Sunday, July 25, 2021

RWLB

One of my favorite podcasts does a monthly episode where the host and one of her friends discuss what they're reading, watching, listening to, and buying (RWLB). I love these episodes and thought it would be fun to do a blog-post version. 


This will be a recurring series of posts, so look for it around the 25th of each month. 


Reading

I had to start with this category of course! 


Right now, I'm almost done with the book The House of the Spirits. I am a Patreon supporter of the Novel Pairings podcast and they read this book with their Classics Club. I'm always a little behind but reading a book that's being discussed on a podcast makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable. 



That being said...this is a hard book. It's dense. The chapters are long, the pages are full, and Allende's story-telling style, while completely stunning, can also be a bit much. I've been meaning to read something by Allende since my high school Spanish teacher waxed poetic about the Chilean author's sometimes overlooked contribution to the literary canon. I will be glad to have read it and I'm super impressed with Allende, but it was more intense than I was bargaining for during the busiest part of summer. 


To balance The House of the Spirits, I picked up 11/22/63. My book club assigns extra credit books to each member (there are only three of us), and this was my extra credit book. I'm loving it. The book is long, but the story moves quickly.



Watching

My husband and I just finished watching The Bureau, a French TV series about the French version of the CIA, the DGSE. We watched it on SundanceNow. The show has subtitles which is not my favorite, but I fell in love with the characters. Even though this was definitely a spy show, there were plenty of emotional arcs and lots of character development. The last two seasons seemed a little rushed, but overall, we loved watching this. And I like to imagine that my ability to understand and speak French improved (it didn't). 

bonjour, oui, l' arret, donc...I'm practically fluent


Listening to

Peloton did a series of classes set to Spice Girls music and now I'm reliving my youth. In high school I loved, loved, loved the Spice Girls and I'm finding out they still bring me so much joy. Their music makes me want to dance and energizes me. I'm even thinking of rewatching their movie (which I had memorized back in the day), Spice World. My kids will make fun of me until the end of time, but I do not care!

spice up your life!



Buying

We are getting ready for vacation next week (yay!!!), so it feels like I've been buying a ton of stuff. The kids and I went to Target and loaded up on travel size everything. But the thing I'm most excited about is this new beach bag I ordered. I've used Scout bags before and loved them. I got an even bigger one than I had before because a family of 6 means a lot of towels, sunscreen, and books are required for a day at the beach. I love how lightweight and durable this bag is.




For some reason, this year I can't stop buying tank tops. They seem to be everywhere and I keep throwing them in my cart. I bought two at Old Navy and the other day at Target I grabbed another one! I don't know if it's just me or the stores are really pushing tanks this year, but I can't get enough. 


That was a really fun post to write! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know in the comments what you're RWLB. 




Friday, July 16, 2021

On Writing in the Summer or...Not Writing in the Summer


 Every book on writing will tell you the same thing: you should do it daily. Set a word count goal, a minute goal, a page goal, and then stick to it. Be strict about writing daily. 


I suck at this.


In seasons when my kids attended school...I'm talking IN-PERSON school...I could set up a daily schedule and pretty much stick to it. I would write early and then maybe even get in a little editing just before the buses started circling the cul-de-sac, bringing my children home in the afternoon. 

i never realized how much i love that big, yellow bus

Virtual learning was a challenge but I found a rocky rhythm that made writing *almost* daily possible. The kids' time in classes would overlap for a couple of hours and I would take advantage of that time to shower and/or write. I missed a day here and there, but we were living through a pandemic so I tried to cut myself some slack. There were even some weekends that I managed to sneak away to write at my desk or sit amid the chaos of family life with a notebook on my lap trying to see where a story would go. It wasn't easy, but it was possible. 


This summer writing has felt impossible.


While the pandemic is not completely over, life has returned to semi-normal for my vaccinated family. And, after a year of being stuck at home, we want to go out and do all the things. There are camps and classes, friends coming over and time spent at friends' houses, big two-week vacations, and little weekend getaways. We use the standard response of improv when asked if we can commit to any new fun thing, we say, "Yes, and..." We add trips to get ice cream, baking projects when the friends come over, and any other fun and exciting thing we can do to augment the life in our days.

ice cream at the pool? yes, please!
And we barely make it to our beds at night, exhausted by all the living we did during the day. 


I am glad for this season and when I look back at this summer I'm sure I will be amazed at all the things we did. This is what it feels like to embrace life, I think. But my writing suffers for it. 


Routines change weekly and the time I set aside with the best intentions for writing invariably ends up being spent in a meaningful conversation with one of my kids or on a quick clean-up of the house which has also been neglected or driving a carful of teens and preteens to a pool. 


This week I'm going to try to change things up. I will have a few hours in a coffee shop and I will use them to write...even though I detest writing in public. Hopefully, this week will kick start my summer writing habits and I will get back into some semblance of a routine before fall. 


My husband wonders sometimes why I stress so much about writing every day (or at least every weekday). I always give him the same answer. The main reason I'm focused on adding writing time into my daily schedule is that it's good for me. It feels like a long exhale after it's done. My muscles relax as I feel the freedom that comes with knowing I've reached inside of my brain and pulled out something creative, emotional, or silly. Writing makes me feel alive and like I am a contributing member to the world of words I love so much. 

in the zone

 Don't get me wrong, writing isn't always easy or pain-free, but in the end, I feel unburdened in the best possible way and that frees me up for more living. 


What life-giving habit do you need to make more time for in this season?