Accepting imperfection

I fell off the Andrea Reads America wagon. Back in May, after I published my wrapup of Maryland books, I was eager to read Massachusetts in all of its New England glory.

I did read Massachusetts, kept notes on three books, and then read a fourth. I didn’t feel like making the map or the post for Massachusetts, but I wanted to move on to the next state, Michigan, so I told myself, “I’ll catch up on the blog later,” and I started reading Michigan.

I read some books from Michigan, kept notes on them, and in the back of my mind, knew I was building quite a backlog for this blog. I’d finished at least six books, and was almost through reading Michigan, but I still hadn’t published a Massachusetts write-up. I was now two states behind on the blog, and it was stressing me out. I didn’t want to read too far ahead of my writing, but I also didn’t want to stop reading.

I kept on consuming books. And I stopped taking notes.

I chose to put my head in the sand about the blog and basically just pretended it didn’t exist. I read two or three more books from Michigan. I didn’t keep any notes on them. I moved on to Minnesota, read three books from Minnesota, and didn’t keep notes from those books either.

At that point, I did actually know the blog existed, and I resigned myself to giving up. I was three states behind on writeups, had stopped taking notes on each book, and realised I was burned out on my project. Instead of moving on to the next state, I embarked on a re-reading spree. I revisited Bel Canto (South America), The Elegance of the Hedgehog (France), and the prequels to Lonesome Dove (Texas). I was thrilled to not have to write a recap after finishing each book. I’d close one book and open another with no need to do anything in between.

Now, after a two-month break, the re-reading spree has done its job. I feel refreshed and ready to return to my project. However, the lack of notes on the books I read are still an obstacle for me. I don’t want to proceed with the next state until these three states — Massachusetts, Michigan, and Minnesota — are written. And I don’t want to publish shoddy work.

To move forward, though, I’m going to have to accept that those writeups just aren’t going to be good. Right now, I’m going to have to push through. I’m going to have to go with the advice that Done is better than Perfect. I’ll get these writeups out, rough as they will be. At that point, I should be finished with my current re-read and will be ready to go with the next state.

And then I’ll only be two states away from the halfway point 😂.

 

American Vignette: Pie. A Writing Challenge.

American Vignette Show Us Your State Writing Challenge badge on andreareadsamerica.com

vignette¹  (vɪˈnjɛt)
– n.

1. a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
2. a short graceful literary essay or sketch

I am reading my way around the United States in three books per state, and as I read, I am continually confronted by how little of my home country’s landscape and culture I have experienced. When I read a book set in a state I have lived in or traveled to, I can relate to the sense of place, and I love writing about the memories the author’s words evoke. For states I’ve never lived, though, I have no stories to share, and I am at a loss.

This is where you, dear writers, come in. I am seeking guest contributors to share scenes of life from your home states here on Andrea Reads America. I want this site to have more personal touches than just a series of book reviews, and I would like to publish your voices: young, old, gay, straight, white, black, rainbow striped. On the first Wednesday of each month, I will post a prompt to help get your writerly juices flowing. I invite you to write a piece on your own blog using the prompt, or if you do not have a blog, you can email your entry to me (email in the submission guidelines below). I will enable pingbacks so any entries that link to the prompt post will appear on this page for all to read.

The Prize(s)

A state is a big place with many ethnicities, landscapes, subcultures, and city streets, so on the Tuesday before the next prompt is posted I will publish a roundup with links to some of the best place-based pieces. If there is enough participation in the challenges these roundups will reflect the diversity inherent in even the smallest of states, so please, share your stories. When I come across entries that are scene-rich, or culture-rich, are well written, and that capture an atmospheric sense of place for a particular state, I will reach out to authors and ask permission to republish their works here on Andrea Reads America as accompaniment to the write-ups I post for that state’s literature. All re-publications will be credited to the original author and will include an author bio, a link to the author’s website or blog, and links to any social media the author participates in (or whatever information the author would like to share).

This week’s prompt: Pie

I grew up in Georgia where we ate pecan pie and chilled key lime pies, but rarely the warm bubbly pies you associate with autumn. My husband’s Ohio family, on the other hand, eats cherry, apple with lattice, apple with crumble, pumpkin, mincemeat, pecan, chocolate pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, lemon merengue… The list goes on. Write about pie in your home state. Is pie a given? does your aunt keep emergency pies in the freezer? What kind of pie is your state known for? Can you capture your state’s personality in a piece about pie?

Submission Guidelines

  • In fewer than 800 words – in a “short graceful literary essay or sketch” – describe a scene that captures a sense of place in your home state (home may be your childhood home, your current home, or anywhere in between). The sense of place may come from landscape, food, culture, ecology, colloquialisms, or any distinctive element of the state you call home.
  • Your vignette must be set in a state you have lived for a minimum of three months.
  • Tag your piece with American Vignette and with the state it is set in, and use hashtag #AmericanVignette on social media.
  • Please specify in your tags whether your piece is fiction or creative nonfiction. (note: fiction is welcome for the roundups, but only nonfiction will be considered for publication)
  • Deadline for possible inclusion in the “Summer Garments” roundup is June 29, 2014.
  • To create a pingback, feel free to use any or all of the following blurb (remember to check that the link works): Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. This is my entry for her American Vignette: Pie writing challenge.
  • If you prefer graphic pingbacks, please link the badge at the top of this page to create the pingback for your entry.
  • If you would like to submit your piece via email, please cut and paste into the body of an email (no attachments) and send it to editor [at] andreareadsamerica [dot] com. A couple of notes about emailing submissions: if you email your piece it has less of a chance of making it into a roundup; remember to title your piece, check your word count, and provide the name of the state in which your vignette is set.

Have fun, and I look forward to escaping into your state!

¹ “vignette.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 05 May. 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vignette>.

American Vignette: Summer Garments. A Writing Challenge.

American Vignette Show Us Your State Writing Challenge badge on andreareadsamerica.com

vignette¹  (vɪˈnjɛt)
– n.

1. a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
2. a short graceful literary essay or sketch

I am reading my way around the United States in three books per state, and as I read, I am continually confronted by how little of my home country’s landscape and culture I have experienced. When I read a book set in a state I have lived in or traveled to, I can relate to the sense of place, and I love writing about the memories the author’s words evoke. For states I’ve never lived, though, I have no stories to share, and I am at a loss.

This is where you, dear writers, come in. I am seeking guest contributors to share scenes of life from your home states here on Andrea Reads America. I want this site to have more personal touches than just a series of book reviews, and I would like to publish your voices: young, old, gay, straight, white, black, rainbow striped. On the first and third Wednesday of each month, I will post a prompt to help get your writerly juices flowing. I invite you to write a piece on your own blog using the prompt, or if you do not have a blog, you can email your entry to me (email in the submission guidelines below). I will enable pingbacks so any entries that link to the prompt post will appear on this page for all to read.

The Prize(s)

A state is a big place with many ethnicities, landscapes, subcultures, and city streets, so on the Tuesday before the next prompt is posted I will publish a roundup with links to some of the best place-based pieces. If there is enough participation in the challenges these roundups will reflect the diversity inherent in even the smallest of states, so please, share your stories. When I come across entries that are scene-rich, or culture-rich, are well written, and that capture an atmospheric sense of place for a particular state, I will reach out to authors and ask permission to republish their works here on Andrea Reads America as accompaniment to the write-ups I post for that state’s literature. All re-publications will be credited to the original author and will include an author bio, a link to the author’s website or blog, and links to any social media the author participates in (or whatever information the author would like to share).

This week’s prompt: Summer Garments

Tell us about summer clothes in your state. This can be a piece about a specific article of clothing, an entire summer wardrobe, how modestly or freely people dress where you live, an essential summer garment, work clothes in summer, color, texture, how pulling out the summer clothes affects you, memories of that perfect (or awful) swimsuit. Whatever the prompt evokes for you, do your best to highlight your state’s personality in the piece.

Submission Guidelines

  • In fewer than 800 words – in a “short graceful literary essay or sketch” – describe a scene that captures a sense of place in your home state (home may be your childhood home, your current home, or anywhere in between). The sense of place may come from landscape, food, culture, ecology, colloquialisms, or any distinctive element of the state you call home.
  • Your vignette must be set in a state you have lived for a minimum of three months.
  • Tag your piece with American Vignette and with the state it is set in, and use hashtag #AmericanVignette on social media.
  • Please specify in your tags whether your piece is fiction or creative nonfiction. (note: fiction is welcome for the roundups, but only nonfiction will be considered for publication)
  • Deadline for possible inclusion in the “Summer Garments” roundup is June 1, 2014.
  • To create a pingback, feel free to use any or all of the following blurb (remember to check that the link works): Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. This is my entry for her American Vignette: Summer Garments writing challenge.
  • If you prefer graphic pingbacks, please link the badge at the top of this page to create the pingback for your entry.
  • If you would like to submit your piece via email, please cut and paste into the body of an email (no attachments) and send it to editor [at] andreareadsamerica [dot] com. A couple of notes about emailing submissions: if you email your piece it has less of a chance of making it into a roundup; remember to title your piece, check your word count, and provide the name of the state in which your vignette is set.

Have fun, and I look forward to escaping into your state!

¹ “vignette.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 05 May. 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vignette>.