My ROW80 Goals

ROW80 stands for “A Round of Words in 80 Days.” Click on the logo to find out more about the challenge.

I discovered ROW80 at the perfect time. Last week, I decided to take a last minute leave of absence from my MFA in Writing program. I’ve been dealing with some medical issues that make traveling difficult. It also seemed like a good opportunity to take some time off to think about my memoir, the program I’m currently in, and what my next steps should be going forward.

But being out of a program means losing those ever-so-important writing deadlines. Thankfully, Round 3 of ROW80 starts tomorrow, so I was able to sign up in time to be part of the round from the start.

GOALS FOR ROW80, July 2nd-September 21

(Edited July 5)

1. Write every day. Period. I’ve decided not to get tripped up on word counts, hours, or the idea of working on a particular project. Even if it just means a poem or a free write, the act of writing daily is the most important thing.

2. Blog twice a week.

3. Read a total of six books, any genre.

4. Spend one hour a day on social media stuff. This means conversations on Twitter, commenting on blog posts, and generally making new friends and connections.

5. Exercise 3x per week for 20-30 minutes. Ambitious, but worth adding.

I look forward to meeting my fellow ROW80 participants and wish you all the best of luck with your goals!


Road Trip Musings

My best friend Ahuva and I hit the road to visit my sister in Santa Cruz. As we make our way up the coast, we muse about life, the future, and inflatable helmets.


Edward Gorey and Bedtime Stories

Seeing this funny photo of Edward Gorey today brought back memories of my childhood bedtime story experience. Many writers cite bedtime stories as being a catalyst for their future interest in writing and storytelling. I definitely count myself as being one of those writers, but my bedtime story experience was probably a little different than the typical bedtime story ritual.

My dad preferred making up bedtimes stories to reading them from books. They were always interactive, and usually featured alter egos of me and my little sister as the protagonists of the tale. These alter egos, Malana and Schmemily, went on many adventures over the years. They took spaceships to the moon and hung out with aliens. They were trapeze artists in the circus, befriending elephants and tigers. They went on voyages around over the world, often coming up against antagonists who made their journey difficult.

My dad didn’t really believe in reading cutesy books written specifically for children, so when he did read us books, they were usually pretty off-beat. He preferred the darker Roald Dahl novels like The Witches and The Vicar of Nibbleswicke. His favorite books to read us, though, were written by Edward Gorey. Many a night I fell asleep to the rhymes of The Wuggly Ump:


“Sing twiddle-ear, sing twaddle-or,
The Wuggly Ump is at the door…

How uninviting are its claws!
How even more so are its jaws!

Sing glogalimp, sing glugalump,
From deep inside the Wuggly Ump.”

(© Edward Gorey)




After my father read us these disturbing stories, my mother followed his act with a guided relaxation exercise where we took deep breaths and imagined we were at the beach. I guess that was to calm us down and keep us from having nightmares from our bedtime stories. It’s funny now to look back at how different their approaches to bedtime rituals were. While it was fun to listen to my dad’s made-up stories and hear him recite from the dark rhymes of Edward Gorey, it was probably also good to take a relaxing trip to the beach before falling asleep.

What was your childhood bedtime story ritual?


Engaging With Our World

I think this is an especially important message for those of us who are bloggers, vloggers, writers, and artists. It’s part of our job to keep the larger world around us in mind and remember that our words and artwork have the power to make a meaningful impact on our audiences.