Sunday, May 24, 2020

The One in Which Erin Finally Finishes Her Novel

So. It finally happened.

Yes, I, Erin Marie, of the smol book people, on the gorgeous day of May 2, 2020, finally Finished My Novel.

*Tosses confetti into the air and starts a dance party in the comments*

As lighthearted as I'm being, finishing writing my book is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far.

This ridiculous novel planted itself as a tiny idea in my teenage brain back in the tender old days of 2008 (a simpler time). Back then, I still had an iPod nano, an affinity for Aeropostale, and was worried about starting high school. Over time, as I grew as a person, so did my book. It morphed and changed over many drafts over many years.

After working on this book off and on for over a decade (largely due to procrastination, unnecessary rewrites, and my stubborn refusal to let it go), I could feel that it was time to finally finish it.

And now I have! Praise God. I seriously cannot describe what a mental weight off me this is. Maya Angelou really said it best: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." For so long, that was me.

Image credit.
Kindreds: A Blurb

I'm not great at creating a book summary, but I shall give it a go. In short, my novel follows a family that travels back to their hometown after ten years of living somewhere else. It's about their adventures in the small town over the course of one summer. There's romance, friendship, familial love, grief, and an overweight flat-face tabby cat. Yup.

The Pinterest board is here if you want to see more visual inspo I used for the book.

Select character mood boards are also up on my Pinterest. I don't know if it's just me, but I work really well when I have Pinterest boards and visuals. That's just the way my mind works.

My Facebook Status After Finishing My Book:

I finally finished my novel last night! 🥰 If you know me well, you've probably heard me mention it once vaguely and then immediately change the subject. This book has been a story I've been working on for so long, and procrastinating writing for even longer. I never thought that it would take a global pandemic to push me to finish it, but I'm so glad that it is now out of my frantic writer's brain and onto the page. (They grow up so fast!) Next up: Editing and rewriting this first draft til it's logical and coherent. Send music recommendations. And coffee. 😁💜

It was very emotional to complete that last chapter.

I may have misted up. The characters in this novel have been a part of me for so long, and it's a bittersweet feeling to let go of them and finish their story. But it was necessary.

Image credit.
Right now, I am slowly working on editing my book, a process that I anticipate will take some time.

I wrote the majority of the book during quarantine(!!), and was working on it for hours each day, so it's safe to say that it was an all-consuming project. Part of me wants to power through the edits right away, but I also think there's value in stepping away from the story and revisiting it with brand new eyes (kudos to you if you caught my Paramore reference).

The only other novel-sized manuscript I wrote was in the seventh grade.

It was a story about a middle school superhero and was roughly one fifth the size of Kindreds. That is my only other experience with writing a full-length thingamabob, so editing this book is going to be a massive undertaking.

Which brings me to you, dear blog friends!

What advice do you have for me, O Wise Ones of the Word? I have limited experience with what happens after finishing a first draft - my #1 goal was always just to write the whole thing. What's your process for novel editing? Send help??

Feel free to leave any suggestions or ideas you might have below in the comments! (Please?) Sending back hugs and chocolate cake.

Don't dream it's over,
E

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Goodbye, Groundhog Day

This is the smol writing cabin I sometimes write about in posts. Spent a couple of days there quarantining and trying to put words on the page with my novel.


 There is no better way to describe the month of April than "Groundhog Day." Due to quarantine, it has felt largely like I've been living the same day over and over again. When I look back on April 2020 years from now, it is likely I will remember a lot of time spent indoors, searching for jobs, and novel writing (read also: crying, oops). 

Needless to say, April was not my favorite, though this month has found me getting closer to the Lord and taking steps of faith, for which I am so, so grateful.

I attempted a Domestic Pursuit and made boxed blueberry muffins the other week (it's a start). They were good! It's weird how something as simple as baking (and licking the batter bowl) can put me in good spirits.


In a way, April was ripping off the Band-Aid of my comfort zone. It was me pouring my heart out to God, securing a new job after a season of uncertainty, getting close to completing the novel I've been trying to write for years, and soon, Lord willing, moving to an apartment. It's all a fresh start. I've been listening to a lot of records again, which I somehow got out of the habit of, and one of the lyrics that's piercing me is from the band Whitney's second album:

"Tell me everything is just beginning,
I don't feel alive but I've been living.
Back when we were young, we would ride.
Though the changes come, you'll get by.
Anything could happen."

That's oddly how I feel now, entering May: Anything could happen. Maybe before that would have paralyzed me. I'll probably still have bad days, but I feel good things ahead for May. Starting a new job and moving out during Super Dark Pandemic Times might sound crazy, but this whole journey has been about faith and trusting God for me. Staying safe and smart, of course, but not fearful. I'm trying not to be afraid anymore, which is something that used to really take root in my life.

I'll still have my moments. I'll still miss people. I'll still look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, as I always have, but now it's time to go. It's time for a NEW THING.

Ok, but a NEW THING doesn't mean I'll stop listening to old favorites (I see you, Avril).


I hope all of you are doing well, taking heart!
That this time has given you a chance to reassess what is most important to you. For me, I realized that I want a slower, simpler pace of life. I want to trust the Lord more, and to listen to more music, to write daily, to take steps of faith, and to drink only decaf coffee. To read more books. What have you learned during quarantine? Let me know in the comments!

"I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord." - Ezekiel 34:15

Current Favorites: This song (*tears up*) | Also this one (my mood) | Reading outdoors

Entering a new season,
E

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Hard Reset

Campus view, pre-pandemic.


On Sunday, my cousin Daisy drove up to the foot of my driveway with books to share. She tossed them onto the lawn, sprayed them down with an industrial-sized can of Lysol, we laughed, then she drove off, and was gone. Thus summing up the most Social Interaction I've had outside of my immediate household in Literal Weeks.

Some days, I'm really negative, and it can be kind of hard to see the good in this situation. But, in a way, this quarantine time has served as something of a hard reset. It's forcing me to evaluate what I actually want in life.

Before everything changed, I was burning myself out. In February, I was eagerly awaiting a time where I could rest, recharge, be alone for a little while, and work on my book. Then boom! Worldwide pandemic. Tons of time to be alone. Tons of time to write. 

So I'm trying to view everything through the lens of opportunity.

My sister channeling Lloyd Dobler a couple of months ago.


I can't lie and say that I'm not eager for regular life and its calming normalcy to return once more. But, I will say that I'm grateful. I'm grateful for health. I'm grateful for the hours I have now to work on my novel each day. I'm grateful for the cookie dough in my freezer, my morning cup of coffee, the sun shining outside, and the 20 episodes of The Vampire Diaries that I may or may not have binge-watched with my sister this weekend.

Because one day, Lord willing, the world will go back to normal. We won't have this strange time forever. I want to be able to say that I used this time, this reset that we've all been given, and created something beautiful out of it.

I did a thing and posted again on my 25 Project blog, if you want to check that out. I really love that this time is giving me a chance to plug into projects that I've ignored or put off for sometime. That I'm able to take a sort of pause from the hectic pace of normal life and see what God is trying to tell me. It's been tough, but someday, this time will be over. This too shall pass.

Smol List of Current Favorites

This article | Novel writing | Hazelnut coffee | This song | Candles

Treat yourself with kindness and remember to get a short walk around the block.

Probably writing or flailing about,
E

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Care Package 002 | March 2020

Practicing social distancing since 1993.



Hi, hullo. This post is coming at you live from the comfort of my purple bedroom, which will likely become quite a familiar space in the weeks ahead. Going outside invites a bit of madness, and people are semi-panicking, but here in the purple bedroom, we are keeping it calm and cozy with a brown sugar chestnut candle and a whole lot of blankets.

Although it's cozy, I must say, it's been a little lonely.

I'm an introvert type, so usually I cherish my Hermit Time, but nothing feels normal right now. That seems to be true for everyone in the country, nay, the world. So as I throw myself into coffee-drinking, creative projects and cleaning, I figured it was time for another installment in the Care Package series. Because most of us are probably a bit isolated at present, and could use a little pick-me-up.

Care Package 002
via
Welcome to the Care Package! In addition to the below recommendations, please remember to take care of yourself. Mind, body, soul. Things that have been helping me navigate this crazy time include park walks, conversations with friends, writing and journaling, reading the Bible and all sorts of books, getting dressed even if I'm going approximately nowhere, and eating right.

To Read

via Tumblr
* The Calm Place: My friend Shannon showed me this article once, and I've returned to it several times since. It's a little quiet place amidst the chaos of the Internet, and I dare say it's relaxing.

* The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan: It is likely that I have already recommended this book in older posts on this blog, but if I did, I DON'T CARE. My friend Jesse recommended Marina Keegan's work to me years ago, and ever since, this book has been dear to me. I return to it quite frequently. Other books I'd recommend devouring while things are uncertain include anything by Sally Rooney, Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, and the entire Harry Potter series.

* "Things to Save in a Fire": The other day I read this simultaneously heartbreaking/heartwarming piece by Lucy Harbron. I love Lucy's blog, and she really puts such honesty and care into her writing. This post is all about the women and stories behind certain articles of clothing she cherishes. Definitely worth a read.

* Shameless plug: If you're bored and looking for music recommendations, I wrote a thing for you.

To Listen

* "After Hours" by the Weeknd: If you like music that makes you feel like you're on the dance floor in a Space Mountain kind of way (what are words), then is this the jam for you! But seriously, the Weeknd is super talented and 2:12 of this bop will make you want to dance for days.

To Do

image
via Tumblr
* Spend your time wisely: Lena Dunham made a list of little indoor activities you can do right now to keep yourself healthy and busy, and I highly recommend checking them out.

* Smile: Just keep clicking > 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

* Log off: It's easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of news and noise at a time such as this, but taking some time away to sit in your backyard in the sunshine, or pray in a park is actually quite lovely. Also strongly recommended: a nice afternoon nap.

Ok! That's it, friends. If you have any fun things to share, please comment below!

Sending hugs and sunshine,
E

Saturday, March 14, 2020

2019 in Music: My Favorite Albums of the Year

Hi, hello, please forgive me for not posting this in December when I wanted to, but....life got crazy. And I am only just now getting around to writing, in March, about my favorite albums of 2019. *screams into a pillow* Because I have a disproportionate amount of excitement and #feelings about compiling my yearly favorite albums list, I will not Let It Go, I will Post It Late.

'Twas a good music year.



There were so many epic albums released in 2019, that I'm still listening to some of them on repeat (re: Clairo). And listening through records I missed (re: Wallows). Basically, I'm making up for lost time. 

Also: My favorite local record store posted a picture of me with one of my fave records I bought this year, and I admit I can now die happy. #HeyLookMa #IMadeIt

In summation: 2019 = rad music year, bad blogging year. But now, THE LIST!




Image result for billie eilish when we all fall asleep where do we go album cover"
Aesthetic: Cold jewelry on a bare throat; nose bleed; holding your breath underwater

Why this album: I will admit, I was initially wary of listening to Billie Eilish because of how much her music unsettled me at first. (Spoiler alert: got over that.) I've never heard anything exactly like it, which is reason alone for it to make the list. But the sparse soundscape, breathy vocals, sheer attitude and Eilish's stellar backstory really grew on me. Spooky and sarcastic, yet somehow sincere - sign me up.

Song to listen to: "When The Party's Over"



Image result for lizzo cuz i love you album cover"
Aesthetic: Dance party all alone in fuzzy socks; hair flip; being a boss at work or a workout; buying expensive perfume

Why this album: This album blew me away. It was a complete genre game changer from my usual alt/emo/indie leanings, and totally surprised me. The record, as a whole, is mad empowering. It's my go-to soundtrack for positive vibes or a smol dance party. Required listening for anyone going through a minor identity crisis.

Song to listen to: "Heaven Help Me" on repeat 25 times, or until the neighbors complain


Image result for waterparks fandom"
Aesthetic: Neon introspection; energetic existential crisis; depressed dance party; A LOT OF GREEN

Why this album: I was a fan of Waterparks' previous albums, but FANDOM really solidified my love for this band. This was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated albums of 2019. The singles the band dropped were somewhat of a departure from their pop-punk vibe into a more synthy, quirky style. It's still Waterparks, but you can tell they're experimenting (see "Turbulent"). This album was full of high-energy sad boi tunes - if said sad boi was also super pissed and/or wanted to dance.

Song to listen to: "Reboot"


Image result for clairo immunity cover"
Aesthetic: Driving away with the windows down; looking at film photographs; holding your best friend's hand

Why this album: This record was actually one of the last to make my list, but it has quickly become one of my favorite albums in recent memory. Its honest lyrics, effortless vibe and full dose of nostalgia is a bittersweet mood. It's perfect as calming background music, unless you listen too closely to the lyrics - then it becomes very melancholy very quickly. Overall, this was a really cool project. I'm eager to see what Clairo creates next.

Song to listen to: "Bags"


Image result for the head and the heart living mirage cover"
Aesthetic: Morning music; turning a corner to your own happiness; a worn-in flannel; buttery pancakes and coffee - this album is like breakfast to me (IDK, but it fits)

Why this album: Disclaimer: I love the Head and the Heart. Their music has given me some of my favorite folk tunes and this record did not disappoint. I took this album to work with me and put it on the record player as the sun came up, and it was one of the best ways to start my day. Can fully recommend for Monday morning listening. Everything about it sounds like a beginning - of a relationship, of a new way of seeing yourself...good stuff.

Song to listen to: "I Found Out" (!!!)



Image result for nf the search cover"
Aesthetic: Creative madness; running through a dark city at midnight; overthinking; hustling even when no one believes in you

Why this album: Like with Lizzo's record, this album was a step away from my usual genre comfort zone. I'm not usually into rap or hip-hop, but there was a dark yet inspiring element to NF's songs on this album that really made me a fan. 1000% recommended listening if you need to absolutely crush a workout.

Song to listen to: "When I Grow Up"



Image result for - Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties - Routine Maintenance  cover"
Aesthetic: Driving far, far away; stale cigarette smoke in a small venue; reading the newspaper at a diner in a grimy flannel

Why this album: This record is, to me, a specific time, place and person. It is a road trip kind of record, and an album that really drove home the concept of song-writing as a character to me. It's gritty folk with rough edges and a whole lot of heart. Listen to the first Aaron West record ahead of this one for the full experience.

Song to listen to: "Runnin' Toward the Light"


Image result for - Half Moon Run - A Blemish in the Great Light  cover"
Aesthetic: Me, screaming out of a car to the general populace and anyone who will listen, that they NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS RECORD OR ELSE

Why this album: Half Moon Run is one of my top favorite bands, and they hadn't released a record since 2015, so I was EXCEEDINGLY STOKED for this album to come out. You best believe I drove straight to the record store to buy the only two copies of this album they had in stock (one for me, one for my sister). I realize I'm not spending much space talking about the Actual Album, but that's because it's breathless, wordless, and in need of approximately 0 blurbs to hype it up. Just listen. That is all.

Song to listen to: "Flesh and Blood" (Maybe my favorite song of the year, honestly)


HONORABLE MENTIONS


Ok, that's it.

I should probably stop here. This post has been incredibly long as it is. If you're still looking for more tunes, you can check out last year's favorite albums list here. And! If you have music recommendations for moi, feel free to comment below. Always up to discover rad new jams.

That's all she wrote,
E

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Learning & Leaving


I got in my car, with the entire contents of my office emptied into the backseat, at the end of my last day of work. I expected emotions, and all of them were mixed, as they have been for months, about every facet of my life. Then this song came on the radio, and what could I do but laugh?

Ever since I turned 26, it's as if my life has been in a blender. (Literally me.)

But it's shown me some things, I'll give it that. (Again, me.)

Learning: Maybe I don't want to be a hermit in the woods just yet (all bets are off for the future). Maybe I need to pursue a profession that better serves me creatively, financially, and mentally. Maybe I need a person who has the same energy levels as me and likes books. Maybe I need to write my novel instead of just talking about it.

Leaving: A place that was once my home. A person who was once my home. The notion that I have to have everything all figured out.

It makes sense that I haven't blogged since November.

I'm not even mad at it. It's been such a crazy time, that even when I wanted to blog, I was sort of at a loss for what to say. I still have an unfinished draft post of all of my favorite records of 2019! I still might publish it - there were some bangers on there. It just goes to show the kind of craziness life's been throwing at me lately.

But now, it feels like I'm entering a new season.

It was windy and we were being dorks.


The other day, my sister and I grabbed coffee and went to the park. I couldn't remember the last time I had done something like that, just hanging out and talking with her in nature. It gave us a moment to sort through everything we've been thinking and feeling and experiencing lately. And we both feel like we're on the cusp of very big change in our lives right now.

Naturally, my constant thought at the moment is, "Everything's ending."

But when everything's ending, that means new things are about to begin. It's a new chapter, a new page, the next act of the play that is my life (somebody stop me, I am getting unforgivably cheesy, SEND HELP, OR PIZZA). And while it's hard to leave behind things that were very, very good, it is the right thing to do at this point in my life. It doesn't make it any easier, and I don't like sitting with these difficult emotions, but tough times can make you resilient.

I guess this is just the latest installment in the ongoing series entitled:
Erin Grows Up and Discovers Who She Is.

Even though I think I've known who I am for a while. But I just keep learning new things about myself, and what I want, and what I don't, and it's kind of baffling. There's this quote that I want to include at the beginning of my novel, that I just adore, and it's by e.e. cummings: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." WELL DANG, e.e. RIP MY HEART OUT, e.e. Because that's how I feel, in this weird phase of learning and leaving. It's knowing that who I am and what I want for my life isn't going to be for everyone.

But that's okay.

Because, to quote the great Avril Lavigne: "I can't not be what I am."

Drink water and take care of yourself,
E