Oh, January, I had such hopes for you. Goals to get organized, plans to get motivated. Together we were going to strike fear in the clutter of my life. We were going to conquer revisions. We were going to blaze through the first third of a new manuscript.
We were going to be awesome!
Now that we’re staring at the wiggly end of the month … we weren’t so awesome.
Sadly, I’m no stranger to this phenomenon. See, my problem is creating plans and goals in a vacuum. My to-do lists are comically complicated. Yesterday’s had 35 things. Which wouldn’t have been as big of a problem if they were all things like “put dishes in the dishwasher,” “finish laundry,” “water plants.” Those were on my list. But so was “get through 50 pages of revisions” (child home, not much quiet time to focus on writing), “write blog post” (inspiration for the blog disappeared somewhere between “I’m hungry, can we go out for breakfast” and the cat vomiting at my feet), “help child with book summary” (which also means read said book).
How many things did I check off the list? 5 I think.
That’s pretty much the way this whole month has been.
This is where I usually pull out the guilt-o-meter then hurl myself down the rabbit hole of emotional flogging for allowing an entire month to pass me by without conquering goals. And yes, I started wedging myself into that hole this morning.
Sadly, I’m more Winnie-the-Pooh than Alice in Wonderland these days (but that’s another blog post).
Luckily, I started reading emails before I was totally wedged and came across this …
(thanks, Christa Allan, for the virtual assist out of the rabbit hole)
Okay, February … let’s do it!
The last couple of months have been busy. The kind of busy that threw me off my routine and had me scrambling to keep up with pretty much everything. My house looks way more lived in than I care to live in, the to-do list has more forward arrows than checkmarks, and my WIP (Work in Progress) hasn't progressed.
Catch-up time is usually weekends except that lately, we seem to either be away for one climbing competition or another. And if we're not out of town for a competition, we're at the gym for team practice.
Yesterday I woke up in frantic must-get-organized mode. I tossed all the junk out of my office (it's become the dumping ground for everything we didn't know what to do with) and started organizing, scrap paper by scrap paper by magazine by notebook. Holy crap!
My de-cluttering attempt created more clutter. And the more clutter I made, the less focused I became. A pile of books from the office needed to be moved to the bookshelves in the bedroom, where I stopped to fold a pile of clothes, then had to put a shirt back into the laundry, and realized I'd sprayed the shower but didn't wipe it down. Yeah ... you see how well that went. By the end of the day, I was more frustrated than when I started.
This morning I was determined to make good of yesterday's efforts. If I tipped my head 15 degrees and closed one eye, I could see the end of the mess. And the to-do list getting ready for another weekend climbing trip didn't seem quite as daunting (granted, I was looking at it after 4 cups of coffee).
Except that my brain couldn't settle into any of the things I had to do. Writing a blog post resulted in deleting more words than I was getting onto the page. I opened my WIP, reread the last few lines hoping they'd inspire new words. Nadda. I went over notes for an afternoon conference call and ended up with an extra 5 tabs open in Safari.
When I finally couldn't take the jumble in my brain, I pulled out a new yarn and started on a slouch beanie my son asked me to make. My fingers are busy and my brain is slowly switching from full throttle to a comfortable idle.
In The Memory of Hoofbeats, the main character, Emma, discovers crocheting and the mental quieting that comes with the repetitive motion. She gets that from my side of the family. ;-)
Crocheting is my time-out, it's the opportunity to let my thoughts go where they need. My family teases that you can tell my stress level by the number of crochet projects I have going on. They can laugh all they want. While working on the band of the hat, I came up with a better topic for that blog post I was having trouble with. Maybe by the time I finish the beanie, I'l have the next few scenes of the WIP mapped out.
Now back to my time out.
I love challenges. And lists. So, of course, I couldn’t resist.
I’ve been following posts on Facebook with various reading challenges and decided to create my own, picking and choosing the parts I liked best from the various challenges out there. I posted my goal of 25 books in Goodreads – it’s out there, it’s public, now it has to be done.
So with that said, here’s the challenge I set for myself that will help me get to that goal …
What’s on your TBR list?
Hard to believe we're at the tail end of another year. 2015 flew. And crawled. In some ways it was an awful year but it also had a few amazing highlights. But I don't want to dwell on 2015. I'll bid adieu to the bad, be thankful for the good, and look forward to the new.
Over the last few years I've gotten into the habit of identifying a word that will define my coming year. A couple of years were semi-successful. When I was thinking about what I wanted 2016 to look like, there was only one word that came to mind - Refocus.
Refocus on writing.
For the last three years, I've been the founding president of the Women's Fiction Writers Association. I've loved every minute of that experience but I have to admit, there were plenty of times when I put WFWA ahead of my own writing. Not the best move, I know. Today is my last day as president of WFWA.
I have mixed feelings. But one thing I'm sure of, the extra time will be well spent.
I've done what I set out to do with WFWA and now I'm ready to move forward. My debut will be released in 2017 but there will be lots of work with my publisher this coming year to get it ready. I have another women's fiction to write. And a middle grade book that's poking to get out.
Refocus on my family.
When I look around my house, I know where my focus wasn't. Oy! Nuff said on that.
Time is going too fast. I see the changes in all of us and I hate the days when I feel like I don't have time for my family. That's not how I want to be, it's not who I want to be.
Refocus on me.
Somewhere in the mix of priorities, I allowed myself to fall off the list. I let everyone else's needs take priority. That's about to change.
So thank you 2015 for the lessons you taught me, the good you brought me. Now off you go ... 2016 and I have big plans ahead of us.
The last few months have been chaotic to say the least. What was supposed to be a quiet, get-down-to-business and have fun year has turned into anything but.
We’ve been dealing with serious health issues, personal disappointments, professional uncertainty, and the less-than-serious-but-still-annoying things that crop up unexpectedly in every day life. And we’re only three months into the year.
A few days ago, the latest lightening bolt came our way. I have this cartoon posted in my office. It reminds me not to ask stupid questions like “what next?”
It would be so easy - and tempting - to yell “why” and hide in my cave. But I refuse to let that happen. Maybe it’s a product of being the sandwich generation - we’re taking care of kids and staring down at the years when we’ll need to start taking care of parents. I’m finding myself looking for the rainbow in each of the storms we’ve faced so far.
Power outage during a howling storm = “camping” on pillows in the family room overnight and snuggling together.
Sinus infection = the perfect excuse to curl up and read.
Another snow day = a chance to dig into the clutter in the basement.
Rejections on the manuscript = the opportunity to rediscover the joy in writing and further my craft.
Breast cancer = the best kind if you have to get breast cancer and all removed with surgery.
Stroke = caught early and the signs are good for recovery.
So, okay, things are quite where I’d like them to be. Yes, it’s easy to throw up your hands and scream “why” and “what next” but that won’t fix anything. I may not have the control to fix many of the things that are happening, but I do have control over my attitude.
And I’m choosing to find the rainbow.
Tomorrow, January 31, is the Chinese New Year and 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Imagine how excited I was when I saw that?!
I wasn’t born under the year of the horse. But I still think it’s going to be a good year. It’s the year of the horse, people, how can it not be brilliant?!
My Writers In The Storm blogging buddy, Fae Rowen, posted seven predictions for writing in 2014. I’m keeping that post handy. A lot of what she wrote resonated with me. Little things that I need to remember when I’m armpit deep in frustration.
I’m optimistic about 2014. It will be my writing year. After all, I have one completed manuscript with a wooden horse and my work in progress has several horses in it. Will my horsy books capture the heart of an agent or editor this year? Who knows. But there’s more to having a successful writing year - growing as a writer, learning something about myself, enjoying the process of creating.
Fae’s post had me searching for other predictions for the year of the horse. For those of us not born under the horse sign, the year ahead will bring health and prosperity. One site said it was an excellent time to travel and the next 12 months will bring good luck. It also suggested discovering somewhere you’ve never been before.
On my other group blog, Musings From The Mug, we’ve been talking about bucket lists this month. Not surprisingly a lot of people have traveling, exploring new places and trying new things on their lists. That fits right in.
2014 will also be my personal year. Because I decided so! I may not travel to a new location this year but there’s a lot to re-discover in the places I’ve already been. There’s one “destination” I haven’t been that I’m committed to this year — the top of a climbing wall. I had to pinkie promise I’d climb this year and you can’t back out on a pinkie promise.
As for health, 2014 started out somewhat rocky. But the “bad” news isn’t all bad and I’m going to focus on the silver lining - not because I’m an overly sunshiny kinda gal (I’m not) but because I believe in the positives.
So here’s to 2014, the Year of the Horse! May it bring good health and good luck!
Every once in a while my 8 year old announces, “Today is opposite day.” That pretty much sums up 2013 for me. My word for the year was “Simplify” and I managed to do the exact opposite.
Don't get me wrong, 2013 was a great year in many ways - I started writing full time which also gives me the flexibility to spend more - and more relaxed - time with my family; launched a group blog with a couple of writing friends; and started an organization for women's fiction writers with a great group of talented and dedicated authors.
I had the perfect word for 2014. Then life happened over the holidays. There are a lot of things in this world I have no control over. I can't control whether an agent or editor or reader will like my book. I can't control whether a loved one gets sick or injured or worse.
But there are still a few things I can control. I can control my attitude - I choose to write for the love of storytelling. I can control my outlook - I choose to be positive.
The more I looked at my goals for 2014 (yes, I made a list and it's a long list because it's just how I'm wired), the more one word became apparent - Prioritize. So that's what I'm doing this year. I'm focusing on the things I can control and putting what matters most at the tippy top of my priority list.
Cheers to a positive - and prioritized - 2014!
It won't come as much of a surprise that I'm addicted to books. And since I'm on yahoo loops and Twitter and Facebook with so many amazing authors and book-ish types, there's an endless supply of recommendations.
Every time I announce there will be no more book-buying for a bit, Barnes & Noble sends me an email with a coupon. It would be downright rude to ignore that, wouldn't it?
Anywhoo ... A couple of days ago my son opened the door for a delivery and groaned. "Mom! Did you really order more books? We don't have room for more books. You have to stop." This is the 8 year old reprimanding me.
Sadly, has a point. I've become a crazy woman rearranging shelves looking for a few more inches here and there. I've even threatened to sell the fancy dining room furniture and turn that room (which we never use, by the way) into a library.
Then I came across a Twitter and Facebook exchange, declaring August Conquering the Book Stacks (#ctbs) month. The goal is to read what's on your shelf already. No buying books (gasp). Considering the number of books on my To-Be-Read list, this sounded like a brilliant idea. My TBR list, however, will require a wee bit longer than a month.
So, no buying books for a while (well, maybe one more!). And now I'm off to see what treasures I've forgotten I already have.
Remember when I said 2013 was going to be about simplifying? Yeah, not so much.
The Women’s Fiction Writers Association is moving forward and with a bit of luck (and toes crossed) we’ll be ready to launch officially within the next month or so. I’ve been querying my latest manuscript The Day The Merry-Go-Round Stopped and started a new manuscript.
AND … today launched a group blog with critique partners Kerry Lonsdale and Vicky Gresham.
While the blog is by writers, we won’t be giving writerly advice. Our idea was to create a blog for our readers, friends, and followers. Each month we’ll share bits and pieces of our overly-caffeinated minds. We’ll be blogging every Tuesday with the fourth Tuesday reserved for guests.
So pour a mug and come chat with us at Musings From the Mug.
I’m not perfect--*gasp, I know*—but I never expected the double whammy diagnosis on my "P" problem: dangerously low levels of Patience and Practicality.
Making peace with the diagnosis. I can easily do that with the patience part. Even my 7 year old has called me out on that—yeah, that was embarrassing.
Practical is a bit harder to swallow, though. I always thought of myself as somewhat grounded. But the signs started surfacing a year ago when my husband decided he needed to sell his fun car for a commuter car. When the sales guy congratulated us and, seeing my hesitation, added “it’s a very practical car,” I broke out in hives. Literally.
And now that my beloved toy car is getting up there in age, hubs is again throwing that P word around. Lots of antihistamine being ingested!
Doing something about it. The patience part I’m working on. I know there are things I can control and others I can’t. I’m learning when to walk away and distract myself instead of hitting “send” or the verbal equivalent. I don’t always succeed but we've already established that I’m not perfect.
And I’ve even discovered the drug of choice to ease the twitching—a nice big cup of coffee (I know, sounds counterintuitive but for me it works, go figure).
As for practical, well, I’m not doing as well there. I made an attempt and wrote out a plus-minus list—a practical approach, right?—then proceeded to break into hives and ripped it into teeny, tiny pieces.
Baby steps, people, baby steps!