Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's The End of ROW80 Round 4 As We Know It

See what I did there? With the title? *grins*

It’s the end of ROW80 Round 4 and it’s time to wrap up the plethora of goals I had (and changed) and see where I ended up. Overall, I accomplished a lot, writing wise. I've been editing my first book, finished my second book, tinkered around with a few other WIPs I have cooking, and started a collaborative novel with my friend (You know who you are!) I haven’t hit every goal and there are places I can improve, but that will be tackled during the first Round of 2013. Now it’s time for review and reflection, so here goes.
  • Writing: I started the round with goal of writing 5K per week. I changed it in mid-October to “write 5K quality words per week.” This was much harder to do. On average I hit around 3K per week or so, but by making this change, II was striving for quality over quantity. So when I didn't hit the number I was usually okay with that. Once November 1 hit, my "5K quality words per week" goal went away totally. It morphed into “Finish NaNoWriMo.” And guess what. I DID IT! Yup. Look to the right. That’s my shiny NaNo Winner’s badge. So excited!!! This was my third try at NaNo and the first time I won. I gotta thank the ROW80 2pm EST sprinters here cause if it weren't for them, I’d have lost my motivation. Thank you guys--you are the best!
  • Finding Home (Ashten Falls Book 1): Pick a cover and get this novel out by November 1. Um yeah, no. This didn't happen. Not at all. I am still elbow deep in edits. Total fail, but…the edits/changes are for the better. So…progress, but not progress, at the same time. Or something. I'm unsure how to determine whether this was an accomplishment, fail or somewhere in between. Any thoughts?
  • Wanted (Ashten Falls Book 2): My goal was to finish the first (very rough) draft by the end of Round 4. I finished it for the most part thanks to NaNo. I have a few more scenes to write, but otherwise the draft is done. Next round my goals will be focusing on revisions and edits of this WIP. 
  • Check in for ROW80 at least one time per week: I was sporadic here, at least in November I was. Before then I was doing well with check ins. NaNo hit though and I kinda almost forgot the blog existed! I was so tuned into hitting my NaNo goal I shut everything else out. After NaNo, I hit check ins about once per week instead of two. 
  • Write a non ROW80 post once per week: I was sporadic here. I should have done better. *kicks self in the ass*
  • Stay present on twitter: Done! And by doing so, not only did I find a ton more interesting blogs, reviewers and friends to follow, I have even been participating more. I am starting to really enjoy the interactions I have with fellow twitter peeps! 
There were other non-writing/social media goals (mainly regarding work) that I had throughout the Round which I thankfully accomplished.  I sucked at my workout goals. I initially didn't have any, but the last week or so I decided to add one. I failed. Between now and the new year I need to step this up until daily yoga becomes a habit. Again.  In order to accomplish this, I will repeat this mantra from an earlier Zombie related blog post of mine in my head until it is habit: “Not getting off my ass and working out means I could die a painful, horrible, torturous death at the hands of flesh eating zombies, soul sucking demons, blood sucking vampires, throat ripping werewolves and/or evil baddies of the human variety intent on world dominance and/or destruction.”  If you are at all confused by this statement, you might want to check out the aforementioned referenced post. It will *hopefully* make more sense. :D 

Oh and my Goodreads Reading Challenge?!  I finished! *happy dance!* My goal was to read 75 books this year. As of today, I've read 100. And that doesn't count the many, many re-reads I did of Kristen Ashley's books. I'm addicted to everything she writes.

Last, as we end this round of ROW80, and this year, it should be noted that apparently there are only two days left until the end of the world. I really hope the Mayans were wrong. I have a ton of works in progress and more plot bunnies hopping around. I will be pissed if the world ends. As in seriously Mayans. Seriously! *glares*

How did you guys do? Did you hit your goals? What about the next Round-will you be suiting up again or taking a break? Congrats everyone and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday's Random Musical Interlude

As I've been getting stuff done for the holidays, my music has, of course, not been very far away from me. Whether it's while I'm working, in my car, or while I've been planning Christmas Eve dinner and getting the house sorted, it's been on. At this time of year most people would be listening to Christmas music. As some of you already know, I am not most people. Not that I don't enjoy it (holiday music that is). I do. I just generally turn to whatever my mp3 player calls up and go with that. Since I have very little holiday music on it, it very rarely comes up. So this past weekend, here is some music that stuck with me, for a variety of reasons, as I went about work and my to-do list.

1. P!nk's Blow Me (One Last Kiss): I love this song. For me it's not just about relationships. It can apply to anything in your life that is keeping you down. In fact, given the post I wrote yesterday about how I (and others) can sometimes let fear hold us back, this song is especially fitting.   

2.P!nk's Try:  choreography doesn't get much better in this, at least when it comes to music videos. It is so unbelievably artistic. It's on the other end of the spectrum from the other song I linked to by her. While sometimes we need to get rid of the baggage and what is holding us back, there are other times we need to hang on tight and try our hardest to not let go. This song is especially apt for the job I do every day. Too easily people give up and give in, instead of holding on, communicating and compromising.  

Good stuff, yeah? I think so. Hope you enjoyed it and I hopefully will be bringing more random music to the blog as the New Year starts and a new round of ROW80 begins. (Yes I will again try to be more consistent with non-ROW80 blogging. It's like, a never ending goal for me!)

What songs have you been listening to lately that hit an emotional chord, make you want to dance, help you escape from the stress, or maybe just get you through the holiday crush? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't Let Fear Hold You Back

When I first started my blog I talked about an issue I ran into in high school with a teacher that resulted in me hiding my writing from everyone for a really, really long time. I thought that by blogging I'd get used to people reading what I write. And I have. I am way more comfortable putting myself out there and just, talking. Sure I still hesitate or think that people will think I'm a dork, or a geek cause of what I blog about, but I've gotten closer to the point where I'm like "oh well. Their loss." I like geeky TV shows like Buffy, Firefly, Veronica Mars, and Castle (just to name a few!), and I play video games. I sometimes think that if I had to pick a character in a book that was most like me, personality wise, it would be Faye from Kristen Ashley's Breathe.  Like her, I'm incredibly shy, definitely a geek, with the added benefit of often being a dork. But I'm cool with that, because, well, that's just me. It has taken a long time for me to accept who I am, but now that I do, I feel comfortable in my own skin.

But even with this relatively new-found self confidence, there are still times I feel a familiar fear creep in and cast doubt on whether I'm 'good enough' when it comes to my writing. My rationale brain knows this is ridiculous. Not everyone is going to like what I write. People will find fault with it, and since it's 2012 and a lot of people out there have lost the art of having manners, some of the criticism will not be constructive and instead will be hurtful and mean. I have a thick skin. I should be able to handle this. I mean, I went to law school. I had to endure the Socratic method  used by a bunch of professors who I swear to god were sadists when it came to humiliating students and bringing them close to tears over questions revolving around torts, criminal procedure, the Constitution, and evidence, among other things. I litigate in family court, get admonished when my clients (or their parents) do things that I tell them not to do, and have argued on  more than several occasions before the Appellate Division. I can handle all this, but yet there are times that the idea of people reading a novel I've written makes me want to cower in a corner. So the questions becomes: why?

I've wracked my brain for an answer and the only thing I can come up with is that I don't have an answer. It is just another part of who I am and something I need to overcome. I've already had a few people read my first novel and am working my way through the edits.  Back in the day, I would have just saved my final WIP and no one would have ever seen it. So...this is progress, in my eyes.  And now, as I move forward with the next steps (querying or self-pub...*tries not to freak out*)...I know that I have to keep going.  I am the only person who has the power to not let my fear stop me from trudging forward. When my novel comes out, people may or may not read it. People may or may not like it. I might have an error here, or used the wrong word there (though I've been editing this so much, if I do, I will scream my house down.) My narrative style might not be to someone's taste. I might have used an adverb. Whatever it is, I will take the constructive criticism and move forward, continuing to write and improving my craft. But I will have scratched something off my Bucket List that I've had on it since I was 8 years old and move on. I finished a novel. I finished a novel. Not many people can say that. But I can. And I'm proud of it.

So what's my point with all this? Why am I writing about my own fears and doubts, again, when it comes to writing? Because this is something I think many writers go through. The writing itself is hard, but it often isn't the hardest part of the process. Often the hardest part is embracing the writing, moving forward and putting it out there. It is often scariest to tell someone--friends, family, coworkers and even strangers--that you wrote a book or story, and let them read it. Fear of judgment, fear of being teased, fear of writing something that doesn't fit the 'mold' of who people expect you to be.  It can overwhelm us and stifle our creative selves. But I urge you:  Don't let it control you.  Don't let it hold you back from something you've wanted to do since forever, the way I did. I hid my writing from those around me for so long that they have no clue I even do it. Not one teeny tiny clue--that's how well I buried it.  And I did it out of fear they would think I was a dreamer, or not serious about my life, or wasting time. Or worse, they would make fun of me for writing, as the little boy in The Princess Bride called it, kissing books! (insert sarcastic voice here *gasp* the horror!*)  With all this fear surrounding me, I held it all inside. I never even gave anyone a chance to react because I let my own fear dictate my actions. Or in this case, my omissions.

Bottom line: Don't let fear control your dream, whatever it may be. Work hard, do your best, keep learning and let it fly. Write what you want, when you want, and how you want. There will be time to improve on the craft; lessons to learn; edits and revisions to make. But there will no improvement at all if you don't write. And when your done and it's the best that it can be, let it go. Let it go with the knowledge that, even if people don't like it or get it, you accomplished something important. You finished a novel, or a short story, or a screenplay. Or whatever it is you were trying to accomplish. You did it, and that is something that no one can ever take away from you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bit Of A Post NaNo Slump: A ROW80 Update

Last week taught me that NaNo kicked my ass. I was on a high after "winning" and all ready to dive into edits of my other project.  This did not happen. I was easily distracted and got very little writing or editing done last week. I don't know really what I did since I don't have much to show for it. It was all kind of a blur. 

In addition to the mind fog I was in, Thursday and Friday were spent in the hospital with my Uncle who thought he was having a stroke. He's 58 years old and in great health so this was a surprise to us all. After a full body MRI and a billion other medical tests (and ruling out a stroke and heart issues), all the docs can say is that he is a medical mystery and are referring him to another hospital.  They know it's something neurological but have ruled out tumors in the brain and cervical area of his back. They have no idea why he can't lift his left arm over his head and keep it there. It just ..well it just falls down to his side.  So everyone is on pins and needles since this week he has a battery of doc appointments and more tests to figure out what the HECK is going on. Anyone know where I can find Dr. House?

Now, despite this 'issue', he still went deep into the woods with my father on Saturday (he was released from the hospital Friday night) and cut down FOUR Christmas trees. He would not let us just buy a darn tree from the tree farm. Personally I would have been more than happy with using my fake tree I used to have in my old apartment (my cat doesn't bother fake trees; she tries to climb the real ones!). But he insisted. "It's tradition.", he said and there was no talking him out of it. Totally crazy, but determined. Now I have to find time to decorate a tree and stop myself from throttling my evil cat during the holidays. But my uncle is happy, so that's all that matters right now. 

Anyways, here's my ROW80 update for last week:

Continue slogging though the edits for Finding HomeThe plan last week was to finish the edits by Sunday. This did not happen. I'm not going to make an excuse, it just didn't get done. But, there's always this week.

Post at least one ROW80 update (either Wed. or Sun): Done, just a day late.

Post a non-ROW80 post for the week: Epic fail once again. I suck at this. :)

Get through the pile of files on my desk: Done, done, done, DONE! *does happy dance*  December is always a busy time for me (as it is for most everybody) and with family coming to invade my house on the 26th and staying the week, I needed to get my work caught up (and a bit ahead of myself)  so that I wasn't scrambling when everyone got here. This has been accomplished. I have two more things to do and once I finish with office stuff between now and next Thursday, I am home free until January 1st. At least work wise.

Next week my goals will remain the same except I am adding in three additional ones: 

Do yoga three times this week. 

Finish decorating house and finish menu for Christmas Eve dinner.  Last year was the first year we had Christmas Eve dinner at my house. it was a last minute thing because my aunt couldn't do it at her house (she was working) so my sister and I threw something together,. This year we have the main idea for the dinner,  but I need to finalize a few things so I know who is making what (don't want to make three dishes of the same thing!).  If I can get that and the decorating done, I will be way ahead of the game and ready to tackle the dinner and the subsequent guest arrivals!

Work on super-secret collaborative project. I need to think of a better name for this goal. Maybe I will get inspired by Wednesday, but for right now, super secret collaborative project will have to do! Now that NaNo is done, this will be my main WIP for the next little while. 

All of that should keep me busy for awhile.  Not to mention that a persistent little plot bunny has wiggled its way into my head and I can't stop thinking about it. I've jotted some notes down and put it aside, but seriously, why does this always happen when I have other things to do! Such bad timing! I'm a little scared of it, cause it's rather dark and quite different than what I'm used to writing, but so far it's looking quite fun.  Hopefully I can keep that at bay while I work on, well, everything else I need to work on!

I hope everyone is doing well with their ROW80 goals (and with all the holiday craziness!). Have a great week!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Didn't Win the Lottery, But I Did Something Better...

I did something that was way more personally fulfilling. And it was something I had better odds of finishing than winning any 500 million dollar jackpot.  



Every time I think about this, I freak out. This draft will need some (major) revisions (of course) and I need to finish about eight to ten more scenes to be totally done with the novel, but it proves (to myself) that I can write an insane amount of words that don't totally suck in a short period of time  Finding Home took me so long to write, so long to revise, and still is taking forever to edit (almost a year when all is said and done).  I'd been thinking that I'd never write anything again, or at least never get close to the length of Finding Home. I thought it might just end up being a one-off for me; something I could never replicate. Or that I'd take another year to finish this one. But it didn't take me a year. It took me preparing an outline and engaging in some serious word crushing as I smashed through said outline and now, I have a 'mostly done' draft of Wanted.  

I'm damn proud of myself. And I've had this song in my head: Matthew Wilder's Break My Stride  Seriously, check it out. There is so much 80s hair and fashion goodness in it.  I was only about 6 around the time of this video, but I remember trying to mirror my older sister's fashion sense, which mirrored this video (and many others).  Oh how I loved the 80s.  Anyways, click it. You know you want to. *nudge nudge*  I double dog dare you.  

*dances around while you click away and give in to the temptation to dance along too (or at least sing!)*

Alright, now that the dancing interlude is over, on to my ROW80 update.  My goals last week were:

Finish NaNo! Done!!

Continue slogging though the edits for Finding Home: NaNo sidetracked me, but finishing these edits is my goal this week

Post at least one ROW80 update (either Wed. or Sun): Done

Post a non-ROW80 post for the week: Um, oops.  Forgot about this. But I have found some awesome music the last couple weeks that I hope to share in the next couple weeks.

Get through the pile of files on my desk by Wednesday: I worked through some of this pile. This week, I will get it all done so that I can focus next week on getting the house (and myself) together for the annual holiday guests that descend on my house the week between Christmas and New Years.

Next week my goals remain pretty much exactly the same. Well, they are the same, except for NaNo.  In terms of writing, instead of a word count or time goal, I will be focusing on the editing of Finding Home with the hope (and determination) that these can be finished by next Sunday.  I have other WIPs I could work on, but after the marathon that was NaNo, my brain needs a break and I want to get Finding Home out (whether queried or self-published, I haven't decided yet) before I turn my attention to another WIP. 

Congratulations to everyone who did NaNoWriMo, it was so much fun sprinting with you guys and cheering everyone on as we went through this process. I feel like we climbed Mount Everest, which I guess we did. We climbed the writers version of Mt. Everest! 

I hope everyone is doing well with their goals and good luck this week!