Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ROW80 Goals Status Update #3 - "My Tortoise Days"

Time for my third status report already - whoa, this one seemed to get here fast!

I think it's because I've been very, very tired.  I don't sleep well when the moon is full, the last several months, and it's a full moon week. 


Sunday, as I may or may not have mentioned, was Annalise's half-birthday.  Because we'd had a small windfall, of late, the children and I made plans to go to the store to use their Christmas gift cards and buy the game system that Lise had asked for just before Christmas, but which we couldn't work into the budget until after the holiday.


Shopping exhausts me.  Too many choices, too much light and noise and chaos.  Too many negative interactions between adults and children. Far too much apathy for my hypersensitivity to emotional energy to ignore.

It drains me.  What makes it worth it is the joy Annalise and Jeremiah take in their purchasing power,  Even though my head usually starts aching within 10 minutes of walking into the department store, I love watching them interact competently with salespeople, strike up conversations with other customers, explore, critically consider the options before making their selections.

And, oh, yeah -  I LOVE the joy on their faces and in their beings when they finally get that thing they have been longing for, that seemed, once, like an impossible dream, but is now right there in their hands -  really, truly, theirs.  I love the excitement and anticipation as we drive to the store; the plans that are made on the way home, the quiet absorption punctuated by enthusiastic exclamations of, "Hey, Mom, look at this!"

Monday "night", I put the computer aside early, and instead watched the Season 2 premier of Downton Abbey, which I discovered midway through last season, and am thrilled to know that I haven't missed huge parts of the story. As it always does, it filled my head with new ideas and flights of fantasy, and fed my insatiable hunger for watching humans interact.

With the car repair issues we've had the last few weeks, I've missed several workouts.  Tuesday, I rejoined my free t'ai chi class at the YMCA, then Jim took Jeremiah and Annalise out on a Daddy Night, and I had several hours of solitude, in which I did a good deal of note-taking and draft- revising, with short bursts of fire and home tending in between.

There are times when writing is ascendant in my life, and times when other things are.  Other things must have their turn - especially when the other things are family members, family business, and recharging my personal batteries.

If I keep drawing from my well without allowing it time to refill, my well will run dry.  The ebb follows the flow; the flow follows the ebb; neither could exist without the other.

I've done some recreational reading, and some research reading, and taken time to be with my family, and time to be by myself.  

So, in light of the refilling that's been occurring through the last few days, I offer up my progress on my goals.

Round of Words 80 Goals - Round 1, 2012:

I will write at least 10 essays and/ or photo essays, and post them publicly.

At this point, on Tuesday evening, I have not completed any more essays.  I am preparing to create a revised rough draft of my Tiny Buddha essay, with the same quote but a more personally meaningful and positively oriented storyline and message.  I have a series of notes that will work as something of an outline, and a to-do steps from here to completion.  Going to let it rest for just a little bit before diving into the new rough draft.

I am also preparing to write a rough draft (and have reviewed and edited photographs for) the photoessay I am tentatively planning to submit to Sunday Surf, either this week or next.

I have had further contact with Cooperative Catalyst, suggesting that the original comment I posted would, with editing (I dashed it off and hit send utterly without regard to typos, which is not something I typically do), and that perhaps Jeremiah and/or Annalise might enjoy sharing reflections about their lives.  I've gone back and done a rough edit; a plan for the next day or two is to check it over again, more carefully, and do revisions.  I may also come up with some basic questions to ask the kids, if they want to answer - Annalise, in particular, has been very into filming herself, during the last few weeks, and she has expressed interest in doing a video interview.

I plan on taking some rough notes for the post on labels and perceptions simmering in my mind, within the next days to week.

I'm not counting this toward my goal, but I did get very interested in this blog post by Peter Gray over at Psychology Today, and I commented several times over two days.  I find that this type of writing is very useful -  it helps me to make my writing more concise, and to clarify my understanding of the purpose and details of our unschooling life -  and, if I can help other parents see that video games are not the product of Satan, nor an addictive drug, but a potentially invaluable tool to some childrens' learning - a tool that is better used if and when and for however long a child chooses - that is all to the better.

I also spent some time rereading some blogposts my friend Eden Mabee and I exchanged nearly three years ago.  I had remembered being kind but firm, in my posts.

What I found in rereading was that I had, at times, been highly intrusive and reactive.  Moreover, I wasn't even a little bit kind, in some places.

In addition to the Tiny Buddha essay, which will discuss those posts in a tangental way (attitudes and approach are the real focus, there), I feel another essay forming, one dealing with reactivity, and recording, and rereading later, and the feelings this can bring up, and the revelations.  This one still needs time to percolate before I write anything down, but I feel it getting closer to a place where it has enough form to do so.

And, true to form, this update seems to have become an essay, too, so that makes six, upon posting this -   three-fifths of the way to my goal of 10! =D

I will submit at least one essay or photo essay apiece to

 Tiny Buddha and Sunday Surf

As mentioned above, I've decided to lay aside the rambling rough draft I wrote for this project last week, because I have had a better idea.  I an saving that piece, though, because, after focusing and revising, it still might make a good post for my blog.  For now, though, I will let it rest and move on to the better idea I had a few weeks ago, working from the notes I wrote Tuesday evening.

The Sunday Surf post which I have decided will indeed A Tale of Two New Years, although I haven't yet written a first draft.  I have discovered, though, that, in addition to all its other charms, my Sweet L'il Lenovo comes with a built in card reader!  So, rather than needing to hook up the camera (which is often with Annalise, these days), I can just switch the card, and plug it into the side of the laptop.  Easy-peasy!  So, I put now have New Year's 2012 pictures uploaded to my hard drive, and have edited them in Picasa.  Next is uploading them to a Web Album and writing the rough draft....

I  have done a full revision of the essay for the Cooperative Catalyst blog,directing it at a different audience, and adding a point or two of conversation and some places for relevant links,  I'm going to let it rest a day or two before I do a final checkthrough and contact the blog owner.  I'm having some second thoughts about the changes (feeling a bit - well, presumptuous, I guess).  But I know that the owner is willing to work with me, and I also know at least part of this is that it is a big, established blog with a lot of people posting who have academic titles....I'm finding I need to remind myself that college is not the only way to pursue learning.

At any rate, it's good for me to know that others have felt similar anxieties, and that I will go ahead with the post, despite my nervousness.  And, next time, maybe I will be just a bit more confident and less nervous.  Growth is seldom perfectly easy and comfortable.  But without growth there is stagnation, so -  BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!

I will complete the rough draft of my unfinished

 NaNoWriMo novel, Chameleon's Dish.  

I think may be my "Secret Weapon" in reminding myself to write daily.  I have a bit of a streak going, and they give these really, really cute little animal stamps at certain points along the journey.  Not only do I like those, but Annalise, does, too - and I love to see Annalise smile.

It's also a great "test mile".  I can write 750 words fairly effortlessly, so that induces me to write every day, and, often, I write more.  And, through the process of consistent writing, I am finding depth in the characters and their relationships, and the plot has become more complex and layered.

That's a really cool thing; the middle of the novel was looking a bit saggy and loose; now, it's tightening up, and I have a clearer idea of what may happen in the next several chapters.

To date, I have written 5363  words in Chapter 14.  I think I may have the chapter finished by Sunday's check-in.  And I am loving the writing I'm doing! =D

In the meantime, I've been rereading parts of Time for Yesterday, by A.C. Crispin.  I've thought for a long time I would like to give Spock and his son, Zar, a chance to get to know each other in another venue and phase of life, and I'm going to play with that idea a little, as long as there is time travel involved, anyway.

I will submit at least four pieces, queries, or proposals to

 for-pay markets.

I shifted my focus on this goal at Sunday's check-in,  Since then, I have been gathering information, but not doing a lot of in-depth research as of yet.  I will spend time, in the coming days, reading guidelines, sample pieces, and perhaps even taking some notes for potential for-pay submissions.

So far, I have collected information for erotica, Star Trek fan fiction, a author-reader collective, and a comedy and satire market.  These are all genres  I enjoy writing in; I've decided to put Elance on the rear burner for now, so that I can focus on these markets, first.

I also intend to investigate markets for essays on parenting, travel, and slice of life pieces.

I have moved forward a little more quickly with my own writing venture.  I have researched one possible market for the product/service I am intending to start with (beginning very simply, with a couple of ideas for expanding, if the initial offering meets with interest).  There is another market I would like to investigate, as well.

I've considered my pricing, but not yet how I will collect payments.  That, too, will hopefully be a bit more evolved by the next check-in.

Over the next several days, I will be breathing some life into the concepts, and beginning notes for a  product/service description.  I will need one of those before I can access the full scope of information on my first market, and, once I have something concrete written, the entire project will become more real and less nebulous, to me.

Overall, I'm still finding this the most intimidating of my goals.  The Who the hell so you think YOU are, anyway? chorus, performed in my imagination by my parents and sister, is a little harder to ignore than I would like.  So is the girl inside me who figures that, if I'm not perfect, why would anyone really care what I have to say?

I know better than to turn around and give those voices my attention.  I may only be able to take baby steps, just now, against the resistance in my own mind, but I will keep on making them, and gaining strength for longer and stronger strides.  And even tiny baby steps will carry me closer to completing my goals.

After I wrote the above (because my updates end up as essays, I start them the day before posting) , and got a moderately decent night's sleep, I decided to begin today's writings with some market research.  

Since I collected the erotica info first, I decided to do my waiting  in-depth research  at Clean Sheets, first.  In researching their sample poetry, I remembered a very short  erotic poem I wrote before my children were born.  It's short enough that I had it memorized.  

At the time, I submitted it to Amelia's magazine, where it was (albeit sweetly and wittily) rejected. 
Not having a great deal of self-confidence at that time, especially as regards my writing, I allowed myself to get discouraged.

An hour or two ago, I played with the poem for a few minutes, toying with the imagery and allusion until  I felt comfortable.

Then I set about the process of following the submission process.  Every time I got nervous, I finished the next tiny step, and went to do some hometending, or to hang a few minutes with Miah and Lise.  Once, all I did was to put a subject line in the email!

Tiny little baby tortoise steps - but I made enough of them to get the little naughty bit ready.  Then I breathed deeply, and clicked SEND!!!!
Yes, I did. Me.  I did that.  I claimed that part of my life, put it into words, created a tiny bit of what I felt was lovely truth, and sent it out there into the wider world.
I'm still absorbing that, but, while I do, I'm going to celebrate getting one-quarter of the way to this goal -  and I plan to do more marketing in a day or few.

I also signed up for's Writer's forums....this, and the associated workshop I am waiting to be approved for, might give me a venue for exploring my interest in humor, satire, and parody.

I will update, keep current, and add writing samples to

 my Facebook Writer Page (Shan Jeniah Burton, Writer).

I've been keeping up with the Writer Page, at least once or twice a day.  It's a great place to put the links to sites, blogs, and my own work as I need it.  I can find things easily, and share them.
Still no progress on how to pretty the page up, I have a couple of ideas in the nascent stage, but nothing beyond that, thus far.  I think I need to just play around a little, here and there, in the same way I do my blog, and see what develops from that play...

I certainly didn't set any land-speed records this week, but, like the tortoise, I feel that every post, every comment, every moment spent reading, builds me, as a person and as a writer.

It seems that this last few days have been more about laying groundwork, doing research, gathering resources, and making small steps forward in lots of areas.

 But even more about re-centering myself in my life and my family, and the joy we share....

Not particularly exciting, writing-wise, maybe, for the most part, but still forward motion, and at a sustainable level, given that this was the first time since ROW80 started that the children and I have has access to a car, which, of course, led to being away from home more than we have been for the last few weeks.

The weather forecast is suggesting that, beginning tonight, the next few days will be more wintry than anything we've seen so far this  season.  With the children still enjoying the treasures they purchased on Sunday, I may find considerably more time to write....I also might get a little more sleep than the very little I get while the moon is full (I think I'm a were-writer!), which would certainly help me to have more energy for writing  and everything else, too.

And the quiet writing days just past have built the foundation for the next surge of activity.....

 I have found joy in the last days....

And relaxation, too......sigh....

And activities of many sorts, each containing its own sweet or savory flavor.

Hope everyone is living sweetly, and is finding their goals just challenging and scary enough to be exciting and growth-inspiring! =D



Anonymous said...

I love how your family is such a high priority. Although my kids are grown, I still try to set things aside when they want to chat - even about nothing in particular.

All the best.

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

We love it too. They are growing up so quickly, and they are, as you can probably see, very far from dull!

It's a good and happy life. =D