AH: 5 Truths Your Old Writing Tells You

Hullo, world!

I feel a little at loss today as I sit writing this because…*whispers* my mental health has been going down. My energy’s been kind of low even though a lot of great things have been happening. 

I took a hit-outs on IG, planned a writing retreat for myself, and in general, am hoping to slow things down a little. But I won’t be taking a hit-outs on blogging since this is one of the “slowing down” things I do. 😉

Also, this is completely random, but I am officially in love with Jujutsu Kaisen. (I mean, who wouldn’t like Gojo-sensei???) And the vibes of old Japanese things are just amazing. Not to mention it’s MAPPA. Plus, the first op. is Eve, who I’ve been following from the start…

Honestly, I just want Yuji & co to be happy…

*End rant*

Okay, let’s get into today’s topic. I often re-read my old works, and I realised there’s a lot of negativity concerning one’s old writings–I mean, I get it. My first major WIP’s protagonist was named Abigail Chemingstunn. But then again, there’s so much more to your old writings than cringey prose and annoyingly cliché characters. 

Me re-reading my old writing…”I have no recollection of this place!”

So, without further ado, let me present to you…AH: 5 Truths Your Old Writing Tells You.

1. It’s not that bad.

I know, it’s kind of obvious, but it’s true! Your old writing isn’t that bad. When I first started writing, I had a lot of ideas. I didn’t really know novels were a thing, so I wrote a lot of short stories and novellas instead. As I re-read some of them this morning, I was reminded how much I actually loved those stories. Some of them got accepted for magazine publication, others didn’t. While still others, I gave as birthday presents to my friends and families, who didn’t complain about this. (Thank you to everyone who read my stories!!) Any story I write, I care about in my heart. And that’s what counts by far. 

2. You’ve come this far.

Another thing I always think of when I go to dig up my old writing is that I’ve written a lot. Last week I talked a bit about my total fictional work’s word count which is almost 600K. If you haven’t done this already, I would totally recommend going back and calculating how many words you’ve written so far. Even if it doesn’t look like much, you’ll probably be surprised at how far you’ve come

3. You’re always getting better at this

And obviously, not just the amount of words or WIPs you’ve written, but the quality of them matters. This kind of reminds me of the “oh, look how terrible my prose and overall writing used to be” syndrome so I don’t want it to sound like it…But what I mean is this. 

Each WIP you write teaches you something vital about storytelling you couldn’t have known if you didn’t write that story. Even if you do make mistakes along the way, or feel like your writing is trashy, it just tells you how much better you’ve gotten since then.

4. Every word counts

I really like the Japanese saying, Senri no michi mo ippo kara, which means Even a road of a thousand miles begins with a single step

When I first began writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. If you know at all about my earlier blog posts, it’s that I have no idea. What helped me through all of the floundering was the words that I’ve compiled. Words build up and become a part of you. 

5. You’re a writer.

In the end, the fact that you have old writings to read back (and critique) means you’re a writer. When writing gets tough and you start to think that maybe writing isn’t your thing, reflect on your old writings. 

And, you realise that your old writing is what makes your current writing

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Thank you for reading! How has your week been? Do you read your old writings? What are some things you like about your old writing? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Afternoon Tea with SJ Blogiversary Edition

Good afternoon to you! 

Today is my second blogiversary…and I can scarcely believe it’s been two years since I started blogging. There’s so many things I want to say, share with you, but first of all this: Thank you. Thank you for being a SJ Barnard reader and being a part of my reading-writing journey. It’s been incredible every part of the way, and I could not have done that if not for you!

-June ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beach House

Tea: Sayama-cha, Iced-peach strawberry, Iced-lemon mint

Offered with: Peach-strawberry parfait, lime-lemon-mint sherbet, pink champagne/green tea macaron 

Without further ado, let the celebration begin!

Stats ‘21

Views–4,121

Visitors–1,995

Likes–331

Comments–201

Best Month–May, with 1.1K views!

Total Followers–169

Total Email List Followers–31


Top 5 Posts

  1. 5 Ways to Write (Without Actually Writing) 
  2. AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days 
  3. The Original Outstanding Blogger Award + WIP 
  4. Happy First Blogiversary! 
  5. 12 Classic Loves Collab with Samantha 

Wow. I mean, compared to my last blogiversary, I’ve definitely seen growth. (A lot of the stats have doubled or tripled!) I think I also grew into my blogging style so it’s quite comfortable for me. 🙂 

Q’s

More tea, anyone? I personally love iced-lemon-mint tea! Also, the peach strawberry parfait and pink champagne macarons are absolutely gorgeous. 

Okay, this is my impromptu Q & A session! (Note: I actually forgot to ask questions ahead of time and did this kind of last minute, so thank you to everyone who sent their questions in. You can still ask me questions in this post!)

Nicole Dust

1. Current fav. song? 

Ooh, this is a tough one…Maybe Name of Love by Cinema staff?? Listening to it makes me tear up every time. 😭 Also, I’m really in love with most songs in my Toumei-sei (Transparency) playlist. 

2. What’s an anime you’d recommend to literally anybody?

I want to say AoT except I wouldn’t recommend it to literally anybody, so I’ve got to say Future Boy Conan, which was one of Miyazaki’s earliest works and also one of the awesome-est. It literally has every theme he’ll explore in the coming years!!

Paperstrider 

What’s your favourite blog post you’ve ever written?

That’s a great question. Hmm, favourite blog post…If I had to choose, it would be between The Narnia Tag (I still think it was the most genius idea I’ve ever come up with), AH: 5 Truths to Remind Yourself On Painful Writing Days, and any Afternoon Tea series!

Jenna Terese

What’s one thing you’d want to tell the whole blogosphere?

New Aesthetics & Direction

I’m getting a little thirsty…I think I’ll have a classic green tea, Sayama-cha. Would you like some sherbet?

Finally, I’d just like to share a few things about my blog. 

You might have noticed I rebranded my blog a few weeks ago. I loved my old blog identity, but felt like it didn’t completely resonate with me anymore, partly because I’ve been discovering a wider range of aesthetics than what I’ve previously known, and partly because my philosophy has gone back to the simplest form of Ecclesiastes 12:12-13. 

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.

Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

So, I’m trying to find my stride with a more minimal, Lewisian-vibe aesthetic. Obviously it might change again, but for the time being this is what I’m going with!

(P. S. Some of my favourite aesthetics are: minimalism, academia, beige milk tea, cottagecore)


At the same time, I just love reading and writing. It’s something I’d keep on doing even if the world was ending. 

All this is to say, I’ll keep on posting as I am–with focus on mental health, reading classics and modern books, ranting about my favourite fandoms, and talking about my writing journey. 

So, thank you once more for being a part of this journey. And shall we say, The road goes ever on and on. 

Thank you for celebrating my two-year blogiversary with me! How has your month been? Is there anything you’re curious about my writing/blogging journey? What are your favourite aesthetics? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

May Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon, and welcome to Afternoon Tea with SJ!

Today is uncharacteristically sunny and I just love typing at my desk with the sun on my hands. I had an amazing month and I can’t wait to share it with you…

-May ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Cottage in a forest

Tea: Lavender, Editor’s Blend, Strawberry Vanilla

Offered with: Lemon cheese cake, Chocolate banana chiffon cake, Matcha tiramisu

So, without further ado, let the party commence!


I suffered from a reading block towards the end of April to mid May, so I read significantly less books than the previous months. I also took up books outside the Omnibus syllabus and read more nonfiction than usual. 

May Reads 

  1. Story Genius -Lisa Cron (Nfic)
  2. The Book of Hygge -Louisa Thomsen Brits (Nfic)
  3. Want -Cindy Pon (YA sci-fi)
  4. Ignite -Jenna Terese (ARC, YA sci-fi)
  5. Wildwood -Colin Meloy (Jfic/MG)
  6. Holy Sexulaity and the Gospel -Christopher Yuan (Nfic)
  7. The Iliad -Homer (O4)
  8. Blessed Monsters -Emily A. Duncan (YA fantasy)

Currently Reading: Capsule, The House of Government, Catch-22

Overall, it’s been a slow reading month, but I finally conquered the Iliad and that to me has been a greater win. 🙂 

More tea or cake, anyone? I really adore the lemon cheese cake, do try it out!

Anyhow…this month has been saturated with various media that I re-discovered and discovered, so let’s take a look at some of them. 

Music 

I finally figured out Spotify and *blushes* have been spending way too much time there while I was working. Well, that’s what it’s there for, right??

Practising: Mozart’s Rondo in D-dur K485, Brahms Viola Sonata Op. 120 No.2 first movement, Mozart’s Requiem–Lacrimosa by Thalberg, AoT Ops. 1-5

Listening to: AoT lo-fi, TG lo-fi, Kuhlau Piano Sonatinas Op. 20 & 55, Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence

Movie 

We only watched one movie this month, and *drumrolls*….it’s 1917!!

If you’ve been on SJ Barnard for a while, you might already know, but I’m obsessed with history, especially of the early 20th century. I loved this movie (as I should) and want to watch it again. 

Manga/Anime

This section should probably get a bigger highlight. I finished AoT vol 32 and am officially obsessed with it. (Isayama-sensei is dementedly genius.) Also, I’ve begun to dip my toes in the My Hero Academia fandom (hullo, Deku!) and love that, too. I’m still waiting to read the rest of TPN manga–it’s on order at my library–so just wait a few more weeks until I restart screaming about it. I really want to get into Jujutsu Kaisen…any fans out there? 

Okay. Writing Life…

Um, maybe before that, do you want to try the lavender tea? It’s absolutely celestial, I promise. Or the Strawberry Vanilla tea? That one’s a template for cottage core. 😉

So. WIPs. 

Initially I was planning to edit Juliet. Because, that’s like my headstone project I’ve been working on for the past four or five years. I re-read part 1, I made notes, outlines, began re-writing and yadda yadda yadda, when I had to stop.

It wasn’t working. 

I had all these cool ideas and an actually coherent plot, tons of character analysis and everything, when the floor fell out from underneath me. I had no idea why I was writing this story. Like, for real. 

  1. Goes into existential crisis
  2. Denial
  3. Realisation something is definitely wrong with it
  4. Hides
  5. Cries oceans
  6. Sleeps

Anyhow. So now it’s permanently on hold where it might RIP or might be brought back from the dead once I hide from it long enough. *Sighs*

But there’s good news! In the meantime, I’ve been working on Osthauptstadt, the second-newest WIP on my shelf. I’m almost at the 40K mark, so I wrote around 25K! I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but I’m hoping to write at least 50K in this WIP. 

I’m really excited for university to start! I got accepted into another one with scholarships, this one the number one ranking in Canada, and I’m utterly blown. Because it’s too far for me to attend, I won’t be going there (and I decided on the other one already), but this means a lot to me. I’ve begun creating a timeline and to-do lists to get ready. But yes, college…*grins*

How about another slice of matcha tiramisu? I just love tiramisu! 

I feel like I’ve talked about most of the things that happened this May–wait, I didn’t talk about how I started running!

Prepare for astonishment: I began running tracks in the mornings!

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I know, you’re probably confused. Like, people run all the time. Except, I really hate running. I used to run when I was in elementary, but then my asthma got worse, so I swam more instead. Then COVID happened and all the swimming pools shut down. I had lots of nervous breakdowns, walked a lot, but wasn’t getting enough exercise in. 

Insert brilliant idea no. 109: Running!

About a month ago, I stumbled upon Mel Torrefranca’s video, I followed Haruki Murakami’s strict schedule for a week. And it got me thinking about my health. As I prepare for a new chapter of my life, I definitely didn’t want to repeat my disastrous high school years where I was literally sick every single month. Hence, running. 

I began with 2km, which felt okay, so I slowly worked my way up to 4km. I ran 6km a few days ago, and hope to get to 10km by the end of this challenge. My focus in running is more on breathing technique–I’m using the one I learnt at karate–and so far it’s been working out! Once I got over my paralyzing fear of running, I’m finding out I actually enjoy it! (I know, marvels of marvels.) 

I also wake up consistently around a little before 5 am-6 am routine. We’re also hiking every week as a family which is super fun because we’re literally surrounded by mountains, rivers, oceans, and islands. Summer in BC is breathtaking. 

So, that’s about it! 

Thank you for reading today’s post! What are some things you did this May? Did you meet any great books? (Or join new fandoms?) How was your writing this month? Do tell me all about it; I’d love to chat with you!