Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

Year End Evaluation

January 2, 2013

My birthday is New Year’s Eve, and for many years, I’ve spent the day evaluating the previous year, and setting goals for the upcoming year. Not resolutions, per se, just goals to direct my focus.

This year I didn’t do it. I was busy sleeping. Mars and I drove to Arizona for the holidays (yes, we’re nuts that way), and since we did the last 22 hours in one fell swoop, with me taking the graveyard shift, I spent my birthday catching up on sleep instead of evaluating the previous year.

So two days later (par for my course), here I am. I thought about skipping it, but if ever I needed to evaluate a year, it was this one.

I think 2012 was my worst year yet. Worse than the year I ran away from an abusive marriage, spent a long weekend in a women’s shelter, and blew the engine on my car trying to get back home. Worse than the year my daughter was born with Down syndrome (a great gift, but it took some adjustment); she failed to thrive, barely survived RSV, and got us reported to CPS for neglect when I refused to stop breastfeeding after she was diagnosed with jaundice (another long story I’ll tell some time). Worse than the year that began with the suicide of my beloved sister-in-law and ended with the death of my mother-in-law by hospital-induced overdose. Hard as those years were, they were nothing compared to this one.

But I’m a firm believer that there are gifts to be found in every experience, even if the only “gift” is a lesson learned. And there were lots of lessons learned.

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Goodbye, 2011!! (And Good Riddance)

December 31, 2011

Back in the Precambrian period, when I kept a paper-and-pencil journal, I always used to write an entry on New Year’s Eve, evaluating the year that has passed and setting goals for upcoming year.

When I started blogging, waaay back in Medieval Times (2004), I tried to do the same thing, but every entry said the same thing: “finish editing current WIP, find agent, sell book.” And though those really were my goals each year, and though I made progress (i.e. the “current WIP” was replaced by another and became the manuscript under the bed), and though even I could see my writing improving at a dramatic pace every year, it felt like I was stuck.

So I’m not going to do it. Instead, I’ll do a quick State-of-the-Writer Address and call it done.

This has been one of the worst years of my life, right up there with the year I ran away from my abusive husband, spent a weekend in an abuse shelter and got divorced, and the year that began with my sister-in-law’s suicide and ended with my mother-in-law’s death by hospital-induced drug overdose.

This year began with one of most painful experiences of my life and end with one that was even worse. There were many days this year that the only thing that got me out of bed was the knowledge that if I didn’t get the kids off to school, they’d be underfoot all day long.

And it isn’t over. Maybe it never will be. We’ve had a wonderful week — a real respite, in which we were all relaxed and happy.

But the moment a conflict occurred (say, an unwelcome bedtime that resulted in a meltdown), my fear came back, clawing at my rib cage from the inside. I wonder if, for the rest of my life, every time a setback occurs in Mad Scientist’s life, I’ll feel this blade slicing inside as I wonder if this time, he’ll actually do it.

All the goals I might have written (lose twenty pounds, study music theory, pay off the credit cards — even sign an agent or sell a book) seem trite compared to the one BIG thing I want from 2012: I want my son to survive it.

Of course, I also hope that by this time next year I’ll be healthier and happier, have established a support system here in Canada, and be further along in my career.

But yanno? If I get to the end of 2012 with none of that, but with my little family still intact, it will have been a good year.

Taking On Challenges

November 30, 2011

I have SO much to tell you. It’s been an incredibly event-filled five days since I last wrote (is anyone else hearing an echo of “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned …”? No? Maybe it’s just me).

Important stuff to share. And powerful pictures. The kinds of experiences that change a life forever. And I will write about them, just as soon as I have had a little bit of sleep.

But for now, I just want to say this:

This is my eighth year doing NaNoWriMo. And my eighth win. East of Jesus was my second Nano novel.

This was, BY FAR, my hardest win, even harder than 2005, the year I got sick and missed three weeks. That year, I got to the end of the day November 27 with 17,500 words and admitted I couldn’t do it.

That’s a very difficult thing for me to admit.  I passionately despise failing, and I absolutely refuse to quit. But I made the disappointing but grownup decision that it was okay to miss the goal, just this once.

I got up the next morning my old childish self again, determined that IF I failed, I was going down in flames with a spoiled-child rant. I wrote thirty thousand words in three days, and I won, validating about 11 p.m. I thought I’d never have to trump that record.

And indeed, I didn’t. I got to the end of November 27 this year with 32,349. So no sweat, right?

Except stuff happened. Big stuff (which I will tell you, and soon — probably tomorrow).

The short version is that as late as last night, I only had 34,599 words. Which meant, I had to do a fifteen thousand word day — half again what I’d done on my most productive day ever. I honestly didn’t think I could do it, especially since I’m recovering from …

Ah, but that’s the other entry. Tomorrow, I promise! Or Friday at the latest. (more…)

One Down, One More to Begin!

November 1, 2010

Well, I made it.

It was a huge effort, and I let a lot of balls drop. I’ve missed appointments, put off maintenance (on the car, the teeth and the body), failed to return phone calls and emails, and turned down social events. If you have won the Monday Book Giveaway and haven’t gotten your book yet, it’s probably because I didn’t get it mailed. If you emailed me or commented on the blog, and I didn’t ever respond, it’s probably that I’ve kept your note as “New,” along with  868 others, hoping to find time to respond later. If I’ve let you down, I apologize.

However … I am DONE with East of Jesus. I’m going to let it sit for a month and come back and read it once, partly as a last proofread but mostly to catch any errors I’ve edited in. Then I’ll be sending it off to a short list of agents who have requested it.

In the meantime, it’s November, and that’s play-time! This year, I’m writing a book called Some People Know Things, an old-fashioned rom-com about an emotionally disabled girl trying to help an intellectually disabled boy hide from the police because of a crime he mistakenly believes he has committed.

It’s SOOO nice to be drafting again, instead of revising!

Making Public Commitments

September 22, 2010

I’m blogging today over at Happy Endings, where I talk about a commitment I made to myself and 25 women from my church over the weekend. Come join the discussion!

Caving to the Resolution Urge, Part 3

January 8, 2010

OK, I set annual goals/New Year’s Resolutions yesterday. But I can never meet goals unless I have a specific plan for how I’m going to make them happen. So here’s my plan:

1. Finish final revision of East of Jesus by March 31.

  • Dedicate at least four hours a day*, four days a week to working on EofJ. Block out times in calendar and don’t schedule appointments or answer the phone during work time. Note to family and friends: please call in the evenings.

2. Find an agent by December 31.

  • Once revisions are finished, send EofJ to all the agents who have requested it. Send queries to another five agents. Then every time a rejection comes in, send out another query.
  • Keep this going until I’ve either gotten an agent or at least 25 rejections. At that point, based on rejection comments, decide whether to keep querying, retire the novel, or revise it one more time.

3. Finish the first draft of Intimacy by Sept. 1 and begin revisions.

  • Do a 30-minute Write or Die session at least four times a week.

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Caving to the Resolution Urge, Part 2

January 7, 2010

Yesterday, I did an analysis of 2009 using Michael Hyatt’s Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year (thanks, Rachelle Gardner, for pointing me there).

Today, still using his advice, I’ll see if I can convert what I learned yesterday into New Year’s Resolutions That Stick (that is, S.M.A.R.T. goals).

My goals for 2010:

  1. Finish final revision of East of Jesus by March 31.
  2. Find an agent by December 31.*
  3. Finish the first draft of Intimacy by Sept. 1 and begin revisions.
  4. Blog four times a week (on average), not counting giveaways, for a grand total of 1,444 blog entries by December 31.
  5. Lose 15 pounds.**
  6. Decrease household debt by at least the amount of my husband’s bonus.***

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Caving to the Resolution Urge, Part 1

January 6, 2010

I never write resolutions. I do set goals, and at the end of every year, I take stock to see how I did. But nobody keeps resolutions anyway, so why bother, right? I wasn’t going to.

Then I read agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog post, Setting Goals and Finding Joy, and it spoke to me. I’m very much goal-oriented, and I especially love the idea of choosing goals I feel passionate about.

I already had chosen goals for 2010, but I hadn’t written them down. So I started over.

I followed a link from Rachelle’s blog to Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year, a blog entry by publisher Michael Hyatt. I’ll answer those questions here and finish the exercise tomorrow. I think I know where I’m going (I did mention I’d already set goals), but we’ll see if this process changes anything.

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