Monthly Archives: May 2012

Update

My dissertation is coming along…slowly.  I set a new deadline for myself.  We’ll see how this one works out.  The good news is that I finished the coding, so finishing the rest does not seem nearly as overwhelming as it did last week at this time.  The bad news is that I do not think it is going to be done by the end of next week, which means that pursuing my fiction-writing project will probably need to be postponed until July.  Once I have turned in the first draft to my advisor, I am hoping that I will feel the weight lifted from my shoulders and won’t feel guilty over spending my time writing fiction.  However, June is going to be a busy month for me, so I do not think it is a good month to try the write-a-novel-in-a-month thing.  July or August may be better.  On the other hand, turning in the first draft is only a first step: there will probably be major revisions and things I need to add.  One step at a time though.

Despite putting my new project on hold while I finish up the dissertation, writing is still something I will be working on.  Revising the diss, finishing the last chapter of the diss, writing some more entries here on my blog, repeating myself in my journal (I tend to feel like I write the same type of things over and over)…these are all exercises in the craft of writing.  So, I am not terribly worried about falling away from my dreams.  I’ll still be working on them in some form.

As far as this blog is concerned, I have had some things on my mind lately, so, while they may not all be directly related to writing, I have decided not to worry so much about the relevance of my posts.  The things I think and feel and believe all inform who I am as a person and that informs my writing, so in that regard they’re relevant.  And you know, one day, when I am a famous author (ha!) people will want to know these things about me.  Until then, at least they’ll serve to amuse me.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Time, time, time – where do you go?

Wow, it has been two weeks since I’ve posted anything.  I swear, as I get older time seems to speed up.  It slips away so quickly.

Well, I am still not finished with my dissertation.  I still have not started my write-a-book-in-a-month project.  And I still do not have a job.  What have I been doing for the past two weeks?  I am not entirely sure.  How does the time fly by so quickly without any visible productivity on my part?  *sigh* I have been distracted with a video game – one that has not even been officially released yet.  I have upgraded my computer to play said video game. I have 25 new books on my Nook.  I sent out one job application.  And I coded 50 articles.  In two weeks, these are my accomplishments.  That accounts for maybe 20 hours of work, in 14 days.  *sigh*

I have always had a problem with motivation and procrastination.  Stick a deadline in my way and I will wait until the last minute, BUT it is enough to get my butt in gear and I WILL finish.  I always have.  Give me all the time in the world to finish a project and I putz around and never finish it.  And giving myself deadlines has never worked very well.

So here I am.  A month before said game releases.  At the end of my self-imposed deadline to finish the dissertation.  On the verge of the summer.  Responsibilities piling up and what am I doing?  I am researching Fall 2012 television premieres.  There are a few really interesting looking shows, but there is so much I have to get done between now and then!!

That is all.  I have not abandoned my writing dreams.  I have not forgotten about my blog.  I am just trying to find a way to force myself to deal with the responsibilities I am dreading, especially finishing the dissertation.

Like driving an old car without power-steering, I am trying to turn myself around to get back on track, but it feels like I just keep putting one hand over the other, over and over, turning that wheel…

Any ideas to motivate myself?

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Nook Books and Cyber Writers

That was my attempt at rhyming.  That was the best I could do.  This is why I don’t write poetry.

I just got a Nook!  And I love it!

Originally, I resisted the e-reader.  I was considering it mostly for school, so that I could use it for articles, because I HATE reading things on the computer.  Not websites and blogs, but PDFs or stories.  Unless it is an exceedingly long article, I usually print out the articles I use for my academic work.  I realize this can be construed as a waste of paper, but it is the only way I can force myself to read them.  This way I can highlight, take notes and feel like I am engaging with the material.  There is something about being able to sift through papers, the feel of flipping to a new page.    This is also why I am convinced the physical book will never die, despite the convenience of the e-reader.  And nothing smells quite as comforting as an old book.

Well, none of the e-readers seem to support the functions I originally wanted in one.  (The possible exception is the I-Pad, but that is far too expensive for me at the moment.  One day, maybe.  You know, when there is something far cooler available that I still won’t be able to afford.)  This is probably because the e-reader was not designed for the academic, but for the more general reader, something of which this world has far more.

I would also like to point out at this time, because there are certain stories I can’t help but tell, that my 10-year old self was prophetic regarding the e-reader.  First, to give you some idea of how long ago this was, going to the movies cost less than $3.00, you could fill up your car with gas for about $15.00, the U.S. president ate jelly beans, and the future was Back to the Future.  My 10-year old self started writing a story called, Escape?  Descriptive, huh?  Anyway, it took place in the future.  There were aliens and spaceships and…electronic handheld diaries, in which the main character stored all her books, reference materials and wrote in her diary.  She lamented the loss of the feel of a paper book in her hand, but as her family was to embark on a long space voyage, there simply wasn’t room for physical books.  Yeah, I suppose it was inevitable that computers would get smaller and smaller. Nevertheless, I like to think it was prophetic of my 10-year old self.

Today, many years later, I finally have my own handheld diary…except, I can only read on it.  I decided to finally cave in and buy one because my interest in its capabilities have changed.  Ever since I decided that, once I am done with the Ph.D., I need to start working on my creative writing again, I have been thinking about the self-published e-books already available.  I have come across a variety that I want to read, but like I said above, I HATE reading on my computer.  I can’t snuggle with my laptop in bed.  So, my reasons for wanting an e-reader shifted.  Instead of wanting one to aid in research, I started wanting one for its intended purpose: fun reading.

I was also thinking that I should probably know what kinds of things are being self-published, because, when the time comes, chances are that, if I want my book published, I will have to do it myself.  Today, this is a much more exciting prospect than it was 10 years ago.  So, just like “writers read,” I figure “self-published authors read self-published novels.” And I’m having a ball so far.  SO much interesting stuff available.  It never ceases to amaze me the depths of people’s imaginations, even with a story that has been told time and again.

Which leads me to my next point: Cyber Writers.  You guys are awesome!

This is the first blog I’ve started that has had a well-defined theme involving a subject to which I am dedicated.  It is also my first blog to have actual readers.  Before I started it I was convinced that no one wanted to read yet another blog about writing.  There are so many out there already.  What I failed to consider was that it does not matter:  writers write and writers read, and writers write and read about writing.  Just in the couple of weeks since I’ve started this, I feel like I’ve learned so much.

And my eyes have been opened to the writing community.  There are so many of us, from those with several books already under the belt to virtual beginners like myself.  And it seems like there are so many supportive, encouraging voices out there.  Such a wonderful community.  I really appreciate that and I thought I would let you all know.

Y’all are awesome!  Thanks!

 

Categories: Miscellaneous, Random Ruminations, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feeling like a fraud

There is something that has been gnawing at the back of my mind for the past couple of days.  I am sure many can relate.  Nevertheless, I fear it may be holding me back.  Here goes: I am afraid that I am a big, fat writing fraud.

First of all, this feeling like a fraud is really nothing new to me.

I went through almost all of grad school this way.  In my experience, it is rare to find graduate students (or professors, for that matter) who are open and honest about who they are and how they feel.  It is all a big charade.  We prance around, spouting off bullshit, pretending like we have everything together.  (I believe this is also an apt description of what we call “life.”)

“Aw man, I didn’t get a chance to read the articles for this week.” 

This statement may or may not be a gross exaggeration, but a proper translation would read,

“I want to know how prepared you are for class, so I know I won’t be the only one bullshitting my way through discussion.”

“Oh, that’s rough,” accompanied by a pitying look. 

Translation:

“Oh, good, I won’t be the only one bullshitting my way through discussion.  And thank you for saying it first because now no one has to know that I didn’t read any of the articles either.”

Of course, “not reading any articles” usually means just reading the introductions, the conclusions and skimming the rest.  What no one tells you – they let you figure it out all on your own – is, that is reading the articles.  In academia, anyway.  None of us reads the whole article or the whole book, or very rarely.  When, in one week, you have four books and twenty articles to read, along with the 60 papers from your undergrads that you promised you would give back to them in a timely fashion for once, it is nigh near physically impossible to read the whole books or articles.  Unless perhaps you don’t need any sleep, only get hungry once a week, don’t have any hobbies, and have absolutely no social life, but even then I imagine it would be a stretch.

So, when a grad student comments to another grad student,

“Aw man, I didn’t get a chance to read the articles for this week,”

what he really means to say is,

“Am I doing it right?”

To which the response is usually,

“No.  I am doing it better than you.”

But this is only because no one wants to admit that they are stumbling along, just like everyone else.  Successfully convincing other grad students that you are reading all your articles, not writing your papers the night before, and finishing grading in a timely fashion, all while cooking healthy meals, exercising on a daily basis, hanging out with friends twice a week and managing to find time to attend local concerts on a bi-weekly basis, allows you to feel good about yourself.  But it is all bullshit.  No one can manage all that unless she’s Wonder Woman.  There are a couple of Wonder Womans in grad school, but the vast majority of us are just plain Janes pretending we’re Wonder Woman.

It does not matter that I figured this out, I still felt like a fraud most of the time.  Like, I got where I was by pure accident, that someday someone will finally notice and I’ll kicked out of the club.  I am almost done and I still feel like this sometimes.

All that to say, I am familiar with this feeling.

So, when I start to hear myself thinking,

“You can’t do this.  It has been over 20 years since you’ve had a creative writing class,”

or

“You can’t do this.  All those other people – authors, other people who blog about writing – they write all the time.  You don’t deserve to be called a writer,”

or

“You can’t do this.  You waited too long.  Any creative juices you had wasted away while you were in grad school,”

I try not to listen.  I know these things do not have to be true.  It doesn’t always work.  Recently I’ve been feeling like a fraud when it comes to writing.

I’ve said this before, but I started this blog to document my journey back to creative writing.  In part, it is my way to stay excited about the prospect.  In part, it is my way to continue fostering the desire while I finish up my dissertation.  (So tired of the dissertation!)  I have also realized that, without knowing it, it is also a way for me to be connected with other writers, which is mostly a source of amazing encouragement.  Just being able to read about other people’s experiences ensures me that I am not alone.

Although, sometimes this makes me feel like I did when I first started grad school: overwhelmed and underqualified.  And in some ways, the journey is like a new beginning.  In some ways it does feel like I am starting something new, because it has been so long.  But instead of being excited about the journey, I just see a long, long road.

I will read about something someone learned in their creative writing class and feel like I have vague memory of learning something similar.  I will start to sweat and think

“Oh, no, I can’t start writing yet.  There are so many things I have to learn and re-learn.”

Or

“I have to be deliberate about how I write.  I can’t just write.”

Sometimes I will read about someone who writes prolifically and I will especially like a fraud then, because, well, I don’t.  I think about writing all the time, but I am not writing all the time.  Sometimes I go for days without writing anything at all.

These feelings tell me that I have no right to have a blog about writing.  I need to feel like a writer before I can write about writing.  Then I remember that I never claimed anywhere that I was an awesome writer who wrote perfectly all the time.  I started this blog so that I could document my journey to becoming a fiction writer.  And these feelings are part of that journey.

I have the sneaking suspicion, though, that these feelings are trying to prevent me from writing.  That’s not cool.

Learning how to construct an engaging, well-written story involves a LOT, and there is no doubt that there is a LOT I need to learn, or re-learn as the case may be.  But I cannot let any of that prevent me from just writing already.  Even if it I think it sounds stupid.  Even if it does not seem to be flowing.  Even if I start to not like my main character.  I will learn all these things, but not if I don’t write.

I was about to say that just writing is especially important for the stage I am at, but this is probably true no matter what stage a person is at.  Also, I will probably have to remind myself of this over and over again.  I hope I don’t end up sounding like a broken record.

I am not a fraud, I am just inexperienced.  That will come with time, as long as I write.  And write.  And keep writing.  Write without looking back.  I’ll pick up my lessons along the way.

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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