Weekly review, 17 June 2017

Reading

  • The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher

…which is my favorite food book ever, in the universe, and I’ve coveted a copy of my own for years and years. Why didn’t I buy it for myself before now? Have no idea. No good reason. Anyway I put it on my Amazon book wishlist and my husband bought it for me! Early birthday present, winning, and I’m reading about cheese and butter and fish and how to cook oysters and hearty winter stew while munching on mangos and guineos and plantains and it’s all wonderful.

  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Picked up a copy at the local library, about 50 pages in, and while I’m enjoying it when I read it, I’m not thinking about it when I’m not reading it. There’s no back-of-mind wanting to get back to the story. It’s just by my bed or in my bag and I pick it up and read a bit here and there. Maybe it will pull me in. Maybe I won’t finish it. There are always more books waiting.

and also

and also

  • I enjoyed reading Cal Newports post about John Grisham’s 15-hour workweek. The more I write, the more I find that writing fast can be much more possible than we (might) think. [See: How to Write an Article in 30 Minutes, above.]  And writing fast doesn’t mean writing poorly. Sometimes it does. But sometimes it improves the quality. If you define what you’re doing, don’t waste energy fluctuating on your approach, and dedicate specific time to achieving a specific amount of work daily, you can produce a lot of clear, focused writing in a short amount of time.

“The only decisions with impact are the ones with consequences.” Indeed. Simplify what doesn’t matter, optimize what does. Don’t waste time optimizing the unimportant. (I say this to myself every day, 100 times, because that’s how often I have the urge to spend energy optimizing the unimportant.)

  • A new favorite on my list of favorites: The Fluent Self. It’s poetry, prose, thoughtfulness, introspection, and startlingly beautiful lines that clarify feelings into words. Really, really wonderful.

Writing

  • I’m working on a couple of book outlines, deciding which to write next.
    • One is about content: writing, how writing relates to content, what content is, how to build a system or framework for producing content without feeling like a personality-less marketing sell-out content robot (anyone else know that feeling? No? Just me? Ok.) and so on.
    • The other is about inputs and outputs. I’ve talked about inputs and outputs here, and in The Real You, and it’s a concept I want to give more thought and attention to. Practical, tactical thought. How do we know which inputs and outputs matters? Which to simplify and which to optimize? What if we identify an input that’s harmful, but don’t know how to cut it off? (These things are often complex and obligatory and have lots of dependencies and aren’t so simple to end even if we want to.) What if we can’t figure out which outputs are positive and which are negative? What if the outputs we enjoy the most, personally derive the most joy/value from, don’t seem to generate a corresponding reaction? How do we keep space in our lives for the joy-giving outputs but also, I don’t know, survive and pay bills and stuff? There are a lot of questions here.
  • I wrote a few blog posts this week: Start assuming the best, Instant gratification vs feeling good, and Focus on having a good day. I also wrote another six drafts, but I need to read through them, do quick edits, and draw some doodles to go with them. I find that working in a batch-process mode is both more enjoyable and more productive: I write a bunch of drafts at one time, then draw doodles for a bunch all at one time, then upload & format & schedule at one time, etc.
  • I wrote four client blog posts this week and have two more to work on later today. I also wrote two drafts, spin-offs from a couple of the pieces I was writing. I’ll pitch them as follow-up pieces and, if they’re accepted, I’ll do the necessary research, finish writing, and send them in. I like the ‘write a related piece’ practice, as I’m already in the mindset of what I’m writing about and it’s easy to branch off into related topics and pound out a quick draft or two with very little extra time taken.

Life

  • Beach time. Yes. It’s rainy season, which means a storm rolls in every afternoon, almost without exception. Sometimes I forget and we go to the beach in the afternoon. It’s fun to swim in the rain. (Get out if the lightning starts, of course.)
  • Summer and friends. Sleepovers and playdates. Those are for the kids, not for me, but maybe I should change that…
  • Screen time. Our tv is broken and that’s been surprisingly nice. I miss a good movie night on the weekends but overall, it’s good. We find other ways to relax (see Beach, above) together. We gave the kids their tablets back after taking a month off. Everyone needs a reset sometimes.
  • Eating simple. Lots of rice and beans, lentils, quinoa, chicken, eggs, and fresh local vegetables and fruit. It’s mango season.