October Evening, 7pm…OctPoWriMo #1

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October Evening, 7pm…

Hands adrift in soapy water,

 I listen.

My children’s singing laughter,

Frost whispering to the lively air,

All moonlight-silvered…

 I wash another dish.

Service with a smile.

The sweetest smiles! =D

Check out the other OctPoWriMo poets, here….

Of Writing and Woodpiles- ROW80 Round 3 Final Update Part 2

There is a pile of wood at the end of our driveway, right in front of the garage door. It’s early fall, here in upstate New York, and the nights are becoming chill enough that we want fires. After the hot, dry summer, it is both relief, and warning, this transitional season. Soon enough, we will want that firewood inside.

In previous years, the pile grew slowly. Jim would cut the wood with his chain saw, then split it with his maul and wedges. Once that was done, I would carry it down to the end of the driveway, little by little, and from there into the garage where it would stay dry and free of snowdrifts.

Annalise at the woodpile…


This year, we knew it would need to be different. Jim was involved in a serious motorcycle accident last February – a collision with a deer left him with several injuries, including a broken hand and eight broken ribs.

He might be able to operate the chainsaw, but he’s already re-injured one rib during a workout, and so splitting firewood is out of the question, for him, this year. I am a little too– well, uncertain – of where I stop and other things start – to be safe, and the kids aren’t yet strong enough to do more than split kindling and very small logs.

Stunt girl.


So Jim arranged for us to buy some wood from my older brother, who had been given access to a woodlot this summer, and had far more really nice firewood than he could use.

We’ve had three deliveries now – and, each time, a new pickup truckload joins whatever remains of the previous pile (s). There will be at least one more delivery, or perhaps two, so the pile will grow…..and then shrink again, as it is stacked, and then the stacks will shrink, as we utilize the wood to warm and cozify our house throughout the long New York winter to come….

TA-DA!!!! Annalise, Jim, a pile, and a stack…

What does all this have to do with writing or ROW80?

As I have moved through the process of assessing my progress on the diverse and numerous array of goals I set for myself this round, it strikes me that they are rather like a woodpile…

Some of the goals were accomplished quickly and almost without effort. They were like ultra-seasoned kindling wood, so dry and ready for use that they are almost weightless to carry. These goals fed others, in the way that kindling helps a fire to get established – they burned hot, and bright, but were quickly spent.

Country girl diva darling!

Others were like the solid, seasoned, split pieces – pieces without splinters or complicated angles, pieces that are not hard to grasp bare-handed, and, although there is an effort involved in moving them, it’s the feeling of honest work, joyfully done, with a clear measure of progress built in – the pile gets smaller, and the stacks higher…these are the goals that move right along, like creating story arcs, writing the children’s reports, and other goals that are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated, even though effort and attention is required to tend to them. It’s easy to see where you stand, in any moment, with these goals.

Then there are those trickier pieces – those that have rough edges and off shapes, or are so heavy or thick they are hard to pick up. They require extra attention, extra finesse, to get into the stack, but they will burn and keep a fire alive for a long time – so they are well worth the effort. These are the goals I tend to struggle a bit with, even resist as I focus on those that give faster, surer results. These are the ones like commenting on blog posts regularly, reading, and other ongoing projects. They move me a long way toward my writing goals, and they require a good deal of strength and finesse on my part to achieve…

My man – my hero – Chef Bluebeard, in his off hours.

There are the surprises – my brother pulling in with a fresh load of wood just as we are rousing ourselves for the day (we are famously late risers). Although inconvenient and a little unbalancing – lurching out of bed and throwing something on, to go move a truckload of firewood before that first cup of coffee – they bring many rewards: the promise of warmth and comfort, conversation while getting an impromptu workout, and sharing a cuppa with my husband and my brother, once the work was done.

Potential warmth….in wood and in goals….



Deciding very spontaneously to join August Camp NaNoWriMo was a surprise, even to me. I had only the sketchiest of ideas about the story, going in. I had a lot of homeschooling paperwork due on September 1. There was a degree of insanity in even making the attempt…but making it brought me the realization that I can actually write 50,000 words of an extremely rough first draft in 10 days flat, if I am motivated. That’s a useful to know surprise, and, although I am floundering a bit with the middle (no surprise there, for me), I really like what I have learned about these characters, and how certain elements that seemed unrelated have suddenly connected….I made some new friends – both in my story and in real life, because I jumped in. Yes, pursuing this goal took me from others – and I acknowledge that without regret. Staying true to the little voice that says “Go for it!” is pretty important to me, these days, even if it means rearranging some things, and letting others go.

Daddy’s Girl.

There always seem to be a few pieces of firewood I just don’t want to touch. I don’t like the feel of wet wood – when it rains, I tend to wait until the wood has dried again before returning to my stacking efforts. Some pieces are muddy, or covered in moss that has gone all slimy and nasty – I’m not squeamish, by nature, but I am highly sensitive to textures.

One or two of my goals were like that. Try as I might, I could not quite make myself find touching them appealing. I dropped the Bookmark Break Challenge – there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it; it just didn’t bring me joy to read frantically, to rack up a quota. I prefer reading at my own pace, and what I choose to read – whether I have finished it before, or not. There’s more sanity since letting that go, and I am really enjoying reading again.

I wrote very little in the way of flash fiction or formal essays this round, although I had fairly extensive goals for both. It turns out that concentrating intently on flash fiction and noveling aren’t compatible together, for me – so, henceforth, I will focus on one or the other, or dabble in both, or neither, at times. Essays had been much of what I wrote at 750words – but, once that space was used for my NaNo project, it seems the best things I wrote, essay – wise, were in the form of comments on Facebook. In the last week, I’ve come to accept that, and have moved two rather passionate posts to The Unfettered Life, so that they will have a more permanent home.

Learning to stack….

The copious homeschool reporting my state requires has been a nasty, slimily moss-covered log in my life since we began this journey. I want to ignore it, but the consequences of doing so are too severe, so I choose not to. Making that choice palatable has been another matter. I thought working on the reports intensively after completing my mad dash to 50,000 NaNo words would help, reasoning that my creative juices would be spent for a bit, and this schoolspeak reporting, so utterly unlike our big, passionate sprawl of a life absorbed in relevant learning, would seem less tedious. Nope. The truth of the matter is that the reporting is the opposite of good writing. It’s taking something unique and vibrantly alive, and reducing it to lifeless goals and objectives.

I have come up with an idea that I hope will let me blog our doings throughout the quarter, in a way that is at least a bit more representative of life here, and then draw out the reports from there. It will take quite a bit of groundwork to be ready, and this quarter’s reports, due on December 1, will likely not have the full benefit…but it’s a beginning, a way to let the wet logs dry until I can bear to touch them again….and move them inside, where they won’t get rained on anymore…

Assessing our efforts…

A few pieces of wood always seem to be impossible to use. They won’t fit in our stove, or they are too full of knots to split. Those need to be set aside for later, else let go. Likewise, some of my goals were just impossible to meet. The rough edit of Chameleon’s Dish never took off, because I ran into a problem with Scrivener, and I haven’t had the acuity available to really focus on what Eden Mabee said the fix was…and not wanting to add to the problem, I let it be. Submitting and researching markets failed, this round, because we were busy with birthdays, travel, and activities.

So, now that I’ve dissected the generalities of the woodpile of my goals…here are the particulars.

Volunteer helpers tend to be happy helpers.

So, what have I gained, from this woodpile of goals?

Some of it is obvious. I completed some goals. I moved more forward. I adapted others. I let some go as being not right for me, at least not now.

Other benefits are not so visible, but perhaps even more valuable. I now have a mission statement, and a much firmer idea of what I want my writing to accomplish, not only for me, but for those whose lives it touches.

I have a more solid sense of why some goals worked, and why some didn’t, and more perspective for setting future goals.

I have several new friends, and a dawning sense of the possibilities that lie untapped and waiting.

I have a deeper, fuller sense of myself and my priorities, what I am capable of, and what I wish to turn my energies toward.

And I have the tangible progress, all of which moves me toward my goals as a writer.

It was, in many ways, a grueling round, just as moving and stacking a large woodpile can be. There were aches and pains and a few scrapes and splinters along the way. I didn’t clear the piles – not the pile of goals, and not the woodpile.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Big things can happen little by little…

Final Goals Update for ROW80 Round 3, 2012

 

Check it out here!

Color code key:

Current round goals

Current round completed goals

Goals being shifted to future rounds

Current goals that have been modified for this round.

WIP Novels:

Trueborn Series

  • Trueborn:
  • Reread current rough drafts from 1998-9ish and 2000.
  • This goal was attained during the round.
  • Create story arc for rewrite.
  • This goal will be moved to another round, quite likely in a somewhat altered form.
  • Triage existing research.
  • This goal was mostly attained. I categorized the research, but have not yet found a suitable manner of filing it….although it just occurred to me that I can take photos of each page, sort them into Picasa albums, and shed the hard copy….hmnnn, Something to consider for next round…
  • Consider title change.
  • Still waiting to see where the story arc and rewrite process takes me, and this story…at some point, I will just know it’s fine as is, or a more apt title will present itself.
  • Since I did consider, though, this goal was attained during the round.
  • Blood and Breath:
  • Complete story arc (unless completed before the ROWnd starts).
  • This goal was attained before or during this round.
  • Create a flash fiction piece for each story arc point.
  • This goal was moved to the later’ category. I never began it; instead, I have roughly two-thirds of a meandering first draft of another novel in the series, To Be Or Not to Be. The change has been very profitable, in terms of beginning to pull all these novels into a somewhat linear, cohesive shape (with holes in it for the portions as yet untold…). I am even able to see the nascent marketable portions, and how to keep the intertwined fanfic elements, without any copyright infringement. That’s a long way from a solid plan, but also a long way from where I was.
  • I therefore feel the tradeoff was well worth it! =D
  • Use Scrivener to compile into a pre-rough draft.
  • Again, I never got to this, due to moving into a new rough draft.
  • Consider creating a blog for this novel or perhaps for the series, with pages for each novel as it progresses… (I have created a blog, shanjeniah’s Trueborn Jottings, which will be a home for all the volumes in this series).
  • I did more than consider; I created a still vastly empty blog. Ideas are churning for beginning to fill it up, and that will come later.
  • This goal was attained during this round.
  • Chameleon’s Dish:
  • Finish inputting into Scrivener ( completed during break).
  • Compile a print copy for editing, page count, and to see what it looks like!
  • I didn’t begin this one. I want to do a rough edit, and restructure the chapters, but I did something odd with the way I saved to Scrivener, and am a little foggy on what I need to do to put things right. Also, my focus for this novel was on research.
  • Go through each scene to edit, take notes, and list research questions.
  • I did begin this, but was stymied to find scenes not where I thought they would be…and then there was research, and summer birthdays, and travel…in retrospect, this is a goal far better suited to cold weather, when we tend to stay home a lot more and all engage in multiple creative avenues…
  • Complete basic research based upon library books and websites; looking for information to enhance later digging and prevent hugely obvious gaffes).
  • This goal was attained for this round.
  • Experiment with removing Tisira’s story as a YA novel, with a potential optional add-on of the fanfic elements….not sure how this will work, exactly, but I think it might be the best approach to have something marketable without sacrificing my vision.
  • I gave this idea quite a bit of consideration, but not a lot of actual experimentation. I do have an idea of how to work it – and that will involve restructuring the story chapters, which will in turn require a story arc. Again, a project better suited for cold weather.
  • Create a print copy of this experimental version, as well.
  • Nothing done here beyond vague thoughts. It’s hard to print a copy of something you don’t have an original of, yet! =D

 

  • Watch and/or read Henry VIII – which is the play during which the Globe burned. Get cozy with it the way Nockatee and Henry would be.
  • No. Same issue as with the above – summer is not the time for me to delve deeply into engrossing literary performances, or to read Shakespeare I’ve never encountered before. Winter for this, too!
  • Begin canvassing for beta readers for both versions…does not need to be the same group for both.
  • No. I will do this when I have drafts that are just about ready to be read, which I do not now. I also suspect I will do so largely through my new Trueborn Jottings blog, as I place excerpts and the like on the Chameleon’s Dish page.

Flash Fiction WIPs:

  • Collect all current pieces in my Writing Bullpen files.
  • Nope. I did look at some, but I also have stories gathered and wandering in many areas. As I continue paper decluttering efforts in my room and file decluttering in the various household computers, I expect to be adding to this folder. Another thing I am much more likely to attend to in the winter, and not during creative phases.
  • Complete/edit/rewrite where indicated.
  • Novels took my attention away from flash fiction, and, with the exception of the flash piece that became the basis for the To Be Or Not to Be prologue, I haven’t edited anything. I seems, though,that this goal would work well intandem with the gathering goal…in the winter, when I am in a gathering/gleaning place...
  • Explore markets.
  • Since it’s hard to research markets for projects that I’m not engaged with at the time, this goal never got off the ground.
  • Begin compiling a list for possible ebook anthology.
  • This goal was attained for this round. It was a small beginning, yet every project starts somewhere.
  • Go through old story notebooks and old papers for source material.
  • I read some, here and there, during the break at the beginning of the round. I didn’t set anything aside to transcribe. I have come to believe that this will be a long term, ongoing project, fit into spaces where I won’t find it either hugely distracting or irksome. It’s a rather narrower window than allows for speed…

Essay WIPs:

  • Collect all current pieces in my Writing Bullpen file.
  • No; not even close. These seem to trail behind me like bread crumbs, hither and thither and everywhere. An long-term ongoing project if there ever was one!
  • Compile list for possible ebook collection (by theme; just brainstorming at present).
  • I did not compile a list, per se, but there are a list of posts on my Facebook writer page. These come from The Unfettered Life, and I have not finished the readthrough there (I know there are more…).
  • I also have a direction in mind for the ebook aspect. It’s a rough direction, and I am not really ready to share, but further progress here will be made with that direction in mind.
  • Complete/edit/rewrite as needed.
  • No. No compiled list; no edits.
  •  Research markets – BOLDLY GO!
  • No. I have sold an essay to the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette, and know that the editor would welcome more from me. So I will begin there, when I resume, and take it from there…and that is as bold as I can be about it, just now.

Homeschool Administration Ad Infinitum….:

  • Letters of Intent to Homeschool if not done (due July 1)
  • Completed 6/26.This goal was attained in the break before this round began.
  • End of Year Narrative for Lise (due Sept. 1).
  • This goal was attained during this round – with a wrinkle. The superintendent reports that he did not receive our copy, mailed on August 30 from one town over…so I will be resubmitting via email, and will do so from this point forward. That should settle the matter.
  • Standardized Test for Miah (due Sept.1).
  • This goal was attained during this round, again with a wrinkle – no, you aren’t imagining it – there are a LOT of wrinkles with this school district. This time, it’s that they are demanding all of the test scores, and not simply the composite required by law…I will do it, but I need to be clear that the law does not allow them to demand it of us.
  • IHIPs for both children (due four weeks after receipt of packet from school district).
  • This goal was attained during this round. They need a final looking- over, and to be emailed with the other details I mentioned above. That will most likely happen during the break…or soon after, if not. 
  • Begin setting up portfolios for both children – invite them to be a part of this process! =)
  • This goal has been attained, in a very basic sense, for this round.  
  • Relax, enjoy, learn, grow, laugh, and … BREATHE!
  • This one has most assuredly been attained during this round! =D

Reading:

  • Continue reading books as interest and energy levels allow – this works better during periods of gathering input than in periods of intense output or times of processing.
  • This goal was attained for this round. Turns out I read more blog posts and articles online than I did books, in August and September. I did recently begin The Dark Mirror, and I read books extensively in July, for research and pleasure.
  • Continue to Read  via my Kindle Cloud Reader app, as a learning and experimenting process.
  • No. I wanted to get to it, but, during my computer time, I always seemed to have far more open tabs already than time to spend with them….I see a Kindle in my future….
  • Learn how to download ebooks and audiobooks from the Stillwater Free Library and the Southern Adirondack Library System (SALS).
  • No. Partly because we owe fines, and haven’t gotten the opportunity to pay them. Mostly because I had other things going on, and never felt the silly bravery I tend to need to embark upon new feats of technological wonder- hey, this is not native technology for me, and I am fairly easily intimidated, even though I do generally muddle and wander my way through, and accomplish what I was attempting…
  • Continue reading from my To Be Read files during times of input gathering.
  • No, not a one. Just not a high enough priority, with all I was already embarked upon. The time will come….I tend to read voraciously, once the smell of woodsmoke settles over the house, and the scent of frost and fecund leaves is in the air….allllmmoooossssttttt…
  • Continue reading and commenting on blogposts and articles, during times of gathering input..
  • This goal has been attained (modestly, and in spurts), during this round.
  • Continue reading and commenting on blogposts and articles, during times of gathering input..
  • This goal has been attained (modestly, and in spurts), during this round.
  • Consider getting a pair of reading glasses for magnification purposes, and so my getting-older eyes can handle all my readin’ and writin’! (I bought a pair on June 29. Very helpful, although bifocal lenses would be more so – I get a little blurry looking through them unless reading, and I look up a lot!).
  • This goal was attained during the pre-round break.

Other Writing:

  • Play with flash fiction pieces as the mood strikes; aim for two submittable stories each month.
  • Nope. I have not written one in months. Ideas I have, time and energy to sit and let them be born, not so much. The time will come, but it’s not now. 
  • Play with essay ideas as desired; aim for two submittable essays each month. 
  • Again, not the round for new essays. Even my update posts have been rather perfunctory and sporadic…novels had me, and homeschool stuff, and a full-rich life.
  • I did write a few worthy bits here, and a book review I am quite proud of….so yes on playing with ideas; no on submittables.
  • Write at 750 Words every day, with possible hiatuses for Unschoolers Rock the Campground (July 12-16); Learn Nothing Day (July 24); Northeast Unschooling Conference (August 23-7; and kids’ birthdays (July 8, September 2).On my birthday (July 29), I WRITE!!!
  • This goal was, for the most part, attained during this round. I did miss a few days, here and there, not scheduled for hiatuses, and I stopped writing on September 21, because I really felt I needed some space and time for other things not writing- related.
  • Use 750 Words for whatever – flash pieces, essays, venting, ranting, reports, book reviews, etc.
  • This goal has been attained for this round.

Blogging/Connecting:

  • The Unfettered Life: 
  • Focus on using this blog to keep copies of reports, activities, events, and my ponderings on the unschooling facets of our lives.
  • I had ideas, but none really reached the implementation stage. I blog a lot more often in cold weather, though, and like sprucing up my virtual spaces then, too….so those ideas I had will eventually be useful.
  • Begin considering a (slightly) more structured organizational system for this blog.
  • I did begin the considering, and, over the course of the round, I made a few adaptations and added a page or two…I have had this blog since 2003, though, and it is a big chaotic whirl. I don’t want it to lose its unschooly flavor – that is its purpose. But, as we have grown, this blog hasn’t exactly kept pace.
  • This goal has been attained for this round, in a basic, planning stages way.
  • Begin using this blog in a way that really supports documenting, so that it does double duty as a personal tool for me in the way it once did, only better.
  • I only posted once this summer, but I kept to this idea, and made a post I later mined for details to add to the children’s reports. If I could get to a place where I did this at least twice a month, and also updated the IHIP goals by “school subject” categories, I would have an awesome and flexible way to accomplish this…
  • The above thoughts are still very, very new; I haven’t done anything concrete toward any of them. Since we are into the first reporting quarter, I may begin setting it up during the break, especially since I will be joining OctPoWriMo in October, NaNoWriMo in November, and the reports will be due December 1….
  • This goal was attained for this round, although there is certainly much more to do and experiment with before things are as I envision them…
  • shanjeniah:
  • Aim to focus weekly attention, non-ROW80 update material here. This may take the form of adding to my pages; creating new ones; other challenges, blog hops, etc; writing samples of various types; musings on writing and life; guest posts; photo essays; or whatever else seems relevant at the time.
  • I posted very little that wasn’t an update, and many of those were very basic. I’m thinking this was not well-suited as a summer goal…
  • Consider and perhaps experiment with creating a blog for the Trueborn series. (Started a blog on June 25) This could contain excerpts, bits of what I am working on (character sketches, research, flash fiction, story arcs; inspirational images and quotes, etc. Its purpose would be specifically to share the process of creating the series, from the beginning on….in a way, a window into m world and my mind as none of my other spaces are…I find myself very excited about the above idea…I am coming to see this series at last, after most of a lifetime of living with it, as a cohesive, lovely entity almost ready to emerge from its ancient chrysallis. I want to welcome its rebirth with a new home that embraces while allowing a wide, free space to span and soar. And, in so doing, maybe I will stretch and soar just a bit, myself!
  • This goal was attained for this round. I created and began to lay out shanjeniah’s Trueborn Jottings, and will be adding to it as the novels progress and I have a clearer vision of what I would like the blog to do and reveal…
  • Organizing/Tootling my Horn…
  • Continue inputting June 2000 Writing Practice Notebook, if not completed before ROWnd begins.
  • This goal was attained for this round. 
  • Mine June 2000 Writing Practice Notebook for usable pieces.
  • I never got to this one at all. Too many things already in progress. I will get there, in due time.
  • Choose a new notebook; input into Penzu.
  • I began this process. I’ve found, though, that I can focus on creation or these maintenance kinds of things – and sometimes I can blend the two. But when my focus is on a hugely creative and involved project like a rough draft, these types of things get set aside. I’ve decided to simply always have a notebook I am inputting, and one I am mining, and progress as life leads me…
  • Continue sorting and filing files on laptop.
  • I moved this goal, but did delete unneeded files, defragment my hard drive, and get links I haven’t tested yet for several operations which will hopefully streamline my machine and offer less frustration than the programs I am using now. 
  • Look into having external hard drive repaired, or at least getting the files from it.
  • No. finances were being used elsewhere (and will be, for a while, as we transition into a new used car, heating season, tax bills, and home repairs season, which will be closely followed by the holiday season…). Also, I moved on to other projects, and a busy summer of travel and activity.
  • Continue reading marketing and ebook publishing sites and articles.
  • This goal has been attained for this round, in a random fashion – bits here, pieces there.
  • Set aside time each week to winnow email. Read items being saved for later reading, sort or dispose as indicated.
  • This one was a partial success. I did much better at keeping the number of new messages mostly below 75. I still didn’t read many, unless I had been expecting them, and also did not even open any of the folders to sort or read the contents….another winter project.
  • Be bold and daring in commenting, sharing, and submitting. Declare myself, learn, grow, and sometimes do things that make me uncomfortable. Open and blossom!
  • Yes, but not in the ways I was thinking about at the time I originally wrote this goal. I have joined challenges and communities I didn’t know existed, at the beginning of this round. I have stuck my next out and spoken up about several things that I felt very strongly about, and have spoken my truth without insulting or belittling anyone else’s. I’ve done it most often on Facebook, and am considering going back to a few of theses and saving my comments to post as essays….I find it is very clarifying to debate an issue with people who consider things for themselves and state their position logically – and, maybe more so, but in a completely different way, to debate with those who call names and insult anyone who does not share their beliefs….fascinating stuff to be learning; something everyone, maybe, could benefit from knowing. This goal has been attained for this round.
  • Celebrating Life!
  • Add some form of specific motion (t’ai chi, swimming, hiking, biking, skating, dancing, etc) to each week. Keep track of what, where, when, for how long, and how I felt during and after.
  • Although I would have liked to do more, I did focus more on activity throughout this round. I danced a little, walked a lot, hiked some, swam when there was a chance, added weight when I carried and moved 75-pound plus Lise through the water, climbed, moved firewood, and did a considerable number of home and yardtending projects. There was camping and gardening and mowing. Keeping track of the details was more a matter of mind than paper. This goal was attained for this round.
  • Fill us all up with joy, and continue cultivating family peace.
  • This goal has been well attained for this round. Joy was a primary focus of my days. And bringing joy to others adds joy to my life, too.
  • Fill us all up with joy, and continue cultivating family peace.
  • This goal has been well attained for this round. Joy was a primary focus of my days. And bringing joy to others adds joy to my life, too.
  • Embrace and be present in all my moments.
  • Still human -and therefore, still fallible. Still learning. For coming long way toward this, though, and realizing that there will always be those moments that take over, I am willing to say that this goal was attained for this round, more or less.
  • Allow my emotions to be as they are. Practice expressing them calmly and reflectively.
  • I did very well with the first part of this goal, and practiced the second. I wasn’t always successful, but I feel that my reactivity has lessened, and the outbursts, when they come, are less frequent and intense. So, I count this goal as attained for this round.
  • Tend kindly and sweetly to myself and others. =)
  • Some moments were better than others, but this goal has been attained for this round.