Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: exercise (page 1 of 4)

ROW80: The Highs and Lows of Literary Abandon

As all Wrimos know, National Novel Writing Month bills itself as “30 days of literary abandon.” This year, I’m finding that “literary abandon” is something akin to “playing in the sandbox with full permission to get my clothes dirty.” I’ve given up all hope of plots, plans, or outlines. I don’t even think I have a stable list of characters anymore. Instead, I’m making it all up as I go along.

The result? Sheer chaos. And I’m loving it.

This is basically how I feel when I write with abandon.

I can introduce characters halfway through the novel if I want, ditch them if they don’t quite work, or keep ’em around if they do. I can write scenes out of order, mix them around, see where they fall best. I can be as outrageous as I want, and it’s okay, because I’ll go back one day and fix it up so that it’s pretty and shiny.

It’s a process of discovery, pure and simple. But of course, sometimes too much freedom translates into “Dear God, what the hell am I DOING???” sort of meltdowns.

This is what happened over the last week (hence the lack of Sunday/Wednesday check-ins), but I *think* it’s under control right now.

At the moment, I have a band of random characters journeying into the enemy country of Osgiliath (because when I can’t figure out names, I shamelessly steal borrow from Lord of the Rings), to track down a stolen Device that can wreak all sorts of havoc.

What exactly is the Device, you ask? I have no idea. How are they going to steal it back from the Enemy? I don’t know the answer to that either. But it’s okay, because this is NaNoWriMo, and my zero draft is allowed to have ALL the loose ends.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself. 😛

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

Day Job: I’m slowly gathering the energy to start rewrites for my dissertation proposal. The soft deadline to my committee is mid-December, with an eventual meeting sometime in January. Once I get through NaNoWriMo, this will be my top priority.

Writing: I lost a few days mid-week, but I’m getting back on track. I’ve written just over 24k, and by the end of the weekend I’ll hopefully be half-way through. Scrivener tells me that if I write 2k each day, I’ll finish up on time.

Exercise: I’m on track, walking 4 days a week. Mom and I have decided to tackle our diet next, so I’m trying to slowly cut back on salty and sugary things, and incorporate more veggies. Portion control is also on the to-do list, but we’ll see how that plan goes once Thanksgiving rolls around.

Social Media: I haven’t gotten a chance to swing by any ROW80 blogs in a week or so (sorry, guys!), but I have read/commented on a couple non-ROW80 blogs each day.

Over on tumblr, I posted my first poem in almost a month (so good to get back to writing poetry). And here on Flights of Fancy, I got the chance to review a book written by Sebastian Orth, who did my first tattoo back in May. It’s a phenomenal book–part autobiography, part philosophical musing on the art of tattooing. I definitely recommend it.

Self-Care: I’ve gotten distracted from my early morning journaling + poetry writing sessions, and I also realized that I haven’t been reading nearly enough of late. Now that I’m catching up with the NaNo word count, I aim to correct all these things.


And that’s it for me, folks! I’ll be busy over the next few days with family–my sister and my grandfather are flying in on Tuesday, and I really can’t wait.

Be sure to swing by and give a hearty hello to the rest of the ROW80 participants!

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ROW80: November is Here!

It’s here, it’s here! November is herrrrre!

I’m not quite sure how November got here, because I was really enjoying October, but I have embraced this new month with open arms.

I have had my first taste of the Harney and Sons holiday tea that Barnes and Noble serves each year, and I’ll be getting my hands on a red Starbucks holiday cup before too long. I am gleefully giving in to the onslaught of holiday music–my playlist of jazzy Christmas tunes and choral music is all queued up and ready to go.

My sister and my grandfather are visiting for Thanksgiving, and my parents have agreed to get a real Christmas tree next month instead of the artificial one we’ve been using for the last few years.

This is all really, really good stuff, folks.

Better yet, I am hitting NaNoWriMo hard and taking no prisoners, except for my inner editor, who is currently drugged and hanging out in a shed somewhere. I’ll release her on December 1st but not one day sooner.

Here’s how the last week went:

Day Job: Lots of work in the archive, lots of notes, lots of thinking. I feel like the pieces of this dissertation are slowly being nudged into place, and it feels good not to rush the process. Spending at least 2 afternoons a week in the archive keeps me accountable, because it means I can’t allow myself to slack off for days and weeks at a time, and it also keeps the information fresh in my mind.

Writing: My October goal was to reach 75k on my fantasy novel by October 31st, before NaNo stole all my energy. I made it to a little over 68k–a bit short of the original goal, but 8k more than I had when this round began.

As I mentioned above, I’m hitting NaNoWriMo hard this year. One thing I’ve learned from past experiences is that I always sputter out mid-month, whether or not I’ve plotted obsessively or decided to pants my way through, and I’m sure the same thing is going to happen to me this time around. My current word count is 8,668, which gives me a couple days’ worth of padding. It’ll come in handy soon enough, because I am going to run out of plot very, very soon, and I’ll need to take a couple of days to sit and brainstorm.

For fun, here’s an excerpt from what I’ve written so far. This is (will hopefully be?) a steampunk/fantasy hybrid, set in the fictional kingdom of Vorewin. This snippet introduces Helena Grey, one of the country’s first female scientists. It is, of course, super rough, but I wanted to share. 😀

Some days, Helena Grey wished that being a trailblazer wasn’t so bloody difficult. Despite what she may have believed in her naive and prosaic youth, there was little glory in becoming a pioneer. Few people trusted pioneers and innovators, and even fewer trusted women who dared to stray from the well-trod path of marriage and motherhood. If she had been wise, Helena would have followed her mother’s advice and done just that: married a local boy, popped out four children in three years, and spent the rest of her days in matronly modesty. It might not have been joy divine, but it would have saved her countless tears and endless heartache.

As it was, she possessed the stalwart stubbornness of her father’s people, and an appalling lack of common sense. At least, that’s what her mother always said. “Disgustingly smart, and without a whit of common sense to go along with it!” were her exact words. Despite Helena’s vociferous protests, she was privately inclined to agree.

Especially on a day like today. If Helena had done as she had been told, she would be warm and snug near the hearth, darning socks or some other such rubbish. She would be safe. Protected. Predictable. Bored, most likely, but was to be expected.

Regardless, she would most definitely not resemble a human icicle, all stiff and frozen and blue, her fingers worn to the bone and her toes threatening to fall off her feet completely. She wouldn’t be bundled in seven layers of wool and cotton and fur. She most definitely wouldn’t be covered in grease, and she certainly wouldn’t be clad in men’s trousers.

Alas, all of these things were true, but as the assistant researcher in the great Dr. James Alexander’s royal laboratory, it was her job to get down and dirty with field tests…

Exercise: My mom, who is my walking buddy, has been a little under the weather, so we only walked 3 days last week. But I have dramatically cut back on all my snacks, and I’m trying to limit portion sizes too. Hopefully we’ll get back to our normal routine next week.

Social Media: I’ve had a fair amount of Facebook and Twitter action, but I haven’t really been at my desk too much in the last week. Once I feel like my NaNo project is under control, I’ll be able to get back to blogging, etc. I have a couple of guest posts that I’ve agreed to do this month, so that will force me back into gear.

Self-care: I’ve had lots of time to myself over the last few days, but I’ve spent most of it furiously writing. My body seems to think it’s in the middle of finals week; I’ve been staying up till the wee hours of the morning to write, waking up around 7 or 8, and starting up again. It definitely isn’t a sustainable way to spend the rest of the month, so I’m really going to focus on setting some boundaries for my writing time.


Is anyone else as excited to see November as I am? Any exciting plans for the new month? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to wave hello to the other ROWers checking in for the week.

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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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ROW80: Linky Silliness and Mid-Week Goals

Happy Hump Day, friends! I’m ever-so-slowly transitioning back into the world of the useful and productive, but the ascent is a steady one. For today’s ROW80 check-in, I thought I’d share a few treasures that I’ve run across in the last week or so before getting to my list of progress and goals.

  • First up, Philip Hensher’s fascinating essay on handwriting that was published in UK newspaper, The Guardian. Given my recent commitment to return to writing by hand, at least for free-writing and brainstorming, the essay is a timely one. Hensher explores the role that handwriting has played in society over the generations, muses on its displacement, and suggests some simple ways in which we can reintegrate handwriting into our lives. It’s his closing thought, however, that I find quite striking:

I’ve come to the conclusion that handwriting is good for us. It involves us in a relationship with the written word that is sensuous, immediate and individual. It opens our personality out to the world, and gives us a means of reading other people. It gives pleasure when you communicate with it. No one is ever going to recommend that we surrender the convenience and speed of electronic communications to pen and paper. Though it would make no sense to give up the clarity and authority of print which is available to anyone with a keyboard, to continue to diminish the place of the handwritten in our lives is to diminish, in a small but real way, our humanity.

  • Tumblr has become one of my favorite ways of wasting time entertaining myself in between projects. Some of you (especially my teaching friends) might appreciate “Office Hours Are Over,” which basically sums up my day job life. My favorite entry so far? This ah-mah-zing Tyra Banks gif that expresses EVERYTHING I feel about grading papers.
  • And speaking of gifs, please behold the most amazing thing to ever, ever happen to the internet. Excuse me while I go off and squeal in the corner.

Onto the goals…

Day Job: Erm, I mentioned that “slowly” is the operative word this week, right? That is all I can say about day job goals for the moment.

Writing: I’m almost caught up on my #OctPoWriMo goals–just 1 short. I’m also working my way through a couple of craft books–Ensouling Language by Stephen Harrod Buhner and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Plotting for my still-untitled NaNoWriMo novel will commence by the weekend, and I will need all the tools and resources I can get my hands on.

However, all of the journaling and brainstorming that I’ve been doing has done wonders for shedding insight on (1) why I write and (2) what I ultimately want to accomplish through my writing. Having a sense of direction has been doing wonders for my inspiration.

Exercise: Managed to walk 3 days this week, for a total of 12.5 miles. Wednesday is my day off, but I’ll resume on Thursday and Friday. I’d like to try integrating a little weight-training, but that might be too ambitious…

Social Media: Still trying to transition into sitting at my desk, in front of the computer, instead of running around and having playtime. There will hopefully be something good to report by Sunday.

Self-Care: I am learning to understand my body’s rhythm, and to accept the fact that I can’t steamroll my way through life without a little downtime.


And that’s my very, very modest progress for the week. 😛 Hope everyone’s doing well!

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ROW80: Fleet Week and Fairs and Other Exciting Things

I think it’s official: this past few days is the most relaxed I’ve felt in weeks, if not months (maybe years?). After the cray-cray summer, and the even crazier school year, it is such a relief.

The Blue Angels, instagram-style.

I write this post in the midst of one very exciting weekend in San Francisco where it seems like every event in the world has descended upon us: a Madonna concert, two baseball teams (the SF Giants and Oakland A’s) in the playoffs, a football game, Fleet Week, the annual Columbus Day festival, the 2-day “Hardly Strictly Bluegrass” concert… the list (found here, for anyone curious) goes on. I’ve spent the last two days ooohing and aaahing over the US Navy Blue Angels air show (and, er, ogling men in uniform), and in a few hours I’m off to the Castro Street fair, held in the city’s historic LGBT neighborhood.

The Blue Angels flying over the SF Ferry Building

Needless to say, I haven’t gotten much done as far as goals are concerned. Here’s how things have played out since Wednesday:

Day Job: I’m back in the archive, spending 3 hours/week digging through the Sisters of the Presentation’s old 19th century documents. Given that their convent was all but destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, it’s astonishing to see all of the material that has survived. I’ve made my way through the order’s “Book of Customs” (a guide to expected conduct and deportment for the sisters of the community), and another “Guide to Religious Practice”–all very interesting, given my background in prescriptive literature (the topic for my MA).

Haven’t touched that big list of “things to-do by Sunday” that I posted in my last update, so that’ll be my big to-do for next check-in.

Writing: Managed to write 6 out of 7 poems for #OctPoWriMo, and may dash off an extra one at some point so I can meet my goal of 31 poems in 31 days. A number of surprising things have emerged from my pen this week, but there are two that stand out: “Recalled to Life,” where I’ve finally managed to describe the creative drought caused by grad school, and “The Dangerous Weird,” which celebrates all the wacky, weird, and wonderful people in my life.

Exercise: Fell a little short overall–walked 4 days this week, though the last day was only for 1 mile because I wasn’t feeling too well. The total mile count for the week: 13.

Social Media: I fell a little short here as well (I haven’t actually been in front of a computer for too long in the last few days), but hopefully the week to come will be a little more stable.

Self-Care: I haven’t been in front of a computer, but I’ve had a lot of journaling time. I’ve been dealing with some old hurts and demons, and realizing that they’re not as painful as I thought they once were. Putting them to rest and moving forward is my big goal right now.


And that’s the long and short of it! I will say that I am grateful to be enjoying some very fine autumnal weather (October is SF’s warmest month of the year), but I am more grateful that the insane temperatures of 90 degrees and up, which we saw at the start of the week, have dissipated. I think Napoleon is happy as well. He wasn’t too thrilled with the heat, as is plainly clear:

Not a fan of the heat.

Hope everyone’s had a great first week! Don’t forget to wave hello to the other ROW80 participants here.

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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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