I am a Writer

Josie Davis

It’s weird to write those words.

“I am a writer”

No one gave my permission to say that. No one else told me that I’m a writer. I haven’t written any books that have been on the NYT best seller list, and heck, I've barely put pen to paper over these last few years. But I’m done with waiting for someone to give me permission.

Writing has always been something I’ve loved. During my teens I spent almost every night spilling my angsty little heart out into my journal. I still have those journals packed away in our basement, just sitting around for anytime I feel like I could use a little dose of teenage drama in my life. As I went off to college, journaling got lost in the shuffle. I still wrote papers and essays and any number of collegiate things, but that personal connection with writing slowly faded away.

The past few years I thought about writing a lot. Like this little bug stuck in my brain, buzzing around reminding me that it’s still there, waiting for me to get myself together and get back to it. Even in the past when I was blogging regularly about style and DIYs and other fun things I found myself wanting to write more, but having no idea where to start, worried I’d alienate followers by writing more, or worse, just be bad at it.

One of the books I finished off 2018 with was the much talked about “Girl, Wash Your Face”. One of the ideas I loved that I took from that book is her belief that how we talk about our goals and dreams has a huge effect on how or if they come to be. It really made me examine how I think about my aspirations. For years I’ve been thinking “I want to be a writer someday”, meanwhile I never made any effort to write more, or at all really. This year, I’ve stopped saying passive things like “I want” and am instead swapping it with phrases like “I am” and “I will”. I feel a lot more drawn to write every single day when I’m regularly telling myself “I am a writer” because after all, writers tend to, ya know, write.

If you’re waiting for some magical day when you can say that you’re this or that, stop. Just own it. Run at it full force and stop waiting for permission.

Seeing the Good

Josie Feather

I have a lot of goals for 2019. 

I tend to do that. Stack my goal list like I stack my bookcase - unwilling to accept that I might have too much on it, and maybe I should stop adding to it (spoiler alert, I won’t - especially when it comes to the book case). 

But I’m trying to cut down how many goals I add to each area of my life. So this year I’m focusing on one big personal growth goal: being a more positive person. 

As those that have known me closely for a long time can tell you, sarcasm is my main language, with English coming in a distant second. I can be snarky and more than a little pessimistic. On a more serious note, I’ve also struggled with chronic and sometimes debilitating depression for most of my life, which has often made it hard for me to see the good. 

Last year I made some big life changes that have really helped me to gain control over my depression and anxiety. It certainly hasn’t made it completely disappear, but It’s been truly amazing to finally feel more clear headed on a daily basis. However, having that clarity has helped me realize how naturally negative I can be. I can quickly get sucked into letting the little things eat away at me and zap all the enjoyment out of daily living. I’ve had my sights set on this little goal of mine for the last few months and I’ve already noticed a big difference by just being more conscious of it. I definitely still getting sucked into that vortex of negativity at times (you don’t even want to talk to me when I’m hangry, let me tell ya) but I’ve already noticed I’ve been happier and more content on a daily basis, and better at warding off those little annoyances.

Part of this goal of mine is that I’m also working specifically to be positive towards myself this year. I’ve lived my life with a constantly string of negative thoughts about myself running through my brain at all times. I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not smart enough. Truthfully, this voice has felt beyond my control. A little bird sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. I just can’t get rid of it, or maybe I’m even a little afraid to ask it to scram since it’s been with me so long.

Part of my plan to try to change how my brain instinctively thinks with these things is by repeating a little positive mantra in my head whenever I feel those nasty thoughts make their way in. I know, way cheesy, and feels more than a little hippie-ish. But what do I have to loose? Feeling a little silly to myself? Nothing changes unless you make it change, and even if some of the things I try don’t help so much, then at least I can cross those off the list and move on to the next method to try.

More than anything in 2018 I learned that I don’t want to be the person content with always being the same. Change it good, and if I’m not striving to be a better person, then I’ll always feel stuck in the same place, being annoyed by the same things, having the same arguments, and never being able to fully enjoy all those silly but beautiful things in life.

The Books of 2018

2018 Book List

I’ve always loved books. As a kid, I remember spending hours carefully combing through the scholastic catalogue to decide what titles I would beg my mom to buy for me. I have fond memories of my mom taking all of us to the library for an afternoon and I would spend hours sprawled out of the floor surrounded with stacks of books, with the delusion of somehow getting through all of them that afternoon. I’ve probably spent more in library late fees then I have in makeup during my lifetime.

Somehow that got a little lost as an adult. I still loved reading but “never had the time”. So two years ago I decided I needed some goals. I’ve found that basically nothing gets done in my life if I don’t have goals or checklists. Is my nerd showing yet?

Two years ago I started small, just making 25 my goal, and still I didn’t quite hit it, only reading 19, but I decided to double by goal anyway to 50 for this year. Guess what? Still didn’t hit that goal, but I’d say getting in 38 and doubling the amount I read from the year before still counts as a win.

This year I tried to focus on diversifying my reading too. I can easily get caught up in reading the same type fo book over and over again, so I tried to pick up something different every time I finished one. If I finished a fiction, I’d grab a non fiction. If I finished a true crime, I’d grab a self help book. I know if I didn’t make myself I’d probably just read Harry Potter over and over again.

So here it is, my book list of 2018

  • “Not a Sound” Heather Gudenkauf

  • “Girl, Wash Your Face” Rachel Hollis 

  • “At the Waters Edge” Sara Gruen

  • “Trigger Warning” Neil Gaiman 

  • “The Creative Curve” Allen Gannett 

  • “Here Lies Daniel Tate” Cristin Terrill

  • “The Alienist” Caleb Carr

  • “Go Set a Watchman” Harper Lee

  • “The Night Gardener” Jonathan Auxier

  • “The Fountainhead” Ayn Rand

  • “Onward” Howard Schultz

  • “Devil in the White City” Erik Larson

  • “Stolen Innocence” Elissa Wall

  • “I Suck at Girls” Justin Halpern 

  • “Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng

  • “Furiously Happy” Jenny Lawson

  • “Lost Girls” Robert Kolker 

  • “True Story” Michael Finkel

  • “Chasing the Devil” David Reichert

  • “Pointing from the Grave” Samantha Weinberg

  • “The Graveyard Book” Neil Gaiman 

  • “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” Michelle Macnamara 

  • “Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg 

  • “Extraordinary Ordinary People” Condeleezza Rice

  • “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” Caitlin Doughty

  • “Shutter Island” Dennis Lehane 

  • “My Life Among Serial Killers” Helen Morrison

  • “Above Suspicion” Joe Sharkey

  • “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” Mindy Kaling 

  • “Misery” Stephen King

  • “Smarter Faster Better” Charles Duhigg

  • “In a Dark, Dark Wood” Ruth Ware

  • “Monstrous Creatures: The World of Lore” Aaron Mahnke

  • “Good Omens” Neil Gaiman + Terry Pratchett

  • “Paddle Your Own Canoe” Nick Offerman

  • “Greenglass House” Kate Milford 

  • “American Heiress” Jeffrey Toobin 

  • “A Life in Parts” Bryan Cranston 

And just for fun, here are two favorites by category (because I can never pick just one)

Fiction - “Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng & “Good Omens” Neil Gaiman + Terry Pratchett

True Crime - “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” Michelle Macnamara & “Above Suspicion” Joe Sharkey

Self Help -  “Girl, Wash Your Face” Rachel Hollis & “Smarter Faster Better” Charles Duhigg

True Story & Biography - “American Heiress” Jeffrey Toobin & ““Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg

If you’re trying to get yourself to read more, I definitely would suggest starting with some goals, something challenging but still realistically attainable based off of how much you’ve been reading already, and then up your goal as you progress. I have so many books on my “to be read” list, hopefully this year I make a big dent in it - although I have a feeling I’ll just find more to fill it up anyway :)