Round One–Week Eight in the Rear View Mirror

The past few weeks have not led to any blogging, so I clearly am not meeting that goal. Things are generally better they were when last I posted, so I’m pleased about that. My sleep is still not where I want it to be, but there is definite progress. In part, I was thrown off by having a conference in Denver. The change in time zone was exacerbated by getting back to town at midnight; my poor psyche didn’t have a clue what time it was for a day or two. I have been using essential oils (thank you for the suggestion, Chris Kincaid), as well as turning off screens an hour before I go to sleep. Both methods help immensely.

Despite not blogging, I have been continuing to plan the A-Z blog posts for April, so that goal is coming along. I have also put in many hours on the sabbatical project. I have been hyperfocussed (ADD is sometimes handy), and spent over twelve hours this weekend working on it. The fiction is simmering in the background, but I can’t seem to give more than a few minutes a day to it. The good news is that I will be at the point where the non-fiction and the fiction intertwine in about a week, so there may be more synergy there.

I’m not at the point of giving up any goals, although I am falling behind on keeping the day job at bay as well as neglecting the blogging. I believe both goals are still within reach, if I just stretch a bit.

How are you doing with your goals? Just in your grasp, or still just beyond your fingertips? Whichever it may be, I hope everyone has a productive week.


Round One, Week Five — A Better Week

Cod. Bodmer 49, Fondation Martin Bodmer

Last week, I hoped that this week would be better, and it was much better in many ways. I am still not sleeping, but I have essential oils arriving tomorrow that I am looking forward to trying. I also picked up a few books at the library on Saturday that will keep me from reading on my phone when I wake up at 2am.

The day job is running at between three to four meetings a day, not my favorite sort of thing, but I am wrapping up six different administrative writing projects and hope that there are not any more on the horizon!

However, there is good news from last week. I posted a WIPpet on Wednesday, a First Friday Photo on Friday, and a video of northern lights, also on Friday. Eden helped me iron out some plot points and directions with the story when we met at a local coffee shop on Friday. Clearly, I was wrong that these characters only talk to me when I am rested–or maybe they just got tired of waiting.

I also worked very briefly on the non-fiction sabbatical project at the coffee shop, but then went home and worked on it for seven more hours. I took yesterday off, but worked on it for 8 hours today. There is a nice synergy starting between the non-fiction and the fiction that is exciting. I am having fun with the non-fiction in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. So yes, it was a much better week.

How are you doing at this point in the Round? Need to adjust to a slower or more challenging pace? I’d love to know how everyone’s goals are going.

Have a great week, everyone.


Round One, Week 3–Slow Progress

Last week was somewhat slow, but I managed to be purposeful and to do some writing in the evenings, which is very unusual for me. Last Wednesday, I decided to change my routine slightly, and posted WIPpet Wednesday as a stand-alone on my Lapidary Prose blog, rather than folding it into a RoW80 check-in. Monday, I posted a quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt for Martin Luther King Day on my named blog, and Friday I posted a video as part of resuscitating a Friday Laugh tradition, also on my Elizabeth Mitchell blog.  Here I am with a (almost late) Sunday check-in, so I have more than achieved my goal of two posts weekly.

I’m still hobbling about a bit, and not sleeping well, since my knee is still swollen from the fall last week. The only good thing about waking up at three a.m. is that several of my characters also like to ruminate in the middle of the night. The main male character in a piece I’m writing for the WIPpet was a peripheral character for the past decade in my 14th-century novel, but he swept out of the shadows with gusto a few weeks ago.

The A-Z planning is coming along, although I have to fight the scattershot brain that can think of four to five more topics that would be fun and interesting. I try to calm the brain by writing these ideas down for further exploration.

I have no problem this week writing five sentences of fiction a day. Happily, I’ve been able to write some non-fiction as well. Sleeping three to four hours a night helps immeasurably with that, although I don’t think I can keep this schedule up for long.

And, for my last goal, I have been very good about not working this weekend, except for my research, which doesn’t feel like work, honestly. In continuing to look through and consolidate my electronic files, I was delighted to find a copy of over thirty pages I wrote about fifteen years ago, which I had thought lost. Although it needs editing and updating, it was such a boon to find it.

The capstone of the week was a conversation last night about alternative histories with my younger son, who mentioned several scenarios that he thought would make great stories–and I agree. Now all those plot bunnies are floating around in my head, which is a very nice feeling.

I hope everyone is having a good week.


Round One, Week Two — Ups and Downs

Medieval Writing, by Hans Splinter, WANA Commons

Last Wednesday, I didn’t have a lot more than a WIPpet to offer as progress  toward my goals. At least it did get me the two blog posts that I have been trying to achieve for a while, so that was good.  It was also fun to start to investigate a different aspect of a character I’ve been thinking about for a long time. A serendipitous find in a reference work opened up a whole story that has been unwinding itself in a lovely way.

I also took a brief look at some notes I wrote a few months ago about what might be an interesting A-Z blog challenge and thought about some possibilities for some more letters.

With a nudge here and there, I have been writing five sentences a day on fiction. I have been concentrating on the character mentioned above, but I also had a lightning strike about one of my World War II characters as well.

And as my pivot point from ups to downs, I did a decent job disengaging from the day job, although I realized I have to do some work tomorrow, even though it is officially a day off. Sigh.

On Friday, I had to go to New York City for a doctor’s appointment, and had planned to stay overnight to visit some of the bookstores and favorite restaurants. Unfortunately, the escalator to the track level was very slick, and I did a masterful free fall down the entire thing, managing an acrobatic split that I haven’t achieved since I was a teenager. Luckily, my doctor checked me out, and I’ve done nothing more serious than strained the ligaments in my knee, and several back muscles. Who knew I was that athletic? So, the other half and I didn’t make it to the Strand bookstore, but we did find a very nice Italian restaurant just a block away from the hotel.

I have had a pretty quiet day here, not getting the cleaning done that I had planned, but organizing lots of electronic files (some of which I had misplaced for about five years, so that was a victory). I suppose, now that I write it all down, it wasn’t a bad week, well, except for the banged up knee.


Round Four, Check-in 23

Initially, I was looking back at the Round with mixed feelings because I didn’t do as well as I would have liked. However, upon reflection, I did more than I have done in a long time. In this penultimate check-in, I will focus on what I would change for the next Round. I will end on a high note on Wednesday, looking at what I accomplished.

I need to write more often. I know that there are many people who write only every weekend, or only once a month, or whatever. I am not one of those people. For me, writing infrequently is like putting down an uncapped fountain pen for a week. The ink in the nib will have dried into a hard glob, and no ink will flow. The words are stuck and have to be pried through a mesh barrier at great effort, making it too easy for me to put the piece down again to work on later. And later becomes later, and later, and finally never. It doesn’t matter that I won’t use all the words I write; it is the practice of writing, keeping the ink flowing that is important.  I have been reworking some pieces from long ago, and my reaction ranges from “What dreck!” to “Hmm, that phrase isn’t bad.”

In that vein, I need to blog more often. I had a lot of fun rejoining WIPpet Wednesday last week, although I have to admit, I fear not being able to keep up the pace, or to match the quality of the other entries–a self-imposed worry, since everyone is supportive.  I also posted a Stream of Consciousness Saturday piece for the first time, which is far easier because it is meant to be a raw piece, with only corrections of typos.

Finally, I need to be more of a participant in the community. As Eden said on the check-in post, life happens, but the support of this community helps, even if one just needs sympathy for a bad week.

So, looking at the whole Round, the goals that were difficult were to write a blog post every week and to work on the nonfiction. I need to add accountability for visiting ROWers’ blogs and responding to comments. However, as I look at the list, I did more than I did not, so I feel better.

My progress on writing and health goals since the last check-in are indicated below. I will address the organizing goals on Wednesday. I hope all of you are ending your Round on a positive note; if something (like Life) got in your way, there’s always the next Round.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week. Yes, two. Wednesday and Saturday.

Write three pages of fiction every week. Yes.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week. No.


Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day. Yes.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day. Yes.

Keep up with medical appointments. Yes.


Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.


ROW80, WIPpet Wednesday

Round Four, Check-in 22 and WIPpet Wednesday

I disappeared for a few weeks from the Round of Words, due to finishing NaNo (and winning), followed by illness and accompanying overwhelm. Today, I woke in full curmudgeon, having slept badly and not long enough, and essentially grumped through my day.  Some who know me well are thinking, “What’s new with that?”  and I must agree.

The difference is, as I tidied my office at the end of the work day, I was flooded with the urge to write. After days, and weeks, of forcing myself awake in the morning darkness to put pixels on the screen, I carefully fed the kindling to the flame and enjoyed the warmth of the words flowing through me. I do not often write at night, but I am now, and the feeling is simply glorious.

I have been writing prompts and thoughts and just about anything that comes through my mind with the abandon of someone first acquainted with the ability to transcribe one’s thoughts into words. I don’t know if this lovely feeling will last, but it is reminding me of why I get up in the dark to squeeze words out of my brain.

My last post about my goals was about some baby steps I was taking, leaving my comfort zone. I am going to take another baby step today, by posting an excerpt.  I used to contribute to WIPpet Wednesday long ago, and will post something for it here. I hope to continue to write snippets for it.

WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by Emily Wrayburn. The rules are quite simple–the length of the snippet has a mathematical connection with the date.  For example, for 12/12, I am adding all four numbers in the date and posting 6 sentences. This snippet is set in 14th century Paris, where Christine, a widow running her own copy shop, receives a message.

Christine came into the shop to a buzz among the copyists and illuminators, quickly dulled when they noticed her in the doorway of her office.  Anastasia brought over a folded sheaf of parchment, written in a dense hand. “A new poem from Eustache Morel, on a familiar topic.” Christine glanced at the pages, seeing her own name in the verses. Her mentor would not debate politics with her, but had sent a poem of praise.  Her irritation at being seen as a woman was shot through with the warmth accompanying being seen as a woman.

If you want to read more snippets, go here for the links. Also, if you are a writer, consider joining the group, who are supportive and helpful folks.

As for my RoW80 goals, I am doing reasonably well on the health and organizing goals, but not so well on the writing goals. The day job should calm down a bit, as it is finals week, but I am traveling before Christmas and may be doing all my writing longhand and not online.  I will share in the next Round, I promise.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week. Nope

Write three pages of fiction every week. Yes.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week. Nope.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day. Yes

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day. Yes.

Keep up with medical appointments. Yes, although it really is unpleasant when the medication makes one sick!

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project. Yes, with projects multiplying like wire hangers behind the closed doors of closets overnight.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella. Yes, and beyond!

I’d love to hear how everyone is doing in this space between holidays and sliding into Winter Solstice. I myself can relate to my Celtic forebears begging the sun to return.


Leaving the Comfort Zone

Today, I will take a page from the RoW80 blog post  about leaving one’s comfort zone, doing something one has never thought one could do. I’ll start with a small thing. Last Friday night, I went to a fundraiser at Eden’s son’s school, where the main event was painting a version of the painting being done by an artist (there were two, actually) at the front of the room. I went because I knew it was a good cause, but I was dreading doing the painting. I have not painted anything other than walls and doors since 6th grade, and was convinced that the world was better off for that fact. To my surprise, I did far better than I expected. My painting will never grace a gallery, and was darker and less detailed than the original, but I did not feel it needed to be consigned to the trash. A baby step, but one that felt somehow momentous.

A larger baby step out of my comfort zone is NaNo rebellion, which is going rather well. I have officially signed up for NaNo only once before, quitting at roughly 16,000 words. I have more than that now, and I am still writing, some new words as well as editing old ones. While the majority of the new words are from working through the details of the conflict and the scenes, they count as foundation, even if they might not all end up in the next draft. After all, 50,000 brand new words from NaNo may not all end up in the next draft either.

There are many more baby steps to take me further from my comfort zone, but each step helps. I haven’t yet nailed all my goals for this Round, but I am doing much better than at the start of the Round. I plan to concentrate on the organizing goals, which call on different creativity from me, and which don’t come as easily.

Where are all of you as we have turned the bend and are in the last half of this Round? Are there goals you need to tweak?  I’d love to hear how everyone is doing.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week.

Write three pages of fiction every week.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.

Keep up with medical appointments.

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.