The First Semester of Grad School, or Winter 2014 Update

I finished my first semester of grad school at Goddard College earlier this month. It was like climbing a switchback up a mountain–full of light and darkness and air and rain. While I can’t include everything I have done this semester, I would like to share a few of the tips and readings. For this semester, I finished the following:

  • Fifteen annotations (read a book, write a few pages about the craft or art the author worked in the book)
  • Two short papers
  • One hundred pages of creative work
  • Attended the Write on the Sound Conference*
  • Finished a NaNoWriMo novel*
  • Attended four writing intensive weekends*

* the last there were my own inclusions–I wanted to do a few fun things to make my writing adventure amazing. One of my favorite moments was meeting Robert Sawyer at the Write on the Sound Conference in October.

Now, in the process of reading and writing, I have learned more by absorbing the works and ideas of the writers who have come before me. I have found a few helpful tips on the way.

  • 2,000 words per day, every day, so help you Muse (Stephen King recommends this and his muse is a basement-dweller. I think my muse is a mountain-top castle dweller).
  • Write in the active voice.
  • Keep your tenses straight—don’t slip into past when writing in the present, etc. (We all do it, so make sure you’re scheduling editing time to fix it).
  • Write for clarity of message. I struggled with this one. It means when you have a picture in your head, you need to be as specific in detail and as comprehensive as the picture in order to translate it from your brain through your fingers and into the minds of others. Really, it’s a form of telepathy (credit, Stephen King). So get to transcribing what you see and don’t hold back in first drafts—edit later.

Below, you’ll see some of the books I read over the last year. You can’t really compare books because it’s like comparing people–each have their own special attributes and faults. But I can say that my favorite book of the year was Kamala Markandaya’s Nectar in a Sieve. Check it out.

Write on.



The CollectorComplete Care for Your Aging DogThe Great GatsbyAt the Mountains of MadnessVALIS (VALIS Trilogy, #1)The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)
Slaughterhouse-FiveThe City & the CityReady Player OneMotherless BrooklynKafka on the ShoreCloud Atlas
Heart of DarknessMadness, Rack, and Honey: Collected LecturesIce TrilogyWillful CreaturesHow To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human CommunicationSnowbound in the Earl's Castle
Dogscaping: Creating the Perfect Backyard and Garden for You and Your DogGroom Your Dog Like a Professional: Step-By-Step Techniques & Tips for a Great-Looking DogSewing in a Straight Line: Quick and Crafty Projects You Can Make by Simply Sewing StraightPlaying with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book Falling for Rachel (The Stanislaskis: Those Wild Ukrainians #3)A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers
The Legend of Banzai Maguire (2176 Series, #1)The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health: The complete pet health resource for your dog, cat, horse or other pets - in everyday language.Caring for Your Dog. Bruce FogleThe Holistic Dog Book: Canine Care for the 21st CenturyWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailSureblood (Borderlands, #3)
The Legend of Banzai Maguire: 2176 Series Book 1The Mammoth Book of Scottish RomanceEmpire (Empire, #1)The Giver (The Giver, #1)Disgrace (Paperback)Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two (Palace of the Twelve Pillars)
Palace of the Twelve PillarsGirl Least Likely to Marry (The Wedding Season, #2)Taking Shots (Assassins, #1)CyberStormExtinctionWriting Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers
J.M. Coetzee's DisgraceThe Post-Colonial Studies ReaderThe WitnessDreams in a Time of War: A Childhood MemoirEmpire: How Britain Made The Modern WorldFrozen: The Junior Novelization
The Scarlet EmpressIndian Basketry Artists of the Southwest: Deep Roots, New GrowthThe Star Queen (the Star series)The Day Her Heart Stood StillOnce a PirateYour Planet or Mine? (Otherworldly Men #1)
Moonstruck (Borderlands, #1)Daring (Kris Longknife, #9)Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous WeaponDoing Cultural Anthropology: Projects for Ethnographic Data CollectionParticipant Observation: A Guide for FieldworkersChains (Seeds of America, #1)
Handbook of Gender in ArchaeologyBasketryEmpire: A Very Short IntroductionWomen in ArchaeologyFrom the Hands of a Weaver: Olympic Peninsula Basketry through TimeThe Molecule Hunt
Women and Men in the Prehispanic Southwest: Labor, Power and PrestigeWet Site ArchaeologyThe Hoko River Archaeological Site Complex: The Wet/Dry Site (45ca213), 3,000-1,700 B.P.Beyond Cloth & CordageGender in Archaeology: Analyzing Power and PrestigeThe Hoko River Archaeological Site Complex: The Rockshelter (45CA21), 1,000-100 B.P. Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Holes (Holes, #1)Nectar in a SieveNo Telephone to HeavenHow to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days (Otherworldly Men, #3)The Star Prince (The Star Series, #2)The Star King (Star, #1)
Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada's West CoastHow Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized TrophyIndian Basket WeavingArt of the Basket: Traditional Basketry from Around the WorldIndian Baskets of the SouthwestContact
Tonight and Always (Silhouette Intimate Moments, #12)The Morcai Battalion (The Morcai Battalion #1)All That GlittersInvictus (The Morcai Battalion, #3)The Recruit (The Morcai Battalion, #2)Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)Oh Doctor, the Places You Will Go...The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth CenturyThe Colonizer and the ColonizedThe Lunatic
Down in the Bottom of the Bottom of the BoxCity of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)Waiting for the Barbarians

About Darlene Reilley

Hey, I'm Darlene, a nomadic writer and teacher. If you're looking for writing prompts, inspiration, and a fellow writer to commiserate with, you've come to the right place. If you're a reader looking for a fun mix of poetry, romance, science and fiction, you've found a buddy!
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