Just a little blog about me and mine.

Gettings Things Done-Wally B Style October 13, 2009

Filed under: books,theology — Katie @ 3:29 pm

Over the weekend I had a chance to meet and spend some time with a hero of mine, Walter Brueggemann. He is an Old Testament scholar, all around nice guy, and the author of 62 books. 62, can you imagine?! His book The Prophetic Imagination did whatever the theological equivalent of rocking my world is. It showed me how things could be different than they are, and gave me hope that we might be different. I brought my copy of this book with me to the conference, and in a quiet moment I asked him to sign it. While the two of us were there alone just chatting about politics and his new home town of Cincinnati, I asked if I could ask him a question I’d always wanted to ask him. Of course, he replied.


“How do you write so much? Tell me more about your work habits and how you seem to get so much done.”

I know from my seminary friends and colleagues that we’ve all wondered about this. He’s prolific, to say the least, and not only has he written a lot of books, he’s written a lot of really meaningful, insightful, thought-provoking and well-written books.

His reply? Just do a little bit everyday. As he elaborated, he shared that the always writes longhand since he doesn’t type fast enough to keep up with his thoughts. Then, he said if you write 8 pages every day, over time you’ve written a lot of pages.

On one hand, that sounds pretty simple. 8 pages a day seems manageable, right? But wait, I just spent 30 minutes writing a single paragraph! I’ve learned over time that when I write I average 2 pages an hour, so 8 pages would be 4 hours, of if you consider he writes longhand, that’s closer to 4 typed pages for 8 handwritten ones–a mere 2 hours a day, everyday I would need to spend writing. Yikes. (I definitely spend 2 hours most days either watching tv or goofing off online, I don’t need anyone to point that out).

It’s also clear that Brueggemann is also incredibly well read–ask him a question and he’ll answer with a book you need to read. There have been times when I felt like a really good writer, but it was an intense process, never sustained over a long time. Let’s be honest, mostly done between the hours of 11pm-3am in coffee shops the day before a paper was due. And in addition to the time set aside to write, it also took a lot of time to read and prepare. But to do that everyday? Over 40 years? So maybe it’s not so simple after all.

What I do know is that it gets easier the more you do it. My brain thinks faster, my hands move on the keyboard more accurately (that was real cute about WB writing longhand–but I can’t read my own handwriting, and no one else can either), and it’s easier for nice sounding phrases to come the more I work at writing. I think I have some talent for writing and this gift has been affirmed by teachers and professors over many years, but I certainly have less skill at doing something useful in my free time without a grade-imposed deadline (Hulu anyone?).

So starting tomorrow I will be intentionally cultivating my interest and ability for writing a little more by working through Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird with my friends in St. Mark’s Theology on Tap class. We’ll be writing, blogging and sharing our stories with one another through this journey. I thought about starting a separate blog for this but decided against it. So, whatever comes from those exercises will be posted here, and whatever else ends up here will get shared with them. I hope they like pictures of my dogs and are dying to know what I cooked for dinner.


ATNTFTB: What Was With the Peacocks and the Gothic Fiction? February 23, 2009

Filed under: books,in the news — Katie @ 8:27 pm

Today’s article of the day is actually a tie with a Business Section article on Tropicana’s failed package redesign. But I love this article title, and I love Flannery O’Connor and her magic of capturing the Southern Gothic, so Books of the Times wins out today. But man, why waste all that money on an orange juice carton?

How does one go about writing a biography of a enigmatic reclusive writer who didn’t live very long? A new book, Flannery attempts this task, and does unravel a bit of the mystery and appears to do a fair job of illuminating Flannery O’Connor’s deeply admired and dark body of work.

Here’s what we know about Flannery O’Connor: She owned peacocks. And made outfits for them. She was racist. She was Catholic in an anti-Catholic South. She mostly lived as a recluse at her family’s farm, Andalusia (a Southern Gothic theological pilgrimage with a good friend from seminary has been in the planning stages for a few months now). A lady friend was madly in love with her–it’s not clear whether the feeling was mutual. She died of lupus at age 39.

My first awareness of Flannery O’Connor began many years ago when my mom talked about meeting her in the 1960s. My mom attended what was then called Women’s College of Georgia (located in Milledgeville, GA). Flannery O’Connor went to college there was well, and while my mom was there from 1961 to 1965, and Flannery O’Connor–quite ill by that time–would occasionally come to campus to speak. My mom doesn’t love her writing, but even then she grasped the awesomeness of having someone like Flannery O’Connor in your midst.


The Great Library Experiment, Results Edition Part III October 2, 2008

Filed under: books — Katie @ 8:50 am

A third book out of my five reserved books has now arrived at the Covington Branch. For those keeping score at home, that’s 3 books delivered quickly to the Covington Branch, 0 books delivered to the Decatur Branch. I think I’m ready say that my theory was correct and not bore anyone else with my trips to the library, especially since the remaining books have incredibly long waiting (144 and 114 people to be exact).


The Great Library Experiment, Results Edition Part II September 24, 2008

Filed under: books,family — Katie @ 9:06 am

Breaking News–I just received an email from the DeKalb Library letting me know that a second (out of five) books is available for me at the Covington Branch.  Take that Decatur yuppies in the 30030 zip code.  We might not be able to afford to live near the Decatur library and your little community garden, but our neighborhood library is faster than yours.  A check of PL’s account shows that there is still nothing waiting under her name. 

With this recent development in mind, I am now faced with two ethical dilemmas to resolve.  One, is it ok to be logging into PL’s email to check for library notices?  And two, should I tell you what book I reserved?

Do other couples know each other’s email passwords?  We both have a standard password we use for most online accounts, unsafe I know, but we’re forgetful.  Anytime we want to, we could read each other’s email or facebook messages.  We share checking, savings, and credit card accounts so nothing is secret there.  PL doesn’t even check her own email all that often, so she probably doesn’t bother to check mine–although it wouldn’t bother me if she did.  She mostly gets junk mail and she certainly doesn’t have time as a 1L to be cheating on me, so I don’t check hers either.  But, I can log in if I feel like it.  There have been times when we needed to call each other to look up an address or phone number in our email when we were not at a computer (I’m morally opposed to the Blackberry and my hatred of ATT is great that my lust for an iPhone).  I’ve also logged into her email to print things on our copier at work (shhhh) for her, saving her the trouble of forwarding it and remembering that she needs to print it. 

The second ethical dilemma is that I’m embarrassedto confess what bookI put on my library list.  If I confess that I reserved a Nicholas Sparks book you’ll be ok with that, right?  I know you secretly watch Oprah sometimes and I won’t tell.  I saw a commercial for the new movie “Nights in Rodanthe,” and since Diane Lane is my #1 Hollywood girlfriend, I was intrigued and put the book on my list.  I like to think, and certainly like people to believe, that I’m the kind of person who would think Nicholas Sparks is beneath me.  I could tell even without reading it or watching that movie that A Walk To Remember was way too cheesy for me, but The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, and True Believer were all good stories.  Wait, I’m just making it worse.  I have read 6/13 of Nicholas Spark’s books.  That is 46.2% for those keeping score.  I’ve read 41.6% of Barbara Kingsolver’s books, 80% of Michael Pollan’s, and 50% of Thomas Friedman’s, which hopefully will keep my intellect intact, at least until Danielle Steele has a new release.


The Great Library Experiment–Results Edition I September 19, 2008

Filed under: books — Katie @ 8:24 am

The Magician’s Assistant  by Ann Patchett is now ready for me at the Covington Branch (my test branch), while the Decatur Branch has nothing for me.  This book had just a few requests for it since it’s a bit older (1997) than the other books I have on hold, but I look forward to stopping by the library on the way home and starting it soon.  My first introduction to Ann Patchett was Bel Canto, which I loved.  Last Spring I read her newest book Run–also terrific, also intense.


The Great Library Experiment of 2008 September 16, 2008

Filed under: books — Katie @ 9:38 pm

I’m a huge fan of the DeKalb County Library’s online book request system–it’s like Amazon, but free.  I recently reserved some books at a very small branch (like smaller in size than our house, but with lots of folks smoking freakin’ right outside the front door) instead of at the main Decatur branch I normally visit.  I got a notification that the books were ready for me to pickup in just a few days.  In fact, one of these books, When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris, currently has 144 requests–yet I got it suspiciously quickly (and when I finished I did my civic duty to pass it under the table to a friend who was in line before me and still didn’t have it).  So, to solve this great mystery, today is day one of my great experiment to become a line-jumper at the DeKalb library book queue.

Question: Can you get books more quickly at a small DeKalb library branch than at the main Decatur library?

Hypothesis: Yes, you can get books more quickly by choosing a different branch, if you can survive the second-hand smoke entering the library.  My theory is that each library branch has a list of the books requested for pickup at its location, they request those books to be brought to their library, and when they get there, the queue for a certain book is shorter at the smaller branches.

Materials Needed: DeKalb library card.  Another DeKalb library card.

Procedure: I put 5 books on hold under my account with pickup at my secret test branch (I’ll call it the Covington Branch near Memorial and Covington Drive as an anonymous name for the experiment).  Then, I put the same 5 books on hold using PL’s account and chose the Decatur main library branch as the pickup location.

Recording Data and Testing Hypothesis: I will wait for notifications to come in to the two different accounts and report my results.