Week Three–Digging In

It was a meeting-rich week at the day job, and the sort of meetings that leave one absent a brain at the end of the day. At some point during the week, my husband sent me a picture of socks which said “This meeting is b***s**t.”  Later in the week, I saw a similar pair and other wonderful ones at a book/gift shop next to where Eden and I met for writing time. It is always dangerous for me to enter a bookshop, because I am so torn between getting ALL the books, and being guilty about buying any books that I cannot justify sitting down to read. I do listen to audio books, and read e-books, but I find it difficult to sit with a print book and read for pleasure.  I hope this inability passes soon, since I usually love to read physical books.

I am not in the best place with the day job right now, in that I am constantly pulled away from the work that matters to attend meetings about things that do not matter. The good thing is that my muse sometimes performs well under stress. Thus I am at times madly writing in my head, jotting down a phrase or two so as not to forget what I was thinking. On the negative side, I am starting to slide back into the Slough of Despond. I plan to investigate medications and/or therapy again, to see if I can moderate the slide before it gets too entrenched. 

So, how did I do on my goals:

One blog post per week. Some weeks this will probably be my account of how I progressed on my goals, but I hope to expand to other posts. Last Friday I went back to my Lapidary Prose blog, and posted a very short piece about hope. Most of my former followers have unfollowed the blog, and I don’t blame them.  I plan to continue to post there and put the links on Facebook and Twitter, slowly building followers again. I have a Mother’s Day post written, and a Father’s Day post drafted.

Five sentences of fiction every day. More will be cherished and coddled, but five is required. My return to the day job disrupted my daily writing routines, but I am slowly getting it back. Thursday I met Eden after work, and ironed out more details about my hero and heroine in the World War II novella, figuring out where and how they might have met, and further details about their backgrounds. I’m still struggling to find a good time to work on the daily writing. After brainstorming with the husband, I am going to try a different approach and write in the mornings before the day job.  I’ll report on my progress next week.

Half an hour of editing the non-fiction book every day. Yes, it’s not always pretty or fun, but necessary. This editing did not happen every day, which was disheartening.  I had planned to do it during lunch break at the day job, but I sometimes get pulled into meetings so that I don’t get a lunch break.  I am involved with an academic writing group that keeps me somewhat on task for that sphere of writing, but we are on a break right now, and I don’t have the incentive to keep up as much as I do when we are reporting every week. 

Have a great, fruitful week, everyone!




Round Two Goals

Lisa Hall-Wilson Creative Commons Attribution by Non-Commercial 2.0

Major Goal:  Move from Victim to Author.  See Kait’s opening post here.


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.


With RoWers twice a week, both my assigned folks and others as possible.

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

Twitter half hour twice a week.  Also a rabbit hole.


Hard drive to find best version of dissertation and fiction writing.

Email so that I can find things.

Paper files, especially of craft books and notes thereon.


Dissertation; yes, a long story, but the dissertation is back in play.

Novel; the dissertation research is the foundation of the worldview of the novel.

Memoir; writing the memoir is helpful to my sanity.


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.

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Round One 2015 Goals

It is time for me to announce my goals for Round One. I’ve also been contemplating words for the year, and have settled on simplicity and minimalism.

For sanity, I want to reduce email, hard drive, and paper file clutter, to be better organized and spend less time frantically searching for things–four hours a week.

I also want to concentrate on people, not things. I will continue to go through my belongings with an eye to donate or give things away–two hours per week.

I will fulfill my assignment as a sponsor within 24 hours.

Re-establish contact via email, LinkedIn, or snail mail with one colleague or friend per week.


I got word this morning that the article I worked on last Round was accepted, with revisions. I want to finish revisions by the end of January,

Write a 45 minute presentation, due mid-March–an hour a week in this early, planning stage.  

Plot and outline my memoir and my novel–five hours a week.


Continue Qigong and meditation every morning.  Promote better sleep by avoiding TV and computer screens for the last hour before sleep.

Catch up with all the doctors’ and dentist appointments I have let slide for the past year.

Be mindful about stress and stress-related eating, hoping to exercise to reduce stress and, as a byproduct, become more fit–walk 20 minutes a day.

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


November ROW80 Check-in

Have you ever been torn between wishing a difficult time would be over, and dreading that everything that has to be done will not get done in time?  Yup, that is exactly where I am. This semester will live in infamy alongside the one in grad school where I was taking three classes and finishing incompletes in two more, writing five final papers totalling 117 pages in fifteen days. Those of you who know me as a snail among writers can imagine what that entailed.

The last several weeks, I had four to five meetings every day, often extending through lunch. My husband had urged me to block time for writing and pulling together the tenure documents, or I would have been in even more. I shuddered every time someone started a conversation with, “I wanted to meet with you this week. . . .”

I was sad when I saw that the last time I checked in was mid-October, and that I have not yet responded to the comments on that check-in. I know I’m late for the Sunday check-in, but I just don’t want to wait for Wednesday.  So here’s my progress in the last month:

1.  1500 words written every week on my final tenure article.  This is finally a win.  By the end of the week, I will have  a complete first draft of the article, which should be about 6,000/7,000 words long.

2.  An hour a day writing, editing, and begging people to write nice letters for my equally fascinating tenure dossier. On the whole, yes. I still have some writing to do and lots of editing and documentation, but I’m on track.

3.  Every morning, yoga and meditation. Yes. Meditation is the only thing keeping me from running screaming down the halls at work.

4. Fill out worksheets, mandalas, mind maps and character sketches on the novella/novel/magnum opus as well as the memoir. Yes, although I have not had new words for several weeks.  I “visit” with my character and world every day, if only for fifteen minutes. When I move into the editing phase of the article, I will return to writing this story. The memoir has been shelved for a little while, too. 

5. I’m adding a goal for self-care.  I need more sleep, more hydration, and mindful eating.  I have recently been apprised of some small health concerns, none serious, that require taking better care of myself.  Like many (often, but not exclusively, women) who were socialized to be caregivers, I find it difficult to take time for myself.

My promise in October not to be a stranger was an abject failure, but I will try again, because this community helps me immensely.  My heartfelt thanks to you all.

Please go cheer on the other ROWers here.

smaller EM


Late as can be ROW 80 update

Where the magic happens
Writing Desk

This semester is proving to be as wild a ride as I suspected.  I have not checked in since the beginning of the Round, which makes me sad.  I am working on the day job stuff, and allowing myself to work 15 minutes a day or so on creative writing (see number 4 below for details on that shiny), but it has been difficult. Thursday night, I came down with food poisoning, or just some feral form of gastric unpleasantness, which left me weak as a limp dishrag. I’m starting to feel a bit more human today, but it flattened me and my plans.  So, for a very short update:

1.  1500 words written every week on my final tenure article.  Nope, neither week. I did get 1000 the first week, and 500 the second, but, sigh.

2.  An hour a day writing, editing, and begging people to write nice letters for my equally fascinating tenure dossier. Yes, this has been accomplished with the exception of the Great Stomach Virus days.

3.  Every morning, yoga and meditation. Yes, except this past Friday, when the thought of even the child’s pose was not a good one.

4. Fill out worksheets, mandalas, mind maps and character sketches on the novella/novel/magnum opus as well as the memoir. Although I have only been able to commit one or two fifteen minute sprints daily to this project, it has been my sole source of fun the past two weeks.  

I was very naughty, and took a WANA workshop that uses lots of drawing, meditating, and plumbing Jungian psychology, with a dash of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey (or shero’s in my case) to dig into one’s characters. It has been so, so very helpful for me to approach the novella this way, and I have also done worksheets for my memoir. The picture above is of me working on my various mindmaps, but I will share the colorful (ah pretty!) results of all this work soon.

I will try not to be a stranger. Please go cheer on the other ROWers here.

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


ROW80 Musings on chameleons

This will have to be a quick check-in, because my bedtime approaches.  Hay fever abides, and it has been hot and humid as north-central-nowhere-near-the-coasts Florida these past few days in upstate New York, and I’m miffed. Yes, I know, I’ll be snivelling about the snow in a few months, sigh.

Despite these conditions, I’ve been writing, working further on my memoir and posting snippets on my author blog. I’ve been thinking about my early training to be a chameleon.  If I could, I hid from family and friends alike, but when I had to interact, I learned to mold myself to be exactly like them, in the way Silly Putty copied the funnies in the newspaper.  You don’t like that music? Well, I’ve never been partial to that band either.  You hate hot dogs? So do I, never eat them.  It was the only sure way for people to like me, but I found myself in my twenties with no idea what music or food or books I liked. I had gone so subterranean, I was part mole and part lava monster.

Have you ever found yourself in situations where you pretended in order to fit in?  I’d be happy to hear about it.  I’m sure more of my meditations will end up in blog posts at some point, once I’ve winnowed through all the trash in my brain!

We will soon enter our last month of this Round.  Please encourage and visit the ROWers here.

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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.

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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.

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Asking for advice and ROW80 checkin

After chasing my tail around and around about the problem, I realized what a resource I had at hand.  So, please give me some advice.  I have three blogs and can’t decide what to do about them–one is on life support, but yet gets hits nearly every day.  Was I premature in starting my self-named blog?  Should i try to combine all three? I would truly appreciate your thoughts.

When I started blogging in earnest in 2011, I had only this blog for ROW80 check-ins.  Soon, I added Lapidary Prose, which was to be my literary history, history of words, and contemplative blog.  I had a brief foray into “On this date in history” kind of thing as well.  Once I had exposure to more experienced writers, I decided to create Elizabeth Anne Mitchell as an “author platform,”  Since then, I have not spent time on Lapidary Prose, but the posts are still getting hits, and I still enjoy writing about literary history and words.

Part of my concern is my decision last Wednesday to take the plunge to participate in WIPpet Wednesday.  I know many ROW80 participants include both hops in their ROW80 check-in, but it feels odd to me, like I’m shorting each task.  Also, to be scarily honest, I still feel like an imposter, in that I have a rough outline, then I string little beads of scenes along the way, with no rhyme nor reason to the order. Anyway, I’m hoping that I can slowly learn how to do things like setting and dialogue.

I survived my two presentations on Thursday, but felt pretty awful Friday.  Stress often takes a physical toll on me.  The meditation and yoga poses have been lifesavers.  My hands are starting to feel my age (or maybe even twenty years older!) from the constant computer typing and mousing for about ten hours a day, between the day job, social media, and writing. I picked up a nice, small, notebook at the conference, and plan to use it for writing to ease my hand pain.

Said writing is coming slowly, but I do have several thousand words from my NaNo rebel memoir last November, which is easier than facing a blank screen.  I stopped writing it in December when my brother passed away, and had only picked it up briefly in April when my mother passed away. I am more ready to write about my early life now, at least in little sessions, so I hope to expand to more than five sentences a day for the remainder of Round Two.

ROW80 is in the home stretch of Round 2.  If you would like to be a sponsor, read about it here. Please consider it and please go encourage the participants here.smaller EM