Do you re-read your own blog?

While I’m re-reading other people’s old blogs, I wound up back at my own, thanks to feMOMhist who linked to the spring 2012 writing group. Wow, I sounded so together so much of the time, and I was actually so.damned.tired. most of the time. Writing was definitely incremental that semester. Must keep this in mind when planning for next year. Well. I will definitely not organize any more conferences. That was the most painful thing. But I really liked those inspirational quotes. Apparently other people did too. Nice to get inspired and feel I did some good in the world, that year!

Thursday, 10 May

“Just as a complicated mathematical formula is a system of brackets within brackets set out in space, so Burden’s mental life of attention and concentration is chopped up into a series of interruptions extended in time.  Day after day after day appears to him in retrospect as a series of frustrated attempts to pick up the broken thread of what was to have been the main business of the day before.  All the time spent on that main business has been spent in getting back to the starting line, no progress whatever has been made and he seems to himself to have wasted the entire day.  Like Alice Through the Looking Glass, he is out of breath with running at full speed in order to keep up with himself remaining in the same place.”

Owen Barfield, This Ever Diverse Pair (London: Gollancz, 1950; rpt. Barfield Press 2010), 37.

Tuesday, 8 May

“Over and over again I have started writing about something really interesting or useful—classical stuff, matters of public interest, the Lord knows what—only to be pulled up with a jerk.  Just as I am getting absorbed in it, up comes Burden.  ‘Hi!’ he says.  ‘I want you!  You must stop that!’  I stop  with a wrench and an abiding grudge against him.  And when five or six weeks later there is a chance to start again, I shrink from re-absorption—remembering the wrench.  You can’t really write with any force about anything on which you are never allowed to fix your attention.”

Owen Barfield, This Ever Diverse Pair (London: Gollancz, 1950; rpt. Barfield Press 2010), 4.

All good things must come to an end

So here we are on the last Friday of our spring 2012 writing group (week 13, if you’re counting).  There will be a 15-week summer group at amstr’s site, starting 14 May.

This has been the last teaching week of my semester.  I feel simultaneously that the term went very quickly and took a long time doing it.  I’m feeling snowed under with grading, conference paper, other projects, and bits of Life Admin, and every time I sit down I remember something else I should be doing.

And yet this is what happens at the end: the loose ends somehow do get wrapped up.  Grades get assigned, papers get presented, the flurry of tasks swirls madly for awhile and then settles down.  Let’s think about where we’ve been, before moving on.

What have you achieved in the last thirteen weeks?  What helped you get writing done?  What obstacles did you acknowledge, name, and cope with?  Whether you exceeded, met, or fell short of the goals you set in February, you’ve made some progress.  Recognize and celebrate that forward progress; think about how to capitalize on what you have gained from this spring’s efforts.

Thanks for being here.

25 July 1994

“We decided to pay our manuscripts a visit [in the British Library].  Harold’s were in the familiar, and efficient, green-box files.  Mine were in a smart woman’s shopping bags: Jean Juir, Ferragamo, The White House, Christian Dior, stuffed with tacky and tatty proofs and papers.  I couldn’t resist it: I took out my phial of Miss Dior perfume from my purse and sprayed my manuscripts.  Harold looks up from his inspection of his early works, which he has quite forgotten about: ‘That is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in a  library.  I shall never forget it.’  I’m hoping the perfume will steal upon the sense of some researcher in a thousand years’ time.”

Antonia Fraser.  Must You Go? My life with Harold Pinter.  New York: Doubleday, 2012.  219.

1985 editorial comment

“I really couldn’t enjoy Los Angeles, despite meeting the famous as above, until I started to work on my new book on Warrior Queens in the library of UCLA.  I simply wasn’t used to a life of doing nothing in a hotel and it produced melancholy . . . .  It was a city, we found, where people worked hard on films and went to bed early; it didn’t suit our way of life of roistering and relaxing after the theater.”

Antonia Fraser.  Must You Go? My life with Harold Pinter.  New York: Doubleday, 2012.  182.

Sounds good to me: a city where people go to bed early and are about early in the morning.  I could live with that.

26 May [1978]

“[John Fowles] and I discuss fans’ letters which ask for advice.  His is, briefly: ‘Those who need to ask how to be a writer will never make it.’  Mine, to married women wanting to be ‘a writer like you’: ‘You need to be a very, very selfish person.’  No doubt households, hitherto peaceful, are being widely disrupted where the wife has taken my advice.”

Antonia Fraser.  Must You Go? My life with Harold Pinter.  New York: Doubleday, 2012.  116.

3 June [1978]

“We interviewed Vidia Naipaul . . . . Vidia reveals that he writes fiction and non-fiction quite differently—typewriter v. hand-writing.  I love hearing details of writers’ craft, as cannibals eat the brains of clever men to get cleverer.”

Antonia Fraser.  Must You Go? My life with Harold Pinter.  New York: Doubleday, 2012.  105.

30 July [1975]

In the face of vicious reports from gossip columnists, Antonia Fraser “Forced myself to write my weekly review for the Evening Standard (I had been chief non-fiction reviewer for several years).  I sat in Diana’s garden in my long flowered cotton ‘writing-dress’ and a red hat against the intense heat.”

Antonia Fraser.  Must You Go? My life with Harold Pinter.  New York: Doubleday, 2012.  30.

Spring 2012 Writing Group, week 12: Dedicated Space

This week’s theme is space, in various senses: first, amstr is offering a space for the Summer 2012 writing group.  Go on over and sign up if you’re interested!

Then we have space in the sense of physical places in which to write.  I am fortunate in having a study at home as well as an office at work.  However, at the moment Glendower has taken over the study.  He cannot let papers be.  And he doesn’t just shove them onto the floor; he also chews on them.  Worse yet, he loves to chew on power cords.  Dude, if I had wanted a puppy I would have adopted a puppy.  Ditto for rabbits.  Anyway, I can’t leave anything plugged in or spread out in my study, and I have rather got used to leaving a project lying around so that when I see it I start work on it.  This is sort of like leaving an unfinished sentence when you stop writing for the day.  I’ve been trying to work on the couch downstairs, but that has its drawbacks.  Since both Glendower and Basement Cat need playtime (but not at the same time), it’s hard to get time to go out to a coffee shop or library; I keep trying to work on the couch while tossing mylar balls for someone.

Even worse, my laptop has died.  I can write on an old one that is slow and uses old versions of programs I commonly use, but it doesn’t have a wireless card.  Thus, no internet access at home.

So, not the best of weeks.  I’m hoping to get into a better headspace next week.

Roll call:

Amstr: 1) notes/annotations on the articles I’ve read in the past couple weeks, 2) complete my introduction (add 2-3 key pages at the beginning, fill in some blank paragraphs) and send it off to my writing partner.


Contingent Cassandra: work on ancillary tasks related to the P project.

DEH: 20 minutes on teaching days, 2 hours each on Wednesday and Friday (I will see if I can schedule a writing date with a buddy), and another hour on Saturday. I hope that will get me a presentable conference paper draft.

EAM: Write an hour a day.

FeMOMhist: Foot front, do best.

GEW: Buy plane tix to UK so I can go to my uni and meet with my supervisor at the end of May. Re-read current draft and make notes for changes and next steps.

Ink: survive the grading avalanche and get two new pages done!

JaneB: write 500 words worth of actual coherent sentences on the funding idea I came up with from free-writing, and go over the revisions to the R&R we got for the paper with my post-doc (she drafted it, now I get to polish/check/add to it). Anything else will be a bonus.

JLiedl: Complete the draft.

kiwimedievalist: Write up the 1,000 word proposal by Wednesday, so I can post three copies of everything to the other side of the world… Then shine it up a bit more, before sending to the other uni in the Centre.

Luo Lin: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday; 1 hour Wednesday.

Matilda: finishing my presentation and hopefully some developments with it.

Nancy Warren: this week is all about the Kalamazoo paper, which I hope to get drafted.

profgrrrl: excused absence.

Rented Life: Apply to 2 jobs. (One I’m unsure on, but will need an interview to get more info.) Read one chapter. Anything else is bonus.

Sapience: another 10-15 pages of revision. Might be less depending on how much harder the hard part is.