February Wrap Up

January + February Wrap Up: Reading, Writing and Life

Someone help me out here. How is it March already?

I’m still getting over the end of Christmas and gingerbread 😭

But in all seriousness, I don’t really know how we’re this far into 2023 already.

Anyone else feeling the same?

Why a monthly wrap up?

In the name of improving my writing, I’ve started tracking how many words I do or don’t write in a day. It’s not so much about making sure I hit writing targets as it is accountability.

I set up a spreadsheet with 365 rows in December last year, so all I have to do is type in the number of words I’ve written at the end of the day.

Sometimes it’s a zero; other times it’s a few thousand.

The plan is to share those stats with you every month as a little reminder that some days, the words come easily, and others, not so much.

That’s okay. It’s important to give yourself space and grace as you need it, or you run the risk of burning out.

I also want to hear from you guys about how your writing is going, the books you’ve been reading and the highs and lows of life. In my very first blog post, I talked about reading and writing together, and I mean that. Writing is a solitary thing, but the journey doesn’t have to be lonely. After the year I’ve had so far, I mean that more than ever.

Reading Wrap Up

I’ve been a little slack in the reading department this year unfortunately, but there have been a couple stand-outs to me – mostly because they’re books I’m rereading.

Nothing beats nostalgia for me when it comes to readying, so I often find myself rereading the same books every year.

One of those books is Shielded by KayLynn Flanders.

Shielded by KayLynn Flanders (Photo by Tahlia Engelbrecht)
Shielded by KayLynn Flanders (Photo by Tahlia Engelbrecht)

It’s actually one of the comparable titles for my own manuscript, The Twin Hypothesis

One of the things I love most is how Jenna, the protagonist, makes her own path instead of quietly walking the one laid out for her by others.

That’s an important reminder for all of us.

Don’t build your life around what others tell you or around what’s ‘safe’. Take a risk. Bet on yourself.

You know you better than anyone else, so make the choices that will build you up and fill your soul.

The other stand-out read for me this month is Chani Lynn Feener’s Between Frost and Fury.

(I’m beginning to think I only read books if the author has ‘Lynn’ in their name)

Between Frost and Fury is book two of the Xenith Trilogy, so I jumped straight into the middle of the series without remembering all the details of book one, but it was easy enough to pick up where I left off.

I love this sci-fi series both for the sarcasm and banter, and for how Delaney, the protagonist, grows as a character.

She’s not the sort of heroine to sit down and cry for three chapters. She picks herself up after every blow, steels herself to face whatever the obstacle is, and adapts to overcome. 

If you don’t like love triangles, it’s probably not for you.

I’m not usually the biggest fan of them, but it doesn’t bother me in this series – probably because she ends up with the guy I was rooting for.

Writing Wrap Up

January

January was definitely a better month for me writing-wise. Probably because life was going to shit.

I spent a lot of hours buried in my manuscript. I’m still unclear whether that was for escapism, catharsis or therapy. Maybe all three at once. Maybe none at all.

Either way, I managed to write a total of 50,000 words.

Right in the middle of it all, the keyboard on my laptop broke. I still haven’t gotten it fixed, so if you see any words without the letter ‘e’, you know why. That key is determined to fall off my keyboard.

January Writing Stats
January Writing Stats

February

February wasn’t so good. My goal was to write 20,000 words.

I only managed 14,000 words.

It was hard writing ‘0’ into so many days in a row, but I had to give myself grace. I’m back to working full time and studying part time, so by the time I get to my writing at the end of the day, I’m exhausted. It’s a story I’m sure many of you are familiar with yourselves.

Regardless, February was a good lesson in giving myself grace.

I can’t do everything, and this month is cold hard proof.

If you find yourself struggling with getting everything done – especially when it comes to writing – remember to give yourself grace. There’s a time to push hard, and there’s a time to take space for yourself.

February Writing Stats
February Writing Stats

Life Wrap Up

If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen my post at the end of January where I talked about how this year has been pretty tough so far, something I think a lot of people are experiencing too.

If you’re going through a tough time at the moment, my heart goes out to you. It’s not easy to keep going, especially when the hits keep coming.

All I can say is this: live for the little moments that bring you joy. Eventually, those moments will come more often and last longer, and eventually, the storm will pass.

January was like getting caught in a flood. Every time the water started to recede, the torrential rain would come again and I’d be swept under the surface of the water.

One of the hardest parts of the month was losing Lilly, my 12-year-old dog, to kidney failure.

Death and loss don’t scare me, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

What it does do is remind me how important it is to prioritise the things that matter. Spend time on the things you love as often as you can.

If that’s writing, photography, music, science, law, teaching, do it. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Go out and do what you love.

Lilly
Lilly 💕

Here’s a little excerpt from my writing in February:

“I’m not so fragile you can’t hold me in your hands.” I lift one of his hands, placing it on top of my scars.

“Besides,” I continue, “I’ve been broken before. I have plenty of experience piecing myself back together.”

-Tahlia with an H

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