My Summer Bucket List & Short Notice

Hullo, world!

Life has been a bit hectic for me and as a result, I didn’t have enough energy to post this month…(Not to mention I went on an impromptu camping trip.) Although I’ve had my share of literally break-neck busy July, this July probably wins first place. I had to assess and then reassess my priorities, and even then, things sort of fell apart towards the end.

But enough of the doom and gloom! Today, I wanted to share a bit about the more “sunshine & sparkles” side of July and reflect on the things I could have done better. (I know, usually, this post is reserved for Afternoon Tea, but sometimes a change of pace might be good, IDK.)

i. my summer bu-jo & bucket list

One of the things that really worked out for me was creating a brand-new bullet journal for the summer! I started this in June. Already back then, I knew my summer would become hectic (2 uni summer classes/2 times/week + work on all the rest of the days = disaster, duh), so I wanted a map to help me stay focused on the things I wanted to see happen & also to rest. REST, by the way, is something you hunt down ruthlessly.

Some of the things on my summer bucket list that I absolutely loved doing are:

  • cleaning my bookshelves & making an inventory
  • listening to Brahm’s Requiem (Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45)
  • setting up my notion–daily hub, life hub, university pages, &c.
  • making acrylic photo key chains
  • going to a friend’s place for a sleepover
  • going on a picnic
  • going to the beach
  • starting my annual Tokyo Ghoul & Re: re-read
  • getting cool T-shirts from Hot Topic & UT
  • going to a ramen restaurant
  • starting a new bookstagramme account (@bookish_bishop)
  • summer playlist!!!
  • going on a mini-camping trip….

ii. mini-camping trip & fireworks competition 🙂

And yes, camping. For those of you who don’t know, one thing I loath about summer is the camping trip. Yes, we’re living in the great white north, no, that is not the reason for everyone to love spending long nights in nature. I had work and university and all that, so I really didn’t want to go…

But I’m glad I went.

(And for my mum who forced me to take a break.)

It was honestly one of the most refreshing and faith-inspiring camping trips I’ve ever had. We went with the homeschool co-op group my siblings are in, and I got a chance to lead games, listen to daily devotions by the dads in the group (and the teens!), and overall, had a blast. We went on a picnic by the beach on the last day, too, which was one of the highlights.

Also, we had our first fireworks competition in two. three years…and one of the participating countries was Japan!! Obviously, things couldn’t get better…

iii. going forward…

But then again, this month burnt me out. From the way my mental health took a nosedive (and from the fact I couldn’t muster up enough strength to write this month), I think it’s probably a good idea for me to take a break. I really don’t like how I haven’t been able to post consistently here this year, yet I guess it is a good time for me to think things over–what does posting on SJ Barnard mean to me?

Obviously, I love it whenever I can post here. But because of the way things have been in my life recently, I am not sure if I can be here all the time. Would it be okay for me to post a little more irregularly? Or is it time to take a longer break off? I want to keep blogging, but I don’t know if Saturday works for me anymore. Should I re-arrange my schedule so somehow I can keep blogging in there? And now that I know that my road with writing will probably be slower than everyone else’s, will it be okay to still call it an “author” blog??

*insert heavy silence*

These are some of the heavier questions on my mind. I don’t know all the answers to them, but what I do know is that writing sparks joy inside me. I genuinely want to keep writing even if it’s just me that reads it. And maybe, it’s okay to go from there.

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For the time being, I will take August off and see where God’s leading me to do. Thank you for being there even when I have not been able to “be here” consistently. Do let me know how your summer has been & I hope you continue to have a wonderful rest of the summer!

July Update + Behind the Blogger Tag

Happy Canada Day!

I kind of miss the parade, and it’s grey again, but we’ll still make most of the day left. Today I have a somewhat important announcement to make, and I get to share a fun tag! 

July Update

For starters, I’ll be taking a break on the Wednesday posts for this month. This doesn’t mean I would discontinue the Wednesday posts in the future, but as I was “trying it out”, I’ll need to rethink some of my blogging ethics. 

Specifically, this past month was really hard for me emotionally and I would be away for July on a much needed little trip, so I will not do blog posts on Wednesday. 

Rest assured, I will be blogging on my usual Saturdays. 

Behind the Blogger Tag

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. Thank you, Emma!
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Pingback to the creator: Ellyn of Allonsythornraxx
  4. Nominate 5+ bloggers to do the tag.

The Questions: 

  1. Why did you start blogging, and why have you kept blogging?

I began blogging to build an author platform. You can find a more detailed answer to this question here

  1. What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Uhh, let’s see…I’ll have to say my Afternoon tea with SJ series. I started this series in February, and I always look forward to finishing the end of the month!

  1. What are your top three favourite blog posts?

Only three? Well, I’ve already mentioned how much I like the Afternoon tea series, so my top three picks would be:

  1. 4 Stages of My Writing Life (and What that Means for You)
  2. The Quarantined Characters Tag
  3. Stalking Authors series
  4. What are some of your favourite things to do to relax?

Like most people in this blogverse, I like to read snuggled up in blankets with cups after cups of hot chocolate or maple Earl Grey tea. I love listening to classical music, Vocaloid, and lo-fi or soundtracks. I also play viola or piano (mostly piano) where I try to battle crazy classical pieces and lose more often than not. I also love to draw in a typical Japanese style. In fact, I’ve been binge-watching Japanese movies as of late. 

  1. What are three of your favourite things?

Books and all things books, aesthetics, ramen. (No ramen, no life!)

  1.  What are your proudest blogging moments?

Hmm. I think the time when I redesigned my blog and researched tons of blog branding and the time I reached my first milestone of 50 followers. 

  1. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

I take long walks to nowhere in particular, draw, and play music. If studying for no apparent reason counts, that would also be my hobby. I also like memorizing random facts in songs (The Periodic Table Song, American Presidents, Timelines, etc.) I know, I fall right into the crazy homeschooler trope. Just take it into account that I’m also Asian. 

  1. Describe your personality in three words.

Serious, diligent, kind. (Fun fact: My slogan when I was like six was “kind and cute”. We all cringe at our adolescent selves.) 

  1. What are your top three pet peeves?
  • Rudeness (I grew up in a perpetually polite culture of Japan and semi-nice Canada. I cannot tolerate rudeness.)
  • Modernity for the sake of modernity (Antiquity is not to be abolished so easily. I mean, you’d have to eliminate old-fashioned people like me to do so, in which case reminds me of a dystopian novel.)
  • When people have to tie romance into everything (Can we simply be friends for the time being? Friendships are also a wonderful form of love!)
  • I just thought of something rather particular, but something I do find annoying natheless: Autocorrect into American English. (Truly problematic as a Canadian person who mainly writes in British English, and even more so when you want to write Latin phrases.) 
  1. What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I may or may have not mentioned this in the earlier stages of my blogging, but I wanted to become a neuroscientist. I’m still sort of thinking about it!

I nominate: Bella Putt, Marie (Writing for Christ), Mere Colloquials, Elana, You who are interested

What made you decide to start a blog? What are some of your favourite things? Do you have pet peeves? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Happy First Blogiversary!

Hullo, world!

I have waited so long for this day to arrive. *insert dramatic fanfares*

It’s my first blogiversary! 

Admittedly, I had completely forgotten the exact date I started blogging halfway into this year, and someone had a blogiversary which reminded me, “Hey, when was it that I started blogging?” Thankfully, WordPress is better at keeping these things in line than I am. 

We need a Gryffindor celebration for these types of things.

Today, I will be revealing the stats of my blog (dun-dun-dah-dun!) and answering some of the questions I salvaged from cherished friends. (Many thanks to my beloved sister who is my greatest writing advocate, Emma Starr, and Kat!)

So without further ado, here we go…

The Stats: 

Total Views: 2,060

Total Visitors: 619

Total Likes: 302

Total Comments: 55

Total Followers: 73

Total Email Followers: 17

Total Posts: 53

Total Words: 45,319

Best Views Ever: May 22, 2020

Most Popular Day & Time: Saturday on 3pm (Afternoon Tea time!)

Top 5 Country by Views:

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. India
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Australia

Top 5 Posts:

  1. The Original Outstanding Blogger Award + WIP
  2. Stalking Authors: J. R. R. Tolkien
  3. 4 Stages of My Writing Life (And What That Means for You)
  4. 5 Favourite Contemporary YA Reads
  5. The Quarantined Characters Tag

Wow. I mean, I started blogging last June with no idea how it really worked, let alone know what brand design was. I was hoping I’d achieve the 50 follower mark before my first blogiversary, and I have 73. For someone who didn’t know the internet existed until she was fourteen, this is more than unbelievable.

Me with the wonders of modern technology.

I also didn’t get many comments earlier on in my blogging, which was a little discouraging. But come this year, the feedback and the audience growth had been incredible. 

When people look at the stats, I know some people who may be discouraged. For me, looking at the stats is a way of celebrating my journey. It’s what happens between the journey that counts, not the fact of reaching the end. 

The Questions:

This is a little Q & A section where I answer questions about blogging and writing!

On Blogging:

From my dear sister: 

  1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging as a way of building my platform. As an aspiring author, this was the number one advice I was getting from people who were walking ahead of me. Plus, I kind of liked the idea of blogging. 

  1. You’ve been blogging for a year. Do you wish to have started earlier?

Absolutely! I mean, I’ve been blogging on and off my Japanese blog (recently updated) for two years before I started S. J. Barnard and also science blogged for my science leadership program (where I wrote blog posts off research papers). This actually helped me build a groundwork for blogging every week before I got into blogging here. Without that, I may have not been able to consistently post each week. Plus, I learnt the importance of citing sources in text!

Because reseaching is always the fun part!
  1. If you could change one thing in your blogging, what would it be?

Hmm. I’ve already changed my theme and I like how it looks, so maybe the way I update. I think now that I’ve switched to posting twice a week, updating my followers on this has become somewhat disjointed. Which sort of ties into the email list I am trying to grow, so maybe learning more about email lists might be one thing. 

  1. Have you made new relationships through blogging? If so, what have you gained from them?

I’ve definitely made new relationships through blogging. I still remember the first time I posted on my blog. A few people I didn’t know at all were my first audiences (although I did enlist my family and friends’ help). I remember being so terrified and excited at the same time. In this year, I got to meet more wonderful bloggers who were more in my niche.

From these amazing people, I’ve learnt there were people out there like me who cared about the written works as much as I did. That was an empowerment lesson I will never forget.

  1. What have you learnt from blogging? 

Patience and Persistence. One, blogging takes a lot of work. You need grit and persistence to keep blogging even when things are tough. Two, you need patience. It takes some time until your blog starts getting traffic traction and also for you to figure out your “voice”. Although I love blogging, it’s not always the golden age. Sometimes I publish a post I put extra effort into, and it doesn’t get much feedback until later on. Other times my life commitments (if you recall my chaotic college application season) present roadblocks in blogging. 

But through it all, I’ve learnt just how valuable patience and persistence is. 

On Writing: 

From Kat:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Most of the time, I get them from my dreams. (Now before anyone of you go into the corner and groan, hear me out.) I often die in my dreams. I know, that sounds kind of morbid. Lately, I have been slashed to ribbons, machine-gunned to death, and your brain (or my brain) is actually demented enough to feel some kind of pain. I also meet very vivid characters in my dreams. Lisa from Juliet the 1100th was in a recurring dream and she kept coming back no matter how hard I tried to get rid of her. 

Every people in my dream who kills me.

Now, this doesn’t mean I write everything off my dreams. Sometimes people pop into my head at random occasions, and that had been the start of stories as well. Usually, I write down an interesting dream, then see if I can find another great idea to match it. Also, Pinterest is a great option.

  1. What does your writing process look like?

I covered this a little in a few blog posts before, but in bullet points, it would be:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Write
  3. Outline + Brainstorm
  4. Write
  5. Edits

Although admittedly, only a select few made it to the Edit stage as of yet.

From Emma Starr:

  1. How do you inspire yourself? (i. e. Take walks, read, etc.) 

I like to joke I’m fuelled with hot chocolate and maple Earl Grey tea. Which is true to some extent, since I only drink Asian instant coffee mixes which are technically not coffee. 

Mayhaps this is the source of all evil authors.

In all honesty, I do a lot of things other people do. Walks are my favourite, and I can walk for kilometres after kilometres–5~10km is a good distance for walks–talking to myself or to my siblings. (Sadly, my siblings do not take it too kindly when I talk to myself, so they pretend to listen.) I read books outside the genre my main WIP is in. I do karaoke with my sister for breaks. I listen to Shostakovich when I need it, and to PinnochinoP when I need encouraging. Also, Pinterest browsing. 


Parting Words:

And as we come to the conclusion of this astounding event called blogiversary, I just want to take a moment to thank you all. 

Thank you to Jane Maree who helped me start thinking of writing seriously.

Thank you to the YWW community and Brett who took time to help me realise that writing was something professional. 

Thank you to the Story Embers staff and friends who helped me find others who were like me. 

Thank you to Cristian Mihai, a blogging giant who first took notice of my blog. 

Thank you to my friends who managed not to ask me with gaping jaws, “Wait, what?” when I mentioned my writing blog. 

Thank you to my family who challenged me to think deeply about what mattered to me, and reminded me to take breaks after long stretches glued to my chair. 

And at last, thank you to the blog-sphere people who were there to support me and help me find my “voice”. I am so thankful to God that we could live in an age where I could meet and connect with people halfway across the globe. 

As I continue this journey, may you be blessed today wherever you are.