Friday, January 17, 2014

Focusing Fifteen Minutes a Day, and a Downton Abbey Poetry Reference

Today I continue our One Thing for 2014 series, in which we talk about one thing we want to do more (or less) of this year to support our writing. I'll also provide information about a contest for young writers. And at the end of today's post, in honor of Poetry Friday, I'll share a snippet from a poem I discovered in an unusual way--via this week's episode of Downton Abbey.

My One Thing for 2014:
I could really relate to what Esther said on Monday about putting other responsibilities ahead of her writing. I've been wanting to start a new novel for awhile now, but I've allowed myself to be distracted by other responsibilities, including freelance work and finding new teaching venues. I figured I needed long blocks of time to tackle something new. Then, last September, I participated in Laurie Halse Anderson's Write Fifteen Minutes a Day (WFMAD) Challenge and I discovered something important: you can get A LOT done in 15 minutes! And often, that 15 minutes magically stretches out into 30, 40, even 90 minutes. Unfortunately, I fell back into old habits during the holidays, putting off my FUN writing (as April calls it) to focus on other things again. Unlike Esther, I've been doing plenty of writing, including drafting a work-for-hire project, crafting query letters, and revising my YA historical romance (which, I'm happy to report, recently won the YA category of the Windy City RWA 2013 Four Seasons Contest). I just wasn't working on the new idea that was calling to me.

image from doctor_bob at morguefile
So my One Thing for 2014 is to Focus Fifteen Minutes a Day (FFMAD) on my new project. I've been actually setting a timer and keeping a record of my time spent. While I did miss a day this week, I am making progress. My new mantra: Slow Progress Is Better Than No Progress. And now that I've put my goal in writing for all the world to see, I hope to be even more consistent. J

So what's your One Thing for 2014? A few of our readers have been sharing theirs via the comments and emails. Perhaps if you share your intention with us, it will help you follow-through, too.

A Contest I Learned about this Week:
This week I learned about the Listen to a Life contest, sponsored by the Legacy Project. Students ages 8-18 are invited to:
"Travel through time as you interview a grandparent or grandfriend about their life experiences – you may be surprised by what you learn! Then, submit a 300-word story to send a message around the world and into the future." 
Teachers, why not encourage your students to participate? Entry deadline is March 28, and the contest is open to residents of U.S. and Canada. For details, see their How to Enter page.

A Poem for Poetry Friday, Courtesy of Downton Abbey:
I'm a big Downton Abbey fan. I have to admit that this week's episode was a real downer. (Episode 2 of Season 4.) However, one highlight was a brief reference to a Christina Rossetti poem. If you haven't seen the episode yet, you can watch it online. About 27:40 into it, Maggie Smith, in her role as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, says the last two lines of the sonnet "Remember." Not recognizing the poem, I went in search of it, and found it on the Poetry Foundation website. You can go there to read the whole poem. I'll share only the last 6 lines here.

               from Remember
              by Christina Rossetti
          . . . 
          Yet if you should forget me for a while
                   And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
                   For if the darkness and corruption leave
                   A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
          Better by far you should forget and smile
                   Than that you should remember and be sad.

Now it's time to check out all the other great poetry in today's Poetry Friday round-up over at Keri Recommends.

Happy Writing!


Julie said...

I was excited to hear Maggie Smith quote Rosetti, too, Carmela! Thanks for posting more of the poem.

Diane Mayr said...

Wasn't that episode wrenching? And frightening? Poor Anna. Thanks for searching out the poem for us! I'm psyched for Sunday.

Linda B said...

And now we must be on pins and needles perhaps the whole season worrying about Anna. So often is the 'no telling'! Thanks for the poem, Carmela.
And also thank you for the timer idea. A friend and I have an idea for a book, connected to something we do with students. I've begun, but that 15 minutes just may help me make a habit for it!

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for stopping by, Julie. Yes, Diane, it was devastating! I was quite upset. But someone reassured me on Facebook that it will all be resolved.
Linda, hooray for your new project! I hope the timer idea helps. Keep us posted on how it goes.

Tara said...

Poor, dear Anna - I was devastated. Let's hope that your Facebook information is correct! But, what a wonderful poem to connect Downton with.

Carmela Martino said...

Yes, Tara, I'm hoping it's correct, too. My mind conjured all sorts of plot twists, and none of them good. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

I knew I recognized those lines! Thanks for the post, Marti.

Carmela Martino said...

You're good, Leanne. The lines were new to me. :-)

Margaret Simon said...

Congrats on winning the contest! And thanks for posting the student contest. I'm always looking for ways my students can improve their writing. When working for a contest, they usually put in more effort.

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for pinning down that literary reference. I thought it was just a common saying!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, Marti, for your post.

I’ve honored my promise to spend my first waking hours with my Heroine, and some days, it has indeed been but 15 minutes. 

Pnina Moe Kass shared this link to Merrill Markoe’s NY Times Opinion piece on Procrastination. It humorously yet honestly underscores the WHY for Writers of using those first 15 minutes.

Thanks, too, for sending me on to Christina Rossetti and the poem Lady Violet referenced; the lines made me sit up instantly.

Carmela Martino said...

I hope your students participate in the contest, Margaret--let us know if they do.
Glad to help out, Mary Lee.
Thanks for sharing the link, Esther.I especially liked this line:
>>Conversely, the relentlessly negative voice that comes from your critical parent seems to be a left brain resident and doesn’t like to wake up too early. << :-)