Archive for category Resolutions

Recapping: 2013 – Goals & Resolutions

Now that we have crossed into 2014, let’s take a look back at what I had hoped to accomplish this past year.

I had mentioned last year that, “Instead of “Resolutions” I’m going to invoke “Goals”… I think I was already leaning that way last year, but I think “Resolution” suggests something to complete. Some of the things on my mind are more about progressing towards… not necessarily completing.”

1) Improve my consistency… working on time management, my BIC/WOP (Butt in Chair/Words on [the] Page), and my general productivity.
This saw improvement, mostly later in the year. I did some experimenting (which I’ve been meaning to detail here properly), and found some tricks that work for me that I intend to incorporate from the top of the year. That experimentation worked well enough to get me across the finish line for a (very rough) first draft of the thesis, which is a plus.

2) Work on improving my fitness & reducing my weight. I have a 10 month old. The day job is sedentary. Writing is likewise a generally sedentary thing. Improving the physical aspect should lend itself to keeping up with my son, as well being conducive for slinging ink. And slinging ink then improves # 1 above.
Meh…I shaved a few pounds (I now float between the 210-215 range, where at VP a year ago I was claiming 225 for the sake of accommodations for the Cessna).

3) Continue reading – another post to follow, since I have a challenge to discuss… [The point of that other post: See how close to reading 100 books in a year I could get.]
I managed 24 complete reads (3 of which were re-reads), as well as significant portions of a handful of others.

4) Make progress on some domestic projects that have been idle for far too long… photo scans, cleaning out the garage, etc.
Results have been mixed, but will be of primary concern the first few months of 2014 with two more kids on the way.

In short, lay some new foundations.

 

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2013 – Goals (Reading, Expanded)

It has often been said that writers read. It’s the understood rule of anyone that aspires to publication, or to improvement of craft. For the past few years I’ve been keeping a running list of what I have been reading, both for my own memory, but also for those that might be interested in discovering new books or see what might be influencing the imagination.

My average has been 30-ish books in a year. Considering that I am reading around living a life, a full-time job, and trying to write my own novel, I would say that’s not a terrible amount. It’s probably higher than the average books per year for someone my age, but I don’t have any concrete numbers that would either refute or support the idea. I have friends that read a lot more than I do, some less.

But I like reading. And I want to read more. If I could puree the pages and mainline the words to get the same effect, I would give it a try. It doesn’t work that way, but what if…?

Which is why I decided to try something this year. While I will still be reading (and maintaining a similar goal of 30+ new books read through the year), I wondered how high can I get? Nicholas Sparks said once that he reads about 100 books per year (or, did at the time of that interview). Can I make it to 100? How close can I get?

The picture above is my revised stack for 2013 with most of my “prioritized” reading materials to be chosen from. Note I said “most.” There are also quite a few ebooks that I have intention of reading that are, obviously, not pictured.

So that’s the challenge I mentioned the other day. Anything you have on your reading agenda?

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2013 – Goals & Resolutions

I mentioned the other day about how my 2012 Resolutions settled out. While I still like the list approach, and I do have a sketched out list of things – both professional and personal – I’m going to steal something from Scalzi here.

Instead of “Resolutions” I’m going to invoke “Goals”… I think I was already leaning that way last year, but I think “Resolution” suggests something to complete. Some of the things on my mind are more about progressing towards… not necessarily completing.

1) Improve my consistency… working on time management, my BIC/WOP (Butt in Chair/Words on [the] Page), and my general productivity.*

2) Work on improving my fitness & reducing my weight. I have a 10 month old. The day job is sedentary. Writing is likewise a generally sedentary thing. Improving the physical aspect should lend itself to keeping up with my son, as well being conducive for slinging ink. And slinging ink then improves # 1 above.

3) Continue reading – another post to follow, since I have a challenge to discuss…

4) Make progress on some domestic projects that have been idle for far too long… photo scans, cleaning out the garage, etc.

In short, lay some new foundations.

* Balance is a key thing, and the biggest thing I have struggled with for years, even before Mary Catherine. Last summer, after getting accepted to both Glasgow and Seton Hill I entered a brief mental funk trying to figure out which way to go. I got second, third and fourth opinions. I even had someone do a tarot card reading, to get yet another perspective (or, to get out of my own headspace and think a little differently). One of the results of the reading was helping me do some self-reflection and realization of just how out of whack my time management can get. Something I then started working on late in the year, but with shortcomings in consistency as my fall term wore on.

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2012 The Year in Review (Part 1: Resolutions)

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.
So the most important hope for this coming year, is that I make a lot of mistakes – ones that I can learn from, grow through, and will ultimately improve me in ways both expected and not.  And I hope the same for you.
Yes, I would say I made several mistakes… things that I could have (and probably should have) done better… some of which I will address another time.

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Resolutions for 2012

I will start again with the skeleton of years past, flesh it out with a few new thoughts, and complete with the hopes for the coming year.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.
So the most important hope for this coming year, is that I make a lot of mistakes – ones that I can learn from, grow through, and will ultimately improve me in ways both expected and not.  And I hope the same for you.

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2011 Resolutions in Review

I started with the skeleton of years past, fleshed it out with new thoughts, and completed with the regular mixed results that come from inconsistancy. However, there were also areas of growth that may not have furthered fulfilling the resolutions directly, but did help towards my finding my own awareness and focus… an important first step, eh?

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.
Not quite as well as I had hoped… I slipped into a mental “decompression” after lots of focused writing as an undergraduate, and had a similar slide during the summer of 2010, right before the push to compile my graduate thesis. And hit hard this year (but again, awareness!) – I felt myself sliding, and wrote a few scenes and brain stormed some ideas, but most of the production was not until late in the year… more below.

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.
I wrote an academic paper which was presented at Worldcon, which was, aside from the documents required for graduate school applications, the main extent of my non-fiction work.

1) (c) Marketing and sending submissions out.
A writer cannot be published if they do not send anything out.
A handful of submission through the middle of the year… no sales.

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.
Starting 2012 at ~224. During the summer, I participated in a research study that measured average daily steps (aka – how many steps taken in a day) over a 12 week period. Didn’t use the information much during the year, but it’s helped me to put a few things into perspective as 2011 wound down. 

3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got about 8-10 holdovers from my stack I started 2010 with. Along the way, between required “class” reading, I’ve added other books that glued themselves to my hand, preempting others from the stack. I’m going to try a list approach this year: 100 books. Pick about 75 titles as my “To Read” list, early on, and leave room for another 25 to be added from ones that may be picked up during the year.
32 books read, with a handful of partials that are rolling over into 2012. 

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. What I would like to produce by the end of the year are some combination of the following: 1-2 novels (50k+ words), 2-3 polished short stories/novellas. 6-10 (academic) articles, nonfiction pieces, or other similar works.
As noted above, not so much…

1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I’m brewing a couple of ideas for some academic papers that I would like to present at conferences. I am also looking at a writing conference/workshop late in the year, as well as trying to get into some “workshop” tracks at conventions (specifically looking at WorldCon, but maybe others).
Mentioned above, I presented at Worldcon… I was also able to get into a workshop session at Worldcon, I went to “Uncle Orson’s” Writing Workshop (the short version of his Bootcamp course). I also applied to Viable Paradise, and while I was not selected (due to some logistical issues), I have spoken a lot with the administrative staff and will be applying again for 2012.

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New Year’s Resolutions – 2011


I shall start with the skeleton of years past, and flesh it out with new thoughts. In the essence of reducing excessive repetition, I’ll just list the high-mark professional and personal items. Changing things up a little bit, though, I’ll give you the list in two parts: Things I can control, and “Things I would like and will try for” but are ultimately outside my direct, sphere of influence.

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.

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.

3) Read 30-40 “new” books.
I’ve got about 8-10 holdovers from my stack I started 2010 with. Along the way, between required “class” reading, I’ve added other books that glued themselves to my hand, preempting others from the stack. I’m going to try a list approach this year: 100 books. Pick about 75 titles as my “To Read” list, early on, and leave room for another 25 to be added from ones that may be picked up during the year.

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. What I would like to produce by the end of the year are some combination of the following: 1-2 novels (50k+ words), 2-3 polished short stories/novellas. 6-10 (academic) articles, nonfiction pieces, or other similar works.

1) (b) Publications/Presentations/Conferences: I’m brewing a couple of ideas for some academic papers that I would like to present at conferences. I am also looking at a writing conference/workshop late in the year, as well as trying to get into some “workshop” tracks at conventions (specifically looking at WorldCon, but maybe others).

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