Slow week

ROW80The chest cold that hit our household last weekend turned out to be much harsher than I expected. We both spent two full days struggling to breath, and when that phase passed I felt as if my chest had been kicked by horses inside. I wheezed and coughed for several days after.

By Friday I was able to sit down and work for an hour, and I was glad of that, but it was still a struggle. My breathing problems left me with very little energy.

So let’s rank last week at only 20% of goal time spent, but there was really nothing that could have been done. When that sort of illness hits all you can do it take care of yourself and wait it out.

I am hopeful that I’ll meet goal this week, as long as I take care and don’t push too hard beyond that. I have a few household projects that I need to get done as well, but mostly I intend to get a full night’s sleep every night and keep moving slowly.

Meanwhile, here is the blog hop link for today’s check-in. Best wishes to everyone!


Holding Steady

ROW80This will be short, but all is well here in my office. I met all my goals last week, and even a bit more, though some of that was web site work which I don’t usually count as actual book work. But it’s all useful so I’m pleased.

My thumb is pretty much back to normal. I’ll continue to take it easy on the drawing so that I can keep it that way. On the less bright side, for the second time this winter Mr. J has brought a head cold home from the office and we’re both hacking and coughing like miserable fiends.

So I’ll take it slow the first couple days of this week, and then get on with the work again. Meanwhile, here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. Hope things are going well for everyone.


RSI attacks! – #ROW80

I had a bit of a setback last week when my thumb exploded with enormous pain from RSI (repetitive stress injury). This is a problem I’ve had in my hands on and off for years, mostly because I’ve spent so much time on the computer. I’ve shifted to ergonomic equipment which has helped a lot. But it seems that my enthusiastic use of the digital pen and tablet the past couple weeks finally caught up with me. It was a shock, and it hurt, and it led to me spending most of the past four or five days with my left hand in a thumb brace.

I did manage to work my full goal hours doing non-stressful work that still advanced the project. As of this morning my hand is almost entirely back to normal so I’ll push on this week. But clearly I need to pay better attention to switching among types of work and let my drawing hand rest and recover.

I am very happy overall with my progress in January, and I am determined to keep it up through February. So, same goal for the coming week: one hour a day each weekday, with one session writing or editing. And a new sub-goal: mix in the actual drawing with other types of work, to make sure my hands stay functional. It would be much harder to work without them.

Below, after the jump, is an example of the botanical illustrations I’m creating. They are sketched over my own photographs, and I’m still figuring out the best way to resize them for image quality and file size. This one has a medium level of detail; some have less and some much more. I think there will be between six and ten of them in the final project.

Here’s the blog hop link for today’s ROW80 check-in. Time to go see how everyone else is doing.

Continue reading


Third week of solid progress – #ROW80

ROW80Last week went very well. I made all five days of my ROW80 goal time: Go me! I completely finished one sketch and started on a far more complicated piece that I hope will end up as the eventual cover. I also took part of one day to work on the manuscript itself, which was my new sub-goal.

Here I am on another Monday morning, with that old queasy feeling in my stomach as I think about jumping in again. But I’m determined to continue this forward progress. I will continue on my complicated cover art, and spend at least one session on the manuscript directly. So here we go…

But first, here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. Now I’m off to see how the others are doing.


An enjoyable week – ROW80 report

ROW80I hit about 95% of my goal time last week, most of it on artwork. Still not quite to goal, but very close. And the best news is that I found the work very enjoyable, and I’m happy with the outcome.

I should have this picture done today, and there is more to do after that. But it’s interesting to discover that while sitting down to write still gives me that gnawing anxiety in my gut, these bits of artwork don’t trigger the same fear at all.

Still, I want to ease into the writing and see if I can get all these good feelings to spill over there as well. Maybe I can slowly lessen that stress response over time, by enjoying myself as I work. So I will add a potential sub-goal to my ‘one hour a day’ goal: to spend one of those sessions on a writing/editing task. Maybe I can pull that work back into the mix.

In the meantime, here’s the blog hop link for today’s ROW80 check-in. I hope everyone else is feeling good too.


Progress – ROW80 Week One

ROW80Last week I completed about 90% of my goal time. Still not perfect, but a good start. Fridays are clearly the hardest for me, since Mr. J gets off early and the urge to goof off is strong then.

But I made progress on a number of tasks. I entered many pages of notes on three different manuscripts, and wrote out several new pages of notes to enter this week. I spent one session editing and writing book G., and I’m happy with that. I also made great progress on another piece of artwork for G., so that was good G. progress for the week. And in addition to those tasks, I wrote most of a letter I have promised to a friend for a political project he’s organizing.

For this week the goal is the same: one hour of any type of work each weekday (including Friday!). I hope to finalize that letter and get it out the door, input all the new notes, perhaps finish the new drawing but at least make progress on it, and do another writing and editing session on book G.

I hope everyone else made some good progress as well. Here’s the blog hop link for today’s check-in. I’m off to visit some other posts now.


Jumping in again

ROW80Since giving up on word counts, I’ve continued to work in a fiddly sort of way, writing bits and pieces and keeping lots of notes. But I haven’t made sustained progress for some time.

So, hello, Round of Words people! I am jumping into the New Year’s Round with a new goal, a simple goal: One hour of work every weekday.

That means a full hour with all distractions off. No games or Internet, no books other than my own or necessary reference books, not even going up to do housework. Nothing but my own work. If no words come and I can’t get into editing then I’ll just sit here twiddling my thumbs, but I’ll do it for an entire hour.

As before, I’ll check in at least once each week. That’s my goal and my promise to myself. It’s time to get it done.

Here is the link list for this ROW80 check-in.


A holiday suggestion for you all

For a couple of decades I’ve been a member of The Well, a system of forums that’s been around since the ’80s. It’s quieter these days than when I joined in 1993, with lots of folks having spun off to Facebook and Twitter and other social media spaces. But it still hosts some of the best online discussions in existence, and I still visit every day.

One person who’s been on The Well even longer than I have is Jon Carroll, for many years a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and co-host of The Well’s Media conference.

His columns at the Chronicle are unfortunately stuck behind a paywall, but some essays are included in his (now out-of-print but still available) book, Near-Life Experiences. The big news is that Jon recently parted ways with the Chronicle, and after some thought decided to start writing on his own. He now writes in a WordPress blog at Jon Carroll Prose.

My holiday gift to you is simply to point to his site. Bookmark it, add it to your blogroll, or follow the RSS feed. His work is always the best sort of reading, funny and insightful, easy to read but never simplistic, on a universe of subjects in no way bounded by San Francisco and California.


What I’ve been up to

Hello, everyone. I’m still writing. Just wanted to let you know that.

Since I decided I had to let go of word counts, I’ve been somewhat aimless. My own process has been unclear to me, the way to produce actual finished work as opposed to partial, undone manuscripts. But given that I have all the time and space I need to keep chipping away at the problem, well, that’s what I’ve been doing.

At the moment my writing is all nonfiction. In addition to the Grow Your Own, Colorado gardening guide, I started a history of my life. That began as a way for me to work through the personal issues that block me from finishing my pieces. But it’s turned into an interesting project of its own, and may yet turn into an actual book. We shall see.

I am also still working on some art for the Grow book, using the little tablet I got last year. I enjoy it though I have to work in short bits so as not to stress my hands. Satisfying, nonetheless.

I’ll continue to work through the winter, and I hope you will too. If I manage to get anything close to finished, I’ll post and let you know. In the meantime, I update the Resources for Self-Publishers page now and then. Maybe someday I’ll get around to re-organizing it as well.

Best wishes, and keep writing everyone!


Letting go of word counts

For the past few years I’ve assessed my writing progress by word counts, both in my beloved spreadsheets and here on the site in the sidebar widgets.

This stopped working for me some time ago. I talked about it a bit in one of my ROW80 posts. In each of my current works I’ve written myself into a corner and need to rewrite in order to get moving again. That isn’t necessarily a problem. I tend to be a ‘pantser’ as a writer, not outlining in any detailed way, and so the possibility that I’ll take a wrong turn and need to rewrite is always present. But in the rewriting, I often have to subtract words, and when I’m focused on word count this completely fouls up my ability to track progress. Or at least the ability to believe I’m making progress. I get discouraged and everything comes to a halt.

So I’ve taken down the widgets, at least for now. And I’m noting on my spreadsheets the days when I’m editing. I can’t make pretty charts and graphs out of those days, but at least I can note that I actually did some work. Since this has happened with every project I’ve taken up so far, I have to accept that it’s part of my writing process. I have to figure out how to proceed.

When I do figure that out, I’ll let you know. Until then I’ll be trudging along behind the scenes, with the hope that I can eventually write and edit some piece of work all the way to the end.