ROW80 Check-in Awash in Creativity

So, hello, everyone.  I fell off the map for a while–at least as far as checking in. My summer led to pretty serious burnout, complicated by the tens of thousands of words written for the day job in August and September. As seems to happen often with me, the Universe decided to slap me upside the head in the past two days.  First, Gene Lempp, a writer I’ve followed for several years pointed out the insanity in waiting for the perfect moment to write in this postThe next day, Jenny Hansen, whom I’ve also been following for several years, entitled her post “Don’t stop,” as if she was in my head that morning when I seriously contemplating doing exactly that.

Following the advice of both these wise people, I sat down and wrote for ten minutes.  It wasn’t very pretty, but an amazing thing happened. The words started to tumble quickly, disordered, with ragged edges, but with small shiny bits in them that sparkled in the light.  Plot bunnies started congregating, bringing their babies, cousins, and nieces and nephews.  The creative well, dry for months, filled, overflowed, and filled several cisterns out in the yard.

So, goals?  As might be expected, I slam dunked some of them and made no progress on others.  I nailed the writing for 5 minutes five out of seven days goal, making up for four weeks in the space of one day.  I’ll take it.

I came close on connecting with RoWers twice a week, both my assigned folks and others as possible. I only got beyond my assigned folks once or twice, but I made progress.

I had much better success on taking care of myself, walking for 20 minutes at midmorning, not eating lunch at my desk, but in a peaceful environment, and making and keeping several doctors’ appointments.

I did not manage to make my goal of planning blog posts and updating widgets and peripherals, but I have had some ideas in the last few days.

How are all of you managing your goals?  Have you had some dry spells?

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

smaller EM



ROW80 Check-in October 30

I surprised the heck out of myself yesterday, when my comment on Jenny Hansen’s Surviving NaNo post  somehow transmogrified into a pledge to 1) write every day 2) lock Ms. RedPencil, my infernal, internal critic in the closet 3) not edit AT ALL until December.

WHAT THE??  For those of you new here, I have refused to have anything to do with NaNo–not my style, not my speed, no interest in comparing myself with others and failing.

I am an academic, trained to weigh every word before, during, and after the pixels hit the screen.  I’m lucky to write 300 net words a day.  There’s a reason my email address is lapidary prose–I polish things to death! Read my articles sometime–no, on second thought, read them only if you suffer with insomnia and the doctors have admitted defeat.

So what happened?  Jenny nailed it in her reply to my comment–for some reason, I’m still here, when it was touch and go.  My husband told me he knew it was serious when the hospital had an R.N. accompany me to the testing area, to revive me if I arrested. It seems a little ungrateful not to change one’s life, given the circumstances. And here’s November, so . . . . I’m not signing up officially for NaNo, because, well, I haven’t plotted, or done character sketches, or . . . well, I don’t have a good excuse not to, but, oh heck, maybe I will.

On other fronts, I *finally* replied to comments made on my Round Three sponsor post. I have to catch up with comments on Sunday’s check-in, but plan to do that this evening.

I also began a beta read, which I am enjoying immensely.  I’ve done the Ms. RedPencil English professor thing on it, and plan to re-read for continuity, characterization, and flow.  It’s a great read.

I promised two other writers readings, and have owed them for some time.  My apologies. I find I need to read in paper to do them justice; the logistics are a bit squirrelly at the moment, but I plan to have them printed out in the next few days.

I continue to read for pleasure.  I often cannot sleep, so I read.  I ran across Eloisa James, and have enjoyed her romances.  Her heroines are not the usual type, which I find appeals to me far more than the retiring innocent who somehow transforms in the right man’s hands.  Not to offend, but I’ve tired of the latter milquetoast heroine.

I hope everyone had a great October, and is looking forward to November.

Please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.


September 2 Check-in Soaring slightly

This week, I must have been primed to have what I read reach into the shadows to shine light on aspects of my personality.  Jenny Hansen’s post
on starring in our own life hit me.  Her post is about Marianne Williamson’s book  A Return to Love.  I found the part  where Williamson says we are more afraid of our light than our darkness so very interesting, and true.  I was brought  up to be invisible and silent; my greatest goal was to fade completely into the wallpaper.  

The reasons are complex, and would need their own post, but part of it includes my mother telling me very early on I should not speak up, I should especially not let others see that I was smart. I realize now she had her reasons, because I seem to have been born a smart aleck.  In first grade, my classmates bullied me because the good sister had me read aloud to the class while she took a break. Every year, it seemed there was a new reason to be spotlighted, and vilified. Eventually, the bullying made the smart aleck go underground, and I became a chameleon–tell me what you want me to be, and I will be that.  It sounded like a good plan, but it didn’t work out so well.  I lost my strength, my soul.  Actually, that’s not true–my strength and my soul grew into a caldera in the closet, fed by my journalling and my writing about women who could be brave and strong and smart without losing all their friends.

I do have my darkness.  I’ve been raped, beaten, abandoned; I’ve been homeless and gone to bed hungry.  It takes a better person than I am not to have the darkness build in those circumstances. But when Williamson said that we fear our light because we don’t want to offend others, my life before age 30 rolled out before me. I still have the remnants of fear that people won’t like my work or me, but I’m much farther along the path than I was at 30.

The second post that hit me was Kristen Lamb’s on maturity,
especially her line about the day job being there for a reason. I accepted this day job when I was struggling with wanting to write full-time, but knowing I wasn’t ready on many levels.  It hit me that my day job really is there for a reason.  I have to be the adult everyday, even when I don’t want to be.  I have a lot of responsibility, but I also have a lot of authority. I believe in strong women and I write about strong women, but I still suffer from impostor syndrome, and do not believe I am strong.  

I nearly spewed my coffee when a colleague of mine described me as a “steel magnolia,”  but she’s right.  My day job is helping me understand my protagonist, a woman who overcame the odds and social conventions to build and run a company, despite being called names, vilified, made fun of, having her intelligence and learning doubted.

And to finish the trifecta, while looking at the website of a new follower, I saw a quotation that resonated: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, and you’ll always feel what you always felt. Recently, I decided that not trying new things was suffocating any creativity I have.  New things may not work, but as I say at the day job, “Will anyone die? No?  Okay, let’s give it a shot.”

What, you may ask, does all this have to do with writing?  Well, while still honoring my tortoise, I am going to up the ante a bit.  Jenny Hansen challenged me to stop inching and soar, so this next month, I am going to write for at least an hour a day.  In the midst of everyone’s Fast Draft and Camp NaNo, I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but for me, it is.

Welcome, Ryan and David, to the blog. Thank you to David who had the great quotation I mentioned above.

Check out some of the ROWers here. They will appreciate your encouragement.

My goals and progress are below:


  • I will write at least one half-hour a day. Updated to one hour a day.

  • I will continue to refine my main author blog, which may involve combining the Lapidary Prose blog with Elizabeth Anne Mitchell. I just can’t get excited about this goal, but I think it makes sense.


  • As I’ve returned to being a sponsor, I will visit all my 8’s twice a week. Slowly, but yes, I’m doing it.

  • I will catch up with Facebook, Twitter, and my other sites for no more than an hour daily. I have been keeping up with this goal.

  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs. Again, slowly, but I am keeping up with comments.


  • Walk at least 1,000 steps a day, preferably 2,000, tracked by a pedometer. I got 1,000 steps 6 out of 7 days. I’ll take it.

  • Use the stairs going upstairs; if I want to, I can cheat going downstairs. I’m now doing this, even for multiple stories at work, even when I *really* don’t want to do it, so I think it is now a habit.


  • I have let many dear friends fall off my radar these past few months.  I will stay in contact with the group daily, if only briefly, and weekly individually. Fail at the individual contacts.  I need to manage my time better.

  • I will stay in better touch with my daughters on Facebook or by phone.  My sons are back home, so my only trouble connecting with them is that they have vampire schedules. A little better this week. I have been able to spend some one-on-one time with each of the sons; I need to be better about the daughters.


August 19th Slow Renewal

First, I want to thank everyone who offered suggestions, commiserated with me, and shared their own stories of feeling the summer blahs. It did help to hear from all of you. A chat with a dear friend of mine also helped, as she has seen my ups-and-downs for several years now.

Several suggestions were made to switch up the writing scene, notably by Shah and Laura. Michael gave a great suggestion to get up early, which I had let slide this summer.  I finally dug out my fountain pens (I know, but whatever works, right?), and pulled out the paper.  It has been slow going, but it is going.

I had to work yesterday. I planned on being in for four hours, but it ended up being more like seven.  I didn’t get anything earth-shattering done, but it was good to spend the time filing, recycling, organizing. I know I will miss the time off, but it seemed to help to clear away some of the cobwebs as well.

Jennette Marie Powell had a post on burn-out that sounded all too familiar to me.  She linked to Louise Behiel’s post,  which really made me sit up straight in the chair.  Everything in my life has changed in the past six months:  cross-country move, new job, sons coming back home, this new wonderful writer that I’ve unearthed from the clay of the old life, problems with parents’ and mother-in-law, health problems with my birth family and in my own family.  I took a test that Louise linked to, and nearly pegged the chart, and that is just the day job.

The topper for today was to read Jenny Hansen’s post on grief.  I just seem to be reading things that slap me in the face lately.  I often say I’m too busy for grief, but I have been fooling myself. I said on Wednesday that maybe I’m not hungry enough to be a writer.  I don’t have the answer to that yet, but I do feel the pull of writing. This time I can’t shelve it again the way I did for so many years.  I need it. The past couple of weeks have been full of family problems, revelations, bad health, and not very bright futures.  Although I want to hide from all the pain, it is best that I face it and write through it.

I don’t have much to offer, but I am writing it all–the bad, the ugly, the hurtful, the sad.  I have no idea what I will do with it all, but I can’t keep it in.  Some of it may show up on the blog, some of it may not.  I have been heartened by the friendship offered me here, so I doubt I will go completely dark.  All of you are welcome to come poke me if I do.

I have gained many followers in the past couple of weeks. Welcome to LightningPen; Vergielyn  ; HCMFMovement  ; TheBetterManProject  ; Dianne  ; and EbookWorldMag

Finally, please give your support and encouragement to the other ROWers who can be found here.


June 10 Writing, by gosh!

Following the theme of last week, I have continued to make baby steps. Yesterday, I managed to post Shan Jeniah’s guest post on kinship here. I have also spent the past week slowly getting more involved with old friends and new through Facebook and Twitter, but also through WANA International, a new venture by Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg, which looks exciting with classes from several of our ROW80 crew (Jenny Hansen and Kait Nolan, for example) and other luminaries.

I also joined Jeff Goins’ 15-day challenge, outlined here, which is forcing me to take some scary steps–all to the good. I admitted to a colleague at the day job that I wrote things other than academic articles, and was pleased that she didn’t laugh outright.

I went back to getting up early to write, something I had let fall by the wayside in the past few weeks. Further, I made myself stay off the internet for the first part of the morning, so that I could actually write–create rather than react.

What I have learned: I have ideas about what to write. Not having anything to say was one of my greatest fears in coming out of my corner–people laughing at me being one of the others. But I found in the early morning hours that not only was I managing to come up with ideas for blog posts and themes (sheesh, finally), but I was coming up with ideas that had plots and characters, somewhere to go and things to say.

I also learned what a wonderful, giving, supportive cast of characters the writing community holds. I never had to worry about anyone laughing at me in the ROW, or in the other groups I’ve joined in my travels these past months.

Penultimately (sorry, but I love that word), I want to shout out to the people who have followed my blog in the past month. I’m not going to try to catch up in one swell foop, but here are some people who are worth checking out, if you don’t know them already.

Janet at

Ruth at

Eric at

Kourtney at

CK at

Tune in next week for the next installment 🙂 In the meantime, please go encourage the rest of the ROWers here as we try to redline it for the last weeks of Round 2. There are some wonderful people in this group 🙂


ROWing through the Rapids!

All in all, a very interesting and productive week.  Pardon me the lack of introduction. I’m a wee bit hungover, since I went out last night, and I am an incredible lightweight. 😀
Health: I have gained one pound in the last week, but I’m not surprised, since I can actually eat again. The overall trend is down, so i’m okay with a small spike here and there.  My cough is still at the “am I trying to bring up lung tissue?” stage, but less annoying at night, which is all I care about right now.  I have been working on my computer posture.   I usually wear contacts, but for the days I couldn’t stand the thought of wearing them, I have been making do with drugstore reading glasses.  The probem? I have massive astigmatisms.  I realized that I was adopting a really weird posture in order to read my computer screen, while making really awful faces.  Had I been five, and my mother present, I would have heard the old “Your face will freeze that way.” So I took a deep breath, and got new glasses.Exercise: I can’t manage the 45 minutes without hacking, but I’m up to 30 minutes consistenly.

Family:  The conference call with the siblings went rather well.  My siblings and I are not close, but we have managed to stand together in dealing with my parents, which is something that makes me proud.

My husband and I actually had two date nights this week; both Friday and Saturday night we went out for drinks and appetizers.  It’s not much, but we went out about ten times after having kids, so it’ll take us a while to get used to the idea.

Friends: I have been able to stay in better contact with my friends.  I’m not tweeting or commenting on blogs quite as much as I would like, so that is an area to work on.

Writing: Wednesday afternoon I hit that sweet spot with the article, where the words flow as if one is channeling some 19th-century German scholar (well, for medievalists, that is the sweet spot.  Yeah, I know). I wrote without needing to check a source, a definition, or a translation for two hours.  It was amazing. I will definitely be done by the time I take off for Thanksgiving, so that brutal editor can tear it up over the break.

Yesterday I wrote a post on the Professional Good Girl. Born out of something Another Damned Medievalist said a few months ago; given further shape by Lena Corazon’s post last week, this post traces my childhood path through finding approbation and attention at school, since it was not available in my home.

I am going to post an excerpt today as well–perhaps part of Six Sentence Sunday, but maybe a longer snippet.  I must ruminate thereon.  After such a long time thinking, worrying, and being scared that I had nothing to write about on a blog, I find that topics are coming out of my ears. There is at least one more post to the PGG series, and then another about the Imposter Syndrome.  I have a gratitude post for Thanksgiving: Lena Corazon gave me the Versatile Blogger award, and I am stealing Jenny Hansen’s idea of honoring Lena’s and L. S. Engler’s gifts of this award into a gratitude post. Thank you both for the honor.

Friday afternoon, I got my Kindle. I am in love.  Yes, me, the one who talks about the feel of paper and vellum, whose earliest memories include the smell of my father’s print shop; yes, I love my Kindle. I am slowly learning how to make notes and highlight and organizing all my books.

Day Job:  Meh.  I am finding that  the writer is very tired of folding herself to fit into the tiny little space I’ve given her; I used to think of her as the “dream self,” but more and more, the writer is the real me, and the person who goes to the day job is, um, not.  Strange, I know.  This situation bears some thought.

Please go encourage the rest of the ROWers here.

Appreciated Follower Award

Appreciated Follower Award

Earlier this week, Marie Andrews gave me the Appreciated Follower Award.

Thank you, Marie. I am extremely honored. As part of the award, I am supposed to pay it forward by choosing five bloggers. Following Marie’s lead, I am going to pick my five honorees the same way, as people I always read. Also, as I did with the Leibster Award, I want to preface this by saying that I don’t want to oblige anyone to more work than they want to take on. Please take it in the spirit in which it was offered, and do as much or as little as you wish.

Jenny Hansen  Jenny always is looking for more, and that appetite for life is so much fun to read.  She and I share a background of high risk pregnancies, but she is so intellectually curious, reading her blog is a delight.

C. M. Cipriani C. M. manages to keep all the plates she is juggling in the air at the same time, which is something I admire greatly.  She is posting a serial novella which is very interesting, along with  musings on the craft and general thoughts about the life of writing.

Writer-monkey Cate has a slightly twisted view on life which really fits my twisted mind. Her tagline “When life hands you bananas, make daiquiris” is so much more evocative than my Pollyanna half-full glass. Her posts about the struggles she has with her writing are reassuring and interesting at the same time.

Rebecca Emin I ran across Rebecca on Twitter as she tweeted some of the UK writers I follow.  Her tweets about her kids crack me up.  I find Rebecca’s posts about the craft and fitting life around writing down to earth and delightful.

Áine Greaney Áine conducted a webinar based on her book Writer with a Day Job which I took this summer. Her blog investigates the challenges and opportunities of writing and working full-time. She has a gift of asking the right questions to get an interesting discussion going, with lots of good advice and hints added by respondents.

Go take a look at their blogs; I think you’ll find them interesting.