Where I’ve Been Lately

It’s not a place, but a state of mind. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness posted about it earlier this week with a brief snippet in her Sunday entry:

Over margaritas on Thursday night, a friend told me she’d been battling a feeling of ennui — “a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest” — most of the week. I’m starting to think ennui is contagious and I caught it from her. I need something to kick start a cheerful attitude.

Well, count me in, too. I’ve been feeling it most of the month of March, at least when it comes to books and blogging and writing. Heck, I’ll go ahead and say it: even taking care of myself and making healthy lifestyle decisions. I just felt blah about everything, and I think I’ve pinpointed the cause.

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve struggled with what to post. I’ve struggled to find my voice, and to find my own authenticity in blogging about books and writing. Shortly before my unplanned hiatus, I decided to restructure my blog and come up with regular features that would require blogging at least once a day. The sheer thought of crafting all those posts – some of which I didn’t necessarily love or believe in but would have filled that day’s slot – was mentally exhausting.

This blog is always a work in progress (just like me!), but I hope you’ll stick around. I’m not going to blog every day. I may not even blog every other day. I promise that when I do, it will be something of substance: worth writing, and worth reading.

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An Update on Subscription Boxes

For a while, this blog was basically a repository to document subscription box excess.

In 2014, I subscribed to fashion boxes Golden Tote and Stitch Fix and beauty boxes Birchbox, GLOSSYBOX, ipsy, and Julep.

I haven’t purchased anything from Golden Tote since the spring, but I’ve been doing the capsule wardrobe thing and it hasn’t really fit. There have been a couple of one-off pieces, but if you’re not purchasing items as add-ons to a tote, they seem crazy expensive. Still, the nice thing about Golden Tote is you buy it when you want/need it. I haven’t been compelled to purchase anything of late, so no Golden Tote reviews. (Full disclosure: I am loving some of January’s current options and may bite the bullet.)

Stitch Fix and I haven’t been getting along of late. In fact, I stopped blogging my reviews because they were…meh. The last one I ended up sending everything back, and I rescheduled my fixes so I wouldn’t get anything until the end of this month. We’ll see what this one has to offer, especially as I’m starting to curate pieces for our big honeymoon trip in May.

GLOSSYBOX and Julep got cancelled late spring/early summer. For the cost, quality, and relevance, these were unnecessary subscriptions. In fact, the Julep formula destroyed my nails for a few months. I know a lot of people love Julep (the colors are gorgeous), but it seems positively ridiculous to shell out cash each month for a product that does the opposite of its intended purpose. And GLOSSYBOX involves more money than I want to pay for high-end brands I will never go out and purchase, though every other box since my cancellation has been fabulous. Still.

Birchbox is what it is. The company has dramatically increased its services to incorporate more choices throughout the process, including add-ons, special curated boxes, and sample selections. I love the rewards program and I use plenty of brands available through the site. ipsy is somewhat of a dark horse, giving me different brand options that I usually find at Sephora or Ulta. Plus I will always have a use for the bags in which my monthly samples come!

The other thing is…

Well, writing subscription box reviews were both boring (ooh! silver eyeliner!) and exhausting (let me queue up half a dozen posts!). I’m not looking to create a subscription box blog, and while I appreciate the traffic and the support, I’d rather dedicate my time and energy to books and writing. That’s not to say I’ll never blog about anything else – I just don’t want all my efforts to go to uploading crappy iPhone photos from our guest bathroom.

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Goodbye, 2014. Welcome, 2015.

2015

 

I’m back from my holiday hiatus, eager for 2014 to end and 2015 to begin.

2014 was a rough year for me. In 2012, one of my coworkers predicted that 2013 would be my year. And when it was (in so many ways), it made 2014 even harder by comparison. Coming down from a lot of personal and professional highlights wasn’t gentle. It was a hard, rough slam into the ground.

I don’t talk a lot of office life and what happens “behind the cubicle walls” – mostly to respect company policy, but also because I know a few coworkers read my blog and I don’t want to blur those lines. manuscripts & marginalia exists beyond my work life. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that part of the reason 2014 was so hard involved things that did (or didn’t) happen professionally. I struggled to overcome obstacles, some of which will continue to be challenges in 2015.

Writing was all over the place. I feel like I struggled to find my voice. Most of the year I was a muddled mess, and things didn’t coalesce until the end of the year.

I had some odd health issues that I barely mentioned (if at all?) in the first half of the year. Notably, a combination of factors forced me to the dermatologist, who confirmed I had a moderate case of adult acne. Several medications (including a discovery that I am, in fact, allergic to a type of antibiotic – The More You Know!) and a lot of self-esteem issues later, it was knocked out and I’ve learned to be grateful for the occasional blemish (and better quality facial products).

For all of the bad that came with 2014, there was plenty of good – and sometimes, the jaded, cynical pessimist needs reminding. I celebrated seven years with my partner-in-crime, and we made a lot of progress planning our wedding thanks to support from our family and wedding planner. We shared a joint engagement party with Scott’s cousin and his fiancée, and spent a wonderful long weekend celebrating their marriage this November. My parents also hosted us for many wonderful wedding planning trips, including some seriously gorgeous engagement photos and a touching engagement party.

I cried a lot in 2014, but I cried a lot of happy tears.

We joined a gym and I’m the healthiest I’ve been (possibly ever?). I still make bad food decisions, but they’re fewer and farther (further?) between…and also less egregious. I work out regularly, and while I might not be in the best shape of my life, I’m in better shape than I was a year ago.

Blogging was somewhat hit and miss, but thanks to being featured on Goodreads (something I didn’t even realize until my page views went berserk), I had more visitors than ever before. Considering my typical high page views came from Stitch Fix and way outdated Golden Tote posts, this was awesome.

For the most part, I live a life of privilege; the obstacles I experienced in 2014 made me a stronger person, and hopefully a better one, too.

There’s a bittersweet aftertaste from 2014 lingering, but I’ve got a good feeling about 2015.

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300

This marks my 300th post here at manuscripts & marginalia.

Obligatory:

giphy

Also:

xerxes

 

Original photo here; sorry, not sorry.

Anyway, I thought I would take a moment to offer some things I’ve learned about writing, books, and life since I started this blog. 300 makes for a long-winded post, so I’ll keep it to an even four because I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here.

ONE: I MAY NOT BE WHERE I WANT TO BE (YET), BUT IT’S DAMN FINE TO BE WHERE I AM.

I have goals I haven’t accomplished, and obstacles remain to be conquered, but life is good. I have a stable job and I’m in good health and I have a support system that will go to the mat for me any day of the week. I don’t talk about that enough, but it’s been pretty gosh darn obvious the last few years.

TWO: MY PURPOSE IS AN ONGOING JOURNEY; MY PASSION IS THE WRITTEN WORD.

Five years ago, I didn’t think I wanted to be a writer. I stopped in college and didn’t reconnect with writing until well after I’d moved to Phoenix. Blogging and connecting with other writers and readers has strengthened and sometimes even rekindled that love. I know I need to make more time for it (and figure out ways to do that with a healthy approach in mind), but this is one of my great loves.

THREE: HATERS GONNA HATE.

Self-explanatory.

FOUR: JUST BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK DOESN’T MEAN IT’S TRASH.

Sometimes you write something and you’re like “hey, that was a waste of time”…except it wasn’t! For one thing, it’s an exercise. And unlike exercises at the gym, you can’t physically hurt yourself because there’s not a “wrong” way to stretch your creative writing muscles. I’ve had multiple pieces that didn’t go anywhere, but helped me learn more about my process and approach. More recently, I was able to use past personal work that I set aside to reinvigorate a current project that plateaued. Sometimes it’s about cobbling things together and playing the long game…

Words of encouragement? Leave happy thoughts in the comments!

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January 2014 Hiatus

*blows dust off WordPress account*

Oh, hello! Thanks for sticking around, faithful readers. I took a wee bit of a hiatus this month due to an unexpected family situation. I’m in the process of cleaning out the cobwebs in my inbox and ramping up my participation in the three online writing classes I’m taking right now. I’m staying sane by purging my Kindle/Audible app of disappointing books, “rocking out” to The Civil Wars station on Pandora, and brainstorming really, really lame/geeky puns (example: “I haven’t heard a claim that bad since Renly Baratheon tried to take the Iron Throne!”).

…admittedly, it’s a very unique way to manage one’s stress.

I decided to continue my mini-break through the rest of the month, so I’ll be back in February with new Writer Wednesday posts, the continuation of the Journey (mini?) series, and original flash fiction that hasn’t been queued up for weeks.

If you have any content requests (Writer Wednesday topics, flash fiction, reviews, etc.), feel free to leave a comment with suggestions!

 

New Blog Format

Hear ye, hear ye!

I am changing things up.

Again.

It only seems appropriate that I announce some feature updates in my 100th post. I started this blog with the intent to update it on an almost daily basis, including regular features like “Modify Monday” and “Thoughts on Thursday.” I posted book reviews for every book I read, regardless of whether it was one I would actually recommend to others. I spent a lot of time building a “book blog lite” – not necessarily a bad thing, but not exactly what I originally intended. After all, this blog is a celebration of words. I just thought I might spend more time posting my own, as opposed to ruminating on the words of others. Rather than sticking to a format and schedule that isn’t working, I’m going to find something that does. Here are just a few changes I’ve already phased in or you’ll see in the coming weeks:

Book Reviews:
I won’t be reviewing every book I read. I read a lot, and keeping up with the review posts gets stressful and irritating (“I don’t know what to say because this book was just decent. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t awful. It was just okay.”). Posted reviews will be recommendation-based; that is, if it was a good book and I think a variety of readers might enjoy it, a review will get posted. The subject lines will include “Go Read This!” along with the author name and book title. I’ll also be simplifying the review itself, posting just the cover image, author name (linked), book title (linked), GoodReads synopsis (linked), and my review. Any book challenge updates will be posted on a quarterly basis.

Daily Posts:
Au revoir, daily topic posts. The only one I will (probably) maintain will be Writer Wednesday, because I heart it so. Along with that, expect word-related content ranging from how authors lose readers’ interest to professional development for writers. You can weigh in on upcoming topics at Help Me Write.

Creative Pieces:
There will be more. I have a few ideas in the hopper that I’m fleshing out either for submission to contests/lit mags or for the blog. Huzzah, creativity!

Layout:
Take a peek at the overall blog design and let me know what you think!

Crowdsourcing Creativity | Help Me Write

Hold your horses, folks. My writer’s block isn’t that bad. I’ve got water in the well, I just don’t know how I should serve it. With ice? With weird Crystal Light liquid flavor? With your preference of potent potable? I’ve created a profile on Help Me Write, a website that helps other bloggers connect and get feedback on post ideas. I currently have three blog ideas posted and awaiting support. I also have a creative writing sample idea posted – this isn’t exactly modeled by some of the other post ideas I’ve seen, but I’m rolling with it. It’s a working title and the first line.

I would love to encourage this kind of collaborative, supportive community to flourish for bloggers and writers. Please take a look, and feel free to leave a link in the comments if you have a profile as well!