November, 2013

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Documenting Change

Recent events led me to think about how much my life has changed in the last three years.  Last week I completed my first ever submission review for a journal. Since graduating in May, I think it was one of the first activities to make me really feel like a professional. Yes, there have been other moments, but in many ways I’d settled back to live as usual, so I’d stop feeling the wonder of actually being finished.

The other day I went to the library to pick up a book for a new project.  I pulled out my school ID card and, before putting it back, actually looked at the picture.  The picture has always been a little dorky. The day before I started work Ouiser’s cat scratched my eye lid, so I had an extra bag or two under one eye.  Also, for some reason I wore my hair in a way that I almost never did.

Work ID

It’s hard to get a decent picture of a picture of an ID card, but I think you get the point.  Looking at that picture I was struck by the thought it was taken only three years ago.  In many ways the last three years have felt like ten.  I hardly recognize this picture.

For comparison, here’s a picture of me from today. It’s my post-hair cut selfie in the car.

Hair 9 Nov

The change is more than just the Ph.D. or the haircut.  I probably can’t really explain it, because it is all of that and more.  It’s the Ph.D., the hair, the tattoo, and even my willingness to take and post after haircut selfies.  All of which are probably just expressions of how I’ve become more comfortable with myself.

Howdy Stranger – Let’s get reacquainted!

Well, I made it through all the October deadlines. Of course, there is a whole new crop of November deadlines to face. At least in November the writing community becomes a little more visible with all the [fill-in-the-blank]WriMos going on. Yes, I did in fact join the Aciwrimo (academic writing month). I put my name in the spreadsheet and everything. I needed a writing kick-in the butt, plus some accountability, so it seemed like perfect timing. Also, the Cajun Princess and I have to write a book chapter this month, which is very good news that makes me nervous. The two things I discovered during the dissertation process is that I like accountability and I like to talk about my writing, especially when I’m making progress. While I’m fairly certain that you, dear reader, probably wish I’d skipped that discovery, talking about my writing helps me to work through blocks and to stay motivated when I’m on a streak. I am sure you can see why all this WriMo stuff appeals to me.

Despite my late freshman English’s teacher’s best efforts to turn us all into positive thinking goal setters, I’ve never been much of a goal setter, and even less of a goal keeper. I’m hard wired to let myself off a little too easily and to adapt and just go with the flow instead of sticking to a set path, so I let life take me where it will. All in all I like that about myself. My adaptability has certainly been my strength at nearly every job I’ve had because I’m used to figuring out how to make something work. One of the good/hard things for me about AciWriMo was figuring out how to set a goal for myself. Writing goals are malleable and nebulous, would I:

    Write everyday, or just 5 days a week?
    Write for a certain amount of time? How would I count that time?
    Write a certain amount of words per day, per week, per month?
    What types of writing would count? (Does a blog post count for “Academic” writing month?)
    Finishing a certain project?

You get the picture. Certainly the book chapter is my focus this month, but that is far from my only writing task. There are still conference CFP’s, article reviews, job letters and essays (Different post, but yeah one school assigned a 2 page essay?!), and definitely at least five things I’ve forgotten to list here. Since I have so many different projects on my plate right now, I decided to set a monthly word count goal. Keep in mind that the AciWriMo organizers encourage setting a goal that is just a little bit crazy in order to push yourself a little to meet it, and naturally they encouraged sharing that goal publically.
My writing goal for November is 12,000 words.
That might not sound like a lot, but it averages out to about 400 words a day. Looking back at my dissertation spreadsheet, I realized that during good writing streaks I averaged about 300 words a day, so I thought an extra 100 words was a good stretch. I will try to keep my writing about my writing to a minimum, but I think there will definitely be a few posts about what is/is not working for me. However, there are also some fun posts coming up too. I have some pictures to share, and some thoughts about the current crop of strong girls (Katniss & Tris) in YA fiction.

Also, blog posts definitely count! 😉
I finally got a good picture of what it is like when I sit at my writing desk.