Jan 30, 2011

Sunday/Monday Meeting: February Preview

The last few Monday Meeting posts have been all about the week and my goals and they were upbeat and you guys responded and I appreciate it! This week, I am wrapping up the best January I have ever had and outlining what will become the best February.

Resolution 2011 = $30 to the coffer. I slipped several times in the beginning, but I rallied in the second half of the month and I owe $28. I'll go with $30 because it'll be easier to add (I'm a writer, not a math wiz - don't judge me). If I stay on track, I won't owe anything in February, so I think I'll reward myself to a few days off of writing by the end of the month if that's the case. Is that the wrong frame of mind? Oh well. At least I'll owe more monies to the library fund! Oh, I should add that it's $30 because I started at a default of $25, so that means I went "five days" without writing this month. I hope that lessens the shock of the $30.

The (yet to be officially named) Great Big Collaboration Project is well underway, and I have my hands in on several projects. It feels good. Is it odd that the actual writing feels less rewarding than the conversations it takes to get to the writing? And again, is that the wrong frame of mind? Oh well. Stay tuned for MAJOR DETAILS and such.

If you read my last post, you know I am working on finding my place in our community. And I have not set any follower goals since last March, but I am setting one now: 500 followers by the end of the year. Now, 500 is not a large number by any means, but I feel that my blog will still be manageable at that point and I can continue to grow a relationship with each of my followers, just as I do now. The main reason for the goal is because it drives me to get out there and comment. In 2010, I had two two month periods where I lost followers. That's not gonna happen in 2011; I have to find a way to connect. I think that means I have to be to 300 by the end of Feb.

With that said, what ideas do you folks have about growing your blog? And no, I will not be doing a contest; I'm an intrinsic reward person (yeah, right). Elana Johnson and Tahereh.Mafi (among others) have several posts about growing a blog, I think I'll reflect on those and wrap in your thoughts from the comments here and blog about the growth as it happens. AKA I have a plan and it involves recognizing the new followers, as well as the old (totally an extrinsic reward).

Speaking of recognition, check out this post from Kris about ME! Kris is cool - he somehow finds a way to relate to everyone - an admirable skill.

Oh and yes, I mean to spell brr burr in my banner. It's how I say it, "b-b-b-b-uuuuu-rrrr". So *hmph* to you know who you are. If Punxsutawney Phil tells us Wednesday that spring is right around the corner, I'll debut a new word in the speech bubble.

Looking for one more way to get inside my head? Turn on Cage the Elephants and Beach House and you'll be right there with me.

Have a fantabulous week and thanks for reading to the end of this odd post. Apparently, I am wordy whether happy or sad. And yet, I feel like I forgot a billion things...

TPR schedule for me is Sunday night and Tuesday night at 10pm eastern!

Jan 28, 2011

What it feels like when the stars start to align

2010 was the year I defined who I am on my blog.

2011 is the year I am finding my place in our community.

It's no secret that I am an idea person. I am not an executer. That's where Heather and Tina come into play: they push me and provoke me and I love it. And I produce results. But it took that collaboration of ideas and motivations to get me there.

In my Intro to Education class, we are currently discussing learning styles and how to cater to and challenge students when your classroom is full of all different types of learners. I am supremely interested in this topic, and I LOVE the class.

In Interpersonal Communications we are learning about our self-concept and how that defines how we define ourselves to others. It's all very complicated, or is it? This is officially the best class that I have ever taken and I hand an inkling that I like to work in groups the other day, THEN we took a learning style quiz in Intro to Ed, even though we didn't know that that's what we were doing, THEN my quiz revealed that I am a group-oriented, hand-on learner! Like, this blew my mind.

First, I start my sekrit collab project that many of you already know about (not so sekrit after all), THEN the discussions in my classes start to mirror each other (how bizarre), THEN I realize, I have found my place in our community.

While I spent last year deciding if I want to be a literary agent, a teacher, a writer, a whatever, I never looked at the obvious: I want to be a collaborator and help other writers define themselves as I continue to define and expand my own writing. Win-win 100%. I can do all of those things above and work in groups. Wow, I am brilliant.

With that said, I am developing the collaboration idea and will get back to you on that in a big way, but in the meantime, explore a little.  Ask your CPs to write a little ditty with you. Look at collaborative works around you in literature, art, music, your parenting, wherever, and think about why it works.

Naysayers be warned: In time, I'll change your mind.

I can safely say that I have never been this excited about anything in my life.

Jan 24, 2011

Monday Meeting: To Each His Own

Last week was a minor success with the biking, writing, and schooling. This week will be equally as busy, except I have a day off (today)! Yay. Here's the sched:

Monday - Write 1000 words, bike 30 mins, write a rough draft for a Comp paper, work on what Robert mentions here, and do something fun for myself (I'm thinking I'll be color for an hour)

Tuesday - Write 250, class 11-9 (utilize the two one-hour breaks of the day to eat, complete a homework assignment, and catch up on emails. (I should also attempt to socialize with some folks who are the same age as me, no offense, readers)), walk the dogs, host TPR 10-11!

Wednesday - Write 500, walk dogs, work 4:30-9:30

Thursday - Write 250, class 11-5 (use the hour break to do one homework assignment), bike 30, chillax and watch a film

Friday - Write 500, bike 30, work 4:30-9:30

Skype: I am skypable Monday - anytime, Wednesday until 3, and Friday until 3. Email or text me if there's a time there that works for you!

The healthy eating lagged last week. I need to get back on track.

I went sledding on Saturday and it was frigid. Flying down suicide hill, the snow hit my face like tiny little daggers and the sting lasted for minutes. The snow froze to my face and glasses! And yet it was an amazing day of fun and activity. Did you know that physical activity makes you way happier than sitting on the couch? Who knew?

In September of 2009, I stopped watching TV - except baseball and Project Runway. It was when I realized the only life I was living was through fictional characters on television shows (Greys/Bros and Siss) and unreal reality stars (The Hills) that I decided to cut my ties with TV. Then along came Fluffy (my laptop) and now I am living vicariously through my online friends. While life looks pretty sweet from Elana and Carol's POV, I think I owe it to the likes of them to find my own. 

And no, I am not signing off for another two month hiatus. I am searching for a way to be active online AND have my own life. I know it can be done. Paul Greci does it. Anna Staniszewski does it. Ali Cross, Christine Fonseca, Anita Laydon Miller, and sooooo many of you live. It's awesome to watch. Keep showing me how to live and I'll follow in your footsteps as best I can, but not too close.

It's time to join the crowd.

After sledding, my pants were frozen stiff.

Jan 20, 2011

Sweating the Small Stuff

On Wednesday, I accidentally left my cell phone at home when I went to work. For an hour, it drove me crazy. I could not be reached by my friends and writing partners and family and not even people I don't know. Then, I started to feel this strange sense of relief and I realized there is something good about not having your cell phone on you at all times.

I never take my cell phone on runs with me, I leave it in the car or at my friend's house. That's about the only time I am without it. And during my runs and walks and hikes, I celebrate the disconnected feeling I have.

When I was at work, I was able to bring forth that feeling of detachment and conquer the day. It felt good, until I got home and had seven voicemails and fifteen text messages. I spent thirty minutes just responding, but that's thirty minutes I spent being more productive at work. Other than for emergency use, I think I am going to temporarily adopt a no cell phone policy. This does not mean you should avoid texting me, in fact, I have my phone number listed under my contact info if you ever have the urge to call or text. I'd love to hear from you! It may take me an hour or so to respond now.

The title of this post alludes to more. I purchased a package of Peanut M&Ms from the vending machine earlier and I put in my dollar and the little spring thing turned, but stopped just before my package of candy fell. Um, excuse me. I shrugged and put in another dollar. I got my M&Ms and walked away happy. Then, two hours later, I went to another vending machine and put in some quarters for a bag of cracked pepper and sea salt Dirty Potato Chips and again, the machine jipped me! I was not happy, not happy at all. But I was on my way to class and all my change was gone and ugh. So I spent $1 on $3 worth of stuff.

And here I sit, before my next class, starving and thirsty and in serious need of caffeine and all I have is a Canadian quarter. I want to freak out, but I am going to calm down and get over it.

Or will I?

YAY, as I was writing this post, my BFF, who was on the other side of campus, came to my rescue with a dollar and two shiny, non-Canadian quarters!

I am savoring this sip of Wild Cherry Pepsi because starting next week, I'll be pop-free.

OH! Tonight, 10 pm ET: T P R

Jan 17, 2011

Monday Meeting

It's time for start holding myself more accountable and I present to you a Monday Meeting post where I outline the week's goals.

Monday: Write 500 words, work 4-10

Tuesday: Bike for 30 min, write 250 words, class 11-9, host TPR* at 10pm

Wednesday: Run with dogs, write 500 words, work 11:30-4:30, work on homework

Thursday: Bike 30 mins, write 250 words, class 11-5, host TPR* at 10pm

Friday: Run with dogs, write 1000 words, probably work 4-10

*The Practice Room is the awesomest place where you unplug for an hour and then reconvene to chat about your successes and troubles with writing. Or life, either way, it's super. Join me for my first time as host on Tuesday at 10pm ET and my second time as host on Thursday at 10pm ET.

Random things:

So far, I owe $29 to Room to Read. Not too shabby, I feel. That means that of the last sixteen days, I have gone four days without writing. This may not be too altruistic, but my cap for the month is going to be $5, so I have one day of floundering left. I will donate my January total + the $25 base on February 1. For the rest of the year, I will be donating a dollar per day, if I fail to write anything. In my personal resolution, blogging does not count.

I have to complete at least twenty hours of classroom observation for my Intro to Ed class. I am a little nervous to be barging in on an English classroom full of teenagers. If you're a teacher, do you have experience being a CT (cooperating teacher)? If so, what have been the best and worst things to come from hosting your classroom to an observer. I have not chosen the school that I'd like to go to fulfill my requirement, but there are only five high schools around here to choose from. I could choose the one I went to myself, but then I'd run the risk of running into a million people I know.

My health resolution for 2011 is to eat things like oatmeal and smoothies. I have gone one day without eating one or the other (or both). For me, that's astonishing because I typically eat crappy food, or engorge myself on semi-healthy food.

I am listening to No Doubt's The Beacon Street Collection because my iTunes told me I should.

Anything else you'd like to know about? What about you? Are you holding yourself accountable? If not, don't do it for me, do it for yourself.

Jan 15, 2011

Will you write with me?

This is kind of weird, but I am at a stage in my writing where I write my best when it's a collaborative effort. I have begun 'collabing' with crit partners and friends, just to play around with style and ideas. It's been fun. I've even been working on a project with my niece for over a year, but it's totally under wraps.

Here's the thing, I feel that I am meant to collab with people. I think that's part of my niche. I don't mean I want to be the next David Levithan (although that would rock!)

Many people have told me that is a quality of a good agent. Well, that's nice, but I don't see myself as an agent. I look at a great book in the same way as a comprehensive meal. It's hard to make an amazing meal for six guests and have all the food turn out perfectly. Heck, I can't even time the entrée and side dish for a dinner for one. I am awesome at measuring ingredients and organizing them for optimum grabbing and going. I love doing the dishes and keeping the give-and-take flow going. When it's a friend and me making dinner, I excel. When I do it alone, I flounder. Don't forget the part where I like doing the dishes*

I feel the same way about writing, at the moment. I know I cannot have a career solely based on my ability to prolifically write half of a book, but I need that catalyst of another writer. I cannot be the one to add the pièce de résistance.

And so, my admission brings me to my potentially not blog appropriate request:

Will you write with me?

*Here's where you are supposed to remember the part where I like to do dishes.

My request is far more simple than it may seem. I am not asking you to write a book with me. we can discuss ideas and whatnot, but I usually start by exploring short stories and seeing where that leads. Writing with people who I admire is awesome, but I'd also like to venture into blind collabing with writers who I know nothing about. If you're new here and are interesting in delving into each my perspective, then it's perfect. If we're old friends, and you want the same, then it's still perfect!

Will you write with me?

Email me at jonarntson@gmail.com and let's get the party started. This is an open invitation. All you need to have is the interest to collab, anything other worries or hesitations you may have can be discussed. If you know someone who is of a similar ilk, hook us up! Everyone loves a good yente. I want to start building new kinds of relationships as I begin taking my writing career more seriously.

When we skype, this is what you'll see.

Will you write with me?

Jan 14, 2011

One of my favoritest people...

...has been interviewed by Heather. Go check out the interview of Carol Valdez Miller! And make sure you check out Carol's blog if by some bizarre circumstance you have not been there before.

Oh and don't forget to take a break this weekend and chillax.

Jan 11, 2011

Classes have started! (the spring 2011 edition)

This semester is a full load:
T/R 11-12:20 Interpersonal Communications. This is a bit confusing to me, but I think it will be fascinating. Oh and it's required.
T/R 12:30-1:50 Comp I. Yeah. Also required.
T/R 3:30-4:50 Intro to Education. THIS CLASS IS FREAKING AWESOME.
T 6:8:50 Film Appreciation. I am really excited to delve into the making of movies and why they mean so much to us.

So yeah. Looks like this will be a busy and productive semester. I owe another dollar to Room to Read. Crap. I am going to write immediately after I post this. I need to stem this hemorrhage. <---whoa, it took four tries before I got that right. Have you given any more thought to joining us in Resolution 2011? I'm only at $5 for the month. Not too bad.

Carol had a prolific post this week; even the vomit talk is relevant. Are we writers disenchanted with the writing process and blogging? I know I am getting there, but why? I am young and vibrant and have a lot going for me. Sure, I have a lot going against me, but those things can only make me stronger.

Anywhokins, happy writing this week folks. I'm rooting for you.

Jan 8, 2011

What else is there to do after a foot of snow has fallen?

Sunday Update:

blog - check

sled - check

snow angels - snow is too deep

write - oh, duh  <---I've been writing in a healthy manner. I consider a healthy manner to be steady, not fiend-like and not-pulling-out-hair-like. It feels good to feel comfortable about where I am in my writing. If I only knock out 500 words, like I did the other day, I am still happy. On Wednesday I broke a new record, which was AWESOME. And it's all thanks to Resolution2011 (I see Heather put in her token donation of $25, which I'll do at the end of the month along with my January indiscretion totals.) owe $1

drink coffee with Bailey's - so gonna happen tonight nope

play Apples to Apples - coincides with the above task check!

Happy Saturday to you!

Pictures of our fun:

Jan 5, 2011

WOW. How has it been a year already?

I started blogging a year ago. Whoa.

Time flies when you're having fun. And when you're not. Either way, I am just checking in to update you on my resolution. I am in $27 since I didn't really write on Saturday and Sunday. Scratch that, I did write on Sat! I just remembered. Okay, so I am $26 in. Not bad, not bad.

The overriding goal for the month, per Heather, is to track my writing in a small planner. This will reveal my writing process and hopefully I can start milking the weeks I tend to write well, and ease back on the weeks I do not. It's a win-win. Less frustration and self-deprecation, and more prolific results. I'm a big kid now!

I need to work on writing dialogue. I suck at it. I tend to get caught up in the conversation and I do a really poor job of relating it back to the reader. By the time I try, I have forgotten every eye brow lift and half smile.

Check out Christine Fonseca's unique and benevolent take on Resolution 2011.

Currently listening to "Sprawl II" by Arcade Fire. Their 2010 album Suburbs is one of the best of the year.

Short, sweet post today. I am off to write!

Jan 3, 2011

Resolution 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy First Monday of 2011!

If you read my post from last week, the one where I welcomed myself back to the blogging world, you'll know that I am an a strange place in my life. It's a place where I am long on ideas, but short on motivation. I see possibilities, but I see barriers more clearly.

Well phooey on barriers. By the end of 2011, I will be in a better place. And I believe healthy habits will get me there. I already eat healthy (kinda), so this year I am choosing a career-related goal: write everyday of 2011.

It's a good resolution, I know, but it's too simple. Heather Kelly and I created Resolution 2011 as a way to motivate us and make us feel positive about our successes and failures.

Resolution 2011
1. Pick a writing resolution.  A writing resolution. 

You know mine. Pick one that suits you. Pick one that challenges you or pick one that is something you're already planning to do for 2011.

2. Pick a charity that is close to your heart.

Heather and I chose Room to Read.  They are building LIBRARIES and getting BOOKS into the hands of impoverished children.  We have a page set up to track our donations, and you are more than welcome to be a part of our Resolution 2011 over there.  We'd love you to chose our charity if you don't already have one in mind.

3. Each and every time that you don't meet your resolution, donate to your charity. 

Since we're planning on writing every day we're donating $25 to start, and will finish the year with a donation as well.  Each day that I don't write, I pledge $1 to Room to Read.

4. Blog about your resolution and charity, and check out the other writers rocking Resolution 2011:

When deciding whether or not to join us, remember that Resolution 2011, and 2011 itself, is all about you. You can create your own parameters and chose your own charity/cause/punishment. This is meant to be fun, community-driven, and full of successes.

A year long blogfest thing may seem daunting, but we'll check in the first Monday of each month and think of the schools and libraries and children who need books. Also, I am keeping a small calendar in which I will jot down a 15-word synopsis of what I wrote that day. What an easy way to keep track of how much I have to fork over come 2012.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

Here's to 2011's successes, failures, and overall awesomeness!