Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | August 1, 2012

August 1 Check-in Working Behind the Scenes

I noticed when I went to publish this check-in, that it is my 100th post for ROW80.  I have a few more on my other blogs, but this is still a milestone for me.  Thank you all who support and encourage me!

The last few days have been rather productive, in a behind-the-scenes kind of way.  Although I don’t agree with everything Stephen Covey taught in his books, there is one phrase that resonates with me.  It is “sharpen the saw.”  While chopping down trees, one has to stop to sharpen the saw in order to be efficient.  I have ADD, so left to my own devices, I would start with whatever file caught my eye when I logged into the computer.  It is an act of will to stop, think about what I plan to do, and not let the ADD magpie coax me off-course.

Several colleagues have mentioned how neat I keep my cubicle at work.  Little do they know that it is self-preservation.  There are files I need to keep somewhat present, current projects simmering on the back burner, but everything else has to go away, or it will continue to sing its siren song to my magpie.

My home office is the same.  Right now, I am sharing a desk, tucked in a corner of the master bedroom, with my eldest son.  He and I need the same sort of clear surface, thank goodness, and we have worked out a schedule of sorts.  He works away while I sleep, and has usually gone to bed about an hour before I get on the computer at 5am.  Luckily, my husband sleeps through both my son’s time and mine.  I suppose I am veering off-course, here, but my point was that I have been organizing my files on the computer (huge thanks to Eden who gave me a tower to replace my ailing laptop) as well as paper files that have been unearthed in the recent troll through the garage.

I have been working on a logline and an antagonist for my novel.  Oh, it gives me shivers to write that.  A novel.  Oh boy, that is just scary. The logline is close–I just need to strip away a few more clauses to get it in shape.  My antagonist is not a person, but a culture.  I know the culture well, having studied it for, well, more years than some of you have been alive.  My current task is  to hone the features of the culture that are crucial to the antagonism toward my protagonist.

I’ve started to sketch the outline of scenes and conflicts as well.  I find that I need to research some things, which is always dangerous for me.  Since an aspect of my ADD is hyperfocus, I can dive into research and follow all the little rabbit trails until I surface hours later.  Again, I have to plan and outline what I need to find out before I can hope to spend only my lunch hour in the stacks.

I have learned a lot in the past week about how I work and how I need to plan. Among several good suggestions, AmyBeth Inverness suggested that I plan on a larger frame than a day, some things needing a week, some a month.  I am working though that suggestion; it is an appealing thought to plot out the large goals, then break it down into bites. I keep the large goals in mind, but I haven’t ever put them into a structure.

My post on how important this ROW80 community is to me went up on the blog last Monday.  It is a great group, who would appreciate your support and encouragement.  You can find the list of participants here

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Responses

  1. Many congrats on reaching 100 posts! I am so excited to hear that you are making progress on the novel, and I like the sound of “culture-as-antagonist.” Those are some of my favorite books to read.

    I’ve been attempting to organize my goals this round on a larger time frame as well. If I can stick to regular check-ins, hopefully it will work out. 😛

    Have a great week!

    • Thank you, Lena! It somewhat sneaked up on me, but it was a nice surprise. 🙂 I am *very* excited about the novel; it dovetails with my dissertation, which is yet another plus. I enjoy the culture as antagonist books as well, so I guess it’s no surprise I would write one. My protag has to “become a man” as she describes in one of her books, merely to survive and support her family, but she certainly is vilified for flouting convention.

      Good luck to us both on goals organization and balance!

  2. Somehow (I didn’t do it consciously) I now have yearly, monthly, and weekly goals…I even time blocked my day again, so I sort of have daily goals too lol. I like it because I can see the plan. I’m glad you’re finding some sort of balance that will work for you 😀

    Very exciting to hear tidbits about you WIP. Culture as an antagonist is really intriguing! Good work this week, and LOVELY post on Monday!!

    • Wow, Lauren, I hope I can achieve that kind of plan. It’s even more impressive that it grew organically. Thank you for the compliment on the post; it was very interesting to look back at how I’d changed in the previous year.

      I really enjoy writing about culture as antagonist. Since I studied medieval literature for umpteen years, there are so many people, but especially women, who ran afoul of convention during that period. For centuries, scholars thought that men wrote the works with women’s names as authors!

  3. So much happy here… Like Lena, I love books where culture acts as an antagonist. Often they evoke reality more than a true “bad guy”.

    Glad you are finding a process that works for you. BTW, are you perchance interested in starting a “writer’s salon”?

    • Thank you, Eden. It’s nice to be happy at the core again. As I said in the replies to Lena and Lauren, there are hundreds of stories where medieval culture functions as a wonderful “bad guy.”

      I would be very interested in a writer’s salon. A dear friend from graduate school told me I’d been born in the wrong time, since I should be running a 19th-century French writer’s salon.

      • I think that culture, whatever the time period, acts as an antagonist for many people. That said, we all have our favorite time periods to work with… and the medieval period is one of the better explored (not to say “over done”, because it is not–rather the possibilities seem to have grown because of all we know).

        And I think your dear friend was right. Every time the idea came to mind, I also thought of you. But sometimes being too busy can drain such dreams… So I wondered if we might not be able to start one, just because.

      • I agree with you that culture is often an antagonist. What surprised me the other day was how easily the medieval period fits a dystopian future as well as its own time period. Lots to think about there!

        I also think the meeting place to bond and talk and share is a wonderful idea, especially because we are all so busy and stressed. It helps s much to have someplace/sometime to do this. I think we should absolutely do this, just because. 🙂

  4. And in this, this means I need to show you a science fiction television series (Babylon 5) because it fits all of the above.. it even has a bit of dystopian future in a monastery. 😀

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Eden. I’ll scour through Netflix for it–it sounds very interesting.

      • I have the whole series here. Let me know and I’ll send you over disks…

      • I will do that; I should have my head above water soon! 🙂


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