4 + 1 Favourite Writing Podcasts I Listen To

Hullo, world!

It’s that time of the week again where I get to share another snippet of my writing-reading inspired life. (Btw, don’t let all the sparkly aspects fool you. I was stuck in a reading slump for the past three weeks and it has just been really…Oof!)

I don’t know why, but I’m craving Mister Donut, and I told Mum about it who also has the same craving. It’s a sad fact they’re literally across the sea. 

Well, for today, I thought I’ll share some of my favourite podcasts! I started listening to podcasts while I was taking a bath, and I’ve compiled 4 + 1 of writing-bookish podcasts among them. 

So, without further ado, let me introduce to you…4 + 1 Favourite Writing Podcasts I Listen To!

1: The Kate and Abby Show 

This is probably my absolute favourite podcast about writing. Like, ever. It’s one of the first writing podcasts I met and it’s always extremely inspiring, especially when I’m feeling down in my writing. Kate and Abby’s books are also amazing as well as their sister-writer relationship with each other!

Favourite Episodes: #23 How to Believe in Yourself As A Writer (When Nobody Else Does), #52 How to Start Writing The Book of Your Dreams

2: The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer 

Marissa Meyer should officially be called “the Happiest Writer”. I just love listening to her podcast, partly because her voice is so cute (!!) and partly because her podcast is filled to the brim with positive vibes. If there’s something tough going on, this is the go-to podcast. She interviews YA and MG authors about their latest books and chat about what their writing/reading life looks like. Also, I love the Happy Writer lightning round at the end. 🙂

Favourite Episodes: Leigh Bardugo, Ally Carter, V. E. Schwab, Mary Weber, Abigail Hing Wen, Marie Lu

3: Story Embers Podcast 

The SE Podcast was the first podcast I listened to, as well as the first writing podcast I’ve discovered. SE also means a lot to me because it was the starting point in my writing journey. My favourite thing about their podcast is how they tackle tough themes of being an authentic Christian writer, combining theological discussion with the nitty-gritty details of authorship. If you’re a writer, a Christian, and passionate about combining the two, this podcast is for you!

Favourite Episodes: #1 The State of Christian Fiction Today, #14-15 Balancing Creativity and Orthodoxy as a Christian Storyteller, #9 Interview with Nadine Brandes about Fawkes

4: The Hope Prose Podcast 

I don’t listen to this podcast as much as the other ones, but when there’s a topic/author spotlight I’m curious about, I listen to this one! It’s also by a Canadian and faith-based with a decidedly warm writer community feel, so it’s one I’m hoping to listen to more. 😉

Favourite Episodes: #44 The Marvels of Japan and A Dream Becomes Reality, #42 I Can & I Will

5: The B&N YA Podcast

Listen to it on Apple

I discovered this podcast a few weeks ago and have been listening to it since! This show is hosted by Barnes and Noble, so it  focuses more on books than writing, per se, but it’s really fun to tune into author interviews–how they came up with their book, their writing journey, and random fun facts about themselves! It’s been a great encouragement to me listening to various authors I look up to and how they came to be who they are now. 

Favourite Episodes: Cassandra Clare, Margaret Rogerson, Emily A. Duncan, Christine Riccio

And that’s it for now! 

Thanks for reading! Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are some of your favourite shows? Are you a podcast person, or would like to become one? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

AH: My Depression Journey & What I Learnt From It

Hullo, world!

Today is uncharacteristically sunny here in Raincouver, I went out for a run, and there are many daunting books waiting to be read. My perfect kind of day. 

 

It’s always exciting getting back into blogging after a break, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot–taking breaks. It reminds me of the time I understood the importance of saying no to good things to have truly great things, when I felt like I had to break myself trying hard, and living was hard. 

Yes, it’s that little thing called depression

I suffered from depression for the past five years. And while I wouldn’t say writers, in general, might suffer from it from time to time, it has been true for me. I wasn’t a depressed writer. I was depressed and wrote. 

So pour yourself a cup of tea and take a deep breath. It’s not pretty, it’s really tough for me to write about this, but I hope that this can be encouraging to someone out there who might be feeling like me. 

This is my depression journey

Year 1 (Grades 8 jumped to 10)

We moved from Japan to Canada. We knew no one (everyone we knew lived in other provinces), my father’s job position was tough, and overall, we were struggling. I was feeling burnt out but didn’t want to acknowledge it. As the oldest sibling, I thought I had to have it all together to set an example for my siblings. Housing search, new homeschooling system, and various other things sort of choked out our weariness and I kept pressing on. Writing sustained me in so many ways through this time. 

Year 2 (Re-grade 10)

I ended up ‘failing’ the entire year with the new online school system. (Looking back it’s kind of comical since we had a terrible internet connection and a low-speck computer. I think I’d fail a school year again if I had to use the same computer!) 

This was a huge blow to me because a large part of my identity lay in my academic rigour and strength. We switched to another school and I was determined to pull myself back together. I met new friends and found solace in extracurricular activities. This was where I began my Japanese blog. 

Year 3 (Grade 10-11)

Meanwhile, my depression kept festering. I worked hard, pushed myself to the limits in every part of my life, and in short, burnt myself off. My grandmother was in the ICU in the fall, so Mum flew back to Japan. I took on more responsibilities around the house. Even though my grandmother recovered and Mum came back, our family was falling apart due to many factors and I really wanted to rest. 

But I thought I couldn’t. 

If I stopped functioning in my dysfunctional home, I thought our family would fall apart. I met a really great writer’s community around the summer and finished my first novel’s draft. I went on to participate in my first NaNoWriMo and wrote my second novel’s draft. 

This was where things fell apart.  

A week before the end of November, I took 100 Advils in one day. It was a Sunday, I still remember it well. I was hoping someone at church would notice our family, notice me, but no one did. I felt really nauseous in the evening and told my family. I went to the emergency, but nothing was wrong with me. They sent me home that same night. To this day, I still think it’s a miracle. 

Year 4 (Grade 11-12) 

Because of my ‘suicide attempt’, I was sent to counselling. I think they meant it well, but I was in denial–I only wanted to rest, I kept telling myself–so I stopped going once they made sure I wouldn’t do it again. Plus, they kept on telling me there were worse people out there who was really on the brink of despair. Compared to them, my case was light. 

I think what I really needed back then was someone who would tell me that it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t okay what happened to me, it wasn’t normal the way our family was functioning back then, it was okay to take a break if I was tired. 

But I had no one. 

I remember calling the health lines when things got really bad, but they were like the emergency people–they offered first aids, but nothing more. Every day was so hard, waking up was a challenge, I just wanted to rest. 

Except I didn’t. I picked myself back up, went back to my insane study-extracurricular schedule, and began this blog. Yup, that’s right. Just when I should have been focusing most on taking a breath and recovering, I added more and more responsibility to myself

Year 5 (Grade 12 + beyond)

I ended up switching my online school again. This, added with other big changes, was the final straw that broke me. My relationship with the people around me was going down the drain; someone I’d trusted with my future had disappeared, and I knew I had to get out of my home. Except, my old teachers were not willing to write me any recommendations to American colleges, and my plans of over six years in the making came crashing down

Then the pandemic hit. 

I feel so bad saying this, but this was what ultimately helped me stop. Like, literally, the world hit a break, and I was forced to stop. I had to take a close look at where I’d driven my life to–off a cliff. 

Our family had officially broken down. I still tried to fill my life with more things–more blogging, more writing, more studying, anything, really, if only I didn’t have to think about what was happening–and this time, my family shook me awake. They banned me from doing anything. And I’m so grateful they did that, even though at the time I resented them. 

Through lots of prayers and finally meeting someone willing to mentor me, I began to realise that I’d been severely depressed…and I wasn’t okay. I finally took time to rest, going back to where I’d started–back to God. I still struggle from time to time with being an overachiever trying to mute everything with hard work, yet through taking life at a slower pace, I’ve learnt this vital principle: It’s okay not to be okay. 

The Things I Learnt:

  • When you’re burnt out, stop what you’re doing at that exact moment. The world won’t end even if you stop. 
  • When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” and you’re not doing well, don’t say you’re fine. Sure, you might make other people uncomfortable, but that’s better than making it a habit of lying to yourself. It will take h**l of an effort to break with God’s grace alone.  (Excuse my language. That’s how strong my sentiments lie.)
  • Don’t isolate yourself from others. Always make sure you have someone behind your back who’s in a better mental state than you’re in. If you feel like you don’t, try being honest and transparent in your struggle with someone you know. This might open new avenues and strengthen friendships. 
  • If you’re a believer, go back to His Word daily. One of the biggest problems I had was that I stopped taking time to soak in the Scriptures. Remember, God’s word is light and truth, offering comfort to those in need of it. Let Jesus carry your burdens instead of doing it all alone. 
    • Also, try reaching out to a pastor or someone at your church. (My first church experience was bad, but my second church family really helped me out. If you feel like you won’t be able to get the help you need at your church, maybe it’s a better idea to contact other churches. They’re still your family in Christ.)
  • Be mindful of what you’re consuming, not just food but also media, the people around you, &c. When I was depressed, I tended to take in super dark media just to assure myself my situation wasn’t that bad. This is a terrible strategy and I wish I can go back and shake myself awake. There were also a lot of toxic people around me. Since resting, I’ve learnt to draw boundaries and not allow these things to get to me. Sometimes, it’s necessary to follow 1 Corinthians 10:23–“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Lastly, I just want to add this: If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or anyone else in your life. There are always people out there who genuinely care about what’s happening to you and will forever blame themselves if they couldn’t notice you needed help. But sometimes, you have to take the first step. 

I see you. God sees you. You were created in His image with an immeasurable plan so wonderful we have no way of knowing its full extent.  You’re fearfully and wonderfully made, even before you were born, you were given a purpose and life. Trust in that. 

And that’s My Depression Journey & What I Learnt From It. 

Thank you for reading! Are you habitually taking time to stop and reflect? Do you practise mindfulness? What are some things that have helped you when you were feeling burnt out?  Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

LGBTQ2+ And the Christian Writer

Hullo, world!

Yesterday and today, my mum has been gathering ingredients to make yuzu-shu, and I’m excited! (I’m crossing my fingers she’ll let me have a taste since I’m of legal drinking age…) Because she forgot her wallet yesterday, I went on an adventure to get it to her all the way to the Kits area. I’ve always wanted to explore around there, and to my greatest joy, stumbled across several used bookstores (two Shakespeares and All the Light We Cannot See for  $3-something), found a Donna Tartt book at the library branch there, and chanced upon two excellent condition typewriters! 

Adventure, indeed. 

But without mincing words, I’ll get straight down to business today…

The topic is LGBTQ2+ and the Christian Writer. When I took a survey on IG to see which controversial topic to write about, I was honestly hoping people would pick swear words instead. (I guess swear words aren’t controversial enough.)

And TBH, I didn’t want to write about this topic–I kept pushing it off to the next month, and then the next. Obviously, it’s highly controversial. It’s sensitive. People will get offended. 

But. 

Who cares? I mean, really. Some people may find what  I’m going to write super helpful, others, not so much. Some will probably even hate me for saying this. Yet I believe that it’s one of those things that need attention, especially Christian writers. We can’t just sit and pretend the problem doesn’t exist. You can’t wish it away. 

So prepare to be offended, wounded, or else. I will do my best to speak with love, tact, and truth. Assuming I haven’t scared you away, let’s dive into the topic. 

Definition of Christian and LGBTQ2+

The very first thing any court would establish is the definition of terms. I’ve narrowed the terms down to two distinct groups: Christian and LGBTQ2+. 

Put  both of them quite broadly, here are the definitions:

Christian = Someone who holds the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed as truth; one who holds the entire Bible to be God-breathed and true

LGBTQ2+ = Someone who falls under the sexual orientations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirited, & c

Now, I’m going to assume you know what the Creeds are (if you don’t, give them a quick read-through) and what all the terms in the abbreviated sexual orientation means (the full thing is LGBTQQIP2SAA, I believe). 

With these definitions in mind, hear me out. 

1. Explicit or Implicit? 

Chances are, you’re a Christian writer reading this. (If not, what I have to say will probably have no impact on you.)

But one thing to always consider as a Christian writer is the question: Is your faith explicit or implicit? 

Some time back, Story Embers did a series on How Should Christian Authors depict___? This was when I was just starting out writing seriously and was realising there were such things as Christian fiction. 

Yes, that’s right. Before, books were books were books. Obviously, I was obsessed with C. S. Lewis and classics. No, I never thought there was a distinction between Christian and non-Christian books. 

When I go into writing a book, I don’t start out thinking, Oh, I’ll be super explicit about my faith in this story! Or, I think I’ll be implicit about my faith in this one. There’s usually a story that’s on my heart, and I write it as it comes. There are obvious merits and demerits to each, but chances are, if you’re a Christian, your worldview leaks through your writing. It’s just a matter of saying it outright or not. 

For more information, I would recommend taking a moment to read this article on SE, How Explicit Should My Faith Be In My Stories

2. Audience 

Another factor to consider is the audience. I personally think it’s wrong to write LGBTQ2+ heavy story for children, seeing they don’t have a full grasp on sexuality yet. (Which, by the way, is the same reason I would not focus on ‘gender disparity’.) 

I grew up without knowing a cent about LBGTQ2+, the same way I didn’t know the internet didn’t exist until I was fourteen. Did that make me a narrow-minded, sheltered kid? By all means, no! 

I think there are age-appropriate topics. One wouldn’t show an R-rated movie with graphic and swearing scenes to a toddler. (One wouldn’t show movies to a toddler, in my case.) In the same way, Young Adult and over is a more appropriate audience for LGBTQ2+, since that’s the time you’d start thinking more about the discrepancies between the world you believed in as a child and the world around you. Even Paine had more common sense about these things.

3. Personal Conviction

Lastly, personal conviction is probably the most important factor to consider. 

I live in what’s said to be the Northern Hollywood, the Most Liberal City in North America ™. Drugs are legal here, our prime minister attends the pride parade, court cases cast in favour of teenage trans, all washrooms and changing rooms are trans-friendly, you could get sued if you use the wrong pronouns. (It’s always a good idea to ask first if you meet someone new!)

From being an almost-Amish homeschooler from Japan, I had to process and come to terms with the Liberal culture in BC. 

Many people are angry at the church for being racists. And I agree, some Christians are racists. But then we have the other extreme of churches afraid to speak Biblical truths in a polite but resolute fashion. 

I personally struggled with coming to terms with a healthy sexual orientation and understanding. So, I would write about LGBTQ2+ in my stories. My first major novel features an intersex person. Other works feature SSA (same-sex-attracted) casts. I’m convicted to write from my Christian perspective that God designed us to be male and female, His plan for us is the best one, and our identity is ultimately in him, not in any sexuality.  I come from a place of great brokenness. I believe Christian writers can cast light and hope to that darkness. 

But maybe that’s not your conviction. Perhaps you aren’t comfortable writing about gender issues that you have a hard time understanding. Perhaps you feel you won’t be able to accurately portray this certain reality. 

That’s okay. 

Not everyone has to write about this topic. I for one write about gender and sexuality, mental health and violence, but won’t write about other controversial topics. (Swear words distract me from the story, so I won’t write them. No graphic scenes or steamy scenes either for the same reason.) 

What matters is to write the truth with beauty and care as God did in His Word. 

4. Things to Keep in Mind When Writing LGBTQ2+ in Your Story

  • Always remember the Biblical stance on LGBTQ2+

In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we are introduced to all the sins of mankind that ever will be including various sexual behaviours. The Bible is against all sin including exchanging gender identity from what God ordained, not just in the OT but also in the NT. 

  • All the wages of sin is death

Sex outside the marriage of man and woman is a sin. So is lying, stealing, and killing (something YA tends to make light of). Don’t focus on one aspect but maintain the consistency that all human beings are broken and in need of salvation. 

  • Following Jesus is a narrow gate and path

Whether writing implicit or explicit Christian themes, remaining true to your personal faith is important. J. K. Rowling isn’t a Christian, but she still got cancelled when she stated her conviction on trans-sexual issues. If you’re a Christian writing about LGBTQ2+, it won’t be a wonder you might get cancelled or persecuted. Jesus himself did (by Jews and Gentiles alike). 

  • God is a loving and just God

No matter the sin, God sent His Son to die for all sinners. Like the old saying, ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’, hate speech and ideas will get us nowhere. God, in his inherent love and mercy, saved us from eternal damnation. He didn’t get rid of the damnation because if so, he wouldn’t be a just God. Let’s stay true to his character. 

Further Reading: 

Out of a Far Country (Christopher Yuan)

Holy Sexuality (Christopher Yuan)

Is God Anti-Gay? (Sam Allberry)

DEAR CHRISTIAN NOVELISTS: CLEANNESS IS NOT NEXT TO GODLINESS (Story Embers)

C. S. Lewis on Homosexuality (Will Vaus)

Christianity and Homosexuality: A Review of Books (Timothy Keller)

J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

Thank you for reading!