I have decided to take a break for the summer in order to focus on finding freelance and full-time work. I will be back at the end of the summer.
At the end of the summer, I also planned to launch a new and improved website. All other updates will appear on Facebook!
Well, summer has finally hit. Do you know what that means? It's time to announce my personal reading challenge for the summer of 2018. I had attempted a reading challenge last summer, but I wasn't able to complete it for two reasons:
But I have read 23 books since last summer and am mentally in a totally different place. So I feel confident that I will have no problems completing my reading challenge this year.
As I mentioned in my 2018 reading challenge, I am going to be reading a few series throughout this year. I spent the first 5 months of the year reading A Song of Ice and Fire. It was such a great series but the amount of detail and unfamiliar language that I encountered really challenged me to get through the books quickly. But these books have definitely helped to prepare me for a summer of reading, especially since I plan to read YA books this summer.
In September of 2016, while I was going to school in London, I was on Bumble (a dating app) when I matched with a guy named Mason. Mason was also in London for school, at the London Beauty Academy. Immediately I was intrigued with him. I couldn’t tell you what, but there was something about him that made it impossible to stop thinking about him.
Soon after we started talking, Mason told me that he has Cystic Fibrosis (CF). To learn more about CF you can read my fact-based post from earlier in the month, where I talk about CF in detail. Despite knowing what CF entailed for our future, I couldn’t walk away. I wouldn’t. Soon after that we met, started dating, and then Mason was hospitalized for a month.
Despite the bad memories I’ve had in hospitals, I knew that I had to go visit him because when I was in the hospital I wanted people to visit me too. And honestly I have never been happier that I decided to do something. We had a wonderful couple of days together in the hospital. It was awesome being able to make him laugh and enjoy himself while hospitalized.
I’ve been so amazed by the strength that he has and how he chooses to live his life despite his CF. Getting to know him has honestly changed my life and I’m honoured to know that my first published piece on The Mighty was about him and the impact he has had on my life.
I wanted people who follow me to have a chance to get to know Mason and a little bit about his CF journey including when he was diagnosed, how CF affects his daily life, what hospitalization is like, as well as all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
May is Cystic Fibrosis (CF) awareness month. Since my partner has CFTRΔ508, this month is extremely important to my family (and, of course, my future family-in-law). CF is the most common fatal genetic disease affecting Canadian children and young adults. There is no cure for CF. The degree of severity differs from person to person but typically loss of lung function is the leading cause of death in the majority of CF patients.
The following information came from CF Canada (one of the world’s top 3 charitable organizations committed to finding a cure or control of CF). Their mission is to end CF. They will help people living with CF by funding world-class research, advocating for high-quality personalized CF care by raising and allocating funds for those purposes. CF Canada’s vision is “a world without cystic fibrosis” which is a common hash tag you will see on Instagram and Twitter.
To raise awareness for CF, I thought I would share 5 CF facts with you guys today.
This month for Camp NaNoWriMo, I have been sharing writing advice that I have received from others this month. But what I didn’t listen to advice I had gotten back in January from Alexis Britton, a fellow contributor at The Mighty, when I interviewed her. In her interview titled, "When the Fog Clears", she talks about how when she wasn’t in a good mental state that she wasn’t able to write. When I asked her to give some advice she said:
Write when it feels natural to you, when you are in the correct mindset and when you feel like you can write to your best potential and get everything across you are wanting to say. It may be months in between when you feel you’re ready to write but that’s okay. Just don’t force it.
This past week has been crazy for me. I went from being at school about 3-4 days a week without a job to working 6 days a week. I haven’t adjusted to the schedules yet, especially when I’m doing my 5am shipment ships. It will come with time and I know I will get used to it quickly but it just wasn’t happening this month. And instead of stressing out over writing, I decided to take a break from writing my story.
But that’s okay. I was so stressed about fulfilling this promise that I made to myself but I had to accept that it’s okay to fail sometimes, as long as you learn from the experience. And I have learned a lot from this experience, even though I didn’t end up writing even half of what my goal was. The things that I learned are:
When I was reading, I noticed that there were a lot of differences between the books and the first 2 seasons of The 100. I meant to share a comparison between the 2 mediums when I first read the books in October but I thought that I should wait to write it and release it on the day that the new season of the show comes out. Tonight, season 5 of the 100 premiers. So, in honour for my love of both the book and the show, I wanted to share some of the differences between the two stories.
Warning: there are spoilers in the comparisons below.
This week did not go as planned. I have a feeling that this month's story is not going to be a winner because I don't have as strong motivation to write right now. I feel like I've lost a lot of writing motivation in general lately. Last fall, I was so inspired to write. It just came easily. Or at least more easy than it does now.
Today my writing goals were extremely off. I wasn't able to write daily but on the days I did (even though it felt 100% forced, I was able to write for about 10-15 minutes. Although I wasn't able to achieve much during those short periods, I was able to increase my word count even slightly. A small increase is better than no increase so I'm going to try to not be so hard on myself about not making the rest of my goals.
I wanted to try to write at least 800 words a day and I'm sad to say that it didn't happen. Actually, I didn't get anywhere close to it. I wish I had done a couple writing sprints but since I'm getting adjusted to a new schedule and work load, I am more tired at night than I'm used to. I'm hoping that I can get some energy gained back this weekend so that I can get a little bit closer to my goal. I'm not optimistic about winning this one but that's okay. I tried and am learning new writing methods. I guess that's all I can really do at the end fo the day.
Due to me not writing 800--1000 words a day, I wasn't able to reach my goal of 12,500 words. In fact, I wrote just under 1,000 words this week in total. It's sad and I'm disappointed in myself but I'm doing the best that I can and that's all that matters at the end of the day.
After working together at CPP, we ended up in the same advanced short fiction writing class in our last year. In this class, I got to know Alex more as a person and as a fellow writer. Her stories are typically scary or suspenseful; they’re always interesting read, sometimes even a little disturbing.
Like me, Alex was studying English and Creative Writing at Western. She has finished her Honours Specialization (the one that I dropped out of) and is now set to continue her studies at the University of Windsor. Although I have known these facts about Alex for a while, I never really knew the reason behind her decisions. Today, I did an interview with Alex to learn more about her creative writing path.
Week 2 of Camp NaNoWriMo has come and gone faster than I realized! Unfortunately, I missed 4 days of writing due to adjusting to work life and the specific type of energy that it takes to do my job well. But I think that what I have learned this week at my internship will help me better manage my writing in my at home life.
This week I was the procrastination queen. The 4 days of writing that I missed impacted my ability to achieve my goals. I wish that I had tried to get some work done on those days but I was procrastinating coming up with names for my characters. In my story, the characters are called the Unnamed until they come to a day called the Naming.
I challenged myself to write every day and to write 800 words on each day that I wrote. Even on one of the days that I did write, I only ended up writing about 150 words that day. My constant struggle to meet the desired word goals has made me realize that I should reconsider how I make my daily word goals. For next week, I'm going to challenge myself to write for a certain amount of time (even if it's just a short period) so that I can make some progress in my story.
Last week, when I stopped writing mid-sentence by accident, the next day it was very simple to start writing again. That, combined with the Camp NaNo care package that I used for goals, encouraged me to always finish writing in the middle of the scene. So, if you finish a scene, you should always start the next scene (even if it's just slightly started). And, if you can, it's even better to also stop while you are mid-sentence. It helps you get started the next day, allowing you to easily pick up where you left off the last time. I am happy to say that I was successful at doing that each time I wrote this week. I'm going to continue using this method each time that I write. And that is the biggest success of the week!
Week 2 Camp NaNo Care Package
Helen Hoang is the next April Camp Counselor! She has provided this week's care packages. My personal favourite care package from this week is the "Get Lost in Your Story" advice:
"I'm too stressed to write. I'm afraid I'm going to fail." Play your music louder. Get lost in it. Get lost in your words and your story. Fight the voices in your head, for just thirty minutes if that's all you can manager. Take a short break, and then do it again. And again. And again and again and again. Until you write THE END.
Set a timer for increasing amounts of time to write today. Start with 5 minutes, then take a break. Then set a timer to write for 10 minutes, and do the same. Increase the amount of time you write until you either hit your goal for the day or get to a place where you want to keep writing even when the timer goes off.
At the beginning of March, I did a lot of work to start improving myself (and by doing so, improving my mental health). This was inspired by the spring-cleaning that my boyfriend and I did. I found that living in a clean space made me feel more motivated than I had in awhile. So I decided that I should make some self-care goals for the month of the March.
I think that I did a good job working towards most of my goals. I only wish that I had referred to the goals I had written down in my journal. I did most of the things from memory, not really consciously thinking about them. I think that I will make some self-care goals for over the summer and make sure that they’re posted in a place that I’ll look at it regularly.
I may not have done as well as I would have liked but it’s a good step in the right direction. These self-care goals are important to me because the last thing that I want to do is fall back into my old habits of not taking care of myself. Things have been amazing lately. I feel more in control of my mental health, even on my off days. And those days haven’t been as bad as they used to be.
Last month was a good step forward for my mental health. I think I’m going to make self-care goals every season, especially in months where I noticed that I get more depressed. I enjoy making plans that I can reflect on later. I always feel so accomplished, even if I only partly completed my goal.
The first week of Camp NaNo is coming to an end. This week was my last day of my publishing program at Centennial College so, unfortunately, I was unable to get as much writing done as I was hoping to. Despite the lack of progress and success in my goals, I'm happy with how my story is developing. I feel more creative and more in-tuned with the world of the Before than I was when I originally wrote the story.
I think it's interesting to see what changes in a story when you come at it from a new perspective, after time has gone on. I feel like time was the best medicine to perfect my story. I'm so glad I was able to keep all my world-building ideas in-tact but the original way of storytelling isn't present in this draft. I can already tell that this will be the strongest draft that I have written for this world. I'm very happy with the characters I've been developing and the new world-building concepts that have been coming to me as I've been writing.
My goals for last week were to write daily and reach 5,500 words by the end of week 1. I am sad to say that I was unsuccessful in my Camp NaNo goals this week. Sad but true. All I can do is work harder at writing daily during this upcoming week so that I can meet my new weekly goals.
So as you may know (or you may not), I have been doing a monthly interview series since I first started this blog in September. To date, I have done 6 interviews. It’s been amazing getting to know different creative people and learn about their processes. This month, I needed time to catch up on my life, which involved taking a small break from pursuing people to interview.
But I didn’t want to go without some type of interview format this month. I know I have had a small dedicated following, so I started to think: how much do my readers know about me? I realized that they can get to know me more through reading my blog posts but the topics are usually chosen based on what I want to share and what I want people to know. So I decided to interview myself (kind of). I found the “The Blogger Tag” and I used to choose a selection of questions to answer (and modified some things to be relevant to the types of things I talk about here).
Without further ado, here is a quick Q&A to help you get to know me a little better.
As a writing student, you are told to never write using cliches. But I think the past part about writing (especially conceptual writing, a.k.a. experimental). I had always wanted to break the major rule of writing: the use of cliches. We were taught to write "fresh" and be original. But, for me, the last thing that I want to do with experimental writing is to be completely original. The fun part about this writing style is you can take things that aren't your own, that aren't original, but make them new and fresh in your own way.
That's what I wanted to do with the experimental poem titled "Clear as Mud." I wanted to be unoriginal in my own way. I wanted to tell someone about love through common (and sometimes less common) cliches. I curated a list of love-related cliches and then formatted them into the poem below.
Before your 18th birthday, you’re expected to know exactly what you would like to do for your career and the rest of your life. My problem? I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I was passionate about too many things but was never confident enough in my abilities (even though everyone telling me otherwise). Despite the fact that my mom encouraged me and my brother to take up to 2 years to work before attending college/university, I refused to. I didn’t want to take the time; I felt ready for university even though I had no clue what I wanted to do for a career.
Even though I wasn’t fully sure what I wanted to do, it didn’t stop me from applying to universities. Despite my original interest in becoming a photographer, graphic designer, or chef, I defaulted to asking about English and creative writing at university fairs. Looking back, I probably did this because it was the only thing I felt confident in. English and creative writing was something I enjoyed and considered myself to be good at. So, I thought, Why not?
James Stephen (who writes under the name James A. Conan) was one of the first people I met when I started in Centennial College’s Publishing program. We immediately bonded over the fact that we are both kind of (to be honest, extremely) crazy. It didn’t hurt that I was helping him out in our publication design class.
As we got to know each other, I learned that Jamie was a passionate writer who enrolled in the program because he had a lot of relevant work experience. The more I got to know him, the more I was inspired by his drive to write stories and get them published.
When I was studying English and Creative Writing at Western, one of my favourite courses in the writing program was a course on experimental writing.
After I finished with this class, I was interested in trying out more types of experimental writing. In this piece, I used a technique called redaction. In a redaction poem, you take an original piece of writing (usual short prose). Then you edit the work by excluding portions of the text from the final product.
I took Jack London's The Law of Life from one of my volumes of Norton Anthology of Short Fiction and redacted most of the writing to create the following poem:
Tomorrow is February 14: Valentine’s Day (or as I like to call it, the Hallmark Holiday). As someone who is in a relationship, a common question I get asked around this time is, “What are you planning for Valentine’s Day?” And, to this day, many people are surprised when I say that I don’t ever go out to do anything for it. My reason is simple: I don’t need a special date night to be dictated to me. I don’t want to get dressed up to go out just because I’m told that I’m supposed to.
I have nothing against this holiday. In fact, I think it’s wonderful to have a day to celebrate love. But it doesn’t feel like the day is about love anymore. It feels more spending money on flowers, expensive gifts, and an overpriced dinner in a loud and busy restaurant. Commercialism has controlled this holiday for as long as I can remember. And when a holiday of love is no longer about love, then why do we bother?
As much as I don’t care for/want a Valentine’s gift, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to celebrate the love that I have in my life. The celebration of love is one of my favour things to do, I just prefer to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. Those are the events where I feel the need/want to get dressed up to celebrate. But February 14 is different for me.
On the 14th I prefer to take my spice up my regularly scheduled evening. Here are four things I do to make a stay-at-home celebration special:
From February 1–7, 2018 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW). It is a nation-wide awareness week that was created to bring light to the prevalence of risks of Eating Disorders (ED). The goal is to improve the support of those with EDs.
This year, the staff at National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) are “promoting the message that One Size DOESN'T Fit All, to shine a light on the fact that Eating Disorders can and do affect individuals of all genders, ages, races and ethnic identities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds.”
NEDIC has teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NEID) to create a toolkit. This toolkit has a number of resources that can be downloaded as well as information about eating disorders.
On Tuesday February 6, there is an event called VoicED: An Event for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This event will be include visual art, music, dance, comedy, and spoken word performances by those whose lives have been affected by eating disorders.
"Dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness and action with a strategy built on 4 key pillars: Fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research, and leading by example in workplace mental health."
—Bell Let's Talk Initiatives
Due to the amount of response from my previous experimental writing pieces, I thought I would share another one.
I created this poem a couple of years ago from a twitter that called themselves Life Poems. I am unable to find the original account. I think that they either changed the name or deleted their twitter.
I remember going through this account one day and realizing how relatable the things I was reading was to my current situation. I added different poems together to create a poem about unconditional love called "Twenty-Four Hours".
I'd like to dedicate this poem to my boyfriend, Mason. Thank you for loving me unconditionally.
To keep with the theme from last week, I wanted to write today about my own mental health. After making several attempts to write a blog about it, I decided that I wanted to write a letter to myself when I’m having a bad mental health day.
I don’t know about you, but when my depression starts to get out of whack, I experience extremely bad days. On these days, I don’t feel motivated to do anything or see anyone. I crave the warmth of my bed and dread leaving it before the early afternoon.
So I decided to write a letter to myself to reference on my bad mental health days. Maybe it can help you too!
As the end of the month approaches, it is time for a new edition of my monthly interview series. As you may (or may not) know, I was published on The Mighty in late December. I wrote about this surreal experience earlier this month (I'm really proud of this accomplishment so I’m going to keep talking about it). To add to this recurring theme, I decided to interview a fellow contributor from The Mighty.
While reading stories on the website, I came across a story about the dating while struggling with a mental illness. Her story was extremely relatable, so I decided to click onto her author’s page to see if she had written any other articles. And she had.
Like me, Britton discovered The Mighty while reading articles and posts about mental health on Facebook. Through reading other people’s stories, she was encouraged to share her own. I asked Alexis Britton the following questions about writing for The Mighty.
Rejection is painful but ultimately a crucial part of the publishing process.
Many people take offense to rejections. I know it’s easier said than done, but you shouldn’t take it personally. Rejection does not mean that your piece of writing is not good (although it could mean that). I think rejection, more often than not, has to do with the piece of writing not being a proper fit for the place it was submitted to.
As some of you may know, I am currently studying publishing at Centennial College. This week was the last week of my first semester. Part of my program involves two off-campus days where our class gets to meet different people from the industry.
This event took place this Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, six people from the magazine industry came to meet with us and give us advice. We also had a cocktail party-type lunch with the recent graduates from our program to talk about their jobs and how they got there. On Thursday, there were five people from the book industry.
Overall, the days were amazing and rewarding, even though at times it did feel a bit overwhelming. But I think it’s normal to feel overwhelmed when meeting a lot of new people in a short amount of time.
Regardless of the tiring aspect of the couple days, it was probably one of the most rewarding things that I have done so far.
Here are five things that I learned at meet the industry week: