Listen to what your mood is telling you (when you write)!

Camp-Participant-2015-Square-ButtonAfter bombing out of Camp NaNoWriMo back in April (due to that whole getting married thing I did – see my last few posts to read more about that and see pretty pictures and so on), I vowed that I would surge into the July event of Camp NaNo and knock out 30 000 words as if it was nothing. Which, considering how many times I have written more than this over the course of 6 successful NaNoWriMos (of 50 000 or more words) and 2 successful Camp NaNos (of 30 000 each), it is not unreasonable that I considered this a challenge I could beat.

However, a couple of days ago, sitting on a measly 4000 words (actually that’s a lie, it was like 3900 and when you’ve written so little those hundred words make a difference), I realised I had a problem. I kept sitting in front of my laptop trying to write, but it just wasn’t working. It wasn’t writer’s block so much as writer’s disdain – I just didn’t like my story so far. At all.

Something I have written about before on this blog is how I tend to mix up the moods I am trying to write my story in (I’d link but goodness knows how far back in my archive the original post is sitting, sorry guys – I’ll explain it all again anyway). I think I naturally assume when I’m in a good mood I need to write comedy and when I’m in a more melancholy mood I need to go for something more serious and perhaps depressing. But more often this proves wrong – when I’m not as high in spirits I need to write comedy, perhaps to lift me a little out of the emotional hole I find myself in for one reason or another. And when I am upbeat, sometimes my comedy comes out totally rubbish because I struggle to find things to satirise or be cynical about and so I actually need to write a story that maybe pulls me back down to earth.

So, while I have a few things in my life that are stressing me out at the moment I am most certainly a lot happier overall than I have been for, well, a lot of my life actually. So the reason why I couldn’t write was because I had nothing to make fun of (seriously, there was one funny page where two cats fought over a cheesy puff and then it went downhill from there). Consequently, I’ve started writing something way more depressing and now it’s pouring out of me – I’ll probably overtake my old word count tomorrow which I sort of need to do if I’m going to hit my word goal in 11 days. Somebody send me coffee, pronto!

Do any of you writers out there ever experience anything similar to this issue with moods affecting your writing style, mood or genre even? How do you work with/against it?

For those of you who are attempting Camp NaNo, how is it going for you this month? How is your cabin going? (Mine is really nice actually, everybody is quite talkative and friendly and sharing interesting ideas).

My Wedding (Part Two – Magic in the Forest)

A few days ago I posted about my recent wedding to the love of my life, Linnéa, who I met through this very blog on opposite sides of the world so many moons ago. In that post I explained roughly how we created our wedding and used a few photos from our phones to help show snippets of the day.

However, before we even got married, we shot off into a beautiful Swedish forest to take some professional photos of us in our wedding gear. We were extremely lucky as we managed to get the perfect photographer – Jessica Silversaga, a blogger and photographer from Stockholm with some seriously amazing style! Linnéa had been following her for years online so this was really a dream come true for her, and, as I would soon discover, for me too.

I’m going to just show a few of my favourite photos from that session, but if you want to see more photos from this shoot head to her blog here and while you’re there check out her other posts – she really is incredible! I’m not going to say much more, because these pictures say a lot more than any words ever could. So just enjoy!

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What do you think? Are we lucky or what?!

My Wedding (Part One)

Moments after we were married.

Moments after we were married. Very happy.

As I briefly explained last time in this post, I got married a couple of months ago. Although we still have many photos to grab off friends and family, we have a few photos and we also have the professional ones that have come in from our amazing photographer. So this post will focus more on our own photos (so far), while the next one will include some of the photos from our shoot in the forest (which, without blowing my own trumpet, looked a bit magical). When we get the other photos, there may be a part three to this (but that is a maybe).

Our wedding was an odd one from the start. We decided to get married just a few months before, and the wedding planning was done in one night about two weeks before the big day itself. We decided to have a small wedding of about 30 people, and a few months earlier we bought our rings and our clothes, perhaps the most expensive parts of the whole thing. To bring the cost down, and also to have greater control of our own wedding, we decided to do everything ourselves. Linnéa was in charge of the decorations, I was in charge of the food, together we worked on the music, guests and seating arrangements. We were surprisingly calm.

Her cousin looks concerned, she herself looks in control, I look more baffled than I am. Yes, I am wearing a Monty Python t-shirt.

Her cousin looks concerned, she herself looks in control, I look more baffled than I am. Yes, I am wearing a Monty Python t-shirt.

Fast forward to two days before our wedding, and I at least was in meltdown wondering how we were ever going to manage to get everything done on time. Fast forward again to the day before, and it all sort of magically came together. Well, I say magically, but it was not without a lot of help and a few minor setbacks. I had my two friends from Australia arrive, whom we pulled straight into the kitchen to help me cook and prepare the food (a mixture of different roasts, stews and other things that would taste better after soaking in the flavour overnight and reheating or cooking the next day). However, my three main dishes each lacked one ingredient. Linnéa also needed some

You can see some of the moss there - my memory tells me there was a lot more added in the end. The tables were very full on the day, at any rate.

You can see some of the moss there – my memory tells me there was a lot more added in the end. The tables were very full on the day, at any rate.

other things and shot off with her dad to fix the problem, but then ended up through no fault of her own taking three hours. Luckily, we had other family members and friends with us (nearly half the wedding was there helping the day before, phew) and so she directed the decorations over the phone until her return, and by dinner time we were done and heading off to spend the evening with friends in a jacuzzi and sauna right by the sea. The decorations she mostly made by hand, and we took moss fresh from the forest to place over the tables to add an earthy and intimate feel to the whole affair (sadly, I am lacking photos of us all sitting at the table on the big day…I will try and find some).

Our rings. We have a better professional photo for the next post - her ring is emerald and Celtic, mine is a Celtic gold and silver ring that is hard to see in the sunlight.

Our rings. We have a better professional photo for the next post – her ring is emerald and Celtic, mine is a Celtic gold and silver ring that is hard to see in the sunlight.

The big day itself went fairly according to plan. For a start, the weather came through for us – 17 degrees C (63 F) and sunny in early Spring is a rare thing indeed (and was followed by a week of rain and 5C/41F) so we were very lucky there – it’s just reaching those temperatures again now. We ignored convention (we ignored a lot of conventions, to be fair) and I was with her while her hair and make up was done (so she didn’t panic). We then went to the forest to take our professional photos before the ceremony or the reception – the ceremony was in a little courtyard right outside the reception, so it felt silly to do it in between. We were fashionably late (we lost track of time in the forest), but then we rounded everybody up outside and got on with the ceremony. After only a couple of minutes, we were married – luckily we asked Linnéa’s uncle to give a speech to help flesh out the ceremony somewhat, and he did an amazing job (and we have a great video of it too). After a mingle outside for an hour or two (and myself popping into the kitchen to see how my amazing helpers were going with my confusing instructions and half cooked food – they’re Italian so it was fine) we went inside for the dinner.

Us at the dinner, towards the end actually. As the night went on we shed our layers - she had a cape on top of a dress on top of another dress.

Us at the dinner, towards the end actually. As the night went on we shed our layers – she had a cape on top of a dress on top of another dress.

The dinner went well – my food was different and memorable like I hoped (stupid me forgot to take photos though), and Linnéa’s decorations achieved their aim and made the whole thing really cosy (and they looked fantastic). Her grandfather gave a speech in Swedish (and gave us the script for her to translate for me), her dad gave a speech in English and then I got up and gave something that amounted vaguely to a speech (apparently my Aussie friends were impressed at how short I kept the speech…I have a habit of waffling on, as I am sure long-time readers of this here blog have observed). Her best friend and cousin got up with another friend to sing one of “our” songs – “Sew My Name” by Josh Pyke (go look it up, it’s amazing). We played a couple of games to show how much we knew each other (which were surprising for many people but not for us).

Linnéa, her brother and her brother's girlfriend. We set up a photo booth of sorts and forgot to tell people about it until the end, so there's a lot of very sweaty photos of us all after we had been dancing. These guys manage to look a lot fresher than I did in most photos by that time of night.

Linnéa, her brother and her brother’s girlfriend. We set up a photo booth of sorts and forgot to tell people about it until the end, so there’s a lot of very sweaty photos of us all after we had been dancing. These guys manage to look a lot fresher than I did in most photos by that time of night.

After all of this, we got up and danced until midnight. Which was something unusual for me – in Australia, weddings often finish dinner around 9pm, there’s a bit of dancing for an hour or so and by about 10:30, 11pm the wedding ends. Here in Sweden, only having three hours of dancing and our wedding finishing at midnight makes it an “early night” – I’ve already been to one other wedding here that went until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a funny thing in itself – the Swedes are so shy and introverted, and Australians on the whole are very extroverted and renowned for their friendliness and willingness to talk to strangers (it’s no myth, I’ll tell you). So it’s odd that in Australia weddings seem so restrained, yet in Sweden they let loose – but that’s the way it goes I guess. Every culture has its little oddities.

We had my friends from Australia with us for a few more days, and within three weeks we were on a plane to Australia to meet my side of the family and attend my sister’s wedding…but that’s another post or two down the track (at least two more posts will come from those photos).

To finish off for now, one of my favourite photos taken on my Aussie friend Jimmy’s phone (he’s the crazy one on the right, and Sarah, my other friend from down under, is on the far left).

the jump part two

Two weddings and some jet lag

At the start of April, I boldly exclaimed that I would be doing two writing challenges despite that month being one of the busiest of my life. I also promised I would blog a lot. Then I promptly disappeared off the face of the earth, which was rather rude of me but to be fair I HAVE been unusually busy.

Six weeks ago, you see, I married the love of my life. Then a few weeks after that we both flew from Sweden to Australia to watch my little sis marry the love of her life last weekend. Now we’re back in Sweden, struggling to fix our very confused body clocks, and trying to return to this so-called “normal life” people tell us about.

All of these things, naturally, need their own blog posts to be thoroughly covered. While in Australia we spent a weekend in Sydney and also spent some time exploring the beachside suburbia where I spent half my life before moving to this colder climate (there is actually a beach at the end of my street here in Sweden, but it has no waves and sometimes freezes over in Winter…meanwhile we went swimming in the Australian “winter” so you know…all perspective I guess?).

Our own wedding, in particular, needs at least one post. Not just for the photos, but because it was a momentous occasion – long time readers may recall that it was in fact due to blogging that my wife and I met at all, and we spent the first two years of our relationship on opposite sides of the planet before I moved to Sweden last year. So our wedding is the culmination of a lot of patience, persistence and determination, among other things. But it was also not your typical wedding…anyway, I’ll save that for next time.

Essentially this post was just a quick “I’m actually alive and this time I have a good excuse for not blogging” sort of thing. But I will get more posts up soon detailing our latest adventures, and then I may even return to writing about books and music and all that stuff.

Hope you are all well, fellow readers, writers and awesome people.

Here’s a sneak peek of the wedding:

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NaPoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo looms once more…

Oops. It appears I have not blogged in nearly six weeks, which is pretty bad even for me. BUT I do have a very good reason that I will be able to share with you all in a couple more weeks’ time. Until then, however, I shall keep my lips sealed (although some of you know already what it is and long-time followers could probably take an educated guess at what my news is).

This important event of which I cannot speak has sapped my time elsewhere too – I have barely read anything these past weeks (luckily I have some long flights coming up soonish that will give me time to knock out a few books). I have been working hard on my diet, playing with new recipes and working out as much as possible, but otherwise my mind and energy has been entirely focused elsewhere. I’ve considered blogging about all sorts of things, and the second half of that story that I said I would published “next week” I did begin the next week, but it sits half finished in my drafts folder.

napo2015button2Despite all of this, I know I still seem to work with deadlines for some reason. So, I am probably at the very last minute going to commit myself to NaPoWriMo (the poetry writing month thing where you write a poem a day) AND Camp NaNoWriMo (the smaller, flexible Camp-Participant-2015-Square-Buttonversion of National Novel Writing Month where you can write whatever you darn well please in a month and choose your own word count). The month of April is going to be a month filled with lots of different emotions, and it is such a beautiful month up here in Sweden, so writing poetry will be easy as inspiration abounds. As for Camp NaNoWriMo, I think I will return to short stories but I will keep the word goal much lower this time – no more than 20 000 I think.

I will try to blog a little during April, but my responses and things might be a little slow. But once you know of my news you will probably also understand why – I hope so at least. I can say that somewhere around late May my life will return to some sense of normality (only a better normality) and my blogging may regain an actual routine. Or it won’t. We’ll see.

Anyway, who among you, dear readers, is attempting either of these two writing events? I’d love to know so we can annoy encourage one another during this time – I’m always very active on Twitter during these crazy writing months and am always happy to add fellow writers.

If you’d like to know more about either event, visit their websites here:

Camp NaNoWriMo
NaPoWriMo

The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World, Part 1

Strong coffeeAbout 2 months ago I wrote a blog post explaining how I want to write fun short stories (preferably silly or comedic in some way) based on ideas that you, my readers, come up with and pass on to me. Not because I’m lazy – I always have a million ideas buzzing around (which actually gets annoying sometimes) – but because I think it could be a fun new way to interact with my readers and also actually get back to creating more on this blog (which does, to be fair, have the word “creation” in its title). Anyway, if you haven’t seen that blog post, or would like to suggest an idea or want to see the sorts of ideas I’ve received already, have a look here.

The first story I’m going to write is based on a suggestion by CricketMuse, another writer/reader/blogger/teacher who has been blogging at least as long as I have and who has managed to retain far more focus than I ever could. This blog is a must for anybody interested in books, writing, and well just words pretty much!

The story suggestion is: “Suppose aliens swoop in with a coffeebean emp– how will the world cope being caffeine free?” As a coffee drinker, this idea terrifies me. Let’s see what this terrible imagination of mine does to this perfectly great idea (sorry in advance)! This will be in at least two parts but maybe three (just to break it up for you readers (okay, fine, to break it up for me too))!

The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World

Part 1

by the considerably caffeinated Matt Watson

I stared out the window motionlessly as the morning cup whirled down my throat and into my body in a desperate yet routine attempt to bring me back to life enough to drive to work and pretend to be a normal person, just like everybody else pretends to be. We all have that drug of choice to help us achieve this – for some it’s smoking, others it’s alcohol, for some weird people it’s something even vaguely healthy like tea or juice or even water. But for a large amount of us, all around the world, it’s coffee that enables us to feign functionality in a world that is set to drain us until we are nothing left but a mechanical husk of what we once were. It was coffee that had provided me with a means of being an adult for the last twenty years.

My hand moved, without thought, to lift up my coffee cup to my mouth, only something was wrong. I nearly threw the mug into the roof with its lack of weight that I was clearly not prepared for, but being quite sure I had not gained any superpowers in the previous moments of contemplation and window-staring I found myself surprised at the possibility that I had already consumed all my coffee. I looked into the mug only to see desolation and crushed hopes.

I put the mug back down and rubbed my eyes. “It’s too early for magic tricks,” I mumbled to anybody who would listen.

“What magic tricks?” she retorted from the other room.

“My coffee is gone but I swear I didn’t drink it.”

“Oh darling…you just need another coffee. Make yourself another one.”

She was right. Of course she was right. She always was. I had accepted that a long time ago – I think it was in the marriage contract or something. I stood up after a couple of attempts and reached into the cupboard for the coffee, but again the coffee jar was not as heavy as I had been sure it was only moments earlier. I looked at it in my hands – completely empty, not even the coffee dust on the sides. It looked like as if somebody had cleaned it. But…nobody had been in the room since I last looked at it a few minutes ago. I put the jar backed and checked the cupboard properly. Then I checked the entire kitchen.

“Are you okay in there?” The noise had intrigued her, but not enough to actually come and see what was going on.

“Erm…yeah. The coffee has just…disappeared.”

“Well maybe you ran out, dear. Get one on your way to work or something.”

“Yes…yes that’s a good idea. Of course.”

I finished getting ready, with only a few sips of coffee struggling to keep me conscious I was quite certain. I felt like I was losing my mind, which was something that usually required more than ten coffees to occur, not just a few sips. But maybe I hadn’t slept well. I had no reason to worry about it just yet.

No, the moment when I felt I was more justified in my all-out-panic was when I pulled out of the fifth consecutive fast food drive-through window without a coffee. All of them, much to their own surprise, had been entirely depleted of their coffee stocks in what seemed to be the first time ever. I drove to a nearby supermarket, but the same thing had happened there. After two more stores that yielded the same impossible results, I drove to work with a sudden fondness for armageddon.

At the office, it turned out, we had also run out of coffee. I don’t want to sound melodramatic or anything, but I am quite certain I fell to my knees and screamed “nooo” at the top of my lungs for a few seconds before rolling over into the foetal position.

***

Meanwhile…

“So like…do they talk or what?” The long, bony, surprisingly ungreen (it was more a light pink) finger of the alien known as Boll poked one of the dormant beans.

“Don’t touch it you idiot! We still don’t fully understand them yet.”

“Oh, sorry Boss.” Boll stood up properly after being reprimanded by the creature he called Boss, but who was otherwise known as Ocks. Ocks was elected boss not by any sort of mental or emotional aptitude he possessed or had displayed, but because of the fact he was only 97 centimetres in height. As Boll stood at an appallingly tall 189 centimetres, his career prospects looked pretty dim. Such was the way of life for the Floating Nobulas, a curious nomadic people of unknown origins who travelled around the galaxies causing minor mischief normally by accident.

“And yes, apparently they do talk. They are alive after all.”

“But some of those human people said that most living things on Earth don’t talk, that only they do.”

“Yes, Boll, but just because some human told you that you’re going to believe it? Trust me, they’re not the brightest pack down there. These beans can talk,” and Ocks paused to look, no, stare, at the coffee beans, before pointedly asking “can’t they?”

The silence was mostly humiliating. They had come a long way to pick up these beans, to save them from the evil humans who kept grounding them up. They had agreed not to mess with the human affairs other than to remove all coffee beans and place them onto the several hundred ships that waited patiently outside the solar system in which the Earth existed. They already had a few issues to solve, such as where they would actually put these beans in the long term, but this silence was not assisting the situation.

Running out of ideas, Ocks finally played his blackmail card. “Fine, if you don’t talk, I’ll just send you back to Earth and you know what ha-“

But Ocks didn’t need to finish his sentence, as thousands of tiny eyes sprung open. One tiny bean finally hopped forward and bowed politely. “I apologise…we do not know how to handle such kindness as that which you have poured upon us.”

“Yes,” started another bean, “usually we just have boiling water poured upon us.”

“Sh!” The apparent leader of the beans didn’t want to give the aliens any ideas. “We are at your service, so long as you spare our lives.”

Ocks and Boll looked at each other, before Boll exclaimed “Awesome! We have a tiny army!”

Boll’s gigantic and quite hideous grin quickly disappeared with a knock to the top of the head from Ocks. “We have plans to make.”

***

By lunchtime, it had been declared on the world news that coffee no longer existed. It had completely disappeared, not just the stuff in the shops but also the actual plants themselves. It was as if the human race had been hallucinating the stuff, the entire concept, for the last few centuries. Except that when they checked books about it, it was still in there. There were still websites dedicated to it, there were still bad bumper stickers on the backs of cars referring to it, there were still shops and cafés whose business depended on it even if those shops and cafés suddenly looked like victims of a really huge theft (which, to be fair, they were).

It was declared an international emergency. Wars were temporarily brought to a ceasefire, political squabbles were put aside, natural disasters politely asked to take a hike for a short while. The 7 billion inhabitants of the planet needed to put their minds together to find a solution. Which would have been a great idea if it wasn’t for the withdrawal headaches from which large amounts of the human race were beginning to suffer.

However, despite my headache, even though I was emotionally volatile, I realised that this was my moment to shine! This was when I would become a hero, the hero that saved the world’s coffee supply! Today, I would be the biggest single cure for a headache ever! Because while the planet searched itself for something it no longer possessed, I turned my eyes to somewhere entirely different…

To Be Continued….

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Problems I have

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and while I don’t participate every week (as the last couple of weeks I have been doing other memes) this week’s topic was too good to refuse.

So here we go, my Top Ten Bookish Problems! Let me know in the comments if you relate to any of these or have any bookish problems of your own you’d like to share!

  1. My to-be-read pile is so high it’s beginning to interfere with flight paths of local aircraft. But seriously, it is pretty astronomical and shouldn’t be judged by my Goodreads account which I have never managed to update fully. What I do know is back in Australia in boxes are at least 200 unread books. Here in Sweden I have maybe a dozen unread books. And my wishlist on The Book Depository I believe is around 270 books. So…my TBR pile is actually 500 books? Oops.
  2. I buy books faster than I can read them, as my first point there illuminated. I don’t know what it is about buying books. Maybe it’s the desire to have a choice when I choose my next book – I do have a bad habit of reading several books simultaneously.
  3. I do have a bad habit of reading several books simultaneously and also I swear I won’t connect all my problems like this. But this can be an issue. Because what happens is I find myself “reading” five books at once, but only actually reading two of them. After a few months some of the others have been left for so long I forget what has happened and have to restart them or shelve them for later. This definitely isn’t good for my reading habits and goals, so I need to try and dedicate myself to ACTUALLY FINISHING MY BOOKS more.
  4. Chocolate and books are a match made in heaven until you drop a few chocolate crumbs on a page and then in a desperate but futile effort to remove said crumbs from the page you accidentally smush them into the paper, permanently leaving a stain that says “I’m such an idiot that I spilled chocolate on my book”. Having said that, it’s probably better than coffee, or in one quite weird instance blood (it was an unnoticed paper cut, okay?)!
  5. Books that have lots of really short chapters can be a total pain because when you really want to go to sleep the “just one more chapter” syndrome kicks in…over and over again. And then all of a sudden you have to wake up in three hours and you’re faced with that crucial decision: do I just shrug and do an all-nighter, or do I pretend to be an adult and sleep even though I know I’ll feel like rubbish anyway? Younger me would have certainly voted the former of these two options, but these days those lines around my face are suggestive of a man who would choose the latter.
  6. Books that have really long chapters can also be a nuisance, because I hate finishing mid-chapter. I’ll give you an example. I read Norwegian Wood by Murakami a couple of years ago (and utterly adored it). This novel has 11 chapters, most of which are between 20 and 40 pages. Except the middle chapter, which if I remember has a little over 100 pages. Was this length necessary? Actually, yes – it was the most poignant section of the entire book and the part I remember the most as it added a lot of beauty to a story that was otherwise quite devastating. But sometimes I’m dumb and I start a chapter without looking how long it is, and then I’m faced with that same decision from problem number 5…
  7. Where can I possibly fit all these books? At the moment, three bookcases (some 20 boxes) of my books sit in Australia, half the world away, inside a storage unit until the day I can ship them over to Europe. Back in Australia, I rented a nice big 2 bedroom town house with an enormous lounge. Now I rent a tiny one room studio apartment, meaning the bed takes up half of the living room. We barely have room for one bookcase and already we have piles of books sitting everywhere. There is a certain charm to it, for sure, but I fear that home will suddenly appear to be a bookshop, one of those old but charming second hand ones with piles of books everywhere. Or maybe the one from Black Books, although in that case I need to start drinking heavier…
  8. Just as I think I might like to try e-books I suspect my eyesight is going on me. Yes, at the ripe old age of nearly 29 I suddenly find I can’t look at a bright screen for more than a couple of hours without my eyes and head hurting immensely (how did I ever play video games for days on end when I was younger?). Of course, there is a good chance a pair of glasses will fix this, and considering my entire direct family wears glasses this fate was perhaps a little inevitable. Unfortunately, I’m also stubborn about silly things and this may be one of them.
  9. I really don’t read enough. I know a lot of people say this but I really don’t. It’s been quite a few years since I read over 50 books in a year and averaged a book a week. What kind of aspiring writer and English teacher am I? I mean, I know I’m busy and have been for a few years with the whole international relationship that turned into me moving across the world and all that jazz, but still! I see you bloggers out there, those of you that read over 100 books last year, or in some cases over 200! You’re amazing, and I’m sure not aiming that high, but I would like to do a little bit better. We’ll see what this year brings. It’s early days still.
  10. I am never going to read all the books I want to read. It’s a stark realisation, but it’s probably true. Even if I could hit 50 books a week, it would take me 10 years to finish off my TBR list. And considering that TBR list has been conjured up entirely in the last 3 years, logically this means that in 10 years time, another 1500 books will be added to it. Fast forward the next 30 years, and if I haven’t died from a caffeine overdose the TBR list will likely be in the realm of 5 digits and I will be a heaving weepy sack of word-hungry disappointment…or maybe I’ll find a way to freeze time and yes that is what I’ll do actually so don’t worry I only have 9 bookish problems it turns out. Excellent.

What are YOUR bookish problems?