Goals… Accomplished and Not So Much…

Well, I’m getting better at the whole goal-setting and achieving thing, but I’m still far from l33t at it ๐Ÿ™‚

Last year when I looked back at the goals I’d had for 2010 I’d only managed to accomplish a quarter of them, but this year, looking back over the goals for last, I’ve managed to double that. Oh yeah, I hit the 50% mark LOL

Okay, I grant you, that’s not great, but it’s progress.

My goals for 2011 were:

  • Revise the current draft of TWIXT
  • Finish writing the current โ€˜new first draftโ€™ of SHADOWS
  • Get a polished manuscript for my zombie poetry chapbook ready and begin looking for a home for it
  • Write the poetry project with Danica she and I planned

The first draft of Twixt is still sitting on my shelf, waiting it’s turn for my attention. I still think it’s a strong draft and a great story, but it has a couple big issues that I haven’t quite figured out how to address yet. I actually think I nailed the solution to the biggest one, but I haven’t started revising yet because I’m currently more interested in working on Consequences so… Twixt has to wait. A little while, at least.

I did finish writing the latest draft of Shadows. I’m done with big revisions on that one for now. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with it, it’s in the hands of two trusted critique partners, and once I have their feedback I’ll be able to make a decision about its future. So, yay! One goal accomplished ๐Ÿ™‚

I also accomplished my second goal, that of finishing up my zombie poetry chapbook and have started looking for a home for it. In what has become a bit of a familiar problem, the size of this chapbook is a bit of an issue. I picked only my strongest and most favourite zombie/apocalyptic poems to include, and that makes the book a bit shorter than most publishers want. I’m considering doing a small, personalised limited edition of it and giving them away as gifts to friends, or special bonuses for people who buy my other work (like Shades of Green). We’ll see. For now, however, the chapbook is done and I am looking for a home for it, so goal = accomplished.

Sadly, the fourth goal I set, the poetry project Dani and I were going to do hasn’t come together. We are, however, working on a different creative project together. An illustrated story. I’m writing, she’s illustrating. We’re progressing slowly on that one, but slow progress beats no progress.

I didn’t have a whole lot of publications this year, and the ones I did were mostly poetry. This is partly due to the fact I’m becoming pickier about where I submit my work (starting at pro markets and working my way down… except when I need a writerly ego-boost LOL) and partly because I just wasn’t submitting things. Or writing them. Other than novel-length stuff, I mean.

It was a difficult year for me productivity-wise. I was busy with loads of things, from school to Niteblade, NaNoLJers and family things. I spent a great deal of it in the grips of a bad depression that sometimes made it difficult to even get out of bed. I found that setting these goals was very helpful for me. I looked back at them several times over the year to remind myself what I wanted to finish this year, and to keep myself motivated and engaged in something. I will definitely be setting new goals for 2012, but I need to take the next couple days to think about what they ought to be.

What kind of goals are you setting for your writing for the coming year?

Honesty

Truth is the slipperiest creature I know. I just wrote a long(ish) blog entry, complete with pictures and nostalgia, about my favourite ever Christmas present. Then I deleted it.

It’s so tricky when you write about real things, about real people. Even if you’re saying nice things about them, it’s never quite clear what you should share and what is best kept to yourself. Or at least, it’s never clear for me.

We were pretty poor when I was a kid. That’s a fact. We never went hungry, but money was tight and there are a lot of stories in there, but are they mine to tell? Is it really fair for me to talk about what it was like growing up? That doesn’t just affect me, but my whole family. Just because I feel comfortable talking about that, does it mean I can? That I should? What about my siblings? My parents? My extended family? When I tell my story I’m also touching on theirs.

In the case of the blog entry about my favourite Christmas gift, I loved the present because I could see how much love and thought had gone into buying it for me. I could see how proud the person giving it to me was because they thought they’d gotten me the thing I wanted most in the world. They were wrong, they’d misunderstood what I asked for, but it didn’t matter to me. In that case it really was the thought that counted and that ‘wrong’ present meant more to me than the ‘right’ one ever could have because I saw the love behind it. Still, I’d never told that person they’d bought me something other than what I asked for. If they read this blog and found out, would it hurt their feelings or would they be happy to know I saw their motivations, their love, on thier face and it made that gift mean the world to me? I didn’t have the answers, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, so I’m keeping that story to myself.

But then, what if I want to tell a story, a different story, about when I was a kid? What if I want to talk about elementary school, or junior high? What if our family situation touches on those things (because dude, how could it not?) how do I know what’s okay? How do I decide when it’s okay to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and when to pretty it up a bit? What if I want to talk about the less than shiny parts of our family? No one’s perfect, and certainly no family is. That’s part of my story, is it okay to share it?

I don’t know the answers, but I’m starting to ask the questions. I think, for now, I’m just going to have to keep feeling my way through, one story at a time and really take a hard look at my motivations for sharing each. I don’t want to hurt anyone, so that’s the only way I know to go. But in the end, it’s my story too, so I think I have a right to share if I want to.

Mostly I write fiction, so this doesn’t become a giant problem, but who I am, what I’ve known and expierenced, they all inform my writing, so even in fiction, it’s important, I think, that I consider these things.

Cheerful thoughts leading into Giftmas, eh?

I suspect the holidays are greatly to blame for my thoughts heading down this road, as is work on CONSEQUENCE which takes place in a small town much like the ones where I grew up in.* Sure, we didn’t have genies, but in a way, small towns are like families. They have secrets, they have truths and they have ways of functioning that are unique to them. I’m not trying to re-create anywhere I’ve lived for CONSEQUENCE (okay, that the last time I’m writing it in all caps :-P) but I’m definitely finding myself thinking about them a lot these days. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Families, small towns and truth. I could get lost thinking about them, but then I’d never get any writing done. So maybe I am, as usual, just overthinking things what I really need to do is stop the thought merry-go-round and just freaking write.

/ramble

*and, it should be noted, never fit into

Cruelty

So far this month has been cruel to me.

It really has.

I have a fantastic story idea I really, really want to develop (It’s working title is CONSEQUENCE, though I fully expect to change that someday) but have I been able to find time for that? Hells no.

Between Giftmas stuff, having a life (*gasp* I know, right? But it’s true! I’ve actually even been out to three shows so far this month. Three. That’s like a record, I think), working on Niteblade and school–

Oh my goodness, school. Schoolwork has been kicking my butt far more than it should be. I don’t really get it, but there you have it. This month I have to do two assignments. The first is to write a research paper proposal, and the second is to write the paper I’ve proposed. I had *such* a difficult time picking a topic, first of all. All the ones suggested by the course made me roll my eyes, and none of the things I could think of that I wanted to write about could be imagined to fall within the guidelines. It was tricksy, but eventually I chose a topic, “Are North Americans eating healthier now than they were ten years ago?” (the answer, in case you were wondering, is a resounding no). Then I had to write a research paper proposal that included an outline of how I expected the paper to go. The notes in the coursework emphasize that we are not allowed to strongly deviate from that outline once our proposal is approved.

Let me let you in on a secret. I don’t outline. Okay, so that’s not a secret, but it’s true. This assignment forced me, someone who totally doesn’t outline. I discover the shapes of my stories (and essays) by writing them. By sticking my pen on the page and chaining one idea to another until it’s done. Trying to figure out how this essay was going to read was torture for me. It was cruel. Seriously.

I sincerely considered writing the paper and -then- doing the proposal once I knew how it was going to work. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that, if my professor insisted on any major changes from my proposal to the finished work I would potentially have to re-write the entire essay and I’m lazy. I didn’t want to do the assignment twice.

So I brooded about the outline for two days, then finally locked myself in my room and got it done. It hurt. It hurt more than going to the dentist, and I don’t mind telling you that the thought “I only need 50% to pass” occured to me more than once but I finished it and handed it in.

So yeah, forcing someone who doesn’t outline (I hate the word ‘pantser’, sorry.) to outline? That’s cruel. But I did it. Cause I’m awesome.

Or something.

So that’s done, and handed in. Now I wait for feedback before writing my research paper. That can’t possibly hurt as much as the proposal. They can’t possibly make me outline it twice, right? Right?

My deadline for this course is the end of the month, which I’m eyeing with anticipation because that is when I’ll have some more time open up in my day and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to steal a week or two and lock myself away to work on Consequence. I’ve started it three times so far and haven’t liked any of them. I have a good idea for a fourth way to begin that I think might really work, but I won’t know for sure until I try. And that requires time. I feel like if I can hide from the world until I’ve written enough that I can see the shape the story is going to take I’ll be better equipped to make steady progress on it. We’ll see… we’ll see…

/ramble

 

Consequence, Alberta

Consequence, Alberta.

Don’t look for it on a map, it doesn’t exist except in my imagination. Yet. By the time you read this* I should actually have started writing about it. Consequence is the name of the town I’m setting my new writing project in. That’s subject to change, of course, as I get going, but for right now, I like it.

Beth has inspired me to want to write a bit of a blurb before I start work, and while I have some stuff whirling about in my brain, I haven’t actually written anything down yet. Suffice to say, however, the people in Consequence have trouble. Djinn trouble.

At the time of writing this have, as usual, a concept and, for lack of a better word, my Big Bad, but not quite figured out my smaller plots. I’ve mostly been developing characters using my fishbowl (which is really a rosebowl) and I’m hoping they will help show the plot the way. I am optimistic about this. The fishbowl has produced some freaking amazing characters, and at least one plot twist, so far. If you contributed traits to it thank you so much. So far the following internet-contributed traits have been pulled out and assigned to characters:

  • paralyzing fear of eggplant
  • phlegmatic
  • says #s in the wrong order (“It’s 6 or 5 miles away.” or “I’ll be there in 8 or 7 minutes”)
  • pigeon-toed
  • insists on upholding a code of chivalry or other code even though it’s not required.
  • hates being too hot

I hope when this project is done you’ll enjoy reading it and trying to spot the traits you contributed.

The best part about character traits other people have added to my fishbowl is that they aren’t from my brain. No doubt that seems obvious, but because they aren’t from my brain they aren’t comfortable for me. They shake things up and challenge me to think differently, which keeps me out of ruts. Thank you.

From now on my fishbowl is officially always open, so if you ever want to contribute, you are more than welcome to. I really ought to create a page on my blog for the fishbowl, but that sounds like work and right now I’m all about drafting.

In the meantime, I’m very excited about this project, so wish me luck as I break ground. Hopefully my enthusiasm will carry me far enough into this draft that momentum can charge the rest of the way through. Once I get started and actually have a feel for how well it’s going I’ll give myself a deadline for the draft and that will help too.

*I’m writing this on Friday evening and just scheduling it to post Monday morning.

Focus. I needs it. Also, Shadows.

Mmk, I screwed up. I put off doing this blog entry for too long and now my kiddo is home and I’m trying to focus enough to write it. That is not an easy task. She loves singing random songs and making odd noises. These things are very distracting to me and make focusing on anything difficult. So, note to self, in the future write your blog entries before Danica gets home from school.

If I seem more disjointed than usual, that’s why.

That’s right. I’m totally blaming my teenager.

That’s okay, right?

<.<

>.>

Oh hey! She just went downstairs and took my excuse with her. Which means I probably ought to delete everything I’ve written above this, but I’m not going to. Because I don’t wanna. ๐Ÿ™‚

Shadows is done.

That’s exciting, but less than I’d like. You see, Shadows finished at about 41k words. That lands it pretty squarely in the ‘Incredibly awkward length that is a nightmare to sell’ category. Also, I’m rather pissed, to be honest. This draft was supposed to be longer than my last one, so how did it end up shorter? Gah. The story is stronger, the characters have more depth and overall I feel good about it, but that word count… ugh.

I’m trying to figure out what to do with it now. My original plan had been to start looking for an agent to represent it, but the length makes that a problem. The way I see it my options sort of look like this: Continue reading