Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: dissertation (page 2 of 3)

ROW80: Are We Ready for Some Beyonce?! Er, Football?

Gotta love "Hey Arnold" in Niners' colors. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)

Gotta love “Hey Arnold” in Niners’ colors. (Photo Credit: Lena Corazon)

Happy Superbowl Sunday, ROW80 friends! I’ve gotta say, it’s a very, very good time to be a San Franciscan. I feel like practically everyone has been decked out in 49ers gear for the last couple of weeks, and the anticipation for today’s big game has increased to epic proportions. Even my favorite tea shop has gotten into the spirit!

To be honest, I’m more excited for the halftime show than anything else (a Destiny’s Child reunion?!?! I have been waiting AGES for this), but I’ll be spending the day with my besties at San Francisco’s first-ever gay bar in the Castro, which is sure to be an absolute blast.

With that, here’s my check-in for the week:

The dissertation has taken most of my energy this week, with lots of time spent reading the two books I mentioned in my last check-in, trying to learn a whole new subfield (sociology of religion and organizational culture), and getting started at archives #3 and #4 (the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Daughters of Charity). Needless to say, my head feels full to bursting, but I’m making progress, and that’s what counts. For next week:

  • Finish Ann Butler’s Across God’s Frontiers.
  • Read and take notes on 10 journal articles; continue to figure out which concepts are applicable to the dissertation.
  • Type up handwritten notes; figure out best way to annotate and code data.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Erm, not much to see here, either. I played on Facebook and Twitter and G+ a little, but that doesn’t precisely fulfill any of my goals. So… yeah. Gotta do better next week.

Okay, I skipped last week’s check-in because I ended up giving myself a few self-care days, which basically involved devouring 7 novels in 7 days. Yeah, it was amazing, and at some point I will write about the effects of my reading binge/review the highlights of said binge. Seriously, though, it was probably the best thing I’ve done for myself in a while.

So that’s it for me this week! Short and sweet for once. 😛 For those of you who are watching the Beyonce concert the big game, enjoy! And for those of you who aren’t, have a lovely rest of the weekend, and a great start to the week! Don’t forget to check on the rest of our ROWing folk here.


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ROW80: When One Email Equals Success

I need a little bit of this in my life.

I need a little bit of this in my life.

My morning began with a freakout.

Well, no, that’s not entirely true. My morning actually began with a wonderfully incandescent moment where I turned on the radio and heard the sweet, gentle sounds of of Ralph Vaughn Williams’ exquisite “Serenade to Strings.” It was when the piece was finished that I found myself falling into panic mode.

The problem: I’ve spent the last three weeks telling myself to email my dissertation advisor to tell her all the things I’ve learned in the course of my research over the last three months. The longer I wait, the more panicked I get. But every time I sit down to write the darn email, I freeze up. Why? Because everything I write sounds less than perfect.

It’s the curse of the overachiever, this need to be hyper-critical and always in control. Judging from the comments on my last couple of posts, many of you can relate. It’s perhaps the ultimate irony that all of our attempts to be perfect leave us frustrated and dissatisfied, ready to throw in the towel and just be done with life.

Little by little, moment by moment, I am trying to undo these nasty habits.

What would happen if I trusted in my talents and abilities? If I was confident that my advisor won’t judge me if I send along a few underdeveloped ideas? If I trusted that brainstorming + a little work will yield the theoretical framework that my project currently lacks?

I’d work faster, I’d be more creative, and I’d be so. much. happier. 

My friend Chad Carver may have said it best in his latest blog post:

In fact, our imperfect humanness is what makes us great artists because the interesting people are those whose character are coloured with most, or all, of the hues of the human condition.  They are, as a result of their layers of virtue and vice, capable of wide thinking, and profound creativity.  So, embrace your imperfection.

“Embrace your imperfection.” That’s an awesome sort of battle cry, isn’t it?


Here’s what I’ve accomplished in this first week Round 1:

I finished preliminary research at 2 out of 6 sites, continued to work through my notes, finally emailed my committee, and read 80 pages of Coburn & Smith’s Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920, which looks to be really useful for my work. For next week:

I sort of ditched last week’s plan and revisited my August CampNaNoWriMo novel, STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. It is in surprisingly good shape, possibly because it has more of a plot than any of my other WIPs (plots are useful things, did you all know that?), but I don’t necessarily know that I want to make that my major project for the year. However, I did write a couple of poems: “muse” and “drought“.  For next week:

  • More poetry.
  • Reread TELL ME NO LIES (for real this time) and make the Ultimate Editing Battle Plan.

I made my rounds to the allotted number of blogs this past week, answered all my comments, and spent a little time on Twitter. I didn’t write my 2 non-ROW80 posts, which tells me that I really need to write them over the weekend. For next week:

  • 2 non-ROW80 posts
  • Continue visiting blogs/leaving comments/responding to comments

Confession time: I have been avoiding books for the last few weeks because I know without a doubt that once I start, I will never be able to stop reading. I will become a tired, haggard, zombie-like shell of a person because I will stay up all night devouring books, and I won’t get anything else done.

But! I marshaled a little self-control and took the plunge into the world of books. I read THE RUTH VALLEY MISSING by the wonderful Amber West (seriously amazing book; review forthcoming), along with the latest novella in Lindsay Buroker’s EMPEROR’S EDGE series, BENEATH THE SURFACE (also fantastic). For next week:

  • More reading.
  • More journaling.

How has the first week of Round 1 treated everyone else? Have you hit the ground running, or are you slowly building up momentum?

Be sure to swing by and visit this week’s ROWers to offer them lots of encouragement and word love!

ROW80: Starting Fresh With Strength, Courage & Wisdom


January 7th marks the start of a new round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” For those of you looking for more information about the challenge, you can find it here.

I’m waving a wildly enthusiastic hello to all my old ROW80 friends, and offering the warmest of welcomes to all the new folks joining in on this round. This community is one of the most supportive and welcoming that I’ve found online, and is one of the reasons that I’m participating in my 7th (!!!!) round.

For anyone who may have missed my first post of the year, I’ve declared that 2013 will be my year to “stop the cray.” I’m pulling the plug on negative thinking, nasty energy, and all the habits that cause me to sabotage my own success.

To aid me on this journey, I’m blasting my anthem song for the year, “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom,” by India.Arie. As she sings,

It’s time to step out on faith, I’ve gotta show my face
It’s been elusive for so long but freedom is mine today
I’ve gotta step out on faith, it’s time to show my face
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found

With a little strength, courage, and wisdom in my life, I’m launching myself towards two giant goals for the year: (1) completing (at least) one novel and (2) finishing the first draft of my dissertation.

I won’t lie. Just typing those giant goals makes me want to do this:

supernatural-shockBut if there’s anything I’ve learned with ROW80, it’s that identifying small, achievable goals goes a long way to helping me conquer seemingly insurmountable tasks. With that in mind, here are my overall goals for Round 1:


  • Finish dissertation proposal and have quarterly meeting with committee
  • Complete preliminary archival research at 4 out of 6 locations
  • Continue to write rough sketches of research memos based on collected data


  • Write 2-3 poems each week
  • Revisit TELL ME NO LIES and THE PEACOCK QUEEN; identify what needs to be tweaked/fixed/written in order to finish first drafts
  • Figure out Ultimate Editing Battle Plan (and which novel I feel like hanging out with–or if the answer to this question is “both”)


  • Write 1 ROW80 check-in post each Sunday, along with 2 non-ROW80 posts each week
  • Respond to all blog comments
  • Use weekends for catching up with Google Reader, Twitter, and Facebook
  • Visit 10 blogs each week to read, comment, and promote posts


  • Journal daily
  • Read 1 novel each week
  • Unplug when necessary

So there you have it, folks! Is everyone feeling rested and ready to go? Anything special y’all are looking forward to this year?

Tell me all about it in the comments, and be sure to swing by and wave hello to everyone else participating this round.

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ROW80: Is It Me, or Are We Living in Warp-Speed?

What do frogs have to do with anything? Not much, I just like the picture. 😛

Whoa there, folks, it’s apparently hump day already. I’m not quite sure how that happened; last I checked, it was Saturday night and I was making tentative plans for the upcoming week. Hmph.

With that said, it’s time for the mid-week ROW80 check-in! Now that we’re almost 3 weeks into the round, I am happy to say that I think I am coming up with a better system for getting things done.

I am a great lover of structure, so I sat down today and hammered out a general schedule for my day-to-day life. The result is flexible, but will allow me to tackle my major priorities–the day job and my creative work– every day.

Here’s a short update on how things are going so far:

Day Job: I’ve set aside 2 hours each day as Sacred Dissertation Time. Starting next week, Tuesdays-Thursdays will be spent digging around in archives, so Mondays and Fridays will be devoted to writing up research memos and revising my proposal.

Writing: I’ve also decided that I need to have my 1 hour #teamsprinty happytimes each day, so I’ve set up the schedule to keep 11 am-12 pm free. This is a really good thing, as I’ve missed most sprints for the last few months, and it always leaves me feeling a little off-balance.

Brainstorming for NaNoWriMo is the only priority as far as writing is concerned. Right now I’m hammering out backstory and character biographies, keeping an eye open for any flashes of inspiration for that elusive middle. Overall, I’m trying to trust the process, and to know that my muse, despite her fickleness, will bring me a feast of ideas when I least expect it.

Exercise: The walking schedule has been amended to 5 miles/day, Sunday-Tuesday and Friday. I’ll try to supplement with Pilates or something on Thursdays, but as far as I am concerned, that’s more than enough exercise for me. 😛

One of the many wildlife sightings on the morning walk.

Social Media: Okay, I dusted off Google Reader the other day and opened it… and almost passed out from the sight of my 1000+ unread blog posts. However, I still think that using the RSS reader is the best way for me to keep up with blog posts at my own pace, rather than trying to constantly catch up with Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Here on Flights of Fancy, I continued with my poetry celebration series with a piece on self-proclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Audre Lorde. It’s a post that I’m proud of, one that I’ve dedicated to “those who have ever been afraid to speak,” as it addresses Lorde’s work on fear, silence, and the importance of speaking one’s truth.

Self-Care: One of the things that I’ve been reminded over the last couple of weeks is that I have a very, very hard time putting my needs over the needs of others. Part of impetus for creating a daily schedule is rooted in ensuring that I take the time each day to take care of myself first. That includes tackling my responsibilities, along with having time for naps, journaling, and relaxation. Setting up those boundaries and preserving time for myself will, I hope, keep me from getting too run-down and burnt out.


Has anyone else been refining or reevaluating their goals? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to check in with the other ROWers this week.

ROW80: The NaNoWriMo Brainstorming Has Begun!

Happy Sunday, everyone! It’s time for another update for ROW80, the writing challenge “that knows you have a life.” My life, thankfully, has slowed down a bit over the last few days. Progress towards my goals feels fairly steady, and given my love of structure and routine, this is a very good thing.

As I’ve mentioned in past updates, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and journaling. I’ve been thinking about quite a bit about creativity, in particular how the creative impulse must be satisfied in order to have a full and healthy life. I’ve also been thinking about the crucial nature of community, like our group of wonderful ROW80 participants.  This quote from WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES by Clarissa Pinkola Estes really hits home for me:

Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.

I love the thought that “a single creative act has the potential to feed a continent,” especially on those days when all I can manage to write is a small haiku, or a couple of sentences towards the WIP. It’s the little stuff that matters, and even if I can’t devote hours to honing my craft, it feels so darn good to write just a little.

And with that, here’s how the past week went:

Day Job: Work in the archives continues. I’ve been writing up research memos based on my findings so far, which are further refining my research interests. This week’s highlight: I got a chance to sit in on a meeting of all the archivists from the Catholic sisterhoods here in the Bay Area. They represented the oldest communities in the area, all of the founded in the 1850s and 1860s. Listening to their discussions of the joys and challenges of maintaining archives was fascinating, and gave me a few dozen more ideas for future research. 😛

Writing: I finally started brainstorming my NaNoWriMo novel! Better yet, I even created a Scrivener file for it and laid out the first 14 scenes, complete with summaries and the bits and pieces of dialogue that keep cropping up in my head. At the moment the story lacks both a title and, er, a middle, but I know how it starts and how it ends. I figure the rest will fall into place by the time November begins.

The poetry challenge continues, and so far I’ve written 11 out of 14. I had a couple of favorites this week: “Stolen Morning,” which was just sweet and gentle and lovely to write, and “The Old Mysteries,” which reminded me how useful poetry can be for expressing those feelings that can’t be spoken or written in prose.

Exercise: I walked a total of 4 days this week, and it feels sooooo good. The trick, of course, is to stick with it and not slack off, the way that I always do. But I have decided to take it one week at a time, and hopefully that will help.

Social Media: I wrote 1 non-ROW80 blog post this week, and I was really pleased with it. It was about what happens when an author falls in love with her creations, and it gave me a chance to celebrate my favorite character’s birthday. 😀

It was a slow week with Twitter, etc., as I am settling in over at WANAtribe (my profile’s here, so feel free to friend me!). I’m retaking Kristen Lamb’s “Blogging to Build a Brand” course, so I’ve been trying to get to know all of my classmates.

Self-care: I’m going into hibernation mode, my way of recovering from all the fun social time I’ve had over the last couple of weeks. There is still lots of writing and soul-searching happening, with quite a few breakthroughs. All of this is very, very good (and will potentially keep me from having a super horrible quarter-life crisis, lol).


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A Little Progress, and A Very Special Birthday

It’s Wednesday (or at least it was when I started writing this post), which means that it’s time for the mid-week ROW80 check-in. But before I get to that shiny list of goals and progress, I wanted to pause and say a big, fat HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the WANA1011 class!

The WANA1011 Hall of Fame (Image created by Rachel Funk Heller)

A little background: Back in October 2011, the awesome dipped-in-glitter Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone and writer/blogger extraordinaire, offered a two month course  called “Blogging to Build Your Brand.” 100 people signed up, and we made our way through social media bootcamp. Somewhere along the way, we also became a fantastic group of friends, staunch allies, and a warm and welcoming community to which I’m proud to belong.

I’m not exactly sure how a year has gone by so quickly, but we’re celebrating all over the web for the next few days (okay, okay, I say “few” because the birthday was technically October 3rd and I’m not going to get this posted till the 4th).

And now, onto the progress from the first few days of ROW80:

Day Job: I’m easing slowly into this. By the end of the week, I’d like to accomplish the following:

  • review notes from my “little conversation” and hammer out a rough outline for my revised dissertation proposal
  • create a preliminary reading list for my 2nd round of research
  • look at upcoming grant and scholarship applications, and figure out if applying for any of them is feasible
  • contact dissertation committee with plans for our next meeting, which will hopefully come in January 2013

Writing: #OctPoWriMo is going really well. I’ve written a poem each day (found here on tumblr), and I have a whole list of ideas and drabbles for future poems. For those of you who write poetry, or even who have been thinking about trying to write poetry, I encourage you to visit the website and get involved. This community of writers is supportive and nurturing, and Morgan and Julie have been posting some fantastic prompts.

By next check-in: I should have 4 more poems written. I’d also like to get a little more brainstorming on the #NaNoWriMo project done.

Exercise: Mom and I walked three days so far this week, 4 miles each day. I may have indulged in one too many sweets yesterday (mmm, pistachio-flavored French macaroons!), but I won’t be making that a habit.

By next check-in: 2 more walks, hopefully at 5 miles each, but it depends on the weather.

Social Media: I’m still pretty quiet on Twitter, but I’ve managed to comment/RT/like at least two blogs each day. I also posted about 20th century poet May Sarton on Monday, and included a couple of her poems.

By next check-in: Hopefully a Friday post, which is partly drafted but needs lots of polishing. Not sure if it’ll get done, as my Thursday is a little packed.

Self-Care: My 7 am wake-up sessions are still working. Taking time for free-writing and journaling has done a world of good for helping me to feel grounded, deliberate, and present in my life, instead of flailing around like a headless chicken, the way I usually do. 😛

Are you easing slowly into Round 4, or diving in headfirst? Be sure to swing by and visit the other ROWers checking-in this week!

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While I’ve Been Away: A ROW80 Goals and Update Post

Sometimes we all need to slow down and unplug.

As many of you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty silent on the blogging and social media front over the last few months.

This year has been an intense one as far as my academic career is concerned. There’s been lots of success (earning my long-overdue MA degree, changing my dissertation topic, starting dissertation research, advancing to doctoral candidacy), but it’s taken most of my mental and emotional energy to make that success happen. Add in a major move, settling in at my parents’ house, and lots of personal growth and change, and you have a sure-fire recipe for burnout.

Unplugging has also allowed me to enjoy some gorgeous San Francisco days.

Unplugging from social media and dropping my blog for a while was a huge help in giving me some space to hear myself think.

I have to admit, it felt good not to think about blog topics, or obsess over my site stats, or freak out about the ups and downs of my my Klout score.  I did a little writing, but it was full-fledged pantsing–no worries over story structure or plotlines or character arcs, just pure, unbridled creation.

While I’ve been away, I’ve read many books, cuddled with my cat, visited with old friends, and took lots of time to sit and think. Even more exciting, I’ve returned to my “roots”: writing by hand, complete with vintage dip pens and ink. Nothing makes me feel more whole than having ink-stained fingers and a cramp in my hand from furious scribbling, and nothing makes my ideas flow faster or more furiously than a good brainstorm-by-hand.

The product of my last “brainstorm-by-hand.”

My respite has been good, and it has definitely been necessary. But there’s a downside about disconnecting: losing touch with all of my amazing friends. I feel blessed to be part of a wonderful community, and I can’t wait until I can contribute once again.

With that said, I am delighted to take part in Round 4 of ROW80, a challenge and community that has a special place in my heart. Unlike Round 3, “the ROWnd that wasn’t,” I plan on being much more present this time around. 😀


Day Job: Now that I’ve cleared all the administrative red tape, I’m officially “ABD,” or “all but dissertation.” The goal for this round is threefold: (1) continue my archival research, (2) keep reading and taking notes on secondary sources, and (3) start writing up short memos. By the end of the round, I will also need to complete a 25-page dissertation proposal based on the advice my committee provided in 2 hour grueling but enlightening meeting we had earlier this month.

Writing: There are a few things going on in the world of writing. October will be dominated by October Poetry Writing Month (or #OctPoWriMo), which I blogged about the other day. I’ll be posting 1 poem a day for a month over on my tumblr account, and linking to my favorites here on Flights of Fancy every Sunday.

October is also plotting and development time for NaNoWriMo, and I CANNOT contain my excitement. I’ve done a little work hammering out the beginning and ending of the novel (steampunk/fantasy), and all I want to do is play with it.

I’m breaking down my writing goals by month:

  • October: Write 1 poem each day, and brainstorm the NaNo novel for 1 hour each day.
  • November: Write 1667 each day or die trying.
  • December: Finish PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE.

Exercise: I’ll be walking 4-5 miles a day, 4-5 days each week. If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I may even throw in an at-home Pilates routine as well. Simple, but effective.

Social Media: Okay, this has been my Achilles heel for months, but I think if I start small, I can work my way up to being a social media powerhouse (in my dreams, maybe). I want to do the following:

  • Blog 2-3 days/week
  • Comment/like/retweet 2 blog posts each day
  • Visit 10 ROW80 blogs each week

Self-Care: If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I can’t tackle any of my goals if I’m not taking care of myself. This means that I’m carving out 1 hour each day for myself to use for journaling, free-writing, and meditation. Having a little space will go a long way towards maintaining my mental, spiritual, and emotional health. (I think my Very Lazy Cat, Napoleon, approves of this plan.)


So that will (hopefully) be my Round 4! I’m looking forward to diving in and getting things done, and getting to know all of you. Swing by and wave a friendly hello to all of the other Round 4 participants here. 😀

ROW80: Respite, Interrupted

In my last update I celebrated the vanquishing of my to-do list, and declared my plan to be completely sloth-like and lazy for the rest of September. That goal was thrown off by paper edits, unexpected social time, and a few emotional twists and turns (nothing terrible, just draining), but I did get a chance to just unwind Friday night and all day Saturday. I snagged a copy of season 1 of CSI from Target for ten bucks, and have been happily binging on all my favorite episodes, not to mention reliving my old high school fantasies of becoming a forensic profiler. 😛

Better yet, I finished season 3 of Supernatural, read CC MacKenzie’s steamy and delicious RECKLESS NIGHTS IN ROME, finished Lindsay Buroker’s latest novel in the Emperor’s Edge Universe, BLOOD AND BETRAYAL, and am half-way through Lois McMaster Bujold‘s THE HALLOWED HUNT, the third book in her Chalion series. There is nothing like reading and devouring fun television shows to restore my peace of mind.

Here’s how the rest of the week has gone:

Day Job: Edits to my papers have been completed, the mini-proposal for my “little conversation” has been sent off to my committee, and I have all of my paperwork in order (I hope). Once Monday’s meeting is through, I have a list of books I’d like to read for research purposes, but I plan on waiting until I’ve put a decent dent in my Kindle TBR list.

Writing: Managed about 3k or so in the last few days, but nothing approaching Fast Draft status. Little bitty ideas for edits to my CampNaNo novel have been swirling around as well, though I haven’t really had a chance to do much about them. I’m postponing most writing-related things to next week, or maybe the week after, as I have house guests slated to arrive next weekend.

Exercise: Mom and I walked 4 days this week, for a total of 19 miles. I think this is the first time I’ve managed to make my exercise goal since this round started, so whoo!

Social Media: The latter half of the week has been pretty quiet in terms of Facebook and Twitter, though I have been trying to visit 2 or 3 blogs each day.

Even though I’ve only had a couple of days to relax, I feel vastly improved. Sunday and Monday are going to be somewhat taxing, between the drive down to Santa Barbara and my “little conversation,” but all of these things are pretty minor compared to the last couple of months worth of work (and stress, and anxiety, and all those other yucky things).

How’s the end of the round treating everyone else? Have you managed to accomplish all of your goals, or will you be deferring a few to the next round? Don’t forget to pop by and catch up with everyone else.
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ROW80: In Which Lena Vanquishes Her To-Do List

Yup, you read that right. My massive summer to-do list has been conquered. Given that it’s been almost a month since my last check-in, it’s really exciting to have good news to report. Here’s the Awesome List of Success:

This is what happens when I am stressed and trying to procrastinate, and the cat decides he wants to distract me.

Day Job: I wrote my Very Big Paper, which ended up being 45 pages on the history of Catholic sisters in the United States during the nineteenth century. Next, I finished the Paper From Hell, a 16 page paper on conduct literature that included lots of social theory and more big words than you can shake a stick at. And Tuesday night I hammered out a 3.5 page dissertation mini-proposal, complete with some preliminary research questions and a tentative chapter outline. Add in the 6 hours of archival research I’ve been doing each week, and you have one very, very vanquished to-do list.

Now that all the hard work is out of the way, I can head back to Santa Barbara and meet with my dissertation committee next week for my “little conversation,” the final requirement that I need to advance to doctoral candidacy. Accomplishing that means that I’ve jumped all the institutional loopholes — coursework, papers, and all that jazz. In other words, the only thing standing between me and my PhD is the dissertation.

Writing: I didn’t get a chance to talk about this, since I’ve been stuck in the writing cave for the last few weeks, but I did end up winning Camp NaNoWriMo. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is the poster child for the zero draft, with plotholes wider than the Grand Canyon, inconsistent characterization, and a million other problems, but I think there’s a fairly strong skeletal structure underneath it all. And, you know, it’s like 66k long, and I can’t complain about that.

For fun, and to keep up my writing momentum, I thought I’d try out my first round of Fast Drafting with a nugget of an idea that’s been nagging at me for a few months. (Yes, I am an overachiever. And yes, I am quite clearly a glutton for punishment.) I’ve fallen off the Fast Draft train over the last couple of days, derailed by migraines, the Paper From Hell, and my dissertation mini-proposal, but I am going to try to get back on track over the next day or two. Right now this little project (tentatively titled SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST) has a little over 17k — nowhere near my original goal, but still pretty awesome.

Exercise: I really fell off the wagon in terms of eating well and exercising, but my mom and I have a new plan that we have been implementing for the last couple of weeks. We are now walking 5 days a week, a minimum of 2 miles each day, and we’ve eliminated all the sweet, sugary things from the grocery list. I’m seeing a tiny difference, which will hopefully become a much larger difference in the weeks to come.

Social Media: My blog reading and commenting has been sporadic, I’ve been pretty quiet on Twitter, but I’ve been hanging out on Facebook a little more often. I’ve got a few blog posts drafted, so I might be able to start blogging again in October. This, of course, depends on whether or not I can have some time to unwind and chill out.


At the moment, my most immediate goal is to deal with my “little conversation” next week, and then to spend the rest of September doing nothing but gorging myself on novels, naps, and video games. I will also be carving out time to blog-hop and respond to comments, something that has been next to impossible with my brain all messy and overwhelmed, and my internal settings set to so-anxious-can’t-even-breathe.

Once again, Napoleon is my mentor in the art of leisure.

So yay! How is everyone doing? I’ve missed you all a ton! This ROWnd is winding down, but I’m hoping to wave at all my fellow ROWers in the days to come.

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ROW80: Anyone Have a Time Turner I Could Borrow?

…anybody? Bueller?

August is zooming past like some crazy high-speed bullet train, and while I have some things to show for it, I would be quite grateful if it would slow down just a little bit and allow me to take a breath. Or two. Would three be too many to ask for?

I’ve been wandering around in the hangover-like daze that too much caffeine, not enough sleep, and non-stop writing can produce. I am skittish around loud noises. I avoid bright lights. I am more than a little cranky and somewhat anti-social, though of course Napoleon has remained in my good graces.

Napoleon offering his moral support.

The upside to all of this is that I have successfully banished the Doubt Monster using the soon-to-be-patented Doubt Monster Defense System ™. In case you would like to create one of your own, you will need the following supplies:

Glitter bazooka, 1

Bubble gun, 1

Photos of cute animals (like this puppy dressed as a lobster), unlimited

The result? The Doubt Monster’s pure and utter ruin, as Lauren Garafalo proclaims:

So I can happily say that I have words in my head, which is a welcome improvement from the yucky bout of writers’ block with which I was contending at the beginning of the month. But there are not enough words, or I am not writing them down fast enough, or time is passing far too quickly for me to finish… It is complex.

At any rate, here’s what I’ve accomplished since the last check-in:

Day Job: I finally finished my Very Very Large Paper, otherwise known as the “comprehensive exam,” one of two requirements needed to advance to doctoral candidacy. This was a revision of a previous paper I wrote on the history of Catholic women religious in 19th century America. There was lots of editing, lots of rearranging and rewriting, and I am happy to say that the final product was about 41 pages, as compared to the original 27. Still waiting on feedback from my committee, but I have my fingers crossed that it will be positive.

I have another, much smaller paper, to complete by the weekend. Have I touched it? No. Instead I have been obsessing over my dissertation research, which is taking me into the archives of a half-dozen religious communities in the Bay Area. The highlight of the past few days has been seeing the historical annals of the Sisters of Mercy, dated 1854-1885, written in the hand of Mother Mary Baptist Russell herself. Russell led a small group of 6 sisters from Ireland to San Francisco in 1854, where they started countless social services, including the first private-run hospital in San Francisco. These archives are located on the campus of my old high school, so getting a chance to dig into this old history is exciting on both a scholarly and a personal level.

This week’s goal: Finishing the dreaded paper; typing up and organizing all my handwritten notes; working through the never-ending stack of reading on my shelves.

Writing: The day job has taken precedence over my CampNaNo goals, but I am slowly but surely catching up. I’ve written almost 10K in the last week, bringing me up to a little over 13K for the project. If I haul butt and write 2171 words each day, I’ll be able to finish out the month with 50K… we’ll see how that goes. Since I’m participating as a NaNo Rebel this round, the total count for STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is actually 28K, which isn’t too shabby.

This week’s goal: 2171 words each day, every day. *feels breathless just thinking about it*

Social Media: I’ve been lurking around the blogosphere for the last few days, reading and commenting on blogs when I have a spare minute. And I started drafting a few blog posts, including my first-ever book review. Now all I have to do is find some time to type them up (seriously, is there a time turner in the house?!).

This week’s goal: More blog reading/commenting. More tweeting. Polish up the book review to post next week.

Exercise: I’ve been averaging 2-3 days worth of exercise each week, which is still down from my goal of 4-5 days, but least I’m moving. I may have developed a really terrible habit of stashing mini peanut butter cups in my desk drawer. And, um, maybe almond biscotti? Also whole wheat saltines. I may have to work on cutting back… *twiddles thumbs, looks around innocently*

This week’s goal: At least 2 more workout days, more salads, fewer peanut butter cups.

Whew, and that’s it for the moment! I am looking forward to mid-September, when I advance to candidacy and can cool it a little with all the paper-writing. In the meantime, I hope everyone’s having a great week! Don’t forget to visit all the other brilliant ROWers here!

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