I’m back home after my first TINY event at Rediscovered Books in Boise. Thank you to everyone who came out. It was a good time! I love, love, love talking with readers. I could talk books all day, every day.
Well, time has flown and it’s already June! TINY comes out in just 11 days. To celebrate, I’m giving away 2 copies of the book. To enter the drawing, send me an email (email@example.com) or leave a comment here. My daughter will pick 2 names out of a hat next week (I’ll take a video). Happy reading!
If you’re not a winner, you can order the book at all the usual places. Here are some links for you:
Here’s a glimpse into some recent (and upcoming) happenings!
This past weekend, I was honored to be a speaker at the AAUW Author Luncheon in Seal Beach. These types of events are always great because I get to 1) meet other authors (Hollie Overton and Matt Coyle were also there), and 2) interact with readers. Hollie and Matt were hilarious, and the audience had some great questions.
Side note: This year, the AAUW is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. It’s so hard to believe that women voting is a fairly recent practice in the grand scheme of things.
Two weeks ago, my little family moved into a new house. Actually, it was a construction zone at the time we moved in, but it’s starting to feel like a home.
One of my first priorities after setting up my daughter’s room was my office. Yes, my very own office! In our previous house, my husband and I shared an office, our two desks crammed together, one of us annoyed at all times. This new space of my own feels so luxurious. Technically, it doubles as a guest bedroom, but the only occupant of the bed so far has been the cat. He doesn’t bother me.
I’ve been so busy with getting the new house organized (and safe…our baby has become a toddler) that I haven’t had much time to actually sit at my desk and write. I did some final edits for TINY the other day (it comes out in exactly 3 months!), and I felt so happy just staring out the window. Tomorrow, I go back to my full-time job after taking 2 weeks off, so it will be a while before I have more time in my little office. But at least I know it’s here. At least I can daydream about it.
All this got me curious about famous writers’ work spaces. I found some cool photos online. Here are my favorites (sourced from here):
I’ve had a Post-It in my day planner for at least 3 weeks that says, “Write blog post about quiet time.” Ironically, I have not had enough quiet time to actually write a blog post about quiet time. This is…troubling. And, according to Alan Lightman, a physicist and writer, it’s a sign of the times.
“The loss of slowness, of time for reflection and contemplation, of privacy and solitude, of silence, of the ability to sit quietly in a chair for fifteen minutes without external stimulation — all have happened quickly and almost invisibly…
The situation is dire. Just as with global warming, we may already be near the point of no return. Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentlessly driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.”
Lightman likens this destruction of quiet time to global warming, thereby putting it in the category of Modern-Day Catastrophes. He puts into words what’s been nagging at me for several years now. I’ve been aware of this loss of quiet time; I just wasn’t able to articulate my concerns as eloquently as Lightman.
Recently, I’ve started paying attention to the weekly notifications on my phone that report my screen time. The first one I saw said, “1 hour and 45 minutes,” and I thought, “Oh, that’s not bad.” I thought it was for the whole week. That was my daily average. Meaning, per week, I spend roughly 14 hours on my phone. 14 HOURS!
What did I used to do with those hours before smart phones? It’s hard to remember. I know I read more. I always had a book with me. Now, if I’m waiting for an appointment or whatever, I scroll through social media. I’ve been making a point of putting a book back in my purse.
I’m sure I wrote more, too. Or at least wrote with more concentration and fewer distractions. My writing process has become very…piecemeal. A paragraph here and there. I rarely get the hours of flow that I used to love. I mean, I have a kid, so that’s a big part of it. But changes in society are a big part of it, too. There is so much distraction and so much urgency now. There are multiple news cycles per day, making you feel like you’re missing out if you’re not constantly refreshing CNN.com. Most of us are bombarded with hundreds of Facebook and Instagram posts per day. Text messages pop up all the time. The workplace is run by emails (I was away from my computer for an hour the other day and came back to 60 emails in my inbox). It’s impossible to keep up, but we try, and in doing so, we sacrifice any quiet time.
I do not like this. For obvious reasons. I’m a writer. I need quiet time. I need it not just to produce stories, but for my sanity. I’m also a reader. I don’t think anything quite compares to sitting down with a book (or an e-reader, if you like). It requires a dedicated effort. It requires closing the door on a thousand other things you could be doing. That choice is so indulgent and empowering and amazing.
I admit that I’ve been listening to more and more books in recent years, because then I’m killing 2 proverbial birds with 1 stone. Our modern world mandates efficiency and I’ve taken that to heart without even realizing it. With audio books, I can go for a run and “read.” I can drive to work and “read.” To me, this doesn’t count as “quiet time.” This is more “filling time,” another example of how technology has made us all addicted to being stimulated every moment of the day. That said, I enjoy listening to books, so I’ll still do it. But I don’t ever want to give up the time I spend just reading either.
Now that I have a kid, I think a lot about how younger generations are growing up and what they consider “normal.” Will my daughter even enjoy quiet time? Or will it be totally odd to her because she was born into a world of constant noise? Is the desire for quiet time innate in us as humans? If it is, how do we encourage young people to carve out that time for themselves? What’s the risk if we don’t–an epidemic of depression and anxiety?
I know, for me, quiet time is absolutely necessary. I’m a classic introvert. I get incredibly anxious if I don’t have time to organize my thoughts and just be. And, seeing how I’ve given up quiet time almost without realizing (to the tune of 14 hours a week), I’m making more of an effort to get it back. I told a friend a little while ago, “I feel like I have no internal life anymore.” I often say I’m “stressed” or “feeling scattered.” For me, this is all symptomatic of not having enough quiet time, so I’ll see if things improve as I reclaim some.
Beyond myself, I would argue that quiet time is necessary for all of us. All of us can benefit from setting time aside to think, to “know who we are and what is important to us,” as Lightman says. Otherwise, we’re just clicking and tapping and reacting to the thousands of stimuli we receive every day. And that can’t be good, right?
How important is quiet time to you? What are your tips for maintaining quiet time in today’s world?
I’m so excited to announce that my third book, Tiny, will be published by Turner on June 11. You can pre-order it now.
A brief synopsis:
Nate and Annie Forester are faced with every parent’s worst nightmare when their three-year-old daughter, Penelope, is hit by a car right before their eyes. In the aftermath of her death, the distance between them grows. Nate just wants to move on and return to some version of normal, while Annie finds herself stuck in the quicksand of her grief.
Josh, 22 years old – third party to the nightmare – was behind the wheel on the fateful day Penny ran into the middle of the street. Unable to stop thinking about Nate and Annie, Josh has started to stalk them, thinking up ways to approach them and apologize. One morning, he is sitting in his car, in front of their house, when he sees Annie leave, suitcase in tow. Hours later, he witnesses Nate in a frenzy of worry. His wife has disappeared and he is left only with a vague note.
Tiny follows the harrowing journeys of Nate, Annie, and Josh―three people unwillingly tied together by tragedy. There is Nate, staying strong on the surface, but slowly losing his mind as he faces the suspicions of Annie’s family and the police in the wake of Annie’s disappearance. There is Annie, attempting to start a secret brand new life in a 100-square-foot house in the middle of nowhere. And there is Josh, who desperately wants forgiveness and, ultimately, finds himself responsible for reuniting the people whose lives he changed forever.
The story behind the story I’ll write a detailed post about what motivated me to write this story but, for now, I’ll just say this is the most personal book I’ve written. For me, the past several years have been a lot about navigating grief, and writing has been my savior. More soon…
This is always one of my favorite posts of the year because I get to look back on my year of reading and do a grand tally. This year, I read…drum roll, please…75 books! I’m a little surprised I read that many because this year was so hectic–a newborn, going back to my full-time job, publishing a book and working on edits for the next one. I did get through a lot of books while breastfeeding when I was on maternity leave. I’m guessing that’s what got me to my total. Did you read any of the same books as me? What were your favorites of this year?
First of all, if you haven’t been to the Newport Beach Public Library, you should go. It’s one of the best libraries I’ve ever been to. I just wish I lived closer. I’d be there all the time.
Thank you to everyone who came out to hear me talk about Cherry Blossoms. When I finished reading and talking, I looked at the clock and saw that only 20 minutes had passed (it always feels so much longer when I’m the center of attention), so I wasn’t sure if we’d fill the full hour. But we did! There were so many thoughtful and interesting questions. Thank you, again, to everyone who came.
I saved the event poster, thinking, “Maybe one day my daughter will think this is cool.” Then my friend brought me back to Earth and said, “Probably not.” Ha.