Hi friends! So, we’re going to pretend that the impromptu ALBTALBS hiatus never happened and last week existed in a void and that I’m not playing with time. Because I’d like it to be that way. As you see, we have a birthday girl! Whee! And it’s Teaser Tuesday … which means double the fun and goodness! So here we go – please welcome Sue Elder!
Yearly Goals: You Can Do Better. (But you still did pretty good.)
So, today is my birthday and I promised Ms. Limecello a birthday post.
That’s right. My birthday is two weeks before Christmas and three weeks before the end of the year. Not only that, I have a twin sister and we share birthdays. We have for 53 years.
That usually means a lot of soul searching and checking to see how I’ve done with the goals I set at the beginning of the year. And, I can’t help it, comparing myself to other people.
This year was supposed to be the year of Finishing. I am the queen of unfinished craft projects, unfinished works in progress and unfinished home improvement projects.
And I did finish a lot, just not everything on my list. I finished three quilts and gave them to the people they were made for (some of them, with my sister). I finished NanoWrimo. I finished several big projects at work. I dealt with a leaky toilet that had dripped for years.
I didn’t finish a complete first draft of a novel. I wrote enough words, but they were spread across three works in progress.
I didn’t get the electrician in to fix the burned out outlet. (But the year’s not over yet!)
I haven’t finished decluttering my closets.
Sometimes we spend more energy berating ourselves for not doing things than we do get done. And sometimes, we try to do too much. Here are a few things I learned this year, about getting things done:
Break it Down.
Instead of saying “Write a novel”, I’ve had better luck and progress with saying “Write for an hour every evening” and “Turn off the Internet while you write”.
There’s a wonderful tumbler – unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com – which proposes that you clean for 20 min and rest for 10 min, rather than trying to get everything done at once and crash and burn. It works for projects, too.
I am an extrovert and that seems to mean that I do better if I work on things with other people. Going to a few UFO (UnFinished Object) parties with crafty friends helped me to get done what I did get done. Write-ins for NanoWrimo got me more words than sitting in my quiet apartment. But what works for me will NOT work for an introvert. So, experiment and know what works for you.
I sometimes compare myself with other writers. I know, I know, but it’s a natural thing to do. I need to remind myself that their circumstances are different. Some of those writers are working on writing full time. I realized, somewhere in the last couple of years, that I love my day job and I wouldn’t quit it to write full time. (I teach science in a museum. It’s awesome!)
But I really want to be published. And to write well. So, if it’s a choice between my career and writing, the career has to win. But if it’s a choice between checking twitter and writing, it’s not a choice. Writing wins.
Track your progress
No one’s going to pat me on the shoulder with a hearty At-a-girl. No one except me. I realized that I work better with positive reinforcement, so I bought a bunch of gold stars at the dollar store. If I did something that I’m aiming to do, like take a 30 min walk at lunch, I put a gold star on my calendar. If I eat a salad, a gold star. If I put the laundry away before bed, a gold star.
Some days only have one star and some have five. A big goal, like hitting 50K for Nano or finishing a quilt, gets a bigger star. Seeing a month of stars is pretty encouraging, but your mileage may vary.
I still have 20 days to go, ten of which aren’t work days, since I can’t roll over vacation days. But it’s been a pretty good year, all in all. With lots of room for me to do better, next year.
I’m told that this is Teaser Tuesday. Characters in a story (whether a novel or short story) always have plans and something always happens to disrupt those plans. How they deal with those disruptions reveals who they really are – it reveals their character.
This is from my Nano novel, World Blind. Kamen is my Main Character and he’s waiting for his friend. They’re business partners and he’s got plans for what they’re going to do. Unfortunately, things happen. (Please note: this is still first draft stuff)
The winter had been hard, but the rains had finally washed away the last of the snow. At one point, it had drifted high enough to reach the scar on my hip. I spent most of the winter holed up in the house by the road, rubbing salve on the hip that ached with the cold. It was the same hip that a ghoule had bitten last summer, trying to strip my flesh away to feed its insatiable hunger.
I shook my head and rubbed at the scar. I’d done enough stewing and waiting all winter – Spring was the time for action. I needed to plant the fields, start building on the Manor house on the hill again and add to the port where the three rivers came together to form the Dane.
But this morning, I had other business at the port. My friend Ewan Marlian had written that he was coming through here on his way to Dane City and today was the date he was supposed to arrive.
I hooked up the little cart I was used to driving – I still hadn’t recovered enough to ride a horse astride for very long. Besides, he’d likely have luggage to cart along.
When I arrived, Stoyan was directing some of the men in lifting a deck onto the pilings, creating a second pier. He waved once, then set his shoulder to the boards and helped muscle it into place.
One barge sat tied to the first pier and another, smaller, floated down past the port toward Dane City. What we were proposing to create was a port where smaller barges transferred their cargo to larger ones, the smaller barge was broken down and hauled back up-river and the larger one continued on with a smaller crew. So far, we’d gotten several interested traders.
There was a shout from one of the boys on look-out up river. A barge was poling toward the western shore and our pier. The new pier dropped onto the pilings and the men abandoned it, climbing onto the old pier and grabbing what they needed.
Two of the men grabbed grappling hooks and the others waited for the thick ropes.
This wasn’t strictly a cargo ship, though there were some crates in the back of the barge. Most of the deck was set up with small cabins for travelers – traders, guardsmen, even priests. Before the last line was tied, the passengers, all men this time, collected their baggage and swarmed onto the pier. Moreto would do a brisk business in the pub before the larger barge was loaded and they were on their way.
I looked past the sailors and loaders, the merchants waiting to check on their cargo. This was the boat that Ewan said he’d be on.
He had to call me twice before I saw him. I’d mistaken Ewan for a sailor, or one of the polers who kept the barge from running into the river banks. He’d let his hair grow and it looked as if he hadn’t washed it recently. His beard covered most of his face and I looked to see if swallows were nesting there. Had he really once been a dandy?
“Ewan.” As different as his appearance was, I was still sure that he was my friend. “I’ve got a small gig with me. Do you have a trunk?”
The man looked broken. Dark circles framed red eyes and his lips were cracked and scabbed over. What in the hells had happened to him?
“Just this.” He hauled a stained, relatively sturdy duffel bag onto his shoulder.
“We’ll both be at the road house – the manor isn’t finished yet.”
“I imagine you’re hungry.” I took the duffle and stowed it in the boot. “A pint is waiting for us, then.”
Have you started setting your goals for next year, yet? What are they? And how did you do this year?
And everyone please remember to wish Sue a very happy