April 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES

  • Paneling/Signing + Meeting Toronto writers
    • This past month, I got to meet some amazing people in person! There’s a group of writers in Toronto who are incredibly talented and kind and welcoming. I hadn’t met any other writers in person before, though I have met authors. We met up at the panel and signing at Chapters Brampton with authors E.K. Johnson, Julie Dao, Rachel Hartman, and Morgan Rhodes! It was an exciting day of a brilliant panel with amazing questions and gorgeous answers. We had drinks later and talked about various writerly things that drew some strange looks from our server. I was so nervous but so excited and it was all so worth it. Writing is a solitary experience, but having this wonderful people in my life now makes it much less lonely and terrifying.
  • TAKING A BREAK FROM NOVELS
    • So, April was the month of getting things done. In order to accomplish that, I had to set the books aside for a while. It was a tough choice considering how many books I have set for my reading goal, but a necessary one. I reached a point where novels weren’t quite right for me. You’ll see what I managed to read this month and most of these books were poetry! I try to read as much poetry as I can these days to work on my voice and improve my prose. Not that I’m copying lines or phrases of course, just grabbing inspiration to pull together words in ways I hadn’t imagined before. Seriously, poetry helps.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo
    • I was very ambitious this month, desperately trying to get out this story that’s been in my head and growing and growing for several months now. I planned and plotted and expanded this little idea into something real. I had an outline and character bios and themes to touch upon. I did my research again and again until I figured out all the details of this book. It’s the first contemporary I’ve written, this #BakingFigureSkaterBook, and that proved to be a real challenge. With DVpit in the same month, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to accomplish both books. Annnd unfortunately, I was right. It was fun getting to play around with this book though! I didn’t win Camp NaNo, but that doesn’t mean I won’t finish this book.
  • Revising WHEN THEY BECKON
    • This was the other book that occupied my time. I’d planned on finishing revisions in February, but uh… things didn’t go as planned. So I wanted to get it all done in time for DVpit. 14k words scrapped, rewritten chapters, countless tweaking and polishing… A lot was accomplished! I focused more on that than my YA Contemporary. It’s the book of my heart, the one that I couldn’t not write, the story and characters filling my head for over two years now!
  • DVpit
    • I did a post on this pitch event because it was pure ridiculousness and nothing like I imagined, especially since I’d participated in DVpit last October with less than 10 likes from agents in total. Anyway, that happened. That was surprising. I’m still dealing with the aftershocks of that event, but hopefully I’ll have some news on that in the near future! Who knows!

BOOKS I’VE READ

  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ★★★
  • Sweet Persuasions by Rochelle Alers ★★★
  • Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics ★★★★★
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay ★★★★★
  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire ★★★★★
  • Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook ★★★
  • A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver ★★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED

  • Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
  • Risen (2016)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
  • Berlin Syndrome (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED

  • Timeless (2016-)
  • Once Upon a Time (2011-)
  • New Girl (2011-2018)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Imposters (2017-)
  • Into the Badlands (2015-)
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Post-DVpit and Pinching Myself

Uh. So. Things happened on Wednesday when my tweet did much, much better than I had ever anticipated or even imagined. Last year, I got less than ten likes from different agents in total across six tweets.

This year, things were much different.

dvpit tweet

I didn’t go viral. I didn’t get national celebrity status. I didn’t make the news. But I did get all this attention for my little book. In general, I like to think that I’m a humble person, dreaming big but being realistic. Though I dream about working full-time as an author, I don’t expect to be raking in the big bucks, swimming around in cash, or having enough to throw to charity and still live more than comfortably. No, that’s SUCH an impossibility and it’s a joke for me to even consider that.

All I want to do is earn enough as an author to live comfortably. That’s it.

Sometimes it feels like a big dream because, while I’ve been middleclass and even close to upper-middleclass at one point, my family has had its ups and downs. We have debt piling up, emergencies taking away what we’ve saved, things that always got in the way of making the most of what we have. Sure, who doesn’t dream about being filthy rich?

I’m a daydreamer.

And yet I don’t like getting my hopes up.

The thing about DVpit is that it’s an amazing opportunity for marginalized creators to have their voices heard. While I wasn’t about to scroll through the tweets much, it’s clear that it is a very active. A lot of writers participated, as did agents and editors. I fully expected mine to get hidden beneath it all, just as it did before. I’ve never made it into contests or had thousands (or even hundreds) of followers to support me. I don’t have the mental and emotional capability to reach out to people every day.

My phone went off all day. Retweets, likes, comments! Agents, editors, friends, other writers, bookbloggers, and so many others! I checked my notifications briefly while I was at work, unable to fully process what’s going on aside from seeing the numbers rising. Because I work in a patisserie, I don’t have much time to use my phone and I definitely can’t ever use my laptop there. So, as all this attention was happening, I was working and thinking, No, this is ridiculous and NO FREAKNG WAY.

I didn’t fully process it until tonight when I was showing my mom what happened.

This pitch existed in several different forms since last October’s DVpit. It’s been tweaked and tweaked until it came to this version and I still wasn’t entirely happy with it but I threw it out there. I guess it worked? Over 60 agents expressed interest, over a dozen editors did as well.

What did I do? I waited until I could breathe and the names and numbers weren’t blurring from my anxiety. It felt like there was so much pressure on me, that my book was getting so hyped and didn’t even deserve it. My book? HA. My book would never be so hyped—but I was wrong.

I only hope I deserve it all.

Once I calmed down, I wrote down the names of the agents and editors by hand. I organized them alphabetically by literary agency/publishing house. And then I started plugging all this info into a spreadsheet, keeping track of what they wanted from me. And then, I decided who I wanted to query. Just like regular querying, I’m doing these in batches, but also making sure the agents I’d love to have represent me are the ones who get it first.

Now, some queries and materials are out there.

It feels like I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Through all this, I’m relying on my friends to help me figure out my thoughts and reminding me of how amazing this all is. They’re all seeing it, so it must be real, right? It’s not a dream. Something I joked about—wow, just wait, I’m going to get SOOOOOO many likes—became real.

This happened.

I can hardly believe it.

Fingers crossed for good news to come!

March 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES

  • Nonfiction piece on Ruru Reads
    • ICYMI: I had a nonfiction piece about first love and being fetishized on Ruru Reads that you can read here! I also wrote an open letter to go along with the publication in case people I know in real life read this piece and have some thoughts, which you can read here.
  • Working on Multiple Projects AT ONCE IS A LOT OF WORK WHY DID I DO THIS
    • So I’m trying to be ambitious and get a lot of things done. There are so many ideas in my head and so little time to get them all down. Sometimes I just start projects and let them sit for a while now that I’ve got some words down for them. At first, I was beating myself up over the fact that I did this with both RivalAssassinsWIP/B&B and BakingFigureSkaterBook/RFRE, but I realized I did this before. I wrote the beginning of WQC while I was drafting WTB because I needed to get that opening scene out so I can focus on WTB. And then as I was doing revisions on WTB, I started THTS because I had the beginning perfectly formed in my head.
    • So basically, I realized I’ve been doing this multiple times. Start, get the voice, and return to the main thing that I get done. It’s not always novel-length stories either. There are some short stories in my folders that are incomplete or in  need of serious, little things the size of a chapter or two in my novel-length projects that flow out in the moment so I can silence all the noise.
    • Maybe I’ll write a full post on that silencing-the-noise thing. I was telling someone the other day that I don’t have characters speaking to me or imagine worlds first like they do, I’m one of those writers who has an idea that’s like a seed and it grows and grows – or ideas like a web that’s constantly expanding. One small point that grows and expands until it’s this whole thing. And, sometimes, the starting point just needs to get down before I start building it, just so it feels like it’s getting the attention it demands.
  • No longer the New Girl at work
    • I’m adjusting to my job well, I think! I’m getting the hang of things to the point where I’m being allowed to help train the new person at work. It’s a little stressful because I don’t do things perfectly and there are still things I’m uncertain about, but it’s nice to look at it as seeing all the things I have learned and can do. That’s kinda why I like my accountability threads on Twitter – being able to visualize my progress and look at how far I’ve come.
  • Struggling to enjoy books
    • I do read a lot lately, but I might be burning out. Last year, I had a goal of 50 books. This year, my goal is 100. It’s a big jump and who knows if I’ll actually accomplish it. I don’t have as much time to read anymore because my commute to work isn’t as long as my commute to school. And books lately haven’t been as good as I hoped they were. I’ve been losing interest. Maybe in April I won’t strive to read as much as I planned (8-10 books per month) and just focus on my WIPs.
    • In trying to combat that lack of interest in novels, I’m trying to read more poetry! It’s an interesting adjustment and it does help me work on my prose and vocabulary so my writing isn’t repetitive or dull. That’s not to say that people who don’t read poetry write in repetitive or dull ways, but my writing gets that way. It’s my extra boost of inspiration especially since my writing often stems from a single line that’s beening playing over and over again in my head until’s written down.
  • Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo
    • this is part of my ambitious streak! So, in combination with working on multiple projects at once, I’m trying to get a schedule together to accomplish my goals. In the mornings, I’ll be writing. In the evenings, I’ll be editing. Since I do want a life outside writing, however, that means I won’t be cramming in edits every night which is fine with me. Who knows if I’ll win Camp NaNo? I’m still going to try and use this month as motivation to be productive. Hopefully I won’t get stressed out and hate myself if I don’t accomplish that 60k word count I’m aiming for.

BOOKS I’VE READ

  • Everless by Sara Holland ★★★
  • A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole ★★★
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ★★★
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory ★★★
  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest ★★★
  • This Impossible Light by Lily Myers ★★★
  • Easy by Marie Ponsot ★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED

  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Love, Simon (2018)
  • Tomb Raider (2018)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)
  • Expedition China (2017)
  • When We First Met (2018)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED

  • This is Us (2016-)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
  • Versailles (2015-)
  • Timeless (2016-)

Counting: A Non-Fiction Piece on Ruru Reads

You can find the non-fiction piece referred to in this post here on Ruru Reads.

Non-fiction has always been terrifying to me. Writing already makes me feel so bare and vulnerable. Having this piece out there means so much to me, I can hardly explain it. With that said, it’s important to acknowledge that others might be affected by this piece in some way or have opinions. Feel free to email me about this if you must, but please do not discredit how it felt to me. Your truth might not match mine, but it is still my truth and experience.

To my ex-boyfriend who inspired the piece:

Know that I am not holding this grudge against you. We were young. I know I hurt you and, if you read this, then you know that you hurt me. The problem about our relationship was that we weren’t suited for each other. We also didn’t understand the complexity of each other and what we were together. I hope you’ve grown as a person, that you understand what you made me realize was wrong and that you showed me what I could or couldn’t bear. You taught me so much about myself and what I want in a relationship. You taught me to think about others’ happiness in addition to my own.

But bad things happened during our relationship, things that didn’t happen because of you or because of our relationship. It was not a good time for me. My mind was dark and my heart was broken and my life didn’t seem worth it. I wasn’t capable of handling a relationship while navigating my sadness and trying to adapt to my changing life after serious mental health challenges. Maybe, at another point of time, we could have tried to make it work. I don’t regret that it ended and I’m sure you’re much happier now with someone else, just as I am. I’m sorry I hurt you. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, or to inspire such anger and resentment. We didn’t understand what we were doing or what was wrong. We were never meant to be.

To my high school classmates who didn’t understand why that relationship ended after so many were rooting for us:

The fear of disappointing you all stopped me from ending it sooner. The fact that so many people loved and cheered for this relationship made me feel like I was the villain, that I hurt this by who loved me so fiercely. The truth is that I didn’t feel loved, I felt like a piece to collect. This piece might shock you to know how I truly felt and you still might not understand what was so upsetting or what was wrong with what happened. I hope that you’ll eventually understand. I was a highly-visible minority and I felt the implications of that every single day. When it was highlighted even more, it hurt. I wanted to be more.

To other POC who faced similar circumstances:

I know it hurts. I wish we didn’t have to endure it. I wish it wasn’t so dehumanizing and belitting and painful. I wish we could be loved as individuals, that we didn’t have to realize that the person we loved treated our race and/or ethnicity as a commodity. It’s not a selling point on a person. It’s an identity, but not the only one that matters. I deserved to feel loved as a whole, not for pieces of me. We deserve that. Even if it’s not what they intended or they don’t realize what they’re doing, intent doesn’t erase the effect.

 

 

February 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES:

  • the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang
    • Team Canada!! Virtue/Moir!!! All the winter sports!!! I don’t care for sports in general, but I’m always drawn in by the winter Olympics. It’s the only time I get invested in sports. I basically watched nothing else but news and the Olympics.
  • Trying to sort of my scheduling for work, reading, and writing
    • The thing I hated about school was that it didn’t just end when classes ended for the day. I worked on school stuff before, between, and after classes during weekdays. On weekends, I worked on assignments: research, papers, lab reports, etc. I wrote in every spare moment. I binged books the rest of the time, often committing to one book a week. These days, it’s much different.
    • In general, I like my job. Change has always been a challenge for me though. Right now, I’m still in the process of settling into my job. I’m learning the ins and outs of it, increasing my product knowledge every day, figuring out how to make drinks, learning the faces and preferences of regulars – oh my gosh, there is so much to know. I’m learning quickly. The thing I haven’t fully figured out yet is scheduling my reading and writing. Luckily, I get my work schedule in advance, but I’m still struggling to fit in the stuff that makes me really happy.
  • New writing projects
    • This month, my writing muse is back! I plotted out the skeletons of my next projects: the WTB sequel; my rival assassins book; and my YA contemporary. They’re getting more fleshed out along the way, but the fact that I had enough inspiration to figure out the main details is HUGE. I even started drafting my rival assassins book, aka B&B (and you can follow my progress through my #RivalAssassinsWIP tag on Twitter or just the thread).
    • The Olympics have also fueled my inspiration for my YA contemporary, which is now going to figure both baking and figure skating – so that will be super exciting. I meant to finish B&B first, but the inspiration got the best of me and, whoops, I guess I have two WIPs going on at the same time plus revisions for WTB? My accountability thread is here with the hashtag #BakingFigureSkaterBook (it’s long, I know, whatever).
    • This isn’t a good idea. I do not recommend having multiple projects going on at the same time but I do not have self-control right now.
  • CP Notes and Revisions
    • My CPs have provided amazing feedback. My heart breaks each time I go over their notes because I wish I was perfect and the MS needed no adjustments, but that’s obviously not the case. I’ve started revisions and hope to have a polished MS in time for the next DVpit. That’s a little less than 2 months from now, which is loads of time for me!

BOOKS I’VE READ:

  • City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty ★★★★
  • The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe ★★★
  • Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne ★★★★
  • The Harlot Countess by Joanna Shupe ★★★
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo ★★★★★
  • Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco ★★★★
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black ★★★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED:

  • The Danish Girl (2015)
  • Riptide (2017)
  • Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)
  • Moulin Rouge (2001)
  • Mudbound (2017)
  • Baywatch (2017)
  • Seventh Son (2014)
  • Everest (2015)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED:

  • This is Us (2016-)
  • Myths & Monsters (2017-)
  • Big Brother: Celebrity Edition (2018-)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Versailles (2015-)

January 2018 Reflections

Every month, I’m going to do an overview of the books I’ve read, the films and television shows I’ve watched, and the things that have happened to me. Nothing big, just to keep track of what I’ve got going on and provide an update of my life.

January has been an eventful month with major life changes. 2018 is off to a great start.

OTHER LIFE THINGS:

  • New blog!
    • This little thing is brand new as of this past month. I wanted to start a blog a while back after having Tumblr, Twitter, and various other social media platforms. Finally, I’ve done it! This blog now exists for posts on writing, mental health, and various other topics.
  • I got a new laptop!
    • After saving up and draining the last of my student loans, I got a new laptop. I wanted to put it off until I had a job, but my laptop kept breaking down every week or so. Additionally, I needed a laptop so I could work on my WIPs and apply for jobs. So, a laptop was purchased. It’s not amazing, though it is definitely an improvement on the little slice of junk I had before.
  • I got a job at a French patisserie!
    • While I was in school, I wasn’t allowed to work because of my mental health. That has impacted my work experience, but luckily, I was hired for a job that makes me super happy. Pastries are my go-to for bad days and now I get to work with them and eat them and talk to people about them!
  • New CPs have changed my life and improved WTB
    • I’ve had beta readers, but not critique partners!
    • In December, I met my CP Marie who is AMAZING and THE SWEETEST and I ADORE HER AND HER HISTORICAL MS. You can follow her on Twitter and her blog!
    • In January, I was matched with my CP Rachel through Wendy Heard and Tracie Martin’s CP Matchmaking and she is INCREDIBLE, so kind and generous with an enormous imagination. You can follow her on Twitter and her blog!
    • These ladies have such cool stories and everyone should be looking forward to reading their stories. I’m so blessed and grateful to work with them.
  • Lasik Eye Surgery
    • After years of asking to do this, but having to wait until I finished university and my vision stabilized, I got my graduation gift from my mom. Lasik! It’s been a week since the surgery and everything’s been going great. My eyesight is not perfect (and sadly will never be thanks to my abnormally large pupils), but I no longer need glasses! The pain is gone and the world is beautiful.

BOOKS I READ: (8/100)

Last year, I read nearly 130 books.
This year, my goal is to read 100.
  • Hold Me by Courtney Milan ★★★★
  • Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan ★★★★
  • North to You by Tif Marcelo ★★★
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao ★★★★
  • The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin ★★★
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie ★★★
  • My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin ★★★★
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling ★★★

FILMS I WATCHED:

While I watch several films each year, I’ve never kept track. Time for a change.
* means rewatch
  • Gifted (2017)
  • The Greatest Showman (2017)
  • The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)
  • Jackie (2016)
  • Their Finest (2016)
  • One Day (2011)*

TV SHOWS I WATCHED:

  • The Gifted (2017-)
  • Mary Kills People (2017-)
  • This is Us (2017-)
  • Black Mirror (2011-)
  • Knightfall (2017-)
  • Versailles (2015-)
  • Myths & Monsters (2017-)

 

New Year, New Challenges

The end of 2017 brought me a sense of major accomplishment.

The beginning of 2018, however, has brought feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.

A new year is always difficult for me. Winter, on its own, is a difficult time of elevated levels of depression from staying indoors and a lack of warmth and sunlight, frequent socialization that gets draining for introverts like myself, watching the numbers of my bank account dwindle from spoiling friends and family, and most of all, the resolutions.

Resolutions kick my ass every single year. There is so much I want to accomplish and it feels like I’m running out of time. While I know I’m being silly and there is plenty of time, my overachiever mindset brings out the best and the worst in me. My mind is stuck in this loop of you should have done more by now. It’s a painful cycle and I need to break it.

The biggest challenge so far is reading and writing.

My reading goal this year is 100 books, which isn’t impossible since I managed to read nearly 130 books last year between coursework and studying. My writing goal is to revise my main project, When They Beckon, so I can dive into querying again soon. My hope for this year is to sign with an agent. 

As for reading… I can do 100 books. That’s like 8 books a month. Currently, I’m planning on getting through 10 books a month. What am I going to read? I have no idea. Last year, I drowned in romance novels and it was beautiful. Maybe I’ll expand my range of romance novels since they brought me so much happiness, brightening up the darkest, dreariest days. Maybe I’ll explore more fantasy and sci-fi because those are my genres for writing. 

The problem is that I don’t feel like I’ve written or read enough. It’s only been 10 days, so why am I freaking out? It’s ridiculous. So far, I’ve read three books. Three! That’s a decent number. But, considering how desperate I was to read while I was in school, this feels like nothing. In my mind, I’m in a slump. Nothing has been holding my attention. Books I had on hold at the library and had been anticipated didn’t hold me. One by one, I had to return them, unfinished.

As for writing, I wrote THREE new short stories this year. I have new critique partners and I’ve been working on stuff for them. I spent the end of the year doing major revisions on WTB, though it still needs some polishing before I send it off into the world again. I have done a lot. I want to do more. What I’ve done doesn’t feel like enough.

I’m also in a slump. I’m someone who writes every day in some way. I finish books within a few hours. But these last several days? My attention keeps wandering. My interest quickly deflates. Books I’ve been anticipating keep disappointing me. I don’t know what to read next. Usually, I crave a certain kind of book. Right now? I have no idea. My writing feels flat and lifeless. Reading helps, but I’m struggling with reading. If I’m struggling with reading, I’m struggling with writing.

This cycle sucks. We’re only ten days into 2018 though. This feeling of failure and sense of urgency is unnecessary. These thoughts and feelings are also terrible on my mental health. I have to stop thinking that I can’t do things, that I’m not creative or productive or worthwhile. I have to stop those thoughts before they turn into a downward spiral.

So, here’s my plan: take a step back, reconsider, and (try to) relax. I need to make realistic timelines. I need to assess my goals. I need to stick to the daily tasks I set in my planner. I need to schedule without stressing myself out. I need to be easier on myself.

Not everything is in my control and I need to make peace with that.

2018 is going to be a good year. It will. It has to be.