Tag Archives: writing

Where have I been?

26 Apr

Image Source: 2014 Pithypants

Short answer: Right here.

In this history of this blog – which I think is going on five years – I’ve never before gone so long without posting something. It’s almost been a month. I’m only mildly offended that no one reported me missing.

In case it happens again, let me explain why I’ve been MIA. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. On the contrary, I have a list of topics (updates on my 40 x 40 list, a visit from my sister and nephews, bad fashion choices worn by women in my neighborhood, etc.) that nags me every time I sit in front of my laptop, practically begging for expression.

Alas, the challenge here has been TIME. Yup. I don’t think I’ve posted about it, but I started back to school earlier this year. I’m attending Georgetown’s Leadership Coaching program, and – when combined with my job – it’s a full load. The time that once went to blogging is now spent reading books, writing papers and – gasp! – coaching real clients as part of the pro bono practicum.

I know, it’s kind of crazy to think that people are trusting someone with an adolescent sense of humor to help them navigate the challenges of leadership. But there you have it. (Seriously though, I think humor is a much-needed aspect of coaching executives, because it helps remind them that authenticity is a key part of leading. It’s much more persuasive than being “boss-like.”)

Speaking of being boss-like or faking being boss-like… I’m off to NYC this week to present at the Social Learning Bootcamp. It’s being held at Microsoft’s new technology center in Times Square, so I’m excited to check it out. However, I’ll be toting my presentation on a MacBook Air, so I’m hoping they actually let me past security. I think I can guess how they feel about bringing enemy gear across the threshold.

Oh – and don’t worry that I’m going to pull a Jack Torrance over here. My motto is NOT, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…” I’ve found time to squeeze in some of the good stuff over the last few months. To wit, I’ve:

  • Crossed the 30 mile mark on my quest to swim 50 miles before my birthday
  • Searched for the doors at the Mansion on O Street and finally visited the Phillips Collection
  • Been issued a library card for the Library of Congress
  • Hosted my West Coast bestie (aka Magston) for a visit
  • Helped Alan celebrate Aidan’s birthday with a Nationals Game
  • Read 20 books since January

So you were right not to worry. Silence isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a busy thing.

 

Don’t get it right – just get it written.

11 Nov

Quiz: I say, “NaNoWriMo,” and you say: 

  1. Nice to meet you, Mork from Ork!
  2. Lay off the wine!
  3. How many words do you have?

The correct answer is #3 (although #2 may have validity, depending on the day).

If you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November (since 1999, officially), writers around the world sit down and commit themselves to cranking out a novel (well, technically it’s kind of a novella because the word count is 50,000) during the 30 days of November. Last year over 200,000 writers participated.

It’s pretty great because it forces you to live by the adage, “Don’t get it write, get it written.” When you’re trying to crank out roughly 2,000 words each day on a cohesive theme, there’s no room for editing, ego or over-thinking. You just show up, put the words on the page and keep moving. It’s a pretty great exercise to force people into a writing habit.

The year I lived in France, I wrote two drafts of a manuscript. I believe the final word count was somewhere around 130,000, which is still fairly short. I was able to do it by imposing discipline on myself: every day I didn’t let myself leave the apartment until I’d put at least 1,000 words down, and I had to find another 1,000 before the day was up. Some days I wrote as if in a creative fugue, but most days I just muscled through it. But you know what? At the end of a a few months, I had a complete manuscript.

Since returning (eight – gasp!) years ago, that manuscript has sat in a little electronic folder on laptop after laptop. I haven’t touched it since I wrote it, mainly because I got sick of it. However, it’s also paralyzed me and prevented me from moving on and writing something else… I keep kind of feeling like I shouldn’t move on until I finish the second draft and put it to bed.

Well, I’m tired of waiting. Tired of having it sit there like a pile of cold peas, telling me I can’t move on to dessert until I eat them. And they aren’t even warm any more. (If they ever were is debatable.)

So here goes… if you don’t see as many pithy posts over the next few weeks, assume I’m off shooting for a word count in the NaNoWriMo world. And for my fellow writers out there – good luck!

Let me check my ticket; I didn’t realize YOU were the headliner.

19 Oct

Monday I saw the author Bill Bryson give a talk at the Sixth and Eye Synagogue in Chinatown. Only a few blocks from my office, Sixth & Eye is becoming my favorite entertainment venue because I am a nerd. And Bryson, whose humorous travel books have served as my travel companions in many countries, was as delightful in person as he is on the page.

By way of contrast, do you know what is NOT delightful? The people who queue to ask questions after the talk. With the exception of the rare person who has a succinct and relevant question, there are three general archetypes: