Thursday, January 1, 2009

Gravity and momentum

A brief review of 2008, wherein I look back to see how far I've come in order to inspire myself to continue plodding forward:

The boys finished their first year of "regular" school, after having been homeschooled for three years. They both rounded out the year on the high honor roll, and Joey was voted in for the WWJD (What would Jesus do?) award for his class. Joey won the school-wide geography bee, and Michael was a semi-finalist in the school-wide spelling bee. Both have adjusted well and completely to their new life structure and are well-liked by fellow students and teachers alike. No major discipline issues, socializing issues, or academic issues. I am proud and vindicated and relieved. I still kinda miss teaching them myself, but the time we had previously spent struggling with the basics of grammar and math and spelling, we now spend on lively discussions about music, books, philosophy, and even politics. Joey has gone from being uncertain how cool last year's Christmas gift of Guitar Hero really is to demolishing every Rock Band drum part on Expert mode and whaling like a pro on a real drum kit while searching the 'net avidly for information on how to read music and learn new songs via drum tabs. Michael has gone from wandering in the shadows of Joey's musical tastes to picking out HIS favorite songs for HIS mp3 player, and regularly sneaks peeks at Joey's pre-algebra text to learn cool new math things, which he then asks me to explain more thoroughly to him, because he loves math no matter what kind of faces Joey makes on the subject.

They are both fine and blossoming young men, and I am proud of them and pleased to know them. You know, in case you hadn't already gotten that impression from me.

I did a lot of looking hard at how I spend the hours of my days last year. I made good changes to my eating and exercise habits, which I stuck to more or less until the last month or two. I found a routine for my days and weeks that is structured enough to make me feel secure and flexible enough that I don't go completely crazy when unplanned things happen. (Like field trips and sick kids and doctor appointments.) I have done an awesome job of balancing the time I want and need to give to my family with the hours I want to spend on building a writing career and the hours I need to take care of me with exercise and meditation and just plain play time. Writing-wise, I finished three brand new short stories, all of which I have submitted to someplace or another, and one of which earned an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. I fiddled with the rough drafts of a couple of additional children's stories which are still on hold. I finished a really rough and incomplete first draft of a novel, which still needs a good amount of work but about which I still have a really good feeling. My word count for the year (not including blog entries or word count which I have since cut from finished or first drafts) is roughly 74,000 words. Including the cut scenes, that's well over 100,000 words, and that was starting right around April 1. Not shabby, I think.

Plans and resolutions for 2009, because that's what the first day of the new year is for:

I have in my life a personal situation which has, in the past, caused me to feel a great deal of anger and resentment. That situation has changed/is changing, but I find I still have a kneejerk anger response even when that anger is quite likely no longer justified. My big resolution for the year is to make a conscious effort to look past the kneejerk anger in an attempt to untrain myself from that response. I'm blocking my own path, and I need to get the hell out of my way.

I was doing really well with eating intelligently and exercising regularly for most of the year. As with a large percentage of the rest of the population, I didn't do so hot over the holidays. I'll be trying to get that part of my routine back into shape now that the holidays are over. Even if I don't lose weight (and I had hit that plateau, which was a contributing factor to the falling-off-the-wagon), I'll do it because it makes me feel better.

In the same category of "because it makes me feel better," I'll be trying to remember to leave time for at least a little meditation every day.

I will also get my feet under me again and get going on the writing once more. Actually, I've already done a few hours of that while the guys were out of town Tues. and part of Wed., so I'm feeling pretty good about that. After much soul-searching, I've decided that a lot of my current difficulty with Crowmaker has to do with being too emotionally close to the story and unable to make important plot decisions because of it. Much as I'd love to charge ahead and finish it, it is just not going to happen right now. And if it did, I wouldn't do the story full justice. In the meantime, a story idea I've been itching to write for a long time bumped into a genre I've been researching, with the result that I may have finally found the right vehicle for that particular idea. So instead of a break for a short story this time, I'll be taking a break from Crowmaker in order to explore and plan and start the rough draft for this other novel. Part of me is afraid I'm just being undisciplined, but another part of me thinks of the many other writers I've seen offer the advice to have more than one project going at a time, so that you have something to work on when one project needs stewing time. As with so many things, I suppose I'll just take the plunge and find out if there's a riptide once I get in the water.

My tentative writing to-do list for 2009, then:
  • Start the new novel.
  • Finish Crowmaker.
  • Possibly finish an existing short story or two.
  • Possibly find potential markets for the two finished shorts I have sitting around and get them into the submission pond again.
The key word for 2009, I think, will be "balance." I will continue to hold a good balance between time for family and time for writing and time for just me. In my writing, I will continue to seek that elusive balance between doing the smart things I need to do to pursue a career, and doing what I want to do because I love it.

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