Friday, July 10, 2015

Writing Spaces


I spend an awful amount of time procrastinating and making excuses.

I hate to say it's built into my system, but I've trained myself over the last few years to work crazy and better under the pressure of a deadline. That's one of my excuses for writing this blog post the day before it goes up rather than writing it, you know, when I had the idea.

Another excuse I've made for myself with writing is not having the right space to work in. If we can be real for a minute, the last few years of my life has been difficult. I never had a space that felt safe or time alone, so now that I'm on my own, I’ve been puttering around my house designating every space as SOME sort of work space. Oh, YOU’RE my PAINTING desk! YES! HI PAINTING DESK *hugs painting desk*And you! You’re my writing space! And… and YOU! YOU TOO! ALL OF THE WRITING SPACES!


Part of stopping the excuse-making was to give myself a variety of places to call writing spaces. I have three dedicated spaces, not including you know, the couch. The more spaces, the more opportunity to write, right?

I've always drooled over those book-covered, tea-taking writing nook photos, but I grew to realize over time, as long as you can fall into a routine and you’re feeling good (or determined!) you can write anything anywhere.


Writing anywhere also means in various conditions and at various places. Like crowded noisy places. Or places where it feel like you shouldn’t actually be able to get writing done. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I go to Denny’s and write with my friend before work. Another friend and I take writing lunches where we write and edit on our work lunch.
All I need now is a writing dinner friend, right?


I’ve also learned, it’s not all about the writing space—it’s what’s inside the space that counts.


Not long ago, I bought a cheap (ADORABLY BLUE) laptop to dedicate to writing and only writing. Yeah, it kind of seems radical, but man, having a laptop just to keep all of my writing? It’s amazing. It’s light enough to bring everywhere (and I save to cloud storage!), and you want to know what the coolest thing is? As soon as I open the laptop, I’m ready to write. My whole brain is like, “Is it writing time?!” And it makes it a very exciting and enjoyable experience.

I guess the bottom line is, try a bunch of things and get yourself in the habit of writing anywhere. There may not be a chance to write from that dark writing nook converted closet, so just make sure you’re ready anywhere you go. Bring things to make every space a writing space. A book, notebook, laptop, pens, tea, cats--anything else you need.


What sort of writing rituals do you have? Do you have a writing space? Let me know in the comments! For more writing space photos and random cat faces, follow me on instagram!




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bookfoods #1


Eons ago, or April 29, 2014, I announced that I'd be doing a segment called Tolkien & Tea Tuesdays! Well, I'm bringing it back but as Bookfoods! Posting on Wednesday this week, but will be a Monday post where I'll be pairing books to food, tea, recipes, drinks, you name it, and take a delightful photoshoot for you to enjoy. Also, make sure to peek at the bottom where I'll list where to buy the things in the photos and inspire your own Bookfoods experience!

If there's a book you'd like to see featured here in a Bookfoods post, suggest it in the comments!


Where to find: 






Monday, July 6, 2015

The Reading Pile

Happy Monday, friends!

It's that time of the week when you can't really taste the coffee because you haven't come to terms with being awake yet, but the beginning of a week is a week full of possibilities! (Okay, yeah, used all of my energy on that one.)

I've spent the last couple of months diving back into reading, so I wanted to post about a couple of things!

I'll be doing a blog post every now and again called 'The Reading Pile' about books I'm reading, books I've read, and books I'll be reading. Think about it like a bite-sized Goodreads without having to troll through shelves and lists. I've made similar posts in the past, but I want to make sure I'm adequately expressing my love for certain books.
 
Since people ask every now and again for book recs, in addition to my blog posts, you can find my book recommendations page here: http://www.aun-juli.com/p/books-i-love.html (under construction, but you can watch the progress if you want!)

It'll be arranged with a tiny, one-sentence recommendation for each of the books/series I'm in love with, and you can locate it in the links bar above. 

I'll be doing longer book reviews for certain books, and if there is a book you see I'm reading or about to read and want me to do a longer (and always spoiler-free) review, leave a comment. Additionally, I'm always looking for new book recommendations, so I'm hoping to get more from you voracious readers.

That's it for now! Have a great week, book friends ♥





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO THE BLOG.

(Okay maybe not, but I wanted an awesome title.)

Sometimes the days just crawl by. They keep crawling and suddenly a year has passed, and you look back and think, “Whoa, wait, what?!”

Yeah, yeah, insert all of the reasons why I haven’t posted here, but I just didn’t have a lot to say that was meant for internet consumption. I’ve had a lot of life going on, and since my life has changed considerably, I've been looking around me to see who I am and the direction I need to go in. In any case, I’m still the same Juli I’ve always been, only a little older. (Two grey hairs and counting because who knows when you dye your hair black and blue every five weeks?)

This gorgeous, fresh post is the beginning of regular posts, and since customers and friends stop by often enough, it feels good to say “Hey! Hello!” to the world again.

Hey!

Hello!

Your face looks nice today!

Farewell, September 2014. You were a good post. You did your job!

Now that we’ve got that all out of the way, what happens next? Do I let another year go by without updating? Do I post amazing and insightful things or cat pics every single day? WHO KNOWS?

I’ve been working on so much art and writing since the last time I’ve posted, and I’m really eager to share and interact with everyone again.  So drop by every now and again and take a peek to see what’s going on. It’s gonna be a lot of writing, art, and book things. Food. Life. Everything. Cats, maybe.

I’m really excited to be back. ♥

Friday, September 12, 2014

When giving up isn't failing.

Dark circles, tired eyes. It's all I saw when I looked at myself in the mirror today. The face of an exhausted Juli. I put my makeup on and--let me tell you--no matter how much concealer, foundation, anything you have, you just can't cover up weary.

I want to say that it's been a tough road the last year, maybe the three if you start from my father passing away, but it's been tough for a long time. It doesn't do to dwell on it, though, because I am resilient and optimistic, and for all of the bad, there has been twice as much good, amazing, and unbelievable.

Life spends a lot of time giving us things to prove to ourselves we are stronger than we believe. Sometimes we resist, sometimes we break. Ultimately, we move through it, continue past, and try our best to hang onto our dreams and optimism.

I've learned a lot in the last year about myself, about what I want, about what's important to me. I learned my limitations, I felt what it was like to be at the very edge with only a knife in my face or a cliff behind me to choose from. I also learned that I ended up there because of the decisions I made but also, and more importantly, the decisions I didn't make. You know? The ones you sit and wait while they resolve themselves? The passive ones because that choice is the most favorable one out of a sea of terrible ones. The passive ones can be dangerous ones. Those are the ones that require the tough decisions. The "do I have it in me to do this" ones.

My whole life has been pushing my limits, testing myself, finding a thrill in conquering my fears. Finding a thrill in facing fear itself. There's nothing more exhilarating than proving that I can do something when I feel very deeply that I cannot.

But those passive decisions. Those non-decisions. The maybes, the I-don't-knows, the I'll-figure-it-out-laters. They took me to a place where the decisions were--gasp--even harder. And! Gasp! Even more terrifying. More upsetting.

And here I am. Broken.

Broken. But recovering.

I finally stared down the passive decision that followed me and confronted it. What were my choices? What were the decisions?

I didn't give in, but I gave up.

Yeah, I made the active decision to abandon ship. I picked the unknown. Diving into the waters to save myself.

Now, it's not really fair to say that I came to this decision on my own. Or that I made the decision before it turned dire... but I did it. I made it.

The title of this post is a bit misleading... because what I did wasn't exactly give up. As much as I tell myself that my choice is giving up, when you absolutely give your everything to a person, to a project, to anything, and to not quit it means risking your life, your health, your happiness...

It's not giving up. And it's not failing. (The voice in my head is still saying it is. Oh, that's me.)

What it is, is giving myself the freedom to not be weary. To revitalize myself. To get myself going again. To put more fuel in the tank.

Happiness... guys. Happiness.

Being happy.

Life is short. Be happy, right?

What is the point of being miserable when you have the power to change your situation? When you have the power to find what makes you happy? Maybe you don't always know what will make you happy but... why deny yourself the chance to find what makes you happy by deciding to be miserable?

Those are the questions I've always asked myself. My entire life.

But when the time to came to make the decision, I picked the passive one because I turned off all of those questions. Because self-sacrifice, that's noble right?

Fuck, no.

Because, as my wonderful friend, Jenn, said to me, "We have too few years for that fuckin' miserable shit. Sometimes you have to be selfish to be the best person for your loved ones."

So... just. Don't be miserable if you can help it. If you can fix it? If you know what's making you miserable... figure it out. You don't have to freak out and make a decision right away, just acknowledge what's making you unhappy. Face it. Figure it out. And then figure out how to get from miserable to not miserable.

And then you can figure out how to be happy.


You deserve it.



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Celebrate your small victories.

I’ve been in trouble my whole life, and I didn’t even recognize it.

Destined to always try and reach for an accomplishment higher, cooler, more rewarding than the one before, I’d set forth on a path that would always be unfulfilled.

As with most parents, mine spent their parenting time telling me I could do and be anything I wanted. They also told me no matter what I did, so long as I was happy, they would also be happy. I grew up believing all of those things, and it’s great when you finally realize hard work, patience, and a certain level of skill pays off. You really can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

My parents continued to have goals and dreams as I grew up, and it was a beautiful thing to witness. But not generic goals and dreams. Anyone who knew my father, in particular, knew that he was capable of conquering worlds, and frequently conquered many of the goals he set out to achieve at a pace and precision that no one could fathom. He was a dreamer, he was a doer, and he brought everyone he loved along on the journey. He pushed everyone he knew to tap into their potential, and there are so many people out there who can credit their turning point toward success to simply his desire to see them succeed. He instilled the idea that anything was possible. Anything at all.

And he instilled it in me. It burrowed down, deeply into my being, and it hasn’t ever wavered or abandoned me.

Up until the end of last year, I’d spent a good deal of time committing myself to an insane number of projects across all spectrums of the stuff I love. Art, writing, anything I could get my hands on that was either something I loved or a great opportunity. I am not one to turn down an opportunity (in fact, I come with a built-in opportunity radar).

When 2013 came to a close, I set to focus on five key projects I’d been working on for a very long time that I finally wanted to see succeed. My manuscript, improving my art and putting out amazing watercolor pieces, my indie store (oh, The Fancy Narwhal, I’m so sorry…) and Estari were four out of the five.

Moving into 2014 was great. I felt much freer than I had in previous years with no direction, dropping things to submit art shows and selling things are faires on a whim and where stories and thoughts and ideas buried me beneath a sea of unfinished projects.

True to my personality, it wasn’t long before t began picking up projects again. I saw potential in these projects—I saw the end result. What something had the potential to be. Because I needed the feeling, the rush of accomplishing something huge.

I’ve always needed that, but for some reason finishing a project, even when the results are even better than I’d wildly imagine, was never the same as the excitement of starting one. The long slog through the project to see it through. I’d spent a long time thinking about it, always crediting it to the idea I achieved something and now needed to move forward and prove to myself I could accomplish something else.


Yesterday, my friend and I finally launched our comic, Estari, after over two years of figuring out the puzzle pieces. I spent the weeks leading up to it being scared, nervous, stressed. When launch day came, there were still dozens of things to do (mostly website changes, thank goodness for Joe), but I couldn’t help feeling a very strong sense of pride.

Strangely, it upset me.

Why was I so excited to launch this?

What was so important about posting a couple of pages and showing off a nice website? It wasn’t as though we were standing to release it to thousands of people and achieve some sort of crazy following. We aren't making money off of it.

I wondered if people would sort of laugh and think, “Man, they are making a big deal out of a launch. Good job, you put up a couple of pages. A couple of pages does not a book make."

The comic isn’t finished, what’s the big deal?

And then it hit me. Hard.

No, no the comic ISN’T finished, but, shit, it may never be. It’s open-ended, it has the potential to grow in dozens of directions and spawn dozens more stories. There may never be a final, end all be all. There may never be a nicely wrapped conclusion.

It called up a memory of something I’d read. A published author said a few key things seeking to dispel notions that the lives of aspiring-to-be-published authors would dramatically change once they were published. When you’ve finally reached the pinnacle achievement, publishing, awesome. You did it.

But just because you’ve published, your fears don’t leave you. You still will feel inadequate at times. You won’t feel like you’ve achieved everything and now you can lie down and be done because your life’s work is accomplished.

No. You’ll just do the same thing all over again.

Forever, if you choose to keep writing and publishing stories. You’ll want more, forever, and maybe that feeling of ‘arriving’ will never come. Just like when your birthday arrives and you expect, for some reason, to feel different now that you’ve officially aged a year. So enjoy it all.

Yes, that.

That’s the key right there.

I’d spent so much of my life waiting to be thrilled by the end results, and I was disappointed at every turn, constantly launching into something new. I think there’s something to be said about a constant drive to create something new spurred on by the idea of creating something better than before. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. You can still be driven AND enjoy the small achievements along the way.

My father has been gone for three years now, and there isn’t a day that I don’t think about him or how short the time is we have to do all the things we
dream of doing.

Enjoy it ALL. Enjoy the ideas, the processes, the hard work. Celebrate it all. Everything. Love it as you live it.

Even if you never make it to the final conclusion of what your dream was meant to be, man, you fucking enjoyed it. And if you get there and it wasn’t all of the things you’d imagined it would be. You know what?

Man, you fucking enjoyed it.

Live it, friends.

Celebrate your small victories, for any victory isn't small at all.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thoughts about Estari (the comic) and the upcoming launch

Hi friends,

Sorry for the lack of posts recently—it’s coming down to the wire to launch our comic, and even though we’ve been planning it and working on it for two years, it feels like we’re doing all of the important things right now.

I’ve been under pressure to complete something many times, and I’ve never doubted my ability to meet the deadline. Though I’m not doubting it now, it feels genuinely different than anything I’ve attempted before. Writing and practicing a presentation to speak to my entire company with a days notice. Developing patterns and prototypes for a plush toy that would represent my company and thousands would buy. Building a corset for a ball three days before the event with not an ounce of experience (I didn’t pop out of it, thankfully ;) )

I understand the vital days leading up to something important and committing to so much work it’s doubtful I’ll ever get there. In conversation, my friend once said to me, “It's also you, and everything you do that other people label suicidal tends to work.”

I enjoy rising to the occasion.

With this comic, however, it’s been an entirely different experience. We’re less than a month away, and even though I’ve broken up my schedule in a way that allows me to focus on pieces of things each week until launch, it’s very much juggling a bunch of things at one time and hoping they don’t drop. Or if one does drop, I can continue to juggle projects while bending down to pick it up.

The process of creating a story is intense on it’s own, but then to add the layers needed to make sure it’s a success, that’s the key. It’s writing a symphony, finding the perfect people to play it, and sitting down for your first performance.

It has to be magical.

The process of creating this has been magical for me, having come together with an amazing artist whose art complements my words and my colors which complement her lines. While writing the story has been on me, the process has largely been equal parts collaboration, stressful thinking time, and flashes of story coming when least expected.

So here I am. Here we are.

I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m ready to launch Estari to the world and bring people into its world.

June 4th, guys. June 4th.


http://estaricomic.com