organizing and setting goals as a writer


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Because I was a teacher, I’ve never really gone off the school calendar. My year begins when school resumes in late August. I have longer weekends nearly every month and life is regularly interrupted by early out days, oddly placed vacations and the occasional night duty.

So when everyone else (and by that I mean normal adults with real jobs) were heading back to work after January 1st, I was still in “off” mode because Dee had another week of Christmas vacation to go.

Today, however, she is back to school and Rob is back to work and I am officially beginning 2012 with a schedule of my own, which includes 3 nights of teaching yoga, one night of soccer, one late afternoon running of the child to her own yoga class and two yoga classes of my own to attend. Monday thru Friday is beyond packed and the margin for error or the unexpected is slim to none.

But you still have the weekends, I hear you thinking. A long one at that. This is true. Aside from soccer practice on Saturday mornings, the weekends are blissfully free of obligation. Happy Year of the Dragon to me.

The only thing I have not settled on is my writing focus, but that’s hardly new. I am leaning towards going back to fiction and the memoir. I like Abel’s idea for a theme for the latter and my e-copy of Game of Thrones has made me nostalgic for fantasy. Some of the first good fiction I wrote was fantasy because that’s primarily what I was reading at the time.

I will say that I have lost the fire for freelance. The class I took in the fall was a good experience. I learned a lot. I discovered, however, that I still dislike journalism. Essays and opinion pieces suit me much better. And, I am still burnt out on activist political posting. The world has become such a sad, dirty place in terms of politics and issues that I think it’s bad for my soul and not all that good for karma to immerse myself in that kind of writing at this time. I don’t need the extra negativity. I have family for that.

I have a couple more things to say about widowhood, dating and remarriage though but I am still running them around the track in my mind’s eye.

Last thing on the agenda is organization. It’s past time for the next great purge and there are a few legal things that need to be taken care of in addition to the fact that the house is screaming for all things to find a place and just stay there – no more musical chairs.

Did I just make resolutions? Good gods!

Yesterday’s meme veered off onto the current fixation in my life which is how to harness myself, my creative energies and move forward as a person with tangible dreams and goals. It’s nothing to do with my personal life. I am quite content with husband and love and children, but a year out of teaching, I recognize that I need to work “at” something.

There is the bookstore idea. However I am not spending that kind of money on something that I haven’t given serious thought to or researched. I am not my mother who took her 2001 Malibu into the dealership for an oil change and left with a 2008 model. It’s not that I haven’t “jumped” when opportunity knocks – as Sondheim reminds us “opportunity is not a lengthy visitor”, but I can’t jeopardize my family’s financial outlook on a whim.

Writing is my true love as far as career goes. I spent time reading sci fi/fantasy magazines while recouping from my illness last week and, as I told Rob, this is the genre that most attracts me. Even though I am not a science geek, there is an element of the fantastic about some ideas that lures me. I also love to incorporate mythology and folklore elements into stories if for no other reason than it is fun. And I like to play with ideas that are hard to understand – like string theory – through fiction.

While tag surfing (again) at WordPress, I ran across a writer’s blog where he was discussing the need to plan and organize BEFORE beginning to write. Caging the muse so to speak as opposed to let her flit about and then wander away when the going becomes work and she is bored. Rob marvels at my ability to generate ideas and wonders from where some of them derive, but the ability to generate what seems to be an endless stream of ideas sometimes is not always a blessing. It can lead to chaos and a lot of unfinished stories. At least for me.

I currently have three short stories and one finished novella in need of a few changes and additions (from years ago) that I need to finish and submit by the time school starts in the fall. The shorts are all sci fi/fantasy/horror. I know where I want to submit. Apex and Analog. There are two other magazines in that same genre that I need to contact for guidelines and then comb my existing work for submissions.

The novella grew out of a seminar I attended one summer. It came from a story starter – Harris Burdick – which I am sure some of my teacher readers recognize. It’s a good story. Solid. Based more than a bit on my father’s family and the stories I grew up listening to but mixed with the Irish mythology I was reading at the time. I have never been satisfied with it despite the fact that it is not a bad story, but recently a way to fix things came to me and I think once I apply my ideas I will have a book ready to shop around. I have no clue where or how to do this and I need to do research. Worst comes to worst, I will self-publish and sell it myself.

One recommendation I have had through my reading is to map out my goals on a white board. To that end I priced a few options at the local Staples. I am torn between 90 or 120 day maps, but I like the idea of having everything I want to accomplish written in one place and visible.

I do really need to go back to Marsha’s post on organizing and employ some of her ideas too. They were wonderful.

One of the things I have come to realize recently is that my job is me. I am the thing that I have to sell and therefore I am what needs organizing and motivating and teaching.