Reading and Writing Resolutions for 2018

New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays. I love the energy that surrounds the frenzy of promising ourselves to be better (even if we lack the motivation to pursue it–it’s the thought that counts). It’s probably the same reason why I love the start of a new school year or new month, and and odd reason why I like Mondays as well.

This year I have a lot of ambitious goals, inside and outside of my literary life. They’re not ambitious in the sense that they’re lofty or unattainable–on the contrary I definitely can pull them off. I just have a track record of being lazy and unmotivated.

Ever since I finished finish NaNoWriMo with a whooping 37 page sprint on the last day to meet the 50k goal, I’ve felt an enormous sense of anticipation–I’m eager to sit down and try that again.

The problem with December is that I just barely had the time. My grandparents were visiting in the beginning of the month, I had a camping trip with my Girl Scout troop, my uncle and cousins were staying for a week, and then the month ended with my boyfriend here for the holidays. In between I was getting back into my yoga studio (and barely making it to enough classes to pay off the membership fee), holiday shopping, traveling around for work, and just keeping up with my daily life and what I already pushed aside in November.

It’s hard to make writing a priority, especially when I already have so little hours left of the day with a full-time job. I look back on how I managed to write so much in high school on top of AP classes and extracurriculars and read a book every few days and I honestly can’t fathom how I did that.

Moving into 2018, I’m eager to make writing a priority and less of a hobby. My full-time job is not necessarily something I’d like to pursue for the rest of my life, and eventually I’d love writing to turn my full-time job. I’m moving into the mindset where prioritizing my writing will mean treating it like a full-time job, and engaging myself in other hobbies to take the place of writing.

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Interrupting Your Usual Programming for a Brief Life Update

So I dropped off the face of the planet there for a minute.

A brief, non-reading non-writing related update on my life:

  • I started my first ever full-time job (yay!!!)
  • I’ve had no time to do basically any reading or writing (boo)
  • I took a mini long-weekend vacation to Michigan (yay!!!)
  • Which meant a weekend full of reading/writing was off-limits (boo)

I’ve also been having so mad trouble sleeping (this has been an ongoing issue since at least May, maybe earlier but it’s been progressively worse) so around 2pm and then again around 8pm I hit a wall and can barely concentrate on anything for longer than two minutes at a time.

I managed to adapt my reading habits to fit into a full-time schedule that I haven’t really figured out a routine for yet. I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels (which you can read about in my monthly wrap-up next Monday) in order to bulk up on my Goodreads reading challenge. I used to read a ton of graphic novels as a teenager, so I’m enjoying catching up on some titles I’ve seen floating around but haven’t really read yet.

I’ve written unfortunately very little (blog wise and fiction wise). I cranked out about three upcoming blog posts today which I’m happy about. One morning at 4am when I couldn’t sleep I wrote a whole chapter. Aside from that, it’s been a slow month.

I still don’t have characters names picked out for NaNoWriMo. Which starts in approximately two days. I’m pretending I’m okay with it.

I planned out a writing routine for November including how many words to write each day to get to 50,000 words. There’s a few weekends and weeknights coming up where it’s unrealistic for me to make time for writing, so I’m trying to plan around it. Hopefully, I can stay awake until midnight on Tuesday night and just start writing right away and crank out at least a few scenes (lol I still don’t have any resemblance of an outline).

I’ll be updating my NaNoWriMo progress (most likely freak-outs) every Friday starting on November 10, to give myself a few days to get somewhere.

Life of a Bookseller

Back in October, I started working at Barnes and Noble.

During my interview, my now-manager asked me the usual initial interview question: “Why do you want to work here?” and my eyes lit up and the corners of my mouth involuntarily curled and I answered: “This has literally been my dream since high school, even before I could drive.”

Honestly, sixteen year old Cecelia is just about dying. I think I’ve applied to work at Barnes and Noble about twice a year since I got my license.

Working at Barnes and Noble is only a part-time job for me, a way to make some extra money as I save up to move out. It’s basic retail; dealing with unhappy customers, standing on your feet all day, cleaning up the weirdest messes. But there’s the added bonus of being surrounded by books.

During a typical shift, I’m usually reshelving misplaced or abandoned books, reorganizing out of place books, helping customers find the exact books they want, or doling out recommendations to customers who don’t know what they’re looking for (yet).

Yesterday I answered the phone. It was an upbeat customer, speaking quickly but clearly out of breath. She was running late for a meeting but was needed a book, The Unquiet Mind, and was wondering if we could put it aside for her. (We place customer orders on hold literally all the time and running around the store pulling books for customers is one of my favorite things to do.) I looked it up on the computer and we had very limited quantities; I asked if I could put her on hold while I double-checked to make sure it was on the shelf.Read More »

Saturday Night Playlist 2/11/17

Everyone has different music they prefer to write to. I generally like upbeat music when I’m getting started, and then softer and calmer music once I’ve gotten into my rhythm. If it’s a project I’ve been working on for a while I typically will make a playlist specific to those characters or the plot that matches the mood and the tone of the piece.

I’m starting to make Saturday Night Playlists, short playlists of about a dozen songs to carry through the weekend. This week’s consists of my personal choice to get started writing a new project (which is exactly where I’m at now). I chose songs I’ve recently discovered that have an upbeat, fast paced rhythm and optimistic messages to hopefully jumpstart a productive Sunday!

  1. Control, Natalie Taylor
  2. Faultlines, HEARTWATCH
  3. Good Times Go So Fast, Steven Roth
  4. Wild Ride, High Dive Heart
  5. We Are the Dreamers, Youth Warrant
  6. Don’t Look Back, Grayson Matthews ft. Tim Moxam
  7. Sanctuary, Allie X
  8. Summer Forever, Bahari
  9. Moscow, Autoheart
  10. Lit, Noirre
  11. Sanibel, Harbour
  12. Lost At Sea, Empty Houses

Do you have any recommendations of music you like to write to?

November Goals & To-Do List

Where did October go? I swear, some days I was writing the date down and I would have the urge to write September. This month flew right by (and I barely accomplished anything I wanted to whoops).

My main priority for November is finishing my NaNoWriMo novel (obviously) and that’s already going to be a challenge considering November is traditionally a busy month. I just started a new part time job so in the midst of training at work, juggling a new schedule, and preparing for the holidays, I need to make sure I stay sane somehow.

November Goals

Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish in the upcoming weeks.

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Last Minute Pumpkin Carving Ideas

Raise your hand if you’re a procrastinator! 🙋

I went pumpkin picking on Tuesday. I came home with three pumpkins. I did not question it.

My friend Irene and I are planning on carving these pumpkins this weekend. For the rest of you who have yet to carve your pumpkins in preparation for Halloween on Monday, here are some of my favorite ideas.

The classic Jack O’ Lantern face.
Definitely easy and recognizable, with endless ways to make the face creative and unique.Read More »

10 Good Things Happening Today

I’ve been thinking it’s Thursday since about Tuesday afternoon. You could say it’s been a long week. I’m tired. It’s raining.

Still feeling kinda crappy since I wrote my last post, I decided to make a list of 10 things happening today (or in the very near future or in the past few days) that are upbeat and positive. I’ve been really focusing on a lot of “should dos” and “must haves” in my life without really paying attention to what is already here.

  1. I start my new part-time job at Barnes and Noble today! Talk about a high-school dream finally coming true. 😁
  2. I’m probably going to get a quesadilla this weekend from my favorite Mexican restaurant.
  3. I went to THE BEST Halloween themed yoga class Tuesday night. It was incredible. We listened to classic rock and Halloween music (think Ghostbusters theme and Thriller) and did some fun poses.
  4. I’ve been challenging my creativity into sewing projects and pottery projects, two mediums I generally don’t work with but still love.
  5. I found a really cool pattern to make a floor cushion out of fabric scraps and I’m mentally planning it out.
  6. It’s pizza day at school today which means I’ll probably get leftover pizza.
  7. I’m going to try to go to bed early tonight.
  8. I beat my old high score in Color Switch this morning.
  9. I’m seeing my college friend this weekend! It’s been about two months since I’ve seen here, but two months too long!
  10. I made a new Instagram account about a month ago focusing solely on books and reading in the hopes to get me to read more. I’ve been really enjoying taking pictures and engaging with others. Usually my projects kind of burn out after a while but I hope this one stays around for a while.

Honestly, this was a lot tougher than I thought. I got stuck around 6 and really had to think through my day to see what I was excited for. It was hard to keep out “although” and “however” and other condescending words.

What would your list of ten good things look like?

Here’s a photo of the quesadilla I’m really craving 😋

Excelencia Mexicana

What My Yoga Class Taught Me About Motivation

Monday was a rough day.

Usually Mondays are not too bad for me. I know there’s the usual “case of the Mondays” that gets set around online, but honestly I believe that derives from this constant perspective that Mondays suck. I don’t buy into that; Mondays for me are a source of motivation. It’s a fresh week, a fresh start.

This past Monday I was not feeling it. I didn’t want to go to work. It was chilly and kind of drizzly; not even to say it was raining, but unpleasant enough to want to stay outside for long. I had cleaned the entire house for the past week and there was still more to clean (mess just doesn’t go away. Like ever). I had so much stuff I wanted/needed to do, but all I did was sit on my bed and play some stupid game on my phone.

I was miserable. I wasn’t feeling motivated enough to get anything done, but then just sitting there being lazy made me feel terrible. It was this vicious cycle where I didn’t want to do anything, and then I would feel bad about myself for not doing anything.

Then of course, I fell into the wormhole of “oh my god what am I doing with my life???” and that made it way worse.

I convinced myself to go to yoga and almost cried the whole car ride to the studio. I was distracted and unenergized; I fretted being on my mat would just make me feel worse.

What My Yoga Class Taught Me About MotivationRead More »

My Fear of Writing Emails: Millennial Musings Journal Entry 03

My Fear of Writing Emails

Does anyone else get irrationally anxious about writing and sending emails?

I don’t know what it is about emails but I hate them. Literally every part about sending an email.

How do I address the person I’m emailing? How formal should I sound? How do I sign of my name? Do I introduce myself? What if the attachment I sent doesn’t open? Will it get sent to spam? What will they think when I read it?

Then eventually, if the person responds, I completely ignore it in anticipation of reading what they said. Then life gets in the way and I totally forget about the email, and don’t respond until days later. Then a new string of worries snakes it way into my head.

What if I responded too late? How much time is too much time in between emails? They sounded so casual but my email was so professional; do they think I’m over the top? Should I sound casual back? How many exclamation marks are too many exclamation marks?

I don’t know what it is about emails that drives me so crazy. Texting is fine; in fact I prefer it. I would much rather talk over the phone or even talk to someone in person than send an email.

I understand the convince of an email; you can send it on your own time and the receiver can respond on their own time. But emails are still fickle.

Please pass along any tips you have for writing emails. I feel like this is a skill I need to have but for some reason I put off emailing important people for ages.

The Thing About Finding a Niche No One Talks About

I can’t really tell you when I started blogging.

In high school I had a tumblr before it was really popular (anyone remember the days of tumblarity?) and went on to make DOZENS of tumblrs. Seriously dozens. Every time I got bored I would start over. It was pretty therapeutic actually to start fresh.

I made a WordPress account a while ago under the name The Late Aubade. It was the name of my second main tumblr account and I loved it so much that I wanted to move it over to WordPress and use it just as my writing. Guess what? That never happened. It doesn’t even have one post.

With The Seal Spot, I was determined to make blogging into a process, with a schedule and set deadlines. I don’t have this blog to profit from; my motives are mostly to get me writing regularly and to eventually develop some sort of portfolio I’m proud of.

Sometimes, I don’t feel like it’s really doing it from me.

If you look back at some of my first posts, I’m all over the place. I talk about writing, about photography, about travel, about books, literally anything. I like it. I’m writing a journal, just for me.

Then I started reading up on blogging, and one of the main things people talk about is finding your niche. Taking one topic, one audience, and really fine tuning your blog to suit that audience.

Ok, well here’s the thing: finding that niche is really freaking hard.

Finding Your Niche

Remember in middle school when you sat with your friends at lunch and all of a sudden maybe a year later you realized that each table had a label? Each friend group had a theme, a common thread holding them together as friends?

Personally, I never really felt like I had a distinct label growing up. It hasn’t changed much as I got older. My personality and my interests span across, through, between, around, in and out of labels. I don’t think it’s fair to label myself.

I read blogs about writing and think “I should write that.” I read blogs about baking and think “I should make that.” I read blogs about travel and think “I should do that.” Where do my boundaries stop?

Recently, I tried to dedicate each day of the week to a different part of my life. This was helpful in the beginning because I felt like I allowed myself to reach deeper and not get so stuck in a niche. I could talk about what was going on in my life, what was affecting me, what I was interested in that very moment.

And then I started running out of ideas.

I drafted lists of blog posts ideas, I googled blog post ideas, I went back in old notebooks and highlighted old ideas. And kept moving.

And then I noticed two things:

  1. Either all of my topics were essentially the same (i.e.: how I was struggling to make friends out of college)
  2. Or I wasn’t excited to write about them. At all.

By boxing myself into categories, I realized that I was constricting myself to have to write about that one topic and I didn’t have any wiggle room.

So where is my niche? What is my blog about? Where am I going?

I’m not really sure.

I know I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo now so my blog is probably going to focus on writing a lot more this month. Will it stay that way? Part of me hopes so because my writing life is one of the biggest parts of my life, but I’m not going to promise anything.

This wasn’t a planned blog post. I was supposed to write a review on the Dirty 30 movie today. But every time I sat down to write it, I couldn’t. I was stuck. This post needed to come out, needed to leak out of my fingertips and onto the screen. That’s the type of feeling I want to have when I sit down to write something. The feeling that it needs to be here, it needs to be written.