July 20, 2017

Book Love: A Man Called Ove

Hey friends! It's been a while. I've been knee-deep in life and have been remiss in taking you along for the ride. I hope to do better on that in the coming months. In the meantime, I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your summer. I also hope you've been reading! I know I have been. And that's why I'm here today...to share the best of what's been on my bedside table of late. This is the first in a series of "Book Love" posts so you can make the most of summer reading time before it runs out. Let's jump right in...

Up first is the best audiobook I've listened to in ages. I am IN LOVE with this book, people.

IN. LOVE.

It's Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove.

Now, I have no idea how much my love for this book is influenced by the fact that I listened to it rather than read it. I would guess at least a little bit, because George Newbern did an amazing job with the narration. He made me feel like I was actually one of Ove's neighbors...plus he taught me the correct way to pronounce the Swedish name Ove (It's Oo-va).

But on to the book...

This is some seriously great writing. Hats off to Fredrik Backman. If you've read my book reviews before, then you know that I'm a sucker for great characters, and Backman creates one of my favorites in Ove. His character development and writing voice are amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I have plans to read everything else he's written (at least what's been translated into English). Plus he can turn a phrase like a boss-- some of the best metaphors I've ever read.

If you've read my other reviews you also know that I don't like to talk much about "what the book is about"...I'd rather you discover that once you open the book (or press play on the audio). What I do want to convey is how the book made me feel. And this book made me feel like I'd found a new group of friends in its characters. It made me appreciate a different kind of person. It made me feel like I just might understand my grandfather a little more than I did before. It reminded me that there are a lot of ways to show love and live a good life-- that it's a good thing that "it takes all kinds" in our world. And it kind of made me want to adopt a stray cat (don't tell my husband).

I write this blog post just days after finishing A Man Called Ove, and I miss the characters terribly. I believe this is one of the highest praises I can give a book: I was sad when I finished it because I didn't want it to end.

I also cried.

Now I want everyone to make friends with Ove.

Amazing book. Highly recommend.

Until next time, happy reading!


P.S. Thank you to my sister-in-law, Linda, for sending me the A Man Called Ove audiobook!!

P.P.S. This audio book is available on Amazon's Audible. For my local peeps: you can also borrow the audio book from our local libraries!



July 5, 2017

The Stumbling Block of Mediocrity

I don't know if this feeling translates to things besides creative endeavors...which in my case is writing...I think it does, but... Regardless, here it is...

Do you ever have the experience of wading through a whole lot of constructive criticism-- all well-intentioned and ultimately helpful, but criticism nonetheless-- and just suddenly feel the weight of your mediocrity?

Do you ever suddenly feel like what you've worked so hard on for so long might actually just be a big pile of crap no matter how much time you spend reworking it?

Have you ever finished something that, in that moment, you feel is pretty good, only to take a closer look later and realize that it's not that good at all?

Can you tell from all of these questions that this is exactly how I'm feeling/what I'm experiencing right now?

Sigh.

I made the mistake of going through three months worth of writing critiques at one time. It was a time-management thing. But it was also not a smart decision.

In point of fact, I'm supposed to still be working on those edits/rewrites right now...I only have a half an hour of precious (and rare) worktime left and instead of advancing my work, I'm taking a break to write this (basically useless) blog post.

But I just couldn't read another (helpful) comment about what I'd done wrong in my writing. I just couldn't. My brain started to feel like it was going to explode.

(Sidebar: I imagine this might be akin to those days, for my husband, when I'm full of advice on what he could be doing better around the house.)

But I'm sitting here in my favorite coffee shop, on a beautiful sunny day, the smells of frying bacon and freshly ground espresso in the air, nursing the dregs of my now cold decaf Americano and I'm feeling a bit like a piece of ABC gum stuck to the bottom of a cheap, Old Navy flip-flop. Which is to say, a bit squishy and a lot tread-upon.

So, what's a girl to do?

1) Take a break and vent. (Hello, friends, and thank you for being my Dear Diary today. If only you came wrapped in pink leather and bound with tiny lock and key. Wait, scratch that. Sounds a bit dominatrix of me, and that's creepy. Forget I said anything.)

2) Regroup and rethink. My therapist would say I need to challenge my skewed, distorted thinking...my catastrophizing, shoulds, black-and-white/all-or-nothing thinking, etc. (She loves her CBT.) Which means saying to myself things like: Are these critiques really evidence that I suck as a writer and should probably stop doing it? Hint: The correct answer here is, No, Amy, this is just a natural part of the writing process.

3) Listen to something positive and uplifting. I'm between a short Danette May meditation on Success and a short Tony Robbins meditation on Gratitude. I'll probably do both. More is more, and all.

4) Get back at it. Once I've had a little breathing space, it's time to get back at it. I don't have the luxury of wallowing for too long. I'm too old and too time-constrained to give in for very long to this shit. So, back in the saddle.

And that's exactly where I'm headed right now. I still have 18 minutes before I have to leave coffee haven and head back into the real world. So...

Hi-ho, Hi ho...

Until next time, remember that you are great, as is; and don't give up on your dreams, no matter the obstacles (especially the ones that you put in your own way). xo