Happy First Monday of August, friends! When I settled in my writing nook to compose this post, I had Anne Shirley’s quote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers” running through my head…except I mentally replaced “Octobers” with “Augusts.”
Not that August is my favorite month. It’s actually my least favorite, haha. But I’m trying–I’m really trying, y’all–to keep my upper lip stiff, my head high, and my shoulders back this month. 2020 has been hard, and I fear it’ll only get worse from here till November. But I truly believe that there are many, many tools at our disposal with which we can build “Cosmos out of Chaos” (as the lovely Madeleine L’Engle would say).
So without further ado, here are the ways I’m keeping my head screwed on and my mind fixed on goodness, even amid in the sweltering heat and turmoil of August 2020:
More reading, less scrolling
I’m notorious for taking my social media off my phone, putting it back on for a while, then removing it again. Twitter and Pinterest are fun, but it’s too easy to spend an inordinate amount of time on them, especially when I’m tired. I know it’s time to get rid of the apps when my phone starts feeling more like an appendage than, well, a phone.
Now that my phone is considerably more boring, I’m breezing through my reading list! Emily and I are reading Wuthering Heights together (first time for both of us), but I’m also reading Accidental Theologians (more on that in a minute) and A Wrinkle in Time. I’m just over halfway through The Right to Write, and I’m almost finished with the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone audiobook.
Listening to good podcasts
My weekly job allows me a lot of good “listening” time–so when I’m not enjoying Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and by the way, guys, Quidditch is wild), I’m listening to podcasts that enrich my mind and soothe my soul. These days I’ve been listening to:
- Speaking With Joy: Joy Clarkson is going through A Wrinkle in Time for her summer book club! I’ve read this book many times, but this is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed it! Joy’s excellent commentary helps, along with the fact that I’ve read Madeleine L’Engle’s nonfiction. Also: Star Trek, Doctor Who, Interstellar, and the Avengers have given me far more insight into tesseracts and the fifth dimension than I had in previous readings.
- Abiding Together: this podcast is actually geared towards Catholic women, but in spite of some theological differences, I’ve gleaned so much wisdom from these wise and joyous ladies about prayer, passionate intimacy with Christ, and being a bright and shining light in a dark world.
- What the Force‘s “Meta Music” Series: Odd name, I know, but this Star Wars podcast has done an amazing job of analyzing the way John Williams and other composers tells stories through their music! Every time I listen to an episode from this series, I’m in awe not just of these composers’ genius, but of how God created music with all its patterns and tones and order.
Enjoying other projects & “creative rehab”
Sometimes I focus so hard and deep on my stories, I’ll keep writing long after exhaustion sets in–and I don’t allow myself much time for any other creative outlets, either. This month, however, I’m trying to strike a healthier balance: I’ll still write in the morning when my brain is the sharpest, but I’m taking up embroidery and stationery-making in the afternoons! I’m also going to watch all the imagination- and courage-inspiring movies in my evening free time. I need to “fill the creative well,” especially as I start writing my next novel.
Studying the lives of holy women
Now let’s get back to that book I mentioned earlier, Accidental Theologians! I’m reading this one for ten minutes every morning while I wake up, right before my prayers and Bible reading. It focuses on the lives and writings of Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux–capacious and courageous women who loved the Lord Jesus with a passion. I don’t agree with everything they believed, but they’re definitely encouraging me as I navigate these trying times.
“Most holy God, the source of all good desires, all right judgments, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, so that our minds may be fixed on the doing of your will, and that we, being delivered from the fear of all enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the mercies of Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen.”–The Book of Common Prayer
This is my prayer for August. Let’s be honest: the world is terrifying right now, and more than ever I find myself fighting for joy, courage, and the peace which the world definitely can’t give (and never could). I think the key may lie in having our minds fixed on the doing of His will, no matter what happens.
Having FUN with my new story!
Next week my siblings get back to school…which means that next week, all my pre-production work (outlining, character development, etc.) will hopefully pay off and I’ll start writing the opening chapters of The Thin Places, my new Celtic fantasy story.
Am I nervous? You betcha. Am I also excited? OH YES. In many ways, it’s the story I’ve been wanting to write for a while: a cross between fantasy and contemporary featuring the Loch Ness Monster, some lovely Beren & Luthien vibes, and plenty of nods to The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, and Thor: The Dark World (which I will forever maintain was A GOOD MOVIE™). But beginnings are always a bit scary and I know the first day may be really hard…so maybe I’ll start work on that first chapter this week to alleviate some of the pressure? I certainly covet your prayers as I begin this project!
How are YOU handling + processing + bracing yourself + enduring the stress and tumult of the past few months? Please let me know in the comments so I can share your wisdom and insights…and maybe even pray for you if you have a specific request? We’re all in this together!
7 thoughts on “6 Ways I’m Keeping My Head Screwed On in August”
This post is very encouraging. ❤
YASSSSSS to vibing with all the smart Catholic ladies of history *dabs*
I'm struggling a lot lately, because I'm at risk and living in a big city to boot, so I REALLY CAN'T GO ANYWHERE OR SEE ANYBODY, and that, to put it mildly, is Rough. But I'm trying to escape into my writing as much as possible, because it really soothes my anxiety and loneliness. I've also been re-watching old favorite TV shows, like "Leverage," because "Leverage" is #lyfe.
I’m so glad it encouraged you, Katie Hanna–just like those smart Catholic ladies are encouraging me! *dabs and giggles back at ya*
I’m REALLY looking forward to throwing myself headlong into this new novel of mine, too. I think that, like you, the story and the characters (especially my hero–I may be a bit in love with him XD) will give me some respite from my fretful thoughts.
“How are YOU handling + processing + bracing yourself + enduring the stress and tumult of the past few months?”
I’m an extreme extrovert and a Type A personality by nature. Because of my age (67) and health issues, my family want me in complete isolation. I’m hanging on to 1 Thessalonians 4:11. “… to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,”
I’m looking at this time as an opportunity to live simply and quietly. I’m doing housework, cooking, gardening, relaxing. Lots of time for Bible study and prayer. I’m finding a quiet life can bring peace and joy.
Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Miss Sherry! I’m definitely more of an introvert who already had a small and quiet life, yet even I have realized during Quarantine Life how much I enjoy and need my community. It’s something I won’t take for granted quite so easily in the future!
Loved this post so much!! It echoes many of my own thoughts currently–especially the part about scrolling versus filling the creative well. I waste so much time scrolling, but I want to transition that into more worthwhile activities. Currently I’ve filling the creative well through podcasts (YAY for Joy Clarkson’s Wrinkle in Time podcast–I love it so much! 😍), a stack of library books, and movies/YT videos–right now I’m watching the behind the scenes look at The Mandalorian.
Also I would love love love to hear your thoughts on Thor: Dark World! I wasn’t super impressed with it (except for Loki of course) but I may have missed some of its goodness–it would be so interesting to hear what themes you drew from it. 🙂
I hope your writing goes well–your novel sounds fascinating and I love the title! 💕
OOOH, behind-the-scenes documentaries about My Favorite Single Dad and His Sweet Pea Child?! Is that where we get the image of Pedro Pascal doing voice work for Mando, but cradling a pillow in place of Baby Yoda? 😍
Haha, my thoughts on Dark World! Well…I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I personally thought it was an enjoyable and suspenseful movie and an appropriate sequel to the first Thor film in plot and tone. I love seeing Thor and Loki form an alliance, Loki’s “death” is one of the most emotional in the whole Marvel saga (much better than his horrific real death), Darcy cracks me up without fail, and I really like the way it ends. I don’t think it’s the most profound Marvel film, and the first Thor movie is still the best…but I really didn’t care for Ragnarok. The Dark World did a better job of staying consistent with Thor as he was established in his first film, IMO.
Thank you so much for the encouragement regarding my novel! I really like the title too…I got it from something Madeleine L’Engle said about Iona being a “thin place.”
Yesss, it is!! 😍😍
It’s cool to hear your thoughts! Thanks for taking the time to write them out. 🙂 👍🏻 I agree, Thor/Loki’s surprise partnership and Loki’s death were both awesome. That plot twist was awesome where it looks like Loki had betrayed Thor but they’ve planned the whole thing. I kinda wish Loki’s death scene had actually been his death because I felt like it brought redeemable aspects to his character & showed his loyalty to Thor. But with him you never know what’s genuine and what’s fake. 😬
Ooo that’s so cool! I’ve been discovering more of Madeleine L’Engle’s writing this year, and oh my goodness, she is incredible!