The good weeks keep rolling in

editing, writing, red pen,
From cellar_door_films via WANA Commons

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States, so I’m looking forward to being off the day job. And yes, I am putting writing first, as Kait suggests in today’s check-in post. In fact, my sons are home for the summer, which will ease the housework load, and easier to make time for creative pursuits.

So on to the check-in. Last week was frustrating, with many supervisory headaches and serious talks with a couple of my staff.  Some weeks I earn every cent of my supervisory stipend, and this week of herding locusts was one of them. Even so, I found time for planning and writing.  Also, Amy Kennedy wrote a thought-provoking post on taking the time to enjoy a cup of coffee.  This post seems to be one of those the Universe wanted me to pay attention to, as it hit me with a blast of recognition.  Eden also referenced it in her check-in post last week, and brought it back to my thoughts again. I realized that although I’d savored cups of coffee once the boys were in kindergarten and first grade, I have not done so for a long time.  I’m always doing something else, and I’ve even found my morning meditation time has eroded into shorter and more distracted time.

Part of my restlessness can be traced to my upbringing.  My aunt was of the firm belief that “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop,” so I feel slothful and almost sinful if I do not have knitting or quilting or some form of needlework in my hands.  However, I was able this week to return to meditation, clearing my mind of the Rolodex of tasks and worries that is usually spinning its evil in my brain.

Amy’s post reminds me of one of my favorite quotations from Blaise Pascal. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I have to admit when I sit in a coffeeshop and watch people at the same table focus on their phones, I see myself in the mirror of that self-absorption.  I hope to write a post about this topic, which may help me to be more mindful of my need for diversions.

On the positive side as well, last Sunday night’s group sprint was very productive.  I finished the first draft of an article for work, which has gone to the academic equivalent of beta readers this week. I also tackled the female character I mentioned in the last check-in, using Denise’s suggestion of writing in first person, just to get inside her head.  The exercise was starting to make her more real, and I followed up with exercises from Rachel Funk Heller’s Writers’ Coloring Book for which I was a beta last fall.  I was working through my English war bride’s strengths and fears, when I moved on to her yearning.   Suddenly, I got her completely; I knew what I had been missing in her backstory.  I was very pleased and happy with myself. I also got the chance to see Shan for the first time in a long time. *waves*

I ended the week by finishing up an additional sponsor post.  This week had so much to contemplate, so many great posts, it was great fodder. So all in all, a positive and productive week, although I do need to work more assiduously on some of my goals, especially responding to comments in a more timely manner.  How are you doing? Let me know, and I will respond, by gosh!

Also, please go visit the other RoWers.  Many of us are facing a change in routine with the summer here, so encouragement to stay strong and stay writing is very helpful.  The linky is here.

smaller EM



ROW80 Barn in sight

Back in the saddle after missing Sunday’s check-in.  I don’t have a very good excuse, so I will only say, “life happened.”

Writing happened, too.  I wrote a post event report on the World Sexual Health Day, a WIPpet Wednesday post from what has been my “hidden under the bed” project (too near and dear  for me to chance public view until now), and work on more drafts of ideas and characters and on and on.

I still have an excitement hangover from the trip to New York.  Part of the festivities for World Sexual Health Day was a couple of performances of Acroyoga–oh man! The performers showed such strength and agility, I was (briefly) ashamed of my baby yoga, but then got over it and enjoyed the performances.

As always in NYC, there was a lot of good food, accompanied in this case by good company. I love to be swept up in the hum and drive of the city.  I couldn’t live there unless my life depended on it, but I love a jolt of the buzz every so often.

I am massively behind on comments and visiting and encouraging. I do plan to fight my runaway horse, slow down to enjoy the scenery, and pay it forward to all of you who saw me through the past, undeniably rough, year.

Mixed up in all of the above, I am thinking about goals for the next Round. I don’t think I’m ready for sponsorship yet, since the dread, glisteningly sharp sword of Damocles is still overhead. By the end of the fourth round, I will have the first draft of all my paperwork done for tenure, and can return to a semblance of life while I await the imperial thumbs up or down.

My ADD is in full flower in this post (Oh, SQUIRREL), but I will let it stand. Please go encourage the brave ROWers pulling for the home stretch here.

smaller EM


ROW80 Jump Dead Ahead

Tomorrow, Shan Jeniah and I are travelling to the city (around here that only means NYC) to meet August McLaughlin, whom we met through WANA (the brainchild of Kristen Lamb) in a recreation of the City Mouse and the Country Mouse that should prove a growth experience for each of us.Oh, and we will also attend the World Sexual Health Day.

I’m afraid this check-in will be short, as I have already written a WIPpet post on my author blog, and then a post for the 2nd Annual World Sexual Health Day, also on my author blog.  All i need to say, quite honestly, is that the well overflows in a way it has not for so long, and I am beyond grateful. Will this deep, warm, vat of words end up in a story/novel/piece of some sort?  Got me.  *Gallic shrug*  I’m revelling in the rush of nouns and adjectives, verbs and adverbs, plucking strings of memory and thought as they swirl through me. I feel as though a long-lost love has walked through the door, thrown his hat on the table, gathered me to him, and swung me off my feet.

I am keeping up with the yoga and the meditation, as well.  I tell you, not even the day job gets me down, and that says a lot. I see that big jump on the horizon, where I will commit to this writing of mine, revealing myself to the world, and I don’t even flinch. I told my boss today why I was going to NYC.  Oh my, how the onion peel is sloughing away!

Please, go take a look at the linky here and encourage the ROWers.  In the last stretch like this, it is often hard to slog through to the finish line, and your cheers help!

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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


Writing has commenced

This morning, I woke up with the need to write, something that has not occurred for months. *happy dance* While I am not one to write only when the muse is happy, it was nice to feel the creative flow again. So I sat in my dark little office cubbyhole with the quiet of the morning around me, and continued to write on the paper I am presenting in a couple of weeks.  Shan Jeniah asked what I meant by a zero draft.  I have no idea where I got the term, but I mean the kind of writing one is supposed to do in NaNo.  No editing, no stopping to look things up and the like.  I know way, way, too much about this subject, so I don’t need to fact check while writing, which is extremely freeing.

Although I’ve been able to keep up with sponsor duties, I still have to catch up with comments on my previous posts, but I am making progress.

I have been keeping up with meditation and keeping up with my family. I’m working to be kind to myself, as Kait advised at the beginning of this Round.

ROW80 is a community blog hop.  Please go check out the participants here.


Guarding the Spark

Two days in, it is time to assess my progress on my goals. I’m feeling very positive about my progress, which is a welcome change!

Although I did not hit my 250 words a day goal, I spent time organizing and expanding notes, and outlining my article.  Reading through my notes, I was beginning to feel a renewed spark of excitement and interest in the topic.  My muse opened the trap door, peeking out carefully, then slowly sidling to my side.  Nerdy it may be, but my veins are sloshing with creativity, which often slops over into non-academic pursuits.   A good couple of days, I’d say.

I managed to keep up very well with my sponsor visits and replies to comments.  I stopped by Lauralynn Elliott, Shan Jeniah, Julie Glover, Eden Mabee, and Ruth Nestvold, all of whom have interesting goals this Round.

I also finished my sponsor post–even earlier than I expected!

Finally, as part of my quest to update my main blog, I posted the history of profanity, which was a popular post on a moribund blog of mine.

The ROW80 community is interesting and varied–please go visit someone on the blog hop here.



ROW80 Check-in Positive Thinking

This check-in, I’m going to concentrate on the positive.  My natural tendency to dwell on the negatives does me no favors, and makes me a dull person.

The best thing I did was take an entire week off work.  I have been working a full-time day job since January 2, 1986; discounting maternity and other medical leaves, I have never taken more than a long weekend off work.  It was very unusual, and slightly unnerving, when the husband and I went off together for an entire ten days, not calling work, not taking work along with us.

It was glorious, cleansing, restoring, and lots of other adjectives.  The downside? I did not realize beforehand that internet access costs would be equivalent to cash advance rates (read, usury) and therefore out of reach.  My apologies to all of you for being incommunicado. I will be on medical leave for 2-3 weeks beginning September 17th, so if I haven’t made the rounds and caught up on my comments yet, I will do it then.

While I was away, I realized how close I was to burnout on the day job, and by extension on my writing as well.  One accomplishment since my return has been to re-read several of the sponsor posts that I read quickly when they were posted.  I find that sometimes I need to be in a certain mental space for ideas to find purchase.

Eden Mabee’s excellent post on finding time to write helped me make some baby steps.  Tia Bach’s post reminded me how ROW80 has given me a community offering support as well as accountability.  Kim Switzer’s thoughts and those of Shan Burton’s followed with reminders of the passion underlying our need to find the time and space to write. If you haven’t read these posts, I suggest taking the time to do so.

My summer has been spent reading, books, posts, and articles I will share as I can.  It has been a retrenchment, a discovery.  At times, I have felt dismay at the pace and the uncertainty, but with hindsight, I can see the necessity of it for further growth.

ROW80 is a wonderful community. Please visit and encourage ROWers here.