Monday Musings: Trials of an Anxious Planner

I’ve spent the last several weeks coordinating this post. There’s a draft of this post written that I am right now in the process of revising. I don’t like the first draft so I’m trying something different. I’m trying to give you a glimpse into my thought process.

Since I didn’t think the post was up to snuff, I set it down to let it rest in the draft section. I busied myself with other projects. I have a major fiction project with a very involved outline. My chapters have bullet points and side notes of things to keep in mind. It’s so obsessive about the details that, after a certain point, it’s hard to look at because of how busy it is. I reference it for broad strokes and then write. New details pop up unaccounted for in the outline. I have to retroactively think about how this impacts the narrative.

I step away from writing. I start thinking about dinner: the food in the cupboards, the food in the fridge, and how do I make these things into a meal? But dinner is a long way off. There are work responsibilities, family responsibilities, and self-care responsibilities. I sketch out all these things into a planner that I sometimes adhere to.

I can spend minutes, hours, days, and weeks, silently thinking about things. I’ve made it an art form. From the mundane like waking up wondering what I’ll eat for dinner to the particulars of work training to my very own fiction outlining strategy—I plan.

I see my dedication to detail as an admirable trait most days but my tendency to perfectionism means most projects stop short. I get really excited about something and then drown in the details. Previous to this year, it’s what killed many a project I’ve been excited about. I consider what it’ll take to make something “perfect,” try to sketch out a plan, and lose steam because of how anxious I get considering the avalanche of minutiae.

Thoughtful planning can be the driver of creation but getting caught up in it can also suck the fun out of the very thing you’re trying to create. I’m in the valley between the peaks right now. I’ve spent so much time and energy planning things that the execution already has me exhausted.

And that’s okay. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I truly believe it but that driver to create makes me feel guilty for not wanting to do so.

I’m trying to slow down and roam the valley. The work isn’t going anywhere.

Monday Musings: My Problem with Romance Novels

I’m a hypocrite. Or, maybe I’m just growing up.

Talk to me ten years ago and I would tell you that out of all genres of literature, romance was my least favorite. High school me liked the dark, pretentious, and overall tragic elements of media–the more twisted the better. Romance was fluff and cute. High school me couldn’t stand that unless someone dies at the end. Or if it was an anime. Clannad was one of my favorite shows but if you know anything about Clannad, you know it gets pretty tragic, pretty quickly.

Talk to me five years ago and I’ll freely admit that I have soft spot for Victorian novels with sweeping romances (Wuthering Heights comes to mind) and Young Adult literature where a central theme is finding out who you are and the blossoming of first loves. But in the same breath, I would tell you that adult romances just weren’t for me. Have you seen those ridiculous book covers? You know, the ones with well-oiled bare-chested men embracing swooning damsels whose collars were suggestively askewed. How could you take those books seriously? I’ve never read one but I know what you’re about (I say as I eye the bookshelf and point accusingly). I don’t mind if romance is an element of literature, I says, it just can’t be the main thing.

These observations were so…wrong. Yes, wrong! I was wrong! These last two or three years especially have had me looking for comfort in my media. I like a good challenging novel, a thoughtful artistic movie, but lately, I’ve been craving media kinder on my nerves. Something that I could enjoy without thinking about themes or the implication of a narrative in a larger cultural conversation. Something that would just make me feel good.

And do you know what I turned to?

I turned to romance novels.

I turned to media about two people who fall in love and, by golly, may even get a happy ending.

Rereading Lore Olympus has done more to improve my serotonin levels than anything else these last two weeks. In between violent deaths in the Jenna Moreci Savior Series, I was rooting for those crazy kids to fall in love. I picked up Beverly Jenkin’s Rebel and saw how intricate and sexy a historical romance could be. Right now I’m reading Red, White and Royal Blue and wondering how Alex and Henry will make their romance work being two very high-profile and highly visible bachelors in the realm of US politics and the British monarchy. It’s the food I need. It’s giving!

My assumption about romance books was wrong. Assuming that all romance novels were just two people making out for a book’s entirety was spectacularly narrow-minded. I’m ashamed to admit that. Even though I grew more open to other genres once I started working at my library, I never thought to read a romance until about a year ago. I still ran on the thought that romances just weren’t for me after not bothering to read them.

Are there any genres you eventually came around to after being a naysayer for years? Let’s discuss!

Ringing in the New Year: Better Late than Never

Hello 2022!

I hope the New Year has been treating you all well! On my end, it’s already had its fair share of twists and turns thanks to that ol’ pandemic strain that’s been plaguing us these last 2 years. A lot of people close to me have come down with it but they’ve all been mild cases luckily. I’ve been extremely lucky to dodge it (so far).

Every turn of the year makes me thoughtful. I reflect back on 2021 as a year that I grew more into myself; a year where I became more conscious of my needs and became a better advocate for them. It’s an ongoing process that I’m still learning each day.

I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. I’m more of the opinion that an intention can be made whenever you want to make it: at every change of the season, every morning after breakfast, whenever. Yet still, I make plans, I set goals and they’ll change and evolve as time marches forward. I used the great flip of the calendar year to solidify and write some personal goals I want to carry over from last year.

Here are a few taken from the journal:

Physical:

Listen to your body uncritically and nurture accordingly. If you’re upset, listen without judgment. If you’re hungry, eat. If you feel sluggish, move around.

Mental:

Laziness is a blessing. It is the feeling that comes over you when your mind needs a break. Listen to it. Indulge in some unproductivity so you can better tackle the things you want to do.

Social:

Being social is really hard right now. It’s okay if you feel drained from your efforts. More okay if you make mistakes. Trying is what matters most and you shouldn’t be afraid to be seen trying.

Financial:

Be conscious of your impulse food purchases. Be conscious of anything you’re tempted to buy on impulse for that temporary dopamine hit.

Creative:

Creativity can’t thrive if you aren’t kind to yourself. Moments of growth and productivity need rest to nurture your mind. You can’t have one without the other. Burning yourself out will only make you hate the end result, whether or not it’s good. (Anything you put the time in is good. Tending to it makes it great).

Music Appreciation: “Hey Moon” by John Maus

I’m 10 years late to the John Maus train but there is something so enchanting about this song. I credit it in planting the first seeds of my “Divided Loyalties” WIP, which has expanded into a hefty fantasy enterprise.

The synth beats that underpin this track are hypnotizing. John Maus’ vocals echo and lull the listener into a trance as he sings his ode to the moon. I like to think of it as a love song. A love song to the night, to dreams, to the slow and sweet passage of time.

A moment bottled and forever relished.

Favorite Lyrics:

Hey moon, it’s just you and me tonight
Everyone else is asleep
Hey moon, if I was to fall
I won’t fall so deep
Though I doubt I’m gonna
You can wake me up if you wanna

I learned while routing for info that this is a cover! Sounds like I got some more music to listen to!

Together We Broil

The summer solstice is behind us and the season burns bright in all its splendor. 

Every morning starts with a mist. The dew of the night evaporating in the pinking horizon. By midday, the sun’s hot and heavy with humidity. Spring trees bend and brown under its gaze. The day rolls on slow and I find myself matching its pace. Just laying down and letting the sun further burnish the melanin of my skin. 

And the colors of the season. Plums and peaches hang heavy on the vine. Local supermarkets brim with multicolor peppers and squashes. Red, Orange, Yellow, and  Green. The weekly farmer’s markets are filled with the delicious smells of fresh fruit. The night air is cool with dew. Burning charcoal and hickory wafting in on the wind. 

There’s tons of reason to love the summer. 

But ultimately,  together we broil.


Back in the day, I used to hate summer. I liked being out of school but I just couldn’t stand the heat. Ironic since I am a summer baby. 

It’s still far from my favorite season but I’m finding myself appreciating the things I took for granted about it in years’ past. Summer mornings are definitely my favorite. I like seeing the colors of the sky as the sun rises. And the dew makes it so refreshing. Spring’s color comes out in full force and summer music plays on the radio. 

Since I’ve gotten really into cooking, I’m researching all the foods that are in season. I bought and tried fresh plums and apricots for the first time. My fridge is stocked with cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini. This week I hope to experiment with some Asian style cooking so wish me luck with that. 🙂

How do you all feel about the summer season? What do you like most about it? What do you least like about it?

I Catch Monsters

I catch monsters.

They gesture in the confines of 8 mm film, screaming at the camera lens. Their mouths gaped, finger-pointing, accusing, in your face.

Their faces can’t find their truths rendered mute by the words they weave. In my prison, they don’t speak but their lips mimic the action.

Black & white, sepia & color.

They exist in all forms. There’s one in every age.

The thing that shakes me to my core when I take in their faces.

They look like mine. Not exactly like mine but they have similar shapes. 

Eyes. Mouth. Nose. Teeth. 

The same but different. 

I can see the monster in me as I do in them. 

Their monstrosity resonating with the stranger in us all. 

I swallow to bile in me, raise my weapon, & let the monsters roll in.

Click.

Sunday Musings: Nostalgia in Nature

Two years ago, I walked to work.

I didn’t live too far from my first job in the real world. It was a store in a small shopping center that provided products that showcased collections and food from around the world. The place had long windows along its entrance wall so the phases of the day were always in full view. 

I walked to and from there not only because it was a short distance and I didn’t have a car but the coming and going were my favorite parts of the workday. I had my ups and downs with this job but it’s the one element I find myself nostalgic for. The waking up and walking there rain or shine. (I actually prefer the rain. My bookworm heart always finds it uplifting).

Now, as the weather turns nice and I can walk without a chill, the nostalgia of these memories is hitting me hard. The sky was an impossible blue this Tuesday, the fresh-cut grass a lush green. And the smell! Even when the allergens make my eyes water, I’ll never stop loving that smell. 

Walking outside is my happy place. My spirit is immediately lifted when I do it. 

Trapped in a Musing

Happy Sunday, everyone!

So here’s a curious observation. I’ve been thinking a lot about stories where you’re trapped in a situation that you can’t really escape from. No obvious reason really. Seemed like great story fodder.

Most of the media I’ve been consuming this last week have dealt with this. I’ve been reading Slaughterhouse 5 which deals with war with equal parts dark humor and weird sci-fi element. The main character is “unstuck” in time so the main character constantly reliving their life. Then there’s Full Metal Jacket which again deals with the concept of war. Vietnam stretched out to over a decade and war just seems like a thing you can’t see an in to when you’re in it. At least, that’s how I often imagine it.

And this whole trapped theme made me think back to one of my older stories of a cast of characters finding themselves trapped in jail. But it’s not a typical jail. This jail makes no logical sense and everything you do to defend yourself just makes you look more guilty to the powers that be. And it’s supposed to be humorous…

But I have to admit, that’s what I like in horror. One of the themes that I enjoy in a horror story is that feeling that there’s no escape to this situation. I think most horror stories have that element to it. Whether it’s a monster, an event, or the people we’re close to. You can’t escape the situation. At least, not without losing something. And that latter concept really intrigues me.

I have to be honest, I never know where these Sunday musings go when they start. I just come up with a first line and go where that takes me. Then I edit. Then I title. Sometimes like the place where I end up. Sometimes I don’t and start over.

Nothing Like Fireside Rum Coffee during a Pandemic

Good Afternoon Everyone!

While the world falls into a steady pandemic decline, nothing comforts like a hot coffee. All the more so when the weather decides to hit a cold snap after several days of spring.

I’m sitting here stretching out my writing muscles on my keyboard. Muscles in my wrist fight against the motion unused to the strain. I haven’t written much this week. My motivation has been stagnating these last few days much like the US economy. I’m unsure whether it is appropriate to make such jokes while the trauma is still fresh. (Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s poor taste but I know no better way to cope in such times than to find jokes and brighter sides).

Here’s a brighter side! Due to the scares, my job closed down for the next two week. There’s still a lot of uncertainty there but that does free up my time a bit. I can catch up with writing, watching movies, trying out some recipes, and finishing up some books in a messy pile by my bedside. Self-quarantining doesn’t have to be boring.

I wish I could talk about something else here. I’m picking my brain for something–anything–but my brain keeps returning here. Even while watching Carmen Jones (1954) on Turner Classic Movies an hour ago with my family, my thoughts went back to the hour and how if things were different I would be dressing for work . That’s the panicky workaholic in me sitting in my pajamas wondering if this was all real. Shouldn’t I be elsewhere?

You see! I returned to it again.

I hope we all can find some comfort during these trying times. I ultimately believe things will return to some sort of normal but it’s best to be cautious.

Stay safe everyone. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face.

(She says, before repeatedly doing so while editing…)

Drinking London Fog on a Sunday Afternoon

Good Afternoon All,

I’ve just finished my first attempt at something of a London Fog tea. I love Earl Grey and had a craving for something like an Earl Grey latte.

It was moderately successful. The Earl Grey was brewed just right but after stirring almond milk over a hot eye for five minutes for the desired fog effect, I gave up. It’s still tasty though.

So news!

I’ve been trying to be more active here. Making plans and sticking to them. In between the Saturday movie marathon and the errands I’ve left for Sunday, I wanted to make sure I made time for writing. No matter how little or mundane the subject matter.

I’ve been having lots of fun with The Hollow Times. I’ve planned out the next few weeks of content for that and Hollow Grove is coming alive for me again. The Grim story about Hollow Grove in the 19th century has the first arc planned out. Now I’m in the editing stages.

Other things of note?

Speaking of movies and my dedication to watch more of them, here are some that I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Diaoblique (1955)

A fun little French horror film. Like most older films, it took me a while to settle into the pacing but I found myself enraptured once I got into it.

Take this premise of a school’s headmaster’s wife and his mistress come together to plot a murder. They go through with the deed and dump his body in a pool but when they drain it, there is no body!

Tape (2001)

I have to praise this movie because it made two dudes talking in a hotel room engrossing. Two friends from high school meet together in this old motel and secrets are revealed. Its a twisty turny movie where the other’s morality is repeatedly put into question.

Shaft (2019)

This is throwback to an older 70s franchise (which I should definitely check out!) I had so much fun watching this film. Action-packed, hilarious, and with Samuel L Jackson clearly having a good time in the titualr role what’s not to like!

That’s all I got this time around! See you next week!