Resolve

On January 1, 2016, I was in the midst of trying to get pregnant. I wouldn’t have called it a new year’s resolution, haha, but it was definitely a priority. Now I have an amazing little girl, a living symbol of my love and luck, dozing beside me as I write this.

When she was born, my mother told me that I would have to work harder than ever, so that my daughter would be proud of me. At the time, I rolled my eyes, slightly annoyed. But my mom was right. I do want IB to be proud of me. I want to set a good example for her. I want to show her that dreams are worth working for. And, hopefully, that they can be achieved.

To that end, I have just one resolution for this year. In 2017, I am going to finish a new manuscript. Even if I have to write the whole thing with one hand in the Notes app of my iPhone. (No, really. That’s the only way I’ve gotten anything done with a newborn so far.)

Writing a book doesn’t mean selling a book doesn’t mean making a lot of money or getting good reviews or launching a successful lifelong career. I cannot control those things. I can only control one thing: the words I put on the page. But that’s where everything else starts. That’s the most important part.

There are other things I want to do this year — travel, read, exercise — but only two will take pieces of my heart. Only two will make pieces of my heart. My writing and my daughter. I hereby resolve to give them everything I’ve got.

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My favorite books of 2016

I’m sorry to report that I only read 12 books in 2016. Of those, 7 were audiobooks, and 2 were re-reads.

I’m going to go ahead and blame the baby, because it is her fault. In a way, though, she actually has me reading more than ever. I spend practically every free moment poring over the internet’s wisdom (or “wisdom,” in some cases) about pregnancy and parenting.

The good news is, over half of the books I read were diverse — in subject matter, authorship, or both. That’s a trend I hope to continue with all my future reading.

Here are my favorite reads of 2016:

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1) The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4) All the Light We Cannot See Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE features a halfie protagonist and was written by a fellow halfie, Heidi Heilig. I really enjoyed the lush settings and the sense of adventure.

THE RAVEN KING completes Maggie Stiefvater’s wistful and lovely Raven Boys series. Not perfect, but really magical. I aspire to write at this level someday.

Andy discovered ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE a couple years ago and urged me to read it. He said it was more like a work of art than just a book or story, and he was right. It took me a long time to read, but that time was well spent.

Technically I haven’t finished BRINGING UP BÉBÉ, but I’m enjoying the examination of different parenting styles, and I appreciate the practical tips.

Click here to see my favorite reads from previous years.

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Adapting

The past couple months have been a whirlwind, both personally and politically. For better or worse, the personal has kept me from dwelling too much on the political.

In typical newborn fashion, my little IB demands nearly all of my time, energy, and attention. It’s a big change, this shift from Person to Also Parent. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, the kid enters a new phase, throwing things out of alignment again.

“Every day is a different beast,” as my friend Ben said. (He has 5 children, so I assume he knows what he’s talking about.) I’m doing my best to adapt. Finding time for myself — and for my writing — in the spaces between IB’s needs.

One thing I’ve really been enjoying is capturing little moments every day. I’m compiling them privately in a sort of digital baby book for IB. One picture a day, accompanied by a few thoughts or observations. I might try something like that here too. We’ll see.

A new normal. I feel like we’re all searching for that right now.

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Stuff worth reading

“Training Wheels: Learning How to Be a Mom” by me (!)

It made me think about my own aunts and uncles, and all the special things they may have done with me or for me that I had no memory of. It made me sad to think of how little I appreciated them while growing up. And it made me glad that starting in college, I’ve gotten to know most of them so much better, developing my own relationships with them that don’t depend on my mom or dad being there too.

“I Published My Debut Novel to Critical Acclaim — and Then I Promptly Went Broke” (a response) by Kameron Hurley

It gets to me sometimes, too, when it’s not just “Breaking in for a few years” but “Breaking in for a few decades.” Dedicating oneself to a singular purpose with that sort of passion and stamina is rare in any field. But in writing, as in any field, the longer you are in it, the harder you work, the more chances you have to break out, to get lucky. Writing a novel is still better odds than playing the lottery, but only just. If you are looking for your self-esteem in your sales numbers or the size of your royalty checks (if you get them) you are on a fast road to disappointment.

“What Will Your Verse Be?” by Julie C. Dao

I don’t know if I’ll ever be successful as a writer. But I’m starting to understand that I’m already successful when I’m being true to myself.

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Due date

Today is the day we were told to expect our little girl. But there are no calendars in the womb, and she decided to show up two weeks early. Surprise!

She’s tiny and amazing, and I am oh so tired. The whole universe has shifted. My heart grows every day.

She already has a dozen nicknames, most of them adorable nonsense. I don’t plan to blog about her a lot, but when I do, I’ll probably just use her initials, IB.

For now my life is lived in three-hour increments, in between her feedings. And I’m doing almost everything on my phone, or otherwise one-handedly. It changes the shape of things, even my words. It will be interesting to see what kind of writing comes out of this. If any. Have I mentioned how tired I am?

I’m still trying, though.

Because just look at that face, you guys. I want to give her everything. I want to make her proud.

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