October: 2012 goals

October is here, and with it, weather that definitely feels like fall and not some watered-down version of summer, which is basically September’s jam, amirite?

Despite the balmy weather of the last four weeks – which would normally lure me out of the house and away from my office –  September brought on a stiffer work ethic than what I experienced in August.

Now, without further ado, before I light a fire in the grate, put on a sweater, and make some applesauce, let’s review what I accomplished in the last month.

As always, if you’re not interested, let me direct you to YouTube. Please rock out to this song , which describes the state of our furnace from this week until April.

On to the goals:

Finish the second draft of my novel by April (September.) Despite the fact that I’ve spent a large part of my time on another project, I’ve been making progress on draft two of the novel. Will it be ready by the end of the year? Maybe not. But it will be substantially done and that’s something.

Get it sent to agents before summer. It could happen.

Send out at least three short stories. I’ve sent out one short story, to a contest, which I think brings my sending-out-of-stories count to two.   And this might not count, but I’m sending out chapters of my novel to two contests.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. Done! I’ve met my goal of reading 24 novels in a year, rounding out my total with classics like Revolutionary Road, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Anna Karenina, (which really ought to count as three books.)
I’m not done though. This fall I’m tackling the books written by my friends and colleagues. Last night I finished David Fitzpatrick’s memoir, Sharp, and I’m now reading Nick Knittel’s collection of short stories, Good Things, which came out last week. David and Nick both went to Fairfield University’s MFA program with me, and actually, I’ve read some of Nick’s stories in workshop, so it’s exciting to see them in book form.
Also on the nightstand: The Whipping Club by MFA alum Deb Henry and Twilight of the Drifter by family friend and prolific author Shelly Frome.

I haven’t read with this kind of abandon since I was in high school. It’s been wonderful.

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. I don’t really know what to day about these right now.

I’ve made up my mind about my own faith, but still face a dilemma about religion.

As far as anxiety goes, September always brings more stress with it. Some of that is habit and some of it is a teaching thing. I don’t think I’ve made any progress in dealing with it, but I do think I’ve managed the stress well this past month.

Reading in Mystic tomorrow – with some very impressive writers.

Tomorrow, at 4 p.m. on Enders Island at Mystic, I’m giving a reading with three of my published fellow Fairfield University MFA alumni. Each of them has achieved a huge career milestone this year. And when I talk about “huge,” I mean Godzilla-huge.

Our line-up tomorrow almost sounds like a joke: “So a HarpersCollins memoirist, a Oprah-endorsed writer and the inventor of a poetic form walk into a reading.”

What’s the punchline? That I get to join them up there. Me and Beware the Hawk are joining this trio!

Allow me to introduce them:

David Fitzpatrick was the first person in our MFA program to get a book contract. David was also one of the first people I remember meeting when I joined the Fairfield University MFA program. And he was a member of the first class to ever graduate. Always first, that David Fitzpatrick. He’s also the nicest guy, so when his book contract with HarperCollins was announced, the entire program was beside itself with pride. His memoir, Sharp, which documents David’s battle with mental illness, will come out later this summer. I’ve heard him read parts of it before, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing.

Deb Henry’s novel The Whipping Club made it onto Oprah’s summer reading list. Which is crazy, because during my very first residency, I workshopped with Deb and she gave us the very first chapter of The Whipping Club to read. And now Oprah’s recommending it.

Annabelle Moseley is a poet whose book, The Clock of the Long Now, was published earlier this year. A few weeks ago, she caused a stir when a reviewer realized she’d invented a new poetic form: the Mirror Sonnet. You can read more about the resulting discussion and what exactly a Mirror Sonnet is here.

I can’t even believe I get to share the stage with these writers. Check them out. If you can, come to Mystic and check us all out.