Time for Some Personal Analytics

This is more for me than you, and about writing, but about writing dysfunction more than useful, positive stuff, SO you may wish to not read it, and here’s a cut to help you with that.

This weekend, I had hoped to get some writing done. This is becoming a problem. I staked out about 4 hours or so to write, and I didn’t.

Oh sure. I’ve got lots of good reasons. Tiredness (is my thyroid medication right yet?). Social Outings. (Decorah. A friend’s last minute party. Wolverine.) Emotionally off kilter. (Last week, an adjunct instructor accused me of being unfair with the seniority staffing table, and told me how much better she was than her colleagues. I never do well with being called untrustworthy, and with people who feel they are privileged.)

But…it doesn’t change the fact that I blew about four hours of scheduled writing time this weekend. Tonight, maybe, I’ll get in an hour after I work out. Tomorrow night too. But not the rest of the week.

I’m about 75 hours behind where I’m supposed to be with my 12 hour a week strategy. I know that when the semester starts, I will have 7 hours of scheduled writing time during the day, and I’m more optimistic about finding the other five hours evenings and weekends. For a start, I get off at 3 every day. But, it hasn’t been a good year for writing. I suppose there will be years like that as I move toward my 10,000 hours for expertise.

Quite frankly, I am disheartened. I’m not happy in my work at the moment for a variety of reasons, but mostly these are symptoms of the college trying to run a business, rather than a college. I try to keep my head down and do what I can for my employees and my students, but you know, I’ve always been so enthusiastic about our mission here before, and now, not so much.

Working on my diet and health are vital, and both are a big time sink. I’m working out an hour a day right now, and I’m eating more carefully most of the time, but I’ve got to do this. I think my friend Diana might be right–you work, you exercise, you plan food, and that’s about all the time you got until you retire.

But…I know many of you are out there working full time, yes? And you stay in shape, and you exercise, and you write!!! Tips on how to make that happen? Maybe the trick is you don’t have social lives. 🙂 Or give up tv. Or something.

I know, I know. What business do I have watching Wolverine when I’m whining about my writing time? (It’s pretty good, by the way. Hugh Jackman is easy on the eyes. Really easy. We’re talking repeat worthy that easy.) That’s a morale factor involved here too. I feel good about my relationship with Bryon, but I’m not feeling good about almost all the rest. This morning the spousal unit reminded me of all the great things we’ve got going for us, and I had to agree. My concerns are superficial and really require a change in attitude. Hence, this pep talk, which isn’t so much for you, but for me. It may be time for me to pop in and see David my counselor again. It’s been 5 years, and I expect I expect too much from myself again.

So, yes, I need to do what I can, stop berating myself when I can’t, and do my best. I could also use some morale building with the writing. At the moment, the whole career success there feels arbitrary at best. Elizabeth Bear had a good post on leveling up part 3 last week, and I’m trying to think along those lines. Keep practicing. I *am* getting agent rejection love. In a recent rejection there was this line:

I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t connecting wholeheartedly with your writing, despite its poise and polish…

Some good, some bad. But that comment makes me really want to work hard on Bear’s number 2: Narrative Drive, which I think is where I’m falling down. Almost everyone thinks I’ve pretty voicy and my prose is pretty already. I think that might be the disappointment for the reader and the rejection–pretty prose that doesn’t get you particularly into a gripping story. I think that’s really an honest assessment of what I’m doing and not doing.

Luckily, I’ve really started to look at character agency and drama, so I think I’m on the right track there. Go education and analytics!


But…Cath, what about your weekend? Did you have any fun? Yes. I saw Matt Hughes and his wife Steph in Decorah so we had a very mini VP XIII reunion. I ate some Norwegian junk food. (Mmmm…rommegrot). And loads of walking. Bryon and I enjoyed our friends Mark and Michelle. Sunday was the movie, the party, and napping on the couch like an old woman. If I didn’t consider the writing in there, it would be a winner.

So, gotta do some work. Gotta try to finish up this syllabus for my writing class. Looks like I have a student coming in for a test out attempt in about an hour. Try to focus on the now, Schaff-Stump. Try to let the past go away. Look to the future. Beating yourself up is never productive or kind to yourself.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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