Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What's Up Wednesday, #2

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It is run by Jamie Morrow and Erin Funk. Jamie has a link at the bottom of her post with everyone who's joining in each week. 

What I’m Reading:

I’m really enjoying my break from school and work with a ton of reading. In the past week, I’ve finished 5 books (you can check out all the books I’ve read this year on my Book List page). The most exciting reads were Under the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night. I read the first one in a single sitting, without closing the book once. And the second in 3 (twice before bed and then woke up yesterday and read until it was finished). So, so good. I can’t even handle it. I loved that the POV switched back and forth from Aria and Perry (plus, I’m a sucker for reading romantic, lovey stuff from the guy’s perspective). I loved the independent friendships they each had with Roar and the Marked senses (you know, and the ritualized tattooing; love that!). There was just so, so much that I loved. At first I was a little weirded out because my grandfather’s name is/was Perry, but I got over that quickly. Just like recently reading the Mara Dyer series, I had to exercise a ridiculous amount of willpower to NOT just start re-reading them again as soon as I finished. Those really are my favorite kinds of books.

I am currently reading the Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch. I got it at a Scholastic book sale on campus about a month ago. It was one of my 8 new books I got for $28. It’s in my favorite genre, dystopian, and then MC is a boy, which I am excited about. I know that the majority of books are written by men with a male protagonist, but most of the books I read are written by women with female protagonists. So, I am always excited to switch it up. I’m 5 chapters in and enjoying it, for sure, but not loving it yet. Hopefully that will come as I get further and more characters are introduced.

What I’m Writing:

AHH!! I finally was able to start writing my novel yesterday. I had planned on starting last Monday, the day after my graduation, but with packing for New York and spending time with the Sister (and last minute dress shopping for the niece’s Choir banquet, which resulted in finding half off brown riding boots! YAY!), I wasn’t able to. Then, I planned on finding a park in The City and writing a bit but it was rainy and cold the whole time I was there. Then I thought, Sunday, I’ll start Sunday. But alas, I slept all day Sunday (and finished An Abundance of Katherines and read all of Under the Never Sky). Then Monday…well, I went car shopping with Dad. So finally, after finishing Through the Ever Night, I started writing. And seriously couldn’t stop!! I wrote just over 5,000 words and 3 chapters. I am LOVING it!!!

I’m sure it’s going to take a ton of editing once the draft is done, but it feels right. If I am able to keep that pace up, I could finish at 70,000 words in 2 weeks. That won’t happen, I’m sure, but it’s a nice thought!

I’m going to try to keep most of the plot to myself until it’s written, but I’ll tell y’all what I told Facebook. The main character’s name is Quinn. It came to me months ago while I was planning but I never wrote it down because I was unsure how much I liked it. But any time I tried to change it, she just wouldn’t let me. There were a few close contenders, but they just didn’t fit. Her personality isn’t fully formed yet, but the other names I found, though I loved how they sounded, just didn’t fit her. So, Quinn it is. And her nickname will be Q. And I love that.

What Inspires Me:

I’m incredibly inspired lately by people, book characters, bloggers, anyone, embracing their flaws as part of themselves. I am LDS and there is a definite push towards perfection in the culture of the church, not in the doctrine and teachings of it. Growing up, any flaw I had was a source of shame and caused me to try too hard to a)not let people see any flaws and b)change it as quickly as possible. But all that did was increase my feelings of shame and self-loathing. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve been slowly learning to deal with my shame and change it and I’ve made a ton of progress. But lately, I’ve been really touched when I read about people, real or not, who accept their flaws and human-ness without shame and loathing. That’s not to say they aren’t working to become better, because to some extent, they are. They just don’t base their value as a person to be loved, on the existence, or lack of, flaws. I find that so beautiful.

I’m trying to accept myself more than I ever have. Even the bad stuff. And each step I take in that direction has been freeing. I want to be completely honest with myself about who I am, what I want, what I want to strive for. Each thing I do, I want it to be because I want to, not because of some outside pressure or expectation. I’ve learned a lot about inner-honesty as a therapist, and even more through the books I read, and I want more of it in my own life.

I want to share some of that on this blog as well. I’m working on some posts that will be more about me and my struggles than about reading. So, the content on here will vary a little more than it has so far. But reading and writing will still be a part of it all because those things have saved me over the past 9 months and are part of my story. So, I hope you’ll still be interested and follow along. I’m scared to be that real, but I’ve been working up to it for over a year, and I think it’s finally almost time.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Unpacking from New York, completing the rearrangement of my room, collecting graduation pictures from my family members, and NYC pictures from my sister. Mostly, I’m enjoying my time off. I’m going to spend my days reading and writing, with some apartment organization and cooking sprinkled in. Heavy on the visiting friends and family. I’m excited to just be me with no outside pressures. It won’t last long enough, but I’m trying to enjoy every second of it I have left.

This is the only picture I have from my graduation. We had to be there 2 hours early, which was ridiculous because we had to sit and wait to go into the Arena for over an hour. This was my reaction to having not enough sleep and being hot in the robes. See why I need to get pictures from the family?!

What about you?! What are you up to?


  1. Congratulations on graduating! It sounds like you are enjoying your time off. I love it when the writing comes so quickly like that!
    And good for you for seeking to overcome the must-be-perfect attitude that ties us all down. Honesty like that is so, so valuable and absolutely needed.

    1. Thanks! I definitely am enjoying it. Especially the time for writing. I am really coming to understand how important that honesty for all of us. I don't understand why those harmful beliefs are so ingrained in so many people. I mean, I do, I just wish so badly it wasn't. It's really uplifting and inspiring to see other people at different parts of that journey towards honesty. Like you said, so valuable and needed.

  2. That picture is kind of awesome! I think I'd frame it. ;-) The only picture I have from my university grad is the official one they took when I received my degree. It's...meh. Ah well. There's so much to comment on here, where to start? I loved UNDER THE NEVER SKY and THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT, especially the Perry and Roar bits. Can't wait to read INTO THE STILL BLUE, though I think the wait is going to kill me. Good for you for starting your story, Rachel! That is just fantastic, and so is your progress. Can't wait to hear more about your writing journey. :)

    1. I might just have to frame it! That's a great idea! I got the proofs for the official picture this morning and when I was on stage I completely forgot they were taking a picture, so I was moving and it's blurry and horrible. But the other one turned out well, so at least there's that.
      I think the wait for Into The Still Blue will kill me too. Along with Allegiant and The Retribution of Mara Dyer and more than I can count. As much as I love reading, sometimes I wonder why I put myself through the agony of waiting for the ends of series. But I can't stop, and I guess the anticipation makes the read that much better.
      I can't wait for more progress on my novel, either! I will definitely be keeping everyone posted on it's progress. I'm so excited about it, I don't think I could hold it in if I tried!

  3. Agree with Jaime - that picture IS kind of awesome! I don't even know where my college grad pics are (this happened well over 20 years ago - sigh). Anyway - congrats on graduating! And also on the new story progress! I LOVE the SNI feeling!

    Also, must add here that I, too, bought a copy of 11th Plague from a Scholastic book sale. I'm anxiously awaiting it to arrive! And I love what you said about being real and flawed - your comment on my post today made me smile. Thank you!

    1. Scholastic Book Fairs are such a great deal! The one on campus was there after going to all the schools in the district, so all the books had seriously reduced prices. Two of the books were only $1.50!
      Glad I could help you smile; you need it at such a difficult time. I have a deep conviction that no one ever need apologize for any emotion they feel. Especially grief. It shows you cared and are truly affected by people and that is a beautiful thing. I'm all about being real and flawed and accepting of emotions. :)

  4. HAHA! I LOVE you so much!!! I owe you a HUGE email. I haven't stopped thinking about you. I'm always praying for you. My favorite part of this post is "What Inspires Me." I feel the same - people who accept their rawness and imperfection. It's beautiful! LOVE! Love you so much!

    1. I do always love getting emails from you, but no rush! I know things are busy and crazy for you. Just knowing your thinking and praying are really more than I could ask for. :) One of the things that really inspired to write that came from one of the links you have on your blog (the woman who had problems with bulimia and alcoholism). Amazing! So, really, you had a ton to do with that train of thought for me. I knew you'd enjoy it. Love you right back!!

  5. I agree with Jaime and Alison, I love that picture! Being a non-university-goer, I haven't experience graduation for myself, but I remember my brother's being full of waiting around and fanning myself with the program, so I think that picture sums it all up!

    Yay for getting started on the writing--getting going is always the hardest part, I find, so it's nice to hear how much you're enjoying it :)

  6. Congratulations on graduating! Hooray! :D

    Don't you love it when a character's name fits just right? I love that feeling. Quinn's a great name :D Have fun writing the book! I wish you many an easy writing day when the words flow and flow and flow!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you think Quinn is a good name. The only Quinn I've ever heard of was from Glee so my hesitancy to use it came from not wanting people to think it was a reference to that character. It's not. It came about because I wanted the first letter to be Q and the Quinn just fell right into place.
      I hope I continue to have easy writing days with flowing words as well. Thanks for that! I wish that for every writer as well. It really does make things go better. :)

  7. Personally, I think that's the grad photo you should frame. It screams "I'm scholarly yet fun!" ;)

    I'm so happy to hear that writing is going well for you and also that you enjoyed UNDER THE NEVER SKY and THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT. I loved both of them, which most definitely had a lot to do with Perry and Roar. I'm not usually big on dual perspective books, but Veronica Rossi totally sucked me in with Perry's voice. I have a copy of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE kicking around here somewhere, but I haven't gotten to it yet. Hope it turns out to be good.

    Your "What Inspires Me" comments struck a chord with me. I grew up in a different denomination than you, but your experience sounds similar. It's so hard to shake that urge to be perfect and measure up. I think being content with ourselves is a difficult process. Thanks for your honesty!

    1. Scholarly yet fun... I think that's my motto, I just didn't know til you said it.
      I got Under the Never Sky and Through The Ever Night because of you and Jamie's high recommendation of it. I knew they would be good, but had no idea how good. Thank you both so, so much for the recommendation! I'll put up a post when I finish Eleventh Plague to let everyone know what I think.
      I came to realize my denomination's issue with shame through myself, obviously, but also through working with many clients within my denomination. I naively thought it was just us. Almost any time I've talked about it with people from other religions, they've let me know it exists in most of them. And with many people who aren't religious at all. It breaks my heart that this is so much a part of all of us, because I don't think God would want that for us. Honesty and contentedness is difficult, and I'm starting to think it works best with the help of others. I wouldn't be able to be where I am without the help of some dear friends.

  8. So exciting that you started your book and you're off to a running start. Hooray! And I love what you say here about shame. It is powerful.

  9. Congrats on starting your novel. I love the name Quinn. :)

    Also, I like reading books from male POVs too. All I read (this is unintentional) are books from female POVs written by female authors so I love changing it up from time to time. I have Under the Never Sky on TBR list, so I'll definitely check it out because I love dystopian novels and it sounds really interesting.

    I love that picture. It does really say 'scholarly yet fun'. I think my face was a bit similar when I graduated from high school. My hat kept falling off and we had to be there early to practice before the actual ceremony and...ugh. But congrats on graduating and enjoy your time off. :)

    I think a lot of people have trouble with being honest with themselves, which is why that leads to them not being honest with other people. Growing up my mom always told me to be myself which is great but my mom is an extremely confident person so that idea of accepting yourself and being true to yourself came easier to her than it did for me; I didn't inherit her confidence.

    There are a lot of things I don't like about myself, and there still are things that I wish I could change that I'm in college and trying to figure out who I want to be, I'm starting to embrace the person I am and not write my flaws off as something bad because, in my opinion, our flaws are what makes us human. They are what help us to grow and connect with other people who might be different from us. Accepting yourself is hard, believe me, I know but it's a process and you can only take it one step at a time. :)

  10. I don't remember how early I had to be at my college graduation, but I do remember standing outside WAY TOO LONG waiting to go into the gym. Graduating in December...was not my best idea. (I actually wore leggings under my graduation clothes. Not full-length ones, but they still snuck into pictures. No one even batted an eyelash - ah, the Pacific Northwest...)

    Self-honesty isn't something that clicked for me until the end of my freshman year of college, when I realized this is my life and the only person who needs to be happy with me, at the end of the day, is me. Which was something I struggled with, because I was so afraid of disappointing people (namely: my parents). Looking back on it now, I realize my parents are proud of everything I've accomplished - it probably helps that my worst fear, having to live with my parents after college, materialized for a little while. I'm not going to pretend to be the most confident person on the planet, but I'm way more confident than I used to be!

    Congrats on starting your novel! I'm sure it will be fun, frustrating, and totally worth it :)