June 2018 Month in Review – Cramming and Graduation (Not in That Order)

Appropriately, or maybe not, I feel like I’ve graduated. Moved on. Next steps. Milestones. Caps and Gowns and Pants optional.

After the Second Great Office Flood on April 30, having to sort through papers, toss out old versions of myself, and write at the kitchen table, I’m finally back in my office. I feel much more official and slightly less fraudulent now that there isn’t a pile of laundry to fold mere inches from my laptop.

Forward progress.

This past month was the last I will ever be able to say I was “bookless” or “not writing a book” or “not having ever written a book.”

Which is to say that on July 1, I began a book. Well, not so much “began” but “began prepping.” I feel like I have to cram a lot of “how to” into writing a book, as I once crammed “how to write a personal essay” or “how to write creative nonfiction” or “how to write funny” into a few months before I started working and submitting pieces.

I’m allowing myself this month to cram about the process. It would be awfully easy to procrastinate via research, to paralyze myself and say, “Oh, I just need to know a little more before starting.” So I get a month (I am a draconian boss.)

After that, pre-writing and outlining specific to the book, then writing.

Ideally, draft done by New Year’s Eve.

It’s as much a process of learning about how to write a book…this particular book…as it is a process of writing it. It’s also probably a process of learning about myself, but this isn’t a graduation speech. I’ll pay attention to that, of course, but it’s not the focus.

I’m absolutely not ready for this.

But I’m doing it anyway. I’ll keep you posted on the process and progress.

Questionably fun fact: I fell asleep during my own college graduation on one of those horrible hard benches in the University chapel. I probably missed something crucial and motivating. What if the secret of life was given while I was snoring away and my head was bobbing precariously close to my neighbor’s shoulder? What if I missed THE THING I NEED MOST?

Speaking of goals and progress, in May I made the perhaps foolhardy decision to write (or do writing-related activities like research) for 1000 hours this calendar year. In June I wrote for 104.5 hours, bring my year’s writing time to 387 hours. Not sure whether tracking writing time is doing much for my writing, but it gets my butt in the chair so that counts for something.

June Highlights:

  • By far the best thing I watched on television this month was “Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like.” It made me weep with the level of discourse we have in this country. I cannot be the only one who wonders what Fred Rogers say about America 2018. It was simultaneously uplifting and saddening, mostly in how it held up a mirror to our best selves and our worst.
  • The best thing I watched live was Ann Imig’s one-woman show You Again – a lovely evening of songs and original stories about motherhood and wifehood and womanhood and life. I was utterly charmed by Ann (pioneer of the LTYM shows) and thrilled that Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense was able to benefit from the proceeds. Sometimes you just walk into a room and know you are among your people.
  • I enjoyed Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman this past month. Not reading as many books as I was trying to get through a backlog of old magazines. Can’t win for trying, though.
  • My Malkovich, this is weird and wonderful.
  • Chuck Wendig’s blog is a trip, and I feel like a happy adventurer reading his words. His writing advice is fun and breathless.

“Pick up the battle and make it a better world, just where you are.” Since I’m doing my own personal graduation based on nothing but a feeling I have from wrapping up old things, starting new things, and walking around wearing a mortarboard at a jaunty angle, this is the graduation speech I choose to hear. I love Dr. Angelou.


And in case you need this:

3 thoughts on “June 2018 Month in Review – Cramming and Graduation (Not in That Order)

  1. Congrats on the commencement of your novel. I’m a few chapters ahead of you. I find the beginning akin to falling in love. (Wrote a recent blog post on that). I like your idea of a month of “pre-dating” and then picking the date for the engagement. Good luck!


    1. Great analogy! The work in a relationship and a book seems to come when the initial attraction warms to something else. I’ll have to check out your blog post!


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