What I’ve Been Reading | February 2020 Bullet Reviews

Hello Blogosphere! Welcome back to my hodgepodge bookish blog!

Today I’m bringing you another round of bullet reviews for the books I read in February. I hope you enjoy!

Teaching While White: Addressing the Intersections of Race and Immigration in the Classroom by Laura A. Roy (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • read for Multicultural & Diversity Issues in Curriculum
  • gave me a lot of insight that spurred further research into concepts like deficit model thinking & the ways teachers can use literature to help kids understand their own & others’ experiences
  • my only complaint is that I feel like it could’ve gone into more depth on specific actions teachers can take in the classroom… it felt like a lot of what she suggested were these big changes that I don’t feel empowered to make on my own without more support
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (2010)- ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • one of those books I wanted to enjoy more than I actually did
  • focuses on the gritty side of immigration: Kimberly & her mom live in a horrifyingly inadequate apartment & work in a sweatshop for minimal income
  • unfortunately, focuses mostly on how education is the escape & glorifies the “model immigrant” storyline
  • I didn’t really feel connected to the characters very much due to the detached writing style
There There by Tommy Orange (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • beautifully & poignantly constructed literary fiction
  • follows multiple Native characters as they navigate identity & family
  • does a great job of showing that Native Americans aren’t a monolith, but have varying experiences of their identity
  • an explosive ending that left me wanting more
  • highly quoteable
Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • memoir of a Filipino journalist who came to America as a child & has been undocumented most of his life
  • incredible as an audiobook
  • exposes the realities of living as an undocumented immigrant & the impossibility of becoming documented for so many people
  • made me question a lot of my unexamined assumptions about immigration
  • a book I made both my parents read
The Magicians by Lev Grossman (2009) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • first re-read of 2020 (because my husband wanted to watch the show with me)
  • a book that sounds better in theory than it does actually reading it, due to the whiny, cis-het-male protagonist
  • just watch the show on Netflix instead
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • a realistically written mid-to-young YA (protagonist is 15, an age I don’t feel we see often enough in YA)
  • exploration of a young girl’s struggle against parental explorations, compounded by severe depression & grief from losing her sister
  • the mystery element wasn’t a big enough piece to this story
  • quite angsty, which I feel is realistic, but definitely not everyone’s cup of tea

Have you read any of these books? What is your favorite story about identity? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,

I don’t know what to write.

A year ago, I used to blog about writing.

I write about writing because it helps me sort through my mindset at the time, my insecurities about my journey as a writer, but also because…well, stringing words together in any form reminds me that I AM a writer, even when I’m not actively working on a novel project.

The truth is, I haven’t been writing in months (outside of the journal I keep for sanity purposes).

It’s not because I don’t have any good ideas either. I’m sitting on four novel ideas that felt so huge to me at one point in time, in varying states of drafted/edited/planned out.

And it’s not really because I haven’t had time. Sure, I just finished my first semester of grad school (that’s another post entirely). Yes, this spring semester has been absolutely crazy and I’ve been settling into a new routine amidst a global pandemic. But I could’ve squeezed in a few hours a week, and I’ve already proven that all I need is 10-12 hours a week to write effectively.

No, I haven’t been writing because I haven’t felt that drive to write that usually keeps me going.

For me, writing takes a lot of momentum. It’s like trying to ride a bike on the hardest possible gear: once you get going, you don’t notice the difficulty… it’s when you stop for a while that you realize how much work this thing really takes.

It’s been six months since I “finished” NaNoWriMo. Six months in which I’ve thought a lot about that story I worked on in November, but also about the other stories I’ve tabled throughout the last, oh, decade of my life. I wonder a lot where I went wrong, and it really comes down to the fact that most of the time I hate what I’ve written when I read it after the fact.

I’ve gone back to school for a master’s in something that isn’t even writing, or literature. I’m 1/4 of the way through a graduate degree in secondary education, that thing I always said I would NEVER DO. I have, in some respects, given up on my goal of just struggling along as a writer until I get published; I’m pursuing a Real Career for the first time in my adult life.

And I just turned 30.

So I guess I’m writing this post because I need to work on some self-forgiveness.

Deciding to become a teacher doesn’t mean I’m no longer a writer. I think in stories, I read stories, and I know eventually I’ll get back to writing them too. Just because I have a 2-month break between semesters doesn’t mean I have to bang out an entire novel in order to prove I haven’t given up on writing.

As for the fact that I can’t decide which story to write at the moment…maybe that just means that I’m still bursting full of potential, even though I’m not a 20-something anymore. The well doesn’t just dry up because I’ve been distracted for half a year. If anything, the well is maybe growing deeper now that I’m not clinging to it so desperately.

If you’ve read to the end of this post, you’re a true friend. Thank you for reading, and I’d love to know your thoughts! If you’re a writer, do you ever struggle between what project to work on? Do you battle against self-doubt on a daily basis? Let me know how things have been for you in the comments. Until next time,

What I’ve Been Reading | January 2020 Bullet Reviews

Hello out there and welcome back to my hodgepodge blog!

Since I decided to start blogging again, I brainstormed some things I’d like to share with you guys. As a sort-of book blogger, the first thing that came to mind: reviews.

I think I speak for a lot of bloggers when I say that writing book reviews is the bane of our existence. I really admire those dedicated bloggers who write these long, beautiful reviews of every book they read…but that just ain’t me, babe.

Instead, I’ve decided to stick to bullet reviews (for which I’m indebted to the amazing Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books for the idea). Instead of trying to write whole paragraphs or even whole sentences, I’m going to break down the biggest takeaways from each book I read in 2020–including the ones I’ve read prior to this posting. Hopefully this way I can share some of my bookish thoughts without being overwhelmed by reviewing everything in full.

So, without further ado, here are the books I read in January 2020!

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Orange Is the New Black but without the comic relief
  • reveals how America’s prison system wastes lives for seemingly no reason
  • uncomfortably depressing to read, but an important story nonetheless
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • enemies-to-lovers m/m romance feat. the fictional First Son & British prince
  • definitely lives up to the hype!!
  • will (at least temporarily) heal your soul from the horrors of living in Trump’s America
Dominicana by Angie Cruz – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • amazing Dominican immigration rep set in the 1960s
  • harsh examination of the American Dream & the toll it takes
  • sparse writing style wasn’t really my absolute favorite
  • recommended for anyone interested in exploring immigrant experiences through stories
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • YA fantasy with a cast of complex characters who become a family
  • I don’t know why I waited so long to read this
  • not my typical read, but I got sucked into wanting to know more about the world & the characters

Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite book you’ve read that’s outside your typical genre? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

A Return to Blogging?

Hello out there, and welcome back to my long-dormant blog.

It’s been an embarrassingly long while since I’ve so much as loaded my own URL, much less sorted through views or comments or anything. I ought to apologize to anyone who’s popped over to my corner of the internet hoping for new content.

At the same time, I’m irresistibly drawn to the idea of keeping a public record of my life. Not to mention, I feel I learn so much about my own ways of thinking through blogging—and then, through keeping up with other people’s blogs, I learn a lot about how other people think. I’m at a big of a weird point in my life (I turned 30 yesterday😱) and I feel like I need somewhere to turn with all that weirdness.

I will not be blogging in a strictly bookish way. I probably won’t bother with images or graphics outside of what I can find in a quick image search. I’m not going to pretend I know where my content will be going, or that it will be of any use or interest to you, my readers, if you continue to exist. I’m just going to blog wherever the wind blows me. Maybe I’ll write about my first semester of grad school, or the books I’m reading this summer, or what the hell is happing to my journey as a writer—because trust me, it’s weird.

I don’t expect anybody to stick around. That’s been my mistake in the past: promising myself that I can keep people interested when I don’t know what I’m doing in the first place. That being said, if you like what I’m doing here, or if you care to offer your thoughts, I would love to hear from you. I hope this message finds you healthy and well in these cazy times.

Wishing you all the best,

[Buddy Read] Big Magic Pt 4: Trust + Divinity

Hello, and welcome back to Lady Gets Lit!

ICYMI, my good friend Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers and I decided to do another writing discussion series. Throughout the month of July, we’re going to be reading and discussing Elizabeth Gilbert’s creative manifesto, Big Magic. If you’re interested, you can catch up right here!

Since when did creativity become a suffering contest?

from ‘The Teachings of Pain’

This week, I did a lot of deep thinking about all of the ways I inflict suffering on myself, mostly because I feel I’m supposed to suffer as an artist.

I know how crazy this sounds. It’s not that I enjoy suffering, or that I wouldn’t experience pain if I didn’t do it to myself. But I can’t deny the ways I’ve treated myself like shit because somehow I got the notion that I don’t deserve any better.

Eleven summers ago, I was fresh off my high school graduation. I’d just started my first real job at Starbucks. Everyone I worked with was a good five years older than me at least, so I slid into my role as the baby of the store family.

I learned a lot from those guys in the months and years that followed—including the fact that I was spoiled and had no idea what it meant to live on my own and really take responsibility for myself.

They weren’t wrong. I was spoiled; I didn’t have to work in high school, and I only worked through college because my parents felt I needed to learn time management. I’d never had to want for anything growing up, but I was also highly aware of how lucky I was—and still am.

But as soon as I finished college, I made plans to move far away from home so that my ability to take responsibility could be put to the test. I made life as hard as possible for myself, working long hours, saving my money, living in two of the most expensive cities in America—all because I felt the need to prove myself to a world full of people who saw me as a child.

I developed a martyr complex when it comes to my creativity.

I beat myself up for the fact that I’m working full time and only have ten or so hours a week to put into writing a novel. Then I beat myself up because I don’t spend enough time with my friends, because I let this blog fall apart in less than six months, because my apartment’s cluttered and I keep procrastinating chores.

Reading Big Magic has been a real wake-up call for me.

I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t want to torture myself just because that’s somebody else’s idea of what it means to be a writer. I don’t want to suffer, and I don’t want to believe that I deserve to suffer for my art.

What would happen if I started to believe that God/The Universe wanted me to create? What would happen if I could trust that my writing loves me as much as I love it?

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

from ‘In Conclusion’

I’ve been moaning for months on this blog that I’m a workaholic, when it comes to writing, blogging, reviewing, everything. I’d like to think I’ve gotten a lot better—I no longer expect myself to log hours and hours at blogging when I’m not feeling inspired in that direction. My blog’s growth has slowed to a standstill as a result, but I’m mostly okay with that. In fact, as much as I don’t want to be a quitter, I think I’m going to put this blog on hiatus for a while and see what happens.

The truth is, I don’t know how to not take blogging seriously.

I know I need to be more playful with all aspects of my life. The more pressure I put on myself to produce great work, the harder it is for inspiration to break down my walls and give me the help I so desperately need. And while that obviously goes for my creative writing, it’s definitely true of this blog too. I don’t know how to do things halfway, and I don’t know how to have fun at blogging, not right now at least.

Maybe I will come back; maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll reignite my fun side by posting things on my half-defunct Tumblr account that I’ve had since 2010. Maybe I’ll be inspired to post reviews on Goodreads. Maybe I’ll get involved on Twitter. Who knows? All I know is, I need to take a step back and see what becomes of my writing as a result.

Have you read Big Magic? what do you think is the most important requirement to live a creative life? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,

[Buddy Read] Big Magic Pt 3: Persistence

Hello, and welcome back to Lady Gets Lit!

ICYMI, my good friend Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers and I decided to do another writing discussion series. Throughout the month of July, we’re going to be reading and discussing Elizabeth Gilbert’s creative manifesto, Big Magic. If you’re interested, you can catch up right here.

You must keep trying. You must keep calling out in those dark woods for your own Big Magic. You must search tirelessly and faithfully, hoping against hope to someday experience that divine collision of creative communion—either for the first time, or one more time.

from ‘The Beautiful Beast’

Persistence, I thought, might be the one part of creative living that I’ve got pretty well figured out.

For years, folks in my life have been silently (or loudly) wondering when I’m going to give up on writing and get serious about being an adult. For years, they’ve been wondering why I keep working in coffee even though it pays just barely enough to live minimally and is slowly but surely destroying my wrist cartilage. For years, they’ve been wanting to know when I’m going to finally put my bachelor’s degree to good use (read: become a teacher).

For years, I’ve been surrounded by well-meaning folks who think I’m wasting my time.

And yet, I persist. Partly out of stubbornness—because the more people imply that I should give up, the less likely that becomes. I persist because the idea of not writing, of focusing on some sort of practical career, makes me feel slightly sick. I persist because the years of my that I wasn’t writing much are hands down the worst years of my life. I persist because writing is what keeps me sane.

If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work—perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process.

‘The Shit Sandwich’

Here’s the part I’m not so great at dealing with: the frustration.

I know that being frustrated and rejected is a huge part of being a writer. I’m familiar with the story of how J. K. Rowling was rejected a million times. I know that it takes years to find an agent, and that’s okay too.

And yet I’ve been avoiding rejection for quite a while.

I’m great at persisting in creating things, but it’s been years since I’ve submitted a single word of my work for publication. I’m fine with continuing to move from one novel project to the next, but I’m too much of a perfectionist to revise my own work—because I hate seeing how imperfect it truly is.

I’m fine with the fact that I’m only in elementary school in writer years, but the possibility that I’ll be 60-something and still unpublished isn’t one that I relish.

Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness. At least then you will know that you have tried and that—whatever the outcome—you have traveled a noble path.

from ‘Success’

I still want that success, no matter how hard I try to deny it.

I’m admitting this now, in this blog post, because it’s something I know I need to work on if I want to become a better writer. I have to let go of my dream of success if I want to keep happily making stories. At the very least, I need to redefine my idea of what success looks like as a writer.

If success is publication, then I may never be successful. But if success is showing up every day and doing the work, then I’d like to say I’m on the right path.

If my worth is measured by the hours I put in, even when I’m tired, even when I’m cranky and hormonal, even when I’m depressed like no other—then I’m absolutely killing it.

If success is measured by devotion, then I’ve already dedicated nearly 15 years of my life to this craft—and I plan to devote many more in the future.

If success = persistence, then I will strive for that above all else. I will show up to the page, call out for my Big Magic, and see what happens. That’s a goal I can achieve.

Have you read Big Magic? What is something in your life that requires persistence? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,

[Buddy Read] Big Magic Pt 2: Permission

Hello, and welcome back to Lady Gets Lit!

ICYMI, my good friend Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers and I decided to do another writing discussion series. Throughout the month of July, we’re going to be reading and discussing Elizabeth Gilbert’s creative manifesto, Big Magic. If you’re interested, here’s my first post in the series!

You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.

from “Your Permission Slip”

This section of the book rocked me harder than I expected.

After all, I’ve just come off of Round 2 of The Artist’s Way. I’ve been writing—fiction—for over half my life at this point. I openly call myself a writer to pretty much anyone I meet.

And yet—in so many ways, I’m still waiting around for someone else to give me permission to live my creative dreams.

In the beginning of the section titled Permission, Gilbert begins by describing her parents. Despite being staunch Republicans, they decided what they wanted to do in life and did it, without asking permission. They raised Gilbert to see the world this way.

Here’s the thing: Gilbert acknowledges that a lot of us don’t have parents like hers. It’s pretty common, in creative circles, to bemoan parents who just don’t “get it,” who maybe want what’s best for us, but only when that looks the way they think it should.

I love my parents dearly. They love and support me in so many ways and are always available when I need advice. But that’s just the problem: I’m so good at asking for advice, asking for permission, that I don’t even notice when I’m taking power away from myself.

I completely understand this need for validation; it’s an insecure pursuit, to attempt to create. But if you’re working on your craft every day on your own, with steady discipline and love, then you are already for real as a creator, and you don’t need to pay anybody to affirm that for you.

from “Schooling”

Up until this week, I’d been seriously considering applying to MFA programs in creative writing. Despite all the years I’ve spent denying that I need a creative education in any formal sense, I’d decided that I wanted the experience—even though my conservative estimate shows me I’d be taking out $40,000 in student loans.

Elizabeth Gilbert talked me out of this. And it’s not just because of the section she spends bemoaning how many young writers do just that—put themselves in mega debt to get a piece of paper that says they’re serious about their craft. I realized that, for the most part, I want an MFA for the wrong reasons.

I want to spend 2-3 years honing my craft in the occasional company of other writers. I want writing mentors (despite the fact that I’m terrified of other writers, especially published ones). But more than that, I want an MFA because it will be a sign that I’m a Real Writer, and that other people in my life have to take me seriously.

The hard truth: just as I’m always seeking permission from external sources, I’m also far too concerned about making sure that everyone else takes me seriously as an artist.

I feel like I’ve spent half my life trying to justify my writing to other people, whether it’s telling my parents I want a master’s degree to make it easier to teach, or whether it’s holding myself to a ridiculously high standard and expecting myself to write to a specific word count each week. I treat writing like a part-time job when what it’s really supposed to be is fun. But I do this because I’m afraid that if I don’t treat my art like it’s serious business, no one else will treat it like it’s important.

In reality, it doesn’t matter what I do, people will always have their opinions about me. There will be plenty of people throughout my life who think it’s ridiculous that I got a B.A. from the University of Tulsa just to work at Starbucks and write novels I won’t let anyone read (yet). There will be plenty of people who think I’m wasting my potential no matter what I decide to do next. If I ever do publish a book, there will be people who say it sucks, people who say I can only write what I know, people who think I should stick to writing what I know.

Let people have their opinions. More than that—let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension) in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgements about you are none of your business.

from “Pidegeonholing”

I’ll be the first to say that I have a long way to go on this journey toward living my best creative life.

This week has surfaced a lot of insecurities I didn’t even recognize that I had. I’m still not sure if I want to go back to school someday or if I’m dreaming the wrong kind of dream entirely. Hell, I don’t even know if I should just rough draft my entire WIP or if I should slow it down, do some re-writing as I go, and see if I can write something I don’t completely hate.

What I do know is this: creative expression through writing is the most important part of my existence…but it also doesn’t matter that much.

Nothing I do or don’t write will change the world. It may not even change my world. Maybe I will die having never published a novel. Maybe I’ll wind up teaching high school English like everyone in my life seems to think I should. Either way, I’m going to keep writing, because it brings me joy—and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Have you read Big Magic? Do you ask permission instead of following your heart? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,

[Buddy Read] Big Magic Pt 1: Courage + Enchantment

Hello blogosphere, and welcome back to Lady Gets Lit!

Today, I’m bringing you a different kind of discussion post.

Inspired by both my recent buddy read with Dani @ Perspective of a Writer and my journey through The Artist’s Way with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers, I’m bringing you another discussion series.

This time, Erin and I are reading our way through Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

from Goodreads

Within the first few pages of Big Magic, I knew this book would wind up being important to me. It already came highly recommended by several of my close friends. Despite the fact that I’ve never read Eat Pray Love or any other of Gilbert’s books, I knew from the first few pages that her writing style resonated deeply with me.

When I refer to ‘creative living,’ I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

from ‘An Amplified Existence’

I have always been terrified of my own creativity.

Yes, I’ve always been writing, always found solace in my own words when I couldn’t find it anywhere else. But I’ve also always been too petrified to share the words that mean the most to me.

I live in fear, both that I won’t ever “make it” as a writer, won’t ever be able to publish my work, and that I will publish something and everyone will see how much of a fraud I am as a writer.

What struck me most about Elizabeth Gilbert’s words on courage is just how much fear is a part of it. She writes that creativity isn’t a path for the fearless at all, but rather that we need to embrace our fears.

This was so transformative for me to read. I’ve always felt that I’m not a strong enough writer because I’m so damn scared of my own words. A real writer wouldn’t be so afraid of what success might bring.

Instead, Gilbert argues that fear is a natural part of being a creative—because creativity requires that you jump into the unknown, and that’s what fear is really about. Instead of trying to get rid of fear, we’re to make space for it, while not allowing it to drive us.

Funny enough, this little pep talk was exactly what I needed right now.

Although I’ve been showing up to the page regularly, I’m terrified of my own WIP. I’ve said this before, but this time I mean it: this is the most personal, most emotional, most terrifying novel I’ve ever attempted to write. I’m horrified that I will get it wrong, that my characters will be flat and frustrating rather than nuanced and lovable in all their flaws. Even worse, I’m terrified of what will be said about me if I can’t write this right.

Reading the first section of Big Magic was the kick in the pants I needed.

Rather than trying to squash my terror because it seems un-writerly, I’m working to make space for it. I’m using my morning pages to acknowledge what’s holding me back, but I’m not letting my fear of failure keep me from trying in the first place.

I believe we are all capable at times of brushing up against a sense of mystery and inspiration in our lives.

from ‘Hard Labor vs. Fairy Dust’

Just like with The Artist’s Way, Big Magic is forcing me to suspend my argumentative disbelief in anything bigger than myself. I have to at least try to believe in the magic of inspiration.

In this segment of the book, Gilbert outlines her creative belief system, in which “ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form” who are constantly seeking to be made manifest through collaboration with a human being.

Ideas, she writes, come knocking at our mental doors every day, and most of the time we don’t even realize they’re there. When we sit up and pay attention, though, we can enter into a contract with the idea, where we commit to help the idea become manifest in some form.

Gilbert also argues against the notion that great artists are geniuses; rather, she subscribes to the Roman concept that creatives have a genius, a “guardian deity, the conduit of your inspiration.” Society has done a disservice to artists, since Roman times, by labeling them as geniuses, because it creates an impossible bar that they can never surpass.

Most of being a creative, according to Elizabeth Gilbert, is showing up and doing the work, whether or not your genius shows up that day.

I don’t sit around waiting to write until my genius decides to pay me a visit. If anything, I have come to believe that my genius spends a lot of time waiting around for me—waiting to see if I’m truly serious about this line of work.

from ‘Let It Come and Go’

Reading Big Magic reminds me just how hard I am on myself.

I expect myself to be some sort of genius, some sort of fearless writerperson who poops out brilliant stories like it’s nothing. In reality, all I can do is show up and hope that the creative forces that are external to me will take pity on me and give me some help when I really need it. But ultimately, that’s all I need to do: show up to the page and see what happens.

Really, it’s quite freeing.

What do you think? Have you read Big Magic? What’s your take on how creativity works? I’d love to know your thoughts! Until next time,

June 2019 Wrap-Up

Oh, June. What can I say about you? You flew by in a whirlwind as I started a new/old job, adjusted my sleep schedule, failed at showing up for yoga, dove into some awesome queer books, and completely lost track of blogging. Am I satisfied with how you turned out? TBD.

in my writing life

The best part about June is the fact that I kept writing.

It was hard. Adjusting to a new work schedule really drained me of a lot of my energy (cue: Drake). Still, I kept showing up for morning pages. I made plans to meet with a close friend who’s become my writing accountability partner over the last several weeks. I started clocking the hours I spend on my craft, rather than the words I’ve written. And I kept writing away at the WIP, details of which I hope to reveal soon.

in my reading life

At the beginning of June, I was so damn excited about reading for Pride Month…but I soon realized that there was no way I could read every book on my list. I hope to continue reading a buttload of queer books in the months to come—because they make me happy, goddammit.

On the bright side, at least I didn’t really buy any books in June…mostly…

How I did in June:

[8] total books read
[3] diverse books read
[0] books from the Unread Shelf
[1] re-read
[1] books for YARC 2019
[1] books for Reading Women 2019
[4] books for #OwnVoices Reading Challenge

Goodreads Progress: 42/75 books read (5 books ahead!)

books I read this month

💫🐼🌈💸GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.🌙 – YA Fantasy (#OV queer – f/f relationship)
💫🌈🗣🏛THE HOUSE OF IMPOSSIBLE BEAUTIES by Joseph Cassara (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Literary Fiction (queer – gay & trans rep – queer author)
💫🌈🗣🏛📱LEARNING CURVES by Ceille Simkiss (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.🌙 – Romance (queer & neurodiverse rep, partially #OV)
🌈🏛📱ALEX AS WELL by Alyssa Brugman (2013) – ⭐️⭐️.🌙 – YA Contemporary (intersex rep – non-OV)
💫🌈🗣📱💸I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST by Mason Deaver (2019) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.🌙 – YA Contemporary (#OV non-binary rep)
👓♻️THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron (1992)- ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Personal Growth
👓💸MEDITATION IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK by Jon Kabat-Zinn (2018) – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Personal Growth
🌈🗣🙋‍♀️💸SMALL TOWN HEARTS by Lillie Vale (2019) – – YA Contemporary (queer – bi+ rep)

📚 = #UnreadShelf 🏛= borrowed 📱= e-book 💸= purchased in 2019 👓=nonfiction 📋= ARC ♻️=re-read 🦕=classics (before 1970) 🌈 = lgbtq+ 💫 = diverse (POC, religion, disability) 🗣 = #OwnVoices 🙋‍♀️= Reading Women 🐼=YARC

on the blog

ICYMI, I was pretty much AWOL from my blog in June. I haven’t really felt motivated, in part due to a perceived lack of time, but in part because I just don’t really know who I am as a blogger yet. But I’ve decided that I’m okay with it. I will be here when I feel like it, and not when I don’t. Because I owe myself that right.

notable posts this month

awesome posts from around the blogosphere

Well, that’s all I have for now! How was your June? Did you do anything inspiring for Pride Month? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,

An Incredibly Long-Winded Ramble || The Artist’s Way Wrap-Up

Hello! Christine here! Welcome back to LADY GETS LIT!

First off, let me just apologize for having been so absent over the past couple of weeks. Turns out that starting back at my old job has been more of a transition than I wanted to admit. I’ve been adjusting to the sleep schedule, actually working closer to full-time hours, the sheer amount of energy I have to expend in any given shift… so needless to say, my blogging time has really slipped through the cracks.

But I’m here now, bringing you a very special post: the wrap-up to my collaborative blog series with Erin @ Flappers and Philosophers!

ICYMI, here’s the intro post, explaining why we decided to do this project and what The Artist’s Way is all about. But here’s the TL;DR: The Artist’s Way is a book and creative recovery journey by Julia Cameron. Throughout the 12-week process, participants undergo a kind of spiritual journey toward letting to of what’s keeping them blocked and getting back to the heart of their creative self. If you want to journey back through my previous posts in the journey, please do!

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic, “Closing Time”

I’ve been putting off writing this post for weeks now. Actually, it’s the whole reason I neglected to even write my Week 12 Check-In, although I did journal about it in my morning pages. I wasn’t ready for The Artist’s Way to be over. To be quite honest, having committed to this project is the one thing that kept me blogging over the last couple of months.

If I had to sum up the Artist’s Way in only a few words, for someone who’s never heard of it, much less gone on the journey, I would have to say this: The Artist’s Way isn’t a 12-week journey—it’s a lifelong journey.

Since this is my second time going through the 12-week process, I thought I’d share a little bit of what I’ve learned, what major shifts have occurred in my life over the past few months, and where I hope I’m headed next.

I began to take what’s working and leave what’s not.

Perhaps the simplest, but most important aspect of The Artist’s Way journey is learning to listen to yourself. It sounds like it would be incredibly easy, but the truth is that we are all influenced by external voices that tell us what we “should” be or do, how we “should” create—namely, that we shouldn’t create at all, unless it’s just a hobby.

The hardest part of the process, for me, is committing to doing Artist Dates, weekly adventures alone with yourself where you explore what your inner artist child needs and wants to do. I’m certainly not afraid of being alone, but I definitely don’t invest enough time in letting myself play, which is ultimately what creative recovery is all about.

Throughout the process, though, I learned to let go of things that are no longer serving me, whether it’s a job, a toxic friendship, a set of feelings about a situation, or even a story idea. Through listening to myself (especially through morning pages), I learned to listen to what I need and act accordingly—even if it means hurting someone else’s feelings by not living up to their expectations for me.

I acknowledged that I am a workaholic, just not in the traditional sense.

If you’ve followed my weekly updates, you know that I finally acknowledged the reality that I turn everything—including this blog—into work when it doesn’t have to be.

Because I’m addicted to feeling like I’m a productive citizen of my capitalist society, I let everything come before my right to play at writing. My need to feel productive not only keeps me from doing the self-care I need in order to be a happy and healthy person, but it also contributes to all the ways I sell myself short when it comes to my writing.

This is something I’m probably going to have to work through for quite some time. I will not say that I’ve mastered it, but I’ve done the hardest thing, which is becoming aware.

I began to re-frame my idea of what spirituality means.

Since growing up and abandoning my Christian faith, I’ve really struggled to have any God concept at all. Doing the Artist’s Way forced me to confront the reasons I’m so dead set on believing there is no god, and thus started me on the path to exploring what having faith in something beyond humanity would look like, for me specifically.

I won’t say that I’ve suddenly become religious; that’s not realistic, and honestly it’s just not me. But I’ve definitely started to open myself up to the possibility that I’m not in this alone, that maybe the Universe is looking out for me in whatever sense, and wants me to succeed and be happy.

I’ve started noticing all the tiny ways that things work out the way they need to (even when they don’t work out the way I want them to). I’ve re-committed myself to yoga and meditation, because I recognize that the most important thing I can do is be present with what is in each moment. Most importantly, I am open to that which is currently beyond my own understanding.

I’ve re-imagined what it means to be a writer, and what writing looks like in my life.

I’ve always been a writer, as long as I can remember, and I’ve been actively writing fiction for more than half my life at this point. That being said, I’ve always (but especially lately) put too much emphasis on quantifying my writing in ways that are ultimately really constricting.

As a writer, I feel the need to prove to the non-writing world just how much of a writer I am. It’s not enough to show up to the page each day and make something; I feel like I need to be able to show something of myself. It’s one of the draws to blogging, and it’s the reason I tend to record my weekly and monthly word counts—because if I can’t show something of my writing, am I really writing?

Doing the Artist’s Way this time around forced me to confront the ways I’ve turned writing—my passion—into work. Yes, there are aspects of writing novels that are damn hard…but it’s not supposed to be work all the time. If I’m not using my writing time as play time, as an exploration of who I am and how I’m feeling, and then turning that into a story, then what the hell is the point? If writing isn’t fulfilling on an deep internal level, there’s no point.

So I’m re-framing the way I look at writing. Instead of keeping track of word count, I’ve been clocking hours spent on my craft. Instead of only counting the hours I spend actively writing at my WIP, I’m tallying up time spent doing morning pages, time spent outlining or working on my plot, even time spent hashing out the story with a friend. Hell, I’m even counting the Artist Date I took this week—because moments I spend nurturing my inner artist are important steps toward becoming the artist I want to be.

I am actively working on letting go of my constant anxiety about time.

I turned 29 during this go round with the Artist’s Way, and it really hit me like a ton of bricks. At 29, I feel like I should have more of my life together than I actually do. As a kid, I imagined that I’d already be published by now. It’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realized just how long a process it is to become who you are meant to be—as a writer, but also as a human.

I am still figuring out who I am. I know I’m a writer, that I’m meant to create in that way, but I don’t know what that will look like five or ten years from now. I don’t know where I’ll be living, who my closest friends will be, whether I’ll still be blogging even six months from now. Hell, I don’t even know what I want this blog to look like next week, much less a year from now.

And I’m okay with all of that. The idea that I should have my life together, especially as a writer, is based on a false calculation of my own trajectory as a person, based on other people’s idea of what I should be. The truth is, I’m meant to still be figuring it out, because as a writer, I’m really only just now hitting the puberty stage.

The only way I can continue to grow is if I remain open to the fact that I’m still figuring it all out, and trust that I’m on the right track toward doing so, eventually. I can only grow when I’m open to the reality that I will never really be done growing. I can only change when I’m open to whatever life brings.

TL;DR: What’s Next?

I’ve been really struggling with what to do about this blog lately.

On the one hand, I’m not really motivated to be a book blogger in the “traditional” sense. I haven’t felt like writing reviews, even though I’ve been reading some incredible books lately. I don’t have the emotional energy to blog hop the way I know I “should” if I want to grow my blog.

But on the other hand, I don’t relish the thought of giving up on blogging yet again.

So I’ll be here, at least every once in a while. At the beginning of this year, I promised myself I would post twice a month, and I think that’s a completely reasonable goal.

I want to use the coming weeks as an opportunity to explore my blogging voice, writing the posts I’m drawn to write, and interacting when I have the energy to really connect with other bloggers.

Maybe I will never be a big influencer in the blogosphere; maybe my blog will remain difficult to categorize; maybe I won’t get as many ARCs as I once did. I am okay with all of this.

I’d rather stay quiet and invisible while being myself than try to live up to someone else’s idea of success.

If you’re still here, having read through the entirety of this incredibly long-winded post, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I know this blog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I appreciate those of you who’ve stuck with me over the past several months.

Your support and kind encouragement mean the world to me, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve discussed.

Are there any particular posting styles of mine that you appreciate and would like to see more of? How has your month been? Let me know any and all of your thoughts in the comments, and until next time,