Lit Tuesday: Big Magic

Big Magic book in foreground with two corgi planters, a metal bird sculpture of silverware, a hunk of amethyst, and a wire feather in the background

Despite the title, this isn’t yet another book review of yet another fantasy book ( don’t worry–I’ll have plenty of those in the future).  My older sister over at The Beautiful Elements recommended this book to me and said that it really helped her re-frame her thoughts on creativity and inspiration. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first (I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Gilbert, not even Eat, Pray, Love) and I wasn’t even certain how to define my thoughts on creativity.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert is exactly what the title says. The entire book is how she views creativity (as a mystical, divine force outside of ourselves) and  how she does her best to work with it, work without it, and work despite it. She tackles how she believes creativity comes to each of us and how, if we don’t accept to work this idea it brings to us, creativity will then take the idea to another person (similar to the concept of how people on different continents had the same idea at the same point in time–but there’s no way they ever talked or crossed paths).

She discusses the trope of the tortured artist and how we’re all really doing ourselves a disservice by only creating through negativity (the idea that we have to suffer in order for our art to be considered legitimate or real). This stretch of the book was one that really spoke to me. Because I can’t say I’ve ever really felt like a tortured artist (other than when I am writing as a release from a negative emotion or moaning about how no inspiration is coming to me), I’ve always wondered subconsciously if there’s some reason I’m holding myself back or stopping myself from doing something I enjoy. Maybe this was part of it–wondering how legitimate I was.

I’ll stop there. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and it has helped me think a little more on my creative process and how to best continue trying to incorporate it into my life and make time for it. There are so many things that I want to do and I always feel like I don’t have enough time. But I do. I just have to make sure I make time (just like writing this at 5:27 a.m. on a Tuesday morning). Even the copious amounts of research I’ve done for stories, I’ve wondered if I can consider it part of my creative process and she discusses curiosity as inspiration and Big Magic waiting in the wings for you to put it together.

(If you’re wondering what I didn’t especially like, it was that had a few sections about higher education that she indicated she was against paying money for and that she did incorporate a lot of quotes from other famous friends. Which was cool and I really liked a lot of those quotes, but after the fifth time, it started taking me out of her narrative.)

If you’re looking for a book that’s no-nonsense yet understanding (because she’s been there, too)) about creativity (not just writing, though this book focuses on that) and living a creative life to feel more fulfilled, I recommend this book. This is one of those times I was happy to be proven wrong of my skepticism and read a book that was surprisingly close to my thoughts while improving my stance on creativity, inspiration, the muses, all that jazz.

To wrap up this post, I’ll finish with a quote. I wrote down ten quotes from Big Magic that spoke to me. Maybe I’ll write them all up on a canvas as a reminder to myself and stick it in my room somewhere. This is a quote from the middle of the book, where she discusses ideas that are shared between people by creativity (dubbed Big Magic by her).

“Most things have already been done — but they have not yet been done by you.” (Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic, pg. 97)

Lit Tuesday: Fictober 2018

trees with red and orange leaves. a road goes between the trees. Lit Tuesday: Fictober 2018 (Days 1 and 2) overlaid in white text.

Last  year, you might remember I tried to participate in an event called National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short). While I haven’t done any planning for it this year, I thought I might try to warm myself up with a list of prompts I found on Tumblr.

Introducing Fictober! (How do people come up with these cutesy names? It’s a talent I lack, sadly.)

I don’t think I’ll make a post every day I write to one of the prompts like I did last year. But I’ll try to summarize in my posts if I have managed to hit the prompts or if I skipped a day or what. I do have to admit I’m already not off to the greatest start–I didn’t write yesterday. However! This morning, I combined yesterday’s prompt with today and wrote a scene between my main character and one of the villains from what I’m calling my Betelgeuse Chronicles series. (I last touched on it in this post.) Maybe doing these prompts for my stories across the board will give me some inspiration to work on them some more.

Here are the two lines with the prompts:

  • Laurel glared at him, buried memories of scrambling from him, falling in the snow, and discovering her power under his hands. “What do you want? To try and finish what you started?”He narrowed his eyes. “Honestly. People like you have no imagination.”
  • “Let’s start with a preliminary cut.” He took a knife and sliced a three inch cut on her left bicep. “Can you feel that?”She did everything she could not to scream.

I know. Creepy. But this particular male character is pretty creepy in general. We’ll see what happens with tomorrow’s prompt!

(Banner image lifted from pixabay.com.)

Lit Tuesday: Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week logo of a red book with yellow tape crossed over it reading Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is upon us once again! I think it’s important to talk about banned books as a society. People have had a long tradition of trying to censor stories and ideas that they don’t agree with or as a way of controlling the populace. But without a lot of those stories or reports, society wouldn’t be shaped in the way it is today. I think it’s incredibly important to read books that challenge your opinions or present new ideas to you. How else do you grow as a person?

If you always have the same opinions and never allow new thoughts and ideas into your life, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yes, it’s scary to allow those new thoughts and ideas into your life, but who knows? Maybe because you open your mind, you create the next great American novel or discover a hidden artist within you or develop the passion that makes life worth living.

I’ll step off my soapbox now. This is something I still have to remind myself of. When I hit a rut and feel like I’m just going through the motions of life (like I have been), that’s where I know I need to shake things up and challenge myself again. It’s one reason I enjoy writing these blog posts, despite receiving little feedback or interaction with readers. These posts force me to do some research, to put my thoughts to–well, screen– and learn more about topics I’m passively enjoying, but not actively partaking in. I still have a lot of room as a person to grow, which is why I still need to read banned or challenged books as well. I took a look at the Ten Most Challenged Books Lists from 2001 to 2018 to see what caught my fancy:

  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (I believe I’ve watched the animated version of this, but I’d really like to read it.)
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (A friend is letting me borrow her copy, so I’ll probably read it when I finish Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.)
  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier (This appears to be a graphic novel instead of a book. Interesting.)

I’m glad that, in looking through most of these lists, it appears I’ve already read a decent number of banned books without realizing it: His Dark Materials (one of my all-time favorite series); The Color Purple; Harry Potter; and others.

What are you going to challenge yourself with?

(Logo artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, www.ala.org)

Wordy Wednesday: Distractions

I’m nearly done with my reread of the Harry Potter series! As I knew would happen, though, I’m too distracted by it to focus on anything else. I am hoping to get back to writing when I’m done, though. I was talking to a friend about it and it seems like previously, after I finished the rereads, I would have more inspiration to write and create. He wisely said, “Inspiration is wherever you find it. Those familiar things take you back to your roots.” (Thanks again, Jeremy!)

So, what am I going to work on when I stop being distracted? I’m not sure. I have a lot of distractions coming up–or, well, have plans that will distract me. Miles and I are going to host a diaper party for some friends of ours, so I have some projects around the house I want to take care of before people show up for that. (Make a flowerbed outside, but the bricks that are already there are essentially buried; paint some frames to put up pictures in the kitchen; paint the wifi name and password on a canvas; and so on.) That’s going to eat into my free time in the afternoons. Plus we’ll have a lot of weekend/social obligations coming up in October (although we don’t have anything planned in November right now, so maybe I can actually attempt NaNoWriMo again).

One thing I’m looking into doing is creating a bullet journal. They seem really handy and it would be a good way to combine planners. Right now I have a huge one for my blog to attempt planning out posts, but it’s so big that I don’t usually take it with me around town, and I have one for work/social life. I’m thinking it’ll be easier for me to juggle both if I have everything in one location. We’ll see how that goes, though.

Oh, and of course, it’s football season. The trick is going to be making sure I get my writing done in the early mornings again (it’s funny how I got into the habit of getting up at 5:00 and it was fine, but once I got out of it, I’m really struggling with it again–whyyyyy). I’ll get back to it. Anyone have any tips?

Lit Tuesday: Wanderlust Reads

journal with pen, glasses, and photos on top of old map

Okay, I’m making an attempt to get back on schedule. (Work is crazy for me right now.) In this Lit Tuesday post, I thought I’d discuss books related to something consuming my thoughts right now: travel.

My little sister and her new husband have been in Norway for their honeymoon. Needless to say, I’m entirely jealous (don’t worry–I’m also thrilled for them) because she keeps posting pictures of all the incredible and awesome things they’re doing and seeing. My husband even told her to stop posting things so I’d stop getting ideas (he was joking–I think).  So, while I have spent some time looking at trips and locations abroad to see how expensive a trip would be, I’m uncovering blogs to follow and books to read. Here are five books that I’d like to read for inspiration and to learn more about traveling.

  1. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. This came on up nearly every other list for “top books to read about travel”, so I figured I had better read it. The book is a fictionalized account of Kerouac’s travels with his friend Neal Cassady as they traveled the United States.
  2. Microadventures: Local Adventures for Great Escapes by Alistair Humphreys. Not all travel has to be abroad. This book is about creating “microadventures,” also known as day trips or weekend trips–or getting around town. It focuses on finding the adventure you live every day. Living in Charleston, it’s easy to do the same thing over and over, so this is probably a good way to remind myself that there’s more to Charleston than downtown, shopping, and breweries.
  3. Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche. The memoir focuses on when DeRoche met a man in a San Fransisco bar and fell in love at first sight. He isn’t in town for long, though, and she impulsively decides to go with him on his sailboat. There are a few problems with her doing this, the least of which is her fear of deep water. This sounded like it would be a gripping memoir and would also speak to me about taking risks.
  4. The Beach by Alex Garland. This is a fictional story about Richard, who is a young twenty-something traveling in Southeast Asia. He stops one night in Bangkok and, that same night, another traveler staying in the guest house Richard is in, leaves Richard a map to the Beach and slashes his wrist. Richard embarks with a young couple to find the Beach, which is supposed to be a utopia hidden away from the rest of the world. Apparently this is a movie. Either way, I’m always a fan of dystopia stories and this sounds like it will fit the ticket between dystopia and travel.
  5. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes. A coworker of mine told me about his blog (Nomadic Matt) and I found this book within a few clicks. While some of his advice for saving money seems dated or isn’t applicable to me (it’s hard to get around Charleston without a car and we own a house, so we’re not going to live with our parents to save money), I’d like to read this book to see what cheaper destinations he suggests and other ways to save money both at home and while abroad.

I wanted to cover  several different categories within the travel genre. As some of you may remember, I’m not much of a non-fiction reader (it always takes me forever to get through non-fiction books). With these, though, I remain optimistic I can get through them in a decent amount of time.

And if you’re curious: I want to go to Ireland first. Or Italy. Or France. Or England. Japan would be awesome. The Maldives would be just as amazing. See where I have a problem deciding on where the first trip abroad should be?

(Header image appropriated from pixabay.com.)

Wordy Wednesday: Birthdays

I’ve missed a couple of literary birthdays recently in the midst of all the stuff going on in my life right now (work, dogsitting, trying to stay active, and the list goes on). One was on Saturday, August 18. It was Percy Jackson’s birthday!

(Yes, he’s a fictional character. I enjoyed the series, just like Harry Potter, so I’m happy to take note of his birthday.)

On Monday, August 20, it was HP Lovecraft’s birthday. I haven’t read any of his stuff (horror is not exactly my cup of tea), but he had quite the influence on many people out there.

I had to look up other August birthdays, to see if there were any others I missed. (And of course, I had missed a couple.) Ray Bradbury (author of Fahrenheit 451) had a birthday on August 22 (so I only missed that one by a day). The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson’s birthday was August 6. Today is E. Annie Proulx’s birthday (she wrote short stories and how-to books). Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace and Anna Karenina) has a birthday on August 28. Mary Shelley (of Frankenstein fame) was born on August 30.

For fictional characters, today is Percy Weasley’s birthday (two fictional characters named Percy with August birthdays? Suspicious.)! I’m glad he turned himself around. His sister, Ginny, had a birthday on August 11. Scarlet Benoit from The Lunar Chronicles series celebrated her birthday on August 17.

It’s always fun to have an excuse to celebrate, right?

Thirsty Thursday: Book Lover’s Day

Today is National Book Lover’s Day! Since I usually do my libation-related posts on Thursdays, I thought I’d post about literary-themed cocktail books.

I have two that I can attest to:

  • Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle. I received this for Christmas and had a great time reading through it. Have I made any cocktails? No, I sure haven’t. But maybe I’ll start off with something simple (like Rye and Prejudice, made simply with grapefruit juice and a rye whiskey). Note to self: add more cocktail basics to the bar and stop buying glasses.
  • To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene. Hemingway can be a contentious person to people. Despite who he was as a person (alcoholic and unable to really maintain relationships until his last and fourth wife), the work he produced was incredible and brought a new name to the forefront of American literature. But you can’t really talk about Hemingway without talking about his alcoholism, which brings us to this book. It is essentially a biography via cocktail recipes. It’s an unusual read, but good. One I’ll have to try out of this is an Irish Whisky Sour (Irish whisky, lime juice, and simple syrup).

When Miles and I got married, our signature drink was Felix Felicis (also known as Lucky potion from the Harry Potter Universe). There are tons of recipes for this, but this one involved champagne, ginger beer, simple syrup, and lemon juice. There are themed cocktails for everything out there, so it’s not surprising that there are a lot of literary ones. A quick search turns up 4.6 million results, including these from the top page:

I’ll be celebrating by reading some more of To Have and Have Another so I can determine the best cocktail to try.

Lit Tuesdays: Current State of Affairs

I’m keeping it short and sweet today! For some reason, it’s like getting this new Fitbit is helping me stay on track and motivated or something.

I mentioned last week that I was starting a Harry Potter reread. I finished up Sorcerer’s Stone last night and will probably start reading Chamber of Secrets tonight as I walk around the house to hit my 10k step goal. I have to bribe myself a lot to make sure I hit my numbers and audiobooks or actual books have been the best things for that so far. I still have other books I’m reading that I need to get caught up on in addition to my book club reading Siddhartha, so I’m staying busy on that front.

I have also finally given in to writing alternate universe (AU) prompts for a show I got into earlier this year. There’s a different prompt for each day of the month. I’m behind (since I started late) but I have managed to do three prompts in three days, so that’s a great start. I still have my other projects to work on, but I’m hoping that doing these prompts will help me return to working on those. (Though I do need to keep playing Tales of Symphonia so I can recover some more inspiration and world building for my story.)

The list of prompts I’m working on from the au-yeah-august blog on Tumblr. Thank them for this madness. The header image was snagged from pixabay.com.

Thirsty Friday: International Beer Day 2018

Today is International Beer Day! This glorious day is celebrated on the first Friday in August internationally. Go visit the site to see the purpose of the day, but really, the thing to know is that you’re celebrating beer with people across the world on this day.

I have a strong love of craft beer (a lot about craft beer is what I aspire to do in my life–keep it local, a strong sense of community, and flavorful things that will keep you coming back), but I have to admit I haven’t had too much in the way of international beers yet. Beers based out of England are leading the pack (with 14 check-ins) followed by Germany (10) and Mexico (9).

One thing I should do is look more at international beers when I go to taphouses, but the best thing, really, would be to go to the countries of origin. (Yup, just what I needed–an excuse to go overseas).

Either way, I’m wandering from my original topic. I don’t have anything planned for International Beer Day since my in-laws will be visiting us and we don’t typically set an itinerary when we all visit each other. I’ll be celebrating in my heart (and via the D9 shirt I bought while I was in Charlotte the other weekend).

Happy International Beer Day,  y’all!

Lit Tuesday: Harry Potter

One of the things that many people know about me is my love of Harry Potter. I grew up reading the series and the actors in the movies were the same age as me. Even to this day, my love for this series is evident (look at my tattoo, my dog’s name, and also the collection of Harry Potter things I’ve amassed in my room).

I’ll be among the first to admit that J.K. Rowling won’t win any prizes for her prose. But her imagination and creation of this universe has earned her a place in pop culture for a long time from now (like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, in my opinion).

Even if you’ve never read the books or watched the movies, you’re probably friends with enough people to know that July 31 is Harry Potter’s birthday. (It’s also J.K.Rowling’s birthday, so happy birthday to her and Harry!) July 31st is an important date in the Harry Potter universe for this reason, along with October 31st (the day Voldemort killed Harry’s parents) and May 2 (the day the Battle of Hogwarts was won and Voldemort defeated). You’re likely to hear more about the Harry Potter universe around these days.

For the longest time, I did an annual reread of the series. But with life and so many changes over the last few years, I haven’t done this. That changes starting today (well, okay, actually this past Sunday, the 29th). I’m starting my reread of the series. (To anyone who knows me personally, this means I’m liable to be useless as a functioning adult because all I want to do is read and not attend to actual adult responsibilities.) Either way, it will be a great adventure. I’m several chapters in at this point and the thing I’m enjoying is that, despite remembering what happened at major plot points, I’m relishing all the small details and paying more attention than I have in the past. It’s not quite like reading the series for the first time, but it’s close.

If you’re wanting to start a reread, do it. Put your wands in the air and reread with me! I’ll be working on this over the next couple of weeks.

Tonight, though, I’ll celebrate with my fellow Potterheads and attend a Wine and Design painting class with trivia. How are you celebrating?

(Photo taken by me of my original copy of Sorcerer’s Stone with my new copy I’m reading now.)