November had been quite the month, and it went by faster than we all expected. A few more weeks and it’s Christmas, how exciting! But before we officially celebrate the holidays, I want to do a quick November recap because creativity-wise, I think it’s been a great month for me. Recently, I’ve fallen back into the hobby of novel-writing, picked up one of my favorite books for a reread, and discovered new favorites, you’ll see! But let’s not get carried away, because on the other side of the coin, I’ve got finals coming up. Most of my deadlines were extended until January next year and there’s no reason to stress, but I like to stay on top of my requirements so I’ve started working on my papers already. Then again, it’s all about balance and these activities are the things that have been keeping me sane lately.
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. I first heard of this book in 2017 and my immediate impression of it was that it’s extremely intimidating. In fact, it used to be high up there alongside War and Peace and Les Misérables which are admittedly some of the most intimidating books in my opinion (still haven’t read them, some day… some day). But recently, I decided to finally pick up a copy of The Second Sex and give it a read.
In it, de Beauvoir analyzes the Western notion of what being a “woman” meant and explores inequality and otherness in two volumes. I’m currently still in the middle of the first volume, which involves a lot of history and scientific facts. It’s quite an academic reading, but because feminist theory has always interested me, I’m excited to read further!
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. Pretty sure you’ve seen this book elsewhere because it’s another popular non-fiction that came out in 2019 and suddenly, everyone on Instagram’s reading it. It’s a series of essays that cumulatively critiques the ills of modern society in a contemporary world with its contemporary trends and controversies.
Halfway through and I’ve really been finding comfort in Tolentino’s voice and absolutely loving her insights. Most of the time, she comments on the most mundane trends and I couldn’t help but wonder why I’ve never thought of them before. And because it’s packed with powerful commentaries and analyses, I really want to take my time with it and not rush through any of the essays. Hopefully, I finish it before the year ends, though!
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I’m only rereading this one and I know it’s going to be a little tricky for me to say that Lolita is one of the best novels I’ve ever read, but bluntly speaking, it really is. I even consider it one of my favorites. However, I reserve no room for empathy when it comes to the book’s narrator, Humbert Humbert. He’s insanely skewed and no one should ever call this book a love story because it is not.
What I admire most about this novel, and the only reason why it’s a favorite, is because of Nabokov’s writing. His prose is intricate and careful, and his sentences are just brilliantly structured. To be able to write such a poetic satire about something so disgusting and cruel, is the kind of element I’ve always found interesting in the way Nabokov writes, and why I always find myself coming back to this book for a reread.
Shakespeare. Namely, Hamlet and Macbeth. I also finished reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream recently for my intro to Shakespeare class, and a few of his sonnets. I’ve only read Twelfth Night and Romeo & Juliet before so it’s really nice that I got to explore more of Shakespeare’s works this year! Really enjoyed MND, surprisingly I read it very comfortably and the story flowed just right, in contrary to the reviews I’ve read that say the language in it is quite difficult to decipher. I’m an act away from finishing Hamlet and Macbeth both, can’t wait to see how things end in both plays.
Quite unexpectedly, I’ve also fallen back into my longtime hobby which is novel-writing. I didn’t realize how much I missed writing fiction until I actually started doing it again. Usually, I’d stick to prose, poetry, and short stories but it’s been a long while since I last tried working on an actual novel idea.
This time, I want to just write simply because it’s something that I enjoy doing. I think that when it comes to writing a novel, we often limit ourselves to the idea that we have to finish what we’re writing, so there’s always that sort of pressure that we make up in our head which might actually be the reason why we never finish the pieces we’re working on.
What I’ve learned is that the first words of a novel are usually the hardest ones to write, because you’ve got this idea in your head but where do you even begin? So, I usually brainstorm and think of that first sentence before anything else, then I write it down on my notebook and from there, I just let the words flow and the next thing I know I’ve already written a thousand words. This is when I retype what I’ve written on paper onto my word processor and then finally start structuring the plot and the chapters.
Obviously there’s an outline, but I’m always open to changes and if I don’t feel like writing a specific storyline anymore, I switch things up and maybe write a new novel idea, or shift narrators, and try to work my way around it. I’ve learned that writing is really all about thinking out of the box, as cliché as it sounds, and that it never is a straight line that you tread through.
This is usually the creative process that works for me, and this of course varies from person to person. At the end of the day, what’s important is that we enjoy what we’re writing as well as the activity of writing itself.
Starry Starry Night
Virtually, that is! So excited to talk about this—last week, I found out that there’s an app called Skyview and it basically shows you galaxies, stars, constellations, and satellites overhead at your location when you simply point your camera at the sky. I recorded my screen for about a minute to share with you what it looks like from my location.
I haven’t explored what else the app does but I can’t wait to really maximize its features. I’ve loved stargazing since I was a little girl and had I known earlier that this app existed, you probably would’ve seen me rave about it on here way back then!
That’s everything I have for the month of November, talk about closure… now, I can officially say, hello December! I’ve never mentioned it before but Christmas is actually my favorite holiday. For some reason, dusk is always extra delightful in December, and of course I’m very excited to see Christmas lights everywhere. Finally, it’s that time of the year again. On that note, I hope everyone had a good November and let’s all look forward to an even better December!