I recently turned 26. Goodbye, quarter life crisis! Hello, glorious new year of awkward transitional 20s. (Don’t listen to me. I love my 20s.)
Taken on my bday. I am not 22.
I don’t feel older, but I do feel more adult. There are still many regards in which I do not, but some things (liking chocolate doughnuts with rainbow sprinkles and YA books, for instance) will never change. I look forward to the next year of growth and experiment, and in the meantime present a handdrawn list of 26 things I have learned in recent years (inspired in equal parts by Laekan Zea Kemp’s traditional bday blog post and the 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far column in Writer’s Digest). Typed list follows for ease of reading.
26 Things I’ve Learned So Far
1. Beauty, like humor, is subjective.
2. It’s better to buy one thing you need than two you don’t (even if the two things are cheaper).
3. True motivation can only come from within. You have to want something for yourself.
4. Everything you don’t absolutely need in order to exist is a luxury. Notice it. Appreciate it.
5. No two people, living or deceased, experience the world exactly the same way.
6. Life is a series of choices. You will have to make them.
7. No effort is wasted if we learn from it.
8. Love is free. Give it openly and make the world a better place—one smile, one affirmation, one kindness at a time.
9. People are sponges. You are what you eat, read, watch, do, listen to, associate with.
10. Don’t rely on other people to make your life meaningful. Make your own meaning. (But do let others add to it.)
11. Choose commitments with care.
12. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can anybody else?
13. Stress is a sign of growth. It means you are out of your comfort zone.
14. It is better to fail than to not even try.
15. Kindness can move mountains.
16. A person who shames others for loving something is arrogant and narrow-minded.
17. Confidence is everything.
18. Don’t judge a shirt by the way it looks on the hanger.
19. Small luxuries bring great joy.
20. Surround yourself with people you admire.
21. Remove yourself from negative/draining influences.
22. Pursue the things that energize you.
23. Keep electronics higher than liquids.
24. If you want more time, change how you spend it.
25. The longer you look, the more you see.
26. ENK (Everyone Needs Kindness).
Here is the finished page I made for May, this month using nail polish, soft pastel chalks, and oil pastels to mark off the days. Originally I intended to use nail polish all the way through, but the polish wasn’t having any of it. In fact, I thought I’d ruined the month by the third square– the paint came out sticky and uneven and looked like crayon! But I kept going, tried some other things, and in the end I rather liked the mix of smooth and painterly-looking strokes. And the colors, even the weaker ones, turned out like shades of ice cream and cake! Appropriate for Marie Antoinette.
Looking ahead to June, my main focus will be on writing the first draft of my new book: a MG project involving a girl who gets trapped in a world through the cupboard, and must use her wits and its wonders to get home. What about you?
Materials for April’s homemade calendar page include colored Sharpies, one silver Galaxy marker, and a blue poster paint Sharpie.
I swear I entered a timewarp this month– I can’t believe April is over already! My WIP went through another 2-3 drafts, with material added, cut, rearranged, and tightened and the word count fluctuated from 87 to 94 back to 89k. Queries are just around the corner and I can’t wait!
Still mapping my goals and focuses for May. I do know the month will include starting to write a new book I have been planning for some time, and which I am fiendishly excited about!
I’ve never really believed in “callings”: That a person could know beyond a doubt not just what they should do with their life, but what they were meant to do with it. Or that anyone even IS “meant” to do anything. I do, however, believe in passion…and call me crazy, but between the self doubt and manuscript-tearing there are moments when I feel with lightning conviction that I have found the thing that is right for me in writing.
Sometimes it’s as I’m researching (I love learning, and writing books is a great excuse to keep expanding your world); sometimes it’s when I make myself, or others, laugh; sometimes it’s when I realize I have stopped looking at the clock or my word count because I am totally immersed in the work.
Recently it was because I wrote a whole chapter of my WIP in just a few hours and when I stepped back to figure out why, I saw how much fun I was having: the day’s work had involved researching a famous painter, brainstorming literary innuendo and coming up with and auditioning a series of woefully bad pickup lines. I’m talking, like, nose-pinchingly, squirrel-meltingly bad. I plan to scrap all but one of them, and I still haven’t decided which to use, but I sure had a blast coming up with them.
I love making lists. I love crossing items off them. I love the illusion of productivity in a world where there will never be enough time to read all the books, see all the sights, meet all the people, etc.
This morning, as a sort of obligation-free freewrite and creative warm-up (for which lists outside the planner are most brilliant), I thought I would draft a list of
Things I Always Mean To Do, But Somehow Never (Or Only After Great Delay) Get To And Really Ought To Do, in no particular order
Go through closet and donate the things I never wear
Read miscellaneous items (JFK’s “Strategy for Peace” speech, reread The Gettsyburg Address, the faux children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep) that have been on my to-read list forEVer
Learn everything that comes after the introduction of “Stairway to Heaven” on guitar
Practice the solo of “Santeria” until I can do it at something faster than slug-versus-treadmill
Submit short stories and poems to magazines
Garden Learn to garden
LEARN THE PAST TENSE IN FRENCH (irregular verbs included)
Find a French pen pal, or at least somebody practicing/wanting to learn so I have a reason to form sentences and look up words
A whole assortment of writing-related and personal goals including, but not limited to, joining a critique group, traveling Europe, overcoming certain fears, and, eh, securing medical insurance before I turn twenty-six.
How about you? What are you always meaning to do, or have meant to do forever, but never get to?