rocktown road trip!!

Today two of my friends and I took a day trip that was so fun, I just have to put up a quick blog post about it! Things kicked off when Anna, Cari, and Cari’s dad picked me up too early in the morning (my mom: “Why are you awake?” Me: “I’m asking myself the same question”).

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There were six of us altogether that traveled today, and all of us enjoyed the time together!

We drove for a couple of hours before stopping for some food. Our final destination was a place in north (very north) Georgia called Rocktown. We walked for a mile, rock climbed for an hour or two, and then walked for another mile–and somehow, although I definitely felt very very bad and the nerve damage in my legs kicked in, I didn’t pass out or anything.

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look at this heart shaped cave! it was about fifteen feet off the ground and too too cute.

I’ve always loved hiking and climbing around rocks, but I haven’t gotten to do that kind of thing the past few years because I’ve been so sick. Today we climbed and climbed and climbed, clambering up sheer rock faces and jumping across cracks containing twenty-foot drops and then collapsing on the top to flip water bottles and throw acorns at each other. It was so quiet and so beautiful up in the treetops.

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“Anna, take a picture of me contemplating nature.”

My friends are just so darn cute.

 

We swung by an overlook that hang gliders use to take off from. It was so beautiful. I can’t imagine ever living anywhere where I can’t see the mountains.

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The way home involved lots of sleeping, lots of hands through the sunroof, lots of loud Hillsong Y&F music, lots of windblown hair, and lots of thinking about the beauty of this season of life and understanding for the first time ever what it feels like to live in freedom and grace. We stopped for barbecue before finally heading home. This was a completely exhausting day but also one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

Do you enjoy rock climbing? What do you like to do with your friends?

September: Patience (Fruit of the Spirit project, Month #4)

I’ll be honest: I didn’t think a lot about patience this month. I did lots of thinking and reading Scripture and learning, yeah, but none of it was really about patience. #oops The biggest way I needed patience this month, besides the obvious small frustrations like sitting in construction traffic (I swear every single road in the county is being paved right now), was with waiting for my life to start. I want a full-time writing job! I want an apartment! But those are still a couple of years down the road, because I’m 18 and don’t have enough experience and $$. I’m certainly enjoying life right now, and I realize that one day I’ll probably wish I was back in this season, but I’m also just ready for everything else.

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The story of Abraham and Sarah shows how God sometimes makes us wait for something that he’s promised us. When I read that online this morning, my first thought was heaven. Before we get to heaven, we have to live out the rest of our life on earth. Sometimes, thinking about all the pain and sin on earth, the length of time I have to wait to get to heaven seems interminable. But really, it’s nothing compared to the length of time I’ll be in heaven. Here’s a little encouragement for when earthly things drag us down:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  –Psalm 40:1-2

I read that reference online just now, and when I opened my Bible to find the verses and see them in context–underlined, circled, and highlighted–I was shocked. I was lying awake last night thinking about this season of reconciliation and relationships and about this very Psalm, which got me through so much and intertwines through said relationships; I just couldn’t remember the reference of which Psalm it was. Thinking about the last several months, this verse proves absolutely true. Often we think about patience as being just for the small frustrations, but it’s for the big life situations, too. I read this Psalm over and over earlier this year; I waited, I tried to have faith, I tried to have patience. And now, somehow, I’m on the other side looking back. This is a season of freedom. It’s a season of grace. It’s a season of blossoming. It’s a season of reconciliation and of God’s faithfulness. And really, isn’t every season a season of His faithfulness? I hope this will also be a season of patience and contentment.

 

What did God teach you in the month of patience? October is the month of kindness, which I’m really looking forward to.

Weird. (Hurricane Irma, Bad Brakes, Lost Jobs, and Moving On)

It’s been an interesting week. I have a lot of words in my head, and words are how I process–so, today you’re getting the words. The more coherent ones, at least.

The past seven days have been full of some crazy stressful stuff that I never would’ve expected. My grandmother had a car accident and my parents unexpectedly went out of town for five days to be with her (she’s doing okay now). Hurricane Irma blew through, leaving us without power for three days. My car got a nail in the tire, and on the way to the shop driving on my spare, my rear brakes went out and I almost crashed my car. Finally, I lost my main reliable source of income at the moment. I know freelancing is an unpredictable job, and that clients come and go. But it was a very bad time for this client to go: not only do I need money (my car needed four new tires and a brake adjustment), but I’d just decided a week or two earlier to forgo college for a while and try to make a living writing without a degree. So losing this job (which was an amazing answer to prayer back in May) didn’t exactly instill confidence in me on that end.

Wednesday in particular was crazy. I was headed to breakfast with my friend Cari when my mom noticed a nail in my tire. After breakfast, I got a spare tire put on, and then my mom and I ran to a friend’s house to take a shower (our first in 48 hours). Then we headed to the shop. On the way, my brakes started acting up, and I freaked out as I nearly rear-ended several people. Next it was off to the library in search of WiFi; they didn’t have any, so Cari picked me up and we went to Starbucks briefly so I could at least clean out my inbox before heading to church, where I helped teach kids’ choir and kids’ Bible study and didn’t get home until 9:30 PM. I felt physically horrible from my busy day and from subsisting on peanut butter crackers for two days (#thanksirma). Basically, things have been crazy, and I’m kind of just waiting to see what undesirable thing is going to happen next.

Two things in particular stuck out to me about this week. One, I think I handled everything much better than I would have at any other point in my life. With help, I’m finally getting to the point where I’m more confident in myself and I have faith in Christ to be competent for me. Two, can I just say–I LOVE MY PEOPLE. I literally cannot count the number of people who heard about my grandmother’s accident and my parent’s absence and immediately emailed, texted, or called (even if they didn’t live in the same state) to say: can we bring food? Do you want to stay with us? How can we help you? When our power was out, the same thing happened: practically everyone I know was offering to let me come take a shower or enjoy a hot meal or use their WiFi to get some work done–which means that I know a lot of awesome people.

And speaking of awesome people, last week wasn’t all bad. Last Saturday, in fact, was one of the best days of my life. Hannah and Emma and I met in seventh grade and immediately became close. Two years ago, though, Emma and her family moved to Germany. Hannah and I continued seeing each other as often as possible–but we missed Emma! Emma is back in the States for college now, and we saw each other for the first time in two years last Saturday. The three of us couldn’t stop smiling all day long. I foresee lots of day trips to Emma’s college this year, and that makes me so so happy!

This whole week has been weird. Really, my life in general right now is just weird–not necessarily a bad weird, or a good weird, but just WEIRD. Things aren’t always scary, aren’t always frustrating, and aren’t always super fun–but they just feel weird! I’m still here, and a lot of stuff is the same, but I’m different. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, six months ago, or even one month ago. My life is completely different than it was a year or six months ago (or a week ago, haha), and I like it that way. There were a whole lot of things and places and relationships that I was ready to be done with once high school ended, and some of those transitions away went smoothly–others didn’t. It’s weird because, like I said, I’m still here. I didn’t move away to go to college or do an internship or do missions work; for the next couple of years, I’m planning to live in my parents’ house and work from home/in my hometown. But I’m different, and my life is different, and I like it that way. I’m ready to move on.

For the most part, I’m happy with my life right now. Sometimes (mostly when I’m looking at social media) I’ll feel a twinge–I wish I could experience living in a dorm. All my friends will go to college and leave me. Can I really make a viable income writing without a degree, or am I being idealistic and unrealistic? There are lots of questions, but at the same time, that’s kind of a fun thing. The rest of my life is ahead of me–the sky is the limit!! Who knows where I’ll be in five or ten years? That’s a question that scares me a little, but it excites me, too. Honestly, who knows?! I could be living here in my suburban hometown, writing for a fitness magazine and owning two dogs. I could be coaching softball, publishing my next book, and becoming a foster mom in another state. I could be living in a city apartment somewhere, working as a church secretary and a certified personal trainer and doing community theater. For the most part, I love love love this stage of life. I feel far more confident in myself and who I am than I ever have. I’m done with school (hopefully for good), and I’m becoming an adult, however slowly–and it’s making me feel free. Which is a really nice feeling. I’m still trying to discover, though: can I have my dream jobs without a degree and make enough of an income to live on? How long will it take to get to that point? Can I get to that point without a degree? Furthermore, how will my health play into this new period of life? I don’t have the energy to be out working all day every day, so I’d prefer to work from home, even though I don’t want to be alone all day every day. I realize it sounds like I’m being picky and I’ll probably have to compromise, but I just can’t physically do some things. I don’t know the answers to any of these questions and problems, but I do know that I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to write without a degree. And if it doesn’t happen a few years down the road, well, I’ll have some money saved up and I can always go back to school, as much as I’d rather not.

To sum it all up, this season of life just feels WEIRD, and this was one of the craziest and most stressful weeks I’ve ever had. But I think I’m liking it–all of it. Here’s to the next week and month and year. Honestly, after the last seven days, what’s the worst that can happen? *knocks on wood*

Were you affected by Hurricane Irma? Do you have any advice for me as I figure out #adulting? What have you been up to this week?

Writing Plan/Schedule/Goals: Revisited

Mid-May of this year, I published a post called Writing Plan/Schedule/Goals: Summer 2017! Today, I’m here with the follow-up to that post to take a look at how I actually did. I’d said, tongue-in-cheek, that I wanted to “single-handedly reverse the starving artist stereotype by August”–and I ended up doing pretty well! Let’s break down each goal and see how I did.

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1. One-time freelance jobs.

In my original post, I specifically mentioned Upwork under this section. Since then, though, I learned a lot more about fair rates and realized that content mills like Upwork are basically just a way to waste time. I’ve applied for countless jobs from other freelance boards, particularly ProBlogger, and I’ve also pitched ideas to several individual magazines, particularly in the fitness and pet niches since those are the areas I focus on. A couple of the jobs I found on ProBlogger are in the works, but nothing is cemented yet, so although I did the legwork on this goal I haven’t seen lots of results.

2. A steady writing job.

I fulfilled this goal just a few days after writing my post last May! I had a phone interview with a CrossFit company and was hired on the spot. During high school, I worked forty hours a month with a very inflexible schedule; this summer, I worked ten hours a month whenever I wanted and made the exact same amount of money. I write ten articles per month about CrossFit as training for youth sports, and I LOVE it (because I’m such a nerd about exercise science haha). Check this goal off the list, and I’m hoping to add another steady job or two soon!

3. Short fiction.

My goal this summer was to have something published in print. At the time I wrote that first post, I had no idea that my first book would be published this summer!!!! WHAT EVEN. I entered lots of writing contests and submitted to many magazines; I had three pieces (one flash fiction and two personal essays) accepted to different online magazines this summer (and a whole lot of rejection emails). So, I definitely achieved this goal. Being published online is great, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you hold your words in your hands.

4. Angelica.

I worked on Angelica (my prized dystopian novel/novella/idk that I started last February) a little bit in June, but not enough to speak of. I’ve begun editing it in earnest the past few weeks, though, and IT. HAS. BEEN. SO. FUN. I think I’m the only author who will ever say that I love love LOVE editing. I understand my story and my characters so much more now, and I can’t wait to see how this story turns out! It’s currently at 23k words; I’ve come up with some great plot twists and character backstories. Things are going really well (knock on wood).

5. Florida Market.

My goal was to finish this middle-grade novel for Camp NaNo and I… didn’t?? I reached 16k words and then it kinda just didn’t happen. Oh well. I certainly plan on finishing it at some point soon, hopefully before the end of the year.

6. Warsaw Children.

“About five years ago, I began writing a book titled Warsaw Children, a historical fiction story about the Warsaw ghetto uprising. I think it really has potential as a children’s novel, so that’s going to be my August project–to research, outline, and finish the first draft.” HA. I didn’t even think about this.

7. Blogging.

Although I still have a bunch of ARC’s waiting to be reviewed from books that probably came out six months ago, I blogged very consistently this summer with a nice variety of posts, and I also guest blogged a few places. So… I win?

8. My Camp NaNo project.

I’ve barely even thought about the project I did for April’s camp… but I promise it’s coming at some point.

 

I was able to have a lot of conversations with people this summer and explain to them how freelance writing works, how I find jobs, what I do all day, etc. Attention all fellow young writers: you CAN make a living through writing. There are so so many companies that need bloggers, magazines that need staff writers, and agents that want to represent authors in the world–it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there and finding the one that’s right for you. You won’t be discovered by magic: you have to do the legwork and let people know that you exist. But it’s completely possible to be a writer for your forever job.

I’ve been blown away all over again this summer by how much I LOVE writing and how I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life. My attitude towards writing can be summed up by a few musical theater quotes:

There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.

I’m not throwing away my shot.

They say times are hard for dreamers, and who knows, maybe they are, people seem stuck or lost at sea. And I might be a dreamer but it’s gotten me this far, and that is far enough for me… It isn’t where I am but only where I go from here that matters now, and everything I’ll ever need is here–this is how my world gets made.

August: Month in Review

August, you were nice and all, but I’m happy to see you go if it means AUTUMN. Hell-o September, you are lookin’ fine.

This month my parents and I decided that for the next few years, I’m going to live at home and focus on working–specifically, my writing career (a threefold mix of staff writing, freelance writing, and fiction writing)–with the goal of being able to earn enough steady income to move out by the time I’m 21ish. I’m so SO happy with this decision (no more school! Well, after this semester). I have lots of big plans and I’m ready to work hard!

I started my one online college class (a lit/art/music appreciation) this month. I held a big outreach event at my house (“Rooted”) for thirty elementary school girls. We had homeschool friends over to swim, I did a photoshoot with the cutest little guy, and my friend Hannah and I spent a rainy day around town. Joshua and I saw Newsies again, Madeleine and I had a picnic, and my dad and I visited some cute bookshops in Atlanta. My grandmother passed away and we went to Mississippi for a week. Although it was a sad occasion, it was so fun to see all my extended family, and we spent lots of time having fun with my aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins–rides in a green 1953 Chevrolet with the windows down, an overabundance of corny uncle jokes, toddler smiles, walks in the woods after dark, unique (ahem) restaurants, and talking theater and writing with cousins.

 

 

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ALSO YESTERDAY WAS THE SEPTEMBER 1ST AND I’M JUST A LITTLE BIT EMOTIONAL #19YEARSLATER

This month I’m…

Reading: Watch the Sky, Kirsten Hubbard. Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline. Jo’s Boys, Louisa May Alcott. Fire by Night, Teresa Messineo (dang yes). The Endless Steppe, Esther Hautzig (reread). Angel on the Square, Gloria Whelan (reread). The Singing Tree, Kate Seredy (reread). Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo (each one was a little better than the last). Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo (KAZ MY SMOL PRECIOUS CHILD) (reread). Daring to Hope, Katie Davis Majors (launch team whoop). 12 total.

Listening to: Not Today, Hillsong. So Will I, Hillsong. I Never Planned On You / Don’t Come A-Knocking, Newsies. Seize the Day, Newsies. Everlasting, Tuck Everlasting. Partner in Crime, Tuck Everlasting. Far Kingdom, The Gray Havens. Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats, Cats. Schuyler Sisters, Hamilton. Live Like This, Tuck Everlasting. Times are Hard for Dreamers, Amelie (which I LOOOVE because it sums up my life right now–“They say times are hard for dreamers / I might be a dreamer, but it’s gotten me this far / this is how my world gets made”).

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Watching: GirlDefined on Hospitality. P&G Championships. Little League World Series. The Princess Diaries (I made my grandpa and brother watch this and they liked it).

Writing: I wrote ten articles for the CrossFit company I work for, and I applied to several blogging/writing jobs, including a couple of really big ones. I was offered a freelance job that’ll be happening in the next several months and involves interviewing my favorite Olympian! I filled in some important backstory in my dystopian novella Angelica and really really enjoyed it. I submitted two old fiction pieces to two contests, one new flash fiction piece to another contest (it came very close to winning, but didn’t), and one new personal essay to an online magazine (it was accepted almost immediately, and now I kind of wish I hadn’t submitted it? Oh well). I also wrote an essay for a scholarship contest, submitted two new pieces to two devotional websites, and wrote an article about separation anxiety in dogs that went to a dog magazine. I had a devotional published here and a blog post published here. And I signed four copies of my book!! (Still working on my signature…)

Loving: AUGUST – 2017 by Julia (the barefoot gal) (I laughed a lot reading this). The One Hundred Word Challenge by Grace Anne (Totally Graced). Excel still more by Samantha (This Stage of Life). Realm Makers 2017 Recap by Jonathan (Fishing For Ideas) (HI THIS IS ME BEING EXCEEDINGLY JEALOUS OF EVERYONE WHO WENT TO REALM MAKERS). when you go by Addy (down by the willows) (UM WOW go read this asap). ghosts of truth by Olivia (summer of 1999). 13 Things You Shouldn’t Know About My Latest Writing Project + Snippets by Cait (Paper Fury) (she needs no introduction tbh).

I blogged five times this month: Big Sister Camp 2017 (Cheap, Fun Summer Outings), Rooted (Tips for Leading a Girls’ Outreach Event), Writing Lifehacks #2: 5 Tips to Writing your Best Fight Scene Ever, summer 2017, you were good to me., and August: Peace (Fruit of the Spirit Project, Month #3). Go catch up!

Grateful for: PUPPY SCHOOL (oh the cuteness). Becoming a Soldier’s Angel (I’ll send a care package to a different female soldier each month from now on). Standing in the driveway with my uncle, aunt, and brother, watching fireworks and eating cinnamon rolls and stargazing. Allll the dessert I ate this month (there was a lot).

 

I’m feeling industrious, so here are a few goals for September (this section may or may not stick): Spend one-on-one time with at least two little girls from my church and/or neighborhood. Work on Angelica for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Get two voiceover jobs. Fix my problem of constantly hanging back on grounders. Learn how to use manual mode on my camera + have two photoshoots with friends so that I can book family shoots in October. Put away my to-do list after dinner each night to just read, be with family, or watch a movie (this will be the hardest of all lol). And enjoy fall!

What did you do this month? What are your September goals? (Mine were mostly made on the fly and based on things I’m already doing this month but WHATEVER.) Tell me all the things!