September: 2012 Goals

September? Already? Normally I like fall, but I’m having a hard time coming back from this summer. Maybe it’s because the last few months has been a blur of activity: I met half my in-laws for the first time, two close friends got married, several had children, I saw my college friends more than once, we camped, I had writers’ retreats and gave readings and signings of my book. I didn’t swim nearly enough. Now fall is staring me in the face and I keep squinting at it and thinking “You again? Didn’t you just leave?”

Well, let’s just get down to it, before I retire to my office to shuffle the papers I will pass out to my students in class tomorrow.  Here’s my progress on the goals I set out for myself in January.

Here’s my progress. (Not interested? Check out this Tumblr full of ashamed dogs. Let me know if you see mine on there.)

Finish the second draft of my novel by April (September.)  I’m pushing this back again, but I don’t feel too bad about it, because I’ve been making  progress on it, revising a chapter every week. I’ve revised a good chunk of the first part, and I’m happy with the work. I will have to stop again soon in order to work on my other project.

Get it sent to agents before summer. This is looking like it actually might happen at some point.

Send out at least three short stories. I didn’t send out a thing, but I did do some research on that front, so I could send things out to editors this month. I also revised an essay.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as planned, then moved on to Ursula Le Guin’s Tombs of Atuan and Tehanu, neither of which were favorites of mine, although I enjoyed reading fiction with dragons in. Now I’m slowly moving through Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. It’s beautifully written, but sometimes I can’t stand the characters, so it’s slow going. No clue what I’m going to read next.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. Done in March. I got my first royalties in July. I can confirm that I made more than $20.

Other goals: I also set to work on two of my big conflicts this year: My feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety.

My issues with faith were resolved, I thought, two months ago. And then things got a little more complicated this summer. Once, again I have no answers. I’m beginning to think I may never have answers and that I might have to be cool with not having answers.

As for anxiety? Well, it hasn’t been a problem this month. I don’t feel like anxiety’s even been an option for me lately. I’ve just been doing things because I have to.

April: Goals for 2012.

It’s the first of April and I’ve completed all my 2012 goals!

Okay, fine.  April Fools. In fact, I have bombed on a few of my goals, and must modify a few if I am to continue with this experiment.

Here they are. If you’re bored by New Years resolutions posts, leave now. Here, have a video about the honey badger.

Finish the second draft of my novel by April. I have started revisions. I read the whole first draft over spring recess, began work on the second draft and will meet with my readers to discuss the draft on Wednesday evening, but am I even close to being done with draft two? No. So I’m going to push the deadline for this back. I’m loathe to give myself an actual deadline, but I’m going to say that I want to have this draft finished by September. If possible before.

Get it sent to agents before summer. I guess the previous goal renders this one moot.

Send out at least three short stories. I still haven’t sent out any short stories.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. Hey, here’s one I’ve done well on! I’ve read 10 books since January 1, so I’m upping my goal to 24 books. During the month of March I read five. Granted, I decided to read five of the shortest classics ever written (Hello, Heart of Darkness), but they’re still books and I’ve finished them. At the moment, I am beginning Blood Meridian, which is not short at all. In other news, tracking my reading through GoodReads has made this goal a lot easier than it otherwise would have been.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. Done in March.

Other goals: I also set to work on two of my big conflicts this year: My feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the anxiety issue. I’m practicing mindfulness and getting back into yoga and meditation.

I’ve also been doing some work on the faith issue. I’ve been listening to an audiobook by the Dalai Lama, reading up on Catholicism, looking at the website for a major atheist organization and I even looked at the pamphlet the Jehovah’s Witnesses dropped off at our front door. I understand that none of this adds up to real scholarly work, but the important thing for me is that I’m not shying away from issues of religion, faith and spirituality. Last month I wrote that everyone seems to be interested in their own spiritual development, but that listening to someone’s experience of religion and faith can be pretty boring, so I’ve been testing that theory and trying to listen, when others talk, write or post about their faith. I’ve not done so well with this, but I’m going to keep an open mind and keep trying it out. Even if I come out of this year as an atheist, it’s important for me to a) understand why people feel the way they do about religion and spirituality, and b) be tolerant.

It’s crazy; when I was younger, I would get all militant and righteous about certain things. Now tolerance is increasingly important to me.

This review is the best kind of peer review.

If the analytics on this blog are correct, no one visits the blogosphere on the weekend, because they’re out in the world, experiencing real life.

That’s as it should be, but I’m posting on a Saturday night anyhow, because I just got a wonderful reader review for Beware the Hawk, and I have to share.

In the interest of full disclosure, the reviewer (one Ms. Tamela Ritter) is a good friend, a former roommate, and the member of the writing group that helped me refine the first draft of Beware the Hawk, way back in 2003 and 2004.

I can hear the critics groaning now:”Why are you even excited about this? Sure she gave you a good review. She gave you feedback on the first draft. She practically helped you write the damn thing, didn’t she? And then she lived with you, so of course she has nothing bad to say about you.”

First of all, let’s address the roommate thing: Do a survey of my past roommates and you’ll find that to live with me is not to love me. I can think of at least three people who heaved sighs of relief once my stuff (and cat) were moved out of their apartments/dorm rooms.

Second of all, I’m excited about this because I have so much respect for Ritter’s own fiction. Her style is effortless, yet epic. There’s this beautiful nostalgic feeling about America – both the land and the people – in her work. The open road, traveling,  and a search for self are huge themes in her work. Her prose is poignant, but accessable. Soon it will be accessible to everyone; her novel, (I believe it’s titled From the Ashes, although that might have changed) will be released  later this year.

That’s why I’m excited that she reviewed Beware the Hawk so favorably; Ritter is one of my favorite authors.

Wikipedia defines Peer Review as “a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field.” Ritter is certainly that.

This is the best kind of peer review.

Writerly goals and personal battles for the new year.

On New Year’s Eve, I posted about a minor resolution dilemma. I was torn between posting a list of New Year’s resolutions and checking in monthly on this blog to report progress or using 2012 to work on some major inner conflicts.

Since I’m the sort of person who likes to have her cake and eat it too, I’ve decided to do a little of both. My resolutions are mostly writing-related. I’ll check in on the first of each month with my progress on these.

My conflict resolutions are personal, but I plan to treat them as if they were a project for grad school. I’m going to do more than search my soul for the answers to my questions, because I need a little more assistance than my soul is capable of providing. So I will pair navel-gazing with research and examine as many sides of each issue as I can. By year’s end, I plan to have written a long essay about at least one of the conflicts I worked on, and I will try to publish it. (I’m going to try to submit the essay to a magazine or journal, but if all else fails, I will publish it here.)

The ground rules are set. Here are my resolutions and conflicts: Continue reading