The Happiness Project: Life in a Sentence

It’s been a while since my last post. The end of pregnancy and beginning of motherhood have been busy, but I’m back now. : )

So far, most of my time has been spent tending my little family (including my sweet cat, who’s handling the transition well), but thanks to my husband, I’ve found some daily time for writing… even though it’s only a sentence or two.

For Christmas, he bought me a special journal. I’ve kept ones for years, but this is one I’d actually be willing to share. And I have every intention to once our daughter is older.

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There are several different Happiness Project journals out there, but this one is specifically for mothers.

There have been times when I’ve thought about doing different daily writing exercises kind of like this, like taking a moment from the day and recording it like a scene. But thinking about the day and encapsulating it into one to two sentences has been a great experience.

Throughout the day, I find myself composing what I might write about and reflecting on this new season of life. And it’s brought even more joy to the experience as I think about what I want to remember when my baby is too big to sleep on the Boppy pillow on my lap while I sit at the computer.

It’s come to be a part of the day that I look forward to, and something that has kept me actively writing, even though it’s only been in little chunks here and there.

Do you have a routine writing exercise you like to do? Do you keep a journal?

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Rip It, Write It, Draw It: Sketchbook

It’s been a few months since I’ve delved into my Rip It, Write It, Draw It journal. Today, though, I decided to change that. It’s been too long since I’ve been involved with any artistic pursuits. Any time I have time to rest, I usually end up asleep. (I haven’t experienced any third trimester bursts of energy, so I’m basically narcoleptic.)

The prompt: Sketch something or someone in pencil. Use shading and shadow effects.

Sketching isn’t something I usually do, but I figured it would be fun to try my hand at it now that I have a better understanding of art.

The subject? My cat, of course. After all, he was sitting right next to me, so I decided to take advantage of the moment.

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If you look closely, you can actually see other drawings of my cat on the other side of the page.

We shared a peaceful moment as I sketched him. (And, as you can see, he then moved so the stripes only go so far down his neck.) He’s always here to keep me company, and he’s provided much-needed companionship through hard times. I know people say pets take a back seat when kids come along, but I don’t think that’ll be the case for us. No, I foresee greeting my husband in the evenings with the baby on one hip and the cat on the other. After all, he’s my buddy.


A Change of Perspective: Moving from First to Third Person

For well over half of my life now, I’ve been working on the same novel on and off. Each time I think it’s finished, I set it aside for a while, but when I come back to it, I find that there are still things missing. It still has room to grow and change and improve.

Recently, I’ve decided to hop back in again. This time, though, I’m playing with something new: a change in perspective.

Aside from the earliest draft (which looks virtually nothing like the current story), it’s always been in first person. I favored that perspective in my mid to late teens, so most things that I wrote then followed suit.

Lately, though, I’ve begun to wonder what would happen if I move to something new. What if I return this story to its original roots and try third person?

So far, it’s been an interesting experiment. I haven’t written much yet, but it’s a little mind-bending. I’m planning on keeping with a limited POV — focused on my former narrator — but seeing the story in words besides her own has been different. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

Perhaps, though, this is the fresh technique that will help the story reach the next level. And maybe this time it’ll actually be finished (though I wouldn’t count on that).

Have you ever started writing a story in one perspective before trying another one? Have you seen any benefits to it? Which perspective to you prefer when reading and/or writing?


The Mystery of the Alarm Clock: An Update

In early December, my beloved alarm clock took on a life of its own. I’m not sure if it decided that it would rather communicate with words, if it had an odd obsession with the letter j, or if it decided that it fancied postmodernism. In any case, here’s the weird story of what happened.

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A few weeks ago, the alarm clock’s story took a new turn. After functioning fine (besides refusing to show the other), the alarm itself stopped working and the numbers and the j had vanished. It showed that it was playing the music with a red light, but there was no music to be heard. It was like a silent death knell.

I wandered despondently into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Where would I find another alarm clock that could take its place? Not only did it play music — which is my preferred way of waking — but it represented years of memories. What was I to do?

When I came back into the bedroom, my husband was just walking away from the nightstand. Behind him, the alarm clock glowed green again. Not just that, but it was all numbers. No more j.

I asked him what he did.

He had done what I was too afraid to do. He unplugged it and plugged it back in. And it had worked. This is the second time he’s saved it while we’ve been married. Fortunately, this time was much easier than taking it completely apart and reassembling it. That’s true love right there.

Now, the alarm clock is back to working normally again. Hopefully, it’ll keep working for a long time to come.


The Year I Almost Missed the Tolkien Birthday Toast

Every January 3rd, I spend more of the day than I should staring at the clock. School isn’t back in yet, which means I’m normally at home. Though there’s plenty of work to do, it’s easy to watch the clock and think about 9:00pm. What will I drink this year? How many minutes does it take to prepare? I have to ready right on time.

Since it fell on a Wednesday this year, we would be at church beforehand, but the timing would be perfect. We would be home in plenty of time, I would make my husband and myself a cup of tea (or maybe hot chocolate for him), and we would have the toast at home. It would be great.

Then reality hit. We got into the car and realized that everything had gone later than usual. We wouldn’t make it home in time. I would miss 9:00.

Though it’s a kind of silly tradition, my husband knows it’s important to me, so he had already thought of a plan B. There’s a Starbucks right on the way home. We swung in, ordered some hot chocolate, and were back in the car in time for the birthday toast.

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It didn’t have the same sense of ceremony that Tolkien’s birthday toast normally does, but it still happened. And that’s what really matters.


Happy Birthday, Tolkien!

It’s that time again! Today is Tolkien’s 126th birthday!

I always like to pay homage to the author who influenced me the most (and who I enjoy the most). Fortunately, I’m working from home, which means it’s the perfect day for movie soundtracks and lots of tea. Decaffeinated, of course.

This evening is always my favorite part. At 9pm local time, fans around the world will participate in this year’s Birthday Toast “To the Professor.” I’ll be joining with some decaffeinated tea instead of the usual Darjeeling. It’s a great start to the New Year.

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Are you planning on participating tonight? If so, what’s your drink of choice?


2018 Goals

A belated merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone!

Around this time every year, I reflect on the past year’s goals and set some new ones. Sometimes, I find that I’ve done a great job. The past two years, not so much.

2017 Goals

Finish a draft of the steampunk/fantasy/sci-fi novel
I started with a valiant attempt, but the novel still isn’t ready. Unlike most things I’ve written, it’s really comprised of 2-3 stories that come together to make one narrative. The main one — the one I started with — just can’t seem to find its footing. It needs more time to brew. And that’s okay.

Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for three times a week
I haven’t done awful with this one, though I did change midyear to two posts a week. It seems like a more reasonable schedule with a baby on the way.

Read more books 
I’ve actually done well with this one, considering my previous track record. (It stinks to like books but not feel like you have time to read.) I think, in all, I’ve read 13.75 books. (I’m nearly to the end of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, which is 652 pages.) Last year, I started reading works by Inklings besides Tolkien and Lewis. So far, I’ve finished two: Robert Harvard and Dorothy Sayers. There are still plenty more to go. I’m hoping to read even more this year… though we’ll see how that goes.

So what about this year? That’s a good question. Since I’m close to a major life change, it’s hard to say what this year will look like, but there still are things I’d like to accomplish.

  • Continue to blog at least weekly, but aim for twice a week
    (Obviously, I might have to take a short, unscheduled hiatus when the baby comes.)
  • Continue to work on my writing projects at least once a week
    Regardless of what it is, I want to take some time to keep my writing skill sharp and enjoy my favorite hobby
  • Learn to find balance
    It’ll be interesting to see what my reflections are on this next year. Between teaching part time, writing, and being a new mother, life is going to be interesting. But I’m excited. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and I’m ready.

What are your goals for this year? How did you do on last year’s goals? Do you make goals at the beginning of the year or prefer to measure your progress another way?