Almost forgot to post this today even though I literally just did it on Twitter. I need a snack and a nap.
Citrus bloomed on her tongue like a sunrise, sharp enough to take her breath away. In that space between one breath and the next, she tasted faint bitterness on the back of her palate, swallowed down with no way to take it back.
*Not sure what this is all about? More details about flashfictober here.
I nearly forgot about flashfictober altogether until this morning. Because this year has been… well, I don’t need to tell you.
So this morning, when I was lying in bed having just remembered flashfictober, I stared at the ceiling and debated doing the challenge — 31 pieces of flash fiction in 31 days — at all. What’s the point?
Creativity and creation feels fragile right now, for all that we need art more than ever. And the last thing that anyone wants to feel is any additional pressure to Make! Art! when sometimes getting out of bed is the best you can do that day.
But pressure is not what flashfictober is about. For me, flashfictober is about chasing shiny projects, experimenting with new styles, and letting my mind wander down the twisty path. The past two Octobers when I did this challenge were the most creatively liberating months of those years.
Though things might feel fragile and pointless, they aren’t. You aren’t. That’s something we need to remember. October, for me, has always been celebratory. A month when artists of different media come together and share the beautiful things that they’ve created. When we can cheer each other and be cheered in return.
It’s not about stress; it’s about joy. About taking joy. Any way you can.
So, fuck it. Fuck 2020 and this dark, dystopic timeline. Let’s do the thing anyway and remember the light.
Here are the rules if you want to play along. Feel free to adjust to fit your own goals and brain. I’ll say straight up that I’m likely to aim for 25 again this year, allowing myself some skips. Do what feels good to you.
- Write a piece of flash fiction daily for the month of October — 31 first drafts for 31 days. (Although like I said, I’m likely doing 25 again.)
- Each flash fiction piece should be <=1000 words long and should contain an arc/plot/conflict.
- If you need help deciding what to write, here are a few sources*:
- Try to go two to three layers down from where your brain first lands with the prompt.
- Share the piece (or even just your favorite line): to your blog, to a kind friend, to an internet rando. Let someone know about the work you’re doing!
BONUS POINTS (Even though I’m still not keeping score.)
- <100 words
- Try out some genres you don’t usually write in.
- Try writing some poetry!
- Triple point score if you also do the art challenge! Illustrate your flash, if you’d like. Keep it ink, and don’t get stuck on ‘perfect.’
*Sidebar. There’s some controversy around the whole Inktober thing (look it up if you’re curious, I don’t want to rehash it here), so I’m not posting the official prompt list. But if you’d like to use that, it’s easy enough to find with minimal Googling.
Hubs and I got a new smol fren yesterday. Currently in a foster-to-adopt sitch since we have to make sure our current fren is okay with the addition. Mostly, she’s unimpressed thus far.
I tried to take SO MANY pics of this guy, but this was one of the only two that weren’t blurry. He’s a little hurricane.
Why yes, I do have a podcast now. What kind of millennial would I be if I didn’t?
Docs Watch is the show where real doctors tell you what’s real, what’s not, and what’s maybe possible in your favorite movies and TV shows. I mean, what better use of extensive medical training is there than to answer the questions that come up when we watch superhero, science fiction, and fantasy movies?
I’m really excited about this! My good friend Deepa and I have been working on this project off and on for the last couple of years. It was a slow process since we had to match up very different schedules across a couple of time zones. But now, she lives in St. Louis too! So we finally finished up Season 1 of this show and kicked it out into the world!
Deepa and I are giant nerds, and we used to pass time on night shifts in residency talking about movies and what some of the things shown might look like in real life. What’s that arc reactor in Tony Stark’s chest actually doing? How do you go about providing medical care to an injured super with impenetrable skin? How does medical training work in the wizarding world? We talk about all of these things and more in Season 1!
Our first two episodes are already live:
And new episodes come out every Friday.
If you wanna hear a couple of nerds speculate wildly about movie and TV science, check it out at docswatchpod.com! Or find it on Apple (https://apple.co/381yiLc), Spotify (https://spoti.fi/31VireS), Stitcher (http://bit.ly/2UQf0Vb), or wherever you get your podcasts! If you like it, subscribe, rate, and review (esp on Apple!) — it helps more people find it!
I was a bit more accurate with my reading estimate this year compared to 2018.
I set an initial goal of 100 books and read 109.
We’ve talked about how hard goal-setting is. Looking back on my 2019 Q4 goals, I was a little overly ambitious given all the HOLIDAY SEASON FAMILY stuff I ended up doing.
I did braindump ‘the croc thing’ and I did rough in a couple chapters, so that was great. I did not finish any first drafts, though I did end up iterating a few thumbnail sketches for my possible Silk and Steel sub. From a process perspective, things went much better: I read on DevOps, continued using Notion (which has been great), and reassessed my workflow (despite the chaotic energy, non-structured, routine-killing black hole that is December).
And on top of all that, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and am working on management strategies and treatment. That was a huge game-changer for me.
For 2020, I’m setting an attitude and intention: I am going to FINISH THINGS.
I’ve been using Notion consistently since the end of October, and I still cannot yell enough about how amazing it is. I have stopped using Trello, Todoist, AirTable (except for my reading tracker because I haven’t gotten around to migrating that database yet), and WorkFlowy. I still use Pocket, but mostly for personal reading now; all my writing related resources go into Notion.
Here’s a breakdown of my usage of it so far.
Main view of my Notion workspace
Congee (or xifan) is my go to winter comfort food — it’s super easy and quick to make, and it’s highly versatile and customizable. So when the weather turned cold and I had the urge to make some, I thought it would be fun to riff on the toppings and see if I could come up with at least 12 different variations. Here are the results (and here’s the Twitter thread, if that’s more your speed):
The toppings, from left to right, top to bottom:
- Shitake mushrooms, thousand year egg, spicy fermented bean curd, furikake, sesame oil, and scallion (which covered EVERYTHING)
- a la Mulan: two fried eggs and bacon. But then I added a bunch of furikake. And then more fermented bean curd and scallions (not pictured) before eating.
- Vietnamese meatballs, shitake mushrooms, furikake (I was very much on a furikake kick.)
- Braised turnip greens, Italian sausage, katsuo fumi furikake (a different kind this time!), and scallions
- Sauteed purple cabbage, fermented bean curd, scallions
- Roasted kabocha squash, gochugaru, soy sauce, sesame oil
- Kimchi, thousand year egg, katsuo fumi furikake, scallions
- Chinese sausage with onions and collard greens, pickled radish, fermented bean curd, shiso fumi furikake (I bought so many varieties…)
- Not made by me, but a variation I had when visiting my mom in Houston. Congee made with red bean, black rice, and white rice, then topped with a little brown sugar. With a side of youtiao.
- So beige. Scallions, fried garlic, fried shallot, rousong.
- Ground pork and mustard greens, fried shallot, duo la jiao
- Scallions, fried garlic, a poached egg, and lao gan ma
Var 1 is pretty classic, and I really enjoyed 7, 8, and 9. The Mulan variation was fun to make, but difficult to eat. The roasted squash variation was the most different of the bunch (I have been very into roasted squash this season), and I think it looks the most interesting.
Main lesson? You can never have enough scallions. Or enough variations of furikake.
I am 33 years old, and I have ADHD. I was diagnosed at the beginning of December.
But we need to go a little further back than that.
When I left medicine, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do, but I was lucky to have the circumstances to be able to take some time and figure it out. What I settled on was this: I want to write and tell stories full time. And with any luck (and a whole lot of hard work), I’d manage to get published at some point. I wanted (want) to be an author.
So I threw myself into it at the tail end of 2017, reading craft books, figuring out metrics, setting up daily goals. I’d be able to do it consistently for a month, two months, and then there would be an emotional and mental slump that would last anywhere from a couple weeks to a stretch of months. A slump during which it was so hard to get started and put even one word on the page. I didn’t understand what was happening.
It must by my processes, I thought. My systems. After all, the shift from externally driven structure and goals to purely internally driven ones is a difficult one to make. I had a lot of learning to do.
So I read more books. I read process book after process book about hustling, about struggle, about passion and productivity. I heard over and over again, if you can’t do this every single day, you don’t actually want it. Because the flipside to the message “If you love something enough, you’ll just do it,” is that if you can’t, it’s your fault. You didn’t love it enough. You didn’t want it enough.
We don’t talk much about what is hidden in that “just.”
I accidentally picked up a new thread crafty hobby.
If I’m going to learn embroidery, I’m obvs going to start with swears.
Things I learned: Satin stitch is hard (and this thing was mostly satin stitch). French knots are kinda fun. Stabbing yourself with a needle is startling no matter how many times you do it.
Finished most of this while listening to MRK copy edit.