Reprioritizing

This week, I had an epiphany. The tension has been building for some time and, really, it should have happened years ago, but I had to come to this place in my life to be able to wrap my head around it fully.

Now that I’ve come to a decision, though, I feel stupid for not having realized this sooner.

I’m a writer (duh).

What, you say? I thought you figured that one out already. Yes. I had. But it’s one thing to know something and another to become it, to take action to make your dreams reality.

Let me ‘splain.

C’mon, people, by now you should realize that everything’s a story with me 😉

Back when I was still a wounded creative (oh, poor me), even though I’d been published as a poet, and completed my MA in English Literature and Creative Writing, I couldn’t establish a regular writing practice. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn’t find my way there.

I’d been working contract jobs interspersed with employment insurance claims and then I started working for my current employer. At last, I had a job that could pay the bills. The hand-to-mouth existence ceased.

I finally started to sort out my damage, got into therapy, went on antidepressants. I did a few other things to help myself health-wise, and then, thanks to a writing workshop arranged by the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, I found my way to the page.

I drafted my first novel, went to more workshops and conferences, read my way though one writing craft book after another, and joined professional associations.

At work, I was successful in an assessment process, and, after a relatively short period of time, another.

I started this blog and began to work on creating a “platform.”

By this time, I was in my late 30’s and I was under the impression that I could do everything. I could be awesome in my day job, my personal life, and in my creative life.

The truth? You can only run on all cylinders all the time for so long before you need a tune up.

I thought that taking the occasional self-funded leave would be enough, but each time I returned to work, exhaustion crept up on me more and more quickly.

I hit forty and travelling for training started to become less enjoyable. I applied for process after process, getting screened out of most of them, and eventually landed an acting consultant position that drove me a little crazy. I got my training certification.

Then the certification program ceased and I wondered what I had spent all that time and effort on.

Our internal college is undergoing a transformation of its own, by the way, and may be losing more than just the training certification program.

Creatively, I started working on other novels and started to get my short fiction published again.

And now, I’m in another acting consultant position.

I’ve just spent a week in Toronto, training. Introvert me was so drained, I had nothing left for the page.

That was when it hit me.

I’m spending my energy on the wrong thing.

Last year, I wrote about how my creative life was feeding me in a far more meaningful way than my work life. Dan Blank, from whom I learned a lot about platform, made particular note of that statement. He saw it was the light that would eventually become a revelation. As usual, I was a little slow on the uptake.

I’d just returned to my substantive position as an advisor with the training unit and my employer was in the midst of a business transformation process. On the heels of that, they engaged in a massive hiring process that required a lot of training for the newly hired employees.

Retirements at the executive level caused another kind of upheaval and only eight months after getting our manager back from an extended leave, we lost her to a management shuffle. Nearly everyone was moving around; nearly everyone was acting in one capacity or another. There was no stability.

We’re still in chaos. I think that’s supposed to be the new normal, but I don’t deal well with that much upheaval.

I had just decided that I would be happy not getting another acting consultant position, because there were geographical restrictions and I was not willing to move. My friends in the pool were being offered indeterminate positions and I was happy for them.

Then this position came up.

I think the same thing has happened at work that happened back when I was finishing my BA.

At that time, I was moving into a good place creatively. I was starting to get published. I thought I needed the validation of an MA, though.

So, I put myself through hell and though I got the damned degree, it’s still one of my biggest regrets.

Now, I think I need the continuing validation of promotions. I don’t. I so don’t.

What I need is to settle in as advisor for the rest of my career, however long that may be. No more special projects that either get abandoned or taken over by other departments. No more assessment processes that have nothing to do with the jobs they result in. No more acting positions in which I fail to the degree that the lessons learned are no longer within my grasp.

More than that, I don’t want to travel anymore. It simply drains me too much. I’m even considering a parallel move into quality monitoring, which would not involve training or travel, though I would be willing to help out with training in my office, if my new manager would be agreeable.

I’m planning on another self-funded leave this year, but after I’ve paid that off, I’m considering part-time work as well. My work/life/creative balance has been off for so long I can’t see how screwed up things have gotten.

This is not to say that I’m going to coast, or dog it, for the rest of my career. I don’t think that would be possible. It’s just not in me to purposefully do a poor, or inadequate, job. I’m a perfectionist, after all.

I just don’t want a day job that depletes me to the point that I can’t do what it is that I’ve been put on this spinning orb to do.

I still have to work for a few years yet to make sure our remaining debts are paid off, but once we’re in a good place, financially, I intend to make an early retirement of it and get on with the business of the rest of my life.

I’m a writer and the day job is a means to that end. I have to keep my priorities straight. I can’t afford to be putting good energy after bad.

I just have to make it through the remainder of my current acting assignment with my sanity intact first.

Wish me luck?

Muse-inks

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 15-21, 2015

Emojis for introverts, brought to you by The Huffington Post.

Why we’re part of a sexual spectrum, not a dichotomy. Nature.

Why even reasonable people still doubt science. National Geographic.

Pain really is all in your head. NPR.

More wonderful abandoned places from PBS Newshour.

And pictures of an abandoned Ontario house brought to you by HGTV.

Kids reacting to rotary phones:

 

Hilarious dog fetch fails:

 

Zoo babies from The Smithsonian Channel:

 

A Muppet classic for you:

 

Absolutely loving Florence + the Machine’s latest:

 

And that, she be it ’til Saturday.

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 15-21, 2015

Roz Morris wrote a guest post for K.M. Weiland on Friday the 13th. Though it’s more than a week ago, I didn’t get around to sharing this gem until Sunday (!). So here you go: Four reasons you might be missing out on your best plot ideas.

Katie’s Sunday post and podcast: The crucial way you can figure out how much time your story should cover.

And her Wednesday vlog: Why a killer hook may not be enough to sustain reader interest.

Anne R. Allen offers nine considerations we should all review before we send our first novel out into the world.

Adventures in YA publishing offers this story concept worksheet to help you nail your story’s concept.

Chuck Wendig delivers another excellent post on writing strong women characters. This caused quite the discussion on the SF Canada listserv.

One of those members, Ada Hoffmann, made i09 with her Twitter mini-rant on agency. A cogent summation of the issue.

The second of Nina Munteanu’s posts on rejection. This time: how rejection can help you as a writer.

Dan Blank wrote this wonderful piece for the National Endowment for the Arts on risk in writing. Everyone needs to read this. It’s awesomesauce.

And on the sad side, here’s Oliver Sacks’s piece for The New York Times about what he’s decided to do now that he knows he doesn’t have much time remaining.

Jamie Raintree shares her experience with Storyist on Thinking through our fingers.

Chuck Sambuchino’s definitive guide to manuscript lengths.

Ten authors who took themselves way too seriously. ListVerse.

The writing habits of famous authors, an infographic shared by BookBaby blogs.

The three roles of the shapeshifter archetype. The Better Novel Project.

Buzzfeed shares 21 reasons why the Harry Potter series was the cleverest ever.

So, this priest decided to adapt Leonard Cohen’s “Allelujah” for a wedding:

 

Tipsday

This is what we do: On gatekeepers, rejection, and resilience

Once again, a writer friend has inspired this week’s post. So indebted. Many thanks.

Gatekeepers

I’m using gatekeeper in the Campbellian/Hero’s Journey sense, here: the Threshold Guardian archetype. At the point where the hero/ine stands at the threshold, ready to cross and gain the object of her or his quest, someone or something pops up and prevents the hero/ine from passing.

These gatekeepers must be defeated or circumvented, removed or converted to allies.

Mel’s note: To find out more, please read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, or all of them.

Every writer I know has at least one.

It might be a teacher who tried to shape either the young writer or her work in an inappropriate way. It might be the friend or friends who ridiculed the young writer out of jealousy. It might be the mentor who is not equipped to truly help the writer and rather than admitting his gap in knowledge or ability discourages the writer from pursuing his calling.

More insidious is the above mentioned variety of mentor who continues to encourage the writer, praises the writer’s work, but sympathetically explains that the writer’s work will never find a market. They do this as a kindness, to spare the hapless writer the agony of further rejection.

It could be an editor who likes nothing the writer submits for review. It could even be someone who sets herself up as an expert but only misguides the writer to justify the fee the writer has been charged.

This is not an exhaustive list. Explore your past and you will discover your gatekeepers.

If you’ve had to face them before you were truly prepared, you may have failed to pass the challenge and reach the threshold.

Don’t despair. You haven’t lost your chance. The door remains. The gatekeeper leaves. Another may take her place, but on the next attempt, armed with your experience, you have a better chance of succeeding.

I was turned away repeatedly as a young writer and because of my introverted nature, it took me a long time to understand the ultimate lesson of the gatekeeper.

Mel’s note: If you want to find out more about my struggles, you can read my posts under the category, My history as a so-called writer. If you go back to the earliest post, Three Blind Mice, and read forward, it will all make much more sense 😉

What is the ultimate lesson of the gatekeeper? I’m so glad you asked.

The gatekeeper only has the power we give to them. If you do as I did and internalize the lessons of the gatekeepers in your life, you become your own worst enemy, your own biggest, baddest gatekeeper.

Don’t let that happen.

Even if you retreat from the gatekeeper at the time of your confrontation, keep your eyes on your goal and the reasons it is important for you to achieve it. Yes, you’re allowed to hurt, to grieve, to lick your wounds if you need to, but don’t lose sight of your dream.

Find a true friend, you know, the kind of person who would tell you if you have spinach stuck between your teeth, or if the outfit you chose to wear was absolutely hideous? Find your person (and yes, that’s a Grey’s Anatomy reference). Tell them about your struggle and the reasons it hurts so much to have backed down.

Then, tell your person about your dream and the reasons why it’s so important to you.

Even if they just listen, you will feel so much better afterward, but you will have reminded yourself, in telling your true friend, exactly why you write in the first place and exactly why you can’t give up.

Then you pick up the pieces and try again. Because that’s what we do.

Rejection sucks

There’s no way around it. Rejection sucks.

Rejection, particularly when it arrives as a form letter, is just a specific example of a non-human form of gatekeeper. Yes, there’s a human on the other end of that letter, but you don’t know them, and they don’t know you (most of the time).

That rejection has kept you from being published or winning a contest.

And it hurts.

Another writer friend, Nina Munteanu, has just completed a two-part post on the subject of rejection. In part one, she discusses how to accept rejection, and in part two, she discusses how we can learn from rejection.

In fact, a lot of writers have posted about it. Just Google it. You’ll see. A number of them counsel the writer to develop thick skin.

I’d like to call shenanigans on that.

No offence.

Resilience, not rhino-hide

Suck it up, buttercup, they say. Really?

If it was that simple, we’d all just grow ourselves a fine second skin of rhino-hide and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune would mean nothing. Less.

Telling someone, anyone, to toughen up after suffering a loss (no matter how insignificant it might seem to others) is telling that person to shut down their feelings. That’s not a good thing. As writers, we kind of need those. Hell, as human beings we need our emotions.

We have to learn to acknowledge our feelings, to accept them, and process them. We can’t deny them. That way lies madness. Literally. It’s called depression. I know what I’m talking about here.

We have to figure out why it hurts, what’s at the root of the problem. Once we understand that, we can work, through reason and by respecting our emotional well-being, to heal the wound.

Rejection, as many writers have pointed out, isn’t personal. It’s a matter of subjectivity and timing.

Usually a rejection means not right for the publisher, for the project, for the theme of the anthology or issue, for the other stories that have already been accepted. And it means not right now. It doesn’t mean never.

Timing and subjectivity.

It’s not personal.

Why does it hurt then?

Because of how we react to it. Because of the insecurities and doubts we harbour about our ability, our craft.

The good news is this: we can control the way we react to rejection. Not right away, but with time and practice, by understanding and honouring our emotional response to rejection, it gets easier to process.

More good news: if the reason we get rejected is because our craft and skills are not at the level they need to be, we can control that too. We keep practicing, we keep learning, we keep moving forward.

That’s the real danger of rejection: that you let it stop you.

You have to continually connect with who you are as a writer and the reasons you write. You have to, at the core, be completely okay with not getting published. It’s kind of Zen. Let go of your desire.

Write because you’re a writer. Commit to being the best writer you can be. And yes, the work is hard, but you can do it if you’re a writer. You can’t not do it.

So the key is to develop, not rhino-hide, but resilience, the ability to bounce back. It’s something you can learn to do.

This might help. Or not.

This is going to sound like cheese. Like some really old, smelly cheese, like Limburger, or Roquefort.

Writing is like falling in love.

See, the biggest risk of falling in love is that you open yourself up and you become vulnerable. You risk getting hurt. But that’s the only way to love is with your whole heart plastered on your sleeve. It’s the only way love becomes anything lasting or good or true.

Writing’s like that.

Writing is that.

So just like you know that any relationship requires work, and sacrifice, and time, know that the thing you love to do requires the same.

You’ll get your heart broken, sure, but breaks heal.

The other great thing is that every great protagonist is wounded. Pour your learned experience into your writing. It will be amazing.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~~Hemingway.

Weirdmaste (the weirdo in me recognizes the weirdo in you), writing geeks.

Now go hug your words. Get romantic with your words. Create beautiful bouncing baby words.

Because this is what we do.

Muse-inks

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 8-14, 2015

Ten things that people who love their lives do differently. Higher Perspective.

Twenty beliefs happy people share. Lifehack. My favourite? #17: They comprehend that happiness isn’t everything.

How to live with mystery in a culture obsessed with certainty and definitive answers. Brainpickings.

RSA’s take on Susan Cain’s message on the power of introverts, plus a link to Susan’s TED Talk. Brainpickings.

The neuropsychiatric dimensions of movement disorders in sleep. Psychiatric Times.

The moon as you have never seen it before. NPR.

Veritasium interviews Commander Hadfield.

 

I love Vsauce rambles. It reminds me of being in university, when ideas ping-ponged off one another in my skull and inspired me:

 

What one artist is doing to educate us about everyday harassment (you know, cat-calls and wolf whistles?). UpWorthy.

Lauren Davis presents ten real-life female spies who deserve their own movies. Why not a novel? Giving you ideas with what Thoughty Thursday is all about! i09.

More training isn’t always the answer. Harold Jarche.

These kitsune (foxes) are so kawaii (cute) it’s kawai (scary). Foxes roam freely in the sanctuary of Zao Fox Village. My Modern Met.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe rocks Brainpickings 🙂

Sergei Polunen’s gorgeous interpretation of Hozier’s “Take me to church.” The Huffington Post.

See you again on the weekend!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 8-14, 2015

K.M. Weiland offers advice regarding your climax’s place, not structurally, but setting-wise 🙂

How to achieve originality in your fiction. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Roz Morris exposes four dialogue crimes.

How to tell your critique partners exactly what you need. The Write Practice.

Jamie Raintree shares her strategy for scheduling breaks to avoid burnout.

Kurt Vonnegut maps out the shapes of stories. The Washington Post.

Sylvia Plath on life, death, hope, and happiness. Braipickings.

Seven women in the book industry who champion diversity. Quill & Quire.

Is the science in your science fiction accurate? Plausible? Why it matters. Charlie Jane Anders of i09.

Nina Munteanu presents lessons from a linguist. Reverse engineering with Steven Pinker.

Want to add some colour to your diverse characters? Idiom from other languages. TED blog.

Tyler Cowan asks us to be suspicious of simple stories. TEDx Mid-Atlantic.

 

New Outlander footage from E! online. For the anguish of droughtlander. It will be over soon (ish).

And that’s a wrap for this week.

See you Thoughty Thursday when I have more to contribute to your inspiration files.

Tipsday

Bits and pieces

A.K.A. catching up on a bunch of stuff.

First of all, happy Valentine’s Day, to all of you lovely people out there!

Work

They say you’re not learning unless you’re failing. I must be learning BIG TIME at work these days.

That’s all I’m going to day about that.

Spirit

On February 1st, St. Brigid’s Day, or Imbolc, I attended Wooing the Soul, a day-long workshop and storytelling session intended to help women connect with their inner goddess. I enjoyed the storytelling, which was based on The Wooing of Etain. We danced, we sang, we invoked the spirit of Brigid, saint and goddess, and we shared food and experience.

I reconnected with a few friends whose circles I’ve moved away from in the past years.

While it was a good day, I found it was a bit long. I kept finding myself thinking, I could be writing, which is, incidentally, how I connect with my inner goddess. It’s a problem I have. Instead of talking about something, or listening to others talk about it, I’d rather be doing it 😛

I won’t write more about the day because others have done a better job than I could, namely, my friend Kim Fahner on her Republic of Poetry blog, and the facilitator herself, Ann Kathleen McLaughlin, on her blog, SophiAwakens.

Training of a different sort

On February 3rd, I delivered a workshop on getting published for the Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) as part of their Arts Intensive art education week.

I haven’t delivered a creative workshop in some time and I was looking forward to it. I’d love the opportunity to do more of these in the future. *hint, hint, universe*

I was far more nervous than I usually am before a training gig, which is to say I was a bit of a wreck, but the class was an intimate group.

The workshop was only two hours, and I had trouble keeping things on track, because the training I deliver for work is rarely less than a day. It wasn’t too bad, however, as the class was largely not at the querying stage yet, so the fact that I wasn’t able to discuss that aspect of getting published at length wasn’t a huge issue.

I also shared my notes and PowerPoint after the class, so everyone received all the bits I wasn’t able to discuss at length in the class.

I’m quite happy with how things turned out.

There are always lessons learned attached to any learning event, though, and I’ve got those tucked away for next time 🙂

The writing life

In writing news, I received my second rejection of a short story this year. I try to take the view that I am one more rejection closer to ‘yes,’ but honestly, things that been going so poorly in general of late that it’s been a little difficult to maintain a positive outlook.

Still, I continue to forge ahead with writing, revising, and submitting. It’s what we writers do.

Pupdate

Nuala had another glucose curve back in January and the result is that we increased her insulin by four units a day and tried reducing her prednisone.

The former is working well (we think) but we had to resume her previous dosage of pred as her ears were beginning to close up again.

Otherwise, our pup-child is doing well and we’ll return to the vet in March for another glucose curve and general checkup.

A clarification on the dream thing

I just wanted to be clear that I have ‘normal’ dreams, too.

The other night, for example, I dreamed that my sister-in-law invited herself over to our house for a sleepover, which was to take place, at her request, in the storage area of our unfinished basement, which barely has room for us to stand or move around in, let alone three adults and camping gear—oh, didn’t I mention, the sleepover was actually a camp-out, in the middle of one of the coldest winters we’ve had recently, in an uninsulated basement with a drafty window . . .

I’ve also had work-related dreams in which the office has moved into a shopping mall and I’m there, after hours, with Phil, moving my own office furniture. I’m wearing a power suit, have short, dark hair, and I’m skinny in that way only women who spend several hours a day working out are skinny. But I’m still me. No one else is there.

Or, I’ve dreamed that my boss gets a promotion, and she invites me along for the ride, literally, as she’s boarding a Lear jet and I’ve been summoned to the runway on the assumption that, of course, I’ll want to drop everything and go.

Inside the jet, she lounges like Cleopatra, a platoon of virile, young military men seeing to her every desire. I wish her well and get the heck out of Dodge, happy to have escaped the ‘trap.’ Oh yes. Hellish trap, that would be . . .

I’ve had stress dreams, falling dreams, chase dreams, abandonment dreams, and nightmares I’m not going to repeat, because, while they are all perfectly clear in my memory, I don’t want to feed those particular beasts.

It’s just those rare few per year that are well developed stories in their own rights that have little, if anything, to do with my waking life.

Just so you know. I’m mostly normal. Mostly (she says in a voice like Newt’s in Aliens).

So that’s it for this week. My mom’s coming over for supper in a bit, and then I’m going to throw my hat in the ring of another writing contest.

Break a pencil in all of your creative endeavours this week!

Muse-inks

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Feb 1-7, 2015

Last Sunday, February 1st, was St. Brigid’s day. Here are nine facts about the day you may not have known. The Independent.

The full moon may have been last Tuesday, but you could still perform these nine rituals to unlock its energy. I think they’d work any time, myself. It might help to combat the Mercury in retrograde crap we’ve been dealing with lately. Or it just might make you feel more confident. MindBodyGreen.

Shawn Achor on happiness. UpWorthy.

What you learn in your 40s. The New York Times.

Deja Vu. It’s okay to be smart.

 

How extreme fear shapes the mind. BBC.

What Stephen Fry would say to God. Hearting this man so hard right now.

 

This pisses me off: How Veterans’ Affairs treats our injured veterans. The Huffington Post.

How being a gifted child can lead to dark consequences. The Calgary Herald.

Though this appeared in Writer Unboxed, it’s something that everyone could benefit from. Why we need to learn how to monotask again, by Therese Walsh.

Seth Godin was a guest on Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast: The art of noticing, then creating.

A fascinating look into the world of the male Geisha. The Daily Beast.

What the Andromeda Galaxy would look like if it was bright enough to see with the naked eye. IFLS.

Feel like getting crafty? Here are 33 ways to use spray paint to revitalize old stuff. Buzzfeed.

Why we should stop docking dogs’ tails. We should also stop cropping their ears and declawing cats. All are mutilations, IMO. i09.

And that’s all the thoughty you get until next Thursday!

Tomorrow’s not only Friday (happy dance day), but it’s also Friday the 13th! And then it’s Valentines. Eventful days ahead!

See you on the weekend 🙂

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 1-7, 2015

Most common writing mistakes, number 38: Irrelevant endings. K.M. Weiland. Helping Writers Become Authors.

Katie helps you create a more compelling backstory in three minutes 🙂

Roz Morris posts about what to do when feedback leads you astray.

Then Roz visited Jane Friedman’s blog to offer tips on how to recognize when backstory is sabotaging your novel.

Chuck Wendig shares the emotional milestones of writing a novel. Don’t think I ever left the sphincter-clenching panic stage 😛

How and why Marie Bilodeau made the leap to full time writer.

How Kameron Hurley hacked her writing process with 10,000 word-a-day marathons. I don’t think I could do this, but I find process to be endlessly fascinating.

Kameron, again, on how we can build a more pragmatic SF&F dialogue.

Why J.J. Marsh doesn’t want your free book.

Open Minds Quarterly answers the question, what makes a writing contest legitimate?

How Harper Lee’s long-lost sequel was found. The Atlantic.

15 thought-provoking SF films that are worth your time. Taste of cinema.

George R.R. Martin explains why The Winds of War isn’t on HarperCollins’ 2015 list (yet). The Daily Dot.

And here is the season 5 trailer for Game of Thrones:

 

I’m putting this in Tipsday because. My favourite song from the Fifth Element soundtrack. I had no idea it could be sung without electronic assistance O.O

 

See you on Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

The next chapter: January 2015 update

Technically, I could have written this post last Saturday, but I was still writing into the evening and I count everything up until go to sleep on the last day of the month. As is often the case, better late than never, right?

January 2015 progress

As you can see, I’ve continued to work on Marushka, the project I started for NaNoWriMo 2014. I had indicated in last month’s next chapter post that I wanted to work away at finishing my first draft of Marushka (total goal 75k words) and figured I’d manage this at about 5k words a month.

Well colour me blown away, I wrote almost 10k new words in January alone (!)

I continued to blog, but have stuck to my weekly curation posts and posting on Saturdays. I like this amount of output and time dedicated to the blog. It’s reasonable.

I also restarted my final pass on Initiate of Stone. It’s interesting. Back in December (I think), I shared a post in Tipsday by another writer who uses Jamie Raintree’s Excel worksheet. He had some excellent suggestions for tracking revisions.

One of them was that two words of revision = one word on the worksheet. I’ve implemented this, but in a way, it feels like cheating. In any given chapter I revise, I might, at most, change 500 words.

For example, I one chapter I revised, I cut out a page and a half to two pages of a battle scene that was a little long in the tooth, plus a few words here and there, tightening things up, etc. The chapter was over 3,800 words, however, and so when I entered my 1,950 words in the IoS column for that day’s revisions, it felt to me like I hadn’t done the work to earn that entry.

I’m still struggling with the idea, but revisions and editing are their own beasts. There has to be some way I can recognize the effort without artificially inflating my word count. I think the two-for-one word scheme is the closest I can come to doing that for now. We’ll see how that works out as the year progresses.

I also revised one short story for submission to an anthology call.

Totals for January:

  • IoS: 7,789 words
  • Marushka: 9,462 words 😀
  • Short stories: 34 words
  • Blog: 8,432 words
  • Grand total: 25,717 words (17,928 without IoS revisions)

Even without considering my revisions, it’s one of my best months outside November since I started tracking my word count. I’m amazed.

Progress summary as of Feb 7

This is something new that Jamie added to the 2015 worksheet that was not in last year’s: a place to put goals and track overall progress. I think it’s cool.

With IoS, I halved the total current word count of the last draft and entered that number as my goal in the drafting progress table (as per the two-for-one word scheme). This table pulls data from the monthly sheets, so I kind of had to do that in order for the table to make any sense.

I did the same thing for Apprentice of Wind and Figments. I do intend to proceed to those revisions after I’ve settled IoS. Because Marushka and Gerod and the Lions are still in the drafting process, I subtracted the word count as of the end of 2014 from my goal word count and entered that in the table.

I intend to write a few new short stories this year in addition to revising my existing ones for submission, so I figured 5k would be a good number of new words to aim for. NaNo is and always will be 50k.

Seeing how many words went into my blog last year, I thought 100k would be a good, round number to aim for there.

There is also a separate table for tracking revisions, specifically, this in pages. This table does not pull data from the monthly sheets. So I’ve entered the number of pages revised and the total number of pages manually. I’ll only be tracking IoS, AoW, and Figments in this way.

Because the table pulls data from the monthly sheets, the following progress reflects everything I’ve done up until today, not including this blog post.

  • IoS: 10,145 words/72 pages, or 16% of goal
  • Marushka: 10,522 of 40,192 or 26% of goal
  • Short stories: 46 words, or 1% of goal 😛
  • Blog: 9,078 words, or 9% of goal

That’s pretty awesome.

In other writerly news

January saw the publication of “Downtime,” the short story On Spec purchased back in 2013. And, yes, I’m going to put that sexy Skeksis in your way again. As they say in one of my associations, I’m chuffed.

On Spec Fall 2014

Days afterward, I received a rejection of another short story, which, despite my best efforts, took the wind out of my sails. I know I should cultivate rhino-skin, but I’ve tried and I don’t think the goal possible. For me. At this time.

I missed one deadline for a special speculative issue of another magazine. It kind of blew right past me.

I did get my story submitted to Tesseracts 19, and I’ll be waiting on tenterhooks to see if this time will be the charm. I’ve been submitting to the anthology since 14, and I keep trying.

It’s what you have to do as a writer, keep writing, and keep trying.

And otherwise

Work has been a bit of a grind and it does not show signs of slowing up. For February, anyway.

I signed up for a five-session yoga class, and finished the last one this past Thursday. I enjoy yoga, but not the expense, or the time it takes from my already hectic life. So this is the only treat I’ve given my poor old body for now. I may well join up for the summer, if they offer the discounted membership again.

But life is good, overall. I’m making greater progress toward my goals that I thought I would, especially with the work hell.

Today, after I post this lovely thing, I’m progressing to IoS revisions, more Marushka, and perhaps working on one of those brand new short stories I told you about. Plus, the new season of Bitten (based on Kelley Armstrong’s series of novels) starts tonight, and I may fit in an episode or two of Log Horizon.

Tomorrow, another meeting of my writing/critique circle will take place, and I’ll be writing some more.

I’ll say it again. Life is good.

And so the chapter closes. See you next month!

The Next Chapter