Writing Journal 9.1.2021: The start of teaching… and no difference in production? Really?

Yeah, just easing into September… and restarting teaching again, in a new district, and… it’s going well. The staff have been great to work with, and I’m starting to get to know the kids and getting into the routines of another school year.

It’s been a bizarre week to be honest. After having my young adult daughter and son living with us in our comfy home for the past half year, we are suddenly going to find ourselves empty nesters once again. Daughter Madeline has returned to her studies on campus at the University of Iowa, while my son happened upon a new job in Des Moines doing maintenance for a hotel. I’ve never been a maintenance kind of guy, but I do envy him living in the heart of a bit city with just a five-minute walk to work. I’m hoping those are just the start of their adventures.

As for myself, I am surprised that my production for this past week was statistically unchanged from the previous week – essentially, not a star turn but not total rubbish, either. I was hoping to have better production over the weekend, but that was not to be and my Labor Day weekend looks to be busy. So, we will see. I have had some hard words this week to get out, but I powered through it and glad with what I have gotten.

On another note, remember when, among other things, I bemoaned not having an Alphasmart anymore? Well, I managed to get myself an Alphasmart Neo 2 in very good condition. Once I get a proper USB cord for it, I just might start putting it to use. Wish me luck.

And, as always, here’s the stats. Stay safe out there – things are getting a bit more virusy as we get into fall.

Writing statistics for the week ending 8.28.2021:
+2,676 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 6.12.2021: June is starting off rough, but I’m hoping for a turnaround

[OBLIGATORY AT THIS POINT PHOTO NOTE: Since we are now well into June and everyone is thinking of sun and warm days, I decided to use a photo my wife recently took of our local waterpark/pool. She’s been spending a lot of time there, not to get rays, but due to the fact that the city owns it and she (as city manager) is trying to help out due to some short-staffing issues. Anyway…]

Yup, as I feared during my last writing journal, this past week’s writing totals stunk up the joint. I think that they might actually be the worst weekly totals of the entire year. (Lies – One week back in January I had half the total of last week’s.) I’m going to put it down to pure procrastination and end-of-school-year vibes. As I write this, I’m hopeful that the extra time I’m going to have will give me more opportunities to write.

Picture related

So, with all that said, and not much else to say for this post, here’s the numbers for last week. Short and sweet – hope the summer is getting to a good start.

Writing totals for the week ending 6.5.2021:
+976 words written.
Days writing:  3 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 0 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 3.27.2021: I did better this week… sort of. A vacation is a vacation.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE 3/28/2021, 12:38 p.m. Central Time: I have no idea why this published Sunday rather than Saturday like I had intended. Must have pushed the wrong electronic button. Carry on.]

PHOTO NOTE: This was what popped up when I did a Pexels image search for “spring break.” You’re welcome.

Hi, everyone.

As with the past few journals, I’m keeping this one short. However, I do feel gratified that my plan to put out these journals seems to be working out. Reporting on the previous week’s work the Saturday after that week rather than the very next day (Sunday) seems to have taken more than a little bit of the deadline pressure off.

The previous week’s writings went… not bad. There was a bit more production from me, but not consistently – spring break and all that. I’m rather looking forward to the summer break… after 50 or so more days of school from now until early June.

There’s a little more than just that behind things… but I’ll let that sit for a while. As usual, I want to try and keep this totally focused on writing… although, as you have seen before, it crosses into the personal more than a few times.

My mental moods often play a role into my productivity. I am always in a better mood if I am productive, to some degree, with my writing. If I manage to get my quota done for the day, I always feel like I accomplished something. I tend to be more productive when I am in a positive frame of mind. When I’m in a negative mind-set, however, especially if I’m feeling depressed or hopeless about something, there are some of those times that I feel like I don’t want to write anything. I think that’s a shame, because if I can be productive, that can cheer me up. I will have to think about how I can do that more to help in those situations, but they are not common and becoming less so.

Speaking of mental moods – we just celebrated my daughter’s birthday on March 21. It’s bizarre that I never knew her for the first nearly thirty years of my life and now that she has turned 19, I can’t picture life without her. I may be a softie, but I have been happy to have her at home this spring as she continues to attend U of Iowa virtually due to the pandemic. I’m going to have a birthday soon, but that’s just another thing to me. 🙂

What could I do to try and make things a challenge this week? How about… I actually try and work on some non-journal blogs when I have the time? Am I going to promise you that I’ll get one of them done? No, but I’m going to see if I can’t work on that blog post maybe… three times this week? (I’ll try and report my success or lack of it as soon as I can. EDIT: Mission accomplished.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Given the change in my format and schedule for releasing these journals, I am now dating them on the Saturday of the week it covers. Previously, the dates were on the Sunday of the previous week.

Week of 3.20.2021:
+5,858 words written.
Days writing:  5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for  0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

A Writer’s Biography, Volume II, Part 7: Letting the past go

I’ve moved four times in just over 20 years. It’s not gotten easier with time. You want to know what it has taught me? Owning stuff is overrated. Even if it is something you have created or treasured.

Yes, I did wind up owning that amount of books. I wound up donating about four boxes worth to Goodwill or the local library. Recently, I’ve had to become very choosy about how many books are in my collection.

It’s a funny situation.

In the summer of 2020, I wound up being the last adult at my house for a couple months. My wife, Laura, had managed to find a great job opportunity in southern Iowa. It was going to be a brave new world for me, who had spent most of my life living in Eastern Iowa, and my wife and two kids, who had lived there for all of their lives.

My wife had actually moved the fall before to our new hometown, installing herself in an efficiency apartment near her work while returning to our home on the weekends and holidays. I’m not sure I really hinted at it that much on this blog at the time, but Summer 2019 – Summer 2020 was one of the weirdest times in my life and my family’s life. I was trying to keep things together – not often perfectly – while working a job that I knew I was going to be leaving at the end of the year. Laura felt like she was missing out on our daughter’s senior year, but she was being too unfair – she had always been part of our kids’ activities and lives, and this was something she was doing for all of us. And, of course, we had COVID happen in the middle of everything and both disrupt my daughter’s senior year, delay my son’s post-high school training, and stop my lame duck year at my school district dead in its tracks.

The biggest change, and the biggest challenge for us, was the house that we had spent the last 12-13 years in. The kids had spent the vast majority of their remembered childhoods in that home. It was the largest home I’ve ever lived in. And we had to clear it out and move whatever we were going to move halfway across the state within a few months.

What we were dealing with after 12-13 years of living in one house with two growing kids. This was our basement circa Spring 2020.

As you can see, there was a lot of stuff to deal with. It included kid junk from several eras of childhood, both my kids’ and my own. It included nick-knacks on top of nick-knacks obtained on a whim for long-forgotten reasons. There was stuff stored behind other stuff and underneath still more stuff that had been long forgotten about by both myself and my wife. There was at least one big pile of newspapers filled with my ramblings about long-forgotten council meetings or interviews with fifth-string candidates in the Iowa Caucuses. Some of it was just short of trash, decorations for holidays that had been made snacks of by the occasional mouse.

All of those things we spent a lifetime collecting and keeping for “when we needed it.” Until the day came when we didn’t need it anymore.

I remembered a specific time when I was faced with a pile of those old newspapers, reminders of a career past when I did my best to let people know about their community even though not everyone read those stories. For a while, they defined who I was.

I sent that entire pile out to the trash hauler. I will tell you that getting rid of that was a massive relief.

There were many nick-knacks that I had kept over the years, items that long lost their meaning. Those went into the hauler, or over to Goodwill. There were so many clothes that I kept just to keep them and they were so far in the back of the closet that they never saw the light of day. I think I remember filling about five or six large black garbage sacks full of clothes and shoes to Goodwill. They got a lot of plus-sized clothes from me, that is for sure.

One thing that I realized:

If you don’t see it and you can’t reach it easily, it’s almost like you don’t own it.

Jason Liegois

There’s very few things that I absolutely had to keep. There are the fiction writings that I’ve generated, off and on, ever since I turned 14. Those are stored in file folders or, nowadays, on external hard drives or flash drives. There are the photos of my family, both hard copies and electronic ones, that we’ve either got up on the walls or stored someplace safe. There are the books that I kept after getting rid of… maybe eight of those boxes of books over the past four years and four of them in that last year alone. If I want a book now, it has to be either high on my list or I go the Amazon Kindle route.

If there is one thing that the move solidified for me, it’s that material things are not the best investment for me. I want to invest in my health and the health of others. I want to spend what excess resources I have on great experiences for me, my wife, and our kids. I want to help them if they need it down the line.

It’s funny, but I’ve been reading (in slow starts and stops) a one-volume copy of The Lord of the Rings. I know a lot of people connect with the humans (naturally) and the elves in that story, but it’s the hobbits that might have made the most connection to me. I can see myself as a version of them, working at a simple job, in a simple hobbit hole in the ground, and spending my time meeting with friends and family over a fire (or maybe watching soccer, lol).

As I get older, I start wanting to simplify things more and more. Leaving some of the things a younger man bought was one of them.

Author’s Note: I debated whether to make this part of the Volume II (my life as a young adult) or the Volume III (my life since I rededicated myself to writing, also known as the present time). By a narrow margin, I decided on titling it in the Volume II section since the things I was getting rid of came from my younger self.

Writing Journal 2.20.2021: It’s nice that I’m not blowing my journal writing deadlines at least

Well, it appears that reporting a week later than I had been was the way to make sure that I didn’t miss my deadline. Who would have thought that as a possibility?

My writing on my fanfic project continues at a steady clip, although I’m now starting to consider a new fantasy world… of my own design. Although I had some good initial experiments and Wonderdraft is turning out to be a good tool, I had to retool my map. And, I think I’m getting something that has promise… but I’ll talk more about it some other time.

With the school year and COVID still on the warpath, I’m doubting that I’ll be able to get out and about for too much having anything to do with books (mine or anyone else’s) or local writers until summer happens. I’m looking forward to that very much.

There’s more than a couple of snow days I’ve had in the past several weeks. At this point school will be ongoing until the first week of June at the very least, although I think the cold is finally going to lift here pretty soon. It does not really matter to me.

I might have some IRL announcements to make on that level… but not yet; I’ll hold off for a while.

Anyway, here’s the stats. I saw a slight improvement over the previous week’s numbers – hope I do even better this week.

Writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

Week of 2.7.2021:
+3,004 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 3 of 7 for 150 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 11.22.2020: Ups and downs over November

Hey, letting everyone know I’m not dead, just procrastinating.

The procrastination affected me two weeks ago, for sure, but I had a great week last week. You’ll see the totals below.

I’m totally stalling on more blog entries. They are coming (maybe), but it’s been hard to self-motivate. I can start to relate to some of my students who absolutely hate doing work in the classroom. I recently read something that procrastination is not something that stems from mental weakness and/or laziness but as an avoidance from unpleasant experiences. That seems to fit with my experiences. Now I think I need to do some research on what I can do to fight that, because it kicks me just as hard as any student.

IRL, my 20-year-old kid has moved back in with us to get himself resettled, more or less. He is living in a totally new community, but he has been game to get adjusted and find work in his field (heating and air conditioning). With my daughter back for Thanksgiving break from her college, we have a packed house… and I’m happy about it.

Anyway, I’m listing the totals before. Hope I see an improvement over the previous year, but I have at least another month to run up the totals, so to speak.

Writers keep writing, and everyone keep safe.

Week of 11.8.2020:
+2,662 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 2 of 7 days.
Week of 11.15.2020:
+6,118 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 180 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Writing Journal, 10.11.2020: Slow start to October, to be honest

Not much to write about for the past two weeks, because… I haven’t been doing much writing. At least, not as much as I want.

Work has been busy, enough so that I’ve looked longingly at my father’s retirement-life schedule. 🙂 But, I am getting through things.

I’ve been a little disappointed that I have not had the mental energy to try and reach out to fellow writers in the Des Moines area or my town’s area to try and network. Part of that is COVID, and part of that has been the grind that any typical school year is.

I think another issue is that I’m beginning to get really over Facebook, which might still be the best way to get in contact with other writers or network. Frankly, if it was not for this blog and its “companion page” on Facebook, I would delete my account for sure. I have deleted the app from my phone for at least the fifth or sixth time and it has stayed off, to my delight.

That’s not to say I’m not online. I’m staying on Reddit and Twitter, although I only go on Twitter sporadically. I spend a lot of time on Archive Of Our Own (AO3), the fan fiction site where I have been posting my most recent writings. There are several stories there I am following, and it has been a great mental break to read stuff there.

I think I will wrap it up there. Not sure if I will continue to post journal entries every two weeks or try and get it back up to weekly. I will see.

The stats for the last two weeks are below. The first week I exceeded my quota: 500 words per day over the week or the planning/revising equivalent (30 minute per day), which would add up to 3,500 words per week or the equivalent. The second week I wasn’t so lucky.

Keep safe, everyone.

Week of 9.27.2020:
+4,151 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 90 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.

Week of 10.4.2020:
+2,228 words written.
Days writing: 4 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 4 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 7.26.2020: Moving my base of operations took a toll on my writing these past two weeks

So, after letting you know what was going on almost a year ago, the move’s finally happened.

I officially transferred the flag, so to speak, to the new home in South Central Iowa about three days ago. It’s all still a new experience to me. I like the new home, even though getting to the master bedroom is a bit of a climb. I do appreciate that it’s smaller and more easily maintainable than the place I lived in for 13 years.

This year is easily going to be the biggest “transition” year of my life for some time. I have one child living and working on his own and the other is preparing to head to college soon (what that will look like is soon to be determined). I am several weeks away from starting a new teaching assignment, though what that will look like is still up in the air, being new to the district and with the current pandemic.

Naturally, with emptying out the old place and cleaning it, and filling the new place and cleaning it, it took a toll on my writing time, especially this past week in the midst of the move. As always, I’ll post the weekly total (in this case, the two-week total) at the end.

Getting your writing environment right is a discussion within itself. I realize now after the fact that I had nailed down my old writing space where I’d spent many a night writing what turned out to be the majority of my written work. Now I am in the process of creating something that will meet my needs. How well I do that and how fast of a process it will take is, again, something yet to be determined.

The good news is that the move has been quite inspirational for me as far as blogging goes. For anyone that just started following this blog, I needed to give a bit of explanation. For as much as my memory can fade or be filled with other items, I never thought that I would be one of those ones who would ever be interested in doing a memoir. To be honest, my own life doesn’t really have the kind of excitement that would attract many readers.

Over the course of this blog, however, I ended up creating a Writer’s Biography of tales, essentially talking about things in my life that had to do with my life and evolution as a writer. In looking back at that collection of stories, however, it appears I have not written a new one in nearly a year. As of right now, this move seems to have inspired no less than three new posts, one for each of the volumes in the collection. (Volume I stories cover topics that had to do with or began during my childhood; Volume II stories cover topics of when I was a young adult, and Volume III stories are about what has happened roughly since I began rededicating myself to writing.)

So, you’ll see that, and likely another link to a video review of the next section of Lord of the Rings that I’ve read. I’m hoping to get all of it down by the time school starts up again.

Also, apparently, I passed the 300-post mark sometime during the past few weeks. Three years and 300 posts, both good numbers.

Anyway, here’s my joke of writing stats for the past two weeks. Enjoy and stay safe.

Week of July 12:
+6,859 words written.
Days writing: 5 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 1 of 7 for 60 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Week of July 19:
+153 words written.
Days writing: 1 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 0 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 7.8.2020 (Delayed from 7.5.2020): An improvement over last week and a good way to start July (even though I’m going to be so busy this month)

I’d just like to start out this entry by saying this is the longest title of any blog post I’ve made up to this point, I think.

So, there’s a whole bunch of things that are distracting from me and writing at this point.

After nearly 20 years of life, my son is now living on his own in the big city of Iowa City, starting his career in HVAC and styling in his own apartment. No matter what we have gone through, I’m still going to worry about him as much as I did when he went to kindergarten for the first time. I literally do not remember when I was not someone’s father at this point, and I am at peace with that.

My daughter and I am the last members of my immediate clan living in my old hometown. I am desperately not trying to crack The Last of Us jokes and failing. In the fall, she is going to attend UIowa and be a chem engineer like her grandfather. She’s so smart and terrific and I hope she knows it.

By the end of the month, I will be reunited with the love of my life in south central Iowa and my daughter will spend some time there before going to Iowa City. My daughter will be learning and not be sure what that will look like; I will be teaching special education in another district and have no idea what that will look like, all due to COVID-19 lol.

So, that’s what I’m dealing with. Essentially, if you get any communication from me this month, be surprised. I will be busy. But, I will still write, because that keeps me sane always.

Anyway, here’s last week’s totals. A better week than last week, at least. I’ll post a blog on my first half of a year the day after this runs. Writers, keep writing, and everyone else stay safe.

6,163+ words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 0 of 7 for 0 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 5 of 7 days.

Writing Journal 6.7.2020: It doesn’t feel like summer… or is it an endless summer?

The new block formatting for WordPress seems a little strange… at least, it seems strange to me. It doesn’t seem as straightforward as the old WordPress system, but I’m guessing that it might allow for some people who want to be more visually creative to spread their wings. I’m more of a written word guy myself.

Not too much to share this week. It is the first “official” day of my summer break, but with the big pandemic I have been more or less out of my classroom since mid-March, so it feels more like an endless pretend summer myself. I started the school year with a wife and two kids and now I have a wife living in another town whom I will soon join while I share my home with two adult kids. It has been an interesting adjustment.

I need to get moving on some items, like other writing projects, getting in contact with people, etc. I need to read what other people have been doing on blogs if I’m hoping others read mine, although the whole point of this blog, other than expressing my interests and thoughts on writing, is to keep me honest about the writing process and keeping up with creating something whether it eventually gets published or not.

Got a good start to June – probably my highest weekly word count yet this year [UPDATE 6.14.2020 – Lies, as my daughter would say. I miscalculated last week. The numbers are now revised.]
All you other writers keep writing and everyone keep safe.

[Editing note: I do not like the fact that there is apparently no quote box anymore and we have to do separate boxes for nearly everything. It’s annoying. If there is a way to do quote boxes still, let me know in the comments.]

+5,696 words written.
Days writing: 6 of 7.
Days revising/planning: 2 of 7 for 90 total minutes.
Daily Writing Goals Met (500+ words or 30 minutes of planning/revisions): 6 of 7 days.