Living in the middle: cyclothymia and demisexuality

tw// suicide, sex

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Dear readers,

I have no idea where I am going with this. I am just writing everything down as it comes through my brain, as if it could somehow help me ease the whole thing. I do have a lot to say today, but don’t know how to say it. So let’s start quickly and talk about what really bothers me: how I always lived in the middle, in this weird and forgotten part of everything.

It’s funny to see how all my life, I have been feeling left out. I always had two friends and both of them always left me in the end. I never knew what I liked growing up, if I was more a flower dress girl or a black jeans ripped one, if I was someone who was pessimistic or more optimistic. And it was even more weird how all my feelings didn’t work out with everything else: I never felt attracted to anyone and my emotions were a wreck, but not enough to be something very serious (well, that’s what they said).

I grew up angry, lonely. I had no idea who I was, to whom I was attracted, what I liked, how I felt. Nothing ever made sense, and feeling all of this while being a teenager is even worse: it’s the perfect time for your brain to decide that you are everything and nothing at all. Thanks a lot, adolescence.

The therapists weren’t helping either. They were talking a lot about depression, bipolar disorders and many other things that I understood but couldn’t feel. It wasn’t it. It never was. So why on earth was nobody getting me?

After I tried to kill myself, a psychologist finally understood what I was suffering from: cyclothymia. I remember smiling a bit because for once, it felt right. That was it. That was me.

What Wikipedia says about it:

Cyclothymia (/ˌsklˈθmiə/), also called cyclothymic disorder, is a type of chronic mood disorder widely considered to be a more chronic but milder or subthreshold form of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia is characterized by numerous mood swings, with periods of hypomanic symptoms that do not meet criteria for a manic episode, alternating with periods of mild or moderate symptoms of depression that do not meet criteria for a major depressive episode.

An individual with cyclothymia may feel stable at a baseline level but experience a noticeable shift to an emotional high during subthreshold hypomanic episodes of elation or euphoria, with symptoms similar to those of mania but less severe, and often cycle to emotional lows with moderate depressive symptoms. To meet the diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia, a person must experience this alternating pattern of emotional highs and lows for a period of at least two years with no more than two consecutive symptom-free months.

However, as I was happy with this diagnostic, I realised that people around me didn’t understand it. As I explain what it is, most people always answer, “yeah, so you have mood swings like every one”. Suddenly, I was back in the middle: I wasn’t too depressed to be bipolar and I wasn’t too well to not suffer from a mental illness. And that’s what people don’t understand.

The same thing happened when it came to my sexuality. As I grew up, I asked myself many questions: was I straight? gay? bi? asexual? Nothing felt right. I always crushed on boys but never was attracted to them, but I felt even less for girls. So what was I? Why was I so disguted by sex everytime? I am going to be honest here: I tried to watch porn and it only made me throw up. Why was I like this?

One day, a friend told me about demisexuality and again, it made sense. That was me.

What the Internet says about it:

A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It's more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. The term demisexual comes from the orientation being "halfway between" sexual and asexual. Nevertheless, this term does not mean that demisexuals have an incomplete or half-sexuality, nor does it mean that sexual attraction without emotional connection is required for a complete sexuality. In general, demisexuals are not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender; however, when a demisexual is emotionally connected to someone else (whether the feelings are romantic love or deep friendship), the demisexual experiences sexual attraction and desire, but only towards the specific partner or partners.

When describing demisexuality as an orientation to sexuals, sexuals often mistake it as an admirable choice rather than an innate orientation. Demisexuals are not choosing to abstain; they simply lack sexual attraction until a close relationship is formed.

And as many of my friends understood, a lot of other people didn’t. “So… you’re just normal? Not having sex before knowing the person is pretty normal,” they say, seeing how hurt I was nonetheless.

Once, I posted a picture of myself during the demisexuality day for the month of sexualities and a girl attacked me, saying I wasnt part of the LGBTQIA+ community (I don’t feel like I belong in this community, since I’m still somehow attracted only to boys) but I wasn’t even trying to do so. It was just our day, and so I explained it to her and she answered, “stop trying to get attention for not fucking with everyone”. It made me cry for an hour, and some more.

Because it’s not as if it was a choice, as if I wanted to not have sex with anyone. It’s just that I can’t feel this attraction. I shared my first kiss with a boy I liked nothing about, hoping it’ll get better once we’d kissed, but it didn’t. I threw up a bit after and got bored throughout the whole kiss. It was awful and I didn’t ask to be like that. Once again, I wasn’t too attracted to be able to be like non-asexual people but not too much asexual to be one too. I was stuck in the middle, forever stuck in this area which no one seemed to understand.

I’m going to be honest: living in the middle is very frustrating. I stopped talking about demisexuality online and to people, promising myself to only talk about it to my close friends and future lover, and don’t bring the world cyclothymia a lot either, unless I know it’s safe for me to do so (the Internet is safe for that). And you know what? It sucks. It sucks that I can’t be proud of who I am and talk about what I feel because people out there don’t understand what I am going through. I am not asking for pity or else, just for people to recognised it, my sexuality and mental illness. I just want to be seen for who I am.

I’m not saying I’m miserable or anything. Many people live worse, I really know that, especially for the sexuality part.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, even though I wished I could talk about it freely, I still am okay today. I know I love flower dresses and black ripped jeans, musicals and metal music. I know why I am not attracted to people and why my brain is acting weird most of the times.

I know how hard it is to not know who we are (and you don’t have to be cyclothymic or demisexual to live it) but I promise: you’re getting there. Growing up is like meeting a new person and discovering every little things that make them. You’ll be amazed by some of it (I actually am a very serious person) and sometimes pissed off by some parts (I also am very impatient and can be pretty selfish), but it’ll feel okay. You’ll fall in love with yourself somehow, and that’s an amazing feeling.

I still have a lot of things to learn about myself, but you know what? I’m proud of who I am and I love myself for who I really am, a person forever but happily stuck in the middle.

Love always,

Clara

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Q&A | 2017 edition

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Dear readers,

A few weeks ago, I asked people on my Instagram account if they had any questions for me and I decided to make a blog post of it. I did a few Q&A over the months on Instagram but of course, since it was in my story, it didn’t stay longer than 24 hours – here people will be able to get to know me a little bit better whenever they want (well, if that can interrest them). I divided the Q&A in a few categories to make it more clear, so let’s do it!


ABOUT MY READING
  • What are some of your favourite books, aside from Lady Midnight?

My two other favourite books are The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky because it brought me a lot when I was younger and Dracula by Bram Stoker, even though I don’t know why. There’s also Illusions Perdues by Honoré de Balzac, and I also don’t know why. It’s just an important book to me.

  • Why do you love reading so much?

Ah, the question.

Honestly, as cliché as it may sound, books have always been here for me. I do not come from a readers family so my parents couldn’t understand why I wanted to buy new books every week, but I still loved it and it made me feel good everytime. Books were also with me when I woke up from the coma, when I broke my arm, when I tried to (tw// suicide) kill myself. They allowed me to escape the real world before becoming a simple source of joy. Books make me dream, laugh, cry, love. They taught me a lot, they made me a better person, they made me who I am. Honestly, I wouldn’t be much if I didn’t have them.

I guess that’s why I love reading.

  • Why do you read in English?

As I speak English and want to live in the UK, I didn’t see how it was relevant to read a translation when I could just read the original text! It also helps me to improve my English, of course, and English books are way cheaper than French ones (that’s the real reason).

  • What is your favourite quote?

By far, my favourite quote is “We live and breathe words.” by Cassandra Clare. It means a lot to me and I would have wanted it as a tattoo (but I can’t due to medical reasons).

  • Do you prefer Julian Blackthorn or Emma Carstairs?

This is a very hard question, as I love them both for very different reasons.

I love Emma because she looks like me but still is very different. We both are blonde, have a scar on our arm, are bad at relationships and will kill anyone that come closer to the Blackthorns. But Emma is so much stronger, nicer and smarter than I am, and she inspires me every day to be better.

As for Julian, I obviously love him a lot but we do are very similar. Many people see him as demisexual, which I am, and reading about his feelings made me feel better about myself. He also is very protective when it comes to the people he loves, and some people see it as a scary thing, but I totally understand. He also is a very passionate person, which I am too..

Julian makes me feel okay about myself when Emma inspires me to be even better. I honestly can’t choose between the both of them, as they both are a part of who I am.

  • Do you prefer Will Herondale or Jem Carstairs?

Why choose, to be honest?

If I have to, I would go with Jem Carstairs. I loved him way better than Will in the first book and even though I then learned to love them both equally, Jem has always been this pure and nice man who earned my respect and admiration.

  • Who is your favourite couple in the Shadowhunter world?
SPOILERS // DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED READING THE SHADOWHUNTER CHRONICLES SERIES

I have many favourites. I love Simon and Izzy as they do not have as much problems as the others and are absolutely adorable. I love Julian and Emma, of course, but I also have a thing for Gideon and Sophie. I think we often forget about them but they are such a strong, healthy and adorable couple. Their love and respect for each other is so beautiful.

  • What do you do when you just don’t feel like reading or are in a reading slump?

If I don’t feel like reading, I do not force myself. There’s no need to do so and I have so many other things to do that it’s okay if I don’t read one day in my life. However, if I am facing a reading slump, I try new books or simply let myself the time that I need to feel the envy to read again. I’ll try to write a blog post about it, as I just got out of a reading slump.

  • If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

That’s an easy question: the answer is my favourite book, Lady Midnight. I already re-read it four times and I am still not bored. I see new things every time and it still amazes me. I’m sure that I can still re-read it and still fell in love with it over and over again.

  • Is there a book series that you have not read because you’re waiting the series to end?

I never wait for a series to end. I never understood this concept: if you forbid yourself to read a series to wait for the end, you are still waiting for the end – so why not read the books in between? (I’m also very impatient, so.)

  • Of which book’s group of friends would you like to belong to?

There’s so many amazing group of friends in literature that it makes me it so hard to choose. I guess I would have to stay away from all the very badass gangs, such as the Six of Crows or the Heroes of the Olympus – I would have trouble breathing after running for five minutes and would probably die. Though, if I had to be in a group of friends from a fantasy book, I would make my own in the Harry Potter world. I think I would love to hang out with Lily Evans and talk badly about James and his crew. I would love to be part of the new generation as well and be friends with James and Scorpius. Or even be friends with Ginny in the original generation and make our own gang!

But if I don’t want to be too left out (and die from a jogging), I would love to be friends with Cath and Levi in Fangirl. We would hang out at Starbucks, talking about books and movies and tv shows and music – basically what I already do with my friends. It’ll be the same if I hang out with the gang from Queens of Geek. I just need geeky friends, like I already do (but Hogwarts would be cool too).

ABOUT ME
  • What kind of music do you like?

My tastes in music seem weird to people, but oh well. I mostly listen to rock music, metal, classical music and musicals.

  • What/Who is your inspiration?

I tend to find inspiration in everything and everyone. Many of my friends are my inspiration for example, or just some random people I follow on Twitter of else. As for the celebrities and characters, I have many: Emma Watson, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emma Carstairs are some of them.

  • Which languages do you speak?

I speak French and English fluently (I hope so), and know some Spanish.

  • Are you interested in history or philosophy?

Of course! Those were two of my favourite classes in high school and I miss it very much, especially the history one.

  • What do you love most about France and what places would you suggest to go?

I love France because, no matter what we keep saying, we are incredibly lucky to live here. School is free, medication too. There are problems, that’s for sure, and nothing is perfect but we still have big privileges. Plus, I adore our culture, our history, our literature, our language – well, mostly everything.

As for the cities to visit, I haven’t travelled a lot in France but I love le Mont Saint Michel in Britanny, Deauville and Honfleur, Calais can be nice too and Toulouse as well. I never been to Bordeaux nor Lyon but it seems to be incredible! I also love Angers and many cities with a castle, such as Chambord and Versailles. Of course, I recommend the island Corsica which is where my family is from, but Paris truly has my heart.

  • What is one country you’ve never been to that you would like to visit?

Right now, I’m thinking of Russia! I’ve always been attracted to it and I hope that someday I’ll be able to visit it.

  • What is your favourite thing about autumn?

Many, many things.

I have never loved the heat (and am now even allergic to it somehow), even though my entire family comes from very hot countries. Autumn means the cold weather coming back, as well as the rain, which is then very important to me. Also, this kind of weather relaxes me a lot and allows me to be more productive, as I feel more at peace. Plus, all the colours are simply gorgeous and you can wear again sweaters, scarfs and all! I love clothes but it’s hard to wear something nice during Summer, especially when you hate your body.

  • What are your tips for leaning other languages, to help separate them and become fluent?

Well, here’s another blog post I could write!

I personally spoke English way better when I started to talk only in that language. I started to listen to radio in English, watched television and tv shows in English (first with French subtitles then English ones), read in English and mostly talked/wrote in English. That’s why my account is in English; it allows me to practice all the time. That is also why I only speak in English on Twitter and on my Instagram account – you have no idea how much I improved since I started doing so a year ago.

ABOUT MY STUDIES AND JOB
  • Do you have a job at the moment? If yes, how do you keep your life organised/balanced to have the time to study, read, see your friends?

I do have a job! I think it’s important for me to explain you all why I have a job while still being at uni. My master’s degree is a professional one and we are studying “en alternance“, which means that we have to alternate between our studies and our job. Our formation is then very complete, as we are studying in class but also in real life in real situations. With my university, we have to go to work every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and to school every Thursday and Friday. If we have vacations with university, we go to work. At our job, we are also treated like every employee: we have a pay check and we can take vacations. Going to our classes is part of our job, so we can’t miss school, and we have to get good grades for it.

That being said, you already know a bit more about my job and studies! As for my organisation, I mostly read in the subway while going to work/uni and sometimes before bed. I also take at least an hour every night to either study (and I can take more than an hour if I need to) or read, write etc (truth be told, I don’t study a lot but I still have great grades so it’s okay). When it comes to my friends, I see some of them quickly during the week. My best friend come pick me up at work every Monday and we go pick up another friend at her university after that, another friend come to my lunch break every Wednesday as well. Then, I see them during the weekend if I feel like going out. They always come with me during my photoshoots, which I plan on Sundays usually, so it’s another time we can spend together.

Basically, my whole life is on a planner and everything is planned months in advance but I’m also always doing multiple things at once. Thats’s my secret.

  • What is it like working as a publisher/for a publishing company?

At first it was very intimidating, then I understood that I knew things and was good at my job so I stopped worrying too much. Right now, I love working in the publishing world and I feel as if I fit in. It sure is hard but also very rewarding. I adore knowing everything in advance and working on projects and everything.

  • What are you studying and to what school are you going?

I studied literature for three years at La Sorbonne before starting a master’s degree in publishing and communication in Paris too. I’m at my last year and should graduate at the end of 2018.

  • Do you have any tips for people looking for an internship in a publishing house?

The only tip I have is to dare send your resume’s everywhere and to sell yourself. Show what you can do, make them know, send tons of emails. Plus, use your blog/Instagram/YouTube to your advantage. There’s no real tips, unfortunately, or we’d all have our dream job but dare to try.

  • Could you give specific examples of what you’re asked to do at your job?

As an apprentice publisher, I handle the manuscripts department and also work with the two other publishers. I basically read manuscripts, decide if we should publish them or not, write a note for every one of them, send them back, answer the phone to talk with the authors, answer to emails etc. I also present some manuscripts to my superiors. When it comes to my work with the publisher, I correct the text and make sure after that that every corrections have been included. I also can help to write a blurb and all, correct it etc.

  • What do you plan to do in the future?

I want to work in a publishing house, that’s for sure, but in the UK (or any other English speaking country, if I can’t go to the UK) and at the communication department. Being a community manager would be my dream.

  • Do you have a routine for schoolwork or a certain way to keep it organised or motivate yourself to get it done?

As I said earlier, I study every week night at least one hour, depending on what I have to do (but as I also said, I’m not one who study a lot, we all have our own pace). I have a planner and all to be organised. (I used to be in the studyblr community and it helped a lot). As for the motivation, this gif actually inspires me a lot (which is very dumb but it works for me):

It made me realised how I can watch Netflix or read when I’ll be done with everything and use this time to actually be productive and make the best out of it. Now’s the time to proove that you can do it.

It’s the very little things that keep you motivated, so print your favourite quote, play your studying playlist, watch a studying video… anything! as long as it keeps you going.

ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
  • How do you deal with your mental health issues and/or anxiety when you are trying to read or have to work?

Reading is easy: it actually calms me down. It’s work that is way more difficult to deal with. How many times have I had to run to the toilets because I was having a panic attack? How many times a situation made me cry and I had to hide it? How many morning did I have to convince myself to go to work in the morning and not let myself rots in my bed?

I think that doing something I love helps a lot, even though there was a time when I had problems there and it was even harder. What I try to do now is to have a quick solution to stop feeling the anxiety or else when it happens, so I can calm down a bit and wait to be home to deal with it properly: I can send a text to my friends, watch a small video of Tom Holland (which always works) or simply take a 5min break to walk in the corridors, get a coffee and stuff. It is hard, I admit it, but I will never let my mental health makes my superiors think I can’t do the job right. It happened before and it broke me to see how little people thought of me because of it.

ABOUT INSTAGRAM
  • I think interaction is one of the most important thing on bookstagram, so how do you manage to mantain your interactions? I only have 2k and I’m already quite overwhelmed. I don’t know how you can handle it. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, how do you keep up with conversations from your fellow bookstagrammers?

Comments are hard for me to answer. I am blessed to have many people answering to my posts and even though I wish I could take the time to answer to everyone, I never do. I do not have any excuses though, I’m just not good at it and my anxiety doesn’t let me answering to people. Everytime I see that I have a comment I can feel my heart aches. It’s as if people were waiting for me and I couldn’t reach them.

So this is why messages are important to me, as I answer to all of them. Sometimes I receive a lot of them (as I said, people tend to answer to my posts and my stories quite a lot, which I feel very lucky about) but I always do my best to answer to everyone. It may take me a day or two when I have to think of a good answer but I never let a message unread or unanswered.

Now, if you’re talking about creating and mantaining this link between you and the person, I highly recommend you to answer to people’s stories (and posts, of course). I am so glad we have this feature as it allows us to know a bit more about the bookstagrammer and to be able to talk about it. Plus, as people upload their stories daily, you always have new things to say!


So… here it is! To you who read it all, well congrats, you now know a lot about me!

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Pick some of the questions and answer them in the comments! I would love to know you all better!

Love always,

Clara

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Bookstagram, part II: Editing and creating a theme

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Dear readers,

Before starting, I wanted to thank you all for your words on the first part of this guide. It means a lot to me to see that my advice can help some of you or made you want to join this beautiful community.

For this second part, I will focus on editing and planning your theme. I will start with some general advice, then will move on to how I edit my pictures then will talk about mantaining a feed.

Quick reminder that you can do whatever you want with your account.  Having a theme isn’t something you have to do – the only thing you should do is be proud of your work and loving what you are posting. Those are only tips and explanation on how I work. I am no professional and I do not know everything.


SOME TIPS
  • Use natural light

That’s the big advice: Use natural light – it will make your pictures way more beautiful, they won’t be blurry and you will edit them quicker.  Unless you have a camera and can take beautiful shots in the dark, taking your pictures during day time when the light is great will really help you. This also means that you have to organise yourself to take pictures when the sun comes out (I usually take my pictures on the weekend so I can wait for the perfect moment).

  • Do not force colours on your theme

With Autumn coming, that’s a thing I saw a lot on Instagram. Many accounts used orange filters to make their pictures look more autumnal but sometimes it just didn’t work out. Instead of “forcing” your pictures to look a certain way so it can go with your feed, find those colours out there. Add some props, go outside. If you want an autumnal thing for example, take pictures outisde with all the dead leaves or use things that remind people of the season. Use natural colours and your pictures will already look more beautiful.

  • No need to have a camera

As I already said, you do not need to have a camera. I have been using my phone since I started and never had problems with it. The quality was good enough and I have been able to edit my pictures for free. A camera won’t necessarily help you make more beautiful pictures.

  • Try new things

If you are lacking of inspiration, or even if you are not, try new things. That way you will improve. I used to take only pictures inside, so I went outside. I then only took pictures at the same place in the same way, so I changed once again. Do not be afraid to try new things and experience: new angles, new props, new places etc. That’s how you’ll grow.

  • Have your own identity

The best compliment I ever received was when someone told me that a picture reminded them of my work. I love it when you know who took the picture just by looking at it, and that’s what you should keep in mind. Find something that makes you.

HOW I EDIT MY PICTURES
  • My photoshoots

I know that it doesn’t go with the editing part but I thought it made sense to explain to you all how I organise myself to make enough pictures while still having my jobs, studies and a social life.

I tend to plan a new outdoors photoshoot every two weeks. I go with my other bookstagram friends because it is always fun. We also use this time to go to exhibitions or discover new places in Paris. I use one day of the weekend for this and I stay home the other day to take pictures in my room as well. I always take a lot of pictures so I can always have some. To this day, I can post without taking new pictures for two months – some of them are very similar so it won’t be interesting but I still do have a lot of pictures.

If I am home early on another day (which barely happens), I try to take new pictures as well. I do not miss a chance when the sun is still out.

  • VSCOcam

It is important to know that I don’t do that on every pictures. I can sometimes play with the lightning or saturation more to make them all look good together – it all depends of the picture. What I will present you today is what I usually do and what usually works.

VSCOcam is a free application available on Apple and Android.

I first upload all my new pictures on the application so I can have them all and start working on them. I open the first one and apply the A6 filter – I used to not use filters for a while but this one doesn’t change much and only gives more contrast to the picture.

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I then move to the parameters and goes first on the exposure. It depends on every picture but I change it a bit to make it more clear. I then play with the contrast which I move sometimes a lot. I need the objects to pop out of the screen. I can also crop my pictures if I don’t like the original setting.

Then I work with the colours and start with the saturation. I take it down a lot so it isn’t as colourful as it used to be. My feed is mostly white and I want the background to be as white as possible. I also turn down the temperature a little so it gives it this cold vibe and erase all the yellow/orange parts. I work on the skin tone and turn it down to add just a little bit of colour.

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I can then go back to the exposure and contrast to correct it, as I did for this one because I wasn’t happy with how the book looked like.

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And voilà!

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Most of the time I am done here. However, when pictures are too hard to edit I switch to Snapseed to correct some colours there.

  • Snapseed
Snapseed is a free application available on Apple and Android.

As I said, I can turn to Snapseed when I need to make the background of my pictures more white.

All I do is edit my picture entirely to make the background looks like I want, even if it touches everything else. Then, I click on the arrow at the top and on “View edits“. From there, I click on “Tune Image” and then on the little square with the brush icon. Now I can only draw on the background to apply the previous editing: this way, only parts I touched will be edited as I did earlier.

I also use Snapseed to add my name on my pictures and blur them to put it on my Instagram story when I tell my followers that I posted.

To add my name, all I do is go to “Tools” then to “Text“. It’s as simple as that.

To make my picture blurry, I click on “Lens blur” in “Tools” again and turn down the “Vignette strength” to 0 before playing with the “Blur strength” until I’m happy with it.

CREATING AND MANTAINING A FEED
  • Try and plan it

The most important tip I can give you to make sure your feed won’t become messy is to plan it.

The first thing you need to do is to imagine it. Think of the colours you want your theme to have, the pictures that have inspired you for this. You can make yourself a collage of all those things to have a mood board of how your theme is supposed to look like.

Then, you need to start taking picture. Do not take them all the same day: they will all look alike since they’ll be taken under the same lightning, but you actually have to understand how to create an harmony by yourself. Many people change their feeds after having another photoshoot, but you shouldn’t have to do that. Plan several photoshoots and try to stick to your mood board.

When you have all of your pictures, or at least enough material to start working on them, you have to really plan your feed. I use the app Preview which is free to do so. All you have to do is to upload your pictures on the application and then play with them until you find the perfect combination. That way you will be sure your pictures look great together without being afraid of ruining your feed. I usually schedule every pictures for the week, so I’m sure my theme will stay the same.

  • Move and use different props

Many people take their pictures with the same setting and at the same place, and it’s okay. That is something that I used to do as well. However, I realised that most of the biggest bookstagram accounts didn’t work like that.

I know that it’s easier to maintain a feed when all your pictures have the same setting. But trust me, your theme will be more striking if you take your pictures with different angles and in different places. Try flat lays, go outside and take pictures of your book in a tree, put it on your bedside table, take a selfie with it etc. Your feed will instantly become more interesting to look at because everything will be new.

  • Do not be afraid to post non-bookish pictures

Ah, here we go. How many times have I seen people being afraid of posting non-bookish pictures and asking for permission? Well let me tell you: It’s your account and you can do whatever you want. Sure, if you are a bookstagram account, you are meant to talk about books but you can also post landscapes, outfits or anything else that makes you happy. Plus, having different kind of pictures will make your feed look way more beautiful and personal! It’ll be all diverse and it will look amazing. So dare present other things to your followers and show them your photography skills! Do not be scared to be yourself on Instagram: We want to know what you like besides of literature!



I hope that those tips will help you!

Again, it is important to know that you can do whatever you want with your account. There’s no better way to run a bookstagram; we all do as we can and all improve through time. As long as YOU are happy with yours and are loving how your account looks like, then it’s perfect! This article is mostly to explain how I work, since many people asked me how I edit my pictures over the months.

Do you like having a feed? Does that make you follow an account quicker than if it didn’t have one? What are some of your favourite themes?

Love always,

Clara

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November wrap-up, favourites and other

Wanderlust GIFT IDEAS

Dear readers,

November came and left so quickly. I still cannot believe that we are now at the last month of 2017 and it both amazes and scares me. The year went by way too fast and even though I know I did a million of things I still can’t quite believe that 2017 is coming to an end.

This month has been weird for me; it was both good and not good. Things happened, my mental health and health have been not so kind on me and I had to say goodbye to many people to be able to breathe again. I am proud, however, to see that I actually fought everyday to get better and dared cut off toxic people of my life.


READING WRAP-UP

As I was disappointed with myself in October, it was really important for me to read more this month. I am really happy to see that I actually did read more! After only one week in November, I had already read 5 books. A little slump came by at the end because I was sick but I still managed to read 20 books.

Here’s what I read during November:

  • Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, 4/5 stars
  • Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 4/5 stars
  • Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 3/5 stars
  • Le bonheur n’a pas de rides by Anne-Gaëlle Huon, 2/5 stars
  • Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 4/5 stars
  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, 5/5 stars
  • Bring Minds Empty Souls by Jennae Cecelia, 3/5 stars
  • This Monstrous Thing by Makenzie Lee, 5/5 stars
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, 4/5 stars
  • Without Merit by Colleen Hoover, 1/5 stars
  • One by Sarah Crossan, 5/5 stars
  • Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armetrout and others, 4.5/5 stars (ARC)
  • The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, 5/5 stars
  • En équilibre by Anne Plichota and Cendrine Wolf, 3/5 stars
  • The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Cassandra Clare and Cassandra Jean, 3/5 stars
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell, 4/5 stars
  • The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic, 2/5 stars
  • The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 4/5 stars
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J.K. Rowling, 5/5 stars (re-read)
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, 5/5 stars

Because I read that much, I have two favourite reads for November. The first one is This Monstrous Thing. This book has been given to me by one of my best friends for my birthday and she really knows me well: I fell in love with the story as soon as I started it. If I was a bit disappointed by The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by the same author, this one completely took my breath away.

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taken by me for thebookwormofnotredame (Instagram)

My second favourite is The Return of the Native, even though I shouldn’t be surprised; Thomas Hardy definitely is one of my favourite authors. I’m always scared he will disappoints me and even though Two on a Tower wasn’t his best novel, he never really let me down and The Return of the Native prooves it once more. It was simply incredible and I cannot recommend it enough.

FAVOURITES
  • Brooklyn 99

Another month, another TV show. It seems to be how I function.

I started Brooklyn 99 two years ago. My best friend has been talking about it a lot and since it was on Netflix, I decided to start watching it. For some reasons, I only watched one season. It wasn’t because I wasn’t liking it, as I already was obsesseed, but I wasn’t in the mood for TV shows at this time and starting another one was a bad idea. However, I needed one this month and I watched the last four seasons in four weeks… Oops?

I cannot properly express how Brooklyn 99 is a comedy masterpiece. Not only is it funny and brilliant (and it keeps getting better), but the cast is also very diverse and it feels real. The Captain of the police team is a black gay man, and this should be enough to explain how this TV show is killing it. Also, it portrays very healthy relationships which taught me a lot. Seeing a man saying to his girlfriend that she shouldn’t be afraid to be successful and that he always knew she would be his boss someday made me feel good. This is how life and love is supposed to be. Finally, I wanted to talk about women: there are three important women in this show and they are all different but also all strong in their own way. The three of them quickly became an all-day inspiration and they made do better during November.

  • Spider-Man Homecoming DVD

my friends reading this article: *pretends to be chocked*

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When it first came out in French theaters, I saw it six times. Yes, six times. I apologise to my best friend who had to come with me every single time. Anyway, it was obvious that I was going to buy it as soon as it came out in DVD. To this day, I already watched it three more times and I am still not bored. This movie, and especially Tom, have some weird powers on me and make me feel good, so I’ll keep watching it again and again.

  • Staying at home

This may sounds weird, but it really is one of my favourites for November.

I am a very busy person and me staying at home during the weekend doesn’t happen a lot, and if it does it’s only for a day. However, this month I actually stayed home an entire weekend and didn’t have to go out. It made me feel so good and I will definitely take the time to do so every once in a month, since it really helped my anxiety and stress level.

  • My book

Another weird one, I guess.

November means Nanowrimo, which means that I had the perfect motivation to work more than ever on my novel. Even though I didn’t complete Nanowrimo, I still wrote 25.000 words in a month which is incredible for me, as I haven’t wrote that much in years. The story is finally coming together and I had so much fun writing this month. Some characters surprised me, I even surprised myself but I actually am really working on it and I am so proud.

  • The Greatest Show

I never listen to soundtracks before seeing the movie but you can’t sell me one with Zendaya, Zac Effron and Hugh Jackman without expecting me to listen to it. To this day, only three songs are out but I already listened to it on repeat for several days. Now I really need the movie.

  • Avengers: Infinity war trailer

It happened. It is here. We FINALLY have it and it is epic.

I am so excited to watch it. As a huge fan of Marvel for years, I have been waiting for this for so long. Plus, seeing Tom Holland on screen again got me very excited. I am both ready and scared for this movie, as we all know not everyone will come it out alive.

  • Love, Simon trailer

As I discovered Becky Albertalli’s books this year, I have been waiting for this trailer as soon as the movie was announced and I can say that it didn’t disappointed me. I was confident, since everything they shared on their official Twitter and Instagram seemed already amazing, but the trailer was so much more. As someone said on Twitter, this movie seems to have the same cheesy music and all as straight love stories and it feels good. I am not part of the LGBTQIA+ community but seeing a gay love story on screen being treated completly normally gives me hope for our future.

  • Le Salon du Livre et Presse Jeunesse de Montreuil
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me with four copies of the French edition of Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

This weekend, I went to the bookfair we have all been waiting for in France. It basically is a bookfair about young adult and middle grade literature, and basically every books that are meant for children and teenagers. I met so many authors, so many people as well (again, thank you to everyone who recognised me, hugged me, asked for a picture, and more) and enjoyed every seconds with my friends. Our next big book fair in France will be in four months and I just can’t wait.

MY GOALS FOR DECEMBER
  • Keep working on my novel

Well, that seems to be a goal for every month but I am happy to see that I kept achieving it so it must work. I first wanted to finish this draft completly but realised that it was unrealistic. I don’t wan to pressure myself on this, so I’ll take all the time I need but keep working on it as much as I can.

  • Make everything Christmassy

As I already said a billion time, I didn’t have the chance to enjoy Christmas properly last year so that is why it is one of my main goals. I want to make my bedroom looks Christmassy, do Christmas things, give presents to my friends and more. December will be full of Christmas songs and hot cocoa.

  • Go to Disneyland with my best friends

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It isn’t really a goal since we alreayd agreed on buying our tickets this week but it still is something I am looking forward. I always loved Disneyland during Christmas but going with my friends there will be a first. I can’t wait to finally go with all of them and enjoy the magic of this place.


I apologise for the lenght of this article but somehow, November has been a crazy month filled with new adventures, books and more. I am proud of everything I achieved during it and can’t wait to properly enjoy the end of the year now.

I wish you all to have a beautiful month and to keep being your amazing selves.

Love always,

Clara

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Read with me for 24 hours!

Dear readers,

As I was watching booktube videos last night, I realised how much I wanted to start my own 24 hours readathon. It is something that I have already done once and absolutely loved it, and I want to give it a try once again. Since I am staying at home this weekend, I thought it would the perfect occasion to do one.

So let me introduce you to the Readathon of Notre-Dame!

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What is a 24 hours readathon?

A readathon is a time during which you have to read the most you can. When it is set for 24 hours, it means that you have to read the entire day. Of course, you can still sleep, eat and do anything else you want to. I will personally sleep during it. The only goal is to read the most.

When will it take place?

This readathon will take place on Saturday the 25th of November. It will start at 12 AM and will finish at 12 AM on the next day. You can start whenever it’s midnight where you live!

What do I have to read?

During this marathon, you can read anything: comics, graphic novels, non-fiction etc. You can read several short books or a big one. You can read 100 pages like you can read 2000 pages. As long as you pick up a book this day, you succeed!

Where can I talk about it?

Anywhere! I will probably do a blog post once I’ll be done with it about my experience but am also considering vlogging the whole thing to put it on YouTube. Of course, you’ll know everything about my reading on my Instagram stories and even Twitter. So feel free to talk about the readathon wherever you like and to even film yourself!

If you want me to create a hashtag for it, tell me! That way we will find everyone posts under it.

Is it all?

If many people are following me on this, I would like to introduce some games in it. For example, based on BookTube-A-Thon, I can announce a sprint during which we’ll have to read the most we can in a short period of time.


Now that you know everything about it, you can join us and have fun during those 24 hours of reading! Be sure to tell me if you are participating and on which social media you will share your experience!

Are you in?

Love always,

Clara

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Those three men who changed my life

Dear readers,

Over the years, I came to love and admire many people, either they were fictional or not. Some stayed with me, like Emma Watson who has been my role model since I was 5, and others simply disappeared. They have all been useful at a certain point of my life, like Kellan Kyle or Harry Styles, but the love I had for them wasn’t strong enough for me to keep admiring them as I used to do.

However, three men clearly stole my heart those past few years and made me a better person. I decided to talk about them today as I needed to express my love somewhere. I’ll talk about women later on the blog, as I wanted to focus on those three people who really changed me over the months.


Lin-Manuel Miranda

There was no way I could start this post without talking about Lin-Manuel Miranda and anyone who knows me just a little knew that I had to include him.

For those who don’t know who he is: Lin-Manuel Mirana is an American composer, lyricist, playwright, and actor best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In the Heights. He co-wrote the songs for Disney’s Moana soundtrack (2016) and is set to star in their upcoming film Mary Poppins Returns. Miranda’s awards include a Pulitzer Prize, two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and three Tony Awards. (Wikipedia)

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I came accross him at the very beggining of 2016 when I heard about Hamilton, an American Musical for the first time. It took me a second before I fell in love with him when I heard his voice in Alexander Hamilton. I didn’t know what he looked like, who he was, but my heart stopped nevertheless.

Of course, soon after that I did some research and everything I started to learn about him made me love him and admire him more and more. Lin is a genius who seems to be able to do anything. Time passed and I never stopped looking out for him.

He came into my life when I needed someone to tell me to rise up, to not throw away my shot, and for that I will always be grateful. Ever since I started to listen to his work my life completly changed: I was listening to Hamilton before going to my interview for my new school and for my job in a publishing house. I got them both and I like to believe that it was his words that inspired me to do it, even though I was terrified and close to give up.

Julian Blackthorn

I believe that everyone who follows me on social media saw that one coming. How could I write about men without even mentioning the one who made me feel better through 2017?

For those who don’t know who he is: Julian “Jules” Blackthorn is a Shadowhunter who has lived his entire life at the Los Angeles Institute. He lives there alongside his siblings and Emma Carstairs, his best friend and parabatai. (Shadowhunters Wiki) He belongs to the world created by Cassandra Clare.

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I met Julian Blackthorn in 2016 while reading the Mortal Instruments series but really got to know him when I finally read Lady Midnight (the first book in the Dark Artifices trilogy) in January 2017. Little did I knew that he would crush every other book boyfriends I ever had and even my expectations in men (I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but I really am not).

Julian is calm, loyal to his family and friends, and knows when to be funny or serious. We share a lot of things, like being Slytherin, but the thing that really got me to love him that much was how Cassandra Clare described his point of view on relationships and attraction. Based on that, a lot of people understood that he was demisexual, which I also am. Being demisexual basically means that we “do not experience sexual attraction unless we form a strong emotional connection with someone” (see full description).

Seeing myself in someone else in literature made me feel good, as my sexuality troubles me a lot. It is not easy to see yourself not being attracted to anyone as you grow up, but Julian gave me hope and made me see clearer. He helped me accepting and loving myself, and I will always owe him this.

Tom Holland

Honestly, this blog post is going to seem very predictable for anyone who knows me a little.

For those who don’t know who he is: Tom Holland  is an English actor and dancer. He is best known for starring as Peter Parker / Spider-Man in the superhero films Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). (Wikipedia)

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I first heard about Tom Holland when he got casted as Spider-Man. As I didn’t see the movie Captain America: Civil War yet, I didn’t know much about him. (It’s my biggest shame as a Marvel lover. I really don’t know why I still haven’t seen it.) That is why it all really started when I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming for the first time. (To this day, I have watched the movie 7th times and will probably never stop.)

I wish I could explain what pushed me to love him, to admire him. Maybe it was his voice or his smile or his hair or the way he laughed. Maybe it was because he can dance and knows ballet and also used to sing in a musical at West End. Or maybe it was because he’s so close to his brothers or because he has a dog named Tessa. Honestly, I have no idea, but the fact is that he somehow became a huge part of my life.

As I suffer from anxiety, I discovered that watching a compilation of him dancing made me relax when I felt a panic attack coming. I then found myself watching videos of him more every day, until it became a daily ritual. Something about him made me feel better about myself, made me simply feel good. He inspires me to get better whenever I feel down and that isn’t something that a lot of people can do.


I can’t express how grateful I am to have those three men in my life. They each give me something special every day and they always make me feel better.

I must say that I have a weird relationship with celebrities, as I don’t feel as if I could love them since I don’t know them, but Lin and Tom made me feel different. As for Julian, it has somehow always been him.

Who changed your life in the best way?

Love always,

Clara

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Bookstagram, part I: Creating your account

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Dear readers,

You may not know but I have been on Instagram for a year now and my account has been growing really fast without me realising what was happening or how I got so lucky. Over the months, many people asked for my advice and even though I gave some, I felt silly because I had so much to say and never really had the occasion to develop my thoughts.

This is why I am bringing you today the Bookstagram Guide which will be devided in three parts: the first part will explain you how to start, the second one will focus on the editing part and the third one on how to progress through the months. I know those kind of posts have been done a lot so I’ll try to say new things and talk about my story as well. In no way I am assuming that I know everything about bookstagram – this is only to help, as those blog posts have been helpful to me when I began to be sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong.


HOW TO START
  • Find a name

Now that you decided that you wanted to join the bookstagram community, you need a username. This step may seems easy but is actually really important. It should reflect your account, your personality and actually be striking. It can be the first thing people will see about your account, so choose carefully. Many people told me they started following me because of my username, and I do give a lot of thoughts before following soemone: Seeing an account being called “b00ks4lif3” won’t make me want to click on it.

Many guides tell you not to choose a too long username and it’s true that short ones are somehow better but mine is long and it never bugged me. The only advice that is worth taking is that your username should be related to literature: it can be a reference to a quote, to a character, to a book or just be related to the act of reading, the pages, the book itself etc: That way people will know your account is a bookstagram without having to click on your profile to check.

  • Decide if you want to stick to a theme or not

Now that you have your username, you have to decide what you want your account to look like. All my social medias look alike: they’re all white and apparently minimalist. My bookstagram also follows those rules and I work hard to maintain a feed.

What is a theme or a feed: it's the aesthetic of your account. Having a feed means that all your pictures look great together - they do not have to look alike but they respond to each others because of the colours you use.

It’s okay if you don’t want to start a theme because I know they are hard to stick to but I won’t lie: it’s better if you do. Most people I follow have one. I started to follow them because when I went on their accounts the whole thing looked professional and thought.

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my instagram feed – @thebookwormofnotredame

I will talk more about editing and maintaining a feed on the second part of this guide.

  • Post on a schedule

A lot of people believe that posting once a week should be enough, but it’s not. You have to be constant in your posts and to give people something new at least every two days. When I started my account, I used to post twice a day and it worked. More people were joining every day. When I started to have a lot of followers, I decided to lower it to one post per day. Now, I post every day except on the weekend.

Many accounts still post twice or more, but you must be careful: do not over post (it can be frustrating for others and many won’t see them) and make sure you have enough pictures to do so. I highly recommend posted once to twice a day – it is enough and will make people want to see more of your work.

  • Talk to people and make friends

Now here is the most important tip I can give you. I started following many people because we started being friends, and not for their pictures. Plus, talking to people will make others commenting on your posts and talking about your account. So do not be shy: comment under others pictures, answer to stories, tell people you love their work.

I know how hard this can be but I can assure you that 95% of people on bookstagram are nice and welcoming. I suffer from anxiety but never felt unwanted there. Also, be sure to use the stories and to share about what you are reading, your life or anything on there. This is super useful to create a link between you and your followers.

SOME MORE TIPS
  • Do not be obsessed with followers, likes etc

I can see you rolling your eyes and saying, “Easy to say that when you have 13k followers”. But you know what? I also had 0 followers one day and I saw it growing. I was always thankful but never really cared about it – as I said, it came by surprise. All I know is that focusing on this will make you unhappy but I also know that it’s not that easy, that we all look to those numbers at the top of our accounts.

The thing is that we can decide how it affects us. It may take time for you to start seeing it in another way but you will eventually. I can assure you that your followers number does not define you nor your work – many of my favourite accounts don’t have much.

I also know that sometimes it doesn’t work. You may take beautiful pictures but you feel as if your work isn’t acknowledged enough and it’s okay. Your feelings are valid and you shouldn’t feel bad for being that way. So talk about it to your friends, you can even talk to me about it and we’ll find a solution.

The third part of this guide is dedicated on how to make people see your work.

  • Look for inspiration 

Pinterest will become your bestfriend in no time. If you are looking for inspiration, just log in and search for bookish pictures or else. I can assure you that it will come back. You can also scroll your Instagram feed until you have ideas again.

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But be careful: do not copy others pictures. You can be inspired by them but not do the exact same thing. If you feel as if your picture looks too much like another one, send it to the person and ask if it’s okay. Do not forget to credit them even if they say that it is.

  • Schedule your photoshoots

How many times have I seen people saying they didn’t have enough pictures? The only advice I have is to schedule your photoshoots and to stick to it. Do as many pictures as you need/can. Sometimes it won’t work, that’s for sure, but you still have to try. Try new things, new places, new angles, new props, but always plan most of your photoshoots and make the best out of it.

  • Write captions

I beg you: write captions and ask questions. This may seems really stupid and maybe even logical but it’s not for everyone. Many people just put quotes and got surprised when they have no comments. You have to make people wanting to comment under your pictures.

Many people talk about their days (which I used to do as well) and others do like me and use those captions as mini blog posts. I love to open a debate, so that people can answer and talk in the comments. I always talk about a bookish subject, then ask a question at the end. I feel close to my followers thanks to it, and it has been working amazing since I started. (I also write all of my captions in advance every Monday morning for the entire week. It can take me an hour or so but it’s worth it. If you want me to talk more about I organised myself, tell me and I’ll write a blog post about it.)

  • Put hashtags

Future bookstagrammers, use all the bookish hashtags. I usually put them at the end of my caption after three dots so it’s seperated from my text, or in a comment.

Here’s those I use daily:

#bookster #bookstagram #booknerd #book #bookphotography #booklover #pages #instabook #reading #lovereading#vsco #vscocam #bibliophile #bookish#bookstagrammer #igreads #bookaholic#reader #booknookstagram

You can also put hashtags for the author’s names, the title of the book etc. Do not be afraid to use them: It’s a great way to make your work visible.

I’ll talk more about it in the third part.

  • No need to have an expensive camera or editing software

Know this: I always used my phone and free applications to take and edit my pictures. I’ll soon have a camera for Christmas but I still got where I am without it. So no pressure: You don’t need anything fancy to start nor to keep running your account.

I’ll talk more about this in the second part.


Now that you know how to start, I can’t wait to see your accounts. Send me your usernames in the comments!

Love always,

Clara

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