January Favorites (Posts I Love)

Tree Networks Structure Social Media Internet

China

So maybe I’m a little obsessed with reading about China’s air quality, but I’m so excited with the striking improvement, I couldn’t help but to share this article in the Beijinger that gives a whole bunch of facts and figures to show how dramatically the air in Beijing has improved over that last couple years. And I had to chuckle when the article mentions “falling sales for air filtration masks and air purifiers. . . . [and that] retailers are complaining about sluggish sales for anti-smog equipment.” It’s true. The air has been so good that I’ve forgotten to check when our filters were last changed and didn’t bother to buy new masks this year. It was interesting to see how the facts and figures added up. To check them out out for yourself, check out this article from the Beijinger.

Writing

On Genre Types and Skill-Crossover:

A couple months ago, I finished a decent outline for my novel and dove into writing the first draft. I love facts and figures and I like to track my progress in a concrete way, so I have a word-count goal for each workday. Some days I can fly past the goal and reach double the number of words that I wanted to; other days reaching my goal is a sheer act of willpower.

When I first started working on the draft, when I had a particularly good writing day, I’d mention it to Hubby at dinner. I’d say something like, “I got 3000 words written today on my draft. It felt so great.” One day, my bubble was a bit deflated when he smugly sat at the table and wondered out loud what word-count he would reach if he tracked all those emails and memos he writes and sends out each day. I told him that it wasn’t a fair comparison—that writing emails and memos is nothing like writing a novel—that my novel is exponentially harder than his several emails and memos. He didn’t believe me. And I was fuming because of it.

Shortly afterward, Michelle at the Green Study wrote a blog post reflecting on how different types of writing takes different types of skills, and she expressed frustration that the skills she built during several years of writing blog posts weren’t crossing over to her novel. I sympathized with her predicament, but at the same time, after the conversation I had with Hubby, it was refreshing to know there was someone out there who understood what I was talking about.

You can see what Michelle at the Green Study has to say about it here.

On An Artist’s Post-Project Depression:

Regie’s Blog had a post this month that he entitled “Wrestling With Your It.” I very often find posts I love on Regie’s blog, but this one especially struck me as a writer . . . and maybe helped me to understand a little bit better why I can’t bring myself to finish that novel I’ve been trying to write. He described how as an artist goes through a postpartum depression after finishing a project.

The spiral begins with the fact that I’ve now completed something. I’ve put it into the world. I have to live with the consequences of its failure (or worse, its success) for the rest of my life. I can’t hide anymore. THIS was what I thought was good enough to occupy everyone’s time. No matter what my grand fantasies were about how that piece of art is received, I now have to deal with the reality of it. The fantasy has been replaced. I don’t get to hold that anymore. The secret is out. And I will be judged based on the reality …not the fantasy.

Check out the full post to see what else Regie has to say about the difficulty (and depression) that can hit an artist when he finishes a big project.

Parenting

On The Joys of Foster Children:

Stacy at Revisions of Grandeur is probably one of my favorite blogs of all time. When I see a post from Revisions of Grandeur in my RSS reader, I know I’m either going to be inspired, or encouraged, or get a little nugget of parenting wisdom. This month, she talked about the privilege of taking care of a foster baby, the difficulty of saying goodbye, and the knowledge that the love she gave really, really mattered. I cried the first time I read it. And I cried every time I read it after that. You can read her very touching story here.

As a side note, even though I’m supposed to be highlighting January posts, I can’t help but to share some of Stacy’s other posts, too. This post talks about saying yes to her kids when she can, even when it means muddy shoes and or interrupted labors. This has been my mantra after reading another one of her very inspiriting posts about a year ago–“Say yes when you can.” And this post talks about her wrestling with (re)naming an adopted child. Really, though, all of Stacy’s posts are amazing. You should check out her blog and browse some of the other posts as well. 

On The Laughter of Parenting:

And for a more lighthearted look at parenting, Betsey Kerekes is another blogger that I’m always happy to see in my RSS reader. So many of the other blogs I follow are heavy, but this one is a refreshing look at the bright side—the laughter and fun—of parenting. She posts a lot of pictures of her adorable baby boy, and her tales about mothering an infant allow me to vicariously re-live my children’s infanthood. Here is a post she wrote after visiting her in-laws in which she recalls all of the funny (and embarrassing) things her children said.

Image: Tree Networks Structure Social Media Internet by Max Pixel

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