The Adult Day

Because Firestone discovered that our car trouble was in the transmission, coupled with recent difficulties we had with the Versa’s exhaust system, we traded the Versa in tonight for a new Hyundai Touring Elantra. We based our choice on our previous STILL RUNNING Elantra, which is at 278K and going strong.

Our new car is a beautiful electric blue. Tomorrow i have to finish up the last adult stuff, transferring our insurance.

I’m rather proud that Bryon and I could go from Dead Car (TM) to new car in one night. Because that’s the way we roll.

As soon as I can, I’ll post the next cool writerly thing.


The Outliers Challenge

I’m aware that the title of this entry sounds like a commercial for heart healthy food, or low cholesterol. Bear with me, and read on.

The Outliers post from a couple of days ago received a great deal more attention and more discussion than I expected. If you read that post, you know my plan is to write 12 hours a week until my retirement in 10 years to meet my goal of 10,000 hours of writing by the time I leave teaching to live on my retirement salary and write full time.

I’m taking the focus off of publication and putting it on the development of my craft. This is not to say that I will stop sending things out and attempting to get an agent. As a matter of fact, I expect this commitment will increase the amount of material I have to pursue those endeavors. It also does something new for the kind of writing goals I make, and takes the emphasis off of a product, and puts it on my career. This might be an approach you would enjoy.

Will you join me? Will you commit to a writing time goal? Yours can be more modest, such as one hour a day writing (just like going to the gym), or five hours a week (let’s write the Jim Hines way!). Make sure that the goal you set is attainable (sure, writing 20 hours a week seemed like a good idea when I shared that bottle of wine with Schaff-Stump…) and that you decide what activities are acceptable in terms of meeting that goal (for me, writing, revising, brainstorming, researching, and writer education). And then make appointments with yourself and your writing.

Throughout 2011, I’ll be posting Outlier Challenge updates. Not only time spent, but updates on projects, interesting insights, and deep philosophical thoughts. I hope if you take up the challenge, you might do the same.

So. I commit to

1. Writing 12 hours each week for 52 weeks, a total of 624 hours a year. More is okay too, but this is the minimum require for the 6000 more expertise hours I want to achieve to achieve my goal of 10,000 hours writing (4000 down!)

2. Scheduling my writing time each week so that I can find time to write 12 hours each week and scheduling around vacations and difficulties accordingly.

3. Publishing updates and insights as they come to share in community.

Feel free to join in. Let’s see where it can take us.

And…because it’s been quite a while, I had a hard time deciding between the shiny and the velvety Giulias, but the shinies won.


Catherine’s Top Fifteen Reading Picks for 2010

Here they are–my favorite stories and novels of 2010. The criteria is that I read them in 2010, not that they were written in 2010. They are a variety of mediums: novels, story cycles, comics and short stories.

Because I read 143 separate literary works this year, I’m going to list 15, rather than my usual ten. There were other books I read that I liked as well, but these are the ones that have endured as my favorites over the course of the year.

Here we go.

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Expertise and Habit: Outliers Analysis

Rethinking learning how to write, I’ve decided to seriously practice, so I can get to Carnegie Hall.

The expertise literature is old news. Malcolm Gladwell‘s book Outliers suggests that “greatness requires enormous time.” A constant theme in the book is Anders Ericsson’s theory that in order to be an expert, one must spend around 10,000 hours practicing in an area. For example, the Beatles performed over 1200 times in Hamburg from 1960 to 1964. That kind of practice changes art.

In our own genre, Jay Lake is an example of this. Jay was a story-writing, rejection-receiving machine, until ultimately his expertise caught up with his output.

There are other factors that we commonly believe help us succeed. The public thinks “our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work” are among these, although Gladwell remains skeptical. I think they probably do play a role, although they are no substitute for expertise. Gladwell also continues to question about whether environment plays a part.

I’ve been thinking about my writing. As a writer who didn’t buckle down until later life, I realize that I have quite a long way to go before I reach those expert hours. In order to invest 10,00 hours in my writing, I’d have to spend 20 hours a week writing for 10 years. (520 weeks X 20 hours = 10400). That’s an ambitious schedule. I probably don’t have quite that many hours to go. Even the hours from when I hadn’t buckled down count.

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Potpourri for $100

*hand-wringing* There was a time when I was a four-season woman, but I can barely remember it. We canceled our trip north because we’d be driving right into a winter storm advisory. Not only do we miss out on gaming, but also some awesome Victorian costuming. I’m sure there’ll be a reschedule.

What is interesting, though, is that suddenly I have an unplanned weekend. Which bespeaks possibilities.


I had a big fish in a small pond moment today: Susan, my barista, introduced me to an elementary school teacher who bought Hulk Hercules: Professional Wrestler for her classroom. She complimented the book, told me her students liked it, and asked about a sequel. That was nice.

Regretfully, no current plans for a sequel. That balls totally in Cat Curious’ court.


Clarion Workshop! Application is live! Go sign up! John Scalzi, one of the best writing teachers I’ve ever had, is teaching this year. Another VP teaching alum, Elizabeth Bear, will be there. Oh, and while I don’t know anything about Kij Johnson’s teaching, I’ve recently become a big fan of her work. I suspect she has lots to teach you. Of course, there are other awesome instructors who will give you the benefit of their experience.

Will I ever apply? Probably not. It’s very tempting, I could probably squirrel away enough money, and yes, my dean might even work with me on the time commitment. The next two summers are already obligated. This summer I’m off to Norway, and I have many conventions. 2012 is my 25th anniversary, and Bryon and I are off to Disney Paris. But I don’t know about the future.


Received very helpful information about herds of cattle from Heather and James Ingemar. Heather is a fellow Drollerie author, and it turns out her day job is raising cattle. Their take was very different from the business like sites I’d been visiting. If the story is published, I’ll owe them great thanks for Chris’s vet school training.


Not quite. There’s one more thing to write.