December Afternoon Tea with SJ: 2020 Reflection

Good afternoon to you!

We are back for our monthly Afternoon tea series, of which I am extremely excited about. It’s hard to believe that I only started this series in February this year. Since then, so many things have changed it’s frankly hard to say what changed how. 

Today, we’ll have a classic tea party with an assorted chiffon cake buffet and various black, white, and green teas! We are situated in a parlour with a large fireplace illuminating the place with warmth, a glass top table with comfortable chairs, and a white winter scene peeking from the windows. 

Are you there yet?

Okay, here we go…

Bibliotheca 

I’m having matcha chiffon cake with layered whipping cream, fruits, and red bean paste  inside. Care to have a bite? *inserts blissful smile*

Well then, onto the topic of books! 

SJ’s 2020 Books Breakdown

The total (as of today) is 161 books out of 120 planned. (See my Goodreads Year in Books)

A bibliomaniac in possession of books.

I know, that looks like a lot of books, but having read that, I feel as though the amount one reads and the quality of it are two different things. Sure, I have read more books in one year than I probably ever did. But was it a quality reading? 

Of the books I read, I’d have to say that 128 of them were quality reads, or books that were really well-crafted even if I didn’t give it a five-star rating. 

But that leaves 33 books I read this year that were simply awful or not up to par or one I regret having read. Just let that sink in. 

Last year I read 74 books, but they were mostly (if not all) books I don’t regret reading. With that in mind, I’m coming up with a way to rethink and revamp my reading ethics. I’ll be talking more about  it next year, so hang on tight if your reading life this year was  something that left wanting. 

Academics 

Anyone want a tea refill? How about some Lady Grey? (Or better yet, remember potato-chive tea?)

Wonderful!

The next thing that really shook me this year was my Academics. 

I know, I sound melodramatic since there were so many other people who also had their life/academic plans messed up. Let’s just say things with me and Academics were highly personal. 

For one thing, I’m one of those over-achiever Asians who would accept a perfect ACT score or nothing. (FYI, I got nothing, given I got 33.) For another, I’m a homeschooler. Combine that with my desperation to get into a high-tier college, this year has literally kicked my butt. (Or knee-kick gutted me, seeing as being kicked in the butt isn’t an effective move if not a hard target to acquire.) *excuse my language*

Anyhow, I ended up not getting into an Ivy league, not getting to the wonderful private college that accepted me with scholarships, and wanted to quit life for a while.

Me after everything had “ended”

Which I sort of did.

I spent the summer moping about my estranged college plans and trashing my intellect (if I had any at all) and doubting God almost everyday. Waking up became hard for me. Going out was hard for me. Eating was a struggle. 

My summer in a nutshell.

And then.  

It slowly dawned to me that God’s plan is never our plan. I know, it’s common sense (have that, Paine!), but until you know it through experience, it’s just  head knowledge. Just  another Bible verse stock inside one’s head. This was a test of  whether I would trust God through all things…or not. 

This was where I came back to Ecclesiastes 12: 12-13, my central verse. 

Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

for this is the duty of all mankind.

Ecclesisastes 12:12-13

And this, my friends, is what I decided to believe in. 

Writing 

Wow, I’ve completely forgotten to drink my tea! And now it’s stone cold! (Natural sequence of consequences, alas.) More tea? Or another slice of cake? The London fog chiffon is truly my favourite, you simply must give it a try…

After that profound revelation, it seems funny to talk about other topics, but there’s more to life than reading and studying. 

Which is writing. *sips tea and nods*

Despite my mental health taking a nosedive in summer, I had one of the most excellent writing years. To break it down, it looked like this:

DateTitle of WIPWordcount
Jan-JuneJuliet 1100th [SE] 30 K
April-NovemberWoodstone125.5 K
OctoberElijacomb 17 (a side-fling before MeNo)11 K
DecemberSecret Project (just started a week ago!!) 10.5 K
Jan-Dec. Blog50 K
177 K (in WIP) + 50 K (in blogging) = 227 K

I know, I wrote almost my goal of 200K this year! *flails incessantly* Although I couldn’t see a major project through completion, I started Woodstone (which I didn’t realise would become this huge project), put a hold to my five-year WIP, Juliet, after getting to the climax setup (I know, weirdness), outlined and journaled Elektriem incessantly (hoping to get to this soon), and found my obsession with my current secret project. 

Overall it was a good writing year, and I’m looking forward to what next year would bring!

Life

And that’s that! I did a bunch of other things this year like starting to bujo (which I won’t shut up about), spent time in nature with first-ever camping trips (which sounds nice but still isn’t my thing), going to the beach, hiking, & c. I also got a lot of job opportunities after crying profusely over the fact no one was hiring (until they were). 

I thought 2020 would be this special year, and it was, although in a way I didn’t expect!

Me opening the door to 2020 be like:

There’s still the matter of COVID in the world. We need many prayers for our neighbouring country, the USA for their election and healing in all the communities hurting. Life is uncertain, and we certainly have no idea what 2021 would be like. 

But that’s okay. 

Because in the end, God is asking us if we trust in His plan for us, which we know to be the best thing He has even if we don’t understand it at the moment. And that’s where I’m going to rest my year. 

What did you think? How was your 2020 experience? Did things go as somewhat expected or totally the vice-versa? Where did you see God working in your life? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

2020 Visions and Resolutions

Happy New Year!

At the start of a new year, I’m always reminded of how blessed I am. As I am Japanese, we have a tradition of celebratinig New Year’s by sending nengajou–greeting cards–and going over to our grandparents and relatives to show our appreciation and respect to them.

Of course, since I’m no longer close enough to our grandparent’s place in Japan, we couldn’t really “go over” to their place, but we had a video-chat. Which, as most “modern” people know, also works splendidly. And now that I finally got most of my college application out of the way, I could finally relax a little. Plus, I pulled an all-nighter on the New Year’s Eve and got to see the sunrise with The Secret History in my hand. Things couldn’t have started out better.

But the reason I’m writing today is to share with you my visions and resolutions for the year 2020. I do this every year for three areas of my life: Faith, Academics, and Passion. Today I’ll share with you my Passions portion, focusing on the writing goals.

1: Read and Write Like a Professional

This means that from 2020, I will think of my writing and reading no longer as my personal hobby, but more like a profession. Of course, I still love it like my hobby, but I want to think like I’m an author, not a writer. The three steps for me to do this is:

  1. Get 100 subscribers on my Writing Blog
  2. Write 3 novels lengthed 100K+
  3. Finish the 2020 Reading Challenge

For 1, I need to think of a strategy like a mailing list, which I want to work out by June-ish. So hopefully, you’ll start finding me hounding your inboxes by then.

Resolution 2 is straightforward. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the 1,000,000 words rule, but I started tallying up my wordcount. Currently I fall somewhere around 200K in my fictional writings. So by the end of this year, I’m hoping to have 500K.

The last one entails a crazy list of 120 dense books from a program known to homeschoolers as Omnibus. I have a death wish to finish all of them before I go off to college, which gives me roughly six months to finish readinig them.

Well said, Eames.

2: Submit to Major Writing Cooperations

  1. Research cooperations
  2. Submit pieces

For 1, I’m creating a list of places I can submit my writing. Last year, I finally saw publication for some of my short stories in a local library magazine, Ink. We had launch parties and such, and I’m on the editing team, which is super cool.

But this year, I want to try submitting to bigger places. So after I have a good list of them, I’m going for it. My brother will pick up my remains for me.

So these are my main writing goals for this year. Do you have writing goals? If so, what are some of them?