ROW Goals Update #10

Excerpt from  my 12/3/99  Writing Practice:

(…And musings from today, 5/6/12)

I’d write more and better, if only…:

  • I had a brand new computer… (my Sweet L’il Lenovo does everything I need, and then some.  It’s not brand new.  It’s a returned lease laptop, and I bought it on Ebay  for a mere $117.99). 
  • A room of my own… (I’m not sure why I thought this was a big deal, when it was just Jim and I then, and our work schedules allowed me time alone most days).  Now, I have a cubby of my own, about 8′ by 10′, made from three wall bookshelves bolted to the wall and each other, with no door, and in clear sound range of our common living areas.  I have two active children who do not attend school, and mess and noise and work come with them – and I find writing time and space far more easily than I did, back in 1999).
Sweet morning message. =)

  • Nothing but free time… (Free time is one of those concepts that far too often goes un – examined.  How much of my time MUST be given to other things,with no choice on my part?  Very little, really.  These days, I find that pockets of time exist in each day, without ignoring my family or the things I choose to do to maintain our home, and support our lives.  I choose to use some of these pockets to pursue my passion for writing.  I use the rest of my time for living richly, giving to my loved ones, and being present in my life -which provides me with a steady source of things to write about! ).
Lemon Juice Invisible Ink, made by Jeremiah.
  • More writing books… (When  I wrote this, the Internet was a smaller place, and I didn’t really know how to use it for writing information.  Over the last few years, I have given away all but my most precious writing books, and I have become a lot better at finding information specifically suiting my needs of the moment, which saves time, mental clutter, and physical space).
  • More writing friends…  (While I love having a network of friends who write and know how it is to live twice at once, with words and ideas always spinning in their minds, writing is still a solitary affair.  No number of friends can help, if I am not willing to give myself fully to my writing, during my writing times.  No lack of writing friends can keep me from doing that, either.  Whether I write or not is my choice, always).
Annalise and her new “Sedona Sunrise” quilt – a gift from her Oregon gramma.

  • part-time job… (Hmm…  ‘nothing but free time’ AND ‘a part-time job, too’?  Clearly, I wasn’t thinking logically.  It seems, now, like I was looking for excuses…because writing is a thing that fits very easily into the spaces that exist in life – IF I choose for it to.  If I insist on perfect conditions, then I will be focused more on the lack of perfect spaces than on all those little pockets of time that COULD give me imperfect writing spaces aplenty).
After the equine nuptials in the front yard…

  • More support at home… ( I think what I was wanting here was for Jim to be as excited about my writing as I had convinced myself I was, to stroke my ego and tell me that, yes, THIS was important, to validate me and my choices.  Now, with more people in my home, and two of them young enough that their own pursuits shine more brightly than anyone else’s, I’ve realized that I need to be my own support.  I validate my own truth and passions when I choose to write.  If I take my passion seriously, my family will, more or less, accept the statement, “I am going to write now.”  Not in moments when they need me; but in other moments, when they are pursuing their own passions.  If my validation and support come from myself, primarily, I will not bemoan others’ focus on their own lives, and I will be free to delve as deeply as I choose into my own passion).
Playing with numbers…sometimes it looks like schoolwork, but generally not. This was joyful play for Jeremiah.

  • Lots of sales… (Again, there seems to be a certain lack of logic here.  Lots of sales…of WHAT, if I’m not willing to take my writing seriously enough to create whether I am selling anything or not?  Today, I write because – well, I write.  I have since I was seven, and I was creating stories in my mind, playing with words and ideas, in toddlerhood.  Writing is as essential to who I am as my gender and utter left-handedness.  I can choose to scribble in order to fill notebooks that I then stuff into an ever-growing pile in a dark cabinet, where no one sees them…or I can know that my drive and desire to write are about sharing my soul and my truth and my fantasies, offering them up, generously, casting them out upon the tides of life and trusting that at least some of them will be carried to fertile places where they can grow and thrive for someone else.  I can choose to do this freely, and, in time, also receive payment for some of these word-seeds.  But money is not and never really has been a very good motivator for me.  I tend to find richness in many other things, and living simply brings me more joy and peace than a swollen bank account ever could.  Now, I write, and I share, out of the essence of who I am, because I believe that our unique selves are the greatest gifts we can offer to anyone else).
First-ever try at “formal” division.

  • A guarantee it’ll be good… (Again,I don’t seem to have been seeing this logically.  “Good” is a very broad and vapid word.  It’s not passionate, deeply true, delightful play….it’s just ‘good’.  In truth, my best writing comes when I simply pour forth what’s inside me, whether deep ponderings about my life or fictional romps, or something else. When I open the gates and let my words and ideas out, there is generally something ‘good’ there – and now, to me, ‘good’ is less valid an assessment than “true for me, right now, and something I feel strongly about sharing”.  The more I share, the more easily I can tap into my truth again,and again…).
Impromptu lemonade stand.

List of Ways to Increase Writing Time:

1) Write for 10-20 minutes as soon as I get up.

2)Take 10 minute writing breaks during housecleaning, or after each chapter in a book I’m reading.

3) Fill one practice notebook each month, as fast as I can.  The challenge makes me WANT to write, and doing it fuels me for the next time.

4) Spend one afternoon (3-4 )hours at a cafe in Eugene.  Write.

Potential Lemonade Tycoons…living in a rural area! =)

5) Skip one TV show.  Write.

6) One night a week working for Newcomers.  Write.

7) When Jim’s driving, write.

8)While doing laundry, write.

9) Write for 20 minutes before bed each night.

10) Clean desk and have projects ready to work on – always.

11) Carry notebook and pens everywhere.  Whenever I get a chance, write.

12)Take notebook into the woods.  Write.


13) Write freehand first-  less excuses, and can use typing time to revise.

14) Issue projects as challenges to be met – then find a way to meet them.

15) Reward system :  I need to write for 2 hours today before I can…Make the goal worth the time –  and don’t give in!

16) Listen to Writing Down the Bones  or another book on writing while driving.  When I stop, take 5-10 minutes to write down ideas before leaving the car.

There seems to be a sort of desperation, or at least clutching, in the above, and a sense, too, of force and penance.  It’s really prevalent in all of my posts during this period.

He thought he could stump me! =D

The assumption seems to be that writing time is near impossible to find, and that one must force oneself to do it.

It’s a lack mentality, and fear based.

It’s the pattern of my childhood, which is unconsciously lived well into my adulthood.

Today, I know that finding time is as simple as each choice.  It’s a few minutes of doing what I love, or a few hours.  My time is exactly as abundant as my life; so is everyone’s.  

Jim found this note when he got up. Sweet surprise.

I don’t force myself to write.  I come here to revel in words, in thoughts, in feelings, and in sharing.  There is treasure, here, that I can carry into the rest of my moments and hours, making them richer.

I come now from a place of peace and abundance and love.

It makes all the difference. 


  • Read at least 3 articles a week from my To Be Read files on computer, and categorize those I choose to keep or share.
  • I read  this article on advising our children in ways that support their growth and independence.  As with  most of Peter Gray‘s articles (and his lectures, which I have caught in part at NEUC 2010 and 2011, and plan to again this August), it resonated strongly with me, and I plan to comment within the next few days.
  • This goal has been attained for this week.
Annalise took this picture of her new horses, acquired at the yard sale…


  • Complete Cooperative Catalyst post and relevant links (interviews with both children, and their “day in the life” posts from last year) ; submit to editor.
  • All four of the related posts I plan to link to my post are now  updated, edited, and embellihed with links and images.
  • I have finished editing the actual guest post.
  • Next, I am going to take a deep breath, gather my courage, and write to the editor with the news that I have, at long last, written something I am ready to share…
  • Create a “flow chart” for posting to shanjeniah and The Unfettered Life.  Use these, and adapt as necessary, throughout the round (with allowances made in April for the challenge).
  • As mentioned at the last update, I have not found any type of rhythm for this.  It might be the May Challenge, or that the structure is too intrusive for my “pantser” inclinations.
  • I have decided to set this goal aside.  I may pick it up again later, when I am more ready for it, but, for now, it just seems more restrictive and guilt-inducing than useful.
  • Add pages/ edit sidebar layout on shanjeniah.
  • I have added a page titled  My 2012 Challenges.
  • This will allow me to remove the clustered clutter of the challenge badges on my sidebar, during the coming weeks.
  • I have a basic page, now, with links to all the challenges, and badges for each.
  • I plan to add links to my grouped post for each challenge.
  • I will also experiment with creating a slideshow using these badges, to place into a widget (so that I get to publicize these great challenges and  keep my collection of pretties, too).
Big tough wolf!


  •  Explore She WritesTwitterStoryDamPinterest;and LinkedIn .  Use, develop, evaluate, adjust.
  • I visited LinkedIn, reviewed my contacts, and shared “Everdeep”.
  • I intend to return during the coming weeks and leave some messages for connections I have been eager to catch up with.
  • I visited She Writes, and this time lingered long enough to get a better feel for how the site is set up.
  •  I also discovered that I have seven comments waiting to be answered there.
  • I will be working on answering those and following up with specific groups during the coming weeks.
  • Continue joining hops, fests, challenges, and other community blogging effort.
  • I am participating in the Story a Day May Challenge.
  • May 3  – “Everdeep”.
  • May 4  – Bus Station”
  • May 5 – not yet posted.
  • May 6 – not yet posted.
  • I have looked at this week’s Storyteller Writing Challenge.  The photo prompt struck me with instant recognition!
  • I will be writing this as one of my Story a Day May posts.
  • I have a slightly too- long story, and will be revising it after posting my goals update.
  • Comment on and share blogs regularly; share my blogs as widely as seems feasible, and in diverse ways.
  • I am continuing to expand my comfort zone here.
  • I have been sharing posts via LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus.
  • Do 3 guest posts and  host 3 guest bloggers this round.
  • I have my first guest post waiting to be formatted and scheduled.
  • I plan to host Elizabeth Anne Mitchell‘s guest post on May 18 or 19.
  • I have a theme for my return guest post, and will be writing it soon.
Saturday evening, in the yard with horses…


  •  Submit at least 10 pieces of flash fiction or poetry this round.
  • To celebrate the inclusion of my poem, 4AM Callin the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction GazetteI am preparing to submit a flash fiction piece there.
  • I have tentatively selected my piece, “Sarjyn and the Kingdom of Man Above”, originally written for the Storyteller Writing Challenge, pending rereading and potential revising.
  • I have submitted 1 out of 10 pieces toward that goal.
  • Submit at least 5 essays or lists this round.
  • I completed all elements of my Creative Catalyst guest post package, as noted above.
  • It’s a rather large amount of material, so I began by sending an email to the editor for direction on how best to proceed from here.
  • The long-standing ice has been broken.  I’m taking some deep breaths before delving into the next submission – my Anything Goes piece for the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette.
  • I have a rough draft I think I really like, and will soon be rereading and revising over the next days, prior to taking the leap and submitting it.
  • Continue submitting to hops, challenges, fests, etc; at least 3 each month.
  • I am participating in the current ROWnd of ROw80 – obviously…
  • I am also challenging myself with the Story a Day May Challenge.
  • I have a story in progress for the Storyteller Writing Challenge.
  • I also have several less intensive challenges; these are listed at My 2012 Challenges.
Happy girl.


  •  Organize all photos on hard drive/move to organized Picasa web albums or delete.
  • I have synced all remaining folders in my My Pictures file to my Picasa Web Albums, with privacy settings until I sort and edit them.
  • Once the editing is complete, I will be able to delete these files from my hard drive.
  • This will leave only a few random photos that have wandered off into the crannies of my computer, to track down and gently rehome…
  • Watermark all photos that appear on my blogs, and all those I post going forward; begin watermarking favorites not on blogs.
  • While adjusting visibilty settings on my Web Albums, I found a way to add watermarks to complete albums with just a few clicks.
  • I will next evaluate both watermarks.  If I am satisfied with the batch mark (I don’t see a way to customize the text or color, although there may be one), it will save me a few hours’ work.
  •  Explore marketing articles on my Facebook Writer Page.
  • I read this article on creating a sell sheet.
  • The site it came from,  Bryan Thomas Schmidt, is packed with useful information.  I will be returning.
  • Add useful articles to my shanjeniah  Marketing Articles page.
  • I added the article above to my Marketing Articles Page.
  • Use this information to help define my direction; adjust as needed.
  • The shape of the marketing to come is becoming a bit more defined.
  • I’m not ready to say much about it, yet, but I know for certain that it will have more by far  to do with passion and purpose than it will to do with making money (not that I will turn down payment; but it will never supersede following my passions.
Dog in the yard…..


  •  Edit all 2009 posts on  The Unfettered Life.  Consider layout and design changes.
  • I have edited the existing text and added many, many links to my post, Learning Nothing….The Final Frontier.
  • This is a larger and more involved update than I had originally thought, and I need a bit of time away from it, before adding the few paragraphs of new text and doing photo edits and additions.
  • I am therefore going to set it aside for a little while, and begin reading and assessing the following post – sometimes things go better for me if I remember the pacing that was so vital as an Old Faithful Inn waitress!
  • I will add these edits in, assembly-line style, so that I can do them in a rotation that first expands, then, later, contracts.
  • Take clips from first Penzu notebook.
  • I have taken another clip, which appears above as the intro to this update.
  • This leaves 14 more posts to clip to attain this goal.
  • Input Chameleon’s Dish to Scrivener; complete story arc for Blood and Breath.
  • I have input Chapter 1 Scene 4 of Chameleon’s Dish.  This completes the inputting of Chapter 1 – a step in the decidedly right direction! =)
  • I have added Chapter Six to my story arc.
  • Clean up computer downloads, documents, photos, and other clutter – move it or lose it!
  • I cleaned up my Dropbox file, adding folders for all categories and shifting all free-floating documents into appropriate folders.
  • I also cleaned up my Homeschool Adminstration file, adding folders and categorizing as needed, and condensing some stray folders.
  • I added a Videos to Edit folder to my Documents file.
The Corkster!


  • Add JOY to every day!
  • Thursday:  Did not fight with the mower.  Good kid time.  Hot shower.
  • Friday:  Allowed myself to be tired and somewhat indolent. M*A*S*H with Jim.  Khan Academy division with Miah.  Lise’s newly improved note-writing skills.  Unicorns.
  • Saturday: One mile walk with Miah.  Hometending.  Saying yes to many treasures at a yard sale.  Seeimng my poem in print, and money in my PayPal account.   Sharing that with those I love.
  • Sunday: Moved futon to backyard.  Gassed mower, several failed attempts to keep running –  water in air filter, maybe?  Grass i getting pretty high –  Miah had a tick.  Removed.  Hometending.
  • Add movement to every day, too!
  • Thursday:  Attempted mowing (mower uncooperative).  Hometending.
  • Friday: Hometending.  Took things slow; tired day with achy head and back.
  • Saturday: Walked about a mile with Miah.  Hometending.
  • Sunday: Moved futon to backyard.  Gassed mower, several failed attempts to keep running –  water in air filter, maybe?  Grass is getting pretty high –  Miah had a tick.  Removed.  Hometending.
  • Add self-decorating to every week!
  • Yup –  there’s still blue in my hair, and I am wearing my sequined shirt.
  • Add more of my passions to each day, in as many ways as I can manage.
  • Thursday: Lots of family time. Reading and writing abounded.
  • Friday: Photography.  Stating my needs clearly.  Intimacy.  Watching them learn, learn, learn!
  • Saturday: Walking; being with the kids, lots of reading; taking a submitting leap. Tickles and important conversation with Miah.
  • Sunday:  Lise’s lilacs on my desk. A focused but relaxed day. A tidy bedroom that awaits Jim’s weekend.  Creating.  Sleeping in when I needed it.  The moon.
  • Add all these for my beloved others, too!
  • Annalise: Unicorns, time together outside, tickles and hugs.  Yesses all over the yard sale; 17 new horse models, with tack.   Detangling her hair.  Let her use my fancy camera to take movies of her horses.  Yes to independent walks.
  • Jim:  Time together.  M*A*S*H.  A calm if messy home.  I made a snack and brought it to him in bed.
  • Jeremiah:  I stayed together when he fell apart.  Long, deep, conversation. Playing with Khan Academy and division together.  Yes to monkey platter plate, calculator, UNO,  and lemonade pitcher at the yard sale.  A long walk together.  Patient tick removal.  Hugs and cuddles and tickles.  Talk about growing up.  More freedom to walk farther, alone.
“This is my best side….”
It’s been a week filled with Big Learning.  Notes from Annalise.   Miah learning how to divide during a 17 minute Khan Academy video.    Venn diagrams ad the Olympic rings.  Reading.  Invisible ink made from lemon juice.  Homemade lemonade and a stand.  Independently  walking to explore a yard sale and an 1800’s cemetery.  Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.  Continents and philosophy.  The Mayan calendar, and ours.  Manifest Destiny and the Revolution.  Euros, pounds, and yen.
There’ve been some upsets, most handled peacefully.  That’s still something we’re learning, and, when there is so much other growth going on, the way can get bumpy for a while, as we readjust…Oh, and I made money writing, too! =D

 Sima garo provides!

 Please Allow Me to Introduce Another 5 Followers:

Welcome to my messily peaceful little corner of the universe!
And here is the ROW80 Linky, so we can see what thew other ROWErs are up to this week!

Photo Credits:

  • Images of model horses and wolves by Annalise S. Burton.
  • Video filmed entirely by Annalise S. Burton.
  • All other photos by blog author, Shan Jeniah Burton.

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  1. There is a sense of desperation on that earlier journal entry. A sense that you felt as if the world was trying to keep you from writing perhaps. Certainly a sense that you were trying to make a living by writing rather than writing by living… if that makes any sense. The idea that we need to justify our actions is… well… I cannot condemn it totally. I do find that there a real “personal value” in the check-ins and the connections and support in things like the ROW80. But it isn’t because I’m justifying my actions. It is because I am learning about myself and by making my self-discovery public, I can also learn more…

    The learning curve is pretty durned messy..

    Again, a lovely post. This deserves more, but the mind is not working. Not right now. I hope it is well for you. Th mind, that is… It’s time to meditate on “yes” and choice.

  2. Wow! You have a barrel-full of motivation here! I love how clearly you ahve your goals set in place. Thank you for sharing this – you have a new fan in me 🙂 Great work on the pictures – they add that personal touch of writing while living the life of a parent – something that is a huge obstacle for some, but an endless source of story material for others 🙂

    • Jessica –

      Thank you! A “Barrel of Motivation” would be helpful…but no. I just like to diversify and have lots of things in various stages of doneness…and, with two unschoolers and the spontaneity that goes with them, it’s good to know what I want to be working on, so that I am ready to take advantage of the natural writing spaces that fall into my day.

      I tend to work in very short bursts of activity during my husband’s work hours, broken up with kid things and hometending. I get in a longer session or maybe two most nights, and sometimes, when the full moon demands wakefulness, I work all night, which is about the only time I can count on a degree of quiet…

      I take pictures so I can have a record of sorts of what we do, for family who are interested, and for the reports I need to submit quarterly to our school district. Annalise in particular is a willing subject, although, as she nears 8, she’s more selective about what I am permitted to share…

      This happened to be a week where the things they created had a passing resemblance to schoolwork, but that isn’t always (or usually!) the case.

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you’re here! =)

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