2016 and Goals

This year I had one writing goal for 2015 and I did not make it.

I wanted to have at least four short stories finished and sent out to publishers in hopes that my name would start getting out there.

Nope.

I’m not good at big lists. I’m not good at anything that’s too involved and too complicated. But I thought that four was a small enough number that I could do it and yet big enough that I would have to push a certain production schedule.

Then life got in the way.

That’s ok. Here is the new goal because I’ve had better luck sticking to it:

Write every day.
Finish what I am writing before moving on to the next thing.

I’m not going to push for any ‘send this out of x amount of markets’ until maybe next year. I AM going to try and get something ready to send to Writer’s of the Future because the prize for that is a workshop that I’d like very much to go to.

But over all? I’m sticking to habits instead of concrete goals this year.

As for the blog:

Tentatively? I want to have post out every three or four days regardless of the day. I feel like anything like a set schedule will be something I won’t keep as in the past I’ve not managed more than a few months at a time. Yes. Deadlines are important and part of training the New Writer-Author-Wannabe.

But if I think of it like, “Eh. Every few days” instead of “OK MONDAY WEDNESDAY FRIDAY OR YOU’RE DOGMEAT” then I feel like that’s more doable.

Plus, these blogs first thing in the morning before I get started with my creative projects have been good word makers and brain cleansers.

So there we are!

I will say, there will probably be a gap in February as I am going to Mexico, a gap in September as I have a work trip to Las Vegas as well.

Have a lovely Wednesday y’all.

 

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Mondays, Perseverance and Clean Starts

Every year I think, “This time, this time I’m going to do it better.”

Maybe its the clean calendar, full of open days that have no obligations or memories attached to them yet. It makes a new year feel like a new notebook. Pages fresh and clean, no blot outs, no torn pages…everything has the potential to be new.

But those new notebooks come with a lot of pressure. You are taking a thing that is beautifully pure, unvarnished with your mistakes and you pour yourself into it, ink drop by pencil scratch.

New Years are like that.

2015 brought a lot of changes into my life. We bought a house. We got a Roommate. My location for my Wage Labor job changed. My husband made it through another semester of college. We got Star Wars. My roller derby team disbanded. My parents moved. My sister brought a new man into our family. I’ve gained pets with my roommate. I’ve had to throw away old things, relocate the things I have, and then turn around to get new things to replace the things that no longer fit.

Writing is like that for me. Always changing. Always moving. Most of the time, forward, as new ideas and new stories come to me. Sometimes backwards as life gets in the way of the thing I really Want to do.

Yesterday, after returning home from the holidays, I began to re-organize my kitchen. My kitchen is the hearth in my home. We all have to eat after all, and if you’re going to eat, you’re going to need a tidy place to make the food.

I also reorganized my current work in progress. My process for both is similar.

For my kitchen I took out everything that I had in each cabinet, looked at it, matched Like with Like and returned it, stacking it neatly so that I could find what I needed. For my novella, I pulled up Scrivener, and then copied and pasted in my project, scene by scene, labeling each card with the character’s POV and folding them together so as to make better sense of where the heck these two crazy kids are going.

Every year is the year we’re going to do it better. And it starts with doing better every day.

It’s so much easier to take it a day. A page. A cabinet at a time. And that is my goal for 2016.

One word.
One step.
One day at a time.

Starting Over

So, as has happened multiple and many times (and unfortunately will probably happen again) I got behind on writing and my update schedule.

I don’t have anything to blame it on except for the fact that it’s part of who I am. I forget things. I am bad at sticking to habits and I’m constantly having to push myself to keep going.

Whatever. Forgive the gap, dear readers, it’s a new months with new goals and new progress!

I did not get past 14000 words on my NaNoWriMo project, which is frustrating and unfortunate. BUT I’ve decided to let it teach me something. One: No matter how much I want to be a person who can finish ONE PROJECT AT A TIME I am not there yet. If that means taking breaks and going back to a project, I’m just going to accept that about myself and move forward. No guilt. Two: I have quite the long list of works in progress right now and while I did manage to finish the first draft of the next short story I’m going to submit to Writers of the Future, I haven’t gone through my second pass on it yet. I’m going to do that this week and by Sunday submit it to WotF for their 2nd quarter entry period.

The good news.

I GOT THE HONORABLE MENTION FOR Q4 OF THE WRITERS OF THE FUTURE CONTEST!

I’m pretty proud of that. It was my first time and to get an HM means that the judges READ MY WORDS and DIDN’T THINK THEY WERE BAD.

Which, for me, is pretty awesome.

Goals

I am, historically speaking, a procrastinator.

I think I’ve covered this before, but for today’s post it’s important to understand that reaching benchmarks and meeting goals is something I couldn’t do for a long time. Honestly, I have a hard time determining where in my life that changed. In college? Maybe? In High School I was the person who ‘never met her potential’ because she ‘never tried hard enough’.

A goal was something my teachers would talk about setting and meeting, like it was a homework assignment. Goal to get into college seemed far away when I was more concerned about if I would be able to afford the cute knee-high pleather boots that matched my pleated mini-skirt.

When you’re working about 25-30 hours a week to help chip into the family income pool, it takes away the drive to do much outside of school, even if a teacher tells you that it’s for your own good. I had very little complaints about work ethic from my employers and to this day I’ve yet to be fired for slacking.┬áSo I knew, subconsciously, that the possibility of working hard was there, after all I worked hard at the day job. It was hard getting my brain to accept that I also needed to work hard for myself.

Deadlines help but if you don’t know where you’re trying to end up, it makes traveling down your road a little difficult. After all, with no destination in mind, how are we suppose to navigate the path in front of us?

When I read a book, one of the things I marvel at is the way some authors can pace a novel to hit every emotional point during their try/fail sequences. These sequences are also known as Scene and Sequel. They happen when your protagonist starts their journey off with the assumption that their plan is going to go one way and then it all goes sideways. At DragonCon this year, Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera was a guest. Now, Butcher is, in my biased and young professional opinion, the best writer I have ever seen at Scene/Sequel-ing. He puts Harry Dresden through hell and back in each of his books and yet it always feels fresh. This is a hard thing to do! Especially when you have over 15 books in a series. I asked him how he did it? How he trained himself to pace his novels in such an exciting way.

To paraphrase, Butcher told me that you have to think of your novel as a roller coaster. While you have your climbing action and your loop-de-loops, your sharp turns and your angles planned into your plot, it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t know where you’re ending up. I was inspired.

For my next two short stories, I realized I needed to find my ending before I could really understand that horrible middle stage of writing. And once I did, all of the knots in my plots became clearly untangled.

Just like it’s applicable to writing, Life benefits from this advice.

I haven’t known what I wanted to do with my writing career for a long time. I grew up being told by everyone I knew that Writers Couldn’t Make A Living Writing Fiction.

Yet this year, I got the StoryBundle deal for NaNoWriMo and read Dean Wesley Smith’s books about killing the sacred cows of publishing. (Link HERE if you haven’t heard of this gentleman). Then I read his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s book, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide. Now, I currently am no where near ready to launch myself into a career with freelancing. I have some debts to pay off from college, my husband is currently IN school right now working on his degree as he worked full time while I was in college, and my body of work is tiny due to not buckling down to create until this year. Yet now, with these two writer’s advice, I feel like I understand what I want better. I understand my DESTINATION.

With NaNoWriMo started this weekend, I hope that you understand your goals. Right now, the goal might be short: Write a novel in 30 days. I’m moving on the working theory that while that is a good start, my goal should be to KEEP writing after this novel is in the can.

Writers Write and finish what they write. Then write something else.