October, 2012

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Digital Writing Month

I let Ouiser over at the Malarkey Bin talk me into this crazy 50,000 words in a month thing. Not exactly sure I will make it, but like Ouiser, I need the proverbial kick in the a$$ to get me writing again.

It’s not just the dissertation I need to be writing.  I also need to be better about writing here, and starting some new writing projects for work. In general, I just need to find the joy in writing again.

As with most projects like this one, I’m certain I should be posting goals. I’m terrible at making goals. terrible. When I set goals for myself, I’m also spectacularly bad at meeting them. Perhaps, however, being a part of a group, and doing this semi-publicly will help me stick to my guns.

  • Newest drafts to dissertation committee by November 16th.  Full draft to Dr. Belle, Chapter 5 to Dr. Phoenix, and wherever his additions end up for Dr. Chat. (Either Chapter 1 or 3)
  • Daily writing in the morning and evening.  (I am a pro at 5 am. I suck at getting back to it after dinner.)
  • Posts here once or twice a week. I won’t make any promises about topics related to the dissertation, because it is spectacularly boring, and I plan to use writing here as a reward for doing the work writing.)

I think that is enough for now.  I do have some other goals in mind if I can make that first goal by 11/16, but I want to wait and make sure that happens.

Professionalization of a sort

Wednesday through Saturday of this week I was out of town at the big conference in my field. This particular conference happens every two years, and, coincidentally, the last one happened during my first year on the job. Although during the last conference I attended more sessions, I would say at this conference I accomplished more. At this conference, I felt much more a part of the profession, rather than a newcomer/grad student looking in.

The sense of, for lack of a better term, professionalization I felt at this conference highlighted the lack of that feeling in my department at home. Now, I will be the first to admit some of that feeling comes from me. I need to project more of the confidence and authority I felt at this conference within my own office. There is, however, a significant way that I think the current structure is set up to undermine those feelings.

Much of this is a part of my title. As the coordinator of a program, and not a director, there are barriers to my decision making process that inhibit my ability to really plan for change. Sure, I can make a plan, but so much of what I would need to put that plan in motion two or more steps removed from me that it is easy to feel like nothing can be done.

Some of this is how I am treated. Again, I think I have made some mistakes in setting myself up here that have led to some of it, but not all. Much of it has to do with the existing politics and administrative structure of the place. There is far too much “management,” particularly of me. There isn’t much I can do about this, but I am hoping that some of the recent changes and the new QEP will lead to some changes on this front.

What I can do right now is to work on myself. Locking myself down in a way, and only projecting the professional that this weekend taught me I am. There are definitely going to be people around there that won’t like it, but my only goals are to grow the service, and have solid foundation for the next person who holds this position.

Small things

At some point in the long dark time that was last winter, the DH told me his mantra for when he was feeling particularly unmotivated and depressed was “Puppies are soft and warm.” It worked best when mumbled while snuggling with our pups.  I thought if it could work for him, then it would definitely work for me.  And it pretty much does. 

Today, the only thing keeping me in the chair with my fingers on the keyboard are the soft puppies surrounding me.  Moses is tucked in behind me providing heated lumbar support and the Palestinian is on my lap with his head propped on typing arm. 

The writing tasks for today are one blog post, and a draft of a conference paper.  I did a lot of hand written work yesterday, so there is a good base to work from. Yesterday, I did plan to get more done than I did, but it was a special occasion.  Through the miracle of crappy Skype connections between my computer and my little brother’s phone, I got to virtually attend my little sister’s wedding.  It was fun. 

The conference I have to attend this week is in my home time zone.  It is silly, but true.  I never feel truly at home unless I am operating on PST. I am ridiculously excited about being close to the Pacific again.  I’m not sure if we’ll be able to get to touch it, but just knowing it is there, and getting glimpses from the plane will make me happy. I’m not going home, but it will certainly be close enough for now.  

Finding the joy

Still writing … it is the long and short wrap up of the three months since I last posted. The dissertation is not done, but hopefully it is much, much closer.

Wow! After three months, you’d think I’d have more to say. Guess I’ve lost my bloggy voice a little. Maybe I just need to take it slowly.

If you haven’t already read Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, then you need to start it today. Actually, although I’m not generally fond of audiobooks with multiple narrators, I suggest you listen to this book. Broken Harbor by Tana French, and Divergent by Veronica Roth also need to be on your reading lists.

Why should you read these books? I’m not quite up to lengthy reviews these days, but let me see if I can come up with a decent list.

Gone Girl – An author has never yet been able to make me switch allegiances between characters so readily. I’m still not sure it ended as I would have liked it to, but I’m also not sure any other ending was really possible. It might not sound like a big, or good thing, but given the way Flynn tells this story it is essential that she gets you to buy in so completely. After Sharp Objects I would not have guessed she had this in her. By the way, Sharp Objects isn’t bad, just not as well crafted in my opinion.

Broken Harbor – Aside from the fact that I’d read just about anything Tana French wrote, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the characters never did exactly what I’d expected, I was never incredulous about the outcome of events: just deeply, deeply sad. One thing I really love about French is how completely the tone and pace of her books changes from one to another.  Broken Harbor is, for lack of a better term, sedate, but compelling.  Yeah, you read it and try to figure out how that combination works.

Divergent – Finally, a YA novel that doesn’t involve a love triangle.  Do you really need another reason beyond that?