I’m starting late, but that’s no surprise. It takes me a long time to process the old year and make plans for the new, so I think I’ve finally figured out my status from last year, and how to kick some more butt in 2014.
Last year was a little…odd, in terms of personal achievement. I incorporated a non-profit writers’ group, and established a small publishing company to publish books from the writers’ group. (website for that still in progress!) It only looks like two things, but of course they were a massive amount of work. (The amount of personal free time I dedicated to one item on the list, “writing the articles of incorporation,” is a little ridiculous.) I also launched a fundraising campaign for and began the process of publishing two collaborative short story collections. Again, a massive amount of work. (Fortunately, there is a fabulous team for each one of these things!)
But it was a year of mis-prioritized priorities. On the personal side, money was really tight in 2013. I was laid off in December of 2012, and found a temp job in February…and I’ve been working as a temp ever since. It’s income, so that I’m grateful for, but at the same time the pay is lower than previous years, and as a result of a car loan based on my higher income, I seriously suffered in the fun and adventure department. (First world problems, I know. Still maintained a small business loan through Kiva and managed to donate to a few other charities!)
I like to think that this volunteering and startup stuff is good for my resume, but the results of my year-long job hunt have proved otherwise. So the big goal in 2014 is to earn more money. I think I have a ways to go before I can branch out as a full-time freelance writer and editor, so that means finding new professional employment.
I’m obviously tied up in the anthology projects I began in 2013, so this means I have to cut back on my personal writing, and still keep the fun at a minimum so I can send more resumes and do more networking. But there are still things I’d like to accomplish this year, both for my writing and otherwise, and I’ve settled on 10 personal goals for 2014.
1. New Job, develop career. I’ve been volunteering as a community organizer for at least five years, and before that I was a professional youth program director, and I love creating experiences, introducing people, and matching opportunities for growth and learning with a person’s skill set. So it’s really a no-brainer that this is where I should focus my professional efforts. Unfortunately, this experience doesn’t translate well in the corporate world. It’s slightly easier with non-profits, but is still dependent on the organization and its needs. This means pretty much re-writing my resume every time. I’m leaning towards membership development, training, and volunteer coordinating. We’ll see how that goes.
2. Buy a house. Yo, seriously, I’ve been talking about this for at least three years. WTF, time to get it together and actually do it. This involves:
3. Paying down debt and reducing DTI. All these financial things that I don’t quite understand but need to. Paying off one of the two credit cards I have left should take care of it. So less extraneous spending. I’m pretty sure I can do this by limiting myself to three lattes a week, although I’ve never been able to sustain such a minimalist habit long term (ha). Considering changing to a latte-based rewards system. Updates to follow.
4. Publish two collaborative short story anthologies. Already in progress, with a great team. Part of this goal is to contribute a short story to one of the anthologies, which has not been finished yet. Enter ROW80 Round One (see below).
5. Finish editing and start querying the 2013 NaNoWriMo manuscript. Again, see below for ROW80 goals.
6. Win NaNoWriMo again. I love NaNo a lot, and I’ve been winning for several years, so this should be an easy one. (Easy to say when talking about it in January!)
7. Learn Spanish. This has been a goal on the back burner for probably a decade. But I discovered in 2013 that podcasts are a great way to keep my mind busy while slogging away the miles on a treadmill, and rediscovered a podcast I had listened to years ago. One listen to Coffee Break Spanish, and I got real excited to get back on the path again. After two successful weeks on ROW80, I’m going to order their bonus materials, and later on this year I’ll look for a Spanish discussion group. Not until after the anthologies are published :)
8. Run a race in 3 states. A long-term life goal is to run a race in every state. I figured if I did five states a year, that would be a good ten year fitness plan, to keep training so I can run one half marathon and a few smaller races every year. But finances being so low in 2013 meant that I only competed in two states. So next year I want to focus and run at least three. So far on the plan are Kansas (at the Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz!), Massachusetts, and possibly Nevada. Always exciting to plan these things, just have to budget enough to pay for them! Then, if the new job comes through, in 2015 maybe we can get caught up!
9. Up my outdoor activities. I run an outdoor adventure group, and I have sadly neglected it since getting so caught up in the South Jersey Writers’ Group. And I miss being outside on the weekends (see above for “writing articles of incorporation” for what stole away my summer). Some of my plans are to coordinate an outdoor rock climbing event (as well as a few indoors, at a local climbing gym), lead a backpacking trip, lead a camping trip, lead at least one day hike, preferably two, and coordinate a kayak trip. This is more exciting to me than anything else on the list! We also have a few “go play” events throughout the year, and I’d like to keep up with those too.
10. Continue to spread out the work for the SJWG so the president job becomes easier and easier. This is so when I step down in October 2015, the Board of Trustees are each managing their own departments, and the president only has to run board meetings, keep Board members on task and help them find new volunteers when needed, and champion the group in the community. (Bear in mind that the VP, K.A. Magrowski, and I were doing pretty much everything, administratively, before October!) Managing volunteer expectations–and production–is always a difficult, delicate task, but we’ve been lucky so far with an absolutely die-hard team of committed volunteers, and hopefully I don’t overtax them too much!
11. (Bonus) Blog twice a week. This is a tough one, but I really, really want to get on top of this! One book review, which I got in a pretty good habit with, and one “other” post, whether adventure or fitness or job search or networking or thoughts on editing and writing. (Plus the ROW80 posts too!) I’ll worry about this if all the others are caught up (this may not happen until after anthology #2 is published!)
So, if everything goes well, this should be a pretty busy year. At the end of 2012, I had just been laid off, so I had a lot of time to write down detailed plans and micro-goals. But I got pretty sick just after starting the new job, then had to refocus and then started the incorporation craziness. I fell off the checking-in wagon, and only accomplished a few of them. Being a little more flexible this year with deadlines. But not with goals!
On to ROW80. I’ve neglected my own writing for a long, long time. It’s always the first thing I put off. But if I’m honest with myself, I prefer interacting with people, working with my hands, moving around. Sitting at a computer with only one thing to do is, well, boring, sometimes.
At the same time, I love developing story ideas, and then, of course, editing them. So I suck it up and plow through a first draft during NaNoWriMo, then revisit occasionally throughout the next year. I’m fairly consistent until I get stuck, and then I ignore it until the following November. After 8 years of this, of course, I have a number of manuscripts in various stages of incompletion. Many of them are the beginnings of series too, leaving me with potentially dozens of books to write. Well, what’s the POINT if I don’t finish them??
One of the goals I DID actually achieve from 2013 was meeting with a critique group monthly. I didn’t always have a story to read, but I met with them and reviewed their work just about every month. They’re a great group of ladies and their novels are really entertaining!
And Shelley Szajner and I have entered into an accountability pact, with money on the line. (This, plus the public humiliation factor, are really what motivates me…) I had already decided to do ROW80 before we started our pact, so I may be doubling up in the accountability department. But I’ve heard good things about ROW80, and am hoping that by being accountable in multiple ways I can make at least a little progress. I may not get to blog ROW80 twice a week, at least not until the next anthology is done.
So here are my PERSONAL writing and life goals for the first six months of 2014. No community to ask, no feedback to get, no response needed. Just do it!
1. Write 3000 words a week, or spend four hours editing my work. I would like to say I can write every day, but sadly, I can’t. Okay, sure I can. But on those busy days I don’t accomplish anything substantial. It takes about 30 minutes before I can get focused, due to all the fires (emails) that I couldn’t find time to respond to earlier in the day (sometimes week). And I’ll be honest, sometimes after work, the gym, and a two hour meeting, I really don’t freakin feel like opening my computer at midnight after I’ve found time to eat dinner and do the domestic duties. So do I force myself to stay up until 2 am to eke out 100 words a day–for a total of 700 a week? It makes more sense to set up a routine a few days a week where I can sit down and focus for a stretch and crank out 1000 words an hour. Starting with two for now, until the upcoming anthology is published. Hopefully, as I can get more consistent, it becomes a little easier to settle in and finish more.
During this round, I’ll be primarily working on a short story for inclusion in the first anthology. But there are two anthologies. Not sure if I’ll have the time to contribute a short story to the second one, but we’ll see how it goes. (Also ZERO ideas for that second story right now.) And after the short story (stories?), I’ll be working on my project from NaNoWriMo 2013, a middle grade story, probably the first in a series!
2. Apply for two jobs a week. This takes a lot of time, so I’m planning to dedicate one night per resume. So weekly, that’s two resume nights, two writing nights (or two nights and a dedicated session over the weekend!)
And that’s it. Keeping it simple until I can unclutter some of the responsibilities I’ve managed to collect in 2013. As always, a work in progress.