The end for now, at least.  This is the last ROW80 check-in for this round and this year.  Time to wrap this one up and turn to plans for Round 1 of 2014.


I feel like I didn't get much done this round, even though I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote 50,000 words in November.  I had too much going on--running some events, acting as a municipal liaison for NaNo, traveling, holidays.  I have been hurried and harried and not very productive this round.  I just looked at my goals list for this round before I started this post, and I haven't reached any of the goals I set.  I knew that I was floundering, but this really brings home how much this has been true since September.

So what's the lesson here?  I feel like there is one, and I feel like I'm starting to get a glimpse of it.  One thing I've learned--just because something is within my capabilities doesn't mean I should take it on.  This is aimed at the events (including local NaNo stuff) that I did this year.  None of it was stuff for me. It was all stuff that I helped out with (or ran for the most part) because I could and I knew someone needed to.

I wonder how many of us get wrapped up in things that aren't our own ideas or projects because it needs to be done?  I know for me it takes a lot away from my creative life, and I wonder if it's the same for others.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to a year where I have explicitly already told people that I am not running any of these events.  I am giving myself a lot more space in 2014 to see what I can do.

I will be doing my ROW80 updates on my writing blog next year (I'll share the links here, too, but not the whole posts).  I'm planning some more focused creativity posts and coaching posts here, and I don't want them to get lost in my chatter about my writing journey.  That's the only goal or change I already know I'm going to make.  Lots to think about before January 6 when the next round begins.

How was your round if you're a ROWer, or your Autumn if you're a creative of another sort?  Did holidays sidetrack you? Do you have ideas for what you'd like to add in or change or do differently?

In case I don't post in the next few days, Happy New Year!  See you in 2014.


This week has been all about final Christmas preparations and finishing gifts.  I made a gorgeous, plummy-purple colored cowl for my mother-in-law.  I wrapped it, put a bow on it, stamped my own tag, put it under the tree.  And then realized I hadn't taken a photo, and since that was the main thing I worked on over the past week I suddenly found myself with nothing to show you!

So instead of the lovely cowl (which I will get a pic of after gifts are opened), here's an arted up photo of the yarn and needles I used.

Yarn 3

What have you been working on lately?  Holiday gifts or other things?  Feel free to share blog links--I know I could use some artful browsing time, and I'll bet we would all enjoy a little break.



I feel the holiday rush finally winding down even though there are still a couple of days left until Christmas.  I have a bit of cooking to do, but all presents are bought and wrapped, all the food is bought and early prep has started.  It's not Christmas yet, but my thoughts are turning to the very end of the year and plans for the fresh beginnings a new year always brings.

Night Sky

This is nearly the last ROW80 check-in, too, and I am already looking at how things have gone this round and this year.  I feel that too many other things butted into my life this round, and I didn't accomplish many of my goals.  I also didn't do the greatest job keeping up with my sponsor duties.  So I have a lot to contemplate and some adjustments to make to how I do things, I think.  It's too easy to get knocked off track.

This time of year is great for that kind of introspection, though.  The long, quiet nights are perfect for self-examination, quiet contemplation, solitary work.  I am really looking forward to the next couple of months with no deadlines, no events to run or even attend, no one expecting big things from me.  I'm looking forward to some time with myself to figure out what I really want to do with my writing, my coaching, my everything.

I'll be back Wednesday or Thursday (the official end date of the round) with more details. For now, I'm just enjoying the quiet times that are beginning now.  I hope your nights are silent and peaceful, too.


This week is all about cooking.  I was back in the Chicago suburbs last week visiting family, and it was all about cooking.  I learned to make my Auntie Bonni's ham and bean soup, and she taught me to make my Great-aunt Rosie's nutrolls.  The story has it that my great-grandmother had a nutroll recipe, but then everyone started using Auntie Rosie's mother-in-law's recipe, and that's the one that has been handed down to me.

Making nutroll is a very sensual process.  You feel the dough to decide if it's risen enough, if it needs more flour, if it's thick enough or too thin.  Very hands on, lots of work rolling it out, spreaing the filling, rolling it up.  But it was a deeply gratifying experience--all that time and piles and bowls of ingredients coming together to make that delicious roll I've known since I was born.

And now I'm back home and continuing the cooking. My family is big on cooking but not so big on vegetables, so I felt the need for lots of veggies with dinner last night.  I made roasted carrots to go with dinner, and I have never seen such huge carrots!  Here they are before getting cut up:

Biggest carrots I've ever seen
Biggest carrots I've ever seen

So many memories tied up around food, especially at this time of year.  What are some of your favorite foods or food memories?



I am returned from my travels worn out and unfocused, but very happy to be home.   My mind is a restless swirl of things I want to do, but I can't seem to get the energy together to make any of it happen yet.  Maybe tomorrow when I'm not still jet-lagged.

I spent most of the day shopping, buying loads of food because in the last ten days before leaving we were trying to empty the fridge, so we came back to no food (but also to no nasty, old food experiments so our plan was successful).  It's amazing how much before and after work traveling requires.

Besides requiring a lot of planning and prep, traveling poses some creative challenges for me.  My biggest travel challenge used to be figuring out how many books I needed to carry with me to be sure I didn't run out of reading material.  Happily, my Kindle has done away with that problem for the most part, although I still spend a fair amount of pre-trip time figuring out what books I want to read.  But at least I don't have to pack extra books just to be safe and lug around all that weight.

I still run into difficulties trying to figure out what entertainments and creative projects to take with me on a trip, though, and so far I haven't found a Kindle-esque answer to what to pack.  Knowing that I have a tendency to over-pack and then not use most of what I take with me, I really pared it down this time.  I took my tablet with keyboard (except the keyboard stopped working so I didn't do any writing on it at all); my journal;  my story notebook; my crit group readings; and one knitting project.  And it wasn't enough.  I ended up buying a Dover Creative Haven coloring book and some colored pencils, because it turns out that I need some sort of visual creative play regularly.  This is good to know, I think, and should help me pack better next time I travel, so I don't mind buying some new supplies.

What do you absolutely have to have with you when you travel?  What creative or writing supplies have to travel by your side?  Do you have any good tips on packing your creative stuff when you're on the go?

In case you think I forgot, here's a little ROW80 check-in.  I really don't have anything to report.  Being away from home and then having my keyboard on my tablet stop working on my first day of vacation threw me off, and I haven't done any of what I planned for the past week.  And that would seem to be the extent of my check-in.

For the coming week?  I'm going to be sensible and remember that I have Christmas prep to do.  But I intend to catch up on my crit readings, spend at least one hour working on my outline, and write at least 1,500 words of my story.

What's on your schedule for the coming week?






This has been a bit of a slow week. I've been preparing to travel then actually traveling, so I haven't had much time for anything else. This will be a light ROW80 check-in, but there's been some progress at least.


I'm still reading through Rock Your Plot.  Even though I'm still reading and haven't done any of the assignments yet, I had a pretty major plot breakthrough, so I'm feeling quite excited.  I still have this huge, gaping hole where the midpoint should be, though.  I'm hoping something stirs up and helps me fill that in soon.

I am not sure if I'll get to a check-in on Wednesday. Holiday season and traveling take their toll. But I hope I'll have progress to report next time.

What do you do to fit in writing and creative work during this time of year?



I am feeling the turning of the seasons and the year, the turning of the wheel, the turning of time.  I am feeling it very heavily right now, and I feel like this is a time for changes.  I just don't quite know what all of those changes are yet.

Photo by siewlian
Photo by siewlian

I have been going slowly this week, unwinding from a couple of months of too many committments and not enough downtime.  I'm getting ready to travel to see family, so I'm trying to get some energy built up for that, too.  None of the changes I'm contemplating will happen until after the beginning of next year, anyhow, so I can let myself take my time.  I have to remind myself that I don't need to rush.

Meanwhile, I have been making progress on my revised ROW80 goals.  I made an abrupt change in my outlining plans when fellow ROW80-er Shan Jeniah Burton commented on using Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley to plan her NaNo novel.

I have been enjoying the other craft books I've been browsing through and intend to return to them, but this one...this one grabbed me and pulled me right in.  It's set up just for me!  There are specific assignments very noticeably marked to help me slow down and focus on just the task at hand, and that seems to be a huge part of why this book is feeling so good for me.  So I am continuing my plan to create an outline for my novel, but I'm changing the way I'm doing it (and it feels good, which is so very important!)

I got back to checking in on my ROW80 team's blogs, and that was lovely, seeing what everyone's up to and not feeling rushed while reading and commenting.  More of that laid-back stuff, please!  I have decided that I'm not going to volunteer as a sponsor for the first round of 2014, though.

I am making a real effort to see what my creative process looks like with as few outside restrictions and schedules imposed on it as I can manage.  Knowing how you really work, what really feels right for you, is important for your creative life.  If you haven't checked in on that lately, try to give yourself some time to see what really works for you (and make sure it's still the same--don't just assume that if you've done this in the past everything is still the same).

For the coming week, it's going to be more of the same.  Working on my outline, checking in on blogs, figuring out what's right for me.  I hope to get to check in on Sunday, but since I'll be traveling I can't promise.  But I'll be back soon.

What are you planning for these early days of December?





I wrapped up NaNoWriMo 2013 on Friday.  Then it was a holiday party and the Thank Goodness It's Over NaNo party.  Not much time for anything to be on my table this week.

2013 NaNo Winner Certificate-page-0

But this gives me a blank slate, a new place to start from to get back to writing on my own schedule and getting to paint and art journal more.  Looking forward to it!




December 1.  NaNoWriMo 2013 is behind me.  I am so relieved!  This year, I really felt constrained by the need to start something new on November 1 and then by the need to write quickly, not stopping when I really needed to work out some details.  I won, but the event felt much more like a chore than an adventure this time around.   I am looking forward to working on my novel on my own schedule, with my own rhythm, in a way that will make it a better piece of writing even in its roughest form.

Barb Wires

Today is also the start of the last month of Round 4 of ROW80.  I'm feeling excited about the possibilities opening up for my writing life right now, but I'm vacillating between excitement and worry that I won't be able to figure out how to make it work.

Here's my revised goals list for December:

  • Complete an outline for Inheritance using K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Create a scene list of what I've already written so I can figure out where the biggest gaps are
  • Create a writing schedule for finishing the first draft

December is going to be busy--traveling to visit family, holiday parties and dinners--so I think this is enough.  If I have time, I'm also going to read Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, also by K.M. Weiland.

I'm also going to get back on track with checking in with my ROW80 team because I fell behind during NaNo, and I'm going to get in at least a little bit of art journaling when I can.

What about you?  What will you do in December to keep connected to your creative work?