august goals

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After such an eventful weekend, I feel like I need a slow and steady sort of day… Kind of my goal for the month in general. It’s a little less than a month before the new semester starts and, with it, the first frantic week of classes, with all its questions, directions, and relentless pace.

Too many books to read. Too many words to write. I just want to find a rhythm and keep at it before things are out of my control.

Health-wise, I need to make an appointment for the dentist. Also, my GP. My diet went a little haywire over the weekend, so that needs to be sorted (and when I say diet, I mean what I eat, not some weightloss scheme). I feel great when eating Whole30-inspired foods, so that’s still the plan. Fitness-wise, I’m looking to incorporate some lifting into my walking and yoga routine. I’m getting stronger with all the yoga and it’s time I increased my weights (yay!).

As far as writing, I will post some videos on my process and projects this month (Camp NaNo update coming on Friday). It’s mostly reading and planning at this stage. Revisions to come.

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July goals

My mind is all awhirl! I only just realized it’s Tuesday and I had yet to post. I’ve been working on my video for Friday, so more on that later…

This month, I’m focusing on de-cluttering my brain. I struggled figuring out my next writing project: review the latest draft or start outlining the next novel? An email from Camp NaNo gave me the push I needed, hence my decision to outline first (probably the best choice, gives my head time to clear out before I look at the draft again).

So, here goes…

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  • Work on the Camp NaNo outline project
  • Detox! Urg, too much indulgence during my vacation, so I’ve started another Whole30.
  • More of the usual, but definitely more yoga, as last month kind of fell apart towards the end (right when I was seeing some real progress).
  • Read a few books on writing and publishing (I’m ready for some post-drafting inspiration), and research the query process for the sake of knowledge.

How about you? What are you working on in July?

and then she came back

It’s been a quiet month, but a good one. I challenged myself to rewrite chapters 11-15 and I did, writing an entirely new chapter during the process, and soaring past my initial word count goal. I like to think that the new bits add the much-needed character development that was lost after my first round of cutting and rewriting. It’s a slow, arduous process, but it’s coming together and I only lost 5 writing days this month…

Speaking of lost days—I started taking turmeric to relieve my aches and pains (TMJ and arthritis in general, plus migraines as a result). I just finished my first bottle and, I have to say, I’m really feeling a difference in my pain levels. Can’t wait to receive my next order (I should’ve ordered sooner, but I was caught up  in getting sh*t done).

There has been a lot of drama on the kitty cat front (re: poopy princess kitty). By some strange alchemy, I think I’ve managed to get the poops under control, but it was a serious trial (and error).

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Caramel Loaf does not approve.

In the meantime, I’m mentally preparing myself to do my first Whole30 in an effort to kill my sugar cravings and reset my system. My biggest challenge will be cutting out the grains. I’ve cut out dairy in the past (and seriously need to get back in the habit), but it’s bread that I’ll miss the most. I generally avoid soy because of my thyroid issues, but dairy (not milk, but yogurt and cheese), peanuts, and grains are my weakness. Wish me luck (and willpower).

as the sun peeks through the clouds…

It’s been a quiet month. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and meditating, keeping up with my daily journaling, and trying to be more mindful in my everyday living. It’s also been cold! Not frozen tundra cold, but pretty cold for a warm and sunny Miami girl. I always find it a little harder to find the drive to get out and go when it’s cold. I just want to shut down and bundle up. Partly, because my body is already colder than normal, so any drop in the temperature signals the shivers; partly, because the gloomy, gray skies give me the doldrums. However, I’ve made a real effort to stick with my plans for the month. I made my deadline for the draft reading :). I’ve only missed 4 of the now 28 days of yoga. And I’ve managed to find the energy to sort through the things I left at my mom’s place when I first moved out (KonMari to the rescue!). I’m finding new ways to incorporate writing into my day, that will help me continue to push forward with the next draft while allowing me to continue to look after my physical well-being (i.e. step away from the computer and get down with yoga). It’s all coming along.

For now, I’m going to give myself a mini break and read, read, read for pleasure while I prepare my notes for the next 6 rounds of revision (I’ve broken it down, and 6 is the magic number of categories based on my notes).

Ta!   

on recognizing the writer within

My friend and former library director invited me to speak about my NaNo experience in front of a group of aspiring student writers; it’s made me stop and think about writing and what it means to call myself a writer…

I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been a writer, but it took a long time before I was comfortable identifying as a Writer. What does it mean to me, this writing thing? It’s a part of who I am, when all’s said and done. There are days when I question why I write—-why I bother with the work and doubt and disappointment—-but I know I can’t give it up. Even if my work is never published, I would be cheating myself if I didn’t write. There are stories in me. That’s the thing that keeps me going. There are stories in me that I need to write. Stories that are alive in my mind. They’re the kinds of stories I seek and often fail to find when I wander the stacks. I feel compelled to write them myself.

Growing up in a working class Hispanic community, being a writer was not a career goal that seemed practical. We need to work. We need to eat. We need to improve our lives. Imagination is all well and good, but it won’t put food on the table. Good writing will help you excel in school, but what else is there? I kept a diary, played with dolls for hours, creating lives and stories for them. I think of these as my earliest efforts. Those dolls were my characters, even before I knew what plot meant. I wrote stories for school, poems, won contests… my teachers were encouraging, reminding me that I had a skill worth nurturing. My mom had always been supportive, even if she doesn’t quite understand the process. She knows it means sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time, that it makes me grumpy and surly when I can’t get my work done, that I groan to think of another draft… but then there’s the payoff: articles, books, chapters. Academic pieces as much as creative. They’re all a part of my journey and they keep me moving forward.

Academic writing is a different beast altogether, but the struggle is the same. You learn the conventions and find the patterns and deal with editors who may not understand what you’re trying to say, but are willing to help you make the most of your work (or not). I have my own way of writing. Sometimes, it gets me into trouble with purists. I press on.

As I prepare to start a new project and sink into another round of editing, I have come to know myself as a writer. I continue to grow with each word. As I prepare to talk about writing a first draft, I look back at my own first drafts, at the joyous mess of them. First drafts are the worst, but they’re also the best. You just can’t beat that feeling when you find a story you need to tell. So my advice is the same I would give a writer embarking an academic paper—love your subject, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with it.

back to basics

simplicityandbalance

2015 is going to be about simplicity and balance. I’ve started by clearing out my closet and drawers (a much-needed task) and removing everything that went unused for the past year, that never quite fit, that never looked quite right, that I received as a present but didn’t really like, and that I own more than one of (in other words, how many scarves and water bottles do I really need?). This amounts to a lot of stuff to be donated. I regularly cull, but it’s been a while since I went for a full-scale de-cluttering of the bedroom and kitchen. My closet and cabinets are so much easier to sort through now that I can actually see what’s available.

Next on my agenda, a serious look at my shelves. I managed to eliminate a lot of grad school books when I moved out two years ago, but books tend to multiply like bunnies in my place… and while the idea of wall-to-wall shelves is lovely in theory, it just doesn’t work for me. I am not averse to weeding and know when it’s time to let go.

To manage the process without becoming overwhelmed, I joined Apartment Therapy’s January Cure and hope to have a neat and tidy apartment by the end of the month.

I’m also making a concerted effort to adopt a new workout and writing routine. I’ve been unhappy with some of the changes that I’ve experienced in the last few months since taking on my new job and I’ve come to accept that there are limits on my time that I just can’t help. I just don’t have the time to workout for an hour and write for two on weekdays. I’m lucky to find the time to workout at all in the mornings, so I’m just going to aim for short morning workouts and 1-2 hours of writing in the evenings. Small steps are better than none. I can’t go back to the amount of productivity and time that I had in the past, not so long as I have a 2 hour commute and life responsibilities. There was a luxury to living at home and working fifteen minutes away that I didn’t learn to appreciate until it was too late.

This month, I’m working on finding little ways to be purposeful and enjoy the little things. This means taking a step back and assessing my goals and ways to meet them, rather than diving in without a plan and crashing headlong into the tangled mess of trying to make sense of it. Simple, balanced, and purposeful, that’s what I’m going for.

looking back and looking ahead

I’m all set for the new year. Even though it’s a completely arbitrary time, the thought of new things to come makes me feel hopeful for the future. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a resolution person, I’m a list person who sets personal goals (that’s what I’m calling it and I’m sticking to it). I accomplished quite a bit this year

1) Co-wrote a book that is going to be published(!)
2) Took a major leap in advancing my career by accepting a new position
3) Bought a new car (If you knew the story, you’d understand why this is an accomplishment)
4) Stuck to my guns and continued working on the manuscript (because I really do think it’s worth it)
5) Reached the big 30 with a modicum of grace
6) Finally shifted 5 of the 10 lbs I put on during the 4 years spent on the last job (the constant presence of cookies, pizza, sweets, etc. was not good)

2015

This year, I’m looking forward to a few more personal challenges, not all of which involve writing.

1) I’m going to make a concerted effort to refresh my wardrobe in 2015. This will involve

a. Clearing out old bags, jewelry, and other effects that no longer fit my style–let’s face it, I no longer want to look like an emo teen.

b. Classing up my wear-to-work look which had suffered a bit since I made the switch from an institution that required business wear for all to one that allows faculty to make their own fashion choice.

2) Fit running back into my regular workout routine.

a. Because I enjoy the way it makes me feel.

b. Because it’s been too long since I could call myself a regular runner.

3) Get into the habit of an evening writing schedule.*

a. Because shit needs to get done.

b. Because mornings no longer work and I’ve come to accept that fact.
*this may lead to increased madness and anti-social behavior.

November is really kicking my bum

Egads! November has thrown me way off course writing and life-wise. There is just too much stuff happening at once. And I want to do it ALL! I’m trying to avoid spreading myself too thin, but seems unavoidable lately.

Some good things…

  • My gaming day event was a huge success by my standards (small library/campus, more than 50 people equals lots of fun).
  • I totally failed at keeping my New Year’s Resolutions (re: let my hair grow out). I got a pixie cut. I love it. So there.
  • The Book Fair!!!! OMG! BERKS!!!!
  • The WIP is coming together nicely. It’s become more of a rewrite than a revision, but I’m going about it in a different way this time and rewriting scene by scene, rather than doing a full-scale rewrite. Cassiel needed the works (new setting, change of characters, plot, etc.), Anúna just needs to grow into the action.

The not so good…

  • I’m definitely not near my NaNo goal, but I’m no longer aiming for it. I’m back to my original goal of complete 2nd draft by February. I can’t remember how I came up with February… but I think it has something to do with Camp NaNo in April.
  • Commitments, commitments.
  • I need a vacation. I feel it.

Camp NaNoWrimo FTW!

I did it! I actually reached my 80k word goal! That’s the Good News…

The Bad News is that I’m still not finished.

Yep, I was right when I said predicted that this draft wouldn’t be complete when I reached my goal. Re-outlining the ending certainly helped me get it going at a better pace, but I still see another 3-4 chapters to finish, which might mean anywhere from 15-20,000 more words given my average chapter lengths for this draft. All in all, I feel much better about it than I did last week. See 🙂 staying positive after all.

*Goodness, I just compiled and saw that it’s really 337 pages long! Thank you, Scrivener, for keeping all that text in an orderly fashion.*

that is it. 80k reached.
that is it. 80k reached.

 

Cassiel, rewrite draft 1/part 2 (total word goal)

 

About Cassiel (or the best summary I could come up with for the moment)

With her family and fortune gone, sixteen-year-old Cassiel Loriett is placed under the guardianship of the exacting Mrs. Maywoods, but there is more to her family’s fate than Cassiel knows and the only way to learn the truth is to solve the mystery herself. Willing to do whatever it takes to find out what really led to the loss of her father’s fortune and her mother’s unexpected death, Cassiel runs away with little more than her father’s journal a couple of clues, but first she has to stay away from Mrs. Maywoods and her brother, Mr. Stellworthy, who seems to take a strange interest in Cassiel’s position as the Maywoods’s erstwhile ward.

Finding herself on a quest, Cassiel ends up the unlikely resident of Walstone House–a derelict manor house run by Stephen Frye, and his cousins Christabella and Nathan Walstone, and owned by their reclusive grandfather, Pierce Walstone. Finding a friend and ally in Stephen, Cassiel sets on a journey that might mean losing it all, or finding herslf along the way.

A YA historical mystery set in late Victorian England.

A re-write in progress…

Follow my Cassiel writing updates here: http://things-she-said.org/tag/cassiel/

Things I want to do in 2013

This is not a list of resolutions. These are personal goals. So there. :p

Anyhow, I’ve been thinking of what I’ve accomplished and what I want to accomplish and I’ve decided to make a list… Because that is what I do.

Things I want to do in 2013

  • Participate in at least 3 5Ks. I did a 5k last year and want more!
  • Edit my manuscript and prepare it for querying and submissions.
  • Keep on writing. I like the habit I started and I want to stick to it.
  • Read through the books on my shelves.
  • Finish paying my loans.
  • Seriously consider my options for moving out.
  • Be more active within my professional community.
  • That is all for now. Go on.