To Tweet Or Not

On Sunday, after I learned that Elon Musk had reinstated Donald Trump. I started thinking more seriously about stopping my own presence on Twitter. Deactivation of my account seemed like an extreme move and I wasn’t ready for that yet. Instead, using the focus tools I have access to, I blocked Facebook and Twitter 24 hours every day except Friday. My plan is to continue posting about my blog on both sites.

My habit for the past few months has been to tweet my Wordle and Nerdle results every evening after I have played each game. On Sunday, after I completed Wordle in six tries, which is the maximum, I looked for another platform to post my results.

I thought I would try Instagram but it was beyond my technological abilities. While I was googling how to post on Instagram, I came across Charles Blow’s article about his experiences reducing his access to Twitter. Reading it confirmed my desire to disengage.

I am at the beginning of my journey to disentangle myself from social media. I plan to explore other ways besides Facebook and Twitter to promote my blog, Brewing Battles and, hopefully, a published Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. I will let you know what I come up with.

What to Write

Today is Wednesday and I am at Nerissa’s writing group. I have missed a bunch of meetings and it feels like I have been gone for much longer. I most often use this time to write a blog post, but I am at a loss of what to write.

From the third week of October to the beginning of November, we traveled. We arrived home on November 7th, the day before Election Day. I had so much anxiety about what was going to happen during the midterm elections, as well as worry about the relative I visited in Florida, and no sense of what I should do next on my book.

Although we have been home nine days, the first week back was a wash. I had a lot of trouble reintegrating myself into my daily existence despite being thrilled to be home. In Florida, where we spent 10 days no one wore masks, and it seemed like no one cared about COVID anymore. Once we got home, back to saner western Massachusetts, more people were wearing masks and seemed to realize that COVID hasn’t gone anywhere. A cruise ship that just embarked in Australia had eight hundred passengers with COVID.

So far, my husband and I have escaped getting COVID which is amazing. It feels like everyone is going to get it at some point. On the other hand, since my husband has asthma, I have tried extremely hard to protect and prevent us from getting the virus.

Before I left for Florida, I had finished a second draft of my manuscript. I also have a few queries and proposals to some publishers. I had originally intended to do NaNoWriMo when I returned from Florida, but now that I’m back I have decided not to. I didn’t work on the book at all the first week we were back, but two days ago I did start working on the introduction.

Introductions and conclusions – I haven’t written any conclusion yet- are the hardest parts of a book to write. The standard introduction to a nonfiction history book where the author tells you what is in every chapter doesn’t feel like the kind of introduction I want for my book. Having said that, I don’t really know what kind of introduction I do want

My plan is to continue to work on the introduction and then read aloud the eight chapters to see if they hold together as a book. In other words, if a reader finishes chapter one do they feel compelled to go to chapter two and so on. I am also going to try to send out more queries and book proposals in my, as of yet, never-ending attempt to get a publisher. As always, I will keep you posted about my progress.

Reading Report

I had originally planned to do a post about my summer reading. Because I have been working so hard on Dames, Dishes, and Degrees and just posting about that, the blog about my reading kept getting postponed.

Now it is Fall so I have produced a new plan. I will just tell you about some of the twelve books I read  from the end of June until September 19. The book ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime. My brain is often so full of the manuscript and revisions that, in the evening, when I am trying to relax, I want to read unexacting books.

In that vein, I read a Hannah Swensen mystery, Christmas Cake Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke. The Hallmark movie series, Murder She Baked is based on the Fluke books.

As you may remember, a while ago, I watched all of Murder She Wrote with Angela Lansbury. There have been almost sixty spinoff novels that the series inspired. I read Skating on Thin Ice by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. Obviously, I picked that one because it was about skating.

I also read Maggie’s California Diaries by Ann M Martin. It is about characters from the babysitter’s club series. These three books were all easy reads and there was nothing unpleasant to think about.

I also read several nonfiction books which were ostensibly more serious and maybe more taxing. Three of them –  They Called Us Girls; Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men by Kathleen Courtenay Stone, All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote  by Laura Kumin and Educated American Women: Self Portraits by Eli Ginzburg and Alice M. Yohalem.

I read these books for insight into how to organize my manuscript into a publishable book.  They Called Us Girls and Educated  American Women were okay. All Stirred Up was terrible. It was a mishmash of recipes and rehashed history. Reading these three books was not that helpful an exercise, so I   have put on hold reading more books for that purpose.

My favorite book from this reading journey was Small Marvels: Stories by Scott Russell Sanders. I loved this book. The writing was particularly good,  and the author conveyed the humanity of the characters beautifully. Both funny and sad, Small Marvels shows that ordinary people can do extraordinary things by the relationships they have and what they do for and with the people in their lives. I could have kept reading more about Gordon Mills and his family. I was sorry when it ended.

Second Week Progress Report

I have now completed 13 days of my latest NaNoWriMo process this past week. I continued working on my book proposal. One of the presses wants sample chapters so I turned my attention to revising the two I want to send.

I read the chapter aloud, recording it. Then I listened to the recording, making edits on a printed copy. Finally, I added these changes to my Word document. This process went smoothly and revising the chapter was the most focused work I have done far. I cut about eight pages which is great progress.

This coming week I plan to repeat the process on the second chapter I want to send. I will let you know how it goes next Friday. Have a great weekend.

My First Week of Progress

I have completed six days of my 28 day self-initiated NaNoWriMo. I have worked almost 12 hours or around 2 hours a day. Revising the manuscript is difficult. I have created a new organizational structure for the book which I am hoping will be the last structure I use.

I spent the last two days working on my book proposal, both because this is something I have to do and because it is a break from the tedious revising. Because I changed the structure, I had to change the table of contents in the proposal, and I still need to fix up some of the chapter blurbs. I will continue to work on the book proposal for the next couple of days.

I will post again next Friday when I will have, hopefully,  completed 13 days of this round of NaNoWriMo. Have a good week.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 27

I am continuing with my attempts at reorganization. I also attended a Zoom presentation on “Academic Publishing” and virtually  met with one of my revision classmates.  All of these activities totaled 206 minutes. I have averaged, so far, 110 minutes a day.

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 26

Today I did a little bit of everything in two separate spurts. The first hour I looked at two inter-library loan books I have, read some of Tell IT Slant, and wrote a query to the University of Minnesota Press.

The second hour, I continued with my attempts at reorganization, taking two chapters that are about clubs at two separate institutions and reassembling them. The new structure would have one chapter about Dames and their national organization, the National Association of University Dames. The other chapter would be about faculty wives clubs and some of their activities. I also updated my working outline to reflect these changes.

It was a productive day, but I am happy there are only a few days left to NaNoWriMo Summer Camp. This has been a difficult pace to keep up and I am glad I will be being taking a few days off from the project in the beginning of August. I will explain my plans for maintaining accountability as we get a little closer to the end of the moth.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 23

Today I worked a little over two hours. I now have two outlines. One would be all the chapters I went through and did revision via quotes. I would need an introduction and a conclusion. The other outline has two new chapters.

After I wrote up the outlines, I started looking through all my previous drafts for whatever I have already written about sexuality and intimacy. I have mixed feelings about this process. I wonder if I am just making busy work for myself and retreating to my comfort zone of research. Research is easier than either writing or revision. Writing is easier than revision.

I may continue down the potential rabbit hole of intimacy for another day or so. Now I am off to Jacob’s Pillow to see a dance performance.

 

NaNoWriMo Summer Camp Day 21

Three weeks done. Today I worked for 155 minutes, completing the revision via quotes on Chapter 8. I kept a draft of the whole chapter, but also divided it into two new chapter. One which will focus on Yale is thirty-one pages. The other which focuses on college president’s wives is thirty-eight pages.

I kept both versions so I can make a final decision later. I am on track to complete this round of revision on Saturday. Starting Sunday, I will spend the last week of NaNoWriMo, working on queries and my book proposal for various publishers. I also want to get back to Tell It Slant.

I am looking forward to the weekend when I will be going to Jacob’s Pillow on Saturday and attending a birthday party on Sunday. Two more days of strenuous work and then I can, while remaining focused, relax a little bit.

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.

 

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