RoW Check-in Floodgates are still open

It has been a productive few days, I’m happy to say.  I have continued to plot, plan, and write, both fiction and non-fiction.  I have also begun to address the goal of updating, refining, and fixing my blogs. The day job continues to pull a lot of energy and writing, but it feels slightly more rewarding. I am helping my DH with an article to meet his tenure requirements, and he was having trouble organizing it so that it flowed correctly. I looked at it and had the epiphany that sometimes is granted, and reorganized the article so that it flows well from problem to resolution. There was a fair amount of writing with that, but I was also able to write a fair amount on my creative writing.

I have been struggling with some of the aftermath of my father’s death. I had hoped that my parents’ house (where I lived from 8 weeks old until college) would be sold to a family who would be able to buy a modest house in a safe, good, neighborhood. However, my sister sold it less than a week after my father’s death directly to a contractor who tore it down this past week so that he could build a McMansion on the lot. My DH encouraged me to write about the house and my memories of it, which ended up opening the floodgates. I now have drafts and notes for about 10 posts about a variety of topics.

Please go visit around the other ROWers, whom you can find hereEncourage as you can, share strategies, make friends, have fun.
smaller EM


Round Three Goals 2015

Major Goal:  Learn the Craft

I have been stubborn (that’s my DH and kids you hear gasping in the background), and have resisted buckling down and learning through exercises that do not directly advance my WIPs.  No more. My mantra for this Round is “ars longa, vita brevis” (loose translation: Art takes time and life is short).

Protect Time: Schedule one hour every day to learn the craft.  Go through the exercises.  Life happens, but I must make time at least 4  out of 7 days.

Write: whatever I have to in order to learn how to write what I want to express

Connect: with RoWers twice a week, both my assigned folks and others as possible. Rejoin WIPpet Wednesday, even if only with things written  as exercises.  I need the accountability and the community. Also, continue with the academic writing group.

Take care of myself: Go to the doctors, do all the tests, and endeavor to do what I’m told as follow-up. Avail myself of the hospice bereavement services.

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.

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.

smaller EM


Tribute to My Father and Assessment of Round Two

December 10, 1945 Wedding Day
December 10, 1945 Wedding Day


My post features this picture because worry for my father ran its subterranean stream under my Round. My father fell on March 19th, setting into motion his final struggle. For months, he managed to keep his life close to normal, and even more important to him, to stay in his home.  After a very brief decline, he passed away, in his home, on June 20th. 

My father loved words and literature.  The first sign that he was not well was when he did not do the crossword in the paper five days before his passing.  He read to us long before common wisdom of the time said we understood him, and imbued us all with a love of reading.  After he retired, I encouraged him to write about his life, and he did so.  His storytelling ability was clear, and I can only hope that I inherited some of it.  


Assessment of Round Two.

My major goal:  Move from Victim to Author, based on Kait’s opening post here. I made some progress on this major goal, by making the time to go to a local writing group that hosted in-person sprints.  I also began the process of melding my real person and my author person more closely together, by admitting my avocation to more friends and family. I also learned how to write on demand far more than I thought I could.  The in-person sprints were in the evening, a time I would have sworn I could not possible write, and yet I did.

Ancillary Goals:

Protect Time: Schedule one hour every day.  Life happens, but I must try to make writing time happen at least 4 out of 7 days.  At the beginning of the Round, I was doing pretty well on this goal.  I found myself having to write day-job related things, but it was writing.

Connect: With RoWers twice a week, both my assigned folks and others as possible. Until the final week of the Round, when I was caring for my father or preparing for his services in a house with no internet, I kept up with my visits.

                   Facebook 15 minutes every other day.  More is falling down the rabbit hole. Same as above.

            Twitter half hour twice a week.  Also a rabbit hole. I fell off of Twitter pretty quickly, as I am not as comfortable with it as Facebook.


Hard drive to find best version of dissertation and fiction writing. I managed to get all this clean-up accomplished.

Email so that I can find things. I also managed to get through most of my email files.

Paper files, especially of craft books and notes thereon. Although I did manage to organize many paper files, I did not make it through the craft book notes.  Something to carry over to Round Three.


Dissertation; yes, a long story, but the dissertation is back in play. I accomplished some organization, but nowhere near what I had hoped.

Novel; the dissertation research is the foundation of the worldview of the novel. None, sadly.

Memoir; writing the memoir is helpful to my sanity. None, sadly.

Please visit the other Rowers here to encourage and congratulate them on their progress.  See you next Round, which starts July 6th.

smaller EM


Push-me Pull-you week

An interesting week of wide contrasts from one day to the next, from the depths of illness to, well, if not the sublime of creativity, a good hillock of creativity.  I prefer to get the bad out of the way, so here it is. My father fell about a month ago, giving himself a concussion and a couple of hematomas.  This week, he fell again, and ended up in the ICU overnight.  I am a thousand miles away from him (Google says 1,004, to be exact), so I feel rather helpless.  Topping it off was getting violently ill at work on Friday, which is very unusual for me.  I have not felt great all weekend, although I am no longer as ill as I was.  I do not think it is contagious, but I am not going to my writing group, just in case, which also makes me sad.

Enough of the bad, and on to the good. Thursday I gave a presentation at another college, which went well.  Almost the best part of the day was that instead of driving the interstate, I went on the Taconic Parkway, which winds through woods and mountains down towards New York City. It was nice to slow down to enjoy the scenery.

I also had a great conversation with Gabriela Pereira of DIYMFA about some of my struggles with writing, especially dialog.  She had some intense exercises for me to try, and some very helpful hints in addressing my perfectionism.  We also talked about my platform, which, as many of you know, since I have vented here often enough, has been difficult for me to rein in, handle, and work to my advantage. I felt I had a better sense of direction and more of an idea of where to expend effort.

As I have mentioned before as well, I am struggling with the whole social media thing as well. Lisa Hall-Wilson really got me thinking in this post. Although I am not guilty of most of the list, I do need to adjust some things on my platform.  I resolve to do better, and all of you can check my progress.

Finally, on my list of good things from this past week, I started to follow my own advice in the sponsor post that went up on Monday.  I started with the easy stuff, but that’s okay, right?  I have made some steps to declare myself a writer to all and sundry. The results have been mixed, but even so, I feel as though I’ve scrubbed theatrical makeup off my face, lighter and truer to myself than I have felt in a very long time.

So, how are all of you doing?  I have put responding to comments at the top of my list for this week, so let me know. I’m happy to sympathize or congratulate, as the case may be.

Please go visit the other RoWers here especially as we round third and head for the home base of this Round.

smaller EM




One of my goals this Round that I forgot to mention is checking in more often.  As it turns out, I’m a day late, but rather than tell myself I will just wait until the next check-in, since I have found that a slippery slope to disappearing,

Not much has happened yet on my goals, and two days in, I don’t expect much.  What has happened is that I’m not beating myself up about it.  Life certainly happens, and much of my energy is put toward not allowing it to rob me of my creativity. I found with some pride last week that I’ve written several articles in the past year, and that it does get better and faster as I go along.  I am looking forward to putting this epiphany to work on the creative side.

I’m coming up on my birthday, which is bittersweet, as my mother passed away the day before my birthday last year. Both the tolling of the years and the reminder of the impermanence of life are providing much fodder for reflection. I need to stop chasing my tail like an ADD puppy, and approach more of my life mindfully.  Wish me luck!

If you want to support and encourage other RoWers, visit the linky.

smaller EM



Falling behind the pack

I missed last week’s check-ins entirely, partly due to the snowstorms that slammed into upstate New York.  We  didn’t get hit like Boston or Providence, but it was messy here.  My mood took a dive, however, which was more of an obstruction than the snow.  The day job has become ridiculously busy, with a piling on of projects, many of which have the same due dates. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to say no to anything for at least a few more months.

A major part of my mood was the return of my doubts about my writing. Well, not my writing as such, but the guilt that I am not pulling my weight with household tasks or spending enough time with my family.  My usual early morning writing time has dissolved into insomnia, and the brain fog is constant.

I’m deeply embarrassed to be so negative. As a sponsor for ROW80, I need to be positive, more of a cheerleader.  I’d love any hints on how to handle this negativity and guilt.

My goal for this week is to write at least 100 words a day on a presentation I have to do in March. Another goal is to look at two draft posts, hoping to get them posted this month. I also plan to reply to comments for at least ten minutes three times this week.  

Please go encourage other ROWers, whom you can find here, on Facebook in the ROW80 group and on Twitter at #ROW80. 

smaller EM


Dragging to the holidays


December 10, 1945 Wedding Day
December 10, 1945 Wedding Day

Today would have been my parent’s 69th wedding anniversary. I love this picture of them, so vibrant and young.

It has been a rough few weeks since my mid-November check-in, and I have only managed to reach some of my goals.

  1.  1500 words written every week on my final tenure article.  My co-author and I are finally in the editing phase on this article.  It should go out to a journal next week.
  2.  An hour a day writing, editing, and begging people to write nice letters for my equally fascinating tenure dossier. This goal fell off my radar, since I was putting most of my effort into the article.  I can now turn my attention to my fascinating self. 🙂
  3.  Every morning, yoga and meditation. Yes. I have managed to make meditation an ingrained habit. I’m thinking of expanding into some other stretching exercises that I may be able to conquer better than the higher realms of yoga.
  4. Fill out worksheets, mandalas, mind maps and character sketches on the novella/novel/magnum opus as well as the memoir. Now that I am in the editing phase of the article, I’ve returned to this story.  I’ve been thinking a lot more than writing, but it all helps.
  5. I need more sleep, more hydration, and mindful eating.  I’ve been getting more sleep, sometimes just passing out when reading in a chair by the fire–funny how the body takes care of itself that way!  I’m slowly getting better at hydration, after being threatened with kidney stones.  I’m still not as good as I need to be, but I’ve started the baby steps.  I managed to get through Thanksgiving without stuffing myself, partly because it was a small, quiet event with all of us missing the family members who passed away this year.

Once again, my promise not to be a stranger was an abject failure.  I do miss this community when I am off in my hermitage.  Please go cheer on the other ROWers here.  I will try to do the same!

smaller EM


ROW80 Home stretch ahead

sun through clouds
Hazy breakthrough by Dave R. Farmer, WANA Commons

I’m finally feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel is not the headlamp of the oncoming train, as the old joke goes.  Although some things, like the speed bump in the survey plans at the day job, and my DH taking over my office  (which is mostly okay, because I plan to transform another room into an office) mean it’s a two-steps forward, one-step back conga dance, the progress is still forward. The new office is slow to come together, but I will share a picture when I can.

Centrally, I am writing, both on scholarly stuff at work to gain coveted tenure, and more fun things outside the day job.  Not surprisingly, priming the pump for the day job writing helps the fun writing and vice versa.  This week carries a few bonuses, as we are closed on Monday, so I have an extra day off.  Also, on Thursday, Shan Jeniah and I (and we hope, Eden Mabee) will go to New York to meet August McLaughlin, whom we met through WANA.

I’ve focussed on cleaning out the Augean stables at both places as well.  It was stunning to find that we had stowed things on the top shelves in the kitchen two and a half years ago, that we had stopped seeing in that weird way that clutter becomes part of the landscape. It feels liberating to get of clutter, as many of you commented on an earlier post, and I’m having a lovely time dumping things.

I am clearing my mind as well, meditating first thing and last thing every day.  One interesting benefit is that I am now remembering more of my dreams, and find fodder for emotions and descriptions, if not for plot. I sometimes become frustrated with the way my mind works.  I tend to work on a lot of things on a rotating basis, so I have nothing to show for my work for a long time.  Then, as if by magic, many things fall together at the same time, and a lot gets finished in the same day.  I think some of it is tied to a fear of success, which Lena Corazon outlined very well in her post.  Lots to think on there.

Writing the memoir has made me think about my life more than I have for a while, and although some of it is difficult, I’m glad that it is happening.  I had some great comments on my last check-in, and hope to respond today or tomorrow, since several of you made me think–always a good thing!

So I enter September on a reflective note, which fits the shorter days.  I hope the home stretch goes well for all of you.  I hope to make the rounds of the ROWers, won’t you join me?  The blog hop linky is here.

smaller EM


Still on the horse

It has been an interesting, contemplative, half week since last Wednesday’s check-in. There has been a lot of reading, so I was happy to see Kait’s admonition in the check-in post to read.  I spent some time visiting some ROW80 and WIPpet Wednesday blogs, as well as reading some books.  I can’t get around to as many blogs as I would like, but the reading I have done has been very beneficial in pointing out where I need to work on things.

The initial meeting with my colleagues went quite well.  Three of us do not have offices, but cubicles (veal-fattening pens), so we ended up getting interrupted a fair amount.  Along with congratulating ourselves on what we got done, we brainstormed ideas on how to do better. We talked about our projects and goals, as well as planning a writing day at least once a month.

I managed to meet Kait’s challenge in last Sunday’s check-in post to increase my word count.  I’ve written enough already to have next Wednesday’s  WIPpet excerpt ready to go.  My feeling of accountability there is still working, which is gratifying.  My latest entry, if anyone is interested, is on my platform here, with earlier entries easily found, due to the  lack of posting there (blush).  I’ve settled, for the moment, on my memoir, which is difficult to write, but is helping me work through it all.

I reported on Wednesday that I was starting to see themes for the blogs.  My love for words and literary history is deep-seated, such that I don’t think I can give that up.  I’ve also been contemplating the impostor syndrome that I still find myself fighting.  I know I’m not alone in that, and want to to explore that as well. Finally, I’m looking into topics that crop up while worldbuilding.  There are so many things I take for granted in the 21st century.  Most people think of  technology, but I’m looking at the availability of food, water, shelter, clothing.  I know a lot about the 14th century intellectually, but when it comes to describing the life of a character, it becomes a different and emotional investigation.

The horse and I have settled into a comfortable co-existence, with the occasional fright at a shadow, or the discomfort of being too long in the saddle.  It is proving to be very good for me.

If you have a chance, do visit some of the some of the ROW80 participants here. It helps immensely to have the encouragement.

smaller EM


Learning Assessment of Round Two

It was a quiet Round Two for me.  Work was busy, and life kept lobbing curve balls at me.

I learned how to meditate, really, rather than letting the slide show of everything I had to do when I “stopped being quiet” play through my vision.  I learned to let thoughts slide off like rain on a treated windshield before they could gather and form into a thundercloud, casting a shadow over my peace.

In the last several weeks, I’ve added a handful of extremely simple yoga poses to the routine.  After years of not moving because of pain, laziness, or generalized ennui, my body is starting to get ever so slightly more limber.

When I lower the bucket into the well, and no words come up, which has been stunningly often, I have read–nineteen full-length novels in this Round, not counting samples, and  smaller pieces. Karen McFarland put it perfectly when she commented on my last check-in, ” For some reason, my mind is thirsty for words, so I feed it.”  That is where I find myself now. At times, I find the words playing in the shadows, but they disappear when I look right at them, like an optical illusion. I’m not terribly worried yet.  I have the feeling that clutching at them will have the same effect it did when I was an insecure twenty-something, asking for reassurances every minute and a half like a Weimaraner. “Do you still love me?  Okay, umm, how about now? . . . Now?” It’s no surprise I didn’t have a lasting relationship until I was over 30.  I think if I quiet my mind the words will become visible eventually.

Between Rounds, I have to travel for my job over the weekend.  When I return, we are gathering our children, sons-in-law and any grandchildren of their blended families who can come to a rustic farmhouse in the Adirondacks for the week of the 4th.  The priceless nature of time spent with family has been brought home forcibly to me, and I want to encourage the bonds that already exist among the grandchildren and their parents.  It is a close-knit crowd, and I am thankful beyond the stars for it.

I hope you have a peaceful, word-full break, and look forward to catching up with all of you next Round.  Give a last cheer to all those who made it to the finish line here

smaller EM