Oh. snap.

The reason I haven’t posted here in like…four months…is on account of I’ve been furiously writing my dissertation.  Day in and day out, writing, writing, writing.   And when I’m not writing, I’m contending with panel building, submitting various paperwork, tracking down articles, editing, revising, going to work when I come up for breath. But I do want to note that I just submitted my final chapter to my advisor tonight.  And while I still have the intro and conclusion to write, this accomplishment feels pretty damn momentous. I also want to note that I have a million blog ideas scribbled in margins, on articles, and on various junk mail that’s littering my desk, and once this project is defended and submitted, I intend to launch a new academic/professional website where I’ll deal with those–primarily regarding the dissertation process and its secrets–while also keeping this blog open for creative explorations, organizational advice (some new things coming on that, too), and personal

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Rituals for good writing

A lot of writers talk about their muse.  How they can only write when their muse is with them, providing inspiration and excitement.  The sheer thrill of writing in these moments, and the following exhaustion and baited-breath-waiting for the return of the muse. I’m not that writer. I mean, I have plenty of days where I feel excited to write, where the words come freely, and I sit in rapt witness to my characters’ brilliant actions. But I don’t have a muse. Instead, I have drive, sheer stubbornness, and ritual, the latter of which I’d like to discuss briefly, because I think it might be helpful to other writers.  Exportable technique, instead of some intangible, magical writing power. Here’s how my ritual works. STEP 1: Journal. Ritualize positivity I’ve been keeping a bullet journal for two and a half years now, and a habit-tracker/couple-of-lines-a-day journal since January.  And when I was flipping back through these journals, I noticed something rather

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Synopsis writing

There is a truism about grant-writing in academia that goes something like this: Sure, applying for grants is exhausting and painful and humbling and almost always fruitless, but you’ll learn so much in the process. I really want to be able to brush this off with a casual “fuck that” but, as is often the case with these things, truisms hold….well, truth.  Every time I’ve applied for a grant, I’ve learned about myself, honed my project, produced useful abstracts, and strengthened the armor that protects me in the face of rejection. So, when it came time to decide whether or not I would apply to Clarion West, I decided to just go ahead and learn from the process. To be fair to myself, I suppose there’s a chance I’ll get in.  But it’s the tiniest snowball’s chance in the deepest layer of Dante’s inferno. More so, I applied because I wanted to see if the application process was as useful

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Out of the gate

Given the political and social stresses of the world around us, and how dead and depressed I felt at the end of 2016, I knew I would be in massive amounts of trouble if I didn’t take a firm hand with 2017.  So, I went back over my planners from the year (I keep one for to-do lists and one for long-term goals), rooted out all of my best days and weeks, and looked for commonalities between them.  Then I made a set of systems based on my “best day habits” and launched them on January 1st. It’s been going pretty well, so far.  As long as I don’t procrastinate what I know works for me, I get stuff done, feel healthy, and make strides toward year end goals.  So I thought I would share some of the habits that are helping me out, in case you’re looking for ideas. Here’s what works for me… A.M. Meditation: I’ve always worked

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Surviving four years of trump

This election cycle was god awful, and somehow the results are worse.  Maybe because they were a surprise?  Or maybe because the man who won is the most hateful, fearful, horrible, erratic person to ooze his way across the political field, at least in my lifetime. He wants to screw with my healthcare.  He wants to suppress my rights as a gender non-conformant person.  He wants to control the female-sexed parts of my body. And beyond me–because I am capable of considering such things–he wants to ruin the lives of people of color.  He wants to deport Muslims.  He wants to deport immigrants and stem the arrival of refugees.  He wants to destroy trade agreements and international diplomacy. He wants to build walls, deny climate change, and demonize legitimate journalism.  He wants to appoint more of his ilk. All in the name of making America great again… I am struggling to process the results of this election not only because

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Holloway project accountability

The beta copy of my novel is officially in the hands of my readers.  My first tea industry event is under my belt. Now to the non-fiction project. I’m going to be honest.  This is not going to be easy for me.  I love the life I’ve built free of academic rigamarole and full of Magic, tea, and forests. But I know if I don’t finish this project now, I never will.  And I know I would regret leaving it incomplete, not only because I hate backing down from a challenge, but also because I am curious what this non-fiction piece will become post-defense–what kind of animal it’ll morph into outside of the confines of tenure-track requirements and academic presses. I am.  I’m curious.  There, that’s a spark.  Easier already… To make it even easier on myself, though, I’ve set some completion benchmarks, and I want to share them here in the name of accountability *   *   * BEST CASE

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Fiction editing: lessons from the read-aloud, continued

It took me a month away from this site, all of my mornings, most of my evenings, and lunch hour scribble time, but the Beta copy is finished.  I’ve voiced every character, looked at every scene, solved final plot points, and slammed out a finish. The next thing on my list: Send this version to beta readers for comments on continuity, consistent character, plot holes, pace, and whatever else they feel needs said. Terrifying and exhilarating.  My characters out in the world! But before I do that, I want to share just a few last lessons from this portion of the editing process, in the hopes they will be helpful to other writers, as always. Lesson eighteen: Know thyself (and thy tics) As you go about your read-aloud, you will probably notice that there are certain words or syntactical tics that you encounter all. the. damn. time.  Your job will be to recognize this and pare the hell down. For

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