ROW80

Round One, Week Two — Ups and Downs

Medieval Writing, by Hans Splinter, WANA Commons

Last Wednesday, I didn’t have a lot more than a WIPpet to offer as progress  toward my goals. At least it did get me the two blog posts that I have been trying to achieve for a while, so that was good.  It was also fun to start to investigate a different aspect of a character I’ve been thinking about for a long time. A serendipitous find in a reference work opened up a whole story that has been unwinding itself in a lovely way.

I also took a brief look at some notes I wrote a few months ago about what might be an interesting A-Z blog challenge and thought about some possibilities for some more letters.

With a nudge here and there, I have been writing five sentences a day on fiction. I have been concentrating on the character mentioned above, but I also had a lightning strike about one of my World War II characters as well.

And as my pivot point from ups to downs, I did a decent job disengaging from the day job, although I realized I have to do some work tomorrow, even though it is officially a day off. Sigh.

On Friday, I had to go to New York City for a doctor’s appointment, and had planned to stay overnight to visit some of the bookstores and favorite restaurants. Unfortunately, the escalator to the track level was very slick, and I did a masterful free fall down the entire thing, managing an acrobatic split that I haven’t achieved since I was a teenager. Luckily, my doctor checked me out, and I’ve done nothing more serious than strained the ligaments in my knee, and several back muscles. Who knew I was that athletic? So, the other half and I didn’t make it to the Strand bookstore, but we did find a very nice Italian restaurant just a block away from the hotel.

I have had a pretty quiet day here, not getting the cleaning done that I had planned, but organizing lots of electronic files (some of which I had misplaced for about five years, so that was a victory). I suppose, now that I write it all down, it wasn’t a bad week, well, except for the banged up knee.

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ROW80, WIPpet Wednesday

RoW80 check-in and WIPpet Wednesday

Illumination from Morgan Library MS 775

While I haven’t fallen completely off the wagon on RoW80, I don’t have much beyond a WIPpet to offer for my check-in, but I’m happy that I have that at least.  It is very rough, but I decided to put it out there rather than continue to worry about it forever.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by Emily Wrayburn. The rules are quite simple–the length of the snippet has a mathematical connection with the date.  For example, for 1/10/2018, I am adding all five numbers in the date, which add up to 13. I am posting 12 sentences because I couldn’t make 13 work. This snippet follows immediately the one I posted in mid-December. It is set in 14th century Paris, where Christine, a widow running her own copy shop, has received a message.

Anastasia was continuing to amuse the other workers with what she had seen of the poem, but Christine turned away to hide her reaction. She strode briskly toward her desk in the corner with the best light, unfolding and smoothing out the parchment. It bore not just a poem, but a ballade, the verse form made famous by Eustache himself. “O douce suer,” it began. Christine smiled to herself. He doesn’t act like I’m his sister, sweet or not.  Reading quickly through the first verse, she stifled a laugh, then looked up quickly to make sure no one was observing her reactions, at least not obviously. So the master poet portrays himself a slave, craving her knowledge, learning at her feet? What could he possibly learn from her–well, a different view on women, but she wasn’t sure he wanted that. She read the refrain again. “‘Above all in France’–stuff and nonsense. Ridiculous old man,” she said, as she folded the parchment carefully and put it in her gown.

Feel free to jump into RoW80 here  or into WIPpet here.

ROW80

Round One 2018 Goals

Ready for 2018

 

Happy New Year! In the oddly elastic way time moves, 2017 seems to have flown by and crawled by, depending on where I stood, whether I looked back at the swiftness of time passing, or was waiting for something, the day to end, or a vacation to begin. I no longer have the perception of the long, lazy, weekends and summers that I had as a child, but more often find myself looking back in astonishment at the end of the day, wondering who stole the hours I had planned to sneak into my office to write. At least, I managed to reset my desk to usefulness over the long holiday weekend, and am ready for 2018.

I do not make resolutions, but prefer to find words to live by. My 2017 words served me well, so I will continue to follow them: Contemplate, Plan, Organize. After that, my only hope is to plan and organize to a fare-thee-well, with flexibility and forgiveness. I have learned to seize minutes and increments of hours where I can, to set priorities and to allow myself and my writing to be a priority. I want to return to blogging, after far too long of being totally absent and completely inconsistent. I want to continue working on my fiction as well as to prepare for my large non-fiction summer project; finally, I want to pull back from my day job, which I have allowed to encroach too far into the rest of my life.

The following are my goals for the first round of the Round of Words in 80 days challenge which is described here, if you would like to join in. Please feel free to support the other participants, whose goals are here.

Work toward more consistency in blogging, beginning with one check-in and one other post weekly.

Plan the missing A-Z blog challenge topics and outline the ones already chosen.

Five sentences a day on a piece of fiction.

Disengage from the day job as much as possible, beginning with not checking email after business hours.

 

 

ROW80

Round Four, Check-in 23

Initially, I was looking back at the Round with mixed feelings because I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. However, upon reflection, I did more than I have done in a long time. In this penultimate check-in, I will focus on what I would change for the next Round. I will end on a high note on Wednesday, looking at what I accomplished.

I need to write more often. I know that there are many people who write only every weekend, or only once a month, or whatever. I am not one of those people. For me, writing infrequently is like putting down an uncapped fountain pen for a week. The ink in the nib will have dried into a hard glob, and no ink will flow. The words are stuck and have to be pried through a mesh barrier at great effort, making it too easy for me to put the piece down again to work on later. And later becomes later, and later, and finally never. It doesn’t matter that I won’t use all the words I write; it is the practice of writing, keeping the ink flowing that is important.  I have been reworking some pieces from long ago, and my reaction ranges from “What dreck!” to “Hmm, that phrase isn’t bad.”

In that vein, I need to blog more often. I had a lot of fun rejoining WIPpet Wednesday last week, although I have to admit, I fear not being able to keep up the pace, or to match the quality of the other entries–a self-imposed worry, since everyone is supportive.  I also posted a Stream of Consciousness Saturday piece for the first time, which is far easier because it is meant to be a raw piece, with only corrections of typos.

Finally, I need to be more of a participant in the community. As Eden said on the check-in post, life happens, but the support of this community helps, even if one just needs sympathy for a bad week.

So, looking at the whole Round, the goals that were difficult were to write a blog post every week and to work on the nonfiction. I need to add accountability for visiting ROWers’ blogs and responding to comments. However, as I look at the list, I did more than I did not, so I feel better.

My progress on writing and health goals since the last check-in are indicated below. I will address the organizing goals on Wednesday. I hope all of you are ending your Round on a positive note; if something (like Life) got in your way, there’s always the next Round.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week. Yes, two. Wednesday and Saturday.

Write three pages of fiction every week. Yes.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week. No.

 

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day. Yes.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day. Yes.

Keep up with medical appointments. Yes.

 

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.

 

ROW80, WIPpet Wednesday

Round Four, Check-in 22 and WIPpet Wednesday

I disappeared for a few weeks from the Round of Words, due to finishing NaNo (and winning), followed by illness and accompanying overwhelm. Today, I woke in full curmudgeon, having slept badly and not long enough, and essentially grumped through my day.  Some who know me well are thinking, “What’s new with that?”  and I must agree.

The difference is, as I tidied my office at the end of the work day, I was flooded with the urge to write. After days, and weeks, of forcing myself awake in the morning darkness to put pixels on the screen, I carefully fed the kindling to the flame and enjoyed the warmth of the words flowing through me. I do not often write at night, but I am now, and the feeling is simply glorious.

I have been writing prompts and thoughts and just about anything that comes through my mind with the abandon of someone first acquainted with the ability to transcribe one’s thoughts into words. I don’t know if this lovely feeling will last, but it is reminding me of why I get up in the dark to squeeze words out of my brain.

My last post about my goals was about some baby steps I was taking, leaving my comfort zone. I am going to take another baby step today, by posting an excerpt.  I used to contribute to WIPpet Wednesday long ago, and will post something for it here. I hope to continue to write snippets for it.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by Emily Wrayburn. The rules are quite simple–the length of the snippet has a mathematical connection with the date.  For example, for 12/12, I am adding all four numbers in the date and posting 6 sentences. This snippet is set in 14th century Paris, where Christine, a widow running her own copy shop, receives a message.

Christine came into the shop to a buzz among the copyists and illuminators, quickly dulled when they noticed her in the doorway of her office.  Anastasia brought over a folded sheaf of parchment, written in a dense hand. “A new poem from Eustache Morel, on a familiar topic.” Christine glanced at the pages, seeing her own name in the verses. Her mentor would not debate politics with her, but had sent a poem of praise.  Her irritation at being seen as a woman was shot through with the warmth accompanying being seen as a woman.

If you want to read more snippets, go here for the links. Also, if you are a writer, consider joining the group, who are supportive and helpful folks.

As for my RoW80 goals, I am doing reasonably well on the health and organizing goals, but not so well on the writing goals. The day job should calm down a bit, as it is finals week, but I am traveling before Christmas and may be doing all my writing longhand and not online.  I will share in the next Round, I promise.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week. Nope

Write three pages of fiction every week. Yes.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week. Nope.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day. Yes

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day. Yes.

Keep up with medical appointments. Yes, although it really is unpleasant when the medication makes one sick!

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project. Yes, with projects multiplying like wire hangers behind the closed doors of closets overnight.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella. Yes, and beyond!

I’d love to hear how everyone is doing in this space between holidays and sliding into Winter Solstice. I myself can relate to my Celtic forebears begging the sun to return.

ROW80

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Today, I will take a page from the RoW80 blog post  about leaving one’s comfort zone, doing something one has never thought one could do. I’ll start with a small thing. Last Friday night, I went to a fundraiser at Eden’s son’s school, where the main event was painting a version of the painting being done by an artist (there were two, actually) at the front of the room. I went because I knew it was a good cause, but I was dreading doing the painting. I have not painted anything other than walls and doors since 6th grade, and was convinced that the world was better off for that fact. To my surprise, I did far better than I expected. My painting will never grace a gallery, and was darker and less detailed than the original, but I did not feel it needed to be consigned to the trash. A baby step, but one that felt somehow momentous.

A larger baby step out of my comfort zone is NaNo rebellion, which is going rather well. I have officially signed up for NaNo only once before, quitting at roughly 16,000 words. I have more than that now, and I am still writing, some new words as well as editing old ones. While the majority of the new words are from working through the details of the conflict and the scenes, they count as foundation, even if they might not all end up in the next draft. After all, 50,000 brand new words from NaNo may not all end up in the next draft either.

There are many more baby steps to take me further from my comfort zone, but each step helps. I haven’t yet nailed all my goals for this Round, but I am doing much better than at the start of the Round. I plan to concentrate on the organizing goals, which call on different creativity from me, and which don’t come as easily.

Where are all of you as we have turned the bend and are in the last half of this Round? Are there goals you need to tweak?  I’d love to hear how everyone is doing.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week.

Write three pages of fiction every week.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.

Keep up with medical appointments.

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.

ROW80

Round Four Week Four — Casting My Lot

Last week was still a struggle with my Type-A personality, but I made two baby steps in hopes that they will entice me to spend more time with my writing. I signed up for NaNo, fully planning to be a rebel and not to worry overmuch about word count. I also joined RWA and the local chapter. I think (and hope) that having committed to joining will encourage me not only to go to the programs, but to work on putting what I learn into practice.

I mentioned last week being awash with ideas. This past week I started to write some of them down and put them into idea folders. The RWA program I attended two weeks ago had to do with brand and identity, which I am still contemplating.  In the meantime, at least I have some ideas of what sort of things I want to write. I’ve been thinking about creature comforts lately, looking at the devastation in the Caribbean and the Sonoma Valley. I know better than to promise when these ideas will appear in the blog, but they are in formulation. As for my specific goals, listed below, I am doing far better on health and organizing than writing, but I hope all the thought will eventually pour out in words.

All the best to those NaNo pursuers out there, and words to all.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week.

Write three pages of fiction every week.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.

Keep up with medical appointments.

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.