Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Tag: goals (page 1 of 3)

#ROW80: Momentum, At Last

Happy Sunday, friends! We’re on the verge of a new week (not quite sure how that happened), and I finally feel like I’ve gained the momentum I need to keep rolling with this dissertation. Huzzah!

3 Things I Loved This Week.

1. My family was in celebration mode this weekend, with a combo belated Mother’s Day & 23rd birthday celebration for my little sister. We all went out for afternoon tea at the glorious Rotunda restaurant at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, and had an awesome time.

2. Even though I’m approaching 30, my inner-five year old still likes to come out and play. I still haven’t managed to get rid of my stuffed animal collection, and yesterday I added a new one to the mix. I initially picked it out as a birthday gift for my boyfriend’s niece, who celebrates her first birthday on May 22nd, but the minute I picked it up I knew I wasn’t going to be able to let it go. #trueconfessions

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3. My dissertation advisor agreed that I should walk in the June commencement ceremony, since I’ll be defending by the end of the summer. I haven’t wanted to make a huge deal about it–after all, I’m not technically *done*, so why bother? But my announcements came in the mail the other day and suddenly it all feels incredibly real. I’m gonna graduate, guys! And even if it *is* sorta symbolic, it’s symbolism that counts.

(Yup, that’s my not-so-secret birth name you see printed there!)

Progress.

I finished Chapter 4, “Origin Stories,” a few days later than I had initially intended. But! It is 36 pages long, and over 11,750 words, so WHOOOO.

At the moment, I’m about one week behind on my writing schedule. It’s not terrible, but cross your fingers I can finish drafting Chapter 5 by Wednesday, May 27th. 

This next chapter, “Transplantations,” explores the complex dynamics that Catholic sisters faced when they arrived in San Francisco during the 1850s. As I wrote in my not-so-official summary:

“Transplantations” is a chapter about a bunch of European nuns who sail to San Francisco in the 1850s, only to find a lot of crime, poverty, and pretty deplorable conditions. But because they were a bunch of badasses, they battled religious and ethnic bigots, built dozens of schools, established their own hospitals, and saved a lot of people from cholera.

I’m really excited to work with this chapter, partly because I get to dig into all that archival data I spent over a year collecting, and partly because I wrote about it in an article I published in the peer-reviewed scholarly journal, U.S. Catholic Historian. Given the audience, the article is pretty heavy on historical description, and less so on sociological analysis, but it will provide an excellent jumping-off point for rewriting. (Shameless self-promotion: if you’d like to read the article, here it is, published, once again, under my Very Official Academic Writing Name.)

-oOo-

And there you have it! I’m a little wiped out from burning the candle at both ends last week (up early each morning to write before work, then to bed super late so I could write after work).  Because I clearly write and think better when I’m rested, this week’s goal is to write till 10 pm, read something fun for 30 minutes or so (that way I hopefully don’t have a repeat of Wednesday’s stabby stabbyness), and then go to bed by 11 pm.

I’m a little behind on answering comments and blog hopping, but I am totally rooting for everyone! Don’t forget to wave a friendly hello to the rest of this week’s ROWers.

ROW80: It’s Time to Get a PhD

Hey friends! It’s been ages since I’ve participated in a Round of Words in 80 Days, but here I am, in the final push to finish my dissertation and get a PhD, a massive goal that’s been almost 7 years in the making. I’m in major need of accountability, so here I am, ROWers, joining in for the remainder of Round 2.

I’m going to try and keep check-ins simple, so I am more likely to actually do them, so I figure I’ll share 3 things I loved from the week, and the progress I’m making towards my goals.

3 Things I Loved This Week.

1. This song is a little dated (which shows you all how often I pay attention to the radio these days), but my Hot Hula instructor used it for one of our routines, and I’m a little obsessed.

2. I saw THE BOOK OF MORMON a couple of weeks back, and holy heck, I haven’t laughed that hard in a really, really long time. The musical was co-written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame), and can be a little offensive during certain parts, although I thought the satire was really, really well done. The best part about the whole experience? Getting to take my cocktail into the theatre with these awesome reusable sippy cups!

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3. Now that I’m earning a paycheck that let’s me do a little more than just pay the bills, my boyfriend and I have been trying to do a handful of cool events that we’ve always wanted to attend. This past week, we went to the Conservatory of Flowers‘ Annual Gala, and wow! Talk about an awesome, super fun event, complete with open bar, gourmet food stations, and live music. The Conservatory of Flowers is extra-special for us, because we went there when we first started dating (it’s where he first held my hand!). So yay for being able to get dressed up and do something awesomely fun during the middle of the week!

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All dolled up, and feeling a little like Cinderella.

The Goal.

My goal is simple: I need to finish my dissertation, tentatively titled Sisterhood on the Frontier: Catholic Women Religious in San Francisco, 1850-1925 (yes, it is a sociological study of historical nuns!). To do that, my plan is to write 1 chapter every 2 weeks, through mid-July. Then I have maybe 1 month to revise and overhaul the entire thing, so I can defend and file with the Powers That Be by September 8th. I’m trying to write for at least 45 minutes, 5 days a week.

Progress So Far:

I’m just about finished with chapter 4 of 10, which will hopefully be wrapped up by Sunday night and sent off to my advisor, along with my end-of-year progress report (ugh). Once that’s done, I can embark on Chapter 5 (whoo!).

-oOo-

That’s about all from me! I’m looking forward to brunching with my boyfriend’s family to celebrate Mother’s Day, and then hanging out with my family Sunday evening. Don’t forget to swing by and wave a friendly (and encouraging!) hello to the other ROWers checking in this week.

 

ROW80: Self-Care is Self-Preservation

Once again, I’m dropping back in to wave hello to all of my wonderful friends taking part in this season’s ROW80 challenge. I’m especially excited because it is NaNoWriMo time! Even though I’m not participating this year, there’s something so intoxicating about the energy that abounds throughout the writing world during this time. I’m hoping a little of that energy rubs off on me.

-oOo-

Back in August, I identified some of my major pitfalls when it comes to writing and productivity. I was hoping it would jumpstart me to get back on my research/writing/blogging game, but instead I realized something else that’s been nagging at me: my lack of self-care.

Splitting my time between my parents’ house and my boyfriend’s home has left my bedroom is shambles–half-empty suitcases on the floor, clothes strewn about, papers and books everywhere.  I wear stress on my body, visible in weight I’ve gained from a lack of healthy eating, and in the rashes that have sprung up on my arms in legs, partly from nervous habit, and partly because I don’t take the time to moisturize and apply the necessary medicine.

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I’ve stopped writing, whether poetry or prose or silly blog posts. And I’ve stopped dreaming (unless you count regular nightmares). That lack of dreaming hurts the most, I think. The visions of the future that I used to entertain have morphed into something else altogether: fears about never finishing my PhD, or worse, that I’ll finish and never find a job that captures both my passion and expertise.

And so that is what I’ve been trying to conquer these last couple of months: to care for myself, to take time in the evenings to read magazines and journal and listen to music, to listen to my body when I need to rest, to give myself the space to listen to the stirrings of my heart. I’ve been reorganizing my room and eliminating the clutter, the better to give myself a sanctuary that will encourage serenity and dreaming.

After all, as the great feminist scholar, poet, and warrior Audre Lorde once said, self-care is self-preservation–a profoundly radical act. Because if I expend all that I have and all that I am for others, without taking the time to nourish and restore myself, there is no way I will ever be able to accomplish all that I’ve dreamed. More importantly, there will be precious little to support the happiness and joy I’d like to feel in my day-to-day life.

These are my challenges, then: to overcome fear, to recognize and tend to my needs, to rediscover my passions. I’ll be pinning this Audre Lorde quote over my desk to stay motivated:

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

For this round of ROW80, I want to take steps to living  fully, deeply, and deliberately. Here are a few concrete ideas for how to get there:

Dissertation

To date, I’ve written an introduction + chapter one. My committee has been encouraging me to write about my findings, so I’m juggling a few things here:

  • Reviewing my data: I’ve got to identify the historical examples that help illustrate my overarching arguments, which involves wading through all my notes to figure out what to flag.
  • Reading secondary literature: I’ve got a stack of books that my committee recommended when I met with them in October. Getting through 2 per month would be phenomenal
  • Writing, writing, writing. There’s a chapter I’ve been dying to write which is already partly done. If I could buckle down and finish it, and then have an outline of that “substantive” chapter done by the end of this Round, I’d be really pleased with myself.

Blog

I’ve neglected my poor blog for way too long. I’ve got 7 unfinished drafts that I’d like to polish up and post, and I’d like to get back to reading everyone else’s posts. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week: 1 ROW80 update, and 1 non-ROW80 post.

Self-Care

This is simple, and also the hardest. I want to use my weeknights for myself, and to have time on the weekend to rest and recharge. Bottom line? The goal is to do the following: Journal. Clean. Read. Write. Sleep.  

-oOo-

And there’s where I’m at this week. I’m excited to put these goals into motion, and even more excited to catch up with everyone. Be sure and cheer on the rest of our ROW80 participants!

ROW80: Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

Glorious, glorious weather!

Glorious, glorious weather!

Happy Labor Day Weekend, friends! Here in San Francisco we are enjoying surprisingly lovely weather. The sun is shining, the sky is cloudless, and we’re all running around in shorts and tanks. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer, and while I’ll be sad to see it go, I’m starting to dream about the 1960s vintage wool coat I’m dying to buy for the inevitable cool-down.

I’m grateful for friends and family and good health this weekend, especially because this time last year I was nursing my boyfriend through a fever of 103 F, and because all of my coworkers have been ill. But I’ve had a chance to catch up with two of my oldest friends–always a joy–and time to take naps and relax. This afternoon I’m aiming to spend a few hours with my dissertation, but my motto right now is to move slowly. 

 

Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like to revamp my blog. Over the past three years I’ve toyed with different theme days, but moving forward I think I’d like to do something that includes Guilty PleasuresBook Reviews, and maybe Midweek Poetry. I’ve got an ongoing list with ideas for over 15 posts, and I now have incomplete drafts of 4 different posts. I’m adding onto those drafts little by little, when I have a new idea and a spare moment, so hopefully I’ll have a few finished by my deadline.

For this week: I’ve been wanting to write about Penned, the new writing app for the iPhone, for a few weeks now. The goal is to get that finished and posted by Friday.

Dissertation

Dissertation writing is in progress, and proceeding slowly but surely. I am still trying to think less and write more, but that is hard work. I’ve added something like 500 words this week. Not terrible, but if I want to get these chapters written, I need to do more.

For this week: My realistic goal is to finish the section on the founders of religious communities. My epic dream goal is get this whole darn chapter finished (but that’s probably a huge reach). Sigh… We’ll see.

Fiction

I haven’t written anything new in the fiction department, but I have been toying with new ideas. My favorite so far? A character named The Peddler, who is loosely based on one of the vendors I see at the flea market each month. The first time I saw him he was standing on a table, dressed in a full-length fur coat, cowboy hat, and Ray-Bans. In TELL ME NO LIES, I think The Peddler will be one of the many unsavory sorts who hang out in the Barbary Coast, selling illicit (and, obviously, overpriced) items to the rich dandies who wander into “Hell’s Half-Acre” looking for debauchery.

For this week: I think it’d be nice to start typing up the snippets I’ve been writing by hand. I flipped through my notebook the other day and found a draft of the ending (!!!!) that I totally forgot I had written, so putting everything in a spot that’s easy to organize and find would be nice. Scrivener, here I come!

-oOo-

So that’s about it for me! Tomorrow I’m looking forward to checking out the Kings Mountain Art Fair, which is held in the lush, forested area of Woodside, about 20 miles south of San Francisco. It should be a nice way to close out a long weekend.

ROW80: Change Is The Constant

Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.”
– Christina Baldwin

 

Friends, it’s been way too long. But those of you who hang out with me on Facebook and Twitter know that it’s been a helluva year. Every time I feel as though I’ve gained a semblance of control in my life, it slips away and I’m left scrambling all over again. Solid ground turns out to be nothing more than an illusion, and “control” is all but impossible.

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That moment when “solid ground” isn’t as solid as it looks.

So I’ve reached the conclusion that, for the time being, this is the new normal. My day job is still the kind of place where anything and everything can, and will, happen–inevitable when there are involves 100 screaming kids, constantly ringing phones, demanding parents, and way too many surprises. I still have a dissertation looming in front of me, and an anticipated graduation date of June 2015. And I’ve still got those three novels sitting on my hard drive and taking up residence in my head, unfinished and gathering dust. Add in conflicting demands from family and friends, a boyfriend who’s going through his own share of massive transition and change, and the result is that “somewhat managed chaos” is really the best I can hope for.

It would be easy, I guess, I just do the bare minimum and try to get by. But I want to live, in ways that go beyond just moving through the motions. I want to be creative; I want to blog, to interact, to engage within a community. I don’t want to have to wait until I’ve finally got that PhD in hand in order to write, and speak, and exercise my imagination in all the ways I’ve been dreaming for years.

The trick, as I see it, is going to be mastering tools, tricks, and strategies to get things done. Over the last few weeks I’ve started to identify the ways that I can work smarter instead of harder, ways that I can make the most of my limited free time. I’ve also started identifying some of my habits that have been preventing me from accomplishing the goals that mean the most to me. My top 3 fatal flaws:

  • Trying to do things at the last minute. It’s been my MO since I was in elementary school. Once upon a time I was able to churn out brilliant work in a single night, motivated by panic and stress and a lot of caffeine. This isn’t an option anymore. I can’t write chapters, or blog posts, or an entire dissertation in one sitting. Hell, I can’t even pull together a newsletter for the Day Job in a 2 hour stint. My new goal? Spacing things out. Giving myself enough time to get things done. Which kinda goes along with the next point…
  • Trying to work for extended periods of time. Gone are my grad school days of having multiple days in a row to just sit in my house, grade papers, and write. Now my mornings are filled with exercise classes (Zumba FTW), my afternoons and evenings with the Day Job, and my nights with trying to stay awake past 9 pm. My attention span for writing has all but evaporated; I can barely manage 15 minutes before I start to go a little nuts. So I’m aiming for short sprints, 15-30 minutes of focused, sustained work where I’m not multi-tasking or daydreaming or Googling that random (but brilliant!) idea that popped up out of nowhere. Lauralynn Elliot talked about this in Monday’s ROW80 sponsor post, which I have printed out and tacked up next to my desk.
  • Being scared of success. I always scoffed at the idea of being scared of success. After all, don’t we all want to be successful? But I started thinking about the fact that I’ve abandoned tons of projects midway through, projects that I was super excited about at the start, and ones that showed a lot of promise. And when I really dig deep, it starts to become clear that I am terrified of what will happen when I’m finished. I don’t know what’s worse: the outcome being either (1) terrible, (2) mediocre, or (3) brilliant. The thing that sucks about #3? The fact that people might notice me, and that I will get attention. It’s horribly irrational, because there’s a part of me that loves the spotlight and enjoys having a somewhat public voice. But there is a part of me that is 12 years old, painfully awkward, and terrified of being seen. The key, at least for the moment? Reminding myself that I have important stories to share. Pushing past that niggling voice of doubt. Locking up my inner editor until I have something finished and complete to polish. Thinking less and doing more because, sweet Jesus, I have been overthinking everything lately.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m trying to be honest with myself, and trying to retool things that just haven’t been working. And not everything in this last year has been a total disaster. I’ve made some important strides at the day job, drafted the introduction to my dissertation, and had a successful conference presentation at this year’s American Sociological Association meeting. I’ve also had some awesome experiences that I’m looking forward to sharing in the weeks to come: visits to cool historical spots around San Francisco, meeting a couple of amazing NYT-bestselling authors, and getting started with Penned, an awesome writing app currently building steam on iPhone.

I’m jumping back into ROW80 in the hopes that I can use this momentum to stay accountable and bloody finish something for once. Here’s what I’ve got on my agenda:

DISSERTATION

  • Finish at least 2 chapters by September 20th.
  • Continue data analysis between September 20th and October 10th.
  • Read at least one dissertation-related book by September 20th.

BLOG

  • Write at least one ROW80 check-in each week until the end of Round 3.
  • Draft 4-6 blog posts by the end of Round 3, to be posted on the blog starting in late September/early October.

FICTION

  • Continue to jot down ideas, by hand, for the last remaining chapters in Act One of TELL ME NO LIES.
  • Outline the first few chapters of Act Two for TMNL.

This doesn’t seem like a lot, but honestly, it’s more than I’ve been able to accomplish for the last year. So we’ll see! In the meantime, I wave a hearty hello to all of you. I can’t wait to take a peek and see what everyone else is working on at the moment.

How’s the end of summer shaping up? Any fun plans lined up for Labor Day weekend?

Mixing It Up: #ROW80 Goals & #NaPoWriMo Day 7

ROW80LogocopyAnother Round of A Round of Words in 80 Days is upon us, and I am delighted to participate. For those who have never heard of this wonderful writing community, ROW80 is the writing challenge “that knows you have a life,” and allows we over-worked, over-scheduled creative folk to build our own goals.

After a rough and tumble year (or two… or three?), I’m all about treating myself with flexibility and care. I gave myself permission to take the weekend off from NaPoWriMo, because I’ve learned that placing pressure on myself is counter-intuitive. When I tell myself that I’m a failure, or that I’m lazy, or that I’m useless because I couldn’t wrest a few minutes out of my life to write, I ruin any chances I have to be creative for days, and sometimes weeks, to come. So Round 2 of ROW80 is all about being kind to myself (like fearless leader Kait Nolan writes in this awesome post), about allowing myself to make mistakes and to stumble without self-flagellation, and about actually remembering how to enjoy the act of writing, both academic and creative.

Before I get to my Round 2 goals, have a bit of a poem. I’m trying out a “lune,” a modified haiku form written with 3 words in the first line, 5 words in the second, and 3 in the third. And based on the subject matter, I’ll bet you can all guess what I was dealing with today…

“Migraine”

brain throbs incessantly

senses stunted, tongue silenced, thought completely eliminated

migraine strikes again

—-

And with that, here are my goals for Round 2:

Dissertation:

  • Finish 2 chapters by the end of Round 2.
  • Start coding data sources.
  • Hammer out an inventory of data sources.

Creative Writing:

  • Read 1 piece of fiction each week.
  • Figure out how to move forward with TELL ME NO LIES.
  • Write at least 20 poems for #NaPoWriMo.
  • Start blogging in May–maybe with weekly book reviews? The jury is still out on this one.

-oOo-

I’m still trying to keep things simple, as you can probably tell, but with the way things are going at the moment, simple is most definitely best.

I’m looking forward to rocking the ROW with the rest of y’all! Anyone else participating in NaPoWriMo this year? Any big goals slated for this Round? Can’t wait to see how everyone is doing!

 

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ROW80: All About Baby Steps

Happy Sunday, folks! It’s evening here in San Francisco, and I am feeling very thankful that I have tomorrow off. I’ve been a little out of sorts the last few weeks, in that odd, uncomfortable, disjointed period that accompanies all transitions. Creating the space to have daily “me” time has been difficult, but I’m taking baby steps to get there! I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to leave the house at all tomorrow, which should give me a chance to work and rest.

I declared my intentions to participate in NaNoWriMo on Wednesday, but I’m not attacking my WIP with nearly the same sort of vigor as I have in years past. The act of writing after being silent for so many weeks is a decidedly strange feeling. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching words form and drop onto the page, and it’s a little crazy to see tiny ideas growing, connecting, deepening, expanding. It almost makes me feel like I am a beginner all over again, but a beginner in the best of ways: able to appreciate the magical alchemy of the creative process, to feel inspired (and, to a certain extent, humbled) by the story being woven out of thin air.

My writing ambitions received a bit of a boost this week with a shipment in the mail from The Goulet Pen Company, an awesome company that sells fountain pens, inks, paper, and tons of other supplies.

My first shipment from Goulet Pens.

My first shipment from Goulet Pens.

I received an Ahab Flex Nib pen by Noodler’s Ink, along with five ink samples as part of their monthly “Inkdrop” subscription. I’ve just filled the pen with my favorite peacock blue ink, and whee! I am going to have fun working through the next set of scenes for THE GILDED CAGE.

Practicing my autograph with my new Ahab flex pen by Noodler's, filled with Pilot Iroshizuku's "Ku-Jaku" ink.

Practicing my autograph with my new Ahab flex pen by Noodler’s, filled with Pilot Iroshizuku’s “Ku-Jaku” ink.

 

With that, here’s how I’ve progressed over the last few days:

DISSERTATION:
I only worked one day this week (Tuesday), but I made a teeny bit of progress on the very-overdue-proposal. More to come tonight, and lots more tomorrow.

CREATIVE WRITING:
Writing happened on two days this week, for the grand total of 2 hours, which technically satisfies my goal. I’d like to transition to writing as close to every day as possible, though, but baby steps, etc. Because I’ve done some writing by hand, I’m not quite sure what my total word count is, but it’s probably somewhere around 2,500. Again: baby steps.

EXERCISE:
My mom and I went for a walk + a bit of jogging twice this week, so yay! This week I’d like to add in a 3rd day of working out on my glider, but we’ll see…

-oOo-

With that, I hope everyone has a wonderful week! So far mine is shaping up to be a quiet one, with Monday’s holiday, though I will be putting in a few extra hours at work to tackle a big project. But as we move closer to Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am so very, very grateful for this community. Be sure to swing by and give a word of encouragement or two to the other ROWers who are checking in this week!

 

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ROW80: Better Late Than Never

ROW80LogocopyHeyyyy! Okay, I’m a couple of weeks late for Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, but I finally made it. Anyone have a cool drink to share? I need something to keep me cool during these unexpectedly warm summer days. 😛

It’s been a crazy few months, as most of you have been able to tell. But I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to wrangle at least few things in my life into some semblance of order. As far as the dissertation is concerned, I’ve completed almost all of my archival research, and my committee has approved my proposal. I wrote my very first academic journal article (whoo-hoo!) and while it still needs to undergo the review process, I got an early thumbs-up that eases a lot of my anxiety. And as far as my creative writing goes, I’ve finally been able to dig into TELL ME NO LIES, my steampunk romance/murder mystery/thriller that I’ve been trying to finish for two years now.

Things are definitely coming together.

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With that, here’s my list of things to accomplish during Round 3:

WRITING:

  • Complete edits for Act I of TELL ME NO LIES, and create a detailed outline for Act II
  • Participate in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo, and write 15k towards SOMEWHERE IN THE WEST

DAY JOB:

  • Finish archival research
  • Complete dissertation proposal edits
  • Start analyzing all the data that’s already been collected
  • Draft dissertation chapters 1 and 2

BLOGGING:

  • Aim for 1 ROW80 check-in and 1 regular blog post each week
  • Visit and comment on at least 5 blogs each week
  • Brainstorm changes for my blog, to put into action during Round 4

My biggest goal for this round, I think, is to ease back into things without crippling myself with anxiety or fear or any of the other things that have been holding me back this year. I’m feeling a lot more positive and excited about the work I have before, so hopefully that’ll translate into getting lots done!

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ROW80: Oh, How Time Flies!

I know, I know, I’ve been all sorts of absent over the last month or so. Where have I been? for starters, there was the family spring break trip to Anaheim, where all of this awesomeness occurred:

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The valiant knights of Medieval Times in Buena Park, CA.

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Disneyland!

Yo ho ho!

Yo ho ho!

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves

The great Captain Jack Sparrow, for my #teamsprinty loves

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Family time at Disneyland.

…and then after I got back from vacation, there was just a lot of “Oh, I’ll write a check-in post on Sunday. Wait, Sunday has passed? Then I’ll check in on Wednesday…” And so on, and so forth.

Then April rolled around (no, I don’t know where the time has gone. I am convinced that some evil genius somewhere flipped a switch and stole at least 3 weeks from me), and I had all this life stuff come up. Nothing serious, mind you, just the life stuff that involves dealing with routine doctors’ appointments, and running all those errands that have been piling up for months, and paying attention to things like the mountain of paper and mail and books that are overflowing from the various corners in which they were stashed.

I was reminded that I had planned to paint my room waaaaay back in July, when I first moved back home, so I took the last week to finally get that done. I think the results are well worth the effort. 😛

Napoleon is wondering, as always, what the heck I'm up to this time.

Napoleon is wondering, as always, what the heck I’m up to this time.

A before-and-after shot of my desk, for comparison's sake.

A before-and-after shot of my desk, for comparison’s sake.

With all this massive spring cleaning and redecorating finished, I’m hoping I’ll have all sorts of renewed energy for creativity and productivity. With that in mind, here are my Round 2 goals. For April, I plan to do the following:

DAY JOB: Finish the first full draft of my dissertation proposal.

WRITING: Write 30k towards TELL ME NO LIES for CampNaNoWriMo.

That’s it. Simple, straight-forward, and to the point… though still a little scarily ambitious. But after almost 2 years of participating in ROW80, I’ve come to accept the fact that I don’t quite know how to do anything less.

So, yay! I’m late to the party, but I’m thrilled, as always, to be here. How’s Round 2 treating everyone else?

ROW80: A Bucketful of Sloths. You’re Welcome.

Happy Sunday, friends! Before I get to my weekly ROW80 check-in, I’ve gotta say: I have the most amazing friends in the universe. Why? Not only are they supportive, caring, and a little crazy, they also fill my inbox with pictures and videos of baby animals and other silliness. Yesterday my Ultimate Best Friend Ever sent me this. Because I love you all, I am sharing it with you.

Be warned. It is epic.

BUCKET OF SLOTHS from Lucy Cooke on Vimeo.

(I rather imagine that this is what #teamsprinty looks like after the end of an intense writing sprint…)

DAY JOB:
Not much to report here. I skipped the archives for a second week in a row so I could recover from the flu. I’ll be back at it on Tuesday, which means my focus will shift back to the dissertation. I’d like to do the following:

  • Sketch out a timeline to have my revised dissertation proposal finished by mid-March.
  • Finish ACROSS GOD’S FRONTIERS.
  • Figure out the best way to start annotating, coding, and organizing my notes from the archive.

WRITING:
I’ve made some progress here, and I think breaking down my writing tasks in last week’s check-in was really helpful. I wrote a few thousand words towards TELL ME NO LIES, spent a few hours brainstorming, and took some time to go through previous drafts to salvage bits and pieces that I’d like to integrate into the final draft. I also wrote a couple thousand words of silly flash fiction pieces starring Pierce. They may end up becoming fodder for a romance novel one day, but for the moment, they’re just a fun exercise. For the week to come, I’d like to:

  • Take my list of settings and locations and continue to flesh out their descriptions.
  • Continue to explore supporting characters, like the Chinese crime lord who made an appearance in my brainstorming session last week (squee!).
  • Jot down any ideas that pop up for my other WIPs, but keep the focus on TMNL, for the moment, at least.

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Okay, people, I wrote three blog posts this week. I know, let’s count ’em: 3. Even better, I made my goal for commenting/sharing blog posts. Success!

Here’s what happened on Flights of Fancy this week:

  • knock-down, drag-’em-out fight between the baby platypus and the baby otter over my brand new Cute As a Sloth Award. There was a poll and everything, which is still open, FYI. Last I checked, the baby otter was winning by a landslide.
  • The Old Ways,” a mid-week poem sparked by Ash Wednesday, which is apparently going to become a new feature on the blog. I say “apparently” because I hadn’t intended to do it, but then my muse was like, “Hey, you should make this a thing,” and I sort of shrugged and said, “Okay”… and that is more than you needed to know about my inner dialogue. 😛
  • My long-promised book review post, with a list of my 5 favorite books (so far) from 2013.

Not only do I have a ton of ideas for future posts boiling around in my head, I actually have drafts written for the upcoming week. Yay!

SELF-CARE:
I’ve been working on being calm and relaxed for the last week, with mixed results. I’m mostly recovered from the flu, in that I am no longer feverish and dying, but I still get tired quickly. The last couple of days have been an exercise in not over-taxing myself.

I am partway through Natalie Goldberg’s WILD MIND, a wonderful book about writing and the writer’s life that I highly recommend. And because it’s Presidents’ Day weekend  here in the US, I am rewatching the HBO miniseries John Adams, based on the biography written by David McCullough. For those of you who like history, I highly recommend it.

-oOo-

So yay! Lots of good things are happening, I am feeling creative, and there are many more good things to come. As a reminder, one of those wonderful things is WANACon, which will be held next weekend. Pop over to WANAMama Kristen Lamb’s blog for more info about the conference and the recently announced PAJAMACON, the bonus 3rd day of the conference. Yes, it really is as epic as it sounds.

Don’t forget to give a shout to the other ROWers this week, and send along belated Valentine’s Day wishes!

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