Monday, July 27, 2020

Online it is and random bullets of other news

  • What is happening in the fall? It's official: our undergrad courses are online in the fall unless there's some really pressing need (like lab science courses) to be in person. That's a huge relief. Grad courses: about the same, although I still have an assigned room.
  • Writing inspiration: lately I've been time-tracking rigidly, as in "9:40-9:43 stood up & got a snack." It seems to have helped productivity. 
  • Chasing that writing feeling: But nothing has been as good as when I sat down last night at around 9:45 p.m. and the writing just flowed, for the first time in forever. No anxiety, no fidgeting, just writing. It felt good. At 12:30 a.m., Spouse came down and asked what was wrong. Nothing is wrong, I told him. I'm writing. It was lovely.
  • Enough is enough. Doing about two official things in a day--two Zoom calls or whatever--is apparently about enough, for my body shuts down and I fall asleep sitting up after that. It's never for very long, but it happens. Residual stress, maybe? 
  • Absence from social media is good for the soul. If FB is to be believed, I am literally the last person in this part of the U.S. not to have gone on or be planning to go on vacation--a car trip, a camping trip, a hiking trip, renting a house at the beach. These are all COVID-conscious academics and relatives, yet everyone is going away. So the strategy here is twofold: (1) stay off FB and (2) have fun planning a really passive-aggressive autoreply for when they all get back from their vacations and start bombarding me with emails. (I won't do it, but I want to.)
  • A post about a secret to share. COVID news is fine, but it feels as though between the political hellscape and COVID, we could all use a break to talk about something else. I would really like to share a secret with all of you blog friends: I have a little writing house and want to tell you about it, if you are interested.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Invictus, I guess, and maybe some writing inspiration

Are you finding you're having good weeks and bad weeks in coping mentally with the way we live now?

This isn't meant to be a complaint. I have nothing to complain about--no child care to worry about, enough space & time to walk, the strength to get my own groceries (23rd Psalm motto: my mask and my gloves, they comfort me), a car, etc.

But at the end of the day, I'm hard pressed to say what I did, especially in terms of intellectual work.
  • Some days it's a few hours of meetings: some colleagues, when I say "we've been on Zoom for 90 minutes; it's time to wrap up" will say "just this one thing then." Sometimes I simply say "gotta go" and bail anyway. But that still leaves a lot of time to read & write, so why don't I?
  • Some days--well one day every 2-3 weeks--it's grocery day, so I mask up (I only have one mask, having lost the other) and drive around and get what we need. I come home, do the Silkwood shower, and get to work, or try to. 
  • Some days it's sit and obsess about the fall classes, which are not totally online, even though I'm trying not to. 
  • Some days, once I've gone for a long walk, which I try to do every day, I just want to admire the trees. 
  • If I do an article or manuscript review, well, then--I'm done, right?
  • There's always cooking and baking and some laundry, but I look forward to those tasks, because I get to watch old comforting TV then and not otherwise, a self-imposed rule. Spouse has always done the laundry, but he has backed off after seeing from my woebegone face that I couldn't spend 20 minutes watching The Crown or The Office if I weren't folding clothes.
Last week was the week of magical thinking about writing.
  • If I sit down to write before breakfast, I will write.
  • If I walk first, before breakfast, I will write.
  • If I walk, then shower, then eat breakfast, I will write.
  • If I change it up and eat, then walk, then shower, I will write.
  • If I start at 8:30, I will get in the habit of it and write.
 You get the picture. I figured that there was a magical sequence to daily activities and if I could just get the sequence right, the writing would follow. It was a helpless feeling: oh, no, I've got the sequence wrong. Too bad about today!

Then on Monday something snapped: it's just writing. There is no magic sequence. It's just writing. If you break out in a fidgety cold sweat when you sit down to write, well, pick up a book and start reading, and you'll want to write fast enough.

Someone Being Wrong on the Internet is nothing to Someone Being Incomplete in a Book for getting your writing juices going.

I control the process. Me, not magic sequences. It may be lousy, but what comes out is still writing.

Henley's words*:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

*Yes, I know: imperialism, yadda yadda, but it helped in the moment.