it.

I have three months until November. I have also scheduled a week of holiday time for November. I want a rough draft of my current WIP done by the end of this year and I’ve decided to immerse myself fully in that world, ironing kinks and plotting arcs until I feel ready to write it all out.

I feel like all of these elements are going to come together to make something incredible in the next four months.

So here is my challenge to myself:

Over August, September, and October, I need to work on that world and figure out how my novel is going to flesh out. I need to be comfortable making time for fiction by the time November arrives. I also need to come up with a writing course for November so I can be well ahead of schedule by the end of the month. I know what I did to win in 2013 and while I don’t want to change that perfect plan, I need to make it work around the day job.

This will be no small feat, but I might have a completed manuscript by the end of November to show for it. I sure hope I can share that positive news on December 1st!