Tag Archives: goals

22Nov/14

The Weight is Lifted

Five years ago, I watched a friend struggle with self-doubt and fear. She had written a novel. A good novel. She had edited that novel several times. She had been to workshops and conferences. She had an author website. But she never actually sent the manuscript to anyone.

There was a group of us, a “Creative Cluster” if you will, who met to talk about our projects and get encouraged and inspired. We started setting goals together. This friend set a deadline for herself to send the manuscript to an agent. She knew which agent. She had the manuscript. But somehow, she never sent it.

It’s five years later and she still never sent it.

Watching her go through that, I made a promise to myself: I would put a book out by the age of 35. I would not be in my late 40s, still wanting to be an author but too afraid to take the baby steps necessary.

That promise proved a heavy weight.

huge.5.29986

 

For the next three years, I wrote religiously. I wrote and read and studied and practiced. I wrote several novels, a few screenplays, a dozen short stories, and hundreds of pieces of flash fiction, but I didn’t feel like I was getting there. I had a few pieces published, and a lot more of them rejected, but I didn’t have a great novel in me.

I shifted gears to work on a project for a friend: I’d been mentoring several friends through the process of beginning homeschooling. Kind of a niche subject, but definitely a pet topic of mine. I started gathering all the essays I’d written and all my best advice to write a short book for my friend.

Within a few months, it became obvious that this little side project was going to get bigger. It had to be done right. I had to make it real. It was weird to me that I was writing nonfiction (and about homeschooling! Come on! I’m a spec fic writer!). But I kept keeping on.

While writing the 3rd draft, I turned 35. This was not supposed to happen. I was supposed to be a famous author by then! But I knew I was getting close, so I kept working. I hired an editor, which gave me a clear deadline. I started talking openly about working on the book with friends, who took it on themselves to watch my children so I could work. This was awesome.

Then I set to work on the self-publishing process. It took about 6 weeks, from edit to finish, but it felt like years. It was hard. I cried a lot. I got frustrated. I doubted myself. I loved myself. I hated the book. People read the book and loved the book, so I loved the book.

I’ve had no energy the last few weeks. I’ve felt clogged, honestly, like my brain wasn’t working right. I couldn’t sleep. I’d get up in the middle of the night to work on formatting or cover work or category research. I was ill. I didn’t care about food. I just obsessively worked at getting this freaking book out into the world.

Yesterday, I launched the book.

me with my book!

 

The most amazing thing of this whole process? I almost immediately felt human again. I had forgotten I’d been carrying the weight of that promise for five years. FIVE YEARS! And it’s over now. Yes, I have more books planned (specifically a middle-grade sci-fi that’s been on hold the last few months). But I’m really going to enjoy just being a person for a few months.

So, that’s my story. It was hard and scary and it sucked sometimes, but I can honestly say I did the best I was capable of at the time, and that’s a big thing to be able to say. So… yay me! That is all.

01Jan/13

Obligatory New Year Post

Hello to my handful of readers out there! I hope you are all feeling happy and healthy on this fine day. My entire family is sick at the moment – the kids with the flu, the adults with colds – so we have been watching movies and cuddling together on the couch for the last few days. I think it’s the quietest New Year I’ve ever had.

I spent the morning going through my writing journals and seeing how I did in 2012, and despite a whole lot of real life and death getting in the way, I see there were a lot of awesome things about 2012. Here are a few highlights:

*I got my first story published!

*I wrote over 200,000 words while participating in #WIP500

*I completed a rough draft of a script during Script Frenzy and a novel during NaNoWriMo

*I taught 6 piano students, ranging in age from 5 to 30.

*I read 46 books (68 if you count the entire Fruits Basket series)

*I made a lot of new friends on Google+ and became a mod for one of the biggest Writers Communities there.

*I started running with a friend and training for an upcoming Spartan Race. I’m still a weakly loser, but I’m getting stronger and feel much healthier.

When I started the WIP500 challenge last year, I wasn’t sure how it would go. It was kind of insane to see the numbers piling up over the months. Now that I know what it feels like to write 200,000 words over the course of a year, I know that it’s a manageable goal. So here’s what I’d like to do in 2013, if all goes well:

*Get a draft of my novel Illuminated out to beta-readers.

*Write 200,000 words again.

*Write at least one short story a month for publication. Write flash fiction often.

*Continue submitting finished stories until they get picked up, or until I have a decent collection to self-publish.

*Read 50 books.

*Blog more often. This year, in addition to flash fiction and writerly updates, you might see me post some of my collage art, since I’m joining a Mixed Media challenge. I love having a lot of creative things to do, since it seems to help when the writing gets stuck.

So what about you? What did you do in 2012, and what do you hope to do in 2013? If you wrote a new year’s blog post, feel free to link me up in the comments and I’ll come check it out. I hope you all have a very happy 2013!

02Jan/12

Winter Wrap Up and the WIP 500

The last year ended up being a very eventful one for me. There are two things I consider the best things I did: I started weekly date nights with my husband, and I facilitated an Artists Way group. One kept me closer to my family – we never scheduled over our date, and even if we just watched a movie, we had that time together. And the other provided me one of the best, most encouraging group of friends I’ve ever had.

Thanks to those two things, I am quite happy with how 2011 turned out. I even did a few truly terrifying things, like running Screenwriting and Flash Fiction workshops and playing the piano for people. Not only that, but I have been writing.

I have always enjoyed writing. It’s taken me a while to better understand it. I’ve always kept journals, scribbled out bad poems, written weird songs, and made up all sorts of nonsense about the characters that occupy my head. And in 2011, thanks to a challenge from a friend to write a screenplay in 30 days, I got back to writing every day. I wrote the screenplay. Then a novel. Then a few flash fiction stories. Then some regular short stories. And I started submitting my work. I let people read my stuff. And now I’m working on a novel that I am rather fond of.

Which leads me to the WIP500. I joined a group of writers from across the internets who are taking part in a challenge to write 500 words each and every day this year. My goal is to write every day, and to let the days average to 500 words (because some days of the week are far more difficult than others). Yesterday I wrote a short 144-word story. Today I will write more on my novel. I may not make it all 366 days, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in 2012.

Do you have creative goals for your year? I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ll be working on in 2012. 🙂