Saturday, April 3, 2010

Where have I been.....and What have I been doing.....

While it may appear that I have fallen off the face of cyberspace, I am really still here -- alive and kicking.

I have been trying to read your blogs a little each day - and have even managed to comment on a few.  I have been focused on all things literary, but not necessarily blog worthy.  Or maybe they are blog worthy?

This is the final quarter of the school year (5 more weeks of classes and a week of finals - but who's counting).  No matter how organized I may be, there is always a big push at the end of the year to accomplish the curriculum, have enough grades entered in the system, and keep students' attention during the springtime weather.  I feel confident in my lesson plans and while I may need to tweak a little here and there, I think that all classes are in good shape.  Yea - cross that off the list.

I have a self-imposed reprieve from grading until next week because I wanted to participate in the read-athon without any guilt or work hanging over my head.  I will pay for it for the next month, as I will have much grading with which to contend myself, but it will be well worth it.  I need to develop a list of potential read-athon material (perhaps a topic of tomorrow's Sunday Salon post), and while I am nowhere nearly as organized as Margo with regards to snacking supplies, I will need to plan ahead for eating breaks with hubby.

I have been keeping pace with my required reading for the summer class.  I hope to finish The Scarlet Letter before the end of the weekend and I have done some preliminary research on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which I plan to read next.  Since April will be a busy month with school activities, I think that I will only try to complete these two selections as well as the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe.  I plan to begin the "big" reads, Moby Dick and The Mill on the Floss right after school lets out on May 14th.

My personal reading has taken a bit of hit over the past couple of weeks, but yesterday's storms foiled my outdoor plans and I decided to start The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.  I only have a couple of chapters to go and plan to also finish that book this weekend.  I have enjoyed learning about the world of First Edition collectors and can imagine if I had more money than I knew what to do with, this could easily be a past time that would eat away at my savings.  I am amazed at the amount of fraud in this industry, however, so it is probably a good thing that I can't afford it; the chances of being duped are very likely.

Although my personal reading has waned, my personal library has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks mostly to Half Priced Books coupon sale last week.  I plan to write a "buying summary" post sometime soon and you can see the number of books that I rescued and gave a nice home.  I am very curious to see how much I have spent since the start of the year, as the vast majority of these books were found in the clearance section, or bought with a 40% coupon.  I know that I will read them at some point in my life, so I am not worried that this was a wasted expenditure.

I have been spending much of my free time working on a fictional story idea.  I know I have mentioned the creative writing class that I will be teaching next year, using the curriculum The One Year Novel.  I very much want to be a good role model for the students and complete the assignment as well.  As is typical of my analytic nature, I have also been conducting some online research for additional ideas for how to write a novel.  J. Kaye has been instrumental in guiding me to these useful websites and I am currently experimenting with the Snowflake Method, the Three Act - Eight Scene format, and the use of Index Cards for scenes to create a flexible outline of the story.  I have no fantasy that this story will be the next great YA novel, but I do hope that others might find it an enjoyable read.

J. Kaye's writing blog has been quite the inspiration for me.  Pardon the pun, but she is truly an open book on this blog.  She shares her ups and downs, her successes and her frustrations.  It is wonderful to read her journey on a daily basis knowing that if I start to write on a more regular basis, I am sure to experiment this broad range of emotions as well.

The final activity that I have been focusing on is looking for some possible weekend excursions in and around Oxford and then doing some in-depth research that might help me to better write about my personal impressions.  I have read several books on travel writing, but the one that I have enjoyed the most (and ultimately decided to purchase) is Travel Writing:  A Guide to Research, Writing and Selling by L. Peat O'Neil.  I have been using some of the exercises in the book when I go to the park to try to hone my skills of observation (they are quite rusty - believe me).

I have also continued with my photo obsession, deciding that I need to work on composition before I experiment with camera settings.  I have become quite taken with a flock of Canadian geese that have gravitated to the pond, and I just set the camera on automatic and begin shooting away.  Last weekend I believe I shot about 105 pictures, only 10 that I thought were worth keeping.  One of the books that I found in my Half Price shopping marathon is called, A Better Picture Guide to Travel Photography by Michael Busselle (I think I paid $5.00 for the book).  I love the way it is set up as for each photograph taken he has a quick paragraph that discusses Seeing, Thinking, Acting, Technique, and Rule of Thumb.  I love reading his thoughts behind the actual setting, and then how he chooses to portray that setting in a captured photo.  I have no false notions that I will go overseas ready to take National Geographic style pictures, but I do hope to capture the English countryside in a way that those back home can appreciate.

So yes, I am still here; yes I am busy with literary pursuits, and yes, I do miss blogging on a more regular basis.  I still have 5 book reviews to write (I hate when they pile up) and I want to share my book buying excursions.  Perhaps I can take some breaks in my prep for the read-athon and catch up on blog writing.


  1. Sounds like you have been one busy, busy lady! I can see that you are not counting down the days until school ends. Lol! How many minutes does that work out to?

    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner has always been one of my favorites. Are you researching Coleridge in general or something specific about the work itself?

    Good luck with the Read-a-thon. Have a wonderful week until then and a peaceful Easter.

  2. Sounds like your week has certainly been busy...I can't wait to see which books you rescued!!!

  3. You have been busy, Molly, but you don't sound frantic. You sound purposeful and peaceful. That's a good thing! Take care!

  4. You have been busy, Molly, but you don't sound frantic. You sound purposeful and peaceful. That's a good thing! Take care!

  5. I agree with Kay. You sound like you have everything under control and have made some goo plans for the months ahead. You are making great plans for the next few months. They do sound so exciting.

    I'm sorry I don't live in Kansas City anymore. If I did I would just gather up all my snacks and we would do the read-a-thon together. Good luck with that.

  6. I don't think I knew you were trying your hand at writing fiction. Will you post somewhere when it's done? I'm thinking of restarting my own classroom blog next year so I can post my students writing again.

    I took a morning photography class at Yosemite years ago. The best, simplest piece of advice I ever got came from there. Deep knee bends. When taking pictures of nature, look at things from all levels, standing up straight and kneeling down as low as you can. My photographs instantly became more interesting from doing this simple thing.

    I hope you'll post from Oxford this summer. I'd love to hear about it.

  7. Molly, you are my hero! I think you have some amazing things going on, and shouldn't be sorry that you haven't been around lately. Please keep us informed on your writing project...I want to be supportive. I'm also very interested in photography. (I am actually going to Yosemite this summer, so maybe I'll track down this photography class that James mentioned!)

  8. Boy, have you been busy! It sounds like your school gets out early - around the same time as my son and he's in college.

  9. I love the Snowflake method and using the Scene Index method. They are both very useful.


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