7 Lessons I Learned from 2017

2017 was quite a year. 7 Lessons I Learned from 2017

People say the years go by so fast, but 2017 was pretty slow for me. I can definitely say that 13-year-old me on January 1, 2017 is incredibly different from the 14-year-old me on December 31, 2017.

Reflecting on the past year, I’ve narrowed down the seven biggest lessons I’ve learned. I drafted this entire post in a half hour (which never happens, I go super slowly) and ended up writing a lot of personal stuff. Needless to say, a lot of editing was needed: I’ve been working on this post for almost a week. So, here’s what came out.

1. Having a Relationship with Jesus Goes Beyond Believing

I’ve grown up in church all my life. My family is Christian, the songs on the radio we hear are Christians, the kids shows we watched were Christian. I prayed the salvation prayer (I confess I’ve sinned, I believe Jesus died and resurrected, and surrender my life Him) when I was old enough to understand it. However, I never really felt close to God.

This year, something clicked. I went through pain that caused me to turn to God and I started to pray and ask God to guide me. Summer gave me more revelations, and one day I was sitting in service reflecting over the past and I was filled with joy. It was unexplainable, but it was the happiest I’ve ever been.

Since then, I’ve been working towards a better relationship with God — spending time with Him outside of church and letting Him guide my life — which has radically changed me.

2. People Actually Care

I’ve had bad experiences with people. I care about people and love too much and worry about others (though I’ll never tell you), but that never ends well. I guess I’ve always felt like the low-priority friend that you only talk to when there’s no one else.

Not always, but sometimes, there have been people that notice I’m alone. I remember last year I was telling my youth pastor in a lighthearted way that I generally I couldn’t think of anything good about myself. That’s a whole other story, but one of my friends overheard and after that went out of her way to compliment me and make me smile. I’m also used to being excluded from my group of friends, but one of my friends notices and she knows exactly what to say to make me feel okay again.

Of course, there’s a flip side to this — hurting people by avoiding them because you think they don’t like you — but I think that’s something I’ll talk more about in 2019. I’m still learning about that.

3. Learn as Much as Possible

There is so much out there that’s available to help you learn. The Internet is a great place to find resources for pretty much everything you can imagine (like music, writing, studying…). In the middle of the summer, I basically came to the realization my writing was terrible. Instead of quitting, I decided to learn as much as I could and not only did this help my writing, it made me more confident.

Seriously, the best thing you can do if you want to learn something is to go all out and soak in all the knowledge.

4. Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey

This is another writing-related lesson, but it applies to all areas of life as well. I’m hoping to expand on this more in the future, but I’ve had a problem with rushing myself. Gotta win NaNo. Gotta finish the book. Gotta get published before everyone else. Not only was this counterproductive, but it drained me and took all the fun out of my writing.

Slow down. Take your time while reading books ’cause you only can see them for the first time once. Don’t rush word counts and stats. Followers mean nothing in five years once the media platform crumbles. While traveling, don’t run around to see everything, chill where you’re at.

Life is a journey, and if I can’t see that, it’s not going to be a fun one.

5. If it Moves Too Fast, That’s a Warning Sign

Y’all, I’m fourteen and giving boy advice. But seriously, this was a tough thing for me recently. I won’t go into the whole story for the sake of privacy for everyone involved, but I’ve learned that things moving quickly with a guy might seem good at first, but in my experience, it’ll crash and burn.

Take it slow for now. Life is ahead of us.

6. There’s Nothing Wrong With Taking Care of Yourself

There’s a quote circling around the internet: “Isn’t it sad that it’s more socially acceptable to hate your body than to love it?”

Even when I was in good times and not completely hating myself, I was reluctant to take care of myself because “I didn’t deserve it” or “people are going to think I’m selfish” or “I’m going to get fat” — I don’t even remember what other excuses I had but I was reluctant and it’s harmful, but I’m getting better at it.

Not eating drains you of your energy, both physically and mentally. Not having enough water gives you headaches and is bad for your health. Bad hygiene makes you feel gross. Negative thoughts lead to self-harm and hatred. Not connecting with other people spikes loneliness. It’s a terrible cycle.

Take care of yourself, because I love you, because God loves you; because you love you (and I’m not talking about vanity and pride — I’m talking about respect for yourself and treating your body like a temple).
It’s such a hard concept, believing we’re loved. But we are, even if we don’t understand why.

7. Start Small

The best way to do things is to take them one piece at a time. Looking at writing an entire blog post is intimidating for me. However, creating an outline for a blog post is not. Then I move onto filling it out point by point, etc. This goes for bigger things too. Rome wasn’t built in a day, growth doesn’t come quickly.

This was a big year. I got braces, dyed and cut my hair, was in a choir or five, started this website, participated in Camp NaNo (twice!),  started 10th grade, took a photography class, and a lot more. I can’t wait to see what events and lessons 2018 has in store for me.

Speaking of 2018, I’ve created a short survey for what you guys want to see on S&S in 2018. It’ll only take a few minutes, so I’d love if you filled it out here!

What did you learn about life in 2017? What was your favorite part of the year? What are you most excited for in 2018?


Beautiful Books 2017

Hello, everyone! Since I don’t have access to devices this weekend, I thought I’d schedule a fun I hope post. I’m not doing NaNo this year, but I am outlining my WIP Legacy Unending, so I’m answering the first two rounds of questions.

beautiful books

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

About two years ago, I had a character named Kendall I used to roleplay. I went through a few novels trying to come up with a plot for her. Now she’s named Kamri and I’m SUPER. EXCITED. This idea is the one.

Describe what your novel is about!

Kamri Taylor tried to run away, but after failing discovered there’s a lot more to be found in her town than she once thought: the secrets of a dead girl, a lingering promise of hope, and maybe even the love of Jesus.

That’s my mini-blurb. It’s a work in progress.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!


violin / subway / run away / legacy 

These are a few of the images from my WIP Pinterest board. I have it set to private right now, but I might publicize it later. The sub-boards update has been really helpful for organizing book/character aesthetics.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Kamri Taylor, Collin LastNameToBeDetermined, Mason Garay, Araey Santarelli, Brynne Brandon, Tara Brittingham, and the very dead Madilyn Garay!

I don’t feel like describing them all. Oh well.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Right now, I’m working out the kinks in my outline and I’m about to buy Scrivener to organize it all. I have a lot of ideas: outline notes, setting pictures, face claim, character traits, research references, etc. I think it’s going to make for an amazing, stress-free first draft.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

KAMRI MY DARLING. I adore all my characters, especially when they get in fights. Seriously. Kamri and Araey fight, Kamri and Tara fight, Kamri and Mason fight, Mason and Collin fight… it’s dramatic and full of conflict. I love it.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

1. Small town California.

2. It’s varied – there are sections of town that are falling apart, and there are sections where rich and famous people live. That also creates a lot of conflict between my characters.

3. There are actually two small towns. I lied. In that other small town is a cafe run by my precious Kaelin from another novel that’s on hold right now. I couldn’t resist.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Kamri’s main goal that drives the inner and outer conflict is to be someone worthy of love. Since that’s so subjective, she fails repeatedly and makes things worse for herself.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

At the end of the novel, she’s learned a lot. How to keep a friendship, everyone has secrets, that God exists, and that He loves who she is. My novel is very introspective on life.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Worth, love, family, friendship. I want readers to be in awe and think it was beautiful, and I hope they’ll view life a bit differently, as novels tend to make you do. It’s ambitious, I know, but I’ve never gotten anywhere without a dose of ambition.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I know why I’m leaving, but I don’t know where I’m going.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Kamri! Can’t you tell? 😉

What do you love about your novel so far?

EVERYTHING. Especially the fighting, if I haven’t mentioned that already, along with constantly making my characters’  lives miserable.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

For this novel, I think the middle is going to be my favorite. It has love, drama, embarrassment, fighting, and a lot of music.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

For some things, I keep totally private. I believe only one person has ever read a full novel of mine. It does motivate me to share ideas, though.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Absolutely falling in love with my story. Sometimes doing anything is hard, but when my writing excites me it’s all the easier.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1. Write all the words you have in you.

2. Read all the books you can.

3. Learn everything you can.

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post about me rambling over my novel! What about you guys? SHARE WITH ME ALL THE FACTS ABOUT YOUR WRITINGS. I adore hearing about other people’s novels. Answer any of the questions up there, send snippets, share your word count, or let your characters get into fights. Whatever tickles your fancy.