Round Two Sunday Six Strange Freedom

Happy just-past-midpoint of Round Two, everyone. It is a strange Round for me, in that I have worked every May since my youngest was a year old, and that was 24 years ago. It is a strange, but lovely, freedom. I wake up at 5:30 and start editing or writing, and fight the feeling that I am forgetting something.

Although I am checking in, I do feel I am letting my blogging and social media lapse. Yesterday was the May meeting of my local RWA chapter,  which included a lovely presentation on branding and an author platform, which, if you glance at Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, you will see needs some of my love and attention. I garnered some great ideas from the presentation, and want to try some of them out.

I also had a heartening chat with the chapter president after the meeting, where she had some suggestions in response to my whining about being such a nerd. I hope to overcome my discomfort with some of social media I tend to avoid, and try some of her suggestions as well.

As for my goals,  I have fallen down on my organizing the sabbatical space, as well as my reading criticism for a half-hour.  I had eye surgery on my right eye last Friday, and babied it for the day. However, I plan to make myself read something this evening, since I spent most of today updating my bibliography, and found a few articles I actually want to read.

I am not sure when I will get back to the office on campus, since finals continue most of this week, and campus will be nearly uninhabitable. I am working on my study space at home, making small improvements.  

Finally, since it seems our May cold snap may have ended, *speaking softly so it doesn’t return to spite me,* I will add a goal of walking at least 1 hour a day. I am spending even more time crouched over a keyboard than I do at the day job,  and I am feeling it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, productive week. Please visit the other RoWers hereat the hashtag #row80 or in the FB group.



Finding the stirrups

Last checkin, I had planned to write at least 100 words a day on a presentation I have to do in March. Actually, I didn’t get anything written until Friday, but Friday I wrote 1330 words.

I also planned to get a couple of draft posts to completion.  I did not manage two, but I do have an entry coming out tomorrow in the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.

I am behind on replies to comments again, but should have some time to reply this week. I am going to try a new tack, which is to schedule time, with an alarm, to keep me from constantly breaking my appointments with myself and my tasks.  I’m hopeful.

This week’s goals: 1) Write 100 words a day.  More is good, but any amount is probably key at this point.

2) Space planning for home office.  The current arrangement is not working, so I need to brainstorm solutions.

3) Personal time.  I do not protect down time for myself either at work or at home. I have found myself falling asleep at dinner, then having trouble combating stressful thoughts at night.  I need to unplug at work from time to time, even if things pile up in the half hour or hour I’m gone.  The same is true for home, where all my time seems to be given to others.  I need my own time, no matter how selfish that sometimes makes me feel.  I’m going to work on both fronts.

Please go encourage other ROWers, whom you can find here, as well as on Facebook in the ROW80 group and on Twitter at #ROW80. 

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!

smaller EM




August 22nd Check-in Writing again

As I had hoped in the last check-in, I have been able to write about some of the stress and problems I have faced recently. I am still using my fountain pens and writing paper rather than the computer; something about the tactile feel of the words pouring out with the ink is more cathartic. Also, I am following the earlier suggestions that I change my writing place and get up earlier.  I go out on my front porch to write.  The mornings are crisp, even while the days heat up later.

My brother emailed me on Saturday to tell me that his oncologist found a mass in his remaining lung.  My family does not talk about anything that might reek of emotions, so it is not surprising that he would choose to email rather than call.  I haven’t delved completely into my reactions to my brother’s illness.  I shrink from it as from a hot stove.  When his cancer was first diagnosed, I fell apart.  I could barely function.  I must find a way to grieve without shutting down again.  I feel guilty talking about grieving, as my brother hasn’t even had a biopsy yet, but I never worked through the first time he was sick.

I called my father Sunday night to check on him, especially as he would have heard my brother’s news as well.  The call became rather surreal, with my father becoming rather emotional. My mother is entirely lost to us through Alzheimer’s, but Sunday night was the first time he didn’t try to cover up for her, to pretend that she wasn’t responding because she was busy.  My father described how lonely and disconnected he feels, how starved for conversation, which really touched me. I shared with him my loneliness for an adult voice when I was home with my toddler sons, how I dragooned the postman to spend just a little time with me by offering a cool glass of water, a bit of shadetree. He thanked me for understanding him and not chastising him, again in a surreal role reversal.

I don’t seem to be able to do much but write about the pain that has threaded through the generations; my father losing his brother to an impaired driver; my siblings reacting in our different ways to our wounded parents, turning inward and wounding ourselves or outward and attacking the others; my children and nieces and nephews all finding their parents odd and unconnected to their siblings, still following the decorous steps of avoidance taught us so early and so well.

I feel guilty for mining these experiences, yet they are the stuff of my writing.  I use  the way I saw my father change during the phone call announcing my uncle’s death, the light dimming, flickering, folding in on itself. I sketch the lines of dismissive, bullying enemies from my siblings’ dismissal of me, familiar as the ache of long-healed broken bones on a crisp December evening.  I mine the cost of breaking with convention, of being perceived as uselessly, stubbornly, educated in a world that values beauty, even though it makes my eyes burn with repressed tears.

So, I’m writing through the pain and the guilt, and hope that something useful will come of it, if only self-awareness. I fell down on sponsorship duties Sunday and have yet to reply to comments, but I will do so in the next day or so. The past few days have borne out my own rendition of the verse, “The truth shall set you free,” to which I have always added, “but first it will make you miserable.”  I plan to hammer the pain and truth into words.

Welcome new followers: Louise,  Chris,  Cate, and Courtney.

I’d also like to shout out to Natalie Hartford, whose moving stories about the loss of her mother-in-law to an impaired driver burrowed into me until I could work through the loss of my uncle.

As always, please give your support and encouragement to the other ROWers.  The blog hop linky isn’t up yet, but I can refer you to the main site’s blog. Go have a look. If you write, you might find this supportive community interesting. If you don’t write, you will find some lovely people, great blogs and wonderful books.




August 1 Check-in Working Behind the Scenes

I noticed when I went to publish this check-in, that it is my 100th post for ROW80.  I have a few more on my other blogs, but this is still a milestone for me.  Thank you all who support and encourage me!

The last few days have been rather productive, in a behind-the-scenes kind of way.  Although I don’t agree with everything Stephen Covey taught in his books, there is one phrase that resonates with me.  It is “sharpen the saw.”  While chopping down trees, one has to stop to sharpen the saw in order to be efficient.  I have ADD, so left to my own devices, I would start with whatever file caught my eye when I logged into the computer.  It is an act of will to stop, think about what I plan to do, and not let the ADD magpie coax me off-course.

Several colleagues have mentioned how neat I keep my cubicle at work.  Little do they know that it is self-preservation.  There are files I need to keep somewhat present, current projects simmering on the back burner, but everything else has to go away, or it will continue to sing its siren song to my magpie.

My home office is the same.  Right now, I am sharing a desk, tucked in a corner of the master bedroom, with my eldest son.  He and I need the same sort of clear surface, thank goodness, and we have worked out a schedule of sorts.  He works away while I sleep, and has usually gone to bed about an hour before I get on the computer at 5am.  Luckily, my husband sleeps through both my son’s time and mine.  I suppose I am veering off-course, here, but my point was that I have been organizing my files on the computer (huge thanks to Eden who gave me a tower to replace my ailing laptop) as well as paper files that have been unearthed in the recent troll through the garage.

I have been working on a logline and an antagonist for my novel.  Oh, it gives me shivers to write that.  A novel.  Oh boy, that is just scary. The logline is close–I just need to strip away a few more clauses to get it in shape.  My antagonist is not a person, but a culture.  I know the culture well, having studied it for, well, more years than some of you have been alive.  My current task is  to hone the features of the culture that are crucial to the antagonism toward my protagonist.

I’ve started to sketch the outline of scenes and conflicts as well.  I find that I need to research some things, which is always dangerous for me.  Since an aspect of my ADD is hyperfocus, I can dive into research and follow all the little rabbit trails until I surface hours later.  Again, I have to plan and outline what I need to find out before I can hope to spend only my lunch hour in the stacks.

I have learned a lot in the past week about how I work and how I need to plan. Among several good suggestions, AmyBeth Inverness suggested that I plan on a larger frame than a day, some things needing a week, some a month.  I am working though that suggestion; it is an appealing thought to plot out the large goals, then break it down into bites. I keep the large goals in mind, but I haven’t ever put them into a structure.

My post on how important this ROW80 community is to me went up on the blog last Monday.  It is a great group, who would appreciate your support and encouragement.  You can find the list of participants here


July 15th Check-in Swimming in Ideas

After a very busy week, I found myself in one of those spaces where everything I saw or read germinated ideas.  I have been writing scene outlines, madly recreating dreams when I wake up, and taking notes on every blog I read for reaction, elucidation, and just general ideas swirling down like snowflakes from the sodden sky that was my week. If I were younger and more svelte (I always wanted to be svelte), I’d be doing an Irish jig. I’ve settled for writing till my hand cramps (not a complaint). I owe a blog award post and an 11 questions post, which are simmering.

Writing: I finally got the power of words post done and on my author site yesterday.  I’ve been writing a lot for the day job.  I know that isn’t one of my goals, but I can tell that some of it transfers to creative work in keeping the well flowing, which is good.

I also finally set up a writing place on my front porch, which makes me very happy.  During the summer, it is cool and yet light enough in the early morning to work out there.  I know I won’t get year-round use up here, but it will be nice while it lasts.

I have been reading a lot, too; no craft books as yet, since I have to go dig them out of the garage.  There are several “OPEN FIRST” boxes out there–you see how well that worked! It has been helpful to read and analyze what I am reading. I don’t think I’ll try full-blown reviews, but I do want to annotate them, at least on Goodreads.

Community: I’ve been active on FB and a little better on Twitter.  I got some thought-provoking comments on my last check-in, where Lauralynn and Lauren questioned the need to be active on all the social media that is springing up.  I do feel sometimes as though I’m in a marathon dance, trying to thread my way through so many different sources.  Lauralynn pointed out that I should just write, which is pretty darn good advice. After all, if I have nothing written, does it really matter how good my platform may be?

Friends and family: Holding my own on these fronts.  I want to be in better touch with several people, but I may just have to be patient and keep taking my baby steps.

Personal:  I am not getting as much exercise or sleep as I need.  I have some small steps planned that may help.  Stay tuned!

Welcome to some new followers: Tia Bach, Texana’s Kitchen, This is Gary, Lady Romp, Sergioproxvost, Dr. Shin 

As always please visit and encourage 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.


ROW80 check-in October 9, 2011

Well, despite the fact that I didn’t quite manage to meet all my goals, I’m happy about what I did accomplish.  Last round, several ROWers wrote about writing spaces, Nadja Notariani and Lauralynn Elliott among them, and I mentioned my screened porch, which at the time was more a squeegeed-in-amongst-the boxes writing place than an ahhhh writing place.

So, I have cleared off my screened porch, and bolstered by L.S. Engler’s glee over her new writing space, have included pictures.

screened porch

The porch is where I do longhand writing for the moment, as the table is too high for ergonomic correctness. Note the fountain pens, and yes, the black pen has black ink; the blue, blue ink; the pink, pink ink; the green, green ink. It’s how I edit, and yes, I am easily amused and an unrepentant nerd.


view from the porch

This is the view from the porch; despite how close the neighbors’ porches are, they rarely sit on their porches, and never at 5am. I am hoping to figure out a way to work on the laptop on the porch, but in the meantime, I cleared off the desk in our bedroom,

Writing desk

which has a keyboard tray at the correct ergonomic height, and which had become a repository for loose change, little slips of paper on which I am notorious for writing extremely important notes, and the general detritus of a busy life in an over-cluttered house. It was not being used as a desk at all, so my husband was fine with my claiming it for a writing space. Thankfully, he sleeps so deeply that I will not bother him at 5am; I often wonder how the heck he ever woke up when the kids were little, but he did.

Of note beyond the color-coded fountain pens are the coaster for the coffee mug and the candle. The caffeine is necessary, and the candles have become part of the writing ritual for me. The vintage Big Ben alarm clock, which was my father-in-law’s, provides nice white noise; it actually ticks loud enough that I can hear it on the porch when the bedroom windows are open, as they are this time of year.

Oh, yeah, goals. I have fallen off the wagon on several, sigh.  I hit the mark on the dissertation footnotes; I found that the boring nature of them is a double-edged sword. The first 200 or so were mostly written, with little CHECK THIS! notes here and there. They have to be cleaned up and moved to the new word processing system, but that doesn’t take much creative thought, and can be done when my brain power wouldn’t light up a refrigerator light. It takes a lot more to decipher where the heck the author took the Bible citation, or the quote from Aristotle, since she doesn’t always give the chapter and they are in Latin. So, I’m cheating right now, but hey, it is progress.

The conference paper, ack. It’s coming along, but it’s just pulling teeth. I know that at some point, I will get as excited by the topic as I was when I wrote it, but I am not there yet, sigh.

The book reviews, *blush*.  Although I have a draft, it did not get posted this weekend, so I need to push this to the top of the list.

Walking the dog—most of the time, I did manage twice a day, except for the torrential rains during the best available times.  This dog would happily walk in the gully-washers we have in North Florida, but me, not so much. I won’t melt or anything, but getting drenched on the way to work? No thanks.

So, on the whole, a week that fell on the plus side. Still some settling in to do, but the lack of clutter on the porch and the desk are incredibly calming and mind clearing.  How are y’all doing these nice fall days? Check on everyone else’s progress here.