Hello everyone! Thanks for checking in with me today. I appreciate those of you who read and comment on my posts—it seems silly, but it makes me feel a little more loved every day, which is super helpful for my mental state at the moment.
This is going to be a long post, so buckle your seatbelt, folks.
March is always a weirdly transitionary month for me, and this year was no different. March is when I’m usually trying to pull myself together in various ways: from dragging my brain kicking and screaming out of the depths of depression to assessing what I want to do with my life. I’d like to think this blog is part of that.
I took the last week to step back from the Internet and think a little bit about my relationship to it. As someone who’s struggled for years with low self-esteem bordering on downright self-hatred, I tend to depend a lot on other people for validation and confidence boosts. It took me years to figure out that I could validate myself and I’m still not very good at it. When I think about the reasons I started blogging, and the reasons I recently revamped my blog this year, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t about validation. Studies are constantly circulating, detailing how getting “likes” and comments on blog posts, tweets, Instagram, etc. all feed into dopamine, commonly known as one of the “feel good” neurotransmitters. Add to that the fact that less than a year ago I moved from one of the biggest cities in America to a town of around 1,000 people—where I’m far from friends and family and dependent on my fiancé and his mother for human interaction—and it’s no wonder I feel this way. I’m blogging from a dire need for connection—and a deep fear that I’m doing it wrong.
Aside from that, I’ve been working on reconfiguring my methods of self-care this month. One of the few things that has worked for me for over a decade is journaling. This month, I’ve been writing every single day (with maybe a few misses here or there) about how I’m feeling, what repetitive negative thought processes are bothering me—and why these thoughts are ultimately untrue. I also record “moment of self-love,” something nice I did for myself in the last 24 hours, and one thing I’m grateful for that day. Sometimes it gets repetitive; sometimes cognitive distortions come back in new forms, even after I’ve debunked them. Even when it doesn’t feel like I’m making tangible progress, I know that I feel better when I’m productive…which brings me to my writing.
in my writing life
I’ve always admired writers who have such a meticulous writing process that they can write an entire blog series or even, somehow, entire books about writing novels. I have several of these writing books, believe me, and I still have no idea what my process is. This month was very much of the three steps forward, two steps back, five steps sideways variety.
What did that look like, exactly? There was a heaping plate of self-doubt involved, let me tell you. The funny thing is, this novel project is the one I am most sure of, out of all of them. Of all the things I’ve tried to write, this is the one. Not only am I legitimately qualified to write this story (which is comforting), but I am so passionate about it. But I’ve learned that passion doesn’t necessarily quell the voice of doubt that says “just because you’ve finished three novels in your life doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.” So for weeks, I debated various details: whether or not to give a side character [X detail] or what to do with the backstory for another side character, or even what goddamn tense and POV to use.
And yet, after all that, I did manage to get some writing done. My goal for March was to write 15,000 words. I ended up with 15,025 words (20,200 if you count the days I re-wrote certain scenes). I’m very near a quarter of the way into this novel and I’m feeling pretty damn good about it, finally, after weeks of anxiety.
I’m going to call this a success.
in my reading life
The Diverse Reads 2017 challenge for March was books about characters with disabilities. This one was difficult for me, in that I didn’t really know where to look, and that I was afraid of reading non-#OwnVoices books. As it turns out, both books I read were not #OwnVoices for that particular disability, but I thought they both did a great job.
This month I also wanted to read some of the feminist non-fiction that’s been collecting digital dust on my kindle for years, waiting for me to get around to it.
- Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom — blind protagonist — 4 of 5 stars
- Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom — 3 of 5 stars
- Paperweight by Meg Haston — mental illness is April’s Diverse Reads challenge — 5 of 5 stars
from the TBR shelf
- Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline — 3 of 5 stars
- Perfect Match by Jodi Piccoult — 3 of 5 stars
- The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf — 4 of 5 stars
- No Turning Back by Estelle B. Freedman — 4 of 5 stars
- Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit — 4 of 5 stars
- Lit by Mary Karr — 4 of 5 stars
- The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti — 4 of 5 stars
- I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley – 4 of 5 stars
spotlight: You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
I technically read this at the end of February, and I have also already blasted my praise of it everywhere I can think, but it was hands down the most amazing book I read this month. A beautiful written **and illustrated!!** account of Julia, a sarcastic, capital-d Deaf graffiti artist who learns to let her walls down and find friendship, I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already purchased it.
on the blog
- I decided to post only one book review a week on Fridays, either highlighting an awesome diverse read or a problematic book.
- In honor of International Women’s Day, I wrote a post about the top 5 feminist authors I’ve read, as well as some I look forward to reading in the near future.
- I started a series of discussion posts called Comfort Reads, where I revisit books I’m re-reading and talk about how my thoughts have changed and stayed the same. So far, Books 1-5 of Harry Potter are up.
- COMING SOON: My goal for April is to really start doing some discussion posts, particularly about some complicated bookish issues, both in my personal view and in the community at large.
awesome posts from around the blogosphere
- Fadwa @ Word Wonders wrote about her perspective on intersectional feminism for Women’s History Month, including opinions from others around the blogosphere.
- Ava @ Bookishness and Tea compiled a list of marginalized book bloggers you should be following which essentially doubled the awesomeness in my WordPress reader!
- Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews wrote about her experience being aromantic
- Krysta @ Pages Unbound wrote this wonderful discussion post that points out why it’s important to do your research as a blogger and use the skills from school/work when it comes to writing for your blog.
- Kat @ Kat Cho Writes compiled a great resource list for reading and writing diversely
- Puput @ Sparkling Letters posted the 2nd edition of the Diversity Corner on Asian Representation
Over the past month, I realized that I tend to put too much pressure on my productivity and blame myself for falling short. My favorite YouTube yoga instructor, Adriene, often starts off each practice by having you set an intention for the practice or your day ahead, and then to consider that intention already done. I tend to be a goal-oriented person, but I find that by calling my goals intentions, I both get more done and give myself more freedom to forgive myself for my failings.
This month, my intentions include continuing what I’m already doing: I intend to write another 25,000 words of this novel without doing any revising—just word vomit. I’m also going to revamp this blog: new name, new theme, new discussion posts, new attitude. Stay tuned!
Thank you to those of you who’ve stuck with me thus far in my little blogging journey. Having a sense of community is so important, and I’m grateful for those of you who reach back when I reach out. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday and a great week ahead. Happy April!