Time to look back at my original real and fantasy goals. Some that I thought would be easy still seem impossible but, to my surprise, some of my fantasy goals are going strong. Some are turning out better than I’d anticipated, like the one on the left.
1) Real goal: Health: sleep (lights out at 10:30 p.m.), move (get up from desk every hour, spend at least 20 minutes outside morning or evening, gardening, walking or looking at forest).
Fail! I do get outside to water the garden, which counts as exercise since I haul the water in 5-gallon plastic buckets, but sleeping seems like a lost cause. If I want to do more, I have to sleep less. After I stop work, I go to work. If anything’s going to get done, that’s the way it has to be.
Some things to keep in mind: As long as I hold to a modified primal/paleo diet (modified to include unsweetened soymilk, which seems to do me good) and eat almost no grain, sugar or dairy, my strength holds up so I can maintain a strenuous schedule. I’m chafing right now because I found a new CrossFit gym ten minutes from home, and I yearn to try a stand-up paddleboard. My budget’s holding me back more than my lack of sleep.
2) Real goal: Work my job only 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 hour for lunch, no evening or weekend work. Fantasy goal: Maintain the quality of my science editing and other job obligations while meeting my deadlines and not stressing out.
Real goal: Fail! It seems impossible to work only normal business hours and get everything done.
Fantasy goal: Not too bad! There were some rocky patches when my work tanked due to stress, but the quality has come back. I’ve learned to juggle my new duties while maintaining quality. And I haven’t had to work weekends lately.
3) Real goal: Write 250 words/day on my current novel, to equal 20,000 words by the end of 80 days. Try lunchtime, before work, after supper—what can be sustained? Fantasy goal: Add 40,000 words to my current novel.
Fail for both! This was moving along nicely for a while. I need to go back to when I could write short stories quickly and with ease. My first four novels went pretty fast, and I have hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of pages of other novels that never gelled. They went fast but didn’t arrive anywhere.
Moderate success, too. In the last couple of weeks, I realized that all the time I spent learning novel-length plot and structure was at the expense of writing speed. But there has been progress on the current WIP in other ways. I know the people much better, it’s a much darker story than I’d thought, and the title is really TEXAS RAIN because it’s hardly sweet. It’s a dark contemporary romance. What a relief, knowing I’ll slant it a little more noir.
4) Clean up and format 1 short story or 1 flash anthology/week, create cover and publish to Smashwords/Amazon. Start marketing when 5 are available. Do most of this on weekends. Fantasy goals: Clean up and format three short story anthologies, create covers and publish them to Amazon and Smashwords. Create and implement marketing for the anthologies. Read and due the exercises in Jen Talty and Bob Mayer’s THE SHELFLESS BOOK.
Some failure, some success—not what I’d thought, but mostly success. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out ebook formatting and cover design, including where to get images. Finally decided to publish some short stories first, then compile them into an anthology. Also decided on a consistent, repeatable style for my ebook covers, and came up with a process that allows me to make a cover fairly quickly without new software. I changed the cover of my first little memoir (you can see it in the right-hand column) and my second little ebook, a short story, went up on Smashwords last night/this morning (that’s the cover, above). By the time you read this, it’ll also be epubbed on Amazon.
Four other covers are done and I just got copyright info from one of the cover photo owners, so the next short story will be epubbed by Sunday night. (As I understand it, because of the photo source, I can use images and tell the photographers later, but it’s only courteous to ask how they want the copyright to read.) Also, I’m learning a lot about marketing, and finished THE SHELFLESS BOOK as well as quite a few other books on indie writing, publishing and marketing.
5) Real goal: Participate in social media no more than 90 minutes/day, mostly 7:30 a.m. and/or 8:30-10 p.m.—become more efficient at it. Fantasy goals: Post here once a week in addition to the ROW80 posts. Comment on blogs and use other social media more consistently.
All right! I’ve been remiss about commenting on other blogs, I think because it’s so easy to comment on Facebook. And it’s hard to estimate the daily time spent on SM since I’m on it in bits and pieces throughout the day. But this blog just passed 5,000 hits, I have 918 Twitter followers, I’m in Kristen Lamb’s WANATribe social network and active in two FB WANA groups, and the South Central Texas writers’ FB group I set up is finally showing some life. What’s hardest is letting this blog find a natural focus, instead of forcing a focus on it. I’m not there yet, but a certain idea is percolating….
Yes and no. Mostly yes. I finished Lawrence a long time ago, but haven’t had time to go over the updated MUSE course. I had already done the original version, though. Surprisingly, I’m reading quite a bit, finding spare minutes here and there, and I read fast, so I get through a lot. Right now, I’m working on Louis L’Amour and a couple of books on entrepreneurship/indie marketing.
7) Fit in fun, ad hoc social but useful/profitable things, i.e., Austin RWA special meetings. Fantasy goals: Get to some Austin RWA meetings. See friends more often. Do the occasional little editing projects a local businessman has asked me to do.
More yes than no. The Austin RWA Saturday conference with agent Deidre Knight was useful, and I also met Rashda (Mina) Khan there (@spicebites), whom I met again at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Writers’ Conference a couple of weekends ago.
At DFWCon, I attended two presentations by Candace Havens, one on writing fast and the other on revisions. I’ll take her comprehensive online class starting in mid-June. Candace teaches fastdrafting (check out #fastdraft on Twitter), which enables her and others to write the first draft of a novel in two weeks. The class will, I hope, help me combine what I’ve learned consciously about novel structure with my old ability to trust my subconscious and write fast.
I’m doing those little monthly editing projects for a local businessman.
I haven’t seen my neighborhood friends since winter. This afternoon, the son of one of them dropped off two frozen organic chickens, a fat tomato and a jar of home-pickled cucumbers. A gentle and generous reminder that we’re still friends?
It’s after midnight again. That’s all, folks!
By S.J. Driscoll