Time to come clean: last year’s resolutions.

punctuality new years goal.

I had to dig this jar out of a drift of papers in my office.

I don’t think I can put this off any longer. I’m going to have to face up.

Last year (and the year before) I posted my New Years resolutions online and checked in with them monthly to hold myself accountable. This worked pretty well in 2012, so last year I got ambitious and included many goals.

Weeeell, things didn’t go as planned and I stopped checking in last May, and without monthly accountability, my goals of deteriorated from there, and in fact, I stopped publishing on this blog so much because – though many things were going on in my life – I didn’t feel comfortable sharing many of them online.

But, because part of the deal was holding myself accountable, I need to close the book on 2013 by reporting my progress and lack of progress with last year’s goals. So here we go.

My novel: This year I’m resolving to spend the first hour of every weekday working on my novel until it’s done, no matter what other projects come along.
Ouch. Okay, this one is mixed. The first hour of every weekday didn’t exactly happen for me, however, I did rewrite more than half of my novel in 2013 and I am still working on it, even though it feels like it will never be done.

Marketing: My goal is to spend an hour of each weekday working on marketing projects, including the upkeep of this blog, my social networks, reading up on marketing and emails to bookstores and libraries and reviewers.
I marketed throughout the summer for my second book, and then when school started in September, fell off pretty badly.

Making a marketing plan for my new book: See my above status.

Publishing: My goal is to publish three things that aren’t my upcoming book this year.
I sent out some essays and wrote for Geek Eccentric, but as far as stories? FAIL.

Reading: My goal is to read 33 books in 2013, including one by Jane Austin and one by Charles Dickens.
I read 26 books in 2013. One was Pride and Prejudice by Austin. I did start Bleak House, by Dickens, in December, but finished it in 2014, so I don’t know if that counts.

Conferences: Attend at least one new conference or retreat.
I went to AWP. So this resolution was a fail.

Grants: Apply for at least three fellowships or grants.
I applied for an NEA grant, and the State of Connecticut’s arts endowment program. As the great philosopher Meatloaf once sang, two out of three ain’t bad.

Weight: I feel most comfortable when I weigh within a certain five-pound range, and I am always two pounds away from that five pound range. For 2013, I would like to get within that range and stay there.
This is why I felt weird about posting these resolutions after June. (Read: this was my excuse for not following through with the whole posting progress thing.) I became pregnant in June, so this resolution went out the window.

Punctuality: I’ve been a late for everything since childhood. In an effort to put a stop to this, I’ve decided to put a dollar into a mason jar whenever I’m late for anything, and donate it to charity in a year.
I was better than usual with punctuality, despite the fact that I lost the mason jar half way through the year under a drift of papers and had to uncover it during a massive cleaning of my office. That said, I was better about being punctual this year, maybe because I spent five months of 2013 agonizing about being on time. As of now, I’ve got $12 bucks in the jar, which is an awkwardly small amount to donate, so I am trying to figure out what to do with that.

My big-picture goal: I’ve planned to look into all political issues I can, and make up my mind about how I really feel about them.
This goal was too sweeping to be effective.

As you can see, this list didn’t work very well for me last year. So for 2014 I think I will concentrate on one goal, which is a big one and which will also be a challenge when our son arrives in March. My goal this year is simple: write.

Advertisements

May: 2013 goals

It’s May! Winter is over for real-real, not for play-play! And it’s time to check in with my goals for this year. But first, let me distract you with the happiest music to come out of the ’90s, Moxy Früvous’s “King of Spain.”

What? You’ve never heard of Früvous? You didn’t know ’90s music could be happy? Click on the video below and learn, young padawan. (It’s not my favorite version of this song, and the video was clearly shot by the same cameraman who worked on The Blair Witch Project, but still.)

My novel: This year I’m resolving to spend the first hour of every weekday working on my novel until it’s done, no matter what other projects come along.
I’m up to chapter 20. Which is good, but not quite good enough. I need this draft done by the end of August.

Marketing: My goal is to spend an hour of each weekday working on marketing projects, including the upkeep of this blog, my social networks, reading up on marketing and emails to bookstores and libraries and reviewers.
I need to up my game with this. I have a month until my new book comes out. That means more blog posts and more status updates that are real updates and not spam.

Making a marketing plan for my new book: See my above status.

Publishing: My goal is to publish three things that aren’t my upcoming book this year.
I have not sent out anything. I’m writing on the semi-regular for GeekEccentric, though.

Reading: My goal is to read 33 books in 2013, including one by Jane Austin and one by Charles Dickens.
I started reading Game of Thrones last month and ohmygod, I haven’t stopped. Because Game of Thrones is Made of Crack. I basically spent April reading Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords. And as soon as I’m done with the third one, and caught up to the television show (and not afraid to read my HBO-watching friends’ Sunday night status updates for fear of spoilers) I will take a break and read something without dragons in it. Like maybe that Charles Dickens book I said I was going to read. But I will come back to Westeros. Oh yes, I will.

Conferences: Attend at least one new conference or retreat.
I went to AWP. I’m considering Thrillerfest in NYC, but I’d rather see what the New England Horror Association and Sisters in Crime are doing for events.

Grants: Apply for at least three fellowships or grants.
I’ve applied for an NEA grant, and the state of Connecticut’s Scholarship program.
Also, I got an email thanking me for applying for a grant I completely forgot about, and letting me know that though I didn’t win the grant, I should take heart, and also purchase the organizer’s new poetry collection for the low, low price of whatever she’s charging for it. Huh. Stay classy.

Weight: I feel most comfortable when I weigh within a certain five-pound range, and I am always two pounds away from that five pound range. For 2013, I would like to get within that range and stay there.
I’m holding steady at a reasonable weight, but I’m not terribly fit. Time for yoga again.

Punctuality: I’ve been a late for everything since childhood. In an effort to put a stop to this, I’ve decided to put a dollar into a mason jar whenever I’m late for anything, and donate it to charity in a year.
The only time I was late for a thing this month was intentional, so I don’t think I have to put a dollar in the jar for that.

My big-picture goal: I’ve planned to look into all political issues I can, and make up my mind about how I really feel about them.
I might drop this goal. I’ve been more or less ignoring it.

March: 2013 Goals

It’s March 1 and that means I’m checking in with my New Years goals.

As usual, I’m providing a distraction for the people who have no interest in such banal personal information and public self-shaming; please enjoy Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” as sung a cappella by Slovenians wearing purple:

Now, on to the goals.

My novel: This year I’m resolving to spend the first hour of every weekday working on my novel until it’s done, no matter what other projects come along.
I’m still on weekly goals for this project, meaning, I decide to write a chapter (or a certain amount of a chapter) in a week, rather than spending an hour writing or revising a day. It’s been slow going, but there has been progress. I’ll take whatever progress I can.

Marketing: My goal is to spend an hour of each weekday working on marketing projects, including the upkeep of this blog, my social networks, reading up on marketing and emails to bookstores and libraries and reviewers.
I’ve been pretty good about keeping a presence here, on Twitter and on my Facebook author page, and it’s paying off. People are commenting and staying engaged. I like to think I’m making new friends. I need to work a little harder on making more friends though, particularly live-in-person friends who work at libraries and bookstores, or people who review books or are members of the authors associations I’ve joined.

Making a marketing plan for my new book: I have not put together a marketing plan yet.

Publishing: My goal is to publish three things that aren’t my upcoming book this year.
I have not sent out any new essays, but one has been solicited. Also, I’m writing on the semi-regular for GeekEccentric.

Reading: My goal is to read 33 books in 2013, including one by Jane Austin and one by Charles Dickens.
I’ve read four books in the last month, but it could have been more. I’m in the reading doldrums right now. I don’t know why, but every book I’ve picked up recently has been a struggle. Even the fabulous (and short) “So Long, See You Tomorrow.” I actually started reading two books this month and had to put them down, so if you have a favorite must-read book to share, please do. I need to jumpstart my reading binge.

Conferences: Attend at least one new conference or retreat.
I will be at AWP (and I can’t wait.) Beyond that, I haven’t made any great strides toward any other conferences.

Grants: Apply for at least three fellowships or grants.
I’ve applied for an NEA grant, and I’ve researched several other opportunities.

Weight: I feel most comfortable when I weigh within a certain five-pound range, and I am always two pounds away from that five pound range. For 2013, I would like to get within that range and stay there.
Still within my weight range. It was a bit of a struggle to stay there for a few really busy weeks, and I’m not quite sinking down to the bottom of the range, as I’d hoped, but I did discover that I dropped two dress sizes since Christmas, so I’m happy enough.

punctuality new years goal.

$4. I’ve been late once this month. Which isn’t so bad.

Punctuality: I’ve been a late for everything since childhood. In an effort to put a stop to this, I’ve decided to put a dollar into a mason jar whenever I’m late for anything, and donate it to charity in a year.
As of now there are $4 in the jar, which means I’ve only been late once in a month. Never mind that February is the shortest month of the year; I’m down in lateness by 75 percent. That’s something! The real test will come this afternoon, when I have to go to my hair appointment. I’m always late for that thing. So who knows. By the end of the day I may owe $5.

My big-picture goal: I’ve planned to look into all political issues I can, and make up my mind about how I really feel about them.
Yeah. I haven’t done anything on this in the last month.

February: 2013 goals

It’s February 1, and that means that for me, it’s time for a little accountability as I look back on my first month of progress on my goals for 2013. I’m going to be honest; although I made some progress, I’m not all that happy about the things I haven’t done.

Don’t care about my goals?
Here’s your other option: Meet Kid President, the adorable star of a highly-produced video that probably has a hidden agenda but is still uplifting and really cute:

On to the goals.

My novel: This year I’m resolving to spend the first hour of every weekday working on my novel until it’s done, no matter what other projects come along.
As it turns out, the first hour of my day is not actually the most productive hour of my day. All I’m good for in that hour is catching up on email and basic chores. So that “first hour of the day thing” isn’t happening. I did – until two weeks ago – write my novel for an hour daily. Now I’m working off weekly goals. I’m hoping to get back to hourly goals next week.

Marketing: My goal is to spend an hour of each weekday working on marketing projects, including the upkeep of this blog, my social networks, reading up on marketing and emails to bookstores and libraries and reviewers.
I did a good job of this up until last week when I became slammed with deadlines and projects. I have been keeping up my writing-related social networks and the blog, however.

Making a marketing plan for my new book: I have not put together a marketing plan yet.

Publishing: My goal is to publish three things that aren’t my upcoming book this year.
I’ve sent out two essays in the last month. I am optimistic that they will be published since they were solicited, but you never know.

Reading: My goal is to read 33 books in 2013, including one by Jane Austin and one by Charles Dickens.
I’ve read five so far, including Pride and Prejudice. Let the reading binge continue!

Conferences: Attend at least one new conference or retreat.
I’m going to AWP in March. I’m all signed up. But it’s not exactly the new conference I was looking for, since I’ve been there before. I’ve also joined both Sisters in Crime and the New England Horror Writers this January, so maybe they will be at a conference I can attend.

Grants: Apply for at least three fellowships or grants.
I’ve begun the process of applying for an NEA grant.

Weight: I feel most comfortable when I weigh within a certain five-pound range, and I am always two pounds away from that five pound range. For 2013, I would like to get within that range and stay there.
For the first time in a couple of years, I’m within my goal! I dropped into my range last week. The challenge will be to remain within the five pound range for 12 months rather than slacking off or getting over-enthused about losing weight, which is what I tend to do.

Punctuality: I’ve been a late for everything since childhood. In an effort to put a stop to this, I’ve decided to put a dollar into a mason jar whenever I’m late for anything, and donate it to charity in a year.
I’m doing okay. Ish. I made it to my New Haven writing group on time this past month (I’m almost always late whenever I go to New Haven, so that’s progress), but I haven’t been perfect. So far, I owe $3 to a worthy cause. Better start reviewing charities so I can choose a recipient for my funds.

My big-picture goal: I’ve planned to look into all political issues I can, and make up my mind about how I really feel about them.
Yeah. I haven’t done anything on this in the last month.

Happy New Year: Goals and resolutions for 2013

It’s that time! Time wear sparkly shirts and drink sparkly drinks and hope that 2013 is going to be a sparkly year (but not in a Twilight way.)

Last year’s decision to make goals rather than resolutions (and blogging about them monthly) worked so well for me that I’m planning to do it all over again and bore you all to tears with my goals for 2013. It was actually the accountability of putting the goals online that was so helpful to me. I said I was going to do these things and I had to deliver, whether anyone was actually reading the blog posts or not.

Here are my goals for 2013:

novel, oconnell

I really need to finish this draft.

My novel: It was supposed to be out to agents by this time, according to my 2012 resolutions. Well, that didn’t happen. This year I’m resolving to spend the first hour of every weekday working on it until it’s done, no matter what other projects come along.

Marketing: I’m terrible at marketing. I should not admit it, but it’s true. I hate putting myself forward; it goes against everything that was drummed into me as a little girl in Catholic school. So this year, I am also spending an hour of each weekday working on marketing projects, including the upkeep of this blog, my social networks, reading up on marketing and emails to bookstores and libraries and reviewers. This doesn’t mean I’m going to become an unbearable spammer. It just means I need to put myself out there more and to new audiences.

Making a marketing plan for my new book: If I have a written plan, it will be harder to go wrong.

Publishing: My goal last year was to send out three pieces. I did, and I got rejected. My goal this year will be to publish three things that are not my upcoming book.

Reading: Last year, I planned to read 12 novels in a year. This goal sparked a reading binge the likes of which I haven’t experienced since high school. I met my goal in May and kept on reading. As of yesterday, I read 33 books – novels, collections and nonfiction – in 2012. For 2013, I would like to read that number of books again, and not limit the goal to novels. I also want to include at least one Jane Austen novel and at least one Charles Dickens book.

Conferences: I already attend a retreat and a conference on the semi-regular. This year, I want to find one new writing conference to go to. I need to up my networking.

UPDATE FROM NEW YEARS DAY –  I thought of this one in the middle of the festivities last night:
Grants: I’d also like to apply for at least three fellowships or grants this year.

This year I’m planning to incorporate a few personal goals in with the writing goals, including the classic New Years rez…

Weight: I feel most comfortable when I weigh within a certain five-pound range, and I am always two pounds away from that five pound range, because when I’m that close to my goal weight, I feel like I can eat whatever and not work out and generally slack off. For 2012, I would like to get within that range and stay there. Right now I’m two pounds outside the upper end of it.

resolutions 2013

While I’m among the living, I don’t get to be a Late Great O’Connell.

Punctuality: I’ve never been an incredibly punctual person. In fact, I’ve built my lateness into my personality. I was born late, my family has refered to itself as the Late Great O’Connells, therefore, I’ve let myself accept that I will always be late to everything. In fact, if I didn’t have a driver, I probably would have been late to my own wedding. Well that’s got to end. Recently, two incidents made me think that it’s time to change my lateness issues: 1) We were horrifyingly late to Christmas dinner and 2) I was late for a writing event and missed an important marketing opportunity. This lateness has got to stop. I’ve done all sorts of things to keep myself from being late, including setting the clock in my car forward five minutes, which does nothing except make me panic and drive like a maniac, then do the mental math and subtract five minutes. So I’m going to make it a point to be on time, starting today. I’m setting the car clock back to the regular time. Every time I’m late, a dollar is going into a mason jar, and at the end of the year, some worthy charity is getting a donation.

My big-picture goal
Last year I also picked two big-picture issues that had been bothering me to mull over and research, and I was supposed to write about them in essay form. I mulled them over but didn’t write about them; I found that I wasn’t ready to share my findings about my own anxiety or my feelings about religion. But thinking about these issues did help me, and so I’m planning to examine an issue this year as well. I think it’s time I started solidifying my political positions. I mean, I know what I believe, but I’m not always well-informed and there are certain issues I avoid altogether. But this year, I think it’s important for me to look at all the political issues I can, and make up my mind. Part of this is so that I can argue with ease at parties, but I don’t like feeling fuzzy about certain issues, so part of this is to help me understand my own feelings.

Well, that’s it. Now I’m off to put on something with sequins. Happy New Year, readers! Good luck with your own resolutions!

December: 2012 goals.

Well. This is it. The final check-in with my 2012 goals, which is delayed because I’ve been kinda lax these past few months.  But still this is a big deal for me, because this is one of the few years in which I’ve held myself accountable for the resolutions I made at the start of the year, and actually, I’ve made progress. Care to see how I’ve done? Read on. Can’t be bothered?* Below is my favorite Epic Rap Battle of History. Enjoy.

Now. Of the five concrete goals I set for myself in 2012, I accomplished three:

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. My book came out in January. By March I had accomplished this. I am not rich. I doubt if I’ve broken even on my expenses with this book, but I have made more than $20 and that’s a record for me.

Send out at least three short stories. Done. I’ve sent out three short stories and some chapters from my novel. I have more rejection letters for my office door because of this,  but I also have more finished work to send out.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. I set out to read 12 novels this year, because although I love to read, I tend not to do the things I enjoy and instead fret about things I don’t enjoy at all. The only time I read anything is when I had to, and then I did it in a state of stress. That’s counter-productive for someone whose job is to read and write. So I thought 12 novels would be a good way to make reading a habit again. I started out by re-reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a sort of holiday gift to myself last year and then I began to pick other books to read, starting with the shortest in my bookcase: The House on Mango Street, Heart of Darkness, Turn of the Screw and The Stranger.  By the time I finished those, l was binge-reading, like I used to read when I was a kid. The 12-novel goal turned into a 24-novel goal, and I am currently on novels 30 and 31.

So it’s been a great reading year. I’ve moved from very short novels and novellas to very long ones: Anna Karenina and The Count of Monte Cristo. I’ve read work that I’ve been wanting to read for years, and authors I know who published their first books recently. It’s been a great year, and I have to give some of the credit for this goal to Goodreads’s reading challenge, which helped me keep track of all my books.

Nest year’s reading goal will be however many books I’ve read in 2012, including one piece by Charles Dickens that’s neither A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist. Any suggestions?

I did not accomplish two goals: I didn’t finish the second draft of my novel or send it to agents, mostly because I was working on another manuscript for half of 2012. That manuscript I did finish and send out.  I didn’t know at the time I set my goals that the manuscript was in my future, so I don’t feel too badly about not finishing my novel. That said, it’s time to get back to work on it.

I also chose to work on two conflicts that have been giving me difficulties for a long time: My feelings about faith and my issues with anxiety. I worked on both, on and off, throughout the year and although neither is by any means resolved (and may never be) I do feel like I have a much clearer idea about faith now.

The idea was that I was going to write an essay about whichever issue I came closest to resolving, and I still might try to do that. But the problem I face, ironically, has to do with the other issue: anxiety. I’m not sure I want people to know how I feel about faith and religion. I have people in my life who are both very religious and who aren’t religious at all, and I enjoy not coming down on one side or the other. For now, it might just be enough for me to know how I feel and what I believe.

And that’s it. I will be putting together a new list of goals for next year. I’m wondering if I should include more personal goals and not just writing goals this time. I don’t want to have a huge list of goals, but I also have some things I’d like to do that are not writing-related. Thoughts?

*Dear people who can’t be bothered and for whom I am posting distractions,  if you are truly out there, why have you been clicking on these posts all year?

November: 2012 goals

Well, I should have posted this monthly update on my New Years goals/resolutions a good two weeks ago, but thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I’ve been abandoning my blogging duties this month. But better late than never. Don’t care? Have a distraction: Busty Girl Comics, which has been cracking me up all year.

On to the goals:

Finish the second draft of my novel by April (September.) This month, I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to finish up my other project for Dec. 1. My novel is a little neglected, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing research, and that’s meant interviews with drag queens, documentaries about drag and transgender culture, and a lot of articles from the ’90s about drag culture.
I think my husband is a little tired, actually, of all the research I’ve been doing, because as we’ve been working to remove the mud from our belongings, or to truck waterlogged items out of the basement, I keep hitting him with drag factoids. For example:

“Did you know that voguing got its start in prison?”

or

“Whatever happened to Crystal La’Beija?”

or

“I am so not paying $3,000 for a VHS copy of The Queen. I mean, come on.”

He’s a pretty good sport about my research. I mean, he sat through something like 10 or 12 versions of Macbeth two years ago, but he’s going to be happy when this phase of research is over. If it’s ever over, that is. Because this stuff is fascinating.

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

Send out at least three short stories. Done. I’ve sent out three short stories and some chapters from my novel.

Read one two novels a month in 2012. Done! I’ve met my goal of reading 24 novels in a year, and in fact, am up to 29. This past month I read books written by people I know: David Fitzpatrick’s memoir, Sharp,  Nick Knittel’s collection of short stories, Good Things, The Whipping Club by MFA alum Deb Henry and Twilight of the Drifter by family friend and prolific author Shelly Frome. Then I moved on to manuscripts that haven’t been published yet by people I know.

And then the lights went out and reading was hard to do for a while. Now that we can see at night, I’m finishing a manuscript and then turning to The Count of Monte Cristo, which was recommended to me this summer by a friend. I’m really looking forward to that.

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. All I can say is that in the last month I did some praying, although some of it was involuntary, and I was anxious.