Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

I am really excited to embark on this challenge because I have a real fear of “the Classics”. I worry that I won’t enjoy them or have the same literary experiences as other readers and it sets my anxiety level to explosive. However, 2017 is the year of exploration and acceptance and something that I need to accept is that my opinions are valid. They may be simple, they may not concur with popular thought, but that the fact remains they have worth.

I think for this challenge I will take a good look at my digital and physical bookshelves before I make a final decision, but the plan is to read books from 6 categories from the list below:

(taken from Karen’s Books and Chocolateūüôā

1.  A 19th Century Classic Рany book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic Рany book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

3.  A classic by a woman author.

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also.

6. ¬†An romance classic. I’m pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads.

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two Cities, Three Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc.

10.¬†A classic set¬†in a place you’d like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

12. A Russian Classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.

The complete original thread can be found by clicking the link the caption:

Official Sign Up

2017 Audiobook Challenge

Last year I had to make the tough decision to cancel my Audible subscription, but having discovered that my library is part of Overdrive I am eager to add this to my very first Reading Challenge List.

 

Official Challenge SignUp

I have listened to many audiobooks over the years, I find them especially helpful as a student and as I have returned to my studies I think that now is the perfect time to re-engage.

I am aiming for Weekend Warrior, which is 5-10 audiobooks (though I am, of course, secretly hoping to reach a much higher level) however my to listen list isn’t firm. I know Hamlet will be on there, as I am studying that in the coming month, but I hope to find a few hidden gems and be introduced to new writers as the year goes on.

2017 Reading Challenges

2017:

… the year I explore the world on my terms.

… the year that self-care is a part of self-love, not just a rescue plan.

… the year I focus on my studies.

… the year I become a better reader.

10 Reading Challenges 2017

  1. A private reading challenge that I am doing with some wonderful pen friends

Level 1, 12 books

I found the next 9 challenges on the website girlxoxo.com: The Master List of 2017 Reading Challenges

2. 2017 Audiobook Challenge

Weekend Warrior, 5-10 audiobook

3. Back to Classics 2017

6 categories

4. The Bad Boys of Romance Reading Challenge 2017

Level One, 5-9 books – Capturing the Bad Boy

5. Craving Cozies 2017 Reading Challenge

Peckish, 1-10 cosy mysteries

6. eBooks Reading Challenge 2017

Megabyte, 25 eBooks

7. 2017 Modern Mrs Darcy Choose-Your-Own Adventure Reading Challenge

Reading for Growth: stretch yourself in 2017

8. Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2017

12 books, monthly theme

9. 2017 Operation Deepen Faith

Reading the bible and Christian Theology

10. Out of This World Reading Challenge 2016

5-10 books – Beam Your Way Into Outer Space

***

For some this list of lists seems like a lot, for others it’s child’s play. I have been quite conservative with my choices especially ones like The Bad Boys of Romance, I’ve read 5-9 of those in a day before! What I haven’t done before is review a book, even on a small scale and that is something I want to do. Part of this reading journey is to discover what works in terms of the writing process not just what I enjoy as a reader.

Over theses last days of 2016 I am going to create sign-up posts for each challenge and start thinking of which books I will chose. I also need to set up a GoodReads account…

Approaching 2017

Approaching 2017

NaNoWriMo ended a month ago and I have spent the last few weeks struggling with my mental and physical health. The muses have been silent, but to be honest I have not been calling to them. I was careful to write down my ideas during NaNoWriMo and I know that once I am at a point of wellness I will be able to return to the characters and worlds that danced in my dreams.

With my health aside, my thoughts have started to turn to the New Year that is rushing towards us. I have long struggled with setting and keeping goals and making plans and the truth I have had to face is that my brain just does not work that way. And that’s okay.

2017 is going to be my year of exploration and the heady world of the written world is a journey I am excited to embark on.

One of the things I learnt after I crashed out of NaNoWriMo with barely a word written was that I don’t read enough, I certainly do not read a variety of texts, and that needs to change! However, I don’t want to go through this blindly as telling myself to read more isn’t likely to help me make a change in my habits so I have decided to sign up for a few challenges. Some fit my current reading habits (romance, romance and a dash more romance. Did I say romance?) but the majority are to help me gather the confidence to step outside of my current reading rut and enable me to explore more of what the literary world has to offer.

I don’t want to make this something stressful, so I have considered my future writing plans, my uni commitments and my low pressure, high procrastination threshold I have settled on challenges that will offer variety, stability and fun.

I am committing only to the lowest threshold each challenge has to offer, like I said, this is about exploration NOT pressure or obligation and I want to track my journey and see if becoming a better reader will enable me to become a better writer.

 

 

You are more than a number

NaNoWriMo is about the enter it’s second week and my word count sits stagnant at just over 3,000 words. At first I was really mad at myself., and I found myself caught in a loop of thinking that basically went:
“You are a failure”
“You can’t do anything right!”
“How did you mess this up?!”
Yeah… not so great.
I wallowed there for a couple of days and then last night I realised something: I really enjoyed writing those 3000+ words. I have loved interacting with various writing communities on Facebook and Twitter; the friendships and support is wonderful to experience and even better to be a part of.  Additionally, those 3000 words are more than I have written in a really long time because I self-edit and criticise to the point of destruction. The whole point of my participating in NaNoWriMo this year was so that I broke that cycle; and once I stepped away from the familiar negative thought cycle I realised that I had.
I am writing every day. No, it’s not thousands of words, it’s not even hundreds but every day I am writing. Everyday I am thinking about my world and my characters, and creating dozens more. I want to take this month as a time to build the habits of being creative every day, and right now that means building a diesel unk interbellum London. With this in mind I plan to spend the rest of this month not focused on numbers but on world-building. I may make it to 50,000 words, but maybe I won’t and you know what? That’s okay.
For me writing is an act of self-care and by comparing myself to others I was not engaging with that, quite the opposite actually.
So, I am freeing myself from my word-count.
I am no longer going to bemoan not meeting the 1,667 daily target, instead I am going to focus on creating something every day, because I want this story to exist outside of November and more importantly, I am more than a number.

‚ÄúWalker, there is no path / the path is made by walking.‚ÄĚ

As the minutes countdown until the official start of #NaNoWriMo I find myself seeking reassurance from professionals and amateurs alike.  I have multiple tabs open on my computer so that I can jump from Twitter, to the various Facebook groups I am a member of, to a group chat I have with some friends, to the official NaNoWriMo page and back again. All of this activity is simply filler as I try to avoid the fact that my excitement has transported into fear.
Anxiety is a much to common bedfellow and her ugly hand has my heart clenched in her hands, but she shall not win; the next time she tightens her grip I will not fear. Through the process of preparing for this writing adventure I have discovered something important – I do not have to lean into the fear, nor do I have to fight it. It is a feeling, but it does not have to define me nor rule my actions.
In a recent Pep Talk from writer, Daniel Jose Older, he said that his favourite writing advice was a line from a poem by Antonio Machado:
‚ÄúWalker, there is no path / the path is made by walking.‚ÄĚ
I take these words to heart. I cannot keep searching for someone to offer me the perfect method, be it writing or living; there is not a magic potion or a secret map. The journey is mine to explore, the pains and the joys are mine to feel. The barriers are mine to smash down, or climb over, or dig beneath. Writing, as with life, can be very messy and that is okay. It is okay not to know exactly which direction I should be heading, it is okay to feel anxious of the unknown but you know what isn’t okay? Stopping.
No longer am I okay with giving up, I may take breaks, detours and revisit certain places but I am not going to stop.

#NaNoPrep – I will write

As November 1st speeds my way I found myself struggling with the concept of writing as self-care. Rather than writing to relax I was worried, pressured and anxious about what I was trying to create. At the first hurdle I was feeling a heady dose of failure.
However, this was not the end.
Rather than wallow and fling my work to one side, I reached out to the online NaNo community. If you haven’t searched Twitter using the hashtags¬†#NanoPrep or #NaNoWriMo2016 I highly suggest that you do. The community is all aflutter with the excitement of the upcoming event and there is always someone online experiencing the trials and joys of being a writer.
Through a single post questioning my story (and really questioning myself and my abilities) I received both support and inspiration. Strangers came to my rescue and we bonded over our shared joy of the written word. My feelings were neither unexpected, nor usual and because of that one tweet I was able to push through the anxiety. Rather than trying to ignore my feelings I allowed them to flow and by doing this I freed myself from a long-held mental trap: I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
These five words have been my theme song since early childhood. Stories have been torn up, homework hidden, opportunities missed and adventures avoided, because I allowed those words to permeate my entire sense of self. There are books I have never read because I was scared someone would ask me about them and find my opinions wanting. There are stories I never told because I was convinced that my words would be found lacking. I have spent decades avoiding risk and yet not escaping suffering.
It saddens me to think about all that wasted time. However, thanks to a community of writers willing to share their highs and their lows I am able to erase one word and declare: I AM GOOD ENOUGH.
By the end of this month I may not be starting NaNoWriMo with a detailed plan, my story may continue to change and evolve in ways that are completely unexpected and I may again have a crisis of confidence, but I am not afraid. I will reach out to my fellow writers, I will share my doubts and my fears, I will release those negative thoughts and I WILL WRITE.