The Writers’ Trust Workshop Blog: Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge

The Writers’ Trust Workshop Blog: Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge.

Interesting thoughts on the writing process.

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AP Reading – Day 3!

Day 3 of the Reading, and man was it a rough day! My day started at 4 AM – yes, you read that correctly – FOUR AM when I received not one, but TWO, count ’em, two text messages. They were sent from Arlington, VA, which is of course, two hours ahead, which means that had I been at home, I would have already been awake to receive the texts (which was about a traffic delay, by the way…see what happens when you sign up to get emergency messages from your county? You find out all kinds of interesting things at all kinds of interesting hours). As it was, I was rudely awakened by the first text, and then about 10 minutes later the second one came through. I had a very difficult time getting back to sleep. By the time I finally drifted off, my alarm went off (this time actually at 6, local time), and I felt that awful kind of drowsy that you feel when you’ve been woken from a deep sleep and not at the proper point of your sleep cycle. It was not a happy morning.

I actually did manage to get myself over to the convention center in time enough for a leisurely breakfast, despite the rude awakening. Had breakfast, and went to buy my coffee (remember, the coffee offered by the convention center is very weak and kind of yukky) only to find that my coffee shop that has been my lifeline the last two days was closed. CLOSED. On a Tuesday. I didn’t understand. I still don’t understand. It was just, well, awful. How was I expected to function on disrupted sleep and no coffee, I ask you? I made it to the break, barely, and chugged down some of the awful, weak coffee. Bleah. Just bleah.

It’s OK, though. I have a line on a Starbucks that’s about a block from the convention center, and I plan on going there first thing tomorrow morning. In fact, I may go there even before I grab breakfast, because this whole “no coffee” thing just is NOT working for me.

(Plus, it really wouldn’t be fair to the students either.)

As for the Reading itself, I think I’ve got the rubric under my belt, despite an overly sleepy and under caffeinated day. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, though. I tend to have these peaks and troughs with the rubric – sometimes I’ve got it, and other times it unravels and dissipates like so much smoke. (Yes, I did mix that metaphor. Get over it.) One of the things that’s pretty cool about this rubric is that we’re looking not just for the student to show mastery of the skill of thesis writing, or evidence, or comparison, but we’re also asking for some plain old good writing as well. The watch-phrase has been “Show, don’t tell.” Don’t tell us there’s a similarity…show it. Kind of cool, huh?

Day four tomorrow, and who knows what kind of writing it will bring? Hopefully I’ll see some really good ones! I had a few that were quite good this morning, and then a string of … well … yes. I’ll just leave that to lie there, shall I?

The obligatory New Year’s Resolutions entry

New Year’s Resolutions? Last year I had all kinds of resolutions. Get in shape. Get healthy. Lose weight. Read 100 books in a year. That was not the best one, given that I managed to read 60 last year. Not bad, really. I’ve made a new resolution, which is to read 70 books in 2012. This is definitely a resolution that I can keep.

My second resolution is to write something every day. Starting with 750words.com should help, I think. I’ve got a challenge to meet – write 750 words every day. that’s actually a lot of writing, but I think I should probably be able to do it. I will count any writing I do for class, as well as anything else that I decide to do. I think that getting into the habit of writing will be good for me, and I really enjoy writing, and have been wanting to do it, so I might as well just….well, do it. Ha ha! Let’s see. Check in on me in a few weeks.

So, reading and writing, easy peasey. I’d like to add a blogging resolution – I’d like to be sure to post once a week. If I’m writing every day, weekly postings to my blog should be easy too, right? We’ll see what happens once work and school start back up again. Again, check up on me.

So far I’ve got reading 70 books in a year. I’ve got writing 750 words a day. I’m going to post weekly. What about music? I’d like to play more music, if possible. I’ve got a new quartet starting up, and it looks like we’ll try to meet on a semi-regular basis, and they want to play Beethoven, so that’s seriously exciting. It would be really good to get to know those quartets better, and get them better under my fingers. Speaking of, I’d better practice a bit tomorrow! I’m playing next weekend!!

That leaves health. I think I’d like to do what the Zen Habits blog talked about – change a habit, rather than talk about losing weight. So my first habit to work on, the one I’m going to work on for the month of January, is to start exercising again. So I will be adding a new habit this year. Several, actually. I’m adding a writing habit and a walking habit. I already have a reading and music playing habit, so those won’t be new ones. I’ll be walking a bit every day. Today I walked for about 40 minutes. I walked for about 20 minutes yesterday and 15 on the day before. My goal for this month is to walk at least 20 minutes a day and try to walk for longer on Saturdays and Sundays. I’d like to walk outside as much as possible with a goal of walking in a particular route with a stopping and starting point. For example, walking around Roosevelt island today was easy and it went really quickly. It was pretty, and I was listening to an audio book, which made the time go pretty fast. I don’t remember where I read about that idea as a way to help out the exercise habit, but it is definitely a good one. Outside is nice too because the walking can be more challenging in some ways than on a treadmill. Plus more interesting. However, if it’s nasty out, then I’ve got the gym to go back to. And I’m sure we’ll have some days that are just nasty, since we haven’t had much in the way of snow yet, and it’s got to be coming, it just has to. (Do I hear snow day, anyone?!)

So instead of resolutions, I’ve got habits. I think these new habits will be good. I think that I will be able to start and keep these new habits. And if not, well…as I said, check up on me.

Does size matter?

Not in THAT sense, silly.

I was just trying to wade my way through the 600 plus posts in my Google Reader, and I came across one particularly loooooong entry. And while I was interested in what the blogger had to say (no, I won’t say who), my attention wandered rather quickly.

My question to you, dear reader is what is the ideal blog entry length? 100 words? 250 words? 500? To give you an idea, this post is about 100 words (give or take). My post from yesterday was about 350 words.

Who’s afraid of the big blank screen?

Well, I’d be lyin’ if I said not I, but it’s a heck of a lot less scarier than it used to be.

Huh? I hear you say.  “Whatchoo talkin’ about, Ms. H?”

Well, I would like to point out that as of this writing, it is December 1, 2010.  That means that NaNoWriMo ended yesterday.  And I won.  Barely.  I eked it out.  And I think that they have a grace period for verifying your word count (Shh! Don’t tell them!), because I verified at five past 12am, and was still declared a winner.  I don’t feel like I cheated, mind you.  Because I didn’t.  At midnight, I had 49,700 some odd words.  Five minutes later I was at the magic number.

Which is not at all the point.  (“Would you get to the point?!” I hear you cry.)  Apologies.  I got fewer than five hours of sleep last night, and then went and taught 10th graders for most of the day.  You’re lucky I’m even this coherent (which isn’t very, I know).

So here’s my point.

When I woke up this morning, I was convinced that I would not want to do ANY writing today.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch. Niente.

But here I am.  Moments ago, I sat down to my computer with an irresistible urge to write.  Something.  Anything.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the whole point of NaNoWriMo (in this writer’s opinion).  Just get out there and WRITE.  All the writers say it – it’s not just about talent, it’s about seat time.

So if NaNoWriMo can get me to write my butt off for a month (well, ok, the bulk of it was a “hail Mary” pass over the last week) and then I still want to write, then I would say that’s a good thing, wouldn’t you?

Thank you to the wonderful people at NaNoWriMo for hosting this wild ride, and I look forward to doing it again next year.

But could someone please hit me over the head with something heavy and remind me that the whole 1667 words a day is MUCH MUCH MUCH more fun and doable than 30,000 words in the final week?  Please?  Thanks in advance.

Don’t forget to check out my winner badge!  It’s over there! →