the grid

the grid

Sunday 28 May 2023

Session 2, week 3

Greetings all!  This is an odd time of year when different universities are markedly out of sync; it was fun reading about how some TLQ-ers are starting their summer, but makes me very aware of how long there still is to go for my context (and how much teaching/administrative work stuff needs to happen in the summer in the UK, sigh).  It's also very odd to be seeing some of the students who were new during the most remote-heavy parts of COVID getting ready to leave us - it feels impossibly far back in time, but also as if they just arrived a few weeks ago.  On top of that, summer weather is suddenly here in my part of the UK, and it's a Bank Holiday Monday so a long weekend, both of which make me very reluctant to work even though I need to!  We're all also dealing with other transitions, processing the loss of EAM and other loved ones (it's been a hard year so far), living in 'interesting times'...

These sorts of unsettled, transitional times are something I know writing helps me process - writing as thinking, writing as a means of emptying out my head and seeing what is actually in it, writing as a way of working out what I actually feel and what echoes of past experience and mental furnishings are flavouring my reactions to the moment.  This is writing with no intentional public future - it mostly happens in a scratch notebook or journal, and sometimes it distills into a poem, but often ends up in the recycling pile or on the fire before the day is out   However, when things are unsettled, I can be particularly forgetful about writing, or struggle to get myself to do it - I know it works, but actually DOING it doesn't always follow on from knowing I should and will benefit!

For this week's prompt, lets think about the tools we use to keep ourselves writing or to bring us back to writing when we've drifted away - whether that's a habit like a particular time of day or week when you always write, an environmental factor like a particular drink or cup, or a choice of sound, or a place where you work, or a refresh of some sort, like switching mode from screen to paper, clearing off your writing space, a literal or figurative thinking cap, new supplies (my inner child is convinced that what I really need right now is new supplies...).  



  1. Two conference talks (write and give - hahahaha)
  2. Write and submit small grant application
  3. Write and give a bunch of reports for association stuff
  4. Talk to lots of people at conference and have fun

Dame Eleanor Hull

No goals set

Heu mihi

  1. Read over proofs of article for collection
  2. Make more progress on ch. 2--trying to get the draft in reasonably good working order by 5/31
  3. Enjoy the outdoors--irises, lupine, and day lilies are blooming; the May apples are peeking out from under their umbrella-leaves; my late-blooming lilac is about to; and the sweet William should be in full glorious color in a week or so
  4. Allow myself some flexibility on routines. Treat them as menu options rather than requirements.
  5. Get ready for parental visit this weekend
  6. Make 5-10 pages


  1. Get to ¾ completed for Boredom
  2. Wrap up Spring!
  3. Outline conference presentation for Squares
  4. Finish reading current review book


  1. self care. baselines again - recording what I actually do, making some brainstorming lists, and sort through the Pile On The Chair and the Pile In The Hall.
  2. Researcher. Focus is Wish-we-never-started project - at least 5 hours of work. Also at least three "small jobs" (there are 5 or 6 on my rolling list).
  3. Teaching: If I do quit the MAB then I have marking to occupy my time! On top of that, contact my summer-only MSc project students, make a summer list.
  4. fun. hopefully play D&D this coming weekend (this one was a no-go because of the dread exam season for most of the players), and work on the 'Lithrops' blanket.


  1. Maximise time in different set of archives Monday and Tuesday (I'm now in Burgos, and thinking of Susan especially, as it's full of people doing the Camino).
  2. Claim expenses for trip.
  3. Upload photos and write up notes before I forget what everything is.
  4. Get ready for holiday next week.


  1. Finish almost complete task that was officially due on Friday.
  2. Sort out reading assignments for the book prize
  3. Be kind to myself and to my brother and sister.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Session 2, week 2

 Session 2,Week 2

Ok, first time posting and a little nervous in case this doesn't work!

The photo is inspired by JaneB's post last week reminding us that writing should be fun. I took some time in the afternoon last Thursday, when none of the archives were open, to go for a walk round Toledo, found a little garden with a cafe, and sat and wrote. It's been a while since I did any writing in different settings and enjoyed it, so thank you Jane for the prompt.

This week's prompt is partly inspired by Dame Eleanor's tribute to Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, which mentioned among other things her blogs on writing. I'd like to hear what kinds of writing, or writers on writing, you find inspiring. This prompt also comes out of self-interest, as I haven't actually read many writers on writing and think I should. The closest is probably Virginia Woolf's diaries, which have some great passages on writer's block, on how it feels when prose is flowing and how different kinds of writing - keeping a diary, writing reviews - helped her as a novelist. I'm actually reading Stephen King's On Writing at the moment, and am not that impressed yet, but maybe there's better to come. And I was introduced a year ago to a podcast, In Writing, where writers talk about writing - where they write, routines, what works for them etc. But I'd love more, if people have favourites.

I sometimes find styles of writing inspiring, which is harder to explain. I love Sarah Moss's books and find there's something about her prose and the way she can describe quite everyday stuff like routines energising, if that doesn't sound weird.

Last week's goals:


1) self care. this week's goals are about setting baselines - recording what I actually do, and making some brainstorming lists of different things that might be useful to try, or worth doing, or just need to be on a list I can access when I'm stressed and can't think of anything to make for dinner... oh, and I will aim to sort through the small green bucket of random post from Spring which I never opened. Sigh. There is... more of that than I like to admit (did I mention I recently found out I have ADHD? Let's just say that _everything_ I read about ADHD seems to be an "so it's not just me being pathetic?" moment right now. It's not an excuse - I still need to improve a lot of things, especially after all the stresses of the last three years - but it's an explanation of WHY I get into these stupid Jane-ish messes and why some things other people seem to do easily are just unbearably difficult some days, and somehow feeling less inadequate helps. I'm an academic, explanations HELP).
2) Researcher. reschedule meetings for poor abandoned multi-author paper and other paper with FormerPDF. Focus is Wish-we-never-started project - at least 5 hours of work on my part of that needs to happen, on top of meetings.
3) Teaching: read/comment on a lump of text for Senior Grad Student. Hopefully find out about the summer-only MSc projects. Do the end of year paperwork following on from the Happy Sheets. Deal with whatever comes up (we're still at the "loads of emails" stage of the year & will be until marks are out).
4) fun. hopefully play D&D this coming weekend (this one was a no-go because of the dread exam season for most of the players), and work on the 'Lithrops' blanket - I made a solid amount of progress during the virtual conference yesterday and the body is done, I now get to start the border! So that's exciting... oh, and finish the current non-fiction book I'm reading, it's interesting enough to finish but the writing style is like one of those ultra-annoying documentries which keeps switching to dramatic re-enactment (with a lot of repetition throughout the episode and series) with loud cinematic music then back to interesting information so it is a bit chore-like. But I'm past the half way point!


1. Return to ch. 2 (I was at a conference for the last few days) and see where I am
2. Add Peter, Goscelin, and maybe MP sections
3. Read AF to see if she's relevant
4. Make a modest 5 pages
5. Submit receipts, mow, catch up on the ordinary stuff of life

Dame Eleanor

1000 words or more on article expansion
- read Relevant Medieval Romance
- do some financial research
- e-mail 3 friends
- write to great-niece
- make a pair of earrings


Make the list of session goals!
Wrap up everything from the Spring semester
Revisit Boredom and create a 2-week plan to finish the draft


Set session goals, keeping things flexible. We're thinking of you.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, 1955-2022

It is with great sadness that the TLQ group announces, belatedly, the death last winter of longtime participant Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, on 15 December 2022.

Present and past TLQ contributors and followers will remember that Elizabeth Anne was an academic librarian with a background in medieval studies, a deep love of medieval manuscripts and their archives, and a special interest in medieval women writers. She had a series of blogs for creative writing and other projects. She loved words and their history, explored photography and various forms of fiction, and enjoyed handcrafts. In September 2022, she expressed enthusiasm about the idea of a mini-NaNoWriMo for TLQ members who wanted to do something creative but didn’t feel able to commit to the fullscale NaNoWriMo goals.

She joined the TLQ group as soon as it formed. In 2018, she listed her accomplishments since the group began, an impressive list by any standard, and the more so because most of these achievements took place while she dealt with challenges such as ill health, moving house, and a family member’s surgery. She took part in every session, until she dropped out in fall 2022 after receiving an unsettling diagnosis

Elizabeth Anne was unfailingly kind, gracious, and encouraging to other group members even when she herself was frustrated with her day job and with bureaucratic obstacles to finishing her dissertation. Illness and surgeries rarely held her back for long, though physical therapy and medical appointments regularly turned up in her list of weekly goals. She persevered with finding time for the important and non-urgent even when awash in the urgent (important or not). Her goals always testified to the effort to find work-life balance, including tasks like “take puppy to vet” as well as “write better transitions.” She often had useful advice based on her own coping-with-ADHD strategies, which proved helpful for neuro-typical and neuro-atypical readers alike. She also offered excellent suggestions for library research and student assignments, based on her extensive experience.

At TLQ, Elizabeth Anne is probably best known for her coinage of the motto “float like mist,” dating back to February 2016, when she was one of the group’s hosts. With her encouragement, many of us adopted the phrase as our mantra in times of stress, and it is often repeated in weekly posts here.

She will be greatly missed in this space, as she surely is by real-life family (of whom she wrote here) and friends, to whom the group extends our condolences. 

She will continue to float in our hearts.

Sunday 14 May 2023

Session 2 week 1 2023

Welcome to the new session!  Julie and JaneB will be co-hosting this session, which will run from 14th May to 13th August - 13 weeks.  Our half-way check-in will be June 23rd (if we remember) and how is it possible that summer (Northern Hemisphere) is already feeling short when it hasn't begun for me yet??  But that is all the more reason to make the most of it - both for self care AND for the kind of reading, thinking, writing and writing-as-thinking which falls into the Top Left Quadrant.

Usual opening text, borrowed from earlier iterations!

The format will be the same as ever. We will start setting goals for the session this week. Goals can be in any aspect of life although the key focus is often writing tasks that are personally and professionally important but that never quite tip over into important AND urgent. Urgent things sometimes find their way in here too, that is completely ok too, and process goals are also most welcome.  Each week there will be a discussion topic or prompt to write about if you feel so inclined, no pressure or expectations.  We’ll remind everyone of their big session goals about midway through the session (last weekend of June).

Anyone, whether new to the group or an old friend, is welcome to join. I would love for people to consider inviting a friend or acquaintance or colleague to join in, we would be thrilled to welcome new guests and expand our circle. And finally, don't worry if you miss a few check-ins. Life happens. This is a supportive, generous space with no intimidation factor so enjoy it! If you are not up to regular check-ins we would still love to hear from you occasionally.

Discussion theme - the "writing toolkit"

This session we thought we'd get back to our roots as a group a bit and explore aspects of stocking a "writing toolbox".  We're planning to explore the topic broadly, so prompts might be literal (e.g. favourite pens), figurative (inspirational quotes) or whimsical (if you could acquire a magical writing elf, which one writing task would it specialise in?).

For this week:

1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What's your main focus at the moment? You are welcome to be vague and mysterious in the interest of maintaining anonymity while still introducing yourself to the group.

2.  Post your goals for this session (or if you want to do them next week put in a note so I remember to go and find them later!).

3. Post goals for this coming week, ideally they will kick-start the process of working towards the session goals. Or they might just clear the deck for a nice clean start.

4. Or just come say hello and tell us how you’ve been over the break and then come back next week for session goals and discussion. 

5. And to start off discussion, let's remind ourselves that writing isn't just a chore or necessary duty - what part of writing is most fun for you, or do you have a particular memory or writing experience when your writing was going particularly well?