Monday, December 20, 2010

Things Come Together...

Currently, I'm reading (well, re-reading) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  As Onkonkwo's world was unraveling, I made an attempt to organize my own life by posting my "Eleven Things to Do Before 2011."

And what did I learn?  That as soon as you know, specifically, what you want to accomplish - it happens much faster.

A few hours after I posted my list of to-dos before the end of the year, my husband came home and told me he's stopped by the library on a whim just to pay off his $6 fines.  So, #6 was quickly scratched off my list.

Then, I sent an end-of-the-day email to my editor requesting electronic copies of all of my articles that went to print in 2010 for a few print publications (clippings are nice, but they fade).  She emailed me right back saying she'd have the files to me by the end of the day (note:  the list was long!).  And, furthermore, she delivered on her promise.  #1 is nearly complete, and it's the one I considered the most difficult.

Clearing the clutter and Backing up my files (#4 and #8, respectively) were a cinch and checked off over the weekend.

So, after a few thank you notes and expense reports get written up, I've only got the "fun stuff" left on my list to end out the year.  Thus, "Things Come Together" is how I plan to title the last chapter of my life in 2010. 

Oh, and if you've never read any of Achebe's works, I'd recommend adding one of his titles to your own to-do list!  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eleven To-Dos Before 2011

As the holiday nears, and reflections of 2010 race through my mind, I began making a "to do" list of things I forgot to do this year.  Hopefully, over the next two weeks, I can get enough done so that 2011 starts off on the top of a "done" pile.  I'd rather not spend January digging out from the previous year.  It's always best to start a New Year with, of course, something new.

So, I've decided to share my "Eleven To-Dos Before 2011."  My hope is that publishing it out there, on the web, will hold me more accountable for getting them done.  We writers know how easy it is to become distracted when there is no boss waggling a finger!  So, here is what I hope to do in the next two weeks:

1.  Compile clippings, hyperlinks, and PDFs of my published writing in 2010.  (I began doing this, but some are laying in a box on the shelf, not sorted, while other files are scattered on my computer).

2.  Finish adding up all of my work expenses for this year (e.g. find those ink cartridge receipts stashed away in a drawer).

3.  Send thank yous to my editors, clients, and writing/critique group members (note:  I'm allowing e-cards as a satisfactory fulfillment).

4.  Back up all of my files (although I do this regularly, I want to save them in a second place - just in case).

5.  Get a professional photo of me taken (although I love my avatars and casual pics with kids, an editor-friend of mine has finally convinced me to pose for the camera - watch out world!)

6.  Pay my husband's library fines.  (Ok, this doesn't have to do with my work, but indirectly it does!  Everyone knows me at the library because I'm always there, and as a writer.  Even though it's not my fault, I'm worried if the $6 he owes from not returning his books on time doesn't get paid soon, they'll hunt me down...)

7.  Get client testimonials.  (I get regular feedback, but I'd love to have more to work with - and it's always nice to hear how great your work is.  What a great way to end a year or start a new one!).

8.   Clear the clutter.  (Again).

9.  Review my list of "writing ideas" and cross off the ones I actually wrote in 2010!  Woo hoo! (although, there's a list as long as can be of more ideas...)

10.  Set a new goal or resolution for 2011.  (For 2010, my New Year's Resolution was to make writing more than a passionate hobby or occasional job.  27 clients, 12 publications, 1 conference, four writers groups, a 3rd place prize in a national contest, and several paychecks later, I'd say:  mission definitely accomplished.)

And last but not least...

11.  Take one ENTIRE DAY completely off.  No writing, typing, checking email, or reading anything but road signs or fridge magnets.  Why?  Oh, let me count the ways...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No, I did not win Nanowrimo this year

When the November 1st email hit my inbox reminding me about writing 50,000 words this month, my breath caught in my throat.

I scheduled vacation in November.

My daughter's school's largest fundraiser was in November.

Add in my birthday (the last one before I'm officially old, my four-year-old says), Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping, and steady assignments from my editors and clients, it was bound to happen:

I didn't win Nanowrimo this year.

For those of you who might not be writers or just don't know what I'm talking about, Nanowrimo is a yearly motivational project where authors all over the world take 30 days to type a novel of 50,000 words or more.  The idea is that collectively, we all suffer together, and provide support.  Anyone who writes 50,000 words in the time frame wins.  And I lost.

Lesson learned:  What sounds like a good idea in March might be a terrible one eight months later.

As much as I am a person who hates not finishing what I start, I realized something else at the end of November.  My vacation was worth way more than a badge on my blog saying I won Nano this year.  There's always next year for that.  But who knows when I would have found $200 tickets to Saint Martin again?  :)
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