Fifth Notebook

 

I’m back with a new (old) transcribed notebook.

This was another of the bigger ones, so it took me much longer. Fortunately, there was stuff about a fanfic, book reviews and my thesis that I had already transcribed a year ago, so those saved me some time.

There was a lot of information about the new main characters of the fantasy story, and even an old first chapter written from a secondary character’s point of view. I was surprised to find that one at the beginning of the notebook, but apparently this is a very old notebook I bought in 2012 and recovered in 2016, so that must have been something I wrote back in 2012. It was only a few pages long, probably because I lost my confidence.

There were also notes for a trip I was planning with a friend. I wrote down the places in Japan I’d like to visit. I realized I still haven’t been to Tottori, Ise, Mount Fuji or Shirakawa. Maybe one day…

I also found more information about the stories located in Madrid, and this was when I started writing about the other fantasy story, the one with an MC trapped in someone else’s body. So that’s yet another one of the stories I mentioned in this post.

You know, I started writing that one because of a song I like. The lyrics made me think it must be based on some fantasy book, and when I couldn’t find the source, my partner told me I could write one myself. What started to be a sort of fanfic based on a song (weren’t those popular 15 years ago?) turned into something bigger that now has nothing to do with said song.

That’s how inspiration works, right?

 

April 2019 Update

April has been a very busy month at work, which is why I was inspired to post Writing with Anxiety. I knew my anxiety would only get worse if I spent my few free hours writing, so I’ve tried to do the opposite of what I do at work: I’ve spent time with friends and nature.

Spring means some days are sunny and warm enough to spend by the river or walking through the woods, so I’ve enjoyed spending more time outdoors and taking lots of photos I may use in the future.

I’ve also been taking care of my Twitter account in Spanish, which is a thing that exists.

The threads I shared may look familiar to you:


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I’m glad I could help these books reach a small Spanish audience. Nothing makes me happier than helping others and sharing the things I love, so I’m thinking of writing another book recommendation post. If you’re interested.

What have you been up to this month?

Writing with Anxiety

As I was working on my post about writer’s block, I realized that sometimes the reason we struggle can be temporary, like lack of inspiration or a particular stressful situation. In those cases, the possible solution may involve doing something else until the inspiration returns or the particular situation has been fixed. But if you have to live with it forever, like some people do with anxiety and/or depression, this might not be a good solution.

I’ve lived together with anxiety as long as I can remember, but depression is new for me, so I’m not as experienced as I am fighting anxiety. I can tell you that, in my case, writing while I was depressed only made it worse, so I had to stop and take a break for a year (while I was looking for a good psychologist), then take another year to come back slowly. So, you know, sometimes it’s good to stop and take care of yourself for a while.

But I have the need to feel useful, so this situation —as you can imagine— didn’t make my anxiety happy. We both had to learn to cope. My problem is I feel guilty if I’m not being helpful all the time, and I can’t be helpful if I’m not doing something “useful”. Writing counts as useful, but since I’m a translator, it’s not very different from my usual job (typing on a computer) or studying (which I was doing at the same time), and it piled up. The solution? I had to learn to relax and compromise.

I try to think of my anxiety as a sort of gremlin (AKA mogwai). It can be a nice pet if I take care of it, but… I can’t feed it after midnight. Or, in my case, after work. I need to spend hours doing something different so I can recharge my battery. It wasn’t that way before, but I overdid it and didn’t notice until it was too late. As a result, I only write a bit during the weekends when I have busy weeks at work. (Or nothing at all, if I’ve been too busy.) I’m slow, but there’s a nice community of #turtlewriters over twitter who are amazingly encouraging. It’s good enough to know I’m not alone, but they also tweet regularly to show their support and understanding. And by regularly, I mean every day!

I also struggle whenever I share anything written by me (yes, even blog posts or tweets) because I don’t want to be offensive, boring or annoying. Which is why I created this blog, so I could start writing and sharing little by little, and hopefully learn that the world doesn’t end and I shouldn’t be controlled by fear. As a result, now I have twitter and this blog to test my anxiety and get used to having other people see what I write.

So those are my plans for the foreseeable future: take my time, keep going to therapy, update this blog and turtle-write.

Tell me, do you have any experience with anxiety? How do you cope?

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March 2019 Update

This has been a great month for the most part! Lots of flowers and cute animals around here. Seeing daylight when I leave work is more encouraging than you may think.

I’ve been on holidays, visited some museums and written a bit. I still have bad weeks, but now they’re turning into bad days, which means it usually doesn’t take me a whole week to get better.

I’m having a bad week right now, though, so it doesn’t feel like an improvement, but I know it is.

Reading has helped a lot, and I’m going to start writing as soon as I finish this post! I found some inspiration in a song and wanted to write everything down before I forget.

This month I opened up a bit and told you about my fight against writer’s block. It surprised me to see my post was so well-received. Thank you, everyone, for your messages, visits, likes and support. It means the world to me!

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How do I fight writer’s block?

Same as any other kind of artist, writers also suffer from this condition. The causes differ and depend on each person, just like the ways to overcome it. Every person should find their own way to deal with it, so if you’re looking for a solution to this very problem… I’m sorry, but I can only speak for myself. My answer to this question may not be able to help you in particular, but I wish it did. I hope you find your way back, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

In my case, writer’s block was not a lack of inspiration. I had ideas, and sometimes I wrote them down, but I didn’t do anything else with them (for years) because of my insecurity. Still, I was struggling at the time, so it wasn’t a complete block. In a way, I’m used to dealing with anxiety and my lack of self-confidence, so I can get things done most of the time. Yes, these are problem I should deal with, but things got worse.

When my anxiety got so bad it reached the stages of burnout and depression, I stopped writing. I had to. Whenever I had to use my computer, I wanted to throw it out of the window. I had panic attacks sometimes.

So I did what I had to do and stopped writing. I changed my habits, reduced my workload and spent one year focusing on work (because I couldn’t stop working) and taking care of myself.

I took walks, played videogames, avoided my computer and didn’t write anything new. Not even on my notebooks. I even stopped reading for a while.

It was hard because I’ve spent all my life working (even school and extracurricular activities are work) and stopping to rest made me feel useless, but I persevered. And then, one day, I started feeling better. I wanted to read again, but I couldn’t trust new books yet, so I started rereading some of my favourite books. Little by little, I started to enjoy it again. And then I started therapy, and it all went even better after that.

I took some holidays and I just went to the beach and relaxed for the first time in many years. That couple of weeks helped a lot and I started writing in my notebooks again, and also transcribing my old notebooks. I even created this blog. And I started writing a fanfic because I thought it would be fun.

It’s been over a year and I’m still fighting, but I think the way to overcome writer’s block is… basically patience and perseverance. I know that isn’t very helpful, but that’s how you learn to take your time and do what you need in order to get better. The solution depends on the reason why you suffer this condition, and it may involve not writing at all. So if taking relaxing baths and walking in a forest is what helps, don’t think of it as Not Writing. Resting doesn’t have to be the opposite of work. Relaxing is hard work and, more importantly, it’s necessary if you want to keep working (and living), so I now consider it a very important part of my day. Try doing something that makes you happy (or that used to make you happy if you have depression), and remember that the mind needs time to heal.

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February 2019 Update

I haven’t written a January update because I already did a Happy-New-Year update, but now I can resume my monthly updates. Or that’s the plan.

First, I’m glad to say that my anxiety is getting more manageable, and now I’m able to do things I couldn’t do before. With the days getting warmer and longer, I’m more active as well. That means that I’ve started writing again!

But then I fell sick twice in two weeks, so I couldn’t write this post on time…

I did finish the list of book recs I’d promised, and it took longer than I thought, but I’m very proud of it. Go take a look!

I’ve been writing some other stuff in Spanish as well, but just I could give a couple of friends something written by me as birthday presents. I hope they liked what I did!

 

love celebrate valentine happy valentine
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How did I start reading Romance?

I already wrote a post about how I started writing Romance, and the story is more or less the same, but I wanted to explain a bit more about the books that have brought me here.

With this goal in mind, I have chosen twelve books (or rather series) I discovered during that first year of my life as a Romance reader. You may already know most (or all) of these, especially if you’re interested in diverse books with LGBTQ+ characters, but know that some of these series are still being published. Maybe you’ll find out they are now longer than the last time you read them. Speaking from experience here.

Basically, I fell in love with Romance novels because they have my favourite subgenres (Fantasy, Historical…) with a focus on characterization that I haven’t found in any other genre. I enjoy reading about people and the different relationships they have, and Romance gives me that in bunches. There are so many different works and authors out there, that you can find anything you need. Even if you didn’t know you needed it, which has often happened to me.

If you want to find interesting plots with great characters and a guaranteed happy ending that will make you feel better about life, look no further: Romance novels have you covered.

So maybe we have different tastes and you won’t find what you’re looking for in the books I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader, but go ahead and leave a comment if you want to share your opinion or request some other recs. I’ve read much more since then, so I may be able to help!

I won’t make you wait any longer! These are the books/series I devoured in that first year:

 

Covers of twelve series I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader.
Twelve series for twelve months.

  • Whyborne & Griffin: You might remember this series, because I’ve mentioned it’s the one that made me start reading Romance. It’s still one of my favourites and I re-read it pretty often. A Paranormal Romance series set in the city of Widdershins, where many are enthusiasts of secret societies and the occult. Imagine a shy philologist, a resourceful detective and a deadly archaeologist fighting ancient sects and Lovecraftian horrors. Can you guess how excited I was to find out this series existed?
  • A Charm of Magpies: Another amazing Paranormal Romance series, this time set in England, and with a couple of spin-offs that are as good as the original series. It all starts with a reluctant lord that has inherited an earldom after his father and brother die in suspicious circumstances. After the curse that killed his family tries to put an end to his life, he is forced to request the help of magician Stephen Day. What he doesn’t know is that Stephen Day had previously met his family. If he’d known, he’d have guessed he had a good reason to hate them all and no reason to help him.
  • The Cadeleonian Series: As traumatic as the ending of the first book was, I do love this fantasy series. Ginn Hale’s world-building and narrative are superb. Each description of a swordfight or a horse race is a masterpiece in its own, and I’m looking forward to the last two books of the series. Spanish people like me will notice some names and historical facts come from our own history.
  • Captive Prince: Not an easy series to read, this one. Fantasy, with a world-building so detailed that it feels like a historical novel sometimes (and, in this case, it is Australian people who will perceive the influence of their own history). The well-known trilogy tells the story of a prince who is forced to become a pleasure slave in a different country, and how he learns to survive a court full of enemies and intrigues, and discovers an ally in the last person he expected to.
  • Scarlet and the White Wolf: This Fantasy series started as a gay retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but at this point you’ll only see some traces of it in the first novel, because the world-building is huge and the plot twists abound. The main character of the story is a young peddler who wears the red cloak of his guild. He travels a lot due to his profession, but he finds himself trapped inside his hometown when the only usable mountain road is blocked by a bandit known as the Wolf of Omara.
  • Society of Gentlemen: My first Historical Romance series, and one of my favourite series ever. Set in Regency England, the series covers various relationships that have to overcome class difference in certain ways. Anything I can say about it will fall short, so just know that I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Reawakening: I loved this Fantasy Romance series about a family of dragons, and it’s still my favourite dragon shifter series. In it, dragons have been asleep for centuries, but are now waking up to a new world they don’t recognize. Their oldest enemy seems to be alive, though hiding somewhere, and they’ve lost most of their power. But the thing about dragons is… only love can make them strong enough to fight back.
  • All for the Game: One of those series that helped create more Romance readers, especially since the first novel is free and it’s a sports series. What I found most interesting about this series is that the sport it talks about was created by the author. The series is full of angst and can be a bit hard to read, depending on your mood.
  • Fellfire Summer: Another series you can start for free (and the short stories can be found for free as well). Blayre is the first Romance author I’ve met in person, and the one who gave me an amazing rec list for beginners. Her first Fantasy Romance was very fun to read and her characters are so charming… The trilogy ends up having two m/m couples and one f/f couple, which I appreciated A LOT.
  • Tigers and Devils: Another sports series. Film festival organizer meets closeted Australian football player (and he actually plays Australian football, which has different rules I didn’t know about until I read this series) and they fall in love. Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s even more difficult when one of you is a famous athlete, and the other has been openly gay for years.
  • Aisling: Another superb Fantasy Romance. The world-building is vast, the mysteries and plot twists are everywhere. Nothing is what it seems, but everything makes sense in the end. I loved the celtic/western hints, the development of the characters and the slow-building romance. I haven’t seen this series being recommended that often, but maybe that’s because it’s only been re-released quite recently. Now that it’s available once more, you should give it a chance. I know I’m going to re-read it soon.
  • Enlightenment: This was my second Historical Romance, and it’s also a Regency one, but it’s set in Scotland. A lawyer and a lord enjoy a quick sexual encounter thinking they will never meet again, but fate has other plans: mainly, making them cross their paths again and again until they fall in love. But will love be enough to make them sacrifice everything they’ve fought for just so they can be together? Anyway, if you’ve read the original trilogy, you might be surprised to know that there’s a new book now with a different couple.

 

So that is all for now! Have you read any of these? If you want to know about trigger warnings, just let me know, but I can already warn you about Captive Prince and All for the Game, since both series have LOTS of TWs.

Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been a while, so I wanted to post something quick while I work on a longer post for you people.

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I’ve been very busy since November and haven’t had time to write that much. The little time I had, I spent with friends… or resting when my anxiety turned too depressive. But I’m feeling better after the holidays! The days are getting longer and I’m still going to therapy, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

I know 2019 will be full of awesome books to read, and I hope I can write something (anything) before the year ends. So yeah, my goal this year is to finish writing something, but it’s not a resolution. Does it make sense? Actually, my New Year’s resolutions are: writing more (in general), updating regularly, and taking better care of myself. And in order to take care of myself, I can’t feel like I HAVE TO finish writing a short story. This way, I may trick myself into thinking that I have no deadlines or expectations to meet and I shouldn’t feel guilty if things go wrong. Will it start out as a pastime and become an obligation? Probably, but I’ll let you know how it goes! (Don’t mind me; I’m just judging myself for judging myself.)

You’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped doing my research, and I’ve spent some time during the holidays visiting places and museums that are relevant to my stories. I hope I can tell you more about them soon, but the next post is gonna be about how I started reading Romance. If you’re curious, you have Lee Welch to thank for, since she said that sounded interesting.

Image of a new dawn in the world that reads "2019 HAPPY NEW YEAR".
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