Weekly Update, Week 8

I have now worked for sixty-two straight days. A couple of times this past week, I worked for six hours. I took a long look at my calendar and made some tough decisions about what I can and cannot do for the next six months while I try to finish this manuscript. As a result, I resigned from three committees and canceled my Y membership. I am trying to reschedule some ongoing commitments. I felt great after I did this with a real sense of freedom. It was a wonderful feeling to look at my google calendar and have a lot of clear space. Doing this enabled me to work those six-hour days.

 

Weekly Update, Week 7

It is Saturday. I thought this would be a better day to post than Friday, but now I am not sure. I have been working so hard on the book that the blog honestly feels like a distraction. There probably isn’t a day where I would feel like I have enough time to post..

I assumed this would happen, which is why I planned on just doing statistical updates about my progress. Now that even feels like too much. I know it would not be good to have this website go dark for the next six and a half months. It is just that I feel panicked about getting everything done in time to meet the May 2024 deadline.

For now, I am just going to muddle through. I have now worked 55 days straight, averaging about two and a half hours a day. To finish on time, I have to step it up considerably. Today I worked almost four hours which is better. I am thinking about clearing the decks of all my extracurricular activities so I can have several totally free days to work. I’ll let you know if I do.

Weekly Update, Week 6

This past week I worked nine and a half hours. Since I started, I have edited the manuscript a total of 121 hours or over 20 hours a week.

I am going to change my posting day from Friday to Saturday. My next post will be October 14th and will cover eight days of work.

Wish me luck!

Weekly Update, Number 5

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.

Weekly Update, Number 3

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.

Weekly Update Number 1

 

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.

Good News

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.

Genealogy

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!

 

 

 

Retreat, Again

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.

Summer Plans

Please let me apologize for not posting last week. I have been very busy and the summer is packed with plans. Because of that, my next regularly scheduled post will be July 21st. I will also blog the following week, July 28th. Then there will be another break from the 29th to  August 18th.

I hope everybody has a great summer and stays cool, healthy, and safe.