TRIUMPHANT RETURN: Plans and the Dilemma of What to Share

Currently Reading: Books and Big Ideas

(This post was originally published on April 4th. I made the mistake of reverting it to a draft and had to republish.)

So…long time, no see.

In fairness, I’ve been working on various things behind the scenes lately and reading (you can always follow me on Goodreads, though I’ve been trying to use StoryGraph more for my TBR) but as per usual SCHOOL took over, this time as a teacher instead of as a student. And…that has been a general problem for my life, so I’m glad to report I’m working on a better mental, emotional, and physical balance to that life. And that includes writing more, including on this blog.

That said…do I want to share everything I’m reading? Are there other forms for it that might take less time from me? What about those middle grade books I read over the summer in like a day and loved but don’t have much to add besides a recommendation? Yes, there are 3 ARCs I still have to review and others I will in the future, but there are also books I want to kind of enjoy in my own little bubble. Like…for instance I read the first Animorphs book in a day over the summer because I’d never read it before and it was WILD, but I didn’t feel compelled to share much about it (though I’m glad they’re getting the graphic novel treatment). Now, I know “guilty pleasure” is usually just a way of feeling ashamed for certain genres society looks down on, but as someone who still might work with kids in some capacity in the future I’m not really looking to advertise any romance books I read…but I’m intrigued by recommendations from my good friend Tay (who by the way has an agent now whooo!! also we made some podcast episodes once I’m proud of, perhaps we will return) that feature diverse characters my age without the clichés that lead me to avoid romance most of the time. Who knows! I want to delve more into sci-fi and fantasy again, which I’ve avoided when in school because of the length and concentration required to step into a new world..

I am in kind of in a weird place right now where I have stopped traditional teaching for now and the near future after basically 7 months of my first year, a story I’m not entirely ready or able to tell (although **glances around at the endless pandemic-related school discussion** is this surprising?), so I’ve pivoted away from prioritizing reading middle grade right now and am rediscovering what reading can really mean for me independent of that role. And another role is my critical eye and anticipation of saying something to an audience about books I read because I’ve been doing this one way or another for about 7 years now.

That doesn’t mean my reviews still won’t be useful for educators–and I’m still going to donate books I don’t think I’ll reread or study for my own writing to the local schools and organizations–but I need to detach reading from my professional life to an extent. Because I’m going to be honest: I was not good at sharing my reading as a teacher with all my classes beyond posting the covers on my door. Granted, it was hard to make time for independent reading as a first-year teacher with COVID-related restrictions. But mostly, a lot of the books I gravitate toward are rather personal to me, and I knew they’d pick up on the patterns and I wasn’t always comfortable sharing why I loved certain books or thought they were important to all my students. That confidence is something I’m working on.

As for me, for weeks I’ve been trying to listen to the audiobook of Here for It: Or, How To Save Your Soul in America: Essays by R. Eric Thomas–which I genuinely like and had me both laughing and almost crying I just have been gravitating towards shorter videos and podcasts for listening–and When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert, one of my fave YA authors. It’s fantastic, but also very emotional so I think I’ve been avoiding it…but I don’t want to abandon it, either. Let’s just say I’m finally getting some things done around the apartment I’ve put off (ahem, cleaning, putting up posters that have been lying on the ground for 8 months…) and my attention or sitting span has not been conducive to reading. I need to make time for it again, too.

There is also this trouble I’ve seen a lot of long-form artists talk about where social media makes you feel like you need to put out content all the time–and in fact that can often be important to promote the big thing you are working on–and I definitely feel that sense of overwhelmed, especially as I’m turning toward projects that cannot see the light of day without extensive work and/or professional publication (if I want to get paid for my writing, which I do). But I still want to share, so here they are!

  • Video essays on my favorite musicals, starting with exploring the role of gender and relationships in Next to Normal (subscribe early here!)
  • Submitting short pieces for publication again
  • A YA novel I’m very happy with! My goal is to write 1000 words a day…I’ll be writing more and sharing what I learn. (Haha it is progressing but NOT THAT FAST oops. Is it too late to join Camp Nano?)
  • Writing some personal essays that hopefully can also go out to publication and maybe eventually become an essay collection?
  • A two-person play I might be able to produce with a friend and perhaps other related content for charities digitally
  • Finally catching up on A LOT of book reviews, which I’ve decided are going to be posted here in small, individual posts for each books instead of one big wrap-up because that sure gave me a headache.
  • Reviving my bookstagram! (see below, should link but it’s @books_bigideas)
  • I’ve been playing piano and singing again! And maybe I’ll want to share it some day?
  • I dunno about TikTok, man…seems easier than YouTube, but I hate staring at my phone to edit and the book community there is different than what I’m used to. Maybe it will just be musical theatre nonsense, who knows. But it exists @booksandbigideas.

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