Welcome! This page, and future monthly pages, are a mish-mash of original notes, some writing, some none-writing creations, and a number of vetted recommendations. Almost everything is tied, in some way to, creativity, comfort, community, and culture. These are the things I’m craving right now, so I’m using this space to share, to process, and to foster all of them for me and anyone else who’s interested. It’s certainly no coincidence that I’m launching this in the midst of Coronavirus’s reign, but I see long-term potential for this project too, so I hope you’ll stay tuned with me (and there’s a subscribe option at the very bottom of the page, if you’re inclined).
A dear friend recently asked how I’m able to write right now, and the answer isn’t as brilliant or brave as I wish it was; turns out, I’m in a horrible mood when I don’t write. So, to save my family from living with a miserable, walking storm cloud, I’ve been keeping at it. That’s it.
Currently, I’m putting most of my energy towards my next novel (!!!!), which is contemporary women’s fiction, with themes around family, loyalty, “boss babe” culture, and pyramid schemes. I call this my “next” novel because I do have a completed one currently out on submission, too (more on that another day).
This piece, I Ran a Backstreet Boys Website for Superfans, published a year ago this month on The Atlantic, and it’s been one of my favorite writing/publishing experiences to date. I will probably re-share it every May for years to come, and I may or may not include a Backstreet’s Back (all right) joke with future each post, SO BE WARNED.
I also started making cards again, with watercolors and a new splatter technique that delights young children and works best outside, away from furniture and walls.
Lastly for this section–I’m super thankful for podcasters in the publishing industry who are keeping up with the times–recent episodes from Print Run, The Manuscript Academy, First Draft with Sarah Enni, and Shipping & Handling are helping me feel calm and informed.
culture + commentary
Please, drop everything and watch Never Have I Ever on Netflix. It’s excellent and charming and funny and I wept during the season finale, and loved every second of it.
As always, The Ann Friedman Weekly newsletter brightens up my Friday. This endearing Kirkland, WA doctor who is offering regular insights on the pandemic breaks it down in helpful and informative ways. I also recommend the Seattle Times’ coronavirus coverage, it’s been my go-to for months though I live hundreds of miles away from Seattle.
With only a few spare hours in the week for entertainment, my instinct is to dig into shows and movies that I know will soothe or comfort or amuse me in some way (Midsommar was a mistake). I also tried a re-watch of Battlestar Galactica, one of my all-time favorite series, but I tapered off before the end of the first season because the characters deal with Too Much. But the aforementioned Never Have I Ever checked all the boxes that I needed it to, and The Bold Type was a nice and escape-y watch, too (although Ryan’s book trajectory was absolutely bonkers). And, now I’m revisiting Veep, and reminding myself that we live in a world with Julia Louis-Dreyfus so it can’t all be bad.
comfort + coziness
We’re manufacturing cheerful moods in my household (and by “we,” I definitely mean “me”) with lots of upbeat music and classic favorites. On recent rotations: Carly Rae Jepson’s album Emotion, Prince (Raspberry Beret and Little Red Corvette), and one of my favorite genres of all-time: earnest male-fronted 80s pop-rock including: Africa, King of Wishful Thinking (THAT VIDEO. omg), Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now, Take Me Home Tonight, and Boys of Summer (link to The Ataris video because I couldn’t pin down an official version of the original Don Henley track).
Other small things I’m cherishing as I do them? Setting the automatic timer on the coffee machine. Interrupting my spouse’s efficient app-based meal planning by pulling out old cookbooks. And preventing webinar burnout before it starts by just…scrolling by and not doing them. Also, thinking about indoor vs. outdoor sweats, and painted quarantine nails.
a [made-up] invitation I’d like to receive when this is all over
looking forward to
Is there anyone able to look beyond the next few weeks? In an alternate universe, I’m jazzed for election day in November.
However, in this universe, I’m mostly thinking about Curtis Sittenfeld’s May 19 release Rodham, which I’ve promised myself I will buy as a treat when I complete the manuscript I’m working on (as an incentive, but also as self-preservation because if I read Sittenfeld’s brilliance in the middle of drafting, I may never write again). And speaking of The Bold Type, Part 2 of season 4 is scheduled to start in June.
looking back on
Our wedding, which was in May 2010. In sickness, health, and…quarantine? Ugh, sorry. Forgive me for that one.
What else? Lots, actually…my previous Mother’s Days. My son’s May 2014 birth and all his subsequent birthdays. The North American premiere of my spouse’s first feature-length documentary Super Frenchie, which was in Santa Barbara in January of this year. It felt like we were at the beginning of something major–the film’s festival tour–but in actuality, everything fizzled only a few weeks later with the onset of COVID-19. This is a bleak reality that I know we’re all facing, but given that it was this was a major milestone for my spouse, and our first trip together since having kids 6 years ago, the roller coaster of emotion had a very defined starting point for us.
If you’re reading and thinking, hey Dena, I like this but I’ll never remember to check your website all that often, I have good news for you! I’ll be sending my This Month pages out on a–surprise!–monthly basis to those who are interested: