Renegade Reflections

Pride, Perfectionism and Anger—Confessions of a Recovering Jerk

Since there doesn’t seem to be a twelve-step program yet, I will step forward to admit that much of Kristen’s post hit very close to home for me. Good afternoon. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a perfectionist jerk.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via QuickMeme Image via QuickMeme

I am one of the most blessed people on the planet. Truly. I’m not a millionaire and may never be, but I’m infinitely rich. I wouldn’t trade the wonderful people I know personally and on-line for anything. This is a tough post to write because it’s vulnerable. But I know that all of us struggle and fail and fall and often what keeps us pressing is to know others have been a mess (or still are one). It’s why I’ve branded everything I do under We Are Not Alone.

I have a confession. I am a Recovered (Recovering?) Jerk. It would be nice to lie to you and tell you I never have my moments, but I do. Thankfully, they are much rarer than they used to be. Today, I’d like to talk about some of my Jerk Reformation. It could be a BOOK…okay a SERIES of…

View original post 2,511 more words


Gratitude for unseen blessings

Thanksgiving is a time I try to express my gratitude for my family, friends, and life.  I was struck by Kristen Lamb’s gratitude post because she concentrates on the blessings revealed by inconveniences.  One example, among many, is to see the blessing in washing the dog blankets because she has a dog for a companion.

Once I learned how to look at several incidents this fall, I see they are unseen blessings. I am grateful for the post-surgical complication that landed me in the ICU, because I no longer take a day, or an hour, or even a minute, for granted.

I am grateful for only having the use of one hand, because I know that it is temporary, and it has made me far more mindful of the things that I do. I often write by hand, with a fountain pen in a notebook, enjoying the process of translating the words to the motion of my hand.

I am grateful for the inflated grocery bill, because my sons are home with us this fall, before going to college in the spring.  I treasure their stopping here on the cusp of their adulthood.

I am grateful for my husband who needs so much more “together” time than I do, because he thinks I am pretty cool, even though especially because I am nerdy.

I am grateful for my sister who cannot figure out the time difference with New York and calls in the middle of dinner, because she calls and cares.

I am grateful for my friends, who dig me out of my hermit self, and make me do things with them that I enjoy, but would never do alone.

I am grateful for my dog who digs up the yard, because she knows when I am sad or feeling ill, and will not leave my side.

Thank you to all of you.  I am grateful to know you, have you as friends and family, and spend time with you.



Renegade Reflections

WANACon, WANA International and Other Cool Things

I went to an astounding writers’ conference this past weekend. I want to share it with you.  I know, you may be asking, why would I tell you about a conference that was last week? I want to share for several reasons.  The conference was put together by the folks at WANA International, which is a community of artists that I highly recommend for throwing a lifeline of support and community to independent artists. Kristen Lamb, writer of the social media guide, We are Not Alone (familiarly, WANA), with a few instructors and other minions, has created the WANA International community. If you are an artist, check them out.

I am also telling you about the conference because it was virtual.  Yes, I sat in my little garret in upstate New York with my fuzzy slippers on, and attended a conference that went past my bedtime.

Finally, I am telling you about the conference not out of some “look what I did last weekend, and you didn’t,” but because last weekend was not the only WANA conference, nor is it going to be the only one this year.  Kristen puts it well in her announcement: “The Digital Age has completely altered the publishing world, and writers need to be equipped. Changes are coming faster than anyone can keep up, so we no longer have the luxury of waiting a few months or a year for a standard writing conference. With new opportunities come new challenges, and new predators.”

Interested? Check out the particulars: the speakers, the keynotes, and the parties, detailed in the rest of Kristen’s post.

I plan to talk about my experiences, once my brain has plotted paths to all the new information, which should take a few more days.

My brief ROW80 check-in is here.


ROW80 Check-in Change is a’Coming

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, University at Albany, academic podium, snow,winter, campus
Academic podium in snow, January 2013

My husband took this picture out his office window; the snow of a few weeks ago has melted for the most part, and this snowfall has renewed the clean whiteness that enchants the landscape.

Kristen Lamb’s blogging course is shifting into high gear, so there will be many changes to this blog over the next few weeks. I am trying to put everything in this self-named blog, but need to transfer some of the posts I don’t want to leave behind.  I also have a growing list of posts I want to write, and will have to adjust my goals to fit some time in for them.

Also, I want to thank Claire at Word by Word for alerting me to Mslexia magazine.  Although I will probably have to content myself with the digital version, since I live in the States, I was very excited to find out about it.


  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states. Total fail.  I struggled with insomnia this week, a heavy schedule of work commitments, and a stomach bug that arrived just when everything else left my plate. I want to work on this article; I need to work on this article, and I am beyond frustrated with my inability to get to it.


  • As a sponsor, I will visit blogs twice a week. I missed Wednesday’s posts, but plan to visit today.  Partial fail.
  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.  I replied to the latest set of comments, but there are more to do. Partial fail.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  Done.


  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening. I did well at the beginning of the week, but had to work Thursday night, and that threw me off.  Partial fail.
  • I will continue to use the stairs. Done.
  • I will look into the gym at work. I did visit, and got the times and prices of lockers and towels.  A slow start, but a start just the same.


  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read.  This past week I finished Mastiff, the third in the Beka Cooper series, and started and finished Eon by Allison Goodman. I started Eona, which is the second book in the series.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best. I had lunch with Eden on Friday, which was very nice.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month. Partial fail; a stomach virus hit me yesterday morning and is proving hard to shake.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids. Done.

Please go encourage the participants here.  We have a varied, interesting group.

Renegade Reflections, ROW80

ROW80 Check-in Chops or Not

As often is the case, I found many interesting posts this past week. Cate Russell-Cole pointed me to More Love Letters, which appeals to my love of writing on paper, as well as paying it forward by sending words of encouragement to those who need them.

Lena Corazon pointed me to Chad Carver’s post on imperfection.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism all my conscious life, so I found Chad’s take on imperfection a interesting and fruitful one.

I’m beginning to think I should have a post of links every so often, since I follow so many wonderful bloggers.  That may well become one of my blogging goals. I’m still struggling through Kristen Lamb’s blogging course.  I tend to feel inadequate (what else is new?) and my previously supportive family has suggested an evaluation of my life goals.  My main problem is that I can see their point, much as I wish I didn’t.  But for now, excelsior remains my mantra, along with “strength, courage, and wisdom,” which I completely stole from Lena Corazon (with her blessing, mind you).


  • Spend at least four hours a week on an article, in whatever configuration works for me.  Although I  usually write before work, I find that frustrating when I want to spend more time than I have between my comatose and rush-out-the-door states. Yes.  I spent a lot of time getting back into the research, but it was necessary.  Then the effort was in reading through the text, cleaning up the structure and diminishing the holes in the argument.


  • As a sponsor, I will visit blogs twice a week. Yes, and here’s a list:

For the first check-in and for the mid-week:

  • I will reply to all comments on my blogs.  Not yet, but I hope to do that today or tomorrow.
  • I will spend no more than 5 hours a week on social media.  Done.


  • I will walk for twenty minutes an evening. Only a couple of evenings.
  • I will continue to use the stairs. Done.
  • I will look into the gym at work.  The thought doesn’t appeal, but it is handy and cheap. Um, not yet *blush*


  • I will set aside a half-hour every evening to read. This is an easy one. I’m on a Tamora Pierce kick right now.  This past week I finished Bloodhound, the second in the Beka Cooper series, and started Mastiff, the third in the series. I read Tamora Pierce with my sons when they were about 9 and 10, and I still love to sink back into her world.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week contacting a friend by whatever means work best. I spent some  time chatting with some online friends a bit over a week ago–this week sped by, so I need to work more on this goal.
  • I will have a “date night” with my husband at least twice a month. Not yet.
  • I will spend at least one hour a week with at least one of my kids. Done.

Please go encourage someone on the list of participants.  A friendly word, especially at this early stage, may help someone continue to work at their goals this Round.  You’ll find them all here.

Renegade Reflections, ROW80

A cautionary tale

editing, writing, red pen,
Red Pen by Cellar Door FIlms from WANA Commons

Please scroll down for my ROW80 check-in.

Earlier this week, I was pointed to a funny, true, and far-too-self-revelatory comic by The Oatmeal on creativity. (Thank you, Kristen Lamb). I heard from fellow writers that The Oatmeal is well-known, although not to me.

I sent the link to my husband, who, as it happens, follows law blogs and copyright law.  He said, “Oh, yeah, that guy was in a lawsuit,” and proceeded to send me all the relevant blog posts.

It is a cautionary tale for those of us who create.  The Oatmeal called out a site that posts creative works without permission or attribution; the site’s response was to threaten legal action.  An awesome set of bloggers, known as Popehat, found lawyers to work pro bono for The Oatmeal.

I cannot tell the story better than the string of posts about it on Popehat; the snark is delicious and redolent. They are in reverse chronological order, so one has to read up, but they are numbered after number 3.

I was touched that Popehat puts up a Popehat signal (yes, like Batman) when they feel someone needs legal assistance; lawyers respond by the legion, and offer pro bono help. It seems the name Popehat is an inside joke among the founding bloggers, with nothing to do with the papacy or Roman Catholicism, but coming from a staunch Irish Catholic family, I had to love the Popehat as a Batman-type signal.

I also love to see lawyers paying it forward in this way.  I cannot say with any certainty, but I suspect some of those offering pro bono work enjoy fighting the sleazebags who have given lawyers a bad name since Shakespeare’s time.

A incident like this one makes me nervous about sharing anything I’ve created. I would hate to feel powerless against a legal threat when I merely want the rights to my own work.  Early in my academic career, it was accepted procedure to sign away all rights to the journal publishing one’s article.  The sea change has happened in that world as well, with academics keeping the rights to their work.

I have no snappy conclusions or smart solutions.  I wanted to call your attention to some of the good guys. I think it is arrogant for a site to think they can post things without attribution or permission.  I am glad that, with Popehat’s help, The Oatmeal won the day.

How do you feel about having your work out there?  Do you post excerpts or serial snippets? Have you ever had anything posted without permission or attribution?


I’m still in the chrysalis phase, uncertain whether I am Swallowtail Spicebush or Monarch. The blogging class is coming along reasonably well, and I am learning some elementary things like embedding videos and the like.

I spent most of the week feeling like I’d been drained by vampires, with none of the eroticism. I’m probably valiantly fighting off some virus making the rounds of the students, so I’m not worried, but it has put paid to my doing much outside of the day job.  I have gotten most of an article written for the day job, which does help keep the pump primed for fiction writing.  All in all, I’ll take it. 🙂

Please go encourage some of the cohort here.


Lessons Learned and Au revoir, New York

Today I leave New York City and return to my now-familiar haunts in upstate New York.  I enjoy the dip into the big city, drawing energy from the crowds on the sidewalks, the taxis blaring by, horns in counterpoint, the aromatic steam rising from the food trucks, all waking me early and filling the well.

I’ve been doing back flips into the research pool, and must admit climbing out to go back to my day job reminds me of being summoned from the neighborhood pool on hot summer days when I was a child. I also had to deal with the magpie this week, as I kept finding interesting side paths while working on my article.  I am proud to say I just kept putting notes in an idea file for future research trips.

My husband came to the city yesterday morning, so I managed to meet my date night goal.  We didn’t do anything much, but wandered around the city and talked.

Tomorrow, I’m starting the blogging class taught by Kristen Lamb at wana.intl, and am looking forward to learning and improving.

Speaking of learning, I want to share something I learned from the academic writing group in which I participate. This quote is from Dame Eleanor Hull’s post where she attributes the quotation to Dr. Isis’ post here.

“A friend just gave me a new framework for ways of comparing things: normative, ipsative and aspirational. So think about reaching a goal, say training for a marathon.  Normative – how do I compare to others around me with whom I train: are they getting better faster than me? Ipsative – how do I compare to where I was: am I running at a consistently faster pace than a month ago? Aspirational – how do I compare to where I want to be – can I run 20 miles without puking?”

It made me think about how we can make these comparisons negative or positive, depending on our psyche, or our mood of the moment. For example, I could take the normative comparison to beat myself up–”this acquaintance easily wins NaNo every year, so I’m a failure since I haven’t ever won.” Or the aspirational comparison could be so far out of reach as to be ridiculous–”I’ll have a book contract and three novels under my belt by this time next year.”

However, I can make positive normative and aspirational goals, which are the kind that work best in ROW80.  I have to admit, though, that I am intrigued by ipsative goals, where I compare myself to me, and I can celebrate progress, or even give myself little rewards. 🙂

Also, Kait gave a wonderful explanation and rationale for visiting each other and strengthening this great community in her check-in post.  You can find everyone here.

Let me know what you think about these comparison techniques for goals, and how you might use the different techniques in your own goals.  I love to hear from you.