I am a big fan of setting intentions and making (un)resolutions. I enjoy them so much that I don’t just limit myself to New Years. Nope, it’s a full service, year round feature here. I’m also a big fan of marking cycles: the end of spring, the beginning of summer, the end of the school year, the beginning of a different way of operating.
Summer stretches ahead of me. My goal? To make sure it doesn’t suck. Even if there are sucky things happening, I’m not going to let my summer be inherently sucky. Why the worry about suckiness? Well, I’ve got a few new endeavors that might turn out fine….or they might be a drag. But don’t we all have situations like that?
I choose not to get dragged down into the emotional morass that comes with sucky circumstances. I choose to do the work that needs to be done and not let myself whine. I choose to do what I can and let the rest go.
I also choose summer! Gardening, reading, days at the pool, bike rides, t-ball games, bar trivia & screen porches. (Okay, so I actually hate going to t-ball games but see how I’m not getting drawn into the emotional morass of youth baseball? More on this later.)
I also choose writing. It’s what brings me joy and I’m going to maximize that joy, especially during these lovely summer days.
In particular (because I am trying to stay accountable to myself), here are specific projects:
- Finish the bulk of a really cool freelance assignment (more on this later, as well)
- Finish yet another draft of my YA fantasy novel
- Start (and maybe finish) revisions on the fourth draft of a separate YA novel
- Hang out with and support my writing group
So basically I’m prioritizing writing. Last week I spent every day waiting for the other shoe to drop, glued to email, just waiting for some crisis or another. That’s no way to live a life, much less a single day. Instead, writing comes first. And the bigger intention? Carry the attitude – and my writing priority – into the rest of my daily life, even after summer’s done.
Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira was published in January 2016 by Spencer Hill Press. I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martin is a socially awkward bookworm. (Hey, much like yours truly!) She loves the strong female main characters in the novels she reads (Katniss meets Tris meets some of the Babysitters Club, maybe?). She loves them so much she draws on them for inspiration in securing the affections of her crush, Dev. And…that’s pretty much the entire book.
I really wanted to like this book. But nothing much happened. No big twists, nothing super exciting or dramatic. Nor was it cutesy or frivolous enough to be enjoyable as brain candy. I keep wondering if I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been in a different mood but this just didn’t click for me.
Take even a cursory look at my profile picture and you can see I’m a white woman. What you might not know is that I’m a member of a transracial family. In the past few years, being a part of this family has profoundly enriched, challenged and transformed my previous, homogenous life. I’ve made it a point not to talk much about my family in my professional life; I respect and protect their privacy. But know that being a part of this family has made me the writer and the reader I am today.
One of the reasons I read is to learn about the world. To explore different perspectives, to understand how the past shapes the present, to see things through other eyes and other experiences. I write to make sense of the world as I continue to explore it. Reading (and writing) about race has been one of the bigger ways I’ve sought to understand how the past has informed my present family, as well as to chart the issues and opportunities that lie ahead.
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy, I’m sharing a few of the books that have influenced and informed me over the past few years.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander.
- I was
obsessing over talking with friends about Netflix’s Making a Murderer. “It will make you so angry,” one of my friends said, “so be prepared for that.” “I’m guessing it will make me at least as angry as reading The New Jim Crow,” I answered. So be prepared. And be prepared to talk about reforming the criminal justice system.
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Powerful, searing, complex and personal. I know it’s a book I will return to again and again over the coming years, as so many of the questions Coates raises are ones that affect my family.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson
- I read this book over a series of summer afternoons as I lounged on my front porch. It is riveting. I don’t usually read nonfiction, but I couldn’t put this down. I also learned how little Black history I learned in school. Books like these are even more important, considering those embarrassing gaps in our educational system, at least the ones of the mid 80s & 90s.
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History
- I do read a lot of fiction and have been intentionally reading a diverse set of authors in the past years. I also traditionally read a lot of speculative fiction – I’m a huge Octavia Butler fan and am currently devouring N. K. Jemisin‘s The Fifth Kingdom. This anthology offers a beautiful collection of stories from voices that have traditionally been ignored and forgotten.
These are just a few favorites. What are others to add to the list?