Liminal Days

Well, the strange, slow creep of the liminal period dividing vacation and semester has ended.

Yesterday was my first day of classes, thus bringing to a close the transitional phase between “summer is a never-ending playground of joy!” and “oh, crap, reality will soon strike its iron fist upon me!”.

The iron fist has fallen and, as always, it was both tiring and exciting. Much as I enjoy summer, I don’t actually do that well when I have no schedule. At first it’s wonderful, and I get all inspired to have adventures and write and cook things I don’t typically have time for during the school year. And then the lethargy sets in. No need to dwell on the ugliness of the lethargy, so suffice it to say that it’s pleasant and invigorating to be back at work.

Still, one blessing of the summer is that I am allowed to forget the reality of commuting on the subway. It’s like childbirth that way, I suppose. Descending into the sweaty underbelly of the city and waiting, and waiting. Trying to game whether you should get on the F or wait for the G. Miscalculating. More waiting. More sweating…ugh. Then the stop and start of the train, the bad driver up front riding the break till you want to spill your lunch all over the already festooned floor. The rush to transfer to the bus. And so on. While there is much I miss about my job over the summer, this is NOT one of those things. All told, the trip is an hour and a half. Each way.

But! There were plenty of items in the ‘pro’ column for my first day back. For starters, the copy center had actually copied my syllabi — and without any mistakes this year! — and they were waiting in my mailbox. Also in the pro column: my office. As a part-timer, I change offices every semester. This time around I landed a nice one with a window overlooking the campus green. Also, a pro, my students seem like they’re going to have a good dynamic and be engaged — especially in my Ancient Mesoamerica class. And my classes aren’t too big, which facilitates the fostering of said dynamic. This is so, so important to a having a rewarding semester.

Not everything was wine and roses on Day 1, however. As a rule, something is always broken on the first day of the semester. Last year it was the in-room tech (no computer or projector). This year, it was even worse. In my first class, the heat was on. Yes, the heat, in August. It was about 95 degrees in the windowless lecture hall and (wait for it…) the lights were broken, so we were stuck in the dark. Hot and dark and airless. Now, there’s a recipe for a great class, eh? Ah well. My second class, in a building that appears to be an homage to Soviet-era construction (also windowless), seemed a veritable paradise in comparison. The lights worked AND there was air conditioning. Never mind the weird smell in the stairwell…

My favorite part of the day was also the strangest. As I was leaving campus to walk to the bus stop, I heard a strange wailing noise. Looking up, I spotted a falcon perched on the roof of the Social Sciences building, shrieking at the wee people down below. A falcon? In Queens? So random. And so magnificent.

So, school has started again and my schedule will transform accordingly…but first, a break! Because, you know, the first day of classes is exhausting, so we all need a vacation, right? Oddly, because of the alignment of Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah, we have all of next week off. My husband and I will be traveling to Maine for the greater part of that time with our friends Jeremy and Miro. Look for updates on hiking in Acadia and gluttonous feats of lobster and wine. Also, Miro wants to go mushroom hunting, so probably we will all be dead within a fortnight.

Until then, adieu!

The semester cometh

Well, less than a week to go and then I’m back on the Merry Go Round again.

In many ways, I’m eager for to the start of the semester. Summer is always wonderful, and it’s great to have three whole months off, but I find I work better and harder when my schedule is full. It can be all too easy to pawn work off until the next day when you feel like you have infinite time.

Plus, it’s energizing to be in the classroom and around the students.

Since I’m teaching two classes I’ve taught many times before, prep work shouldn’t be too onerous this semester (though I always like to tweak and change things up), which should make this fall a productive few months for writing. At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to not only finish drafting PROJECT AWESOME but also to send it to readers and revise it. With a little over 40K written, I think that’s an achievable goal if I continue to work hard.

On this novel, I’ve had the great good fortune to have a fellow writer reading along chapter by chapter as I draft. Her feedback has been extremely helpful in allowing me to dig deeper and weave in more complexity on the first pass than I might otherwise. Her comments always really make me think about the details and how they’re building arcs (or failing to do so!) and that makes the novel so much stronger. I can’t thank her a enough 🙂

So, my goal for the remaining 6 days before the start of classes is to try and hammer out another 10K.

Better get writing!

The words

Well, I would apologize for not updating in a week, but I feel that I have a good excuse. I’ve been writing a lot, you see, and as a consequence haven’t had a lot of words left for the blog. There are only so many in the mines, after all.

What have I been writing, you ask? Well, many things, actually.

I’ve been making great headway on the first draft of the current novel (Project Awesome, which is a dark Urban Fantasy). I’m about 40K in and trying very hard not to obsess and over-think and rewrite too much (which is typically my wont). I’m just trying to get it OUT and on the page and trust myself and my outline.

I’ve also got a few new shorts going. I recently finished a draft of a moody little character study that I’m kind of in love with and am outlining the concept for another short that features a curse breaker with a hoarder mother and takes place in an abandoned prison. For those who follow the blog regularly, you know I’m more of a long form person and don’t write that many short stories, so two in one week is rather spectacular for me.

I think my recent burst of writing energy has come from the realization that in a mere 13 days the semester will begin. Ack! This means my unlimited summer writing time is fast drawing to a close. Soon I’ll be neck deep in teaching and spending far too much time on the G train. So, gotta take advantage while I can.

Complicating matters, unfortunately, is the amazingly beautiful weather we’ve been having. Brooklyn in August is typically very hot and humid and gross, but for some reason this year it’s been on the warm side of mild, sunny, and relatively dry. The temptation to blow off work and go for long walks is hard to resist.

Sooo, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

How about you?

Writer’s Workspace: 8/8

Welcome to this writer’s workspace. Here’s what’s happening liiiiiiiiiiive at Miranda’s desk.

What I’m working on: I’m carrying on with the first draft of Project Awesome, as well as starting a few new short stories. So, lots going on in terms of new projects, and I must say it’s nice to take a break from all the heavy revising and rewriting I was doing a few months ago. Here’s a peak at a new short I’m working on:

Snippet from the screen: “Lou is old. He’s wearing a stained Grateful Dead T-shirt and faded blue jeans, two sizes too big. Goodwill, I’d guess. Everything about him sags. Everything but his smile. I frown, suspicious. Only fools and five year olds smile like that.”

Keeping me company: Mr. Ramses, of course–though, he’s not much company since he’s recovering from yet another gum surgery. Poor buddy. I actually have company other than Ramses today, though. My friend Jeff is here, working across the table. A few months back he, my friend Sarah, and I formed a work from home group in our neighborhood. We get together once or twice and week and keep each other on task. It’s cool. So, say ‘hi’ to Jeff, everybody.

In my mug: boring old water. Teatime is over for the day, alas.

On the iTunes: Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”

Out the window: it’s a rare cloudy day in the midst of an otherwise glorious Brooklyn summer (I’m only being about 50% snarky on that last one…)

A little procrastination never hurt anyone: well, that’s true if you’re not interested in the link I’m going to share today, or if you’ve already seen it. But if you are interested…let me just apologize in advance for the massive amounts of time you’re about to waste. I discovered this over the weekend and have been binge-watching ever since. So…if you’re a fan of Jane Austen, click on through to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern vlog & twitter adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Enjoy!