Reading more women authors

This is not actually something I need help with, in the most general of terms. I tend to read women authors by default, and often have to work to seek out male authors.

I consider myself lucky — in this one, small way, my brain has escaped patriarchal programming.

Well, perhaps. I think I still read a disproportionate amount of cisgender, white, able-bodied, women authors, and I often only read the speculative fiction/SFF genres. My defaulting to women authors still does not yield much diversity in what I read.

So I am taking a page from Lilit Marcus’ book, here in 2014, and actively seeking out more women authors — but more specifically, queer and trans* women (including genderqueer folk who are socially classed as women/assumed to be women), women of colour, indigenous women, mixed race women, and women with disabilities. Also, I’m going to attempt to branch away from SFF and read other genres.

I won’t be reading women exclusively — as I said, I already default to reading women authors, so I actually have to actively seek out male authors most of the time. However, if I read a book by a man, I will then read 2 by women.

And I’m not sure how many books I’ll get read. I don’t do much reading these days; I think university killed my joy in it. But I will try; I will work very hard to read several books this year, and to seek out different types of books by more queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, WOC, and disabled [women] authors.

Are you participating in #readwomen2014?

(Worth noting: the hashtag was created by Joanna Walsh, and most of the credit for the idea is given to her — but Lilit Marcus deserves credit for the idea, and I’m giving her her due.)

And if you have any recommendations for books by queer, trans*, indigenous, mixed race, disabled, and/or women of colour authors that are not SFF, please let me know in the comments!

 

A reminder to myself that forming good habits is always harder than I hope it will be

I broke the chain. I didn’t write yesterday.

I thought I might have some energy to pound out 411 words when I got to my mom’s place — perhaps not in blogging, but in something countable at least. A short bit of crappy fiction, a poem about my day, or a blog post for Monday morning that I could edit when I woke up. Maybe I’d even reach 750 words!

This did not happen. Yesterday was a day full of travel and it was a pretty shitty day on top of that. My car was too full for me to nap in the back seat on the ferry rides, as I usually do, so I was awake the full trip. By the time I reached my mom’s house, I’d been up for 13 hours. My brain was fried. I was ready to sleep right then but I forced myself to stay up, because I knew if I went to bed too early I’d wake up at 2am and be unable to get back to sleep.

Something similar had already happened on Sunday, even though I’d gone to bed late. I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t seem to get back into slumber, to wake up when my alarm was set (6:30). I sighed and got out of bed and started to finish doing the laundry. I thought, briefly to myself, that maybe I should sit down and write my 411 words right then. I decided against it, thinking laundry and packing the car were higher priorities.

The thing is, I was only half right. Packing the car was a higher priority if I wanted to make a morning ferry, but I had 2 extra hours during which I mainly folded and hung up clothes. That wasn’t a priority — I didn’t get the house as clean as I was planning, so a little bit of extra mess in the form of clean clothes sitting on the couch wouldn’t really matter, in the long run. I could have stopped at sorting and then sat down to do my words.

I let my brain get the better of me in convincing me I didn’t need to do my daily words just then, and I ended up with a wordless day.

I suppose I could have sat down when I got to mom’s place and pounded out 750 words of nonsense on 750words.com, getting my count in and not breaking the streak, the chain. But that’s not the point of writing every day.

The point is to write something of substance. If the point were to just get the streak badges on 750words, or to pad my yearly wordcount, then I could just copy past several paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum and call it a day.

The point is to form a daily writing habit. 750words.com, Don’t Break the Chain, Get Your Words Out, Inking It Out, the spreadsheets those communities provide — these are tools to keep me on track. They are not the habit itself. The habit comes from me; the discipline comes from my own head — the part that’s not trying to constantly sabotage anything good in my life.

I let the saboteur win yesterday, and I regret it. I’m not repeating that mistake. Let January 5th, 2014, be the only day this year where I do not sit down to write something.

The Good Things Jar — emptying, reading, saving, starting anew

Last year I did a Good Things Jar — I got an empty jar, prettied it up with ribbon, and wrote good things that happened on pieces of paper. These things I put in the jar.

Last year's good things jar

I was not so diligent with it as I should have been, but it was still a great exercise. Today I emptied last year’s jar and read all the great things that happened to me last year.

Some of the good things that happened in 2013!

Some were small and simple (“Had a morning read with my coffee on the lanai”); some were momentous (“Got engaged!”). A few were in there twice! Especially the one where a friend sent me fudge. That fudge was delicious, man.

Putting them all into a folder, each year. A journal of how awesome life can be.

After going through them, I glued them all to some paper. They covered two sides of one sheet and then one side of another. I put the sheets into paper protectors and put them into a folder.

Then, I wrote out three Good Things — one for each day of 2014 so far — and put them in the jar. I’m going to be more diligent about putting things in the jar this year — maybe not every day, but every week definitely. Even if it’s just “I’m still breathing.”

Note #3 for 2014 Good Things Jar!

My first note was “Kissed Mr. Katje at midnight!“, because that is the best way to start off a year. My second said “Wrote double my word count goal today!” because I wrote 851 words yesterday (my daily goal this year is 411). The third thing I put in the jar today was the note that came with my sister’s Christmas gift to me. That’s me looking ridiculously happy, or just very loopy.

Next year, I’ll do the same thing, with the reading and the gluing to paper. Eventually I’ll have a journal full of all the good things that ever happened to me and my family. I plan on making this a family tradition. Even if it does make Ogre roll his eyes something fierce. It really was amazing to read through all the good things that happened last year, especially after how sour I was feeling about 2013. And throughout the year, looking at the jar is definitely a pick-me-upper.

Have you done a Good Things Jar? Do you think you might?

The Stroke of Midnight

At midnight, I was sitting on the couch upstairs, playing around on my computer. Mr. Katje’s folks were watching Downton Abbey, and Mr. Katje was pouring us glasses of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. We raised our glasses in a toast — “Happy new year! Fuck off, 2013!” — and drank. Then I got up and went over to the other couch to give Mr. Katje a very chaste midnight kiss — as he’d had some sugar-free Halls several hours before, and I did not want to risk any lingering aspartame passing to my mouth.

It was a relatively quiet night — no fireworks, just some neighbors banging pots and pans. The cats barely woke up to register the passing of midnight.

Now it’s 4 am. Mr. Katje and I have not yet gone to sleep — he is looking at his “Random Picks” list on Netflix and saying “I feel like I should be insulted” because it’s populated by Barney and more crap he’d never watch. It’s amusing, and I am sitting here laughing at him.