Epistolary #7: A Completed First Draft and My June Bullet Journal Pages

I’ll be honest, this post has been sitting in my Drafts since the first week of May. Maybe even earlier since, as I was agonizing over the last two or three chapter of my WIP, I was already planning to write about how I somehow managed to do what had always felt to be the impossible, which was finish a first draft of a novel. But once the initial shock and elation of having done just that wore off and I tried to put into words how I felt, I couldn’t seem to get into it. While I knew that finishing a whole novel was a feat worth being proud of, I also knew that no one but myself really cared that I did it. And I couldn’t even really talk about the specifics of my novel because… well… it’s an early draft and honestly too embarrassing to delve into just now. Dedicating an entire blog post about something that I would have to be vague about isn’t exactly a riveting read. And a slog to write.

So. Instead of wholly focusing on that first draft of mine, I decided to make this a general update post. I’ve only got one other thing I want to talk about – my bullet journal, of all things – but mainly because quarantine has severely inhibited my already dull life.

First Draft (and a Long Way to Go)

I don’t know what I expected to happen when I typed out the last few lines of the first draft of my novel. I had emptied my cup of coffee hours earlier so I couldn’t really take a celebratory last swig before I hit save. I had told no one except my best friend that I was working on a novel so I couldn’t really talk about it to anyone else. And I had woken up at three in the morning to finish the last chapter and hours of sitting and typing had drained all the energy I had so I couldn’t jump for joy even if I wanted to.

So, like with basically every major event in my life, I just tweeted about it:

It’s been a full month since I finished my first ever novel and I still find it hard to believe that I did it. The thing that I’ve been trying to do for well over a decade, I actually did it. I was – and still am – acutely aware that that first draft is far from good. It’s not even on the outskirts of what could be described as ‘decent,’ let alone worth being seen by any eyes apart from my own. But though that first draft is littered, well, drowning in flaws, I recognize it as an achievement, perpetual self-doubt be damned.

God, I’ve been trying to write and finish a novel since I was thirteen. During my first few years as a “writer” I honestly didn’t realize just how difficult writing a long form story was. Hell, I didn’t even know what outlining was. I’d just jump into an ambitious project, somehow manage to write the first chapter, struggle with the second chapter, and then give up shortly after. Rinse and repeat.

I actually found a letter I had written to myself way, way back in 2009. It was a charming little thing that I rolled and tucked into a hollowed out Pilot marker – an ingenious hiding place, my child self thought – that I was supposed to read after I finished either my first multi-chaptered fanfic (dropped after chapter 4) or my first novel (barely made it to chapter 1).

The letter – printed entirely in bizarre monotype corsiva – was only two paragraphs long and it spent a quarter of the page dissuading me from reading further if I hadn’t finished either projects (oops). But while fourteen-year-old me didn’t have much insight or encouragement to share, I did like how that letter was physical evidence of just how long I’ve dreamed of finishing a novel. It’s actually quite encouraging to me just how much my passion to write has endured for this long. Especially considering how many times I’ve supposedly gave up on it.

For so long a major fear of mine was losing my love for writing. When I couldn’t miraculously finish a multi-chaptered story that was immediately perfect, I’d worry that the frustration and hopelessness would be too much for me to handle. I’d worry that the passion I had for the written word just wasn’t enough to get me anywhere and I’d ultimately see my love slowly die out. Funny thing was, it never did. Much to my surprise. Sure, I’d get discouraged, maybe even lose all hope of ever becoming a semi-decent writer, but I’d always bounce back, whether I wanted to or not.

Turns out, writing wasn’t just something I wanted to do; it was something I needed to do. All of my unfinished novels – skeletons of story ideas, really – haunted and ridiculed me and I’d often feel like it would be better if I just stopped trying and save myself the heartache. But I could never stay away for long. If I did, I’d feel this gnawing emptiness that would threaten to consume me. It’s sounds really dramatic but I’m completely sincere.

Now that I’ve finished the first draft of my novel – a 104k word unsightly beast with nothing but my love for its general idea going for it – I think it’s safe to say that I’m definitely not going to give up on this story. I’m not sure of its future just yet but I do know that I’m going to see to it that it’s going to be the best that it can be. I’ll keep on working on it and maybe, just maybe, it’ll see the light of day.

June Bullet Journal Theme: Filipino Food/Snacks

Admittedly, I shoehorned this section just because I felt like this update post would be a little too lean with just the one topic. But I did really enjoy setting up this month’s pages, more so than the previous months’. The theme that I chose also gives me an opportunity to talk about Filipino food that I love and that’s as good as an excuse as any.

Cover Spread

This is my June cover spread. Probably my favorite spread in my journal so far. Last month’s watercolor cover was a bit disappointing since I felt that the colors were too light and flat. But I guess I have only myself to blame for that since, with the journal’s thin pages, I was too afraid to put too much watercolor on the paper.

However, with this spread I sneakily took two pages from my unused Rhodia notebook and glued them on my journal. Rhodia’s paper is a bit thicker than my journal’s (Leuchtturm… don’t come for my basic ass pls) and it holds watercolor better so I was able to go all out without worrying about ruining the pages too much.

On the left is a cup of taho, a beloved early morning (or late afternoon) snack made from silken tofu, brown sugar syrup, and sago (tapioca pearls). On the right, the main cover, is a cup of sikwate (hot chocolate), suman (sticky rice cake), and a slice of mango – a classic breakfast spread. Well, actually, I don’t think ‘breakfast’ is the right word for it since we mostly call it painit which is basically like the snack you eat when you wake up before sunrise and need to warm up your body for the day. Not sure if there’s an English word for it.

Monthly Goals Spread

Next up is my monthly goals spread, adorned with my favorite afternoon snacks: kwek-kwek (quail eggs deep-fried in batter), tempura (a staple Filipino street food, not the Japanese dish), fish balls, kutsinta (steamed rice cake), and cassava cake.

Not gonna lie, as I was setting up this spread, I got really nostalgic for my university days, back when I had to stay in school late because of publication activities. My friends and I would only have to cross the road from the school gates to find a street food vendor. Good times.

Mood Tracker and Habit Tracker

I focused mostly on dessert food for my tracker spread because I felt that it’d be nice to use more colors. In my mood tracker, I drew puto cheese (rice cake topped with a slice of cheese… it works, trust me) for each day and will color them according to my mood for the day. Pink for great, lavender for good, light green for meh, and light yellow for bad. Not much variety, I know, but I’ve found that if I have more than four mood options I get confused and end up choosing the mid option. Four at least means that I have to be more decisive.

My habit tracker has probably the iconics in Filipino desserts: halo-halo and leche flan. I feel like I did the halo-halo a disservice by not including as many of its ingredients but… well… I just ran out of space.

Weekly To-do’s
Weekly Journal

Lastly here’s this week’s spreads. I’ve used some childhood faves for these pages and I’m rather glad with how they turned out. I used Stik-O for the to-do spread, and Curly Tops, Mik-Mik, and Potchi.

And that about wraps it up for my June pages. I was kind of hesitant to choose this theme because I don’t really draw or paint food that much. I find food tricky to draw because it’s just so easy to get them wrong, make them look like unappetising globs or whatever. But this theme challenged me to actually put more effort into it, even with my worries blaring inside my hide nonstop. I’m rather satisfied with the result.

2 thoughts on “Epistolary #7: A Completed First Draft and My June Bullet Journal Pages

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