Category Archives: Goals

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?

Dear Santa,

A friend of mine on LiveJournal posted the list of what she wanted Santa to bring for her as a blog entry last week. I thought it was a fabulous idea because it really gave me some insight into who she was. My list, below is being shared for the same reason. Please don’t think I’m actually asking anyone who is reading this (except you Jo :-p) to get me these things — I’m writing to Santa.

Dear Santa,

I’ve been, well, if not terribly good at least not terribly bad this year. So for Giftmas, I would really love:

  • A hot oil popcorn popper like the one we used to have when I was a kid. I can’t actually find that exact model anymore, I guess they don’t make them these days, but this one here is similar enough to satisfy my nostalgia and provide me with super duper yummy popcorn.
  • I would also really love to “become a chimpanzee’s best friend“. Please. Pretty please?
  • I’m all about the Sims 3 these days but I’m feeling a little limited with my options for ‘stuff’ at this point. I’d positively adore any of the expansions I don’t have yet, or even Sims Points so I can buy some of the ‘stuff’ collections they put on sale on the website.
  • Lastly, if you were feeling super generous, Santa. I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done. I’ve got the paint for both and I’d really like a chance to use it.

Thank you Santa.

Love,

Rhonda

In more directly writing-related news, Shadows is still coming along well. I’ve had a few bumpy patches in regard to ordering some of my scenes, but I still feel very good about this draft. I’m at 22,692 words and still going strong. Since I started working on it this time I haven’t missed a workday and the consistency feels good. Very good.

I wish I could say I’ve been as consistent with my #novpad this year, but I’d be lying. I have 9 poems, I should have 18. But it’s okay. I plan to keep going through the prompts, one at a time, until I finish them all, even if it takes me until January. For me the point of #novpad is mostly to be writing, and I’m doing that, even if it’s not one poem a day. I’m still pleased with my productivity, so it’s all good.

A couple years ago my friend BD did a personal challenge where she wrote for at least 15 minutes everyday for a year. I’m thinking about doing something similar. I don’t usually write on weekends, so I’d let myself off the hook then, but maybe expecting myself to write every weekday would be good for habit-forming and productivity. You know, assuming it’s not just setting myself up for failure considering the cyclical way my productivity works. This will require further thought, but I’m considering it, and if I do attempt it I’ll need moral support so if anyone else wants in let me know.

And let me know if you have a public holiday gift list. I’d love to take a look.

Paint and Music and Love. Oh my!

Today is my anniversary. Another year spent married to this guy. This is Jo. Jo rocks. We’ve been together for just over ten years now, married for seven of them. I love him more today than I did a decade ago and if I were to imagine my life without him it would be a dismal thing indeed.

He’s got his game face on in this picture — we were in the lab and he was pouring things into test tubes for me to photograph. He’s cool like that.

*Insert some sort of clever segue here between anniversaries and music*

Today I’ve got a guest blog over at Beth Cato’s blog. It’s all about music and stories. Check it out ๐Ÿ™‚ Once you’ve read my blog post poke around Beth’s site a bit more. I’m the third guest blogger she’s had there recently talking about music. Also, she’s just kinda awesome.

*Insert one more clever segue*

I’m working on a collaborative project with Jennythe_reader. We hooked up via 2xCreative (which I’ve mentioned before here). We’re actually doing a couple projects together. For the first, I sent her a poem I’d written and she is writing it out all pretty-like and then embellishing the paper. I don’t think my description does it justice, but you can hear her talk about it a little bit here. Anyway, I kind of wanted to do something more. Partly because my time investment was pretty small this month (I already had the poem written and only had to send it to her) and also partly because I wanted to do something different. Whenever I work on a collaborative project I provide words in some form or another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, but Jenny, well, Jenny is a fabric artist. It just so happens that I paint fabric. How could we not do something that combined those talents?

I dug out my fabric painting stuff from where it was tucked into a corner of the basement and painted three pieces. I will be popping these into the mail to Jenny this week and I’ll keep you updated about what she creates with them. I can’t wait to see!

ย 

In other, writing-related news, though I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, I am doing the November Poem-a-Day challenge. My theme is going to be ‘Classic Horror’ with a focus (I hope) on ghosts.

I’ve also begun transcribing and revising Shadows. Right now I’m only working on the revision part (the first couple chapters were already transcribed), and I’m 4,785 words in. I’d love to use a word count meter of some sort here, but that’s tricky when you don’t know how many words you’re going to end up with LOL I think my last estimate was about 70k but at this point, it’s all a big question mark.

Finally, did I mention that it’s my anniversary? Happy Halloween everyone and Jo, I love you.

Fuck Plan B

Amanda Palmer made a commencement speech to the New York Institute of Art’s class of 2011. It is very much worth watching, or reading the transcript if you prefer. In it she talks about the Fraud Police. You know that feeling you have occasionally (or constantly) that you’re a fraud and someone is going to find you out? Yeah. That. That is something I can totally relate to — I bet we all can. I watched her speech and I thought ‘I ought to blog about that’ and maybe I will someday, but not today.

Not today because of three little words at the end of her blog (well, two words and a letter). Those words? Fuck plan B.

I <3 them.

For me they sum up a lot of things I find myself telling other writers, telling myself. Unfortunately, they are also very much open to interpretation, so let me tell you a little story about how I interpret them.

As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to ‘be a writer’. Now, that definition of ‘be a writer’ was not ‘someone who writes’. It encompassed a whole lot more than that. It meant publication, it meant people liking what I wrote, it meant writing as my full-time job. I wrote all the time in school. All the time. My friends (and even the other students who weren’t my friends) and my teachers said I was a good writer, they said I had “talent”. I believed them, but I didn’t. I tried, in high school, to get published. I submitted a couple (terrible) stories to magazines. They were rejected. I said all the right things about those rejections, “It’s not me they are passing on, it’s the story.” “It’s a good story, it’s just not right for them.” “Get back on the horse.” Etc. etc. I even sent some of them back out again, and got some more rejections.

In the end, the only thing I published prior to 2006 were letters to the editor in my local paper and one in Canadian Gardening that was mostly fiction though I pretended otherwise. I was pretty pleased with that silly letter getting published though, don’t get me wrong. I was willing to take my victories where they came.

They didn’t come often enough though, so I became discouraged. I gave up on writing as a career and I moved on to Plan B.

Now, there was no pivotal moment, no light switch that got flicked and made me say ‘No, I’m not going to do this, I’m going to do that’ but it happened. Slowly, insidiously, it happened. I became certain my dreams, my Plan A, was impossible so I moved on.

Oh, how I regret that now.

In 2006 I was re-assessing my career, my life. I was looking for a new direction. My husband, Jo, said to me “Well, if you could do anything in the world what would it be?”

“Writing. But that’s impossible.” I replied.

“Why?” he asked.

I had no answer.

That was a turning point for me. Now I’m living my Plan A. It’s taken time (oh, how I bemoan the lost years when I could have been honing my craft instead of writing it off as impossible) and it’s tough. I still feel like a fraud, and I struggle, but it beats the hell out of Plan B. Hope beats surrender.

So Fuck Plan B.

I don’t mean that people should be completely irrational. You shouldn’t give up your fantastic job to go be a starving artist if you’ve never picked up a paint brush before. You shouldn’t drop out of school to make a living writing poetry. But you should aim high. Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams. You should start learning to paint and practicing on weekends. You should start writing poetry in the evening after you’re done your homework instead of watching American Idol. Fuck Plan B doesn’t get to be an excuse for doing something foolish, but it can be fantastic motivation for doing something awesome.

Time Management Fail

I suck at managing my time. I really, really do. I make plans, I make schedules — they don’t work, or worse, they do for a couple days and then fall apart all around me. My Epic Win! to-do list tells me I’m supposed to make a blog post every Monday, but I’m failing at that too.

To be fair, I’ve a bunch of deadlines kicking my butt.

  • Writing, revising and polishing a short story to submit to the Whittakers every other week
  • Writing, revising and polishing a poem to submit to the Whittakers every other week
  • Writo De Mayo writing goals
  • Self-imposed June 1st deadline for this draft of Shadows

There was also a death in the family that, while I couldn’t make the funeral, did have me writing only about my deceased aunt for a few days. It was good, it was cathartic, but it didn’t help with my accomplishing other stuff.

…that sounds so callous. I hope if you’re reading this you know me better than that.

So, anyway, I’ve been busy, busy, busy. So busy that I’ve been thinking of bailing on my daytime raids, which I love. Hopefully things will come together soon though. WdM and the Whittakers, for example, don’t last forever, and progress on Shadows has been great. I just need to suck it up and keep going. In the meantime though, I’ll probably continue to be scarce around here. Thinking of interesting things to blog about is, quite simply, beyond me at the moment.

I do want to thank everyone who has taken the time to email me and tell me what you thought about Lost and Found, or added it to their shelves in GoodReads to tell the world. Thank you -so- very much. I’m writing you each back, honest, but it may take me a little bit. Thank you. Hearing someone say ‘I loved this story’ or ‘I love CHARACTERNAME’ makes me smile like you wouldn’t believe.

I <3 you all.

Truly.

 

2011 Goals

I don’t usually do the New Year’s Resolution thing. It’s mostly just to be contrary, I think, which seems to be a recurring theme in my life LOL In fact, when Jo and I decided to quit smoking we did it on December 30th so that it wouldn’t be considered a New Year’s Resolution (because yes, in our brains doing it on -not- Dec. 31st or Jan. 1st did that :-p). Still, loads of people around me are making writing resolutions and setting specific goals, and I thought, well, goals aren’t a bad plan. You don’t shoot a gun without aiming, right? So, this is me, taking aim.

This year my writing goals are:

  • Revise the current draft of TWIXT
  • Finish writing the current ‘new first draft’ 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

Those are all goals that I have control over. I think these are attainable and concrete enough to be motivating. I guess we’ll see in about a year ๐Ÿ˜‰

Goals Reached

As I sat down to begin this post I realised I hadn’t reported on the progress I made on my Writing goals for November, and that’s pretty relevant to this blog, so let’s start there, shall we?

My goals were:

  • At least 50,000 words toward a first draft of my novel โ€˜Richterโ€™. (Iโ€™m calling it a paranormal mystery for lack of a better genre. At least until itโ€™s been written :) )
  • 30 poems, one a day, based on prompts from the November Poem-a-Day challenge. All with zombie themes in order to give me the last pieces I need to put together a zombie poetry chapbook
  • Work with Danica on a poetry project. Iโ€™m not putting a specific poem goal here because the challenge in this will be learning to work together and have fun with it, not on the finished project.

Well, of those three goals I accomplished the first one LoL. In fact I finished the first draft of the story formerly called ‘Richter’ and currently sporting the title ‘Twixt’ (we’ll see how long that lasts LoL). I think it’s a pretty strong first draft, and I’ve got some fairly good revision notes for when that time comes. For right now, however, it’s resting while I reset my brain and re-charge mentally from finishing the draft.

Writing that draft in long hand and trying to keep the NaNoWriMo pace meant that I didn’t have time to do the Poem-a-day thing in November, and Dani and I both were’nt feeling our poetry project after the first day. I plan to use the PAD prompts soon to work on some zombie poems still, and Dani and I will be going back to our project in the new year.

So I reached 1/3 goals, but I’m oddly okay with that and optimistic for future completion of the other two goals.

Speaking of goals…

I bet you recognise this cover ๐Ÿ™‚

Dragonlance novels, and specifically the Dragonlance Chronicles series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are what hooked me on fantasy novels. I love them. LOVE them. I still have every Dragonlance novel I’ve ever bought (including multiple copies of some because they were re-released with new covers) and I can’t imagine parting with them. I named my daughter (in part) after a character in The Cleric Quintet by R. A. Salvatore and I can sooner imagine parting with those books than my Dragonlance ones. When I was in grade nine I created a complete gaming/RP system based on Dragonlance stuff called ‘From the Stories of Children’. Are you feeling the love I have for them? Yeah.

When I created Aphanasia, and with each story I’ve written set in it, I’ve been strongly influenced by the feeling of the Dragonlance books. The incredible world with its diverse races, deep history and potential for amazing stories. I wanted to create that too. To have a world where I could hop from character to character, story to story and culture to culture.

Recently Red Haircrow reviewed Lost and Found and said, in part:

If I had to compare to other works of fantasy, it was be books in the Dragonlance series by Magaret Weis, Tracy Hickman and others. โ€œLost and Foundโ€ has excellent potential and I would certainly be interested in reading further installments.

Talk about making my day ๐Ÿ™‚ If you want to read the full review it’s right here. There’s a tiny bit of a spoiler in there, but it relates to something in the middle of the story, not the end, if you’re the kind of person that makes a difference to.

I am one happy bunny today ๐Ÿ™‚

NaNoWriMo Goals

Dude, where’s October gone?

It’s NaNoWriMo eve, and while I can’t get super hyped or whatever about it anymore, I’m doing it again this year, and that means I needed to set some goals. One of the best ways I find to accomplish my goals is to share them with the world — then there’s some external pressure (whether it’s real or not doesn’t matter, I feel like it’s there) and that is very motivating. If you’re me.

November Writing Goals

  • At least 50,000 words toward a first draft of my novel ‘Richter’. (I’m calling it a paranormal mystery for lack of a better genre. At least until it’s been written :))
  • 30 poems, one a day, based on prompts from the November Poem-a-Day challenge. All with zombie themes in order to give me the last pieces I need to put together a zombie poetry chapbook
  • Work with Danica on a poetry project. I’m not putting a specific poem goal here because the challenge in this will be learning to work together and have fun with it, not on the finished project.

Let’s see how it goes, shall we? ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the picture, I just thought it looked ‘autumn-y’. I took it for a collaborative project I was doing.

Slow and Steady

Last weekend was spent at my parent’s in southern Alberta. It’s often rather tricky to find something for all of us to do and enjoy, but my mom hit on a wonderful idea when she suggested we go to the Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale. I will totally be going back, but in the meantime some of the pictures I took on that trip will decorate this post.

So far I’m doing very well at my goal to write more consistently. I’ve not been allowing myself to play World of Warcraft unless I’ve written that day. Occasionally I’m not very good at the whole self-denial thing, but so far I’m pulling it off. That means less naps, and a more regimented daily routine in order to get everything I need to do and some of the things I want to do done, and I really like it. I’ve mentioned that I do very well if I have a routine? Well, that one resolution is helping me establish one.

I’ve been using a couple aps to help me stick to this. The first is called ‘Streaks’ and is really just a calendar where I can tap any day I’ve written on and it puts an X on the day. It keeps track of my streaks and if I miss a day that ends the streak and I have to start again. If you’ve got a brain like mine it’s surprisingly movitating to be able to make that little X appear on the screen, as well as not wanting to miss any days LOL The other ap just came out last night and I love it already. It’s called ‘Epic Win!’ and basically it lets you add your chores into a list and then as you do them you gain expirience points so your little avatar dude gets to level up and get gear. It’s like the ultimate nerd to-do list. I love it already.

So, yeah — so far so good. I’m getting a fair amount of writing done. I’ve written, revised and re-revised Chapter Eight of Lost and Found, for example. It’s done — I’ve sent it to Bill to work his magic on, that means no more changes for it. Chapter Nine has also been written and revised and is just waiting for me to send it to my critique group for their feedback before polishing it and calling it done.

Chapter Ten on the other hand…oh, chapter ten.

Happily my aps and my new routine will help me write it, and if it’s really bad, write it again, and again until I get it right. After all, I really need to get Lost and Found finished up, and then move on to Shadows. I’d been hoping to have the first draft of it finished and resting by November so I could work on something else for NaNo. I don’t think that’s going to happen now, but maybe. And either way, like the tortoise I’m making my way to the finish line. Slow and steady — because that’s how you win the race.

P.S. I got 50 expirience points for writing this blog post ๐Ÿ˜‰

What Photos Have Taught Me…

This weekend we went to Fort Edmonton Park. We arrived on Saturday, stayed the night at the hotel there and then left on Sunday. A large motivation for the trip was just to have fun at the park as a family, but staying at the Selkirk Hotel was one of those things on my ‘Edmonton Bucket List’ (for lack of a better phrase) and I also wanted to turn it into a photo safari. The idea of being able to shoot things in the park without the crowds (between closing and opening) was too much to resist.

It was very nice. We had a lovely dinner and had fun hanging out with each other, meandering around the streets, petting horses and riding trains.

However, as a photo safari it did not meet my (ridiculously high) expectations. The problem wasn’t the setting, it was the photographer. That’s right, me.

I made a series of minor mistakes that piled up to mean several shots that could have been great were lost, or ruined, or just didn’t work. That being said, I’m still counting the trip as a success — even in regard to photography. Why? Well, because while I made a whack of mistakes, I also learned from them and I’m optimistic I won’t make them again — at least not in succession like I did this weekend.

I am still learning to apply that attitude toward my writing. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s true. While photography is a hobby that I am really enjoying right now, writing is my job, it’s what I do. Being a writer is who I am. So I put more pressure on myself for it than I do photography…but little by little I’m becoming more forgiving of my own imperfections, even in regard to writing.

I finished up a new chapter on Friday and within minutes sent it off to my critique group. That is not something I could have ever forced myself to do a year ago. No way. Now, granted, I sent it off that quickly because it’s part of Lost and Found which had deadlines of the looming kind and I wasn’t going to have time to let it set and revise before sending, but it’s still progress. And progress, often, is good.

So I’ll keep working on that, being forgiving toward myself and in the meantime I’ll share some of my Fort Edmonton photos here as I find time to process them because Arnold, at least, told me to keep sharing photos here and no one screamed ‘Oh God No!’

Hmm…

Ever submit your work somewhere and then weeks later look at their website and go ‘What on earth was I thinking?’

<.<

>.>

Yeah…me either.

However, if I -had- it would certainly make me aware of the effect a bad website can have in regard to how you are perceived. I think my website’s biggest fault is that I don’t update it regularily. I’ll be working on that, right after I master my current project which is to create a writing routine. I watched this fabulous video yesterday:

Clicky, Clicky

It’s Elizabeth Gilbert (the author of Eat, Pray, Love) talking about nurturing creativity. I really enjoyed the talk but the part that hit me the hardest is where she says “I’m here for my part of the job.” She’s talking about showing up everyday and writing, even when it sucks, even when she doesn’t want to, but doing it because that is her job.

Writing is also my job and I haven’t been doing it. Not the way I should. I thrive on routine, and yet for some reason I haven’t created one for my writing. I just do it “when I can”. In between being a Mom, and doing work for clients, and schoolwork (which I’m way behind on) and gaming and…and…and.

And that’s not right. I need to have a time that is when I write, without the internet, without distractions…as much as possible. Right now it’s summer time so an actual set-in-stone routine is unlikely to snap into place nicely for me, however, I am taking two hours a day to write. If I don’t write for two hours? Well, guess what? No World of Warcraft. It’s really pretty simple. I’d been treating WoW as a hobby, but now it’s a reward. And the two hours of writing? Well, that’s my job so it is going to come before client work, before photography, before schoolwork.

Once school begins again and things settle down a bit more around here I’ll see about fitting that two hours into the same slot everyday…and I’m seriously considering taking a page from Tobias Buckell‘s book and doing it while everyone else around here is sleeping. I’ve always had trouble sleeping ‘when I was supposed to’ so perhaps it’s time to embrace that and make it work for me. I guess we’ll see.

First writing two hours a day (at least), then fitting it into a routine, and then regular updates of the blog. I hope you’ll be patient with me. In the meantime, should I return to posting photographs, or not so much? ๐Ÿ™‚