NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 18

Today is day 18 of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp and I have surpassed my goal of 1861 words or 60 minutes a day for the thirty-one days of July. Today, after working for 140 minutes, I have a total of 1931 minutes or 113.58 minutes a day.

Today I worked on the quotes from Chapter 6 and also looked at other drafts of the chapter. I am still thinking about the overall organization of the book so, today, I looked at book proposals from several years ago. At that time I had a different organizational structure.

After I finish the revising via quote process, I may explore merging that older structure and the current one. One of my writing teachers, Kate, tried to encourage me to acknowledge that revision is a long process. I have been reluctant to accept that advice, but I am seeing more truth in it everyday.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 16

Today I decided to power through and do all the cutting, rewriting, and reducing of the quotes in chapter 4. It took me almost three hours and eliminated twelve pages. Starting tomorrow, I will have six chapters counting the epilogue left to do.

If I can keep up the same pace I did today, hopefully I could complete this part of the revision by the end of next week. Then I would be able to go back to looking at publishers and agents and sending out queries and proposals. Each publisher wants something different, so it is a good amount of work to get together the package to send to them.

I would also be able to get back to doing more with Tell It Slant although I do plan to begin reading Chapter 11. Tomorrow morning, I am going to go swimming which once again will be my self-care for the day.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 15

This is the first day of the third week of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. Today I started with doing an exercise from Tell It Slant. “Write a scene of an early memory.” I did that and ended with almost six hundred words about an early memory of a traumatic event that occurred over sixty years ago.

The memory has been weighing on me recently, so I am glad I wrote about it. It was upsetting to relive what had happened which made it difficult to concentrate on revising my manuscript.

I did work for 65 minutes, both on the exercise and on the book. A week ago, I had put some notes in Keep about potential reorganization of the manuscript. Today I looked at the notes and produced a new table of content which moves various chapters around and splits up others.

The work to achieve this reorganization feels daunting but I will attempt it at some point. Because of NaNoWriMo, I will be working this weekend, but I am also going to try to get out of the house. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 13

Today I worked for two hours on the book. Once I get going, cutting whole sections actually feels good. When I think about that though, I wonder if the book will make sense if I remove most of the quotes and some of the supporting material. After I go through this process, I will obviously have to read the whole manuscript again to see if it still holds together.

I have been pondering what I will do once July and NaNoWriMo Summer Camp is over. I really like the accountability that updating my word count every day gives me. Posting about it every day is also a form of accountability. What I need to figure out going forward is how to have that external accountability without necessarily posting every day.

One idea is to find someone who I could email everyday telling them what my progress had been. Another thing that occurs to me is that I could tweet about it every day which would be a win- win situation. It would help me keep up my Twitter count and it would be public external accountability. I am going to think about this some more since I have a little over two weeks left of NaNoWriMo. I will let you know what I decide.

NaNoWriMO Summer Camp Day 11

Today I had an appointment at 11 a.m. which got cancelled. I dislike when that happens because I usually tightly arrange my days. Being a control freak, it is not easy for me to change already made plans. In other words, I am not that flexible.

I worked for 96 minutes today. I started my working period with yoga which NaNoWriMo offered as part of Summer Camp. It was lovely and a wonderful way to form a mindful writing intention.

I did not have time to continue working my way through Tell It Slant. I also did not do anymore research on publishers and agents. I see in my email that one of the presses I queried has answered so I will look at that tomorrow. In a little while I am going to go to a pool in Holyoke and get a swimming lesson. This is one of my concessions to it being July and will be self- care.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 8

Today is the first day ofthe second week of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. I worked for an hour, spending some time thinking about my characters and what structure to use to tell my readers about them. I also sent queries to two publishers. We will see if I get any postive response.

I plan to work on both Saturday and Sunday but also do some non- manuscript related actviites. I hope you all have a great weekend.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

As promised, here’s my post about my plans for July. I am going to give NaNoWriMo another try. This month is NaNoWriMo summer camp, and I have committed to working an hour a day on my book every day in July. Because each minute equals a word, if I do what I plan to do, at the end of the month I will have 1860 words.

Although the manuscript has some overall issues that I need to address, I find that too overwhelming to tackle immediately. I have been working on revising chapter one and that is what I am going to continue to do, using some of the craft tools that I have learned while attending the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop eight-week revision class. Hopefully I can get complete the revision of chapter one and start working on chapter 2 within the month of July. My other hope is that by being so focused for 31 days the focus and concentration will carry over to the subsequent months and I will really make progress on the revision of my manuscript.

As far as blogging goes, I plan to do what I did in November when I was doing NaNoWriMo. I will have short posts every day of the month telling my loyal readership what I have accomplished for the day.

Before posting this, I completed 90 minutes of work on my book. That counts as 90 words.  I hope I have a very productive July and I wish the same for all of you.

 

Too Busy

On June 3, my first cousin died. She had been sick for a while and I had been planning to visit her a week later, I stuck to my plans and went to California from June 10 to June 14th. It was a very stressful and draining trip.

I returned late Tuesday night; on Thursday my son and his wife came  to stay. They bought a house in Worcester and needed to attend the closing and do other tasks connected to the sale of the house. My daughter-in-law went to Connecticut to attend a wedding  and see family on Saturday while my son stayed until Monday morning.

Because of my grief over my cousin and having company, I have been unable to get back into my  daily routine. Because I have been so busy the above explanation is all I can mange for a blog post this week. I will be back next week with a description of my plans for July. I am sure you all can’t wait. Have a nice week.

Teeth

When I was sixteen, the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I fell off a bicycle. At that time, my family had a summer home in Lake Waubeeka, Danbury CT. Some of the roads were very hilly and riding down one of them I missed a turn, tumbled over, and fell. I lost several of my front teeth as well as breaking my jaw and compressing vertebrae.

This happened over 50 years ago but some of the consequences from that accident are still with me today. The lasting impact has been on my teeth. Prior to the accident I had decent looking teeth and didn’t even require braces. I did have a canine tooth that had never descended but I liked the way that looked. It was a little funky and, a teenager in the late 1960s, I thought it gave me some panache.

My memory is that I didn’t lose that tooth in the accident but sometime afterwards a dentist decided it needed to be removed. The first apparatus I got to deal with the loss of my front teeth was a removable partial. At the age of 16 I now had something in my mouth that I thought was only for old people.

I was a self-conscious teenager, maybe all teenagers are self-conscious, so it is amazing to me that I didn’t really let the accident and what it did to my appearance bother me that much. After I recovered, I just went on with my business.

Once I was in graduate school, about six years after the accident, I switched dentists. I then kept that dentist for 46 years even though I moved away from New York City 41 years ago. Dr. John was a conservative dentist and left my mouth and the partial alone for a few years. In 1986 or 1987 – at least sixteen years after the accident – I got a fixed bridge – false teeth that stay in your mouth. They are glued in.

Besides being conservative in his treatment approach, Dr. John was also a perfectionist. As a result, I had the best-looking false teeth one could imagine. After another ten years, he decided it was time for implants. When I first started seeing him, implants were a recent technology and Dr. John wasn’t sure I would have enough bone to support them.

Eventually, after refinancing our mortgage to afford the procedure, after surgery and bone grafts, and multiple attempts to get the teeth looking pristine, I had implants. I still have them. Last summer I went to New York and saw Dr. John who told me two things. The first was that the left canine tooth needed an implant, the first time since 1996, that I would need one. The other thing was that he was retiring.

It is hard to say which news was more devastating. It has been almost a year and I am still grieving that Dr. John is no longer my dentist. A surgeon in Amherst extracted the tooth and I began the protracted process of healing and waiting. In April, the Amherst surgeon told me I couldn’t get the implant. Although I didn’t say this to him, I have kept wondering why I had the tooth extracted if I can’t get an implant. I am going for a second opinion so the story isn’t over yet.

My recent troubles with this tooth and a potential implant have reminded me of the accident and the trauma that I suffered as a result. Although, thankfully I have been able to have a happy and fulfilled life despite the physical scars and disfigurement from it,  the accident remains a terrible thing that happened to me that I can’t completely escape or resolve.

 

 

Emails and Identity

As I have said in several earlier posts, I am trying to revise Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. Unfortunately, I have found it difficult to get into a consistent rhythm of working on the book.

The family members that I do a lot of caregiving for have taken up most of my time so that has been one limitation on how consistently I can work on the book. The other thing that happened more recently and pertains to my manuscript is that Hampshire College changed its email system. Essentially Hampshire email is now part of a college-based Google account.

Without getting too much in the weeds, I’ll just say that since I already had my own personal Gmail account, the first attempt at accessing the Hampshire Gmail did not go that well. Monday and Tuesday were involved with figuring out how I could make this new system work and occupied a lot of my time. Wednesday morning I finally figured it out and I think I have a workable process by which I can access all of my different emails in Thunderbird. At least I now have a working system.

The way this email trouble intersected with the topic of my book, faculty wives, and the fact that I am one, is that I have for many years had a Hampshire email account but the username indicates to anyone in the know that I am a guest and not a full functioning member of the Hampshire community. My actual Hampshire email address is amGU at hampshire dot edu. The GU stands for guest.

I’ve been aware of that classification for years, choosing to ignore how badly it made me feel. In this process of the transition from the old email system to the new Google based system I had to stare at amGU, my email address, repeatedly. Looking at it reminded me how precarious and constrained my position at Hampshire has been all these years. Most of the women I write about in my book were in a comparable situation. They were often part of elite families – being the wife of a Harvard college professor is nothing to sneeze about – yet their role, their identity, as a faculty wife mostly constrained them from having an independent autonomous life.

This week I realized, again, that my own life has consisted of constraints that I have endured for many years as a Hampshire faculty wife even though my husband’s position has allowed me to have a very comfortable lifestyle making me, as a white woman, among the more elite groups in American Society. Although triggering has become an overused word and the subject of ridicule by the American right by Republicans, having to stare at amGU at hampshire dot edu repeatedly this week was certainly triggering for me.

The net result of all of this is that I have decided to begin a process where I eventually will not have that Hampshire email address. My husband is retired. We don’t really have an active connection to Hampshire anymore although I did do over 20 oral histories for Hampshire and I’m still trying to get that to be an actual collection in the archives.

In general, we don’t really have anything to do with Hampshire, therefore I can be like everyone else, accept that Google now rules the world, and just have a Gmail account. Another possibility is to have two email address instead of three, keeping mail amymittelman dot com which is from my website where I post this blog. I think at this point in my life I can forget about existing within the constraints of being a faculty wife and try to have an identity that is just me,  Amy,  as I go through the world.

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