Archive for January 4th, 2013
Here we are, getting back into the trench that is the Residency, and preparing to sling another semester’s worth of ink. With the drive being what it is (long), and events started tonight (the opening/welcoming session), I left yesterday and drove about half-way last night. After a good night’s sleep, I finished the drive today so I could arrive: a) early enough to be relaxed/not rushing to get to the campus on time, and b) arrive during daylight hours in the event of snow/icy conditions.
Thankfully, the roads were clear the entire drive. Due to the route the GPS had plotted out, I ran further up 95 that I would normally like (aka – to close to DC for my tastes) and ended up driving west through most of Maryland. It wasn’t until getting really into the western part of the state that I say any significant patches of snow. And despite the low temps (bottom 30s), it was really only bad when the wind was blowing – but with long sleeves and the 45-seconds it took to go from the car to the inside of a building at a rest stop along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I managed fine.
I arrived early enough to get well settled into the hotel, make a grocery run for a few refrigerated items that I hadn’t brought with me, and even grab a bite to eat – and still have time to relax before heading to campus.
The mixer was the usual thing, but this time, it was different. It was a return to something, not a fresh start. There are people that I know, a network that I am reconnecting to. As a “1” (first-termer) there were the nerves of getting a footing and learning how the system works. Now, as a “2” that “learning” hurdle has been cleared. Now it’s time to just engage with the ride.
Which starts promptly tomorrow morning. Time to get snoozing.
So, to remind everyone of where we started from, here’s the original list I posted last January, with color commentary on the outcomes below each point.
What I can do:
1) (a) Write. The daily routine (250-500 words per day – on a project).
I’ve had higher goals in the past, but then when things got down to it, there were days that wouldn’t hit mark, and days that would sail clear over. Writing by hand (as I’ve been deciding to do for longer, more creative pieces), this means writing about one to two pages a day. Not necessarily a lot, but considering books are measured in pages, it’s not too bad of an idea. Besides. I will likely write a lot more, depending on how many projects I’m looking at, and that doesn’t even take into account any blog posts, or “non-project productive” things (emails) I might write.
1) (b) Write multiple things.
This isn’t to say “have a dozen projects going at once” (although I might, to some degree), but to write different types of things. To paraphrase the Book of Scalzi: Non-fiction/technical/editorial pieces may not be romantic, but they can pay pretty well, and there’s a lot more places for them. And those types of pieces are more likely to help pay bills while the fiction is still making the rounds.
1) (c) Marketing and sending submissions out.
A writer cannot be published if they do not send anything out.
A general response to all of the above: A mixed bag. I was inconsistent when looking at daily word counts, and sunk a lot of time (early in the year) to finalizing and submitting Graduate School applications, as well as some scholarship applications back in September. WIth those applications came some essays, and with the first semester of the MFA program came “reader response” sorts of things – brief essays that are more like mini-blog posts of a sort. In the same breath, I can say I’ve logged over 20k words for what is intended to be my MFA thesis novel (mostly revised existing work I had done years ago, but I DID retype everything – as well as added close to 8k words that were original to this effort). I did also write an original short story (closer to Flash Fiction) out of what has been labeled “The Horror of Thursday” from my Viable Paradise experience.
2) Get weight down… The ultimate goal will be to get to between 175-185 (target), but for now the idea is to get into (and stick with) a fitness routine, using some of the things that I’ve learned over the past year. For future reference, I’m starting the year between 215-220.
Meh… still about the same, which, considering the day job is 99.9% sedentary I think that maintaining is only slightly on the “victory” side… not a good thing for long term considerations, but at least it’s better than the opposite.
3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got a slew of holdovers from my stack that I assembled in 2011, including both new purchases and gifts from throughout the year. While I would really like to clear this one by at least double, volume of other activities may continue to keep the numbers modest.
Close, but not quite. The official count was 29 for the year, but there were two that I cleared the halfway point in December, and a third that was underway, but didn’t quite finish. But that falls into the “average” range for my past few years.
What I am hoping for:
1) (a) Writing output: Projects can be unruly, and what may start out as a good idea for a short grows longer with each synapse that fires. Novel ideas may only work as a sub-plot. In the past, I have listed specific content generation goals which, for someone still starting out and figuring out my own balance, has proven the axiom that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I hope to complete at least two stories (short, novella or novel – however they grow), with at least six stories “thought through” (brainstormed, outlined, etc). Depending on how the school applications go, the specific working stories may already be determined.
1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I am planning on applying for two writer’s workshops this year, in addition to the pending applications for graduate school. I will also consider submitting for other presentations and conferences, but those are lower on my priority list until at least after June (which means, any proposals will likely be for 2013 events).
See the above response regarding 1a… As for B… As I mentioned above, I applied and was accepted to Viable Paradise. The other workshop I was considering applying to would have been Clarion West, but dates conflicted with the Residency schedule for the MFA program I was accepted to. Since the MFA program is a low-residency one, that means no change in employment. However, that also means having to be frugal with any days out of work (to cover the time I am away at the residencies), so any plans for conference presentations any great distance from the home turf is out of the question (shame… I was considering some topics for the IAFA conference in March, which features Neil Gaiman as a GOH).
But most of all, I hope I can help to fulfill Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s wish:
I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.Make your mistakes, next year and forever.