RoW check-in First World Musings

Fair warning–this first paragraph is a rant! My throat is sore, my nose is running, and I am feeling extremely sorry for myself. I’ve been fighting this dreck that has hit most of my staff.  Sadly, although I have been begging them to stay home when they are sick, there is some weird corporate culture here that it is better to come in when they are coughing and sneezing on everyone.  What is up with that?  I sometimes have to go in because I used a lot of my sick days on fun things like surgeries and days in Intensive Care, but these staff of mine have more than two or three months worth of sick leave.  Doesn’t anyone know how fast sickness skates through cube farms?  STAY HOME!

Okay, you’re safe now, gentle reader. I’ve also neglected my writing the past couple of days, although I am writing this as part of a group sprint, so thank you, Eden, again. I have also been planning, drawing, thinking about the world and how things like getting water and food work in that society.  I am very bad about posting check-ins–feeling meh, and not like I have anything interesting to say.

All household members have been madly packing the past several days–ever since the weekend, and it is coming home to all of us 1) we hate packing 2) we keep too much stuff 3) we are actually forcing ourselves to do it right this time, no matter how horrible it is to do so.  We bought more trash cans, and recycling bins, and have filled up donation bins nearby with clothing and other usable items. It makes me feel better, but I am swearing to live less cluttered in the future.

I have also been on the other end of the first world spectrum, needing help to clothe and feed my family, so I am happy to pay it forward.  It is part of what I have taught my kids as well, and I am pleased to see how much they are donating as well.

First world problems, I know. I thought the other day of how precious paper was when it first began to replace vellum and parchment, and how amazed (and appalled) 16th century people would have been at the hordes of paper that invade our homes.  It is a different perspective on all the stuff we have, to think about the people who had one good dress and one work dress for most of their lives, and who wrote letters on every available space, since paper was so dear.

I’ve been thinking about the way that I take so many things for granted–the light that allows me to type this at night, the electricity that powers my laptop, the gas that heated my water for tea, the water that comes from the tap.  I planned a series of blog posts about that awhile back, but it slipped off my radar.  I’m beginning to think about it again.

I want to do better about check-ins, too.  I feel very cut off when I don’t check-in and read and comment on other RoWers’ posts, so I just need to schedule it and do it, right?

Please go check out how all the other RoWers are doing here.

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Uneven Performance

My performance on writing check-ins continues to be spotty. I have a lot on my plate these days, but so do a lot of people.  It has helped that Eden has tagged me and other Facebook friends for sprints during the day, so that I have been encouraged to write during breaks and lunch at work.  I also crashed the local Camp NaNo group on Friday evening and got a lot more done.  

I’m behind on my visits to participants and just sent off my sponsor post today (blush), so I certainly have room for improvement.  I need to write everyday–I know that is not true for everyone, but it is for me.  I mope and complain about it, but I should just put on my big girl panties and accept it.

So for goals:

I will write for a half an hour 6 out of 7 days on my long-suffering non-fiction project. Only 3 out of 6. The good side of it was that it was 40 minutes on Wednesday and Thursday, and a good hour on Friday.

I will write for half an hour 3 out of 7 days on a fiction piece that arose from the research for the non-fiction book. In the midst of working on the non-fiction last Friday, my character came screaming into my brain, so I wrote for a half-hour. One out of three, but her insistence is a good sign,

I will post every check-in.  I would like to expand my topics, but I need to re-establish the habit first. I missed (again) last Wednesday, sigh, but at least I’m here today.

Please go encourage the efforts of other ROWers, which you can find here. smaller EM


RoW80 Check-in Not So Much, But It’s Okay


Although I have not accomplished many goals since my past check-in, I am going to write this post anyway, because it was a good week on many fronts. I met Eden for a very quick cup of coffee, during which she persuaded me to color.  I can now heartily recommend it as a stress reliever, given how much better I felt when I went back to work.  In fact, I gathered my colored pencils and decided to get some more colors that evening. Eden, you’ve created a coloring fool!

Over the weekend, No. 1 son asked if we could break our Scrooge tradition of not decorating this year.  Once we had the lights untangled and put up, I had to admit that our house looks much nicer with the decorations.  In fact, I was inspired to start going through the clutter of junk mail, seasonal clothing, and unread magazines and books in piles everywhere.  So went the weekend, but again, it was time well spent, resulting in a more welcoming interior to go with the welcoming exterior.

Monday, I had to travel to New York City for diagnostic tests. Surprisingly, my DH was able to go with me, which made the trip more fun, and the drive to the train, then walk to the subway, then the hospital much less stressful. I was exhausted from the trip and the tests, but we needed to take our car in early on Tuesday, so we were up and out while I was still grumpy. An invigorating lope up a steep hill to avoid missing our bus to campus followed, which did nothing to improve my mood, as any of you regular readers can imagine.

So, good reasons and rationales all, but I need to start putting time in on writing.  I have a rough month ahead of me–not all bad, by any means, but the kind of time that slips away unnoticed with far too much ease.  DH and I leave to see No. 1 daughter and her family this next week, which will be great fun and a good break from the day job.  Then I have a work conference in early January and surgery in mid-January, and before I know it, it will be a month from now.  I will try to keep some habits going, and hope to cement some others into the routine.  Wish me luck!

I hope all of you are doing well, and wish you all happy holidays and a productive break between Rounds.  Please take a moment to visit a few other RoWers, whom you will find here

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RoW80 Check-in From the Siding

A mixed bag of a week, to be sure. I did a lot of writing this week, but all in the realm of articles for the day job.  It’s good to get them done, but it is not as satisfying as creative writing. I did manage a ten-minute sprint on Friday, so that was helpful–thanks to Eden, who suggested it. I should be able to post something for WIPpet Wednesday, which makes me happy.

I was back in Manhattan on Tuesday for more doctors’ appointments.  It was nice to go to a different neighborhood and find a new coffee/tea shop. I had planned to do some writing on the train, but I was tired and cranky, so I ended up just reading and dozing on the trip.

It was a tough week, so I didn’t accomplish many goals. There was a lot to do for the day job, and I seemed to need a lot of down time. In addition to the article I finished writing, I read an article for the dissertation’s literature review. I was supposed to work on mindful eating, with some success.  I’m still having some illness, so I suppose eating only non-fat foods, and very few of those, means I am meeting this goal.

Please go visit around the other ROWers, whom you can find here.  Encourage as you can, share strategies, make friends.  It is a wonderful community. If you are unfamiliar with a Round of Words, or ROW80, click here to read more about it from the creator of the challenge, Kait Nolan. It is a writing challenge that “knows you have a life.” Its flexibility is often helpful.

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The good weeks keep rolling in

editing, writing, red pen,
From cellar_door_films via WANA Commons

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States, so I’m looking forward to being off the day job. And yes, I am putting writing first, as Kait suggests in today’s check-in post. In fact, my sons are home for the summer, which will ease the housework load, and easier to make time for creative pursuits.

So on to the check-in. Last week was frustrating, with many supervisory headaches and serious talks with a couple of my staff.  Some weeks I earn every cent of my supervisory stipend, and this week of herding locusts was one of them. Even so, I found time for planning and writing.  Also, Amy Kennedy wrote a thought-provoking post on taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee.  This post seems to be one of those the Universe wanted me to pay attention to, as it hit me with a blast of recognition.  Eden also referenced it in her check-in post last week, and brought it back to my thoughts again. I realized that although I’d savored cups of coffee once the boys were in kindergarten and first grade, I have not done so for a long time.  I’m always doing something else, and I’ve even found my morning meditation time has eroded into shorter and more distracted time.

Part of my restlessness can be traced to my upbringing.  My aunt was of the firm belief that “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop,” so I feel slothful and almost sinful if I do not have knitting or quilting or some form of needlework in my hands.  However, I was able this week to return to meditation, clearing my mind of the Rolodex of tasks and worries that is usually spinning its evil in my brain.

Amy’s post reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from Blaise Pascal. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I have to admit when I sit in a coffeeshop and watch people at the same table focus on their phones, I see myself in the mirror of that self-absorption.  I hope to write a post about this topic, which may help me to be more mindful of my need for diversions.

On the positive side as well, last Sunday night’s group sprint was very productive.  I finished the first draft of an article for work, which has gone to the academic equivalent of beta readers this week. I also tackled the female character I mentioned in the last check-in, using Denise’s suggestion of writing in first person, just to get inside her head.  The exercise was starting to make her more real, and I followed up with exercises from Rachel Funk Heller’s Writers’ Coloring Book for which I was a beta last fall.  I was working through my English war bride’s strengths and fears, when I moved on to her yearning.   Suddenly, I got her completely; I knew what I had been missing in her backstory.  I was very pleased and happy with myself. I also got the chance to see Shan for the first time in a long time. *waves*

I ended the week by finishing up an additional sponsor post.  This week had so much to contemplate, so many great posts, it was great fodder. So all in all, a positive and productive week, although I do need to work more assiduously on some of my goals, especially responding to comments in a more timely manner.  How are you doing? Let me know, and I will respond, by gosh!

Also, please go visit the other RoWers.  Many of us are facing a change in routine with the summer here, so encouragement to stay strong and stay writing is very helpful.  The linky is here.

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Random deep thoughts

Only some random thoughts from me this check-in, but I have gotten away from checking in on Wednesdays and want to get back into the habit. Wednesday WIPpet calls to me as well, although I don’t have anything to post quite yet.  I’m trying to go back to the beginning and learn the elemental structure of fiction, but find myself frustrated and impatient.

I did several sprints with the Sunday group, spending one session getting back in touch with a character who has proved elusive for me, despite my intense interest in her.  She’s my World War II bride, who has to have some grit to move to America after the war, but I haven’t been able to find her sand in my drafts yet.  I’m plugging away at getting into her psyche, though. I got more words yesterday, since I took the day off from the day job. My college was holding my tenure vote, and I didn’t want to be wandering around trying to read everyone’s expression.

I continue to think about blogging, and where to go with my blogs.  I love researching the nerdy language history and such that I used to post, but, like several people who commented last week, it is a time investment that I may not be able to swing. I am spending a lot of time in my head, and the best conclusion i can come to is to do what I enjoy without shorting other things I enjoy.

Finally, let me steer you to a couple of worthwhile reads:  Kait posted this article on FB, which is very thought-provoking for someone who expects to be perfect (raises hand). Also, Eden’s sponsor post could have been written by me, at various times during the last several years. It is also well worth a read, and a further commitment to get back to writing, no matter how long the break.

And, as always, do take a minute or two to visit with the other RoW80 participants here

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Much contemplation and some writing

A lot of life happened this past week, but I have to say that despite all that, it was not a bad week. There was more thinking and planning than writing, but I am okay with that situation. I think a major difference is that I have a different attitude toward writing.  Although research and planning can be an excuse not to put the butt in the chair, it sometimes is important, especially if worldbuilding. And 14th century France is as different world to explore, explain, and describe as any alien or fantasy land.

Also, even though I couldn’t be in person with the Sunday NaNo writing group, Eden let me know the start and end times, and I kept my time and word counts at home. In three sprints I did nearly four days worth of what I consider “normal” word count, so sprints obviously work for me.

I asked in last week’s check-in about blogging. Do people keep up with the accepted practice of blogging several times a week, why did people do so if they did, and what benefits did they get from it. I had some very interesting responses, with a couple of common themes. First, most of the people who blogged did so because they enjoyed writing the posts and having a further conversation through the comments.

Also, posts had changed from those that required research or were on set themes to posts about things that mattered to the writer.  The time investment was just too great for the required research.  The time investment was better put toward writing the main products, not the blog posts. I have experienced both themes myself, and had very similar reactions.

I have been thinking a lot about blogging, and after resurrecting two blogs, I continue to contemplate where to go with them.  I do enjoy connecting with the people who comment on my posts, but it is difficult for me to answer quickly enough to keep any real conversation going.  I like the photography challenges, as a visual person, and the writing snippets, as they make me write in order to post.  I like to post something that will invoke a smile, as well. Other than that, I’m just not sure.

So that is the order of my universe today.  I hope everyone has a great week. And finally, do take a minute or two to visit with the other RoW80 participants here

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