Disgustingly Optimistic

It’s been a busy morning of meetings that directly affect my future in the workplace at Kirkwood. Many of my fellow writers are rightly excited about when they have writing news that is good, but they can’t divulge it. Similarly, I’m sitting on top of work news that I can’t talk about officially until Friday, until after the board stamp of approval on it.

The reason I’m so bubbly about it is because it is good news for my writing life. It’s also pretty good news for my work life, incidentally. I can tell you that I spent a good part of today making my schedule for next fall, and I’m liking what I’m seeing.

I’m also very focused on the troll novel now. So much so that I find myself sitting down to write an entry here at the Tamago, and realizing that my creativity is elsewhere. I’m certain that the impetus to continue my conversation with the world of the Internet will return in force, but the maxim of having a book out to try to build an audience around is making itself felt in my life.

The weather is good. My prospects are good. My optimism is high. I believe I can dovetail the careers of a professor/administrator and a writer, which I had serious doubts about in recent years.

What’s been making you happy lately?


Whack-a-Mole Monday

It’s been the usual stuff after returning from a conference, but I think I have the office under control. Except for phone calls, I’ve managed to get caught up from my vacation. Phone calls are next if time remains after writing this little ditty.

After Thursday, I will know officially what’s happening with my position here at Kirkwood. I can’t go into detail until things are official, but it looks like my life will improve substantially starting in September, 2010. It’s not good writing news, but it will be good news that affects my writing, providing everything goes as we think it will.

Tonight our book group meets, and we discuss The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

John Gibbs brings you home a list of 13 things he learned at the James N. Frey workshop.


This will be a busy month writing the troll story. I’m cutting here mostly because this is for me. Here’s the plan:

Continue reading “Whack-a-Mole Monday”

Research? Primary? Secondary? Whatever I Can Get?

In a rented Toyota Yaris, a colleague and I wended our way into the heart of Illinois. The flat landscape lulled us to conversational stupefication with peaks of conversational brilliance. The pattern was much like that of a heart monitor.

Then, we were in Springfield. Lincoln is everywhere! On the walls? Lincoln. Big brass statue in hotel lobby? Lincoln. Restaurant mural? Lincoln with logs. Sure, he’s buried here. Not only is Lincoln here, but also the Museum of Funeral Practices. What would you pay to be admitted to the Museum of Funeral Practices?

I doubt very much I’ll get to keep that trip with destiny, as I will be hanging out with a bunch of college professors and talking the talk about international education. I like this sort of stuff too. I like teaching people from all over the world, talking culture, and thinking about cool ways to bring this into the classroom. It’s a very different kind of positive vibe than writing, but it is something I’m as passionate about.

As a matter of fact, a friend and I were talking about taking a research trip to Scandinavia just last night. Her WIP is a Finnish-based fantasy, and you guys know I’m engaged in troll stories. I’ve been to Decorah where trolls live. I’d like to go to Norway which is closer, methinks, to Alfheim.

To taunt me, because it wouldn’t be in the cards for a bit (must…save…money!) Travelocity alerted me that there is a SALE starting today, and that I could get to Oslo or Helsinki for around $564. Based on the prices I was seeing yesterday, I’m like what is that? One way?

I guess the salient point is I like primary research. Reading about some things in books is great, and since I can’t travel back in time to, say, Victorian England, I have to read about these things. BUT I also like interviewing pro-wrestlers, talking to SCA guys, getting that first hand experience. Whenever I can.

Even the above mentioned museum? That sort of thing is very cool to me. Lots of folklore museums visited when I was doing that Fulbright on Baba Yaga in Russia. Whole great bunches of carved wood and peasant houses. Scary ballets with men dressed as witches. All of which you had to be there for to get the right understanding.

I guess that leads to today’s exploration. We all research. How do you do yours? Are you a visitor, an interviewer, a reader? How much do you do for your projects? I find I do a surprising amount for writing about things that aren’t real. You?

It’s 8:32 pm. I think it’s time to put the computer away. Tomorrow I know it’ll be a big day, but it’s a passive day, and I am hoping that if I type very quietly in the back of the room, I can get some writing in. Except for that cool panel about traveling to Viet Nam to be a visual aid.

Shhh! Don’t tell my fellow profs!


ps Yes, I *do* appreciate the irony that I am here, and Obama is in Iowa City. I really do.

Battery Low

Phone calls, students, and instructors have used up my extrovert battery today. Hoping the adrenaline will push me through the teaching.

Tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday this journal will be kind of quiet. I’ll be putting on my professor hat and heading to Springfield, Il for an international ed conference. I’ll be taking the troll story with me.

Since my energy is low, here’s some other people doing some writing work for me. I’m pretending it’s an entry because I’m putting it here.

Jim Hines’ Novel Survey Part III Median=10 years. Sigh.

I’m going to forage for lunch, and then write a couple of letters of recommendation.


That Novel Progress Thing

Tonight I cut two scenes. They were DULL, and things are much more interesting if I don’t blurt the obvious and/or the stereotypical at you. I made two scenes more ambiguous and precise at the same time. Then I moved a scene from chapter six into chapter four that should result in wonderful misunderstandings.

Chapter 3 is now ready for my chapter readers. Tomorrow I leave the college at 11 for my writing session (11-2 out writing tomorrow). I intend to do the first modified version of trolls versus dwarfs (the moved chapter six scene), as well as spiff up the troll/godmother council of war, with already suggested clarifications from Yolanda.

In chapter 5, there will be four revised scenes which should be easy to fix. So, while chapter 4 will not be ready until Wednesday, chapter 5 may well be ready tomorrow. It would be nice if I could get the next three chapters ready for reading before I go off to Springfield. That would mean I was halfway finished with the novel, draft 2. I would accept that as progress to be happy about.

There’s a lot of emotional tension and clarifications to be done to chapters six, seven, and eight, the chapters that need the most work, especially given the modifications in chapters four and five. I don’t want to ignore the emotional angles, but I don’t want to get bogged down in them either.

There’s that big battle sequence for chapter nine too. Which needs to be streeetttched…

Oh well. Those are problems mostly for April.

At least I’m not Earbrassing, as I was Friday. I was really down because my rough draft is so crappy. At times like these, I’ve got to remember Professor Boston’s fertilizer analogy.

Time for vegetation.


Reflections: Incubate, Health Debate, Educate

My confession: I was not a virtuous writer this weekend. Bryon and I had date day Saturday. And yesterday, the errands had stacked up. So I didn’t do it.

I’m guessing that it’s because the brain needed a little time to process some ideas. Like how to hide some information from all of you that you don’t need to know up front, and how to create better misunderstandings.

Tonight we go home and we begin the great draft struggle again.


I’m trying to pull my thoughts together on the health care bill that passed yesterday. I’m progressive, and I believe it’s a move in the right direction. The most interesting conversation I’ve had today is with my tai chi instructor, who is a Green, who feels betrayed by the whole bill. He is especially aggravated by Kucinich casting a yes vote.

Whereas, philosophically, I’m more at the foot in door stage. There’s a lot left to be done, but yes, the foot is in the door. I think the most interesting implication is this: if you wanted to leave your work to create, theoretically you could.

Given that in 10 years, I’ll be eligible for a chunk of retirement change I don’t want to lose, I’ll probably not leave my work. If this had been 10 years ago, it might have changed the direction of my life.

It’s good to FINALLY give people options.


There is the other reason I didn’t write this weekend–conference prep. I am now ready to do my academic thing at the Midwest Institute for Intercultural and International Education in Springfield, Il this weekend. Which might be why I’m quiet on those days. My partner in crime and I drive down Thursday and drive back Saturday. It’s my last year on the board. Next year, I intend to begin attending TESOL instead. Go figure. That’s my job.

Class planning time? I say yes!


Slice, but not Viking Slice

If you type Scandinavia and swords into a search engine, you get…Vikings! No surprise there.

Honestly, though, I could use some weapons references for Norway (Scandinavia in general is also fine) from the 12th to 17th centuries, to see if anything is particularly interesting.

If you know of any books of this type, weigh in. I’m not afraid of this kind of research. You should see all the reading I did on wrestling for Hulk Hercules.

At any rate, if you’ve got good suggestions, I’m listening. Or if you know good people I can contact, let me know too.