Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!!!!!

Happy New Year!!! Okay, I’m a little early... but still, I hope 2009 proves to be a year of grace and peace and accomplishment... I hope each of my bloggy buddies finds agents or book deals or both... I hope you all stretch the limits of your dreams, then find new goals to strive for, and maybe enjoy the scenery along the way... okay, definitely that last bit.

In case any of you were wondering, I didn’t make my writing goal. Not even close. I’m about half-way through. I could list you a bunch of excuses, but they would be just that and the truth is probably a lot simpler – it was too short a time limit for me to write a rough draft in the way I’m comfortable. From the start of this WIP, I’ve been at it less than three months (that includes plotting, I started from scratch). Honestly, I’m a little amazed I’ve been able to devote as much time to writing as I have been, given that the start of a new school year, one child’s birthday, and three holidays have come and gone. There’s been baking and planning and present presenting. We’ve had one flood (the first in the twelve years I’ve lived here) and one bout of vermin – don’t ask. And laundry, let’s not forget the laundry.

I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’m not one of those writers that goes by word count per day. It just doesn’t work for me because I’m liable to come back to the writing tomorrow and cut two full pages from the previous days’ progress. I re-read and re-edit during the rough draft process and, hopefully, that makes revisions a little less complicated. Probably not, but it’s the way I work. I can’t barrel forward with glaring inaccuracies or flat out mistakes in the previous pages.

What did I accomplish? Well, I like this WIP. The characters, the story, the setting, the themes... I needed to tell it and I needed to tell it now. In the last month, I posted my first paragraph at Nathan’s and my pitch at BookEnds... my pitch needs a bit of work, I think, but I’ll get to that as I go.

Last year, I mentioned that I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I set goals for myself, but I wouldn’t list any resolutions on the blog. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and wondered, in fact, if the real reason I don’t post these things is because I’m afraid of staring at a big fat failure a year later. I even paged through my old posts to see if I mentioned where I wanted to be today, and I came across this one:

Why is the song loser running through my mind? Huh... apparently it’s common for me to hit a funk at the year’s end... who’d a thunk it?

Three Things struck me from that post:

But whatever else happens, I’ll finish this one and I’ll start on the next... now’s the time to do it in earnest...

I did that! I finished Raskin’s Wings in March. I’ve submitted to a good number of agents – no one tells you ahead of time that researching agents takes more work than writing! I had some feedback and a few requests for partials and fulls and have, for now, pulled it from submissions. It’s a good story, and I truly believe it’s publishable... but it’s not the best writing I can do. It took getting embroiled in this one before I fully realized that. Right now the plan is to go back to that one and see if I can revise it... but it may be one of those fabled ‘under the bed’ books... we’ll see.

Failure is not a problem. Failure does one of two things – it either makes you stronger or it defeats you... I’m not the second one. I know I’m not, I just don’t have it in me to lie down.

Okay, I have on occasion stumbled across a writer that pulled me out of my little wallowy bullshit by their prose... I’ve never before done it to myself... It would be laughable if it wasn’t a touch crazy, but hell, if I was completely normal I sure the hell wouldn’t keep at a career path that hands you rejection at every turn.

The third thing was the comments. All of whom are the same people who I’ve visited all year and who visit me. Who tell me to keep going, even when it would be more sensible to quit. There are a few other bloggers who missed that one but have kept me on the path, and I thank you.

So, okay, New Year’s Resolutions (what’s the worst that could happen?)

Finish From the Neighborhood (I’ll open end the out date – but I’m thinking March... that’s a book a year, which isn’t bad)

Get a job that I like. (Harder than it looks in this economy – and the other vaiables in there include a boss flexible enough that I can take the occasional afternoon for my kids’ stuff or sick days when they are... and I’ll need a great babysitter) As a side note, anybody have any idea how scary it is to look for a real job after having been home raising kids for more than eleven years? It’s positively frightening... and it makes editors and agents look far less ferocious

Publish (anything... though, a book contract *girly giggles* would be lovely)

Of course, with a book contract I would be looking for the perfect agent first – but I didn’t want to add that one to the list... I’m not setting a time limit on that, though one can always dream.

Okay, Guys, I’d love to hear your New Year’s Resolutions if you’ve got any... or about how your bloggy buddies have helped you out, kept you going, or even helped you squander your time...

Here’s hoping you all have the most joyous New Year!


jerseygirl89 said...

I'm pretty sure my bloggy buddies are the sole reason I haven't had a nervous breakdown this year.

I don't really do resolutions anymore, but one goal I have for this year is to be more patient. With everybody and everything.

Zoe Winters said...

Happy New Year!

Mom In Scrubs said...

Happy New Year!! Keep plugging away, and it will happen...don't get too down on yourself. Though I personally LOVE the song "Loser," I don't think it applies to you my dear.

I don't generally do resolutions either, but this year's goal is BALANCE. In my home/work life, and on the scales, baby.

Take care and here's to a great 2009!

Precie said...

Happy New Year, Merry!!!

I didn't achieve my goals this year either. But I'm making progress, at least in some areas.

Good luck with your resolutions!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Jersey,

I'm not sure what's keeping me from my nervous breakdown... though bloggy friends definitely help.

I hope you find your patience this year... if you do, can I buy some off of you? :-) Happy New year!

You too, Zoe!

Hi Mom in Scrubs,

Thanks for the pep talk, I need those once in a while. Good luck on finding balance. It's hard to do that, but lovely when you've figured it out (or so I hear).

Hey Precie,

I am wishing you a finished MS. and multiple offers of publication in 2009!!!

I'm trying to concentrate on the strides I've made rather than the ones I haven't hit yet... it's a journey after all, it's not just about the destination...

Happy New year!

Chris Eldin said...

Happy New Year!
I don't go by word count either. And Hemingway considered a good day to be 500 words. So, I think, ahem, that WE are in good company!!

As a side note, anybody have any idea how scary it is to look for a real job after having been home raising kids for more than eleven years? It’s positively frightening... and it makes editors and agents look far less ferocious
((I can absolutely identify with every. single. word. in your side note)

laughingwolf said...

happy new year to your and yours, merry :D

Realmcovet said...

I absolutely REFUSE to set New Year's Resolutions. They are my NEMESIS!!

I fail far less when I lower the bar, y'know??

Reach for the skies Merry. Anyone who used to sport "Desire" Docs with pride should totally be worth looking into, book-wise.

Well wishing on your endeavors. :)

Josephine Damian said...

I think of the word counters as "bean counters" - and wonder if they're just putting words down to make a daily quota.

More so, they don't seem to be thinking in terms of structure. When you outline/ break writing project into chunks, you set goals as well as keep the big picture in mind.

Didn't you also have a flood to deal with this year? NOTHING like house repairs/natural disaters to interfere with writing.

I've given myself a tentative, realistic deadline to finish the first draft of my screenplay and a later date to have it polished and sent out. I think realistic is the operative word, but I won't beat myself up if I don't quite make it.

Always thought your deadline to complete your novel was too short - too tight - even if everything had gone well, even if you did not have the demands of kids.

Might I suggest you jetison the one "responsibility" you don't really have to do - blogging - in order to make more time for wriring?

My year long blogging hiatus starts tomorrow. Yay! I can't stop taking care of my pets or my house in order to make writing a priority, but I can stop how much time I spend online and blogging looks like a good start.

Realmcovet said...

And Oh!!

I haven't had a freaking job in 12 years now. (One that doesn't pay in foot massages, homemade construction paper cards, or the occasional midnight blow job, at least.) I made a complete ASS of myself when I tried applying for a job at "Family Video" last year. I thought the interviewer was a fellow interviewee, so I sat there and carried on casual conversation with the guy for 5 minutes before I realized he wasn't hiring social lepers. I wanted to bury my head in that sand due to sheer humiliation.

So yeah, I FEEL YA!!!!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Chris,

Ah, I love Hemingway's thinking! I've tried a bunch of things, including timing myself and aiming for page counts and word counts... page counts isn't so bad - I would set ten pages a week, and on a tear I'd go over... but that was on my very first novel, which should never ever see the light of day, and I don't recall going back and changing/deleting whole pages and revising during the rough draft - my writing has evolved a bit over the years.

I love looking at what great writers have to say about the process and how they work - some of my favorites are by Steinbeck who said, "I am not a writer. I have been fooling myself and other people."

That still blows my mind. He wrote that in a letter while he was working on Grapes of Wrath and he thought Grapes was bad!!! He said the terrible thing was "...it's the best I can do."

I don't know why I love those quotes so much, maybe because if a genius like Steinbeck can have those deep doubts, then it's okay for a nitwit like me to have them and step past them :-)

Merry Monteleone said...

Thanks, Laughingwolf!

Same to you - I just stopped over at your blog and I looooove the squirrel pic... I'll be back over to peruse soon.

Thanks realmcovet,

I am wishing you the very best in 2009 and beyond... see, maybe that's what I need, a new pair of kick ass combat boots... probably not great for an office job but they'll definitely give me confidence :-)

Hey Josie,

Well, that is the thing - I go back and rewrite and tear out and redo, because I have an overall image of where my scene should be going... I think this is improvement, because sometimes the writing I'm getting rid of is fucking good, but it takes away from the motion of the scene, so it's out... Ha, Ha - I'm finally killing my darlings.... believe me, that was a long process for me.

I did have a flood this year, it was minor compared to a lot of people, but still pretty time consuming... and I know life is going to get even more hectic once I get a job - but I think too that it will be good for me, I'm really looking forward to having co workers again and, you know, getting a paycheck with my own name on it... I had my oldest when I was 24, I spent the year before that in College full time aiming for my fiction writing degree (which I didn't finish, I really wish I had) So I haven't had a full time job since I was 23!!! That's a long flippin time.

As far as quitting the blog - I will miss you, honestly, you're one of my favorite blog peeps because you're honest and I can always count on you to both share what you know and not pull any punches on what you think. I don't participate much at twitter, but I'll stop in just to see how you're doing. I am totally rooting for you and I hope you have all the success in the new year that life can give you, Josie!!!

As for me, I'll still be blogging. I know it's a time suck, and I might have to go down to almost never posting once I'm working, too... but it's my only writing circle. I've never been to a conference and don't get much time for a real world crit group... I like my writing circle on line - they're the only ones telling me I can do this and the only ones who understand me when I break into long winding diatribes about the 'process'... so I think I'll stick for a while.

Good luck, Josie! I'm rooting for you!

Erica Orloff said...

Hi Merry:
I usually write out a lot of resolutions. About half are career aspirations and half are "soul" aspirations, as in the care and feeding of my soul (and the souls of others). I had one goal to start a food pantry at a local church. That happened. I also have sustained a diaper drive there to give diapers to homeless women (food stamps don't cover diapers). I did some things I wanted to as far as charity . . . but that just means . . . what NEXT? What more? So I have to ponder that. As well as making time for ME, which was the point of my blog yesterday.

Anyway, my resolutions are complicated. :-)

Thanks for being my blogging buddy this year! HPPY NEW YEAR!

Kathleen said...

Happy New Year!

I can't go by daily word count either - not with working a full time job and having other responsibilities.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Erica,

You know, occasionally you fill me with awe. Really. No bullshit about it. I love that you not only talk about your social conscience, but act on it and I think it's amazing and fantastic that you raise your kids going to food pantries and helping out there - fantastic for them and for the world they will be gracing with their works.

I also did finish The Roofer, and I loved it - I really did. I don't say that lightly, I likely wouldn't have mentioned it at all if I wasn't so impressed.

And lastly, your posts this last year have been some of the best food for thought I could imagine... I still think it's creepy that you seem to be in my head so much, though :-)

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope it's fantastic for you - and I caaaan't wait to get my hands on Magickeepers. It looks awesome.

Hi Kathleen,

Happy New Year to you, too!

Yeah, the wordcount thing just doesn't work for me. I think the key is to find the means to keep yourself productive - so whatever works for you, goes... for me, the characters keep me going. I'm not a plotter - I know basically all the scenes I want to hit, but the characters kind of tell me or show me where it's going... so a lot of the time I keep working because it's fun - I really want to see what new surprises they have in store. (I'm weird, though).

pjd said...

Happy new year!

Tonight you actually get an extra leap second, which you can of course use for your WIP. Whenever anyone says "boy, I wish there was more than 24 hours in the day," just remind them of the leap second they had on December 31, 2008. They'll thank you for the reminder, let me assure you.

I missed nearly all my writing goals this year, but I did make some significant progress when you consider the differences between one year ago and today. And my career (day job) has made some huge strides.

Good luck with the job thing. Don't be afraid. Set yourself some high goals and go for it. A lot of SAHMs don't realize the transferrable skills they've developed in negotiation, patience, bullshit detection, project management, event management, procurement, customer service, bookkeeping... All valuable business skills.

Merry Monteleone said...

Happy New Year, Pete!!!!

Whenever anyone says "boy, I wish there was more than 24 hours in the day," just remind them of the leap second they had on December 31, 2008. They'll thank you for the reminder, let me assure you.

I don't know... I'm pretty sure they'd pelt me with produce ;-)

Thanks for the encouragement... actually, skill wise, I'm more well-versed than most moms in my position, because I've been doing freelance writing and kept up on the latest programs and applications - a lot of my non-writer counterparts who've been home with kids this long only use the computer for email and surfing...

So I'm not so much worried about how I'll do in a job as getting one in the first place with such a long time home and so little employment history on my resume... ah well, it'll work out, it might just take a while.

Colleen_Katana said...

Hey Merry! Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to you!

Lillie Ammann said...

Happy New Year and good luck reaching all your goals.