Bookish & Writerly Recaps: March 2017

Look! Another monthly recap written and published in a timely fashion*!

*It is, fittingly, April Fool’s Day as this goes live, so if you believe the above, that’s totally on you.

Here’s what’s been happening throughout March…

What I’ve written

Look, I’m going to be perfectly honest again (as if I can help being anything but? #oversharer). This past month was another not-so-great one for me, writing-wise. And I don’t just mean writing in the novel-writing sense; I mean it in the sense of, ‘Why did I think I could be a writer in the first place – freelance OR fiction? Neither one is working, and I don’t think they ever will’.

Yeah, fun stuff. Good job, brain, for spending all of March dwelling on those super helpful thoughts.

Basically, most of my month was lost to a fog of self-doubt and inner conflict. I was questioning everything: what I really want out of life, what ‘the dream’ is and how it compares to actual reality, whether I should throw everything in the bin and run away to England, etc. etc.

These doubts were split evenly between the freelancing dream and the author dream. Not only was I struggling with my career situation, I was also still in a really bad place regarding my fiction writing (see last month’s recap for more on that).

Truthfully? I’m still in that place when it comes to my book. I’ve tried a little writing here and there, but I just don’t feel good about it again yet. I’m still constantly thinking about it, and I have moments where I’m like ‘Yes! This story could still work, and I do still want to write it!’. But those moments are a little too scarce right now, and I think I’ve still got a lot to work through.

March recap-1Image via Unsplash

BUT! I did get a bit of nice news on the last day of March: after a couple of weeks of job applications, interviews and trials, I was offered a new part-time role as a marketing assistant! Yay. :) I’ll primarily be creating content, which is what I love to do most, and I can finish up at my casual bookselling job (which is lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it’s time to move on).

With three fixed days a week at this new job and the other two days to focus on my freelance stuff, I can finally develop a proper routine and stick to it. And I’m hoping this will also help with my writing. I really do want to give it another go, so with a little less career-related stress and a more consistent work situation, fingers crossed I can get things moving again.

Something that I think is really going to help me do that is looking to others for inspiration and motivation. It’s no secret that two of my biggest inspirations are two of my best girlfriends, Helen and Kyra – and truly, when I think about what those ladies are achieving, it’s a bigger motivator than anything to keep me going.

Kyra posted recently about getting out of her own writing slump, and Helen’s amazing first novel is coming out later this year, and basically, I just admire the absolute heck out of them both. I want to stay on this writer’s journey with them, so I’m going to try my hardest to do just that.

Anyway – one last thing to finish off this perpetually rambling section! While the word-well in March was running pretty dry, I did write some articles for Writer’s Edit on impostor syndrome and establishing a writing routine, so check those out if you’re struggling with the writer’s life (join the club, we have a monthly newsletter).

March recap-2Image via Unsplash

What I’ve read

This month has been ALL FANTASY, ALL THE TIME – and let’s be real, I’m not even sorry about it.

A Gathering of Shadows (reread) and A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

I blabbed on a little last month about how much I love this series, but I’m going to do it again here. I LOVE THIS SERIES. I love everything about it. And I really admire Victoria Schwab as a writer.

In March I reread A Gathering of Shadows in preparation for the release of the final instalment, A Conjuring of Light, which I completely devoured as soon as it landed in my mailbox. How do I even explain these books? The characters are beautiful and flawed and funny and heartbreaking and real; the writing is finely tuned and wonderful; and the story is absolutely lustrous with magic – there’s no other way to describe it.

ACOL was a perfect, bittersweet ending to the series, and to anyone who’s read it, you’ll know what I mean when I say: Anoshe.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

First of all, let’s not be superficial here, but what a beautiful cover. Give me black and sparkly gold and a magical hammer and I’m sold. (Neil Gaiman’s name and the word ‘Mythology’ in big letters doesn’t hurt, either.)

Moving beyond appearances, I loved the book itself as well. It was a refreshing little jaunt into the world of the Norse gods, and I really enjoyed the traditional, almost spoken-word style of the storytelling – just like sitting around a campfire at night while a bloody genius named Neil tells you tales of monsters and gods. (Truly, writing any kind of god is this guy’s absolute jam. This was a lovely contrast to American Gods – which, by the way, looks like it’s going to make a freaking excellent TV show.)

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This is the first Robin Hobb book I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a real ‘classic fantasy’ feel to it, and the writing style is markedly different to all the fantasy I’ve been reading lately, which is refreshing. There are no dramatic chapter cliffhangers, and very little fanfare when it comes to big reveals; there’s just simple writing telling a damn good story, and that’s something I hadn’t read for quite a while. (Don’t get me wrong – I love a good cliffhanger and some fanfare, of course, but it was nice to dive into something a little different.)

Fitz’s story also reminded me a little of one of my favourite epic fantasy tales – that of Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. Both Fitz and Kvothe have a terribly shit time while they’re young (as well as, presumably, a terribly shit time when they’re older too, poor loves). They’re both misunderstood and gifted and fierce and terribly lonely – and despite all that, they’re both thoroughly likeable characters, with exciting and extraordinary stories to tell. I can’t wait to continue with the Farseer Trilogy.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I wasn’t so sure about this one. It’s been getting huge hype online for months and months now, which I think may have had something to do with my less-than-enthusiastic reaction to it; I think it was actually over-hyped, which hasn’t really done it any favours.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it; I enjoyed it enough to stick with it, and actually smashed through it fairly quickly. But I didn’t love it. I don’t particularly like giving detailed negative reviews, so I won’t go into too much here, but suffice it to say that I felt the story fell a little flat, and there was some big ol’ insta-love that I really wasn’t a fan of. The writing was quite nice, though, and an indulgent, dazzling, night-time carnival atmosphere is always fun.

Caraval

***

Well, that’s enough book rambling and life pondering from me (for now). I’m off to pack for a few wonderful days in Melbourne, where Nate and I are heading tomorrow to (belatedly) celebrate our five-year anniversary! *prepares self for three and a half straight days of eating, drinking and lounging in a hotel spa bath*

Happy April – I hope your month ahead is full of lovely things.

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