A Summer Update:
It’s been a while since I posted, and it’s not because I haven’t had thoughts. I’ve just chosen to keep them to myself for a little while. While out in the world querying my novel (and getting all the rejections that come with that process), learning a new language, and moving (again), I was starting to feel a bit overexposed, and I needed some time to myself.
Gotta tend to the roots to branch out, right?
Social Media and Comparisonitis
Speaking of roots, I was rotting mine by comparing myself to others online. As a result, I decided to take a big step back from social media, which has been great for my mental health.
Instagram and other websites are such a fine line to walk. On one hand, they’re a great tool for keeping up with friends and family, which has been invaluable to me because my friends and family are scattered all over the world right now; but on the other hand, it is difficult for me to see everyone’s “highlight reel” (usually without seeing all the work that went into it) when I’m just trying to focus on the work that will produce those highlights in my own life.
Also, I just don’t think we’re meant to see what everyone is doing all the time, and posting on social media (and most self-promotion, honestly) feels too much like begging for attention – to me, at least. Some people are great at presenting their genuine selves online, and I feel like I’m okay at expressing myself when I actually have space to write, but on other platforms, I too often feel like I’m pandering to the lowest common denominator. Plus, I hate the visual nature of Instagram. It’s the 2023 equivalent of “keeping up appearances.”
Not to mention that I end up seeing plenty of content that has nothing to do with the people I love and care about – or even my interests – and social media can be a real time suck.
These days, I’m mostly focusing on messages, keeping up with the people I keep up with in real life, and engaging with social media platforms in a way that feels more active than liking a post. I also love sending and receiving long letters and emails.
I’m super interested in learning about how social media affects us and discovering healthier ways to use these tools. I still think about this Psychology Today blog I read in 2012, and I like what Dr. Laurie Santos has to say about the harms of social media.
I cannot recommend Dr. Santos' free online class, The Science of Well-Being, enough. It was one of the main tools I used to maintain a semblance of sanity during the pandemic.
I also just read Candy House by Jennifer Egan, which was sci-fi but a good portrait of humans coexisting with social technology. The ending was a bit underwhelming but captured the humanity of the novel so well I cried.
What I’ve Been Working On
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of script coverage, or evaluating other people’s screenplays to help them reach their full potential. It’s been busy season over at Coverage Ink, and things are just now winding down.
By the way, if you need help with a script or another piece of writing, you can always request me at Coverage Ink or send me an email, so we can work together directly. (Price and venue just depend on the level, personalization, and format of feedback you want).
I’ve also been teaching English (or more accurately, conducting English-language adventures) for a lovely family in Heidelberg, and I’m hoping to expand that business soon. I love working with children, but I’d also like to work with students preparing for exams or writing theses, and anyone of any age who wants to improve their English. Now that my partner, Sam, and I have found an apartment, I will probably start advertising in our neighborhood, so stay tuned!
What else? I’m always available to help non-native speakers and people who just don’t like writing with the spelling, grammar, and clarity of anything they’re working on (business plans, academic papers, etc.) – and I love helping artists craft their artist’s statements and marketing materials. I’ve been doing a little bit of this work lately, and I’m always game for more.
I’ve also been writing and voicing podcast material for the True Fiction Project (my episodes are Pressure Cooker and What She Learned from the Flowers – check them out).
Really, it’s nice to stay open and flexible so I can work with people I like and projects I believe in, and I’ve been doing just that. As I mentioned earlier, the busy season for coverage is starting to die down, so I’m actively looking for new projects.
If you or someone you know needs help with anything English- or creativity-related, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
When it comes to my creative writing work, I just finished sending my latest batch of query letters, and I’m getting some great feedback from early readers of my novel.
I’m constantly adding details and making tweaks to make the whole thing clearer and more audience-friendly, and I can’t wait to take the next steps in the process (and hopefully get a team of people behind my book, so we can get it out to readers, together).
In the meantime, I’m writing lots and working with whatever the muses give me.
I’ve finished 10 short stories this year, and I’m working on a couple more. This morning, I got some great feedback on some of them, so I’ll do some revisions and figure out how to get those published / out to readers.
I don’t know what my next novel will be, but I’m staying organized with my stories, so hopefully I can compile them into a collection or two, and I’ve always got ideas brewing.
It always surprises me which ideas I’m able to latch onto and stick with for long enough to produce something. Then, once I have something, getting things out can be a struggle, so I’m just trying to maximize my “butt in chair” time and create a workflow that works for me. Please send me publishing/ productivity tips if you have any.
Also, if you ever want to be an early reader for anything I’ve written, genuinely just send me a message and I’ll send you something . I love sharing my work, but I have to be strategic about it. Otherwise, I would just post everything here.
What I’ve Been Up To
Life has been pretty mellow since Singapore. We actually found an apartment right before we left, so we’ve spent the last month moving into it, and we’re still setting up furniture and getting situated.
There’s no real way to make buying a sofa exciting, so I’ll spare you the details, but it’s been nice to just be in Heidelberg for a while. It also feels great to unpack after six months living out of a suitcase (Rizzo agrees).
I recently bought a bike, so we’ve been cycling around the city and attending local events, from an outdoor Flea Market, to a German techno night, to the crowing of a new wine queen in our local village.
Last week, I stumbled upon the Heidelberg International Literature Festival and spent time reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (10/10 recommend), and this weekend, we watched spectacular fireworks as part of the Heidelberg Castle Illuminations and floated down the river on inner tubes in Wieblinger.
It’s been hot, but a quick bike ride is always refreshing, a dip in the river is heavenly, and I’ve spent most of my time working, reading, and writing inside or on our balcony with an ice-cold drink.
I’m enjoying life here and having a hardworking summer after so much globetrotting earlier in the year. I hope you are getting the rest, adventure, or productivity you need this season, and as always, thank you for reading!