I have now worked for forty days straight. According to NaNoWriMo, I average close to 3 hours a day. Mostly, it is exhausting and anxiety provoking. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Wake up – work. Next day – wake up, work. Endless. The good news is that I finished editing another chapter. Four down, six to go.
I have plans to fly to Florida next week. Because of the pending governmental shutdown, everything is up in the air (no pun intended). I don’t enjoy flying in the best of circumstances. Thinking about doing it when there will either be pissed off traffic controllers who aren’t getting paid or less of them is terrifying. I hate the Republicans.
This is going to be a short post because I have little mental bandwidth left. I have worked over 91 hours for 33 days. This week, I worked 3 1/4 hours a day, on average.
I am trying to do three or four things at once. Look over a chapter and make changes, edit the citations, and add them to my ongoing bibliography, using ZoteroBib. Sometimes after a few hours, my brain hurts. I am not sure I will keep this up, but I must try.
I picked up the pace this week, working an average of 3.7 hours a day. The weekend was particularly productive. On Saturday, I worked for 3.5 hours and on Sunday for over 5. My hard work this week led to my sending another chapter to my editor.
I tried using Zotero, installing it with help on Friday. Then I started adding citations. The process was overwhelming. My conclusion was that it was more trouble than it was worth. I am going to do the footnotes manually and use the cloud version of Zotero, Zotero Bib, for my bibliography. I will have the editor copy-edit everything. This is the best solution. If I was just beginning a project, I probably would use Zotero or some other citation manager. It is just too late in the process to learn something new.
This journey of getting my manuscript ready for publication is anxiety provoking. It is hard to find the balance between trying to perfect it and realizing I have to finish. Without the deadline of May 20024, I will probably keep tinkering and tinkering with it with no end in sight.
Tonight is Erev of Rosh Hashanah. L’Shana Tova to everyone who celebrates.
I continue to work every day, editing my manuscript. Counting today, I worked 19 days so far, about 2 hours and 15 minutes a day. I have been editing and tightening the last chapter, which deals with college presidents’ wives.
As I go about my editing, I am aware of all the parts I have cut out of the manuscript. It is painful to contemplate some of them. I also wondered if I had cut out too much. Of course, I will be the only one who will know what is missing.
The other overwhelming aspect of this process is something I talked about last week. I am still trying to figure out the most efficient way to get my footnotes or endnotes in order and then do a bibliography.
I installed Zotero, but I am not sure it is the answer. It seems like there will be a significant learning curve and a lot of manual entry of information. Another problem is that probably my editor would also need to install Zotero, so if he doesn’t want to do that then it is not feasible for me to use it. I will let you know when I have this all figured out.
As I said in my previous post, Good News, I am under a strict, self-imposed deadline, to send a clean as possible copy of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, to Levellers Press, by May 1 2024. This still seems like a daunting prospect, but I have made some progress.
I started work on August 21, and was able to send the introduction and chapter one to an editor I am working with. I have worked eleven days at an average of 2 hours and fifteen minutes a day. I am hoping to get to more like three or four hours a day, at some point.
I then started working on editing and tightening up Chapter 8. Most of my book deals with people who are dead. The last chapter, however, looks at two different college president’s wives and some controversies they were involved in. Because of this, the press wants to have their lawyer look at it. That is why I have skipped from the beginning to the end in my editing process.
While I was working on the chapter, I realized I have done a terrible job keeping track of my citations and sources. Years ago, I was using a citation manager, RefWorks, which I got from UMASS since I am an alum. Long story short, they went private a few years ago and the school no longer offers it. I was too busy to start with a new program, so I just continued powering through to finish the manuscript.
Now I have to figure out how to format all my notes and generate a bibliography. I am going to try to use Zotero. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.
On July 26, I finally got a yes from one of the many publishers I have sent queries, book proposals, and sample chapters to. Levellers Press will be publishing Dames, Dishes, and Degrees in the Fall of 2024. This is long-awaited great news and I am incredibly happy.
I barely had any time after this revelation to process it and figure out how I would get a clean, ready to print copy to the publisher by May 2024, nine months away. Shortly after I found out my book will be published, I went to Seattle and then on an Alaskan cruise.
The whole family went on this wonderful adventure, and we had an exciting time. We saw glaciers, whales, bears, and bald eagles. We walked through a rain forest and learned about the history of Sitka which the Russians settled.. We also had a lot of fun in Seattle which is a beautiful city with many views of water and mountains.
We got home around midnight Tuesday evening and have been getting back to our real life the rest of the week. I have come up with a plan to complete the work to ready my manuscript for publication. Starting Monday August 21, I am going to do a mammoth NaNoWriMo with a minimum expectation of two hours of work a day, every day until May 1st.
Because I am on such a tight schedule and I need to stay focused, my blog posts from now to the beginning of May 2024 will primarily be progress reports, similar to what I did in the past when I was completing the first draft. Those posts will start September 1 after ten days of work.
Before I went on retreat, I completed a ten-week course in Jewish genealogy that the Center for Jewish History offered. For the final class I had to do a slide show presentation about a relative. I chose my maternal great grandfather – Max Smolensky who lived from 1871 to 1923.
According to my grandaunt Anna, her grandfather, Max’s father, Moishe Yisrael was married twice and had a total of sixteen children. Max’s mother was Hester Lipschitz. I found out the names of my great great grandparents during the class when I found Max’s death certificate.
Max or Mendel was a bit of a rake – a player – so, first they married him off to Adda Lipschitz who may have been his cousin. After Mendel and Adda had two children; my grandfather, Eli or Albert and my great-aunt, Anna, the elders were still concerned. They decided to ship the family off to America.
For my project I focused on trying to determine where my ancestral town, named Prilucki, was located. Was it in Belarus or Ukraine? Another family story is that the Smolenskys founded the town.
Many of the documents I have point toward Ukraine. One of the most compelling is the 1919 application for a grave for Benjamin, Albert’s and my grandmother, Celia’s first child. It states that the father Elias (Albert) was born in Poltava which is a city in Ukraine.
The competing documentation for Belarus is the fact that my Aunt Anna’s naturalization papers state she was born in Homel or Gomel which is part of Belarus.
I learned a lot in the class, found some new documents, and started organizing my material. There is much more I would like to find out about my ancestors. I also hope to come up with a definitive answer to where Prilucki was located in the early twentieth century when my relatives immigrated.
My next blog post will be on August 18. After that, i will post again on September 1. Have a great rest of summer!
About three weeks ago, I started using Threads when Facebook first had it go live. I added it to the social media sites that I use to promote my blog posts. Last November, I blogged about how I was stopping using Twitter and Facebook in response to Elon Musk reinstating Donald Trump.
I have used Twitter since 2009 and have generally really liked it. It was great for politics and finding out about breaking news. There were issues beginning in 2018. I was unable to tweet my URL and that has persisted to today. I believe the problem developed as part of my website being hacked but it has never been resolved. You can read about all my problems after being hacked and Twitter here, and here.
A few weeks ago, Twitter stopped displaying my most recent Tweets on my website. I don’t have any hope that that will get fixed any time soon, Now Musk is getting rid of the bird symbol and replacing it with an X. We won’t tweet anymore, we will be x’ing. Elon Musk is a fascist and an antisemite who has ruined something many people enjoyed.
Since November, I have only tweeted and posted to Facebook once a week to let people know about my blog posts. Around the time I stopped continually looking at Facebook and Twitter, I started using Substack Notes. I really don’t know that much about Substack, Substack Notes, or Threads. I am not sure how to get followers on any of these sites. I remember that there was a learning cure for Twitter, and it took quite a while for me to gain followers. Probably the same thing will happen with Threads. Right now, I don’t really care but I will have to step up my social media presence if Dames, Dishes, and Degrees is published.
As far as Threads goes, I don’t like that there isn’t a desktop version. It is hard to only have the phone app. I miss hash tags and the ability to decide who is in your feed. As time goes on, hopefully Facebook will add more features and make it more like Twitter.
Sunday I came back from attending Nashim: A Jewish mediation Retreat for Women. It was in-person for six days at Wisdom House, Litchfield, Connecticut. The retreat was remarkably like the virtual one that I participated in at the beginning of the pandemic, three years ago.
While I was at Wisdom House, I experienced this retreat as vastly different from the Zoom one. Reading over my 2020 post about the experience, I see more similarities. Yesterday at the closing of Nashim, one of the leaders told us that we should be scheduling our next retreat right away. The wisdom one receives during multiday silence needs to be replenished either periodically or regularly. I came away from the week hoping to reinvigorate both my mindfulness practice and my spiritual observances.
One of the differences between the virtual and in-person retreat was Wisdom House. This retreat and conference center was originally the home for the Daughters of Wisdom College and Convent. The Daughters of Wisdom began in 18th century France. The grounds are beautiful with lovely gardens and impressive views of mountains.
Although its’ website describes the campus as an “inter-faith” community, it felt very Christian to me, with a wooden cross in my room. As a Jew, I most often think about Christians from a place of trauma for past mistreatment and wounds. During my time at Wisdom House, I was able to open my view and see that just as there are many ways to practice Judaism, Christians come in many flavors and varieties.
It turned out that one of the most peaceful places I have ever spent time in was a small garden with two statues of Mary. I found these to exude a sense of warmth and comfort that was very healing. During the retreat, I gained insights about myself and a better understanding of the potential of inter-faith interactions.
I know I wrote in my last post that I was taking a break and that I would resume regular posting on July 21. Life and shit happens so here I am. In honor of July 4, I am posting something from 2008 when I, the country, and the world were so hopeful because Barack Obama had been elected.
Today it is hard to recapture that feeling since the Republicans and the Supreme Court are determined to return our country to a mythical past where Barack Obama could never had become President, women have no rights and the only people who count are white Christian men.
Another reason I decided to post today is I read about Childe Hassam in an email about art I received. Some of Hassam’s most famous pictures are of flags and this post has one. The promise of America is always present. We need to fight to retain and expand it. Happy July 4th.
November 23, 2008
This is a copy of a letter I wrote to the Amherst Bulletin. I loved the way the flags looked that day and it reminded me of a Childe Hassam painting. Hassam was one of my mothers’ favorite painters. I think it is very unfortunate that patriotism has become the province of the right. People of all political persuasions can be patriotic.
Nov. 10, 2008
To The Editor,
I know that the flying of the American flag in downtown Amherst has been a controversial subject; I confess that I have not paid that much attention to the issue. Today, Monday November 10th, I drove into town and was struck by the beauty of all the flags flying to commemorate Veterans Day on November 11th. The sight filled me with pride and love for my country which has just achieved the amazing feat of electing Barack Hussein Obama president. Our country is an ongoing endeavor but on November 4 we progressed further than I would ever have thought possible. Let us hope, pray, and work for such progress to continue throughout the – hopefully – eight years of the Obama administration.