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


ROW80 Goals for Round 2 2013

Writing, screen, Elizabeth Anne Mitchell,
Clutter free writing desk,

The following are my goals for the second Round of a Round of Words in 80 Days in 2013.  What is A Round of Words, or ROW80, as  participants like to call it? It is a writing challenge that “knows you have a life.”  Click here to read more about it from the creator of the challenge, Kait Nolan.

EDIT: Kait posted a challenge for this Round in the call for goals.  It is to be the best me possible, without comparing myself to anyone else.  Kait’s challenge leads to the same end as my goals, even though Kait’s post didn’t come out for several hours after I had posted.  It’s nice how life hands one these coincidences, isn’t it?

This Round, I am concentrating on self-care: of the person; the writer; the body; the spirit.

An added  mantra for the Round is minimize the unimportant in order to maximize the important. To that end, I am ridding myself of clutter, whether paper or electronic; concentrating on healthy habits of body and mind; and connecting rather than hibernating.

Writing:  One hour three times a week writing in the following order:

  • the academic article du jour
  • Morning Pages
  • Blog posts


  • As a sponsor, I will visit my assigned blogs twice a week.
  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs within 2 days.
  • One non-blog related post per week on Facebook and Twitter. (Stolen, with extreme gratitude, from Raelyn Barclay)
  • One share, re-tweet, whatnot per week on Facebook and Twitter. (Stolen, as above)


  • One hour three times a week at home going through paper detritus of modern life.
  • One hour three times a week going through electronic files–rename, delete, archive.


  • Walk. Seriously. 30 minutes a day.
  • Follow-up on all the health issues.  Don’t want to? Sorry for ya. At least one issue per week
  • Family day, no working and time with family, one day per week. (Stolen from  Julie Glover  via Raelyn Barclay)


  • Update Goodreads at least every other week. (Yes, stolen again from Raelyn Barclay).
  • List and report on what I’m reading, even the dry, academic stuff. (This idea is stolen from Lena Corazon, who shares her dissertation reading)

Please go check our some of the participants in this challenge here.


February 8 Check-in Scaling back but not gone

The past few days have been, um, character-building. I’ve spoken before about the problems of being “Generation Squeeze,” where one is pulled in two directions by the demands of aging parents and of teenage/young adult children. While we were looking for housing in Albany, which was stressful enough, thank you, my mother-in-law’s assisted care residence called my husband three times in the space of 24 hours about problems with her.

In the same 24-hour period, we both missed calls from our eldest son, who never calls, preferring to text. We got in touch with him the next day, hoping he was okay, to find out that he was calling for his brother, who was in trouble with his university. Great: 700 miles away from the mother and 1400 miles away from the son, we sat and worried.

Meanwhile, my muse was just happy as a bear at a fish ladder. “Oh, this is how Maeve feels when . . .” and “this will work well for this scene.” Oh, please, can’t I just have a nervous breakdown without turning it into prose? The answer of course, is no; the writer part of me uses all of this, working through the emotions and the worry and the pain to infuse what I write with all of it–refined, cleaned up, less self-indulgent, but real.

However, even my ebullient muse is slowing down with the worry, the calls, the trips to pick up my son (yes, the trouble was that serious). I’m not dropping out of the Round–if anything, I need this community even more–but I am scaling way back for the time being.  I may scale back up before the end of the Round, but I may not.

My only goal for the foreseeable future is the test mile. As Kait said in the check-in post, it needs to be a stretch; right now, 250 words is a stretch for me.  Most of it will not end up in my fiction, but it will keep me sane (I hope).

I have always liked Matt Hofferth’s What I have learned section; I saw that Lena Corazon has added that as well.  I would like to add that as a goal, but may hold off for a bit. 

Writing: I forgot to thank all the #teamsprinty folks last check-in.  I joined in one day late last week with 15 minutes to go, and wrote 616 words.  Whew!  It was just great.  I recommend doing sprints with them if you have the time–it’s 2pm EST if you’re available.  It is such a wonderful group! 

Exercise: Packing is wonderful exercise, I am finding. My shoulders and back are particularly sensitive, so I am glad that I have an 18-year-old that I can supervise for all the heavy work.  I am still walking, so that continues apace.

Friends: I have a character flaw that I don’t want to bore or burden my friends when all I have to talk about is my troubles.

Family: As I mentioned above, our younger son is back home for the next few months. Our older son wants to talk to us tonight about what to do with his life.  I am pleased that they trust us enough to want to ask us advice; it doesn’t mean they will follow it, but listening is something.

Dealing with my dad is bringing back all kinds of lost little girl feelings; if that were not enough, my brother has further tests this week to ascertain whether his cancer has returned.  Simply put, I am a total mess.

Day Job: My bosses have encouraged me to take all the leave I can manage.  No fool, I am very good at taking hints.

Please encourage all the other ROWers here.


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.