Posted by: CR Elliott | May 15, 2017

May Updates: Behave, Edits, Bullet Journaling

For the first few months of the year I’d been fairly good about completing at least one book per month but my pace has slowed because I’m reading drafts of my own book in order to start the painful editing process. I’m also slowly reading through Robert Sapolsky’s newest book, Behave, which is lengthy and meaty. And gradually I’ve been adopting my own bullet journal layout so there are many different projects that aren’t complete but are exciting to navigate.

What I’ve been reading and doing since April.

Several years ago I finished a first draft for a book that I was and am still excited about but of course moving across the country, starting a new life, looking for work and many other obligations pushed it to the background. I have been writing since childhood. So much writing advice centers around the notion that one must write constantly and while this is absolutely true it oversimplifies. What I write today satisfies me more than what I wrote ten years ago in so far as the fact that I recognize the varying quality within my work. Which is to say that I know when my work is terrible but it doesn’t put me off like it once did. My cousin ascribes to the belief that one is not a writer until one is published. He isn’t wrong in the sense that one’s profession isn’t writing until one can buy bread from the fruits of one’s labor. But he’s wrong in that way that people are wrong when they take a life and try to condense it into a few words. He misses the nuances. Writing and becoming a writer are tied to living a life in service to practicing and honing a craft. So, I’m about 100 pages away from beginning my edits. It has been a couple years since I finished the draft. Finished in the sense that I was actively working on it on a regular basis and then I moved from California to Florida and rebuilt my life from very rudimentary building blocks. Revisiting what I wrote has been exciting because the time in between allowed me to return with new eyes that are (I hope) ready to edit and reshape what’s there. Aspects of the story are fleshed out clearly and are engaging. Other parts are so rough that they’ll be reworked entirely. But I am excited!

At some point I hope to post a few reviews of Robert Sapolsky’s books on here because he’s really the author who got me back to writing after finishing my degree. He’s a neuroscientist and primatologist with a background in Anthropology. At the time I discovered his books I was finishing my undergrad degree and lost about how to proceed forward in academia. A Primate’s Memoir was assigned as extra credit. I never completed the assignment but I read all of Sapolsky’s books I could get my hands on. Although I nerded out on Sapolsky’s subjects it was the way he opened his mind to me as a reader that was inspiring. If I could live a different life I would love to be a neuroscientist or a primatologist or an Anthropologist like Sapolsky but in fact it was his writing style that made me want to return to writing. His experiences, his research and his thirst for knowledge are things he could keep to himself to try to become rich and famous but instead he translated topics I had thought beyond me into a language which was engaging, heart breaking and funny. With his newest book he is writing about the factual side of what I am always attempting to write about–which perhaps all writers are trying to write about–the dual nature of humanity (and other living creatures). In Behave he explores the science behind behavior in the most holistic and humane way. I’m taking it slow, savoring the journey and looking forward to posting a bit about it as I continue forward.

Since around January I have been curious about Bullet Journaling. I’ve been following a variety of people who blog, Instagram or Facebook their bullet journals (I’ll try to get a link list together at some point) and I’ve been figuring out how I want to integrate it into my own regular journaling. List making has always been fun for me but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by too much list making, calendar scheduling and other task oriented miscellany because I find that it makes me less productive when it becomes too time consuming to create and complete. Still, tracking information helped me lose some 40 lbs and finish writing the draft I’m reading right now. There’s absolutely a sweet spot (for me) where data tracking helps me to not get too disappointed at the small gains and allows me to see the big picture as it develops over time. For June I found a layout that I really like but it’s taken me pretty much five months of browsing and drafting to find a layout that is: quick to set up, tracks the essentials I’m interested in tracking and looks pretty enough that I feel comfortable sharing it.

There are still many goals on my mind right now. I want to finish all my edits and finish my book because it’s a story I was passionate about at the start and continue to be passionate about now. I’d love to blog more, post on more social media and be more engaged online. Read! Read! Read! And so much more. But, one step at a time.

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