Writing and Stuff

I’ve been writing a lot lately, which is really great except that pretty much all my creative juices are going into my story and I have nothing left over for this blog. That makes me feel guilty, because this blog is a commitment to myself as much as it is entertainment for my readers, so I’m sorry for being a little more absent lately. It’s for a good cause.

I recently read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and it was really freaking good. So many of the chapters resonated with me, but the part that stuck with me the most was about how easily we tend to flake on ourselves. I really hate the idea of being seen as flaky — I used to have a problem saying no, then feeling really bad when I had to cancel last minute. Now, I’ve learned to only agree to things I’m confident I can see through, and to be honest with myself and my friends if I can’t manage something, whether physically or mentally. Still, when it comes to making commitments to myself, I flake all the time. It’s as if I don’t matter to myself as much as literally anyone else — and that’s something else I’m becoming more aware of. I need to value myself and my time.

Another thing she said — which I’ve written out and taped to the ceiling over my bed — is that no one else has power over your dreams. Only you can decide to give up. And, in case her readers still need to hear it from someone else, Rachel says “You do not have permission to give up on your dreams!”

Writing is hard and exhausting and exhilarating. This time, when I sat down, I looked at why I keep giving up sporadically. I am 100% an editor-writer. I struggle with getting a first full draft written because I constantly reread what I’ve already written and tweak and change and start again. This time, I refused to do that.

This time, I start writing around where I left off the day before. If I don’t remember for sure where that is, I’ll jot a brief summary of what I think that last scene was before jumping in. If I can’t think of a name or term, I write (X) and keep moving. If I can’t think of anything amazing, I will write what literally needs to happen.

He says something else that makes me laugh, and I feel a little better.

When I *finally* get to turn my editor brain on (draft 2, and not before), I will have so much fun re-imagining the scene over and over until I know exactly what he says that makes the character laugh, and I’ll be able to show her feeling better about their situation. For now, I’m writing a first draft full of placeholders.

It’s the only way I know how to get to the end of a fully formed book. In the past, I’ve left bullet points or synopses before moving on, but to me, that doesn’t count as finished. This way, the story may be full of shoddy writing, but it will be a fully formed story nonetheless.

So that’s what I’m up to. I’ll try to get a few more posts in here and there, but for the most part, I’m committing to the characters I’ve been following around for almost five years now. I owe it to them — to me — to get a full version of their story on paper.

Advertisements

Rambling Review: Dread Nation

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is a book about zombies interrupting the Civil War. Don’t let the idea of zombies scare you off, though (Mom), because this story is so much more than the next zombie apocalypse novel.

Our main character, Jane, was born during the Civil War, right around the time the dead came back and put a stop to the battling. Everyone became focused instead on solving the issue of zombies — or “shamblers” as they’re known in the book. Old beliefs linger despite the physical war ending, and the view of post-war America where neither side won is fascinating.

Black and Native American children are sent to boarding schools where they learn combat skills to fight the shamblers. The ultimate goal is to attain a position as bodyguards for the wealthy. Jane is enrolled in one of the best of these schools, and while she is an excellent fighter, she struggles with following the rules. Her antics lead her from a frustrating situation to one that is downright deadly. She has to fight –and not only against shamblers — to keep those she loves safe.

Dread Nation is very well-written with believable and relatable characters. The America Justina Ireland paints is vivid and sometimes heart-wrenching in its authenticity. It isn’t hard to imagine some of the reactions, beliefs, and social norms created in this alternate society. This book is both entertaining and deep, evoking fun conversations about zombies as well as more serious social commentary that could be applicable even today.

Also worth noting, I really love the chapter titles. It’s a small touch, but in my opinion, they are very well done and made me look forward to each new story-within-the-story.

Rambling Review: A Quiet Place

This is — obviously — not a book review, but I just saw A Quiet Place this weekend and I want to tell everyone about it.

It was SO good. I DO NOT do horror movies — my imagination is over-active enough as it is, thankyouverymuch — so believe me when I say everyone should see this movie (yes, Mom, even you). Sure, it is suspenseful. There are a those sudden “jump out” scenes. There are flashes of gore (very brief, and I’d say almost tastefully done). So much of the movie is spent feeling a chill creep up your spine, feeling each tiny hair on the back of your neck stand up in that delicious anticipation of terror. Don’t get me wrong, this movie definitely has those elements that make great horror movies (I assume, as like I said: NOT my thing).

But there is such a depth to the story as well. The premise is fairly simple: sound = death. There are creatures who hunt solely by sound, so the family has to live in silence. Because of this, the viewer gets to interpret the story in their own way, more so than in most movies. Actions truly do speak louder than words, and the beauty of the story is found in the facial expressions, in gestures and sign language. A life lived on mute makes everything more profound — both the joys and the pains.

I was afraid I’d be terrified to make noise the whole time, but there was a comfort in the crack of popcorn kernels and the seat shifting going on around me. There were times when I breathed into my sweatshirt, trying to convey advice to the characters on the screen. And I audibly gasped, empathizing with them. The movie made me stress-sweat, wondering if I could bear what they do without making a sound. And my admiration for them all grew with each scene.

I’ve said it many times, but I love for my entertainment to also move me. This movie did that. I cried, I rejoiced, I feared, and I cheered. It lingers in a way that doesn’t make me need to keep a light on to sleep, but makes me appreciate the little things like being able to swear loudly when I stub my toe — and the big things, like how much my own parents love me.

It is suspenseful without being horrifying, sweet without being trite, sad without wallowing, and triumphant without being cheesy. A Quiet Place is so well done, and so worth seeing.

Lou Brew Reviews: 2nd Shift

2nd Shift has a similar “stay for a while vibe” as most of the breweries here. Located in a warehouse, it has the long, family style tables as well as a few smaller tables, and lots of board games to choose from if you so desire.


Plus, unlike any other brewery, this place has CATS. The one that hung out with us reminded me of my fat cat growing up, although this lady was even bigger. Of course, she went straight for my husband, since he’s allergic and therefore is not a fan. Somehow, he attracts them like the bird-lady in Home Alone 2 attracts pigeons.

I am not pleased with your lack of affection, good sir.

As far as beers go, he liked their Czech Pilsner, and I enjoyed both the Hibiscus Wit and the Blondie. My husband also tried the Act of Neurosis IPA, but he didn’t like it as much as the Pilsner.

 

February Fashion: Part 2

To see where this started, check out this post.

The second half of this month, I’ve tried to be good about re-wearing pieces I love to maximize the number of outfits I can get out of them. I also tried to get a grip on the athleisure trend (why can I not figure out how to look uber-casually glam? probably because I try too hard)…that’s one I’m still working on.

Basically just outfits with leggings…

The weather has been a little crazy…going from 70s to 30s in the space of a day (sometimes in the space of a few hours). Virtually nothing was off-limits in my closet this month. Lightweight cardigans and ankle pants to heavy sweaters and knee-high boots, I’ve worn it all!

2/15-2/19 (minus the attempt at athleisure over the weekend)

While challenging, the crazy weather also made outfit planning more fun, forcing me to get a little more creative than usual.

2/20-2/25

Now for a couple of shameless plugs: most of my wardrobe comes from either ThredUp or Stitch Fix. Shop either site using those links and we both save some dollars! I love that I can find great prices for (gently used) quality clothing from ThredUp — most recently, that dusty pink sweater I’m obsessed with came from ThredUp for about $10. And Stitch Fix is a great service that helps me push my fashion boundaries and try new trends in pieces that are flattering on my body (that mustard shirt is one I never would have thought to try for myself). Look for my follow up post tomorrow with more details about each site!

 

2/26-2/28 — Not my favorites

 

Lou Brew Reviews: Heavy Riff and 4 Hands

Since these two are tied for 2nd place in my book, I decided to do a post about both of them together.


We just sort of stumbled upon Heavy Riff the other day, after the most delicious burgers at Hi-Pointe Drive-In. Their Squeeze Box Lemon Wheat is pretty good, and I was surprised how much I liked the Eat a Peach IPA and their American Pale Ale Left Coast Envy, since I’m not a huge fan of hops (I know, how reliable can my craft brews reviews be if I don’t like IPAs?).

The space is a good size, with a few booths, some pub tables as well as actual dining tables. They have a shelf full of board games — so lingering over drinks is encouraged.


The theme of the name carries throughout, from guitar draft handles to posters of rock legends and concerts along the walls.

~

Four Hands is a bit more “commercial” than most of the other breweries, which my husband didn’t like as much. They have a nice lounge area with couches and low tables, as well as the main bar area with the long tables and plenty of seats at the bar. Then there’s an upstairs, with it’s own bar, booths and tables, and old-school arcade games like skee-ball.

We tried a handful of samples, and my husband really liked the (seasonal) Snake Oil Red IPA, and my favorite was the (also seasonal) Tangerine Slam/City Museum (for some reason, it had different names depending on the drinks menu you looked at). The Single Speed is year-round and pretty good, blonde ale.

We met up with a few friends here before the Army-Navy game, so it was a fairly brief visit. I’d love to go back now that the seasonal beers have changed over (and maybe this time snap a few pics!).

February Fashion: Part 1

These were taken before February so don’t technically count for the month, but I like the outfits.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with fashion and style blogs lately. Enough to wish I had my own style blog, enough to know I most likely never will. I know myself well enough to accept that while I love putting together outfits that make me feel great, I don’t know enough to give other people advice about their own style. Also, I’m still trying to pull my own style out of a blending together of my very different style icons.

Beth (This is Us), Maggie (Grey’s), Jess (New Girl), Mandy (Last Man Standing), and Sabrina (The Mick) *Photos from Google*      (also, not pictured: my sister in law)

However, as sort of a creative challenge, I determined to try with every outfit this month (none of this just throwing on leggings and a t-shirt because it’s Saturday nonsense — not that there’s anything wrong with leggings and a tee, especially with the athleisure trend seemingly here to stay). It’s been fun putting together combinations I haven’t tried before, and I’ve found a few new “fave outfits” that just make me feel great.

2/3 – 2/7 (- 2/5 [no pic] + quick change for Date Night)
Of course, I was sick (like call-out-of-work, fuse-to-the-couch kind of sick) the first two days of February. Those days I did manage to at least change from PJs to leggings and a hoodie, but that was as far as I got.

2/8-2/10 (+ fundraiser event and polka dot details)

I’ve been jotting down ideas for each day, as well as noting the ones I really love (like both center pics above).
I’ve only run into one major dud (and I immediately changed), which is great, but this project is really about finding clothes and outfits I truly *love*. At the end of the month, I’ll highlight my favorites, which will also make dressing for work a lot easier, too!

2/11-2/14

The challenge has the added bonus of helping me clean out my closet of clothes I rarely wear or ones I learn I won’t wear again (which in turn makes room for new pieces to love!).