feeling fall

how everything lives, shifting / from one bright vision to another, forever / in these momentary pastures


The equinox was yesterday, which means it's officially fall.

On one hand, I'm your basic white woman with one too many scented candles. I love autumn leaves. I love sweaters and boots and patchwork quilts. I'm my mother's daughter, which is to say I await fall foliage with all the anticipation of a kid at Christmastime. September hits and I'm dreaming of Vermont, apple orchards, freshly-powdered doughnuts.

On the other hand, I'm a freeze baby. Fall, with its cozy clothes and crisp air, doesn't agree with my poor circulation. Dreams of Vermont are well and good, but reality hits different—I'm usually so bundled up that I can't move, let alone navigate the uneven grass of my favorite orchard.

Regardless, fall is in the air. I'm going apple picking next Monday, even if it kills me. In a couple of weeks, I'll be dragging my parents to a local arts festival, half because I like buying local—there's no shortage of Christmas gifts in downtown Red Wing—and half because the atmosphere is impeccable. I'll be missing summer like mad by the time November rolls around. But I'm content for now.

Describe the trees where you are. Are they bare? Lush? What about the air? Does it sting when you breathe? If fall was an emotion, what would it be?


Updates

🐺 I've published two columns so far this month: "Today and Every Day, I Choose Rest" and "I'm Worried About the KOTOR Remake." Next Monday, the 27th, my column about the Philips recall will go live.

🥼 If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I've been posting a lot about the recall. For the uninitiated: Earlier this summer, Philips Respironics recalled 13 respiratory devices, including BiPAPs, CPAPs, and ventilators. As someone with SMA, I am dependent on my BiPAP—I would've died from pneumonia a long time ago if it wasn't for my machine. Philips has instituted a repair and replace program, but has offered no time frame and no alternatives. Our only option is to continue using the affected equipment, despite the health risks, which include sinusitis, headaches, and potential exposure to carcinogens.

Disability Visibility Project drafted an open letter on behalf of the disability community, in which they outline Philips' culpability and the ways in which they've failed their patients. Please consider signing the letter and sharing the campaign with your network. If you have been affected by Philips' recall, I encourage you to share your experiences on social media with hashtag #SuckYouPhilips.

🥀 I'm ~33k into #Ouroboros and really hitting my stride. My goal is to finish the first draft by the end of the year, revise during the winter, and share with betas by the spring!

📽️ I might be obsessed with Reels? My first post was a digital resting point, and my second was an #Ouroboros graphic I made in Canva. I wasn't expecting to love Instagram—and Reels—as much as I do, but I won't say no to extra creativity!


Ko-fi

I launched my Ko-fi earlier this month and am loving it so far. I've posted everything from playlists to Notion templates—and I have some exciting things in the works for October!

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, most of my Ko-fi content is available for free. If you like my work and want to keep up with what I'm doing, following my Ko-fi will send most of my updates straight to your inbox. If you want to support me financially, there are three options to choose from:

  • A one-time donation 🍫

  • Membership at the Sun 🌞 tier ($2 USD/mo)

  • Membership at the Moon 🌚 tier ($5 USD/mo)

At the end of the day, I appreciate any and all support. It means the world to me that you're here!


That's it for this month! As always, thanks for letting me into your inbox. Stay safe, and don't forget to indulge in all your favorite fall rituals.

Boots, apple-scented candles, and a trip to the orchard,
🐝

trying new things

the thrill of a new endeavor ⚡

I spent the past month vacillating between ideas.

I decided in late July that my relationship with social media needed an overhaul. I've known that for a while, but was too afraid to act on it—afraid of losing followers, friends, the street cred that comes with being active on Twitter. But then authors started migrating to Instagram, and I realized that I was self-sabotaging in a major way.

I hate Twitter. And that's okay. Life is too short to suffer for social media.

In the wake of that realization, I started to research alternatives. I like Instagram, and fully intend to stay active there, but I wanted something that allowed for creative freedom—something that didn't require photography skills or a knack for Reels. I wanted to cultivate a corner of the internet that wasn't beholden to the algorithm.

So I did my due diligence. I researched author platforms—websites, newsletters, run-of-the-mill WordPress blogs. I even went so far as to create a Patreon. But then I discovered Ko-fi, and something clicked.

In other words, this newsletter is going to look a little different from now on.

I'll still be on Twitter, but in terms of social media, I'll be focusing on Instagram. Ko-fi will function as my "blog"—a place for all my content, from micro essays to aesthetic boards to Notion templates. This newsletter will still go out on the last Thursday of every month, and will feature links to recent publications and book-related updates.

The great thing about Ko-fi is that my posts will go straight to your inbox. No more gaming the algorithm! Just me and my pastel-themed Notion templates. Financial support is an option (and much appreciated), but I plan to post a majority of my content for free. All you have to do is create an account and follow my profile.

I'm stupidly excited about this change. And not just because I'm giving myself permission to try something new (i.e., distance myself from Twitter). Ko-fi will allow me to explore and experiment, which is far more important than visibility and reach.

I'm still in the process of setting things up, so I'll be back in a couple of weeks with a link to my Ko-fi. More soon!


Updates

💛 August is SMA Awareness Month, so my Instagram feed is full of infographics and micro essays.

🐺 I've published three columns so far this month: "SMA Is Full of Contradictions," "Story by Story, I Write Myself Into the Narrative," and "We Choose to Fight for the People Left Behind."

♿ The latest #SMAMyWay update is live! You can read my article on psychological flexibility and listen to my thoughts on navigating the workplace.

🧵 My thread on climate crises and disability got some traction!

The climate crisis has already begun. Marginalized communities are most at risk, including - especially - folks with disabilities.

If you consider yourself an ally, fight for us. Invite us into the conversation. Remember us when water levels are rising and the world is on fire.

🥀 I'm ~19k into #Ouroboros and having the time of my life. #CrippingRapunzel was a slog, probably because I was half-assing the plot, but drafting #Ouroboros has been a breeze. Check out my Instagram highlight full of excerpts!


Thanks for being here, and for putting up with my social media woes. I can't wait to dive into Ko-fi—I hope you'll join me, financial support or no. Either way, your interest means the world.

Cat noses, fall vibes, and iridescent phone charms (because it's perpetually Y2K),
🐝

sustainability or bust

in it for the long haul 🌷


Early this month, several writers that I follow on social media were making vague references to "that one article about Twitter." Because I'm an unrepentant snoop with an unhealthy interest in drama that does not involve me, I went in search of the article—which just so happened to be this beauty by Nicole Brinkley.

The essay—aptly titled "Did Twitter break YA?"—is long and probably unimportant to those of you who a) are not writers, or b) do not care about social media. Unfortunately, I fit in both of those categories. I don't write YA, and probably never will, but much of Brinkley's argument rang true to me as an upcoming author (?) who struggles with social media.

To summarize, Brinkley blames parasocial relationships between author and reader for the changes in the genre. Marginalized authors are being forced off Twitter because of "bookish rage." As Brinkley states so eloquently, "The nature of the rage-loving algorithm of Twitter isn't going to change. ... Even if it has broken authors. Even if it has lost its intended audience. Even if, at the end of the day, the water cooler that the industry is forced to gather around no longer brings anybody joy. No longer quenches anyone's thirst."

I've been working on my social media for over a year. And I think I'm doing better. I have room to improve, but at the very least, I'm engaging with the people I follow; I'm taking pride in my Instagram feed. I've come a long way, and there are days where all the time and energy I've sunk into the internet actually pays off.

Still, I'm anxious. I never feel like I'm doing enough—I'm too inactive, or my posts aren't aesthetic enough, or no one liked my tweet, so what's the point? I know that social media is a shitty reflection of an author's worth, but that doesn't stop me from running the rat race, winded on the hamster wheel.

Every couple of months, I consider leaving Twitter. My gut check is an enthusiastic yes, complete with serotonin, dopamine, and no small amount of relief. I want to leave Twitter. I want to focus on Instagram or TikTok or, hell, even Tumblr. It seems like every other week another author pivots to Instagram, adding "updates" to their Twitter name.

But I'm scared of missing out. Of losing followers. Of disappointing an agent—for all I know, an active Twitter could be exactly what I need. (This isn't how querying actually works, but my brain refuses to accept that.) The therapist in me knows that I'm self-sabotaging by sticking with something that steals not only my joy but my energy and focus. And yet.

And yet.

I decided against a career in counseling because I realized that, as much as I love psychology, I'm not cut out for that kind of career. My body wouldn't be able to keep up with the demands of therapy; my boundaries aren't firm enough to keep me from becoming an emotional sponge. A career in mental health counseling wasn't sustainable, and it killed me to walk away, but I know in my heart that it was the right decision.

I'm making it sound like I'm leaving Twitter. I'm not. But I'm meditating on the concept of sustainability, because at the end of the day, stories are my life. Writing is what I do. There is no version of me that doesn't want to write books for a living. If I'm serious about this, and I am, I need to ensure that my creative life—including my presence on social media—is sustainable.

I'm still figuring out what that looks like. I'm indecisive as hell, so it may take me a while, but I know I'll get there eventually. I'm in this for the long haul.


Updates

♿ I've been celebrating Disability Pride Month over on Instagram and even made a series of graphics for it. You can read my thoughts on disability pride here.

💛 August is SMA Awareness Month in the U.S., and I'm going all out. I have an entire month of content scheduled, and will even be posting some Reels on Instagram. If you have questions about SMA, reply to this email or leave a comment below!

🐺 I'm still writing weekly columns for SMA News Today! You can keep up with "The Wolf Finally Frees Itself" here.


Recommendations

This article by Oliver Burkeman about time is short but powerful. I've been trying to lean into my rhythm of productivity, to embrace the cadence of it. My body has enough problems; I don't need to aggravate my laundry list of illnesses by chasing the unachievable.

The core trouble in our modern relationship with time, I think – made worse by most productivity advice – is that we've come to see it as something we need to try to master or conquer. First, we think of time as a separate "thing" (unlike, say, medieval peasants, who'd have had no such abstract notion). Then, we feel we've got to make the most of it, or squeeze the most work from it, or use it to get on top of things, or do enough with it to feel a sense of self-worth. And our economic system makes things worse, making many feel as though they need to achieve this mastery simply to stay afloat.

Sadly, though, no finite human being has ever won a fight against time. We just get the limited time we get, and the limited control over it that we get. And if you spend your life fighting the truth of this situation, all that happens is that you feel more rushed and overwhelmed and impatient – until one day time decisively wins the fight, as it was always destined to do. (In other words: you die.)

🎖️ I keep coming back to this list of competitive advantages by Sahil Bloom. Number three is especially applicable as I experiment with social media and virtual communities.

🌞 I love this NPR spotlight on joy and the accompanying joy generator.

🎶 A playlist for summer. Songs #15 through #19 are on repeat.


As always, thanks for being here, and for letting me ramble (yet again) about social media. If I end up leaving Twitter, I'll probably create a Patreon with content similar to this newsletter, but more in-depth, and more skewed towards craft. If that interests you, I'd love to know what content you'd like to see! Feel free to reply to this email or leave a comment below.

Flower crowns, aesthetically-pleasing Instagram feeds, and sustainability schemes,
🐝

returning to my roots

influential and inextricable 🌱


Dad and I have been rewatching Doctor Who. Slowly, because we are too stingy to pay for HBO Max, and I'm too impatient to deal with the sketchy, subpar-quality pirating sites of my youth—life is too short for that kind of buffering.

We don't have a functioning DVD player. We're too stingy to buy one, so we're making do with a MacBook that's so old it came with a disc drive. We borrow the DVDs from our local library, play it on our dinosaur of a laptop, and pray the discs aren't corrupted. The thing about obsolete technology is that it thrives on uncertainty. We sit down to watch an episode and wonder, dimly, what will die first: the MacBook, with its faulty Windows partition and ridiculously long queue of software updates; the HDMI cord, connected to the decades-old TV; or the DVDs, littered with scratches.

Doctor Who is, by and far, one of my most formative influences. The Stargate franchise got me into sci-fi, but Doctor Who clarified my obsession, gave shape to my interest. Doctor Who introduced me to a majority of the things I love—folklore, divinity, heart-full girls. It showed me what I wanted to write; it convinced me that storytelling was a worthy pursuit, and instilled in me a love of the fantastic, the speculative, the darling and whimsical.

Rewatching the RTD era—series one through four—has been a slap in the face. I'm older now. Smarter (?). I'm less interested in the aliens and zany plots. Sometimes, more often than I'd like to admit, I find myself rolling my eyes. Doctor Who started out as a kids' show, and while it's matured over the years, the legacy persists.

Still, I can't help but love it. Doctor Who is a part of me: influential and inextricable. I am who I am because of Doctor Who—my curiosity, my interest in myth, my obsession with the savior archetype. Even my faith in humanity stems from Doctor Who. My ethics reflect the Doctor's belief that every single living creature is of worth. That we can choose to be the very best versions of ourselves, even in times of darkness.

It's humbling. Revisiting something that once meant so much to you; that, in many ways, saved your life. On one hand, it's so much worse than I remember—the dialogue, the special effects, the halfhearted attempts at feminism. But the heart of the show, the narrative I imprinted on so intensely, remains. And it continues to influence me to this day.

The ancient, morally gray, divinity-imbued men.

The fierce, flawed women, stumbling through life with a longing for more.

The setting: an impossible ship in an unbelievable universe.

The setup: adventures in time and space, mayhem and magic and the mundanity between—and through it all, you hold a god's hand.

If you follow me on social media, you'll know that I'm between projects right now. It was an unexpected change. I was engrossed in the world of #CrippingRapunzel until, one day, I wasn't. I started thinking about the future: my career post-querying. I still haven't given up on WANING CRESCENT, but the pessimist in me is planning for the worst-case scenario (i.e., I have to shelve WANING CRESCENT and query a completely different book).

I realized that, as much as I love #CrippingRapunzel, it wasn't the best debut. So I went back to the drawing board. I returned to my roots—the stories I love, and the stories I want to tell. I started fresh, and now I'm plotting something new, a standalone in the WANING CRESCENT universe. I don't know much about it, which is the fun part. There's so much left to discover.

Again, humility. Starting anew; returning to that which made me, the books and myths and corny kids' shows. There's something so edifying about it. Restorative. I guess that's why they call them roots.


I don't know much about my new project, code name #Ouroboros, but have an aesthetic 🥀✨


Updates

📚 My latest Notion template is available via Gumroad! Includes a customizable "bookshelf" database, featuring genres, tags, release dates, and synopses.

🎁 I'm running a giveaway on Instagram for a copy of my poetry debut, WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE! You can find more details here.

♿ I recently created a Discord server for disabled writers! You can join here.

🐺 I'm still writing weekly columns for SMA News Today! You can keep up with "The Wolf Finally Frees Itself" here.


Recommendations

🚀 My friend and fellow columnist, Sherry Toh, is writing about disability representation in Mass Effect. Sherry is smart as hell, and her analysis of BioWare's beloved trilogy is peak literacy criticism.

The trilogy distinguishes itself by recognizing the universe's vastness, diversity, and complexity. In doing so, it includes myriad disabled characters, both human and alien, whose experiences vary as much as the quality of their storylines. The addition of disabilities enriches and complicates its themes and politics; it's where it can soar into the stars or crash and burn like an aimless asteroid.

Productivity advice from Slava Akhmechet that slapped me upside the head.

Construct physical barriers to temptation so the internet loses and your laziness wins. Then get properly bored. Then do the work.

📝 Short but insightful reads on creating conflict and optimizing pacing and context.

🌷 Poems by Safia Elhillo and the love of my life, Ada Limón.

Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
enough
. Say you'd still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.


That's it for this month. Thanks for being here, and for letting me take up precious space in your inbox. If you feel so inclined, reply to this email and let me know what formative piece of media you're revisiting this summer.

Meticulously-curated Spotify playlists, blue police boxes, and hope, always hope,
🐝

one part patience, two parts devotion

i am bad at waiting 🌱


I am learning the value of patience.

Anyone with experience in the publishing industry will tell you that writing is waiting. Writing is work—hard, messy, crying-my-way-through-this-draft work. But it's also waiting.

Waiting for the final piece of your plot to click into place. Waiting for motivation or, at the very least, the stubbornness needed to show up again and again, day after day. Waiting for critique partners and beta readers to get back to you. Waiting for literary agents to respond to your query, whether it's a full request or a two-page synopsis. Waiting for an edit letter. Waiting to go on submission. Waiting for recognition, for release day, for the moments of brilliance between the stretches of mundanity.

I knew going into querying that I would need a distraction, something to keep me occupied. But I didn't realize just how integral that distraction—otherwise known as #CrippingRapunzel—would be to my sanity. I'm tired of waiting. I'm bad at waiting. But I'm starting to realize that, unless I cultivate a deep appreciation for the mundanity that bookends of brilliance, I will never be happy.

I wish I could say that I've thrown myself into #CrippingRapunzel, that querying is the furthest thing from my mind, that I check my email twice a day and that's it. But I can't. I'm a human being with a faulty human heart, so it took me a while to extricate my ego from the finished product that was WANING CRESCENT. I struggled to accept the question mark of publishing. I wanted to know the status of my book, the want so encompassing that I literally could not focus. My impatience was driving me mad.

The thing about fulfillment is that we look for it in the wrong places. Years ago, when I was nothing more than a National Treasure fangirl, I derived fulfillment from the act of writing. I basked in readers' reviews. I had vague plans of turning my 300-page, self-insert fanfiction into an actual book. But the joy was in writing. The ritual of putting words on the page. I loved stories, and I loved how certain words came to life when you strung them together. I approached writing like I approached God—with breathless devotion, and the knowledge that anything could happen if I just believed.

All this to say that I am returning to that version of myself, the saccharine sophomore with the love of present tense. I am remembering how to create for the sake of creation. I still check my email, because I'm a human being with a faulty human heart, but I am trying to hope less. I am trying to find fulfillment in the little things: words on the page; words that sing, that clap and dance, that look like poetry in the right light.

Every morning, it starts anew. I check my email, because I'm a faulty human with a faulty heart. I catch up with friends, tweet about Star Wars, stare at my cat as she dreams of stalking birds. I procrastinate, because writing is work, and sometimes I am lazy. And then I return to the page, the rhythm of the words, the sentences turned paragraphs turned scenes.

I don't always love it. Writing is work, and sometimes I hate even the rhythm. But sometimes I do. Sometimes I am that girl of 14, huddled in front of the fireplace in her parents' basement, drafting feverishly on her phone. Sometimes it is joy and breathless devotion.

I want more joy. Don't you?


Updates

🎨 My latest Notion template is available for free via Gumroad! I wanted to track my daily word counts, so I created a formula that would check a box every time I exceeded my minimum word count of 500. If you download the template, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear from you.

🎁 I still have author copies of WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE, so I'll be running giveaways on my Instagram and Twitter in a couple of days! Keep an eye out 👀

🐺 I'm still writing weekly columns for SMA News Today! You can keep up with "The Wolf Finally Frees Itself" here.

🔮 I'm finally hitting my stride with #CrippingRapunzel (thank God). As a thank you for subscribing, here are a couple of snippets from the first draft. 12 chapters down; 22 to go ✨


Recommendations

🐰 I love everything that Patricia Mou does, but I especially appreciate her G-G-G-C-C-C framework. Essentially, her perfect day consists of six "buckets." If she completes everything on her "don't go without" list, and dabbles in 1-2 other buckets, she'll have had a good day.

The G-G-G-C-C-C framework has helped me shift from my focus from "moments of brilliance" to "stretches of mundanity." Instead of hoping for a breakthrough, I try to dabble in the majority of my buckets on a daily basis:

  • Go in: Meditate, journal, engage in therapy

  • Go out: Be in nature

  • Connect: Meaningful conversations with loved ones, engagement on social media

  • Consume: Engage with media (TV/movies, books, video games, online content)

  • Create: Writing, social media posts, freelance work

It's a good day when I check off 3-4 of these.

📌 "Nobody Cares," Florent Crivello

I do wish more people were active online. The whole promise of the Internet was that of an infinite, vibrant, open forum of ideas. Instead, there seems to be a mass exodus towards private communities — they surely are where I get the most meaningful, genuine interactions, and hear the most original ideas today. This makes me wonder how many eye-opening insights we’re all missing out on, uttered in conversations that should have happened in public

🌟 Heather Havrilesky continually astounds me. I loved her essays on creative practice and exuberance.

EXUBERANCE makes room for the world. Exuberance sets the table like there are kings and queens coming to dinner. Exuberance is humility that's energized: AS LONG AS I DON'T MATTER, I MIGHT AS WELL HAVE FUN. Exuberance is unselfconscious and whimsical and sometimes it's even conflicted. Exuberance lets everyone be who they are without taking it personally. Exuberance is vivacious and even goofy but it also protects itself from the assassins of fun: status-seeking, contempt, anxious fear of others, and quick fixes.

"Spatial Abolition and Disability Justice," Joal Stein

Bringing together the worlds of disability justice and abolition could be one of the most powerful prompts for the future. What kind of world could we live in—where there is no need for prisons, flexible enough to meet the needs of everybody, understanding that we move through various states of dependency and vulnerability through our lives, in which we go beyond accessibility and inclusion toward systems of care and radical interdependence?

🎶 My spring 2021 playlist, feat. Hozier, Of Monsters and Men, and an evergreen resurrection anthem.


That's it for this month. Thanks for being here, and for showing up as your whole, faulty self, too-big heart and all. I'll leave you with this gorgeous poem by Danez Smith.

Honey, lilacs, and so much joy,
🐝

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