Category Archives: Dissertation

2014: The Opposite

Ok, I admit I’m terrified to revisit my 2013 writing goals post, but let’s do it. Click.

2013 Writing (+ Reading) Goals

  • continue with 500 words a day challenge {hmm, maybe? need better record-keeping skillz}
  • write at least one essay {do blog posts count? ;)} + submit it [no]
  • read more books, especially fiction YES!
    • read some of these books + write reviews and/or interview authors YES!
    • read some new-to-me books on writing YES! + write an article {wrote articles, but not about those books}
    • read some of these books YES!
  • keep a reading journal YES!
  • keep on top of my book posts YES!
  • blog better YES!
  • tweet about new blog posts {working on this}
  • work on a business plan YES!
  • start a sketchbook [no]
  • snail mail {tally: 15, including packages}
  • finish The Dissertation [no, but thisclose]

Hmm, that wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated. Whew.

Things I did in 2013:

Made a lot of progress on the dissertation. Part of the reason I posted this was to remind myself how much I actually accomplished since last January. I know time’s supposed to fly, and on a day-to-day basis it sometimes feels like it, but when I look at those book covers, it seems like a million years ago. I think I was losing sight of the forest for the trees. So, perspective.

I did TC Mini-Nano again (try it! it’s fun!). Extra-pleased with my story because not only did I get to 5,000 words, I wrote a complete first draft. Still needs a ton of work, of course, but so happy to have a story with an END.

Started a linked story collection (3 stories so far, including my mini-nano story, a story I’ve been noodling around with for a while, and one that came out of nowhere).

I started what I’ve been calling “the Big List” (a la “the Big Salad”). It’s just a neverending to-do list in my (paper) writer’s notebook. When I think of something I need to do, I write it down. When I do it, I cross it off. What can I say. I love making lists and crossing stuff off them.

I also “scribbled” a lot of ideas in my digital writer’s notebook in Scrivener.

I read two of Janet Mullany’s books, reviewed one (Review of The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany) and interviewed Janet (“Toasted Cheese Success Stories: Interview with Janet Mullany“).

I also wrote two other Absolute Blank articles: “So You Want to Write an Article…” and “‘You Shortlisted My Submission… Why Didn’t it Make the Final Cut?’” and three Snark Zones: “Unqualified Praise Only, Please,” “The Star-Ratings Tango,” and “CTRL-Z.”

Moved TC (the main site) to WordPress. Yeah, 13 years of hand-coding was enough.

In my quest to read more for fun, I started reading books at breakfast, and whoa. By the end of the year, I’d read 30 books. Success.

And yes, I kept a reading log (notes while reading), which made keeping up with my book posts way easier.

Got my feed reader under control. Ditched a bunch of feeds and organized the rest into 5 themes, each of which I only check once a week.

Started listening to podcasts in the kitchen. Gold, Jerry, gold! (How is this writing-related? Well, some of them are writing podcasts, of course.)

Watched a bunch o’ new(ish) movies. (Writing-related because movies about writers. Also screenwriters write them. And some are based on books. Just go with it.)

Learned how to knit. (Writing-related because this.)

Lesson: I may be better at just randomly starting to do things than setting goals. But, hey, it’s January, so… let’s set some goals for 2014!

  • Finish the Dissertation. No, really. Stick a freaking spork in this thing.
  • Move TC (the lit journal) to WordPress.
  • Establish freelance editing business.
  • Keep record of words written (so I don’t have to answer with a vague ‘maybe?’ to 500-words-a-day challenge question next year ;)).
  • Bonus: Do something creative with my Tumblr. (deliberate vagueness!)

Ok, that’s it. Keeping it simple. If I accomplish those things, it’ll be time to break out the champagne.

And, oh right. I need a word/phrase. Until a few days ago, I had nothing, and then this came to me, and it felt right. So, I declare 2014 the year of “the opposite.” Maybe I’ll get hired as assistant to the traveling secretary for the Yankees.

Jerry: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George: Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

the value of patience

Harvard University art history professor Jennifer Roberts … talked of the need to teach the value of patience in today’s world. By patience, she meant close looking and deep thinking for an extended time in order to make connections and observations that do not lie on the surface of things. … She points out that “access is not synonymous with learning” We can find anything instantly online, but when we look only for an instant, we don’t learn much. She goes on to say “What turns access into learning is time and strategic patience.”

—“Slowness” by Fred Lynch at Urban Sketchers.

almost incidental

There is something about the increased demand that fiction writers speak as themselves that feels like a violation of what I used to hold so sacred, the tenet that it is not about me but about the characters I create. …

Obviously, social media itself isn’t the trouble. The crux, as I see it, is that lately the substance of what we create is often considered almost incidental to the way that we writers, personally, market our product. We now must sell our books like we sell ourselves.

Peter Orner

physical and spiritual wellness are integral to a successful life

The concepts seem a little fuzzy at times, but the overarching thesis is that it is time to rethink the common wisdom of how to achieve success: sleep four hours a night, work 20 hours a day, see your family rarely and never admit the need for downtime. … The answer? To create a movement that embraces the idea that physical and spiritual wellness — from meditation to exercise to good nutrition — are integral to, not separate from, a successful life. … Another answer: To build workplaces where empathy and kindness are rewarded, in the somewhat corny terminology of the speakers, where a go-giver is as desirable as a go-getter.

Alina Tugend

four, maybe five hours of pure work

The common advice is, if you are a designer, you should be designing all day. Or making pottery, translating, illustrating, or writing all day.But here in the real world, you should shoot for four, maybe five hours of pure work. That is, writing from scratch, designing from a blank page, translating raw text, building brand new code, illustrating out of thin air.That’s all the human brain can muster. The holics who say they ‘work’ eighteen hours a day aren’t actually ‘working’ all that time.  Most of that will be foof like paperwork, email, phone calls, tinkering, fiddling, meetings. Of the ‘real’ work, the devilishly painful work, four hours is all you can do.

Walt Kania

June-ish update

  • Sorted out Zotero/Scrivener, imported lists.
  • Read qualitative coding manual.
  • Chose coding methods
    • 1st cycle:
      codes – initial (descriptive)
      categories – themeing the data
    • 2nd cycle:
      themes/concepts – focused
      theory – theoretical
  • Updated lists.
  • Pulled all page 69 hard copies, ready to mark up! [first coding pass, DONE]
    • Categories: memory/time; religion; the corporeal body; (im)migration; family.
  • Page 69 paragraph/sentence analysis (106 to go!)
  • Chapter analysis (proper nouns + communication technology – 51 to go!)