Change of Plans

 

In my blog post, Recap NaNoWriMo Summer Camp, I said I planned to restart working at least one hour a day on my draft for the period that will begin this Sunday August 14th and end four weeks later on September 10th. As far as blogging during that period, I had planned to produce regular non book related posts for Fridays, my normal blogging day, and short progress posts for Sundays

I am nervous about starting up again on the book because in the two-week respite that I took I have been to busy with my life to do much with the  manuscript. Thinking about the work I plan to do during the next four weeks, I realized that I had been too ambitious with my blogging plans. Since I really want to focus on the draft, I do not think I will have the bandwidth or energy to also produce original posts.

I am changing my plans so that Fridays will remain my blogging day but the four Fridays of my self-imposed NaNoWriMo regime will have posts that detail my progress. This means that Sunday will not be a second day of posts.

See you next week.

 

Recap NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

This is the second time I have done something connected with NaNoWriMo. This past November I did the official NaNoWriMo, using it to complete the first draft of my manuscript. I started updating again on the NaNoWriMo site in January but did not continue. This time, with summer camp, I was able to complete it. I posted every day, averaging over three hours of work. This was great production because I had set the low bar of 1 hour every day, and I well exceeded that.

I would highly recommend NaNoWriMo for anyone who is looking for a way to both motivate and structure their writing process. Even though most of the materials are oriented towards fiction writing anybody can take the process and make it their own.

I have given a lot of thought to how to maintain the accountability that NaNoWriMo Summer Camp offered. Although this was the third time that I posted every day for a month, that is not something I want to continue. Once a week for my blog posts is usually plenty.

I hope to continue to work on the manuscript every day going forward but I am first going to take a two-week break. After that, starting Aug. 14, I plan to continue to update my progress on the NaNoWriMo site, and tweet about my output every day, using the hash tag #accountabiltiy. On Sundays, I plan to have short posts about my work production for the previous week. So I do not burden myself with overly elevated expectations, I am making a commitment to work one hour every day, a total of 1,680 words in the four week period.

On Fridays, I will have regular weekly post about a variety of subjects. I will resume this on August 19th. My first Sunday blog about revision will be August 21st with a note about my first week of this self-initiated process. I hope to sustain these activities for four weeks, twenty-eight days, ending on Sept. 10 as far as NaNoWriMo updating is concerned and my final Sunday post on September 11.

This is just a plan, and we will see if I can stick to it. Hopefully all the structures I am trying to put in place will keep me focused and motivated.

Day 31 – Last Day of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

Today is both the last day of July and the last day of NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. I worked almost 2 hours. A while ago, I had someone read the whole manuscript and they gave me both line level comments and big picture conceptual comments on every chapter.

The last few days I have been going through those comments for one of the chapters. It is a slow process, and I am worried that it will take a long time. Since Summer Camp is over, I will have to figure out how to continue to make progress on the revision of the manuscript.

Tomorrow I will post my reflections about how I feel NaNoWriMo summer camp went and tell you what my plans are for accountability and continued work on my book

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 28

There are only three more days until NaNoWriMo Summer Camp  will be done. I have ambivalent feelings about it ending. I will say more about that on Sunday – the last day.

I worked for 75 minutes today, putting together one of the new chapters for my new structure. Currently, but it is subject to change, I have three sections with a total of ten chapters. I do like this new organizational scheme but the proof will be in the pudding. (Sorry for the cliche)

 

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 9

I was completely lacking in motivation today, so I eked out 60 minutes of querying publishers, researching places to query, and reading chapter 1 of Tell It Slant. I have also been reading a book, Educated American Women: Self-Portraits by Eli Ginzburg and Alice M. Yohalem but I am not counting the time spent on that in my NaNoWriMo updates.

I may use the book as research or background material as I continue revising. I might also write a review of it for this blog, at some point. My hope is that tomorrow I can get back to more substantial revising. I plan to look at the many quotes I have in chapter two and see if I can reduce, rewrite, or eliminate them.

 

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.

 

First Quarter Report, 2022

In the post I wrote saying goodbye to 2021 I wished for a more even keeled year with less difficulties. Now that three months of 2022 are gone, I’m not sure I can say that has happened. Several members of my extended family have been ill and that has consumed some of my time as well as the fact that our house renovations continued into the new year.

Most of the work for our new mud room and laundry room finished in February and we have now been spending time filling the new space and reorganizing the old spaces. Because I am a neat freak and more than a bit compulsive, this work has elated me.

When the new year started my plan was to begin revising the first draft of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, which I completed in November. I have had a couple of false starts and will honestly admit I haven’t gotten that much done yet. The university press that I had sent a couple of chapters to in the fall eventually said revise it and then send it back to us again without providing any concrete advice about how to do that. It felt like a less than completely enthusiastic response.

This was a little discouraging, but I rallied and then sent off the whole manuscript including a book proposal for a writing contest that an affiliate of Writer’s Digest is sponsoring. You can read more about the contest here.

I also sent a query letter to an agent who then asked to see my book proposal. Other than that, I haven’t really done much work on the manuscript itself. I did sign up for a revision class that Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop is offering, beginning in May, which will hopefully  jumpstart my revision process.

I have managed to continue to post every week even though sometimes it is hard to figure out what to write about. As far as tweeting goes, Wordle has transformed that process. I jumped on the Wordle bandwagon a few months ago before the New York Times bought it. Doing the game every day and then sharing it on Twitter has increased my tweeting output considerably. On the other hand, I am not sure figuring out the word every day is so great for my overall productivity and focus.

This is how the year has been going so far. I will keep you posted on any new developments in my revision and publishing endeavors.

 

Brain Dump

I wrote the following on Wednesday at one of Nerissa Nield’s Writing it up in the Garden writing groups. It was basically free writing which I then did some editing of. Enjoy!

“I left my prompt in the other room.” That is what Nerissa said before the start of group today. The other participants thought that would be a good poem title or a good prompt in and of itself.

It works for me because I feel very unmotivated today. I am not sure what to do with myself. My malaise probably stems from my anxiety about the first draft of my manuscript and how to proceed but I can’t seem to figure that out. Since I feel overwhelmed, what I would really like to do today is not write anything, not think about anything, and just watch episodes of Catfish. Don’t judge.

I should be using this time to write my blog but I’m not sure what I want to write about, another dimension to my lack of motivation. Instead, I’ve decided to do what Noom Mood calls a brain dump which is my daily activity for this week. I didn’t do my lesson for Monday or Tuesday, so, I have to do three today.

You are supposed to write or speak whatever is on your mind for two minutes. Because I missed two days, instead of the two minutes, I’ve set the timer for six minutes so it’s a three time brain dump. Having explained all that, I have now come to an impasse. I am not sure that I would want to read this to the group but why not? It’s a safe space and I often feel that I write differently from the rest of them anyway so I might as well read this. We’ll see if I have the courage to do it when I get to it in an hour and 3 minutes.

Three minutes and 41 seconds left. The other thing I really want to do besides watch Catfish is do work on the house since the renovated space is now available to us. We have done some work but there feels like there is so much more. I do know that it will all get done. We just have to keep doing it.

Our house renovation is one topic that I could write about for my blog post. I have several potential posts in my draft file in WordPress. One is about adjuncts and how poorly they did during the pandemic and just how desperate their lives are in general. Another is about crime at the University of Chicago. For that topic I could discuss what it’s like when an elite school finds itself surrounded by neighborhood it considers undesirable.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have been under attack for several weeks now. In my chapter on African American faculty wives clubs, I looked at a few of these schools. Without consulting my draft folder, I can’t remember all the other topics. I do plan to write about Jill Conway, but I can’t do it yet because I haven’t finished reading all her memoirs. I read True North and The Road from Coorain is on my current reading schedule.

I finished How to Make a Slave and Other Essays by Jerald Walker, which I really enjoyed. He has a very subtle way of looking at the microaggressions that people of color face daily. How to Make a Slave reminds me of How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston which was very funny, recounting his attempts to lead his life as a black person in America.

The Jones Library chose Jerrold Walker’s book for its’ On the Same Page Amherst. The library is hosting several events related to the book which I hope I will be able to attend. At this point of my mammoth brain dump, I am not sure how much time is left because I have to log back into my phone. After three frustrating tries, I am in and just as I did that the time was up.

This is the best I can do for a post. If you want to read posts about any of the topics I have discussed today, please let me know.

Ecology

As you know, I attend writing groups that Nerissa Nields leads. On Wednesday she read a prompt that included a Paul Ehrlich quote to the effect that ecology is the subversive science. As soon as I heard that, my mind filled with complicating thoughts.

In 1970 I was a junior in high school and I attended the first Earth Day. My thoughts about the ecology movement or environmentalism as we call it more recently have not really changed in that time. The problem I have always had with the ecology movement is that it is by and large not a political one.

Much of the burden of fixing the planet or not damaging the planet any further falls, as is always the case in America, on individuals. Be a better recycler, compost, don’t use plastic bags, don’t buy disposable water bottles. These are all things that individuals are supposed to be responsible for and supposed to do to be a good citizen. I do these things and have for years but I am not sure it makes any difference.

Where is the part where the government does something? What is the role of the government? Once you start asking that question you get to politics. Until there is a political will to change how the country consumes fossil fuels, to direct people away from eating meat and towards vegetarianism or veganism by what appears in the grocery stores, we really won’t get through ecological change or repair.

The issue becomes even more complicated because of the intransigence of the current Republican Party. For over 30 years Republicans have tried to wish away environmental change, have denied global warming. In the current Trump Republican Party, they don’t even believe in evolution and really don’t understand how a woman conceives a baby so why are they going to do anything about climate change? To get true environmental change, we must confront power.

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