Week Five — Decluttering and Thinking

How are we halfway through this Round?? I find it hard to believe how quickly time goes. It was another crazy week at the day job, so I’m still recovering from that. Also, Wednesday was tough, as it would have been my brother’s 69th birthday. Even so, I did make some progress, so I am feeling good about that.  I also saw my doctor on Thursday. She was delighted that my calcium and Vitamin D was normal, for the first time in the three years I’ve been seeing her. And, she was happy that my recent breaks did not require surgery, which echoed my relief.

Yesterday was a day of attacking the boxes in the garage. It felt good to get some of the stuff out of the way, to declutter by recycling and tossing.  We had enough recycling to have to fill the car with cardboard and head out to the local recycling center. We cleared enough space to put up the bike racks in the garage, to Son Number Two’s delight. I found some books that have been long buried, but best of all, I found the Claddagh door knocker that my parents brought back from Ireland for me.

On to my goals:

One blog post per week. Last Thursday, I posted the history of the word husband on Lapidary Prose, as well as a funny dog video on Friday. I’m starting to get back into the swing of posting.

Five sentences of fiction every day. Lots of research, which led to five sentences, but not directly writing.  Still progress, however.

Half an hour of editing the non-fiction book every day. This goal is evading me every week.  I need to think about whether to, and how to change it.

I hope all of you are enjoying the spring, or the coming of spring.  I plan to go take pictures of the flowering trees in the neighborhood today.  Have fun this week!




Week Two–Still Writing

Two weeks in.  Happy Easter, happy Passover, happy April 16th, however you may be inclined. I’ve been doing well on my goals, so I’m in a pretty good mood. Last night, I wrote 2916 words on a set of blog posts for next year’s A-Z challenge.  Yes, I know that’s a year away, but I find I should write things when I want to write them.  Well, I write every day, but I sometimes let inspiration guide what I write.  I also wrote 643 words yesterday on a different blog post that should go up reasonably soon, and last Wednesday I wrote about 300 words for a Mother’s Day post (handwritten, so harder to count) and spent a lively few hours discussing my characters in the World War II novella with Eden.  It was good to discuss and share on such a bittersweet day–Wednesday was the third anniversary of my mother’s passing, as well as my youngest son’s 24th birthday.  It was also very good to write.  

I am clearly still awash with blog post ideas, but hope to dust off my story toolkit/outline/coloring book even further after the discussion of the characters and their respective backgrounds. I took notes like mad as we talked, but I know I can refine some things when I type them in. I’m glad to be back writing and thinking about writing on a regular basis

Oh, and because I saw an interest in writing spaces mentioned on Facebook, here’s the writing space I had in the last house (we moved in July 2016).

Pen cases
Left side of the writing desk

As for my goals, which I will probably start monkeying with now that they seem attainable:

One blog post per week. Nothing posted this week except for this one.  I do have seven more in draft that I hope to post soon.

Five sentences of fiction every day. Yes, most of it on Wednesday, but I’ll definitely take it.

Half an hour of editing the non-fiction book every day. Four days this week.

I hope everyone has a great week.

Musings, ROW80

RoW80 June arrives

My father holding me, with my sister beside him


Yesterday was my father’s birthday, so the above picture of him holding an unhappy me early in my life is in his honor. The house in the background is one where I lived for only the first eight weeks of my life, so I know I am younger than that age.  My sister, who is peeking into the frame, is four years older than I, and a daddy’s girl, so it is not surprising to see her in the picture. She was never far from him. This year is the first that my sister will celebrate her birthday later this week without him, without the joint celebration my father and she enjoyed with birthdays only four days apart.

Since I have finished with the course I had to take for work, I may be able to fit some writing on the memoir into the month of June.  My World War II novella has a better framework, as do the scholarly articles calling out for attention, but the memoir may offer some salve to the losses of the past few years.

Yesterday was filled with words and stories, not all written down or tied to a certain piece, but I’m comfortable with that. I managed to make my word count for JuNoWriMo, but not easily or early. Sometimes the words need to fling themselves into the void, and perish in the effort, but they create paths for the next venture.  Words, even those tossed aside, are not wasted.

I also spent most of yesterday cleaning so that the property manager can take pictures of the house. I tend to scrub harder when I am perturbed, so everything is quite clean. 🙂

I’m off to write more words.  Have a lovely day, and please go encourage the other RoWers here.

smaller EM






RoW check-in Mountain Holidays

I have been remiss in posting in the last few weeks, I blush to admit. I have always had trouble with this season, having been far away from my family ever since graduate school. My family is much smaller now than it was two years ago, and I am feeling the distance from those who are still here. My DH visited with our younger daughter over Thanksgiving, and both of us will see our older daughter at Christmas, so I’m happy for that. My sister is 2000 miles away, but at least we talk often.

Although I had hoped to start writing and posting last week, I spent more time finishing the edits on my DH’s article for his tenure dossier. It was worth it to help him out, considering how much he has helped me through the years. We also had a long-planned weekend in the mountains, with my work email set on “away,” and the phone blocking all but my children and my sister. We walked, and talked, and planned hikes and cross-country skiing and snowshoe trips when I can safely do them. I took pictures, saving memories of places my dad had spoken of wanting to see, and came back full of words and hope and calm.

The online writing classes are going to require scheduling, I find. I spend all day on the computer, so I don’t feel like doing the online class during lunch is a break. I need to schedule them first thing while I have my coffee. I’m most receptive at that hour, and more likely to get fired up about some new technique.

I have 32 draft posts that I need to polish, finish, and post. I want to get back to my fiction, and hope that the online classes will fuel that return as well. My house probably could use some dusting and straightening; if I’m lucky, the mindless chores will prime the creative well.

I hope all are doing well in this last stretch for the finish line. Take a moment to visit and encourage the other RoWers, whom you will find here.

smaller EM


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


ROW80 check-in Life Happens

Birthday flowers
Birthday flowers

All right, we are two weeks into the Round.  Life happened a lot this last week, both at home and at the day job.  Last Sunday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death, so it was tough to get through that, especially as it was my younger son’s birthday as well.  Our Weimaraner is having seizures due to a brain tumor, and many of them occur at night.  The nights they happen, I find it hard to go back to sleep, and difficult to get up and write.

I got some goals done, and got some writing done for the day job, which does count as non-fiction under my alter ego’s name, I guess. I still have some work to do protecting my time, but the main problem this last week was exhaustion.

The work on reducing clutter in the electronic files is helping to clear my mind, which is helpful.  I also need to daydream and doodle a bit to coax my muse out of the corner where she is sheltering against the footnotes and bibliographies. It is very helpful that my dissertation bolsters the fictional world, so the resonances and research work for both.  

After a flirtation with Spring, upstate New York is featuring a return to crummy weather over the next week and a half.  At least I will be inspired to stay indoors and write!

Please support and encourage other RoWers by visiting the linky

smaller EM


Still mucking out

The study to be
The study to be

The past half week has been one of discoveries.  Work continues apace with clearing clutter from the domicile.  Something about sending the last kid off to college incited a fierce need to rid myself of clutter.  I have been inching toward getting the study reclaimed, which involved moving furniture, clearing closets, and making choices about the importance of material things.  I’m finding myself taking lots of pictures of things, and jettisoning the things themselves.  I’ve also realized that keeping the-next-size-smaller clothing in hopeful optimism is selfish, when a) there are people out there who could use that clothing right now, and b) I can reward myself with smaller clothing when and if I get there. There have been many trips to charity shops to drop off useful clothing. It feels so freeing, even though late summer doesn’t evoke renewal for me.  That’s okay, I’ll take it! The picture above is the putative study the day we moved in, so it looks quite different now, but I will put up a new picture once it is set up.

I’ve also been reducing clutter at the day job. None of our databases will be available tomorrow.  Without any substantive work to do, we are cleaning our work areas.  I hate to file, so a good part of my day will be forcing myself to file.  If I see daylight after that, I will begin on my electronic files. Yippee?!?

I am continuing to do well on my ROW80 goals.  I am writing ideas down by the handfuls, knowing many of them will come to nothing, but enjoying the exercise anyway. I continue to work on the memoir, even though up until a few days ago, I was pantsing it completely, which is not my usual manner, just to have something in rough draft to put up for WIPpet Wednesday.  A comment by K.L. Schwengel (thank you!) set off a light bulb in my head, and showed me the scarlet thread that runs throughout the entire work so far.  I hope to do some serious plotting and development of it for the rest of the Round.

Meditation and yoga have become habits, and even more part of my writing rituals. Music has rejoined my rituals as well, thanks to Barry Koostachin, who helpfully posted a Celtic harp song on my timeline. I find myself playing music constantly now. It feels like renewing a friendship.

Have a lovely week, and please encourage the other ROW80 participants, listed here, if you have a chance.

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