Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

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!


  1. Lena, let’s just say that I have been meaning to write my advisor for the last three months–umm, yeah, I know the paralysis of perfectionism.

    Thanks for the link to Chad’s post–embrace the imperfection. I will work on that.

    You’re doing great on goals–no surprise to me there. 🙂 I look forward to your reviews.
    Elizabeth Anne Mitchell recently posted..Writing as CinderellaMy Profile

  2. Hi Lena – I love the ’embrace your imperfection’ concept. And I can totally relate to turning into a zombie once you crack a book…there is very little I like more than sinking into a good book – they’re dangerous. Good luck with your goals!!

  3. Yup you have to keep an eye on the books for sure:) not sure – have re-read blog – did you send the e-mail? if you did well done – if you didn’t better luck this week:)
    alberta ross recently posted..Hopeful Goals for 2013:alberta’s over reaching.My Profile

  4. LOL at what happens when you read – my husband’s the same way! He’s also dyslexic, so he reads very slowly, AND he likes long books like those by Clive Cussler. So we’re talking a good week or more of getting *nothing* done. So he hardly ever reads.

    I’ve gotten back into the swing of ROW80 pretty well, so the challenge is to stick with it. Good luck with yours!

  5. I guess I must have been a very sloppy academic *g* — I never had a problem turning in my progress reports while I was working on my dissertation. OTOH, I have to admit I never regarded academia as my true calling, so it might really be that attitude made it easier for me. Besides, I always loved telling people about the way the female pov was used in fiction by both women *and* men, whether they wanted to listen to my lectures or not. 😀

    Good luck on your goals! Go with enthusiasm, I always say. 🙂
    Ruth Nestvold recently posted..Moving forward on City of Glass, some thoughts on story length, and a new coverMy Profile

  6. Embrace the imperfection — now, that’s something we should all try sometimes.
    I’m sure you’re gonna write an amazing email! 😉
    And you’re having great progress, too!
    Have a great week!
    Juliana Haygert recently posted..#ROW80 Check-in 01/13My Profile

  7. I love your attitude and your pals battle cry! One of my professors told me to “Enjoy the confusion!” when I asked for help with an essay in my first year of my Psychology degree. I still do, when it isn’t driving me insane. 😀 Best of luck in the week ahead. X
    Shah Wharton recently posted..#Row80 Goals For R1-2013My Profile

  8. Lena – phenomenal job with your schedule and all. I spent less time writing on Friday and Saturday than usual but on Sunday, all of a sudden I was back into writing spree mode. More consistency would be incredible and certainly do-able.

    I am so excited about your work around the lives of religious women.

    The new semester begins today which means… grading grading grading is right there, hovering on the horizon. ergh.
    Julie Jordan Scott recently posted..Creative Every Day Check In: Playful Experimentation with the Dark #CED2013My Profile

  9. Fun! Look how many of us have gotten inspired to just go for it of late, telling our inner perfectionists that “It needs to be done–now–and it will be good enough.”

    Kudos to you, Lena! Kudos to all of us…
    Eden Mabee recently posted..Where do our ideas come from?My Profile

  10. Best wishes on your goals, Lena! You’ve certainly got a ton going on. 🙂
    Diana Beebe recently posted..Fit to be TwistedMy Profile

  11. Lena, I sososo get that whole perfectionism thing. And you described it so eloquantly. I suffer from it in pockets of my life, but in others I happily go about my day, satisfied with pretty darn good.

    Avon Romance was accepting Nano drafts this last December–I loved it, the editors basically told us to stop thinking, write what we wanted, take chances and send the hot mess in! And I did. It’s what released me to now look at it and mold it without breaking into hives.

    You are a goal goddess (hey, I just made that up!) and you can “ship” that email.
    Amy Kennedy recently posted..CONTROL? I DON’T NEED NO STINKING CONTROLMy Profile

  12. Embracing imperfection is key! Yeah for a great progress this week, hope next week is just as productive!
    EM Castellan recently posted..ROW80 Check-In 1- Writing a first novel by Marie LuMy Profile

  13. I completely understand being stunted by perfectionism – it’s definitely an issue for me to, and I would imagine, for most of us. I love the idea of embracing your imperfections – that’s good life advice 😀

    You’re doing great on your goals – keep it up, my dear!!
    Lauren Garafalo recently posted..Wandering AttentionMy Profile

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