Friday, July 31, 2009

Vienna: Check-in and chaos

I really don't know what to do. Tomorrow is August. Already! I feel I am not getting anywhere with my writing. I don't know what I do with my time. I don't think I'm being too organised lately and that is not me at all. Let's check this week's objectives:

1. Morning pages. All done except from 1 day that I had a friend at home.

2. Artist's Way tasks. Written tasks, yes. Artist date NO (second consecutive week).

3. Blogging: 3 blogs.

4. 'Shooting' story. I've just written 500 words. Ridiculous!

Maybe I sound angry but I am quite angry at myself. Next Wednesday I am away for 3 weeks to Spain and Greece. It sounds fantastic but: 1. R might not be able to come with me at all (work issues). 2. A friend from Greece (who I haven't seen in 4 years) comes to visit Barcelona for 2 weeks (my sister and I will go to Greece 1 week afterwards), which sounds really nice but I don't think I'll get much time to write and be on my own. My friend had to come just for one week but because she's found some problems she is going to stay with us for 2 weeks. She is the type of person who wants to be doing stuff ALL THE TIME. I am worried about finances and I am worried I won't have time to be on my own, rest, write, relax and get ready for September. Holidays should be stress free and I feel right now I rather work!!! I really wanted to get loads of writing done this July and yes, I have read loads, reflected loads, made little changes in my life, morning pages; but I haven't achieved my main objective: dedicate more time to my creative writing. Sorry about all this worried, angry bunch of words but I had to write them down or I would have exploded. The British summer is not helping either.

I don't even know what goals I should write for next week. I feel pretty chaotic right now.

Weekend Writing Resources

Check out Pen on Fire about "books, writing and life." The blog also posts a regular podcast that features interviews with writers about writing.

Lauren's Update

These were my goals for the past week:

1. Get caught up on the days of the SARK journaling program that I have yet to explore. --This was an epic fail. I am really behind but I am okay with that (now, anyway--at first, every time I saw a new SARK email I got panicky). Some of the questions or topics of the day speak more to me than others right now. I am filing them all away so that I can always come back to them. I hope to do a few this coming weekend. I am also finding that there are other things coming out of my Morning Pages that are much more interesting or timely right now, so I would rather focus on writing about those.

2. Spend some time brainstorming about a possible blog niche, new posts and bigger life goals.--Again, a fail. I just haven't had the time to get to this. This is now part of my plan for this weekend.

3. Get to a yoga class at least three times this week. --I only actually made it to the studio twice this week, but I did practice at home a few other times and played with a morning meditation practice once this week. I'd say this one was a success since it was a lot of yoga and meditation for me in one week.

New Goals:

1. Keep up with my Morning Pages, even if I don't actually write them till before bed sometimes.

2. Brainstorm for blog ideas and bigger life goals.

3. Get at least a week's worth of backup blog content written so I don't feel so stressed about it.

4. Start the book, The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing by Jeff Davis.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vienna: Delayed goals (again)

How did it happen again? Wednesday? Time really flies. After my brief holiday, Monday started the week roller coaster. I've spent most of my time working in the office and it seems that I'm going to be doing the same for the rest of the week. Writing syllabus, re-editing the modules' WebCT, assembling dossiers. So, from the professional writing point of view, I am not doing too bad. What is happening to my creative writing again? Aaaaaaah! I am evaluating my week and I haven't set my goals yet! Why everthing feels so chaotic with no goals, with no lists? Ok. Let's see what I can do.

  1. Blog in Ones and Writing in Spanish. I have already written a post today, The postgrad party. After seeing the play Temp/Casual last Sunday at Manchester, the concept wouldn't let me go.

  2. Finish the short (not-so-short now) story Shooting.

  3. Catch up with The Artist's Way's tasks.

  4. Morning pages.

Let's see what I manage. Saturday I'm back again in Manchester (Oh, I love the city!) to attend the preview of a film my boyfriend has worked on (More info next week). I'm so excited about it. If there is a red carpet (which I doubt) that I need to walk I promise to post picture!

Have a great SWIM!

Tomato's Jumping Back In!

First, merci beaucoup for all the sweet and helpful comments on my last post. I was feeling weirdly panicky about the whole thing, but feel a lot less pressure now. And, not surprisingly, more willingness to write! Since I kind of missed Week 5, this is my Week 6 post. :)

Revisiting Week 4's Goals...

1. Continue daily journaling. Maybe not every day, but most days I am journaling and adding fun elements as well. My journal is almost full so I'm going shopping for a new one this weekend! :)

2. Completely weekly assignments for career coaching in a timely manner. Carve out space in Planner Pad to work on these assignments. Check! My Pink Heels homework is fun, I must confess. ;-) I had such a busy workweek last week that I declared Sunday a bed day and spent the morning/afternoon in bed with my Pink Heels notebook (see picture of inside below). It was good times. :)


1) Experiment with fun journaling a la Revisionista! Don't worry about lack of drawing ability and just GO FOR IT!

2) Consciously set aside your Juicy Journaling assignments and come to peace w/ the fact that I can take those on at a later time.

3) Get feedback on ideas for Le Book (may need some of y'all's help on this one) and start notebook exclusively devoted to its conception. Right now Le Book is mostly an idea in my head, and I think I need more vision and guidance before I begin writing it full-on. I envision a notebook full of ideas as a good starting point. :)

4) Keep up with SWIM!! (because you ladies are FABULOUS and INSPIRATIONAL!)

REWARD: Purchase Journal Bliss. :) :)

Wednesday Inspiration

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
-Maya Angelou

What untold stories are waiting to be let out onto your pages?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Revisionista: Update & Goals July 27 - Aug 2

Bonjour Swimmers!

Well, we're entering the last week of July, and just think, I bet we're each ending the month with a few more words, discoveries, questions, & passions than we had when July began. I love how this group is helping to make the creative process (and the highs & lows that go with it) visible and maybe just a little more comfortable.

So, last week I said I would
  • YES! Continue morning pages each day: I'm spicing mine up with markers, drawings, paint & glitter in an attempt to tap into my right brain first thing.
  • YES! Write on CH 1 at least 15min FIRST thing after breakfast
  • Made progress on M but didn't finish (but I did start typing up what I've written so far!) Finish M's pov, paste in L's pov from previous draft, figure out what's next
  • YES! (2) 2-3 blog posts
  • YES! keep reading each day; choose a new book
Reward: Artist Retreat Weekend (Saturday) ~~ I'll post more about this on my blog. It's basically an all-day Artist Date with lots of fun treats mixed in. This retreat was definitely one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time. I painted, I modpodged, I got covered in glitter, I doodled. It was so much fun to just explore and play without having any real product in mind. As soon as I get the pics off my camera, I'll share my creations and discoveries on my blog.

So, after such a luxurious weekend reveling in all things creative, I was not prepared for the start of a new week. I've noticed that after a fabulous-everything's-clicking-together week, I usually have a lackluster couple of days where I'm feeling all out of sorts. Kinda like the feeling I sometimes get the morning after a really kick ass party where I wake up tired & crashing from all the conversational, sugar-induced highs, wishing that the party was still going. To counteract that feeling this week, I'm going to keep my goals modest:

  • morning pages: continue to incorporate sketches, doodles, etc
  • 15min/weekday on CH 1 of the research book
  • 15min/day on le novel
  • 1-2 Italian podcasts
  • read for fun (am loving my book baths--such a great way to drift off into a book w/o interrupting self w/ internet, etc)
  • 2-3 blog posts
Reward: if I finish CH 1 of the novel this week, I'm taking a day off and going exploring for a new piece for my wardrobe--I'm hoping to find something that reflects the new sense of self I've gained this summer. We'll see.... [hahaha~~just realized this morning that it should be CH 1 of the RSCH BOOK!!!! not the Novel. My basement girls have different priorities I guess ;)]

I'm looking forward to taking a closer look & commenting on everyone's posts in the next couple days.

Wishing each of you a writing week filled with discovery.

Ciao bellas!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tomato: Help?

Bonjour, everyone! Sorry I've been MIA lately, but I've been struggling lately with writing. Blog posts, journaling, even little notes... I'm just not wanting to write lately. What's that about? I signed up for SARK's Juicy Journaling, and I've only managed to do Day 1, and that's because I forced myself. I don't want to force myself to do something that's supposed to be a fun and creative outlet. It's like I dread it. Why? What's going on? It's kind of freaking me out...


Sunday, July 26, 2009

At the end of last week I blogged about having finished the book My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman.  At Kiki's suggestion, I thought I would share a little more about it with all of you since so many of us are interested in some form of freelancing.  

I have looked at several books on freelancing (and purchased a few) and this is by far the most comprehensive and least boring.  Goodman covers every single thing any beginning freelancer could want to know and lots of things I would not have thought to ask.  She discusses all these things in a tone that makes you want to keep reading.  I particularly liked the introduction, which is titled, "Eat, Pray, Quit", and deals with whether or not you are ready to leave your job and do full-time freelancing.

The chapters cover: drafting a business plan, getting real with your finances, what you need and don't need in an office, licenses, lawyers, getting and keeping clients, how to make a sales pitch and negotiate terms, understanding contracts, dealing with the client from hell, getting your cash flow and savings in check, paying taxes as a freelancer, etc.  It also includes resources throughout the book, as well as a short list of resources at the end of the book.

There were a lot of things in these pages that I had no idea were essential knowledge for freelancers.  I would highly encourage you to pick this book up if you are interested in learning more and getting started.

dharmagirl: goals july 27-august 2

Last Week's Goals

1. Continue MPs yes, with a missed day or two, and a certain antsy-ness when those days were missed (means they're working!)
2. Blog about RWA and DC fun yes
3. Write ENG 102 syllabus and assignments for fall started
4. Devote afternoon time--at least an hour--to reading a few days
5. Build morning ritual: run/walk, breakfast, MPs, blog, French, work stuff not exactly...

Yoga Class at Yoga on the Lake not yet

Ahh, this past week was a bit of a wash for me. See, I had all these great goals and wonderful determination to get back on track with myself and my work. I was motivated! Dedicated!

And I was exhausted from my trip to DC and RWA. And I was a little dehydrated from traipsing around the mall two afternoons in 90 degree heat, and flying on a plane that sapped all moisture away.

And so, when I went for a rigorous 8 mile bike ride on monday afternoon, I wasn't thinking about drinking water or taking it easy. I was thinking of the number on the scale and my ever-expanding thighs.

I felt a little weak when I parked my bike and climbed the stairs to blessed water, and a homemade strawberry smoothie.

And I felt a little tired talking with my friends in their garden as I harvested some fresh veggies.

And, suddenly, I felt really awful, and nearly passed out. Luckily, my friend J is a nurse, so she took good care of me and calmed my nerves, took my bp and pulse, and speedily foisted an array of foods upon me.

Talk about scary! I spent the next 36+ hours worried that the same sensation would return, and hence lead a very calm, sedate life. But, I could feel the general angstiness creeping in--worries about classes in the fall, self-doubt, you know, the whole gamut of worries.

Thank goodness for awesome people who talked to me, spent time with me, and generally took my mind off of worries and reassured me without even knowing that they were helping:)

Then, my Mom came for a visit, and the whole attempt at maintaining a routine slipped away.

So, therefore, *this* week will be the week of routines. Of tiny steps towards integrating summer fabulousity into fall rhythms. Of naming and taming the chaotic bits of my inner and outer worlds, and making them sites of productive inquiry and not destabilizing fear.

Goals July 27-August 2
1. write email to campus about Poetry event on Thursday
2. select poems to read at aforementioned poetry event
3. craft ENG 102 syllabus
4. work on novel collaboration project
5. read one hour each afternoon
6. create versions of morning rituals--flexibility is a key! not every morning is going to be/should be the same
7. post two year anniversary blog on monday
8. do something really fabulous and fun
9. continue reading writing advice books for a) myself and b) for ENG 102 inspiration
10. check in with fellow bloggers
11. MPs

Kiki: the week before, and the week ahead

Hello SWIMmers!  Reading your posts and comments has absolutely been the highlight of my week. It's so fantastic to see everyone achieving so much, and to know that the camaraderie is helping.

Here's my check-in for the last week: thanks to YOUR help and inspiration, I managed to complete the draft revision of this month's chapter and sent it to my advisor before the end of Thursday - a day earlier than planned, and more than a week earlier than I "budgeted" for drafting this chapter. The first episode of the Beijing Memoir went up as my midweek SWIM post, and I managed to keep posting to TPL every day as well (except Saturdays, that seems to be my day off). I've also kept up my daily yoga practice as well, even though Friday's session was only eight minutes of tiny yoga.

This week is going to be a big mish-mash of professional writing in an effort to get a variety of smaller projects off my desk and being brainstorming overarching concepts for the concluding chapter draft. In a bit of exciting news, I've been accepted to write a book review for a journal! There's no money involved, but if it works out it would be my first publication credit, which is very cool indeed. Because of all the different academic writing goals for this week, I've broken them down day by day below, to give myself some structure and also hold myself a little more accountable to completing them.

Goals: 27 July - 2 August
Professional Writing:
*Monday: 1) Write new conference abstract; 2) Begin drafting September conference paper
*Tuesday: 1) Complete draft of September conference paper
*Wednesday: 1) Begin drafting book review; 2) sort/edit sections of October conference paper
*Thursday: 1) Spend two hours organizing new chapter concepts; 2) Revise September paper
*Friday: 1) Complete September revisions; 2) Revise October paper; 3) Complete final chapter plan

Personal Writing:
*Draft another episode of the Beijing Memoir
*Daily morning pages 
*Post midweek at SWIM
*Continue posting daily
*Continue daily yoga practice

Rewards: a slice of Lush soap, and my meditation scarf should be delivered this week!
Artist Date: a special preview showing of Coco Avant Chanel followed by a Q&A with the director

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ellecubed Check-In and Book Proposals

This week has been filled with a fury of writing. I have been doing my morning pages every morning and I have found that they really ground me and get my creative juices going. I have also been working really hard on getting posts ready for my blog. I am excited to begin posting on it this weekend. I am very happy about the above two but my biggest accomplishment this week has been completing my book proposal.

A few people ask me for some tips and resources on book proposals and so I wanted to provide them. Here are the three books that I felt very helpful in writing the proposal:
I have also taken a few workshops on proposal writing and grant writing. Here the five main tips that I have picked up from these workshops:
  • Make sure your book proposal is infused with your personality. You want the publisher to get a good idea of who you are and what you are about from reading the proposal. Make sure to highlight why you are the best person to write your book.
  • Show off your books uniqueness. Highlight what sets your book apart from the others that are already in a similar market.
  • Know your niche. Make sure that you highlight which niche market you are writing for and how you can contribute to the market. How will your book fit in and stand out in your particular niche? Why will readers in your niche market care about your book?
  • Provide a hook. The hook should be one to two sentences that provides a snapshot of your book. It should be compelling and to the point.
  • Answer important questions about your book: Why should your book be published? What in particular about your book makes it special or important?

Vienna: Check-in and some dynamite

Hi SWIMers!

It's this time again. Even though I only posted my goals on Wednesday I am going to be away for the weekend (I am going to Manchester to a wedding tomorrow Saturday and to a play where a friend is acting on Sunday) so I thought to post my check-in tonight.

This week I have been on annual leave. Yes, I am an academic but my department seems to operate a strange holiday pattern and I am still expected to appear in the office (which I share with 8 more people) every day 9 to 5. Not very writer-friendly, I know. Anyway, this week I have also been all over the place. After a few days with family, which were fantastic and so much fun, I suddenly found myself on Wednesday without one single word written down and a sort of mist sweeping my brain of all sort of order and reason. Then I started feeling the 'back-to-school-panic' and even without thinking much about it I found myself on the unstoppable roller coaster of the new academic year. Aaaaaaaaaarg! Since 2008-09 has been, creatively speaking, a completely disaster year (successful otherwise, I suppose) I feel only now I'm starting to wake up that artist that once was me. And I am running out of time. My awakening is sloooooow, very slow and I find that I put so many other things before my writing. The 'real' things. 'What really matters.' There must be a reason why I'm finding difficult to establish a consistent writing routine and I'm going to find it and slay this reason and any other monster. Maybe deep down I don't believe I can ever be a writer. Maybe I think that is something that happens to others, in the books, in the films, in the dreams. That I should be realistic. But there is this voice inside shouting something really simple: A writer writes. Just do it, do it, go and do it. Write, write! I don't really need to think whether is right or wrong, whether I should or I shouldn't, whether it will be or it won't. Why am I scared? This morning I didn't feel scared, really. I was annoyed. Annoyed at myself. So I sat down in front of my laptop and forgot about everything else: the house needed tiding up, the dishes are unwashed, the laundry is still in the basket, my bag for tomorrow still unpacked... I have done nothing else but write and this is what I've achieved: 5.134 words. The picture above is a snap of the true story in which my current writing is based on. My short story is called Shooting. I have edited it one million times and I still found there was something missing. Today I've figured it out. The journey. My main character's journey was vague and he seemed to stumble between situations without actually living them, without connecting with the rest of his life. My main character didn't seem to have a purpose. I have been rewriting the story today (only paused to read and comment on your blogs :) ) and it's happening. I am not sure if any of you have gone through a creative writing "training". Although it changed the way a write (and read) completely and it helped me to develop as a writer, I find sometimes difficult to step out of the 'rules', the technicalities, the 'right' and 'wrong' of nowadays current writing patterns. Technique is important but SO IS PASSION. And maybe that is something I was loosing. Something today I feel I've grabbed again and I'm not planning to let go. I can't wait to carry on writing my story. I think I'll bring my laptop to Manchester this weekend.

Other writing: Very very behind.
  • I haven't even finished The Artist's Way tasks. I will try to get them done over the weekend or otherwise I suppose I can extend the deadline one more week... I have written MPs, though.
  • Blogging: I wrote two posts in Ones. The last one was an analysis and thoughts on my last week's reading ban. An amazing SURPRISE. While I thought nobody was following my Writing in Spanish blog, it seems like a few bloggers have been inspired by the writing activities I've posted and have written very good pieces in their own blogs after my suggestions. That made me really happy. And motivated me to carry on posting, which I have done again: a writing exercise based on Morning Pages!
  • Yoga: Everyday, twice. Read my Dru Yoga book.
And that's all for now.
Have a lovely weekend


Lauren's Check-In and New Goals

These were my goals for this past week:

Goals for the week:  This week I want to explore the questions from days 1-3 of the SARK program in my paper journal as well as write my morning pages.  My second goal is to post on Everyday Revelry each day, brainstorm new post ideas and try to post things that will illicit more comments and/or bring more readers.   I also hope to read a book I just bought called My So-Called Freelance Life.

I was successful in journaling from the SARK program, as well as writing my morning pages.

I posted on Everyday Revelry each week day as planned and recently I've added some meat to the posts.  I'd like to go deeper however.  Anything you would like to know/read more about?  I am still brainstorming ideas.

I finished My So-Called Freelance Life while going back and forth to Pennsylvania on the train this past weekend.  I think it was a wonderful and well-written (not dry either!) primer for anyone wanting to work for themselves.  The author is obviously a writer, but she speaks to a wide range of freelance possibilities (landscaper, photographer, massage therapist, etc.).  I think she covered every single possible thing I could want to know.

New goals for this week: The first goal is to get caught up on the days of the SARK journaling program that I have yet to explore.  The second is to spend some time brainstorming about a possible blog niche, new posts and bigger life goals.  The last is to get to a yoga class at least three times this week.  Might not seem related, but yoga definitely helps to bring me some clarity.  My reward will be a few hours of totally unscheduled me time next weekend!

Happy weekend, SWIMers!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kiki: The first page

One of my goals this week was to write a page of my Beijing Memoir. Just one single, innocuous page to get things started. Well, it turned into about 1000 words.

And to prove I did it, here it is, with only one blitzkrieg revision from its original rough Morning Pages appearance. This bit, at least, is safe.
Experiences like this don’t really happen. In movies, yes, or perhaps in a novel. They happen in view of an audience seeking escapist adventure and a few thrills. But they don’t happen in real life, not to real people. Except they apparently do.

It started off simply enough. A friend was throwing a party, and the guest list was truly global: Brazilians in football jerseys, long-limbed blondes from Scandanavia, angular Germans with postmodern glasses. Not a single other American, which was both refreshing and intimidating. Near midnight, just as I was beginning to consider my goodbyes, she called me over. “Another American has arrived,” she said. That was all she said; that was all it took.

At the beginning, we talked about the simple things two twenty-somethings of the opposite sex talk about when they are introduced. Where we were from, what brought us to Beijing, hobbies. It turned out that he loved rock-climbing, and had already been in China for a year. We talked for the next few hours, and when the party ended a group walked out together that included the two of us. As I turned to head off in the direction of sleep, he said, “You’re leaving? Oh - too bad,” or something similarly unmemorable. But I do remember the look in his eyes, a phosphorescent spark that lashed out and shocked us both with its silent intensity. That is how it began, with a chemical reaction. A gut feeling too powerful to ignore. A few hours spent connecting over the inanely unfascinating details of our lives. In other words, it began the same way as any other new relationship does: lustfully.

A few days later, while on a trip Shanghai, an e-mail came through. “It was really cozy getting to know you,” he wrote. “There is a black-tie ball coming up next weekend, and I wonder if you would go as my date.” I craved it - the glamour, the drama. On my third weekend in Beijing, there I would be in a long black one-shouldered dress with sparkly chandelier earrings and sky-high satin sandals, attending a formal event with a diplomat who carried his own car, his own tux, and his own climbing rope when he traveled. “I have a boyfriend, you know. As long as you don’t mind…”

It didn’t matter. He picked me up an hour before the ball, handing me a bouquet of stargazer lilies as soon as I stepped up into the jeep he drove. He hadn’t tied his tie yet - hadn’t even chosen it, given the options of a perky Chinese-made bow tie that looked like shrimp dumpling for all its myriad folds, and a regular black silk number. “I always think a man’s tie should point towards his genitals, not towards his ears,” he drawled, and the choice was made. He tossed the little cloth dumpling into the backseat, forgotten until months later when I would go searching through the car for a lost earring and rediscover it together with an -----------------.

Even in flats I was slightly taller than he was, so we made a striking contrast as we strolled through the glitzy mall to the hotel lobby. He was short, stocky, unsmiling, and utterly commanding and charismatic. I was tall, elegant, cool to the touch but burning up inside with the thrill of it all. As we moved through the crowded lobby, I hesitated for a moment, searching for a path through the throngs of people in black jackets, embroidered silk, flowing satin. He placed his hand on the small of my back and propelled me forward possessively toward our table. With just that one touch, I was a lost cause.

The dinner was forgettable, the company around the table largely the same. But the end of the ball was not. Most of the guests had already left, and only a few remained in the seats and on the dancefloor as all the Chinese ballroom staff staff began to line the walls after midnight, waiting and watching, anxious for the final partygoers to leave so they could clean up and head home themselves. Two by two the others gathered up their crumpled programs and goody bags and drifted out, leaving us alone on the dancefloor with three hundred pairs of Chinese eyes shining at us from the walls of the ballroom.

The colored lights spun overhead, blue, pink and silver, spotting the floor with opals and sprinkling our shoulders with fireworks. We pressed against each other and revolved slowly at the center of the dancefloor, becoming the center of a fountain of colored sparks as the lights moved above us. It was, to use the cliché, magical. It was just like in a movie, which probably should have been my first clue that things were not the same in reality.

We went out afterward to some salsa club, buzzed on the lust in each others’ sweat. I could tell you that the chemistry was intense, because it was, and that the pulsating music plus the fact that this was a guy who actually danced completed the seduction. But we didn’t sleep together that night, didn’t even kiss.

That is how it began.

Vienna: Back on track

Wednesday?? How did that happen? Let's start from the beginning:
Sunday: End of the reading ban. Hooray!
First thing I did when I got up: go to SWIM (yoga and morning pages happened afterwards). I just needed to know what had been going on and OMG! New member (Welcome Lauren); new initiatives (Seasonal??WIM); new ideas (thanks, Kiki, for your brainstorm, you have an amazingly creative mind!) and all the regular fantastic posts and comments (thanks for all the support given during my reading ban week). I thought I'd start getting updated with all your posts and then I spent time replying to everyone. I was about to write my own check-in post when I remembered: R's sister + partner were coming to visit for a couple of days. So that was the end of my reading and writing allowance. They just left this morning and, although my writing-reading-creating activities have been bracketed, I had a fantastic time. If finding your artist is linked to nurture your inner child, I have absolutely achieved this goal during the past three days. Sunday: pictionary game (I lost for first time in years... boo... great fun though); Monday: Alton towers (theme park with the most amazing scariest rollercoasters EVER! The picture above shows 'Oblivion' a horrifying vertical drop towards a hole in the floor, which for some strange reason I put myself through twice!!!); Tuesday: pool + more pictionary+sharades!!! And now suddenly is Wednesday and I haven't written a word, I HAVEN'T READ a word, and I am determined to catch up with everything.
Quick Check-in:
1. Creative Writing: Surprisingly not as much as you'd expect for a 'reading ban' week. I edited my short story 'Shooting'. I got some feedback. And when I thought I had finished something I realised that was only the beginning. The editing carries on. However, I should measure my success with the time and the thought put into writing, rather than with the final product.
2. Blogging: I posted three times in Ones and 3 in SWIM. Ermmmmmm........
3. Work (at uni): Well, since I couldn't read (and I couldn't tell anyone about that) I have been tidying up, de-cluttering, getting ready for next year. It has taken me longer I thought! The amount of paper, files, notebooks, you accumulate in less than a year! It felt very liberating and I actually felt keener to start the next academic year.
As you can see, although I didn't read a word (torture, torture, torture) I didn't write as much as I thought I would. I felt very busy all the time. Having to spend 8 hours a day in the office doesn't provide me with the ideal time and space co-ordinates to do my writing so I still didn't feel I gained more time with the reading ban. When I got back home I felt very tired to do anything massively creative. The process I went through was a pretty sophisticated one and I don't think I have figured it out completely yet. GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK: To spend time reflecting on my reading ban week (more) and to write a post about it (in Ones). What did I do then? CLEANING, DE-CLUTTERING, RUNNING, DOING YOGA, LISTENING TO MUSIC and ACTUALLY GOING TO AN INTERVIEW AND GETTING ACCEPTED INTO A YOGA TEACHER TRAINING COURSE.
I definitely deserve a REWARD this week (maybe I should be more strict with myself... I don't know). Well, I survived the reading ban, so yes, what do you think I got? Of course, books (although I haven't re-started my Saturday yet, surprisingly enough). You can see the picture above.
By the way, this week I am on actual HOLIDAYS, which means I don't have to go to the office or check my work e-mail which means I can dedicate GUILTfree (and endless) TIME to my creative writing. I have only three days though, since on Saturday I'm going to a wedding in Manchester. It's funny the role of GUILT in our creative writing. Something I need to work on...
Anyway, this post is becoming TOO LONG (sorry). GOALS:
1. Creative writing: This time I'm going to base my goal on TIME invested rather than ACHIEVEMENT. 4 hour block every day. Sub-objective: get 'Shooting' done and dusted.
2. Blogging: Everyday from now to Saturday.
Right now I'm feeling quite anxious about how fast the summer is happening! I realise I'm going through a really important CREATIVE process in my life but I would like to be able to see more WRITING RESULTS. Maybe this thoughts aren't very helpful. One thing I learnt while on the rollercoasters was how useless the cueing build-up and anxiety were. How unnecessary. Once you were on the ride all previous thoughts meant nothing. There was only one thing left: to relax and enjoy the ride. I hope I can do the same with my writing.

Oops! I forgot to write 3. MORNING PAGES and 4. Artist's Way tasks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On blogging.

Last week I listed the following as one of my long-term writing goals: "2. Spice up my blog posts. When I started Everyday Revelry, I had no idea what I wanted to write about and I sort of still don't know. I've been experimenting with things that interest me but I'd like to have more continuity and longer posts. With work and school, I need to make a better effort to concentrate on what I post and improve my writing."

I have been struggling with what to write about and how to attract new readers. I go back and forth on making my blog solely about yoga or diet and exercise or writing, etc.

Then I wrote this post on the writing life on Everyday Revelry. I also commented that, "I often feel like I am blogging into a void. I have no idea how in-depth to get or what might be interesting or not. I've tried to separate the professional side of me (the Latin America stuff) from the personal (yoga, writing, nutrition, etc) for the most part but there are definitely times when they overlap. I am never sure how much to share."

City Girl left me some interesting and thought-provoking comments and Kiki asked us to share them here. She wrote, "After two+ years of blogging, I have come to the conclusion that blogging should reflect your interests and be a balance of discipline and spontaneity. I am actually writing a post on this for soon as I have had several new bloggers ask me for advice - so this has been on my mind :) One thing to think about is to pick a couple of posts from all the things that interest you, write them, and see how you enjoy writing them and also the kind of response you get from people. If you love writing about it, that's the most important thing, but if you are not sure, write a post, enjoy it and people love it, thats a reason to continue writing as well."

City Girl also posted this: "1. Sometimes finding topics you like is all about seeing what sticks - whether for you (ie you enjoy writing it) and for your readers (ie you get more comments etc). 2. Professional versus personal - I would actually stick to your personal interests over professional interests. It sounds like you feed your professional interests through blogging in another forum and your work and your grad program. Also, focusing on the personal may be in some ways both easier and more challenging to write (just a thought)."

And so now I ask all of you: How do you decide what to write about? Does your blog have a niche or is it more a general place for you to write about whatever you like or are interested in? How do you draw more readers? Do you post about personal things or professional or both? How much of your personal life do you share and how do you know where to draw that line? Where do you draw inspiration from for new posts?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ellecubed Goals Week of July 20-26

Hello Lovelies,

I have decided (after some encouragement from Kiki) that it is time to take the plunge and post my first SWIM goals. I love writing and I have a lot of mini writing projects on the go, but the main projects I want to work on this summer are launching my blog, establishing a morning pages routine and working on a non-fiction guidebook I have been writing on and off for the past two years.

Here are my goals for this week:

  • Dedicate 20 minutes each morning to writing Morning Pages.
  • Write five blog posts and launch Ellecubed by the end of the week
  • Do the finishing touches on the proposal for my non-fiction guidebook and hand it off to the appropriate people.

I have decided to give myself one reward for each of the above goals because I want it to motivate me to continue to focus on my writing. I plan to reward myself with the following things:

  • A community acupuncture session
  • A bouquet of fresh flowers
  • A smoothie of my choice from Fresh

I also wanted to take a moment to thank all you lovelies for sharing your writing goals and being honest and humble about the writing process.

Kiki: New goals, and some danger ahead

Writing Goals: July 20-26
*Complete draft revision of this chapter and send to advisor by end of Friday (a whole week early!!!)
*Write one page of the Beijing Memoir
*Continue posting daily at The Prosecco Life
*Post midweek at SWIM
*Continue daily yoga practice

Reward: A Grande Dark Mocha Berry Frappuccino with Whipped Cream, and a long afternoon spent reading inspirational and entrepreneurial books at Borders. And maybe an acupuncture session, depending on cost and just how bad my TMJ is by the time the chapter goes out.
This is the first time I've mentioned anything on here about "The Beijing Memoir."  Honestly, it is the first time I've articulated it as anything other than a joke. But this is a story that has been hanging around in my head now for two whole years, banging on the bars of the cage in which I vainly tried to keep it locked and generally keeping me up at night. It has finally rattled the hinges off the cage door and sits snarling on the mangled metal. Thank you, Julia Cameron.

I experienced some truly crazy shizzle while living in China a few years ago. No, that's an understatement; it was some bizarrely unrivaled and savagely wack-ass shizzle. Now, there are a ton of memoirs out there written by foreigners who lived in China - and I mean a ton, of varying quality - all trying to promote the "wack-ass shizzle" they dealt with. None of their stories come close to mine. And this is my "niche": in none of the other memoirs out there has this particular topic been touched upon.

What happened in Beijing during that period profoundly affected me in every single way you can imagine, and some ways even I can't articulate. But it makes for a rockin' story. Frankly, it makes for such a good story that only two people in my circle know anything about it at all: Darcy and my best friend, and even they only know about 1%. This is the kind of story you either don't talk about at all, or write a book about and tell everyone.

Here's the issue, and why it hasn't been written down before: putting it "out there" publicly runs the risk of dramatically damaging at least one person's career and might even cost several people their lives if the details can be traced correctly. This story is downright dangerous. That statement is not a melodramatic cry for attention; this is hard cold fact, born of a lot of thought. And yet, keeping it seething inside is starting to eat me alive.

So what do I do? Write it as fiction? Write it in my journal where no one will see? Write it as a memoir and have it published in thirty years, when the recent past becomes the distant past and there is less of a chance that people will get hurt? Just write the darn thing down and see what happens? What do YOU think?

But this week, I am going to yoke up some courage and write down the first page of that story. And that is so much harder than getting this chapter out the door.

Revisionista: Update & Goals

Bonjour SWIMmers!

I'm coming up for air 2800+ words richer after today's research writing session, which was more like a deep sea dive. Last week I was feeling a little impatient and bored about the rsch chapter but now that I'm writing about the sexy stuff, it's all fun. Let's hope this enthusiasm will flow into tomorrow's research time.

So how'd I do last week?
  • YES! Continue morning pages each day
  • Given all the ennui & impatience I was feeling last week, I'm happy with the 5 pages I did manage to write Freewrite 10pp of CH 1 (try to end week on S's novel)
  • J's pov chapter took a while to finish, but now I'm into M's which is fun since he's being all broody at the moment. Write from each novel character's point of view (my brain hasn't really been motivated by thinking in terms of pages/chapters, so I'm going to see if writing from the characters' povs will help me make more progress. I do love my characters so I'll just think in terms of hanging out with J or L or M to see what they're up to)
  • Nope Type up some of novel
  • YES! 2 blog posts
  • Only a couple more stories to go Try to finish Caitlin Macy's Spoiled
  • REWARD: hmmmm, maybe a matine although I don't know if there's anything playing that I really want to see. Or, maybe treat the novel to another afternoon out or maybe a cd or movie on itunes....I'll see what's most appealing at the end of the week. No specific reward this week as I didn't quite meet my goals, but I did manage to work some general fun (ie bubblebaths & reading) into my days.
For this week, I'm going to scale down my goals/expectations so I can maintain momentum. I think I started out last week on too steep an incline....there's much more writing to be done so I don't want to wear myself out.

  • Continue morning pages each day: I'm spicing mine up with markers, drawings, paint & glitter in an attempt to tap into my right brain first thing.
  • Write on CH 1 at least 15min FIRST thing after breakfast
  • Finish M's pov, paste in L's pov from previous draft, figure out what's next
  • 2-3 blog posts
  • keep reading each day; choose a new book
Reward: Artist Retreat Weekend (Saturday) ~~ I'll post more about this on my blog. It's basically an all-day Artist Date with lots of fun treats mixed in.

I'll respond to the group brainstorm & all the other fab posts in a bit. Right now, I think it's time to soak in a bath with a yummy book! (oooo, and maybe with some chocolate....)

Au revoir for now, SWIMmers! :)

dharmagirl: goals july 20-26

Last Week's Goal Progress:

1. continue 3 MPs/day mostly. i missed a few here and there whilst traveling
2. live mini-blog/tweet from RWA yes!
3. whilst attending workshops and other conference events, seriously think about the role of novel writing in my life and decide what/how/when I want to do with my novel drafts... yes!
4. obviously, finish presentation before leaving for DC yes!

Last week I started a new twist on the MPs: I'll write two pages of "here's what's on my mind" stream of consciousness stuff, and then the third page will be some kind of writing exercise--usually a bit of description. This has been a lot of fun, and I can see it growing into a longer writing process if I allow it.

As for my novel plans, well, I'm thinking seriously about the kind of stories I want to write. I'm thinking about Jenny Crusie's advice. I'm thinking about how much I already know about writing. I'm thinking about zen and discipline. In short, I'm thinking about putting theory into practice and writing an honest to goodness book or two.

This week's goals:
1. Continue MPs
2. Blog about RWA and DC fun
3. Write ENG 102 syllabus and assignments for fall
4. Devote afternoon time--at least an hour--to reading
5. Build morning ritual: run/walk, breakfast, MPs, blog, French, work stuff

Yoga Class at Yoga on the Lake

Good luck this week:)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Group brainstorm needed!

Hello SWIMmers!

It is incredibly fantastic to know that people want to keep SWIM going past the summer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this was ever going to be more than just Revisionista and me, but we're growing and growing! We even added a new member this week - welcome, Lauren!

By now you've probably noticed that while the blog header is "Summer Writing Inspiration Movement," the website itself is simply writing inspiration movement. The seasonal element of this is important, both as a time structure for our writing goals and also to keep ourselves tied to the world around us. But summer writing inspiration movement is only going to hold us for another month or two, so we need to start thinking about how to play things for the autumn and beyond.

*How do you want to adapt the "S" in SWIM to make it applicable year-round? Seasonal WIM? Solstice WIM? Other ideas?

*What dates do you want to set as the end of "summer" and the beginning of "autumn" for our new goal period?

*How do you feel about scheduling an "open-mike" week when we actually post a sample of our writing on SWIM to share the concrete results of the goals we set each week?

*How do you feel about setting up rotating "critique buddies" to share your work with fellow SWIMmers in a smaller, more private sessions to receive feedback on your writing?

*Are there any other features or activities you would like to see or add to SWIM? A midweek meditation from everyone on one particular topic, to be decided by a new person each week? Writing exercises or quotes on writing? Useful links on writing?

This is just my brainstorm - I'd love to hear yours, so don't be shy about sharing your thoughts!

Happy Saturday hugs,

Kiki: Success, but hard-won

Holy crap, this has been a nutty week. Don't get me wrong, it's been great, but still wacky.

Writing Goals: July 13-19

*Write 15,000 words for current SYZ chapter, to meet 20,000 words by Friday afternoon
Reached 19757, which considering how much I cut along the way would have been WAY over 20k. 
*Write three Morning Pages each day 
This has actually been great - feels much more complete than I expected, now that I'm allowing myself the time to write three full pages. Irony is, now they take less time, and I write faster!
*Write and illustrate an Artist's Prayer from 'The Artist's Way'
This was such a powerful exercise - but I did manage it. 
*Continue posting daily at The Prosecco Life
Still managing this somehow.
*Put in time on the yoga mat daily
Every single day this week, baby! From 30-minute mini-flow to 60-minute classes to a sweaty 90-minute vinyasa podcast this morning.

Writing my chapter this week was rather weird.  This was the chapter that I figured would be much shorter than all the others because I wouldn't have enough material. So I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.  And then kept writing.

But WOW! was I wrong about not having enough to write about. After looking back at the other chapter drafts, this one is now the longest by a couple thousand words.  Granted, this week I'll start the draft revising process so I can hand in a semi-polished draft, and words will be cut, but still. The problem is, however, that now I've realized just how much more needs to be written in the other chapters...But they're drafts, darn it! They are supposed to be revised and added to! Why do relatively-low word counts for the first two chapter drafts I wrote stress me out so much?

*Purchase the domain name for
Yes! Now I can begin moving TPL back over, and give Yogademia a makeover! If anything kept me going this week, this was the reward that did it.

*Get a monthly subscription to Yoga Today now that they've cut nearly all their free content.
I've been practicing with Yoga Today since they started a few years ago, posting a new free episode on iTunes every day, and I still love their classes. Their classes make me happier than any other virtual yoga, and I love the outdoor scenery.

SWIM interaction, comments, success and its rewards have all been so sweet! But I'm starting to run into the issue of creativity-boy balance.

First of all, let me say that my guy - known in blogland as Darcy for the simple fact that he's British and dreamy with the cutest accent, just like one Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy - has been 100% supportive of all this creativity-mongering. Even when I get up at 5 a.m. to write morning pages and he can't quite get back to sleep afterward, he still encourages and helps and inspires. When I freak out about my advisor and this #$*&^#($% pissertation, he's there to calm me. This guy wins all the prizes, I tell you.

So during the couple of hours we have together in the evening, I try to have my computer entirely OFF. This can be really difficult, because when we sit down together at night it's usually in front of television. Not only am I extremely picky about what I watch (TV or movies), I have an attention span of maximum two episodes. But if I sit next to him on the couch while he watches something more to his taste while I read blogs or the paper online, it can feel like we're not really paying anything the attention it deserves, particularly each other. If I leave the room so we can both focus on our activity of choice, that lack of attention to each other becomes even more pronounced. It makes me feel sometimes that I have to fit my life outside of him into the fifteen hours between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., so I can spend the evening...watching television.  This is not my ideal way to enjoy an evening with my favorite guy, but by the end of the day we are so freakin' pooped and ravenous that it's all we can do to crash together in front of television with our dinner at 9 p.m.

Have any of you been encountering this issue of balance with your partner/family/roommates/friends? Any suggestions on how to prioritize all this wonderful creative production without de-prioritizing your loved ones?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vienna: little success.

Well, I made it for tonight. No TV. I managed to gather my last bunch of energy and I did a yoga session at home, meditated and ORGANISED THE BOOKS I'M GOING TO START READING VERY SOON, PUT THEM IN ORDER, CLASSIFIED THEM IN CATEGORIES. But didn't read a word. Now a new challenge: Going to bed without my book. My night ritual has been broken and I am ending up going to sleep very late every night this week, which means I get up also late in the morning (with no time for morning pages or yoga, Ahhhh!) Tonight instead of reading I'm going to recall the 100 things for what I am grateful today. Let's see in which good thought I fall asleep (I doubt I get to even 15...). Good night everyone.

Vienna: Getting there! (but still torture)

Friday! Two more days and the ban is over! Still torture, though. It's raining again. Dark grey all over. Just came back from my office. Interesting having to keep myself busy without reading! Right now there is nothing I want more than curling up with a good book! I cooked a new recipe for dinner. I've been tidying up every corner. I've finished the first draft of a new short story. And now I'm too tired to write more, cook more, exercise more. I want to read! I want to know what you've been up to this week. I also got a new yoga book (thinking of joining a Yoga Training programme) and I CAN'T READ IT. At times I think all this is going to be worth it, sometimes I just think I'm getting nowhere. And now it's one of those times. My boyfriend is working until late tonight and I can see myself spending the evening watching TV, which really bores me. I feel I have no option. Isn't that much worse than reading? Shouldn't TV be also banned this week? Ooooooh! I suppose the rain is not helping. What would happen if I read my Yoga book? For some reason I can't do it. I can't let myself down. If I just looked at the pictures?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New SWIMer!

Hi fellow SWIMers! 

 My name is Lauren and I am new to this blog.  I currently have a blog called Everyday Revelry.  I also write twice a week at The Latin Americanist.  I work full time and I am in graduate school part time.  Because of all of those things, my writing goals, both short and long-term, are all over the place.  I thought I would share the overarching goals and then post my goals for the rest of this week.

1. Write more regularly in my paper journal:  I have been trying to do Morning Pages (though these often become afternoon or evening pages!).  I also just signed up for SARK's Juicy Journaling program.

2. Spice up my blog posts.  When I started Everyday Revelry, I had no idea what I wanted to write about and I sort of still don't know.  I've been experimenting with things that interest me but I'd like to have more continuity and longer posts.  With work and school, I need to make a better effort to concentrate on what I post and improve my writing.

3. Think about research possibilities for a PhD.  I am still torn over whether or not I want to pursue this route.  I have several academic interests but I would really like to research memory/forgetting in Latin American literature following the dirty wars.  I need to research this some more and write out how I feel about it.

4. Explore freelancing.  My ideal career involves being a yoga teacher and a freelance writer.  I just signed up for a course called "Get Paid to Write: Become a Freelance Writer!" , which starts August 10th, and ordered several books on the subject.  The course itself has mini-assignments or goals that I want to build on as I go.

Goals for the week:  This week I want to explore the questions from days 1-3 of the SARK program in my paper journal as well as write my morning pages.  My second goal is to post on Everyday Revelry each day, brainstorm new post ideas and try to post things that will illicit more comments and/or bring more readers.   I also hope to read a book I just bought called My So-Called Freelance Life.

Reward: One of Mario Benedetti's books and possibly a bottle of vinho verde.

I'm really excited to be the newest kid on the block!  I hope I can support you all in your writing goals!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tomato: Week Quatre

Checking: Week 3 Goals

1. Continue daily journaling and addition of creative elements. Oui! I did this! I collaged again (all beach-y scenes since I'm obsessed with taking that kind of vacay) and also incorporated tons of stickers and colored pencil doodles. :)

2. Attempt to do my journaling via "morning pages" and incorporate into my morning ritual. FAIL. This has been *SO* hard for moi. Also, one of my July Goals was to create a morning ritual, and that has also been a major FAIL. :( Any tips??

3. Research on Le Book (aka finding complementary books, finding my "twist", etc.) Also FAIL, but in my defense, I've been busy with oodles of other stuff (like my career coaching assignments from Pink Heels!)

Week 4 Goals

1. Continue daily journaling.

2. Completely weekly assignments for career coaching in a timely manner. Carve out space in Planner Pad to work on these assignments.

Instead of beating myself over the fact that I'm not getting as many of my writing goals accomplished as I hoped, I am just going to set some lighter goals for the future. I have a tendency to put a lot of undeserved pressure on myself! Writing for moi is cathartic and pleasurable - I never want it to become a burden. Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Well I'm on an uber tight budget this month, so I don't think I should get another 90-minute massage anytime soon. What should my reward be? I got nothin'! Suggestions??

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kiki: Goals + Yoga = Yogoals?

Writing Goals: July 13-19

*Write 15,000 words for current SYZ chapter, to meet 20,000 words by Friday afternoon
*Write three Morning Pages each day 
*Write and illustrate an Artist's Prayer from 'The Artist's Way'
*Continue posting daily at The Prosecco Life
*Put in time on the yoga mat daily

With two weeks of July already gone, that leaves only three weeks in which to complete this chapter - and that means it's time to stop hiding behind research and start pounding the keys. To some degree, I'm forcing myself to start doing the major writing for this chapter well before I usually would, and that feels a bit uncomfortable because there seems to be less material for this chapter than the others.  They easily run about 50 pages, but I'm not convinced this one will be as close.  Still, that's what a draft is for, right?  To put it all out there, and then go back and flesh it out? (Once your advisor gets back to you, of course - mine is now two chapters behind in getting comments back to me. Shall we make it three?)

The Artist's Way is proving incredibly illuminating. Morning Pages have been both difficult and enlightening, and I've finally worked up to (allowing myself the time for?) three full pages. I've worked out that in my little notebooks, because of the line spacing and the way I write, it comes out to about 15 minutes for each page. At three pages and 45 minutes, that's a fair chunk of time, which I now know means I have to be up at 5 a.m. on weekdays so I can make tea and write MPs by 6 a.m. in order to do the rest of my morning goodies in time for the day.

Some really interesting ideas have come out of those pages: of all the things to write about, it always comes back to yoga and spirituality. It's been five whole weeks now, and those are the predominant themes, which is also why I'm going to backtrack in the TAW tasks to write an Artist's Prayer. That's also why I've listed a daily yoga practice as one of my writing goals this week - something's going on here that is actually portending a major shift, and it has to do with yoga.  This shift is big enough that I'm planning on returning my blog back to its original site and name, Yogademia, on its very own site. Truly, what comes out of my MPs is a little bit intimidating - I'm not quite ready to publicize it yet, it's so big, but aligning my personal writing with it seems to be a good first step.

*Purchase the domain name for Yogademia
*Get a monthly subscription to Yoga Today now that they've cut nearly all their free content.

Revisionista: Update & Goals

Bonjour mes amies!

Before I dive into my list for the week, I first want to thank Kiki for setting up the comments subscription. Sometimes I forget to look back at our previous posts to read the comments so this will be uber helpful.

Also, Vienna mentioned wanting to keep this group going in the fall. I had a similar thought a few weeks ago & figure we can just call it the Solstice Writing Inspiration Movement. That way we can still keep our SWIM acronym (which I just love since it sounds much more exciting than plain ol' "writing) and just add the season: Fall SWIM, Winter SWIM, etc. :)

I've really enjoyed reading all your posts and updates. And I'm looking forward to reading all the great books, stories, novels, etc that come out of our petite SWIM team.

This past week I've been kinda quiet on the blog front since I was making friends with my domestic diva while decluttering and decorating my kitchen.

Some writing got done, but I came up short on a few of my goals:
  • Continue morning pages each day. Everyday but Sunday!
  • Freewrite 10 singlespaced pp of CH 1 of the academic book (finish writing about 1st novel of section) I had to pause and translate passages from the French novel I'm writing about so I only got 5pp written
  • Draft 20 handwritten, wild, messy pages of the NOLA novel wrote 14/20
  • Type novel so far not yet
  • Read Cailtin Macy's Spoiled read a few more stories but didn't finish
  • Start Edwige Danticat's Farming of Bones not yet
  • Blog post on novel writing process no blog posts at all (boo!)
  • REWARD: take the novel out for a a guiltfree morning writing (maybe Sunday morning) didn't quite meet my goals but to celebrate the writing I did do I took the novel out for lunch at Panera Thursday afternoon; had a really serene writing session where I felt like I was inside the story watching everything happen.
This week, in addition to the academic writing, I want to do much more fun reading and take the novel out for another lunch or coffee. Since I have to put the academic writing first (to make sure it gets done), I don't always get to the novel writing but I think that devoting a few hours to it over lunch or coffee will help keep it warm so I'll want to pick it up when I have 15 or 20 minutes here and there.

This Week

  • Continue morning pages each day
  • Freewrite 10pp of CH 1 (try to end week on S's novel)
  • Write from each novel character's point of view (my brain hasn't really been motivated by thinking in terms of pages/chapters, so I'm going to see if writing from the characters' povs will help me make more progress. I do love my characters so I'll just think in terms of hanging out with J or L or M to see what they're up to)
  • Type up some of novel
  • 2 blog posts
  • Try to finish Caitlin Macy's Spoiled
  • REWARD: hmmmm, maybe a matine although I don't know if there's anything playing that I really want to see. Or, maybe treat the novel to another afternoon out or maybe a cd or movie on itunes....I'll see what's most appealing at the end of the week.

Vienna: I'm already hating the reading ban.

It's soooooooo hard!!!

dharmagirl's goals july 13-19

Happy Monday morning, y'all!

I have a successful goal update! hooray!

dharmagirl's writing goals for July 6-12
1. Continue regular blogging. post two entries while visiting my parents completed
2. Continue Journaling/MP everyday: 3 pages/day everyday except Sunday
3. Draft 6 page RWA talk by Sunday night no draft, but outline completed
4. Finish reading Jane Green's The Beach House yes
5. Begin my 100 list yes--70 out of 100 completed

As for rewards, well, I didn't set aside a certain reward, but I have several things that *could* count as rewards:
1. new linen suit for RWA conference, bought at JCrew outlet for $60!
2. new little black dress + pink opal necklace for RWA Awards banquet
3. trip to Milwaukee Monday afternoon to visit friend M visiting from PA

My goals for this coming week are going to be a bit different, as this is a BIG week for dharmagirl. I'm traveling to Washington, D.C. to present at the Romance Writers of America national conference. I'm presenting on a panel with Pamela Regis, leading romance scholar and author of A Natural History of the the Romance Novel , and Jennifer Crusie, best selling author and all-around awesome person.

Did I mention that I'm presenting on Jenny's novels?!?


So, my official role at the conference is to be a scholar/professor sharing insights on romance fiction with an audience of authors, readers, and others. But, as a wannabe romance novelist, I'm going to the conference to learn tips and tricks for novel writing and such. The schedule is filled with workshops that sound ideal and fun and inspirational. Yay!

I leave on Thursday and return on Sunday, and will have a little free time in DC. I'm toying with the idea of taking a yoga class with Kimberly Wilson (thanks, revisionista, for turning me on to her podcasts and tweets and website!). Ideally, in my free day in DC (Sunday), I would be sharing cocktails or a picnic with the Obamas, but I think they're already booked. So, any ideas of where to go? Monuments? A museum?

Anyway, my goals for this busy week:
1. continue 3 MPs/day
2. live mini-blog/tweet from RWA
3. whilst attending workshops and other conference events, seriously think about the role of novel writing in my life and decide what/how/when I want to do with my novel drafts...
4. obviously, finish presentation before leaving for DC

Vienna: Late check-in, new goals and READING BAN!!!

Hi swimmers!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend. I did!
Well, last week's goals...
1. Portfolio (collection of short stories, some chapters of my novel and some critical theory pieces for MA application). I regret to say that, whilst I worked hard on it, I didn't manage to finish, which is starting worrying me. Since I haven't been able to dedicate much time to my creative writing lately, this week I found it extremely difficult to get started. I wouldn't focus, words wouldn't come out, frustation would creep up on me. Things started getting better after a while, which has taught me an interesting lesson, which I did know deep down: WRITING TAKES TIME and I NEED TO BE READY TO ALLOW MYSELF this time. Writing happens in time. That's the main problem I currently face, finding this consistent time, and I definitely will have to find a solution since I do not want to give up my dream of becoming a professional writer. Joining this group has been my first step to allow myself the time to write and I am so grateful for all the support. Thank you! (We'll need to make up something similar for the winter...)

2. Morning pages. 7/7. Total success here. And, you know what? Right now I couldn't do without them. Somehow they are working their magic.

3. Artist Date. After my 'rehearsal' I had a fantastic Artist Date. I bought colouring pencils, glue, watercolours, sketching book and all sort of delighful little things, and I made myself (with my own hands, I cannot believe it!) a present for a friend. From an ordinary note book I made a nice journal full of collages, pictures, drawings and a little story on it. I still need to finalise it but it's not going to take me long. I felt as if I were 8 again and it was such an enjoyable and liberating experience. When I went back home I cooked some new recipe from the Mediterranean Escapes: Sauted Squid on a chickpea and rocket bed. Delicious! You can see the picture above.

4. Reading. Didn't finish Saturday and NOW THE TIME'S COME!!!!!!! The BAN! I have to say that I was sort of ready for that, since Kiki had told us about it. But, anyway, any minute I realise of something new I can't do without reading. I really cannot imagine a life without reading. How isolating! Well, I'll just surrender to this week's rules and hopefully I will feel the benefits from this detox.


REWARD: I asked myself if that was deserved or underserved... I decided that it was SO DESERVED. Even though the results haven´t been what I expected, I have put the time, the work and the effort. As I said before, writing is a process that takes places in time, I cannot expect to see the results straight away. So, yes. I had it. And I was so so lucky that I found this offer: For the same price than 1 massage I got A FACIAL; BACK, SHOULDERS, NECK AND SCALP MASSAGE; FULL BODY POLISH. Isn't that AMAZING?????????? I could feel the wink from the Universe.

New goals:
  1. Writing, writing, non-stop writing on my portfolio. I should finish it by the end of this week. No excuses!
  2. Morning pages every morning.
  3. Post every day.
  4. Oops! Proper work... I need to think this one. What can I do that can be done without reading??? Maybe I'll start decluttering my office...

Have a lovely week. I'll read you all on Sunday. I'll miss you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Subscribe to comments!

Dear SWIMmers,

All the comments that have been flying around are so great - thank you for taking the time to comment on everyone's posts! The interaction is really what makes me feel like we're a cohesive group, despite how far around the world we are spread.

To make it easier to keep with everything, I've added a gadget on the sidebar that will allow us to subscribe specifically to the comments feed. Hopefully this will help us continue to inspire each other!

Happy Saturday,

Kiki: Check-in, and the "SYZ" goal explanation

We've made it through the end of Week Three!  Can you believe it? 

Plenty to write about today, so let's just jump right in to the week's assessment:

Writing Goals: July 6-10
*Write SWIM post explaining this chapter and its acronyms (like "SYZ") - About to happen below
*Transcribe and complete preliminary translations of all poems related to the SYZ site - Yes! 12!
*Write visual analysis of this chapter's focus painting - Found some wonderful new things, as well
*Write visual analysis of at least two other supporting paintings - Completed just in the nick of time
*Continue posting daily at The Prosecco Life - So far, so good...
*Write 2.5 Morning Pages each day (slowly working up to three) - This is bearing wonderful fruit.
*Revise and update my 1001/101 Project to better reflect its evolution and get it back on track - It has turned into a bigger project than I expected. That's Sunday's task!

 By this point, you know that I'm in my final (read: seventh) year of a Ph.D. in Chinese art history. This summer I'm doing a mad dash across the pages to complete a full draft of the opus they tend to call "a dissertation" by September 1, with two chapters left to come alive. Basically, it deals with Chinese use and adaptation of European trompe-l'oeil painting techniques during the eighteenth century. Check out the best and most complete site with wall and ceiling paintings inside the Forbidden City, "Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service" - before conservation. Be sure to pan up to the ceiling!

There aren't many of these paintings left, and because they fall in between the cracks of Chinese and European painting, they have essentially been ignored until very recently. They are huge - covering entire walls of buildings, and most paintings were probably destroyed when the buildings they were in were destroyed by fires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Miraculously, some made it out of those buildings.

The painting that forms the focus of this chapter is a mysterious doozy that made it out alive: never published, never displayed, otherwise completely unknown. The multiple digital images of it (because it is so big) in the Forbidden City's digital database had never been stitched together into a full image of the painting until I asked for it. Even the woman who runs that office and has worked at the Forbidden City since the 1980s had never seen it before! It's incredible, and if it weren't breaking all sorts of copyrights and permissions I would post an image. 

But what is most incredible is that it has the equivalent of two imperial post-its on it: two bright yellow pieces of paper stuck onto the painting, one giving its original location, and the other identifying the main figure and giving the 19th-century date it was taken down from that site. This is huge: officially, none of the original locations for these orphaned paintings are known (but I've managed to track them down in my research!), and the fact that we have the exact date it was put into storage further fills out the story.

Because my dissertation deals with Chinese culture, I use a lot of shorthand to keep from having to write out all the long romanizations, translations, or resort to headache-inducing characters. For example, "Studio of Exhaustion from Diligent Service" is known in Chinese as the Juanqin Zhai, so that becomes "JQZ." The current "SYZ" chapter stands for Siyong Zhai or something like "Studio of Eternal Thoughtfulness," where the painting was originally mounted according to the imperial post-it. That was within what is called the Yuanming Yuan or the Old Summer Palace, on the outskirts of Beijing, where "A" is the Forbidden City and this site is in the upper left corner of the map as "Ruins of Yuanmingyuan" about 12 miles away.

So that's the basic story behind my professional writing goals for this month, and the crazy acronyms that go with them.  It kills me that I can't post a shot of this painting, because I would love to share it with you! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tomato: Week Trois

CHECKING IN: Week 2 Goals:

1. Start le book! In SOME capacity, even if it's just one paragraph. Do something to get the ball rolling. I followed ellecubed's idea to collage le book, and it was great! I made 3 collages while at my parents' house last weekend and plan to do more.

2. Continue to journal daily for at least 10 minutes. Check! Knowing that i just have to do 10 minutes takes a lot of pressure off (funny how a personal journal can be stressful, huh?). I think jotting down thoughts daily really helps me process and reflect my day.

3. Add creative elements to my journal, aka not just words on paper. SHARE with readers! Have done this and love it! My journal is so much funner to flip through now. As promised, below are pics of some of my creative journal endeavors. (The journals are diff. because i filled up the first - yay LOVE that feeling of completion)

Week 3 Goals

1. Continue daily journaling and addition of creative elements.

2. Attempt to do my journaling via "morning pages" and incorporate into my morning ritual.

3. Research on Le Book (aka finding complementary books, finding my "twist", etc.)


~Schedule 90-minute massage for next weekend :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vienna: New goals

OMG! Tuesday evening and I still haven't written this week's goals!

Ok. Here I am now.

1. It's becoming really late for my MA application so I am going to prioritise writing my portfolio + application this week. If I manage to do it I'll be a happy girl.

2. Morning pages.

3. Artist's Way tasks (including Artist Date).

4. Read as much as I can. Try to finish 'Saturday' by Ian McEwan. For some reason it's taking me ages to read it and now I know the reading ban is approaching...

I had a frustrated Artist Date today. I was planning to go to town, collect some pictures I took last week during my friend's hen weekend (yes, pre-historic film, I know, I'm in love with my film SLR, especially for black and white), then buy a nice journal or notebook and make a collage for my friend (this week is her birthday) in a nice cafe while savouring some exciting hot drink (yes, it's raining and cold again). Well, the pictures hadn't been developed because the machine broke, then it started raining (not as bad as yesterday but bad enough) and I realised I had left my umbrella in the office so, instead of going to my yoga class, as I planned to do afterwords, I got the bus back home and here I am. Anyway! I feel a bit like Miss Calamity!!!!! I will use the rest of the evening to have a yoga session here at home, work on the Artist's Way and read my book. It takes much much more to bring me down!!! Artist Date is only postponed. Today was a rehearsal.

Ooooooh, REWARD! This week's reward is going to be... a back, shoulder, neck and scalp massage. Hooray! I had to. This is going to be my reward, not only for achieving this week's goals but also as a THANK YOU to myself for my hard work this academic year. I started my current job in September. Before that I lived in Manchester. So this has been quite a hard year. New job, new colleagues, new house, new city!!! I am going to enjoy this reward.

Happy swimming!

My rain video is going mad. Sometimes there is only one screen, sometimes three!!!! Intrigued with what you will see.