Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008: Goals for Me

As 2008 kicks off today, it's probably a good idea to get my goals for the year posted. Gets things started on the right note. I tend to have one-word goals for each year that aim at encapsulating the essence of my longer-winded ones. For 2007, the word was "focus." I promptly forgot about this noble idea during the first month of the year, but, looking back, I somehow kept that word with me. I did manage to focus on improving myself and my writing by actually getting to and trying to correct the stuff that was keeping me scatterbrained and three steps behind.

That being said, I came nowhere near to meeting the goals I actually detailed for the year. For the sake of my mental well-being--and to keep from derailing this post into a pat on the back for all that I did accomplish in 2007--I'm not going to analyze those specific goals and rate my success and failure.

So, onward to what I plan to accomplish in 2008, with my one-word theme being "open-minded."

Mark and I are both on a health kick to lose some of our excess weight and tone up the flab. We have been inspired by our svelt and spry son who isn't going to take kindly to our wheezing and moaning when he wants to run and climb and hike and swim and bike and whatever fool activity he takes a shine to. I've managed to find about 2-3 mornings every week (though the holidays derailed it recently) when I could do a Denise Austin workout from the always replenished 5 episode stash in my DVR. Drew has enjoyed working out along side me or simply watching the way I contort myself. Mark is going to get back into running. And we're both cutting out the junk food snacks as much as possible (with the exception of those holiday candies and cookies that are still hanging around, calling to us with their delicious caloric content).

If I can lose 10 pounds, great. If I can get the flab to stop dripping over my C-section scar, sweet. If all I manage is to do the workouts more often than not, I'll be happy with that. Spare time is a bit too precious a commodity at the moment to guilt myself into running myself ragged with demanding diet and exercise regimens. Once Drew is a little older, maybe.

As for the mental health, I managed to obsess my way into a breakthrough. That is, I got all hot and bothered about something for a month or so and really drove myself and Mark nuts about it. Then I sat down and forced myself to figure out why I was obsessing, the real deep-seeded reason. Figuring that out made the obsession laughable and dismissable and cleared away much of the other looniness I decided to exhibit in the months before. (Also, there might have been some interesting hormonal shenanigans involved; women's health, ain't it grand?) Since then, I've felt like a new person, being mostly sane or at least fully aware of the bits of me that aren't and able to deal accordingly. My goal here to just keep this trend going.

This is the year for potty-training the Drew Monster. And watching his speech patterns closely to figure out if he's going to be a late talker or if he might need assistance with that whole talking thing. Also, I want to find better ways to keep him occupied during my work hours.

I read at least 35 books this year. (I didn't think to start tracking them until June, so I had to rely on a spotty memory of the early part of the year to count what I read before June.) I'd like to read at least that many next year, though I'm not going to push myself to do it. Most of my reading time depends on whether the Drew Monster is keen on letting me bury my nose in a book while he plays. He very understandably doesn't care to let me do this but once or twice a month, particularly as he already has to play without me while I'm home working.

I'm glad I started tracking my book totals and my impressions of the books I read. It's just a simple spiral-bound notebook with quick little half-pages about what I think worked or didn't work and why. But, as I discovered with notebooking for my writing process, it does keep things better organized in my mind and cement some details that are worth noting for my own writing improvement. And it allows me to confidently report this:

Best 3 Reads of 2007 (in no particular order): Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg, Survival by Julie Czerneda, and Territory by Emma Bull.

Most Interesting Reading Discovery of 2007: There is a publishing house that consistently disappoints me, no matter the line/genre. Of the dozen books of theirs I've read over the past couple of years, I've only really enjoyed 2, thought 4 were flawed but mostly OK, and wanted to write "what were you thinking" letters to the authors, agents, and editors regarding the remaining 6.

Books in my To Be Read Pile That I Will Definitely, Absolutely, No Excuses Read in 2008: Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, Maelstrom by Peter Watts, Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein, Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman, and Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya by Dick Teresi. I hope to read more than that, but I always end up adding to my TBR pile and picking the new and shiny or developing odd quirks in what I want to read at any given moment, so I think 6 is a good goal. (This is sad, given that I have over 80 books to go through in the pile.)

Now we come to the real heart of the goals. I really do want to finish a book this year, but I'm hesitant to make a push for it and list it as a concrete goal. Why? Because I've never met this goal since I finished Human Dignity several years ago. It's starting to get me twitchy and depressed. Having said that, though, I think I've figured out enough of my process and ticks that I can finish a draft of THUMB by the end of the year. I think I can also finish revisions, too, but I don't want to jinx myself. At any rate, that's going to be the book I focus on finishing this year.

Unless, of course, I sell PPR and the editor loves it so much that she requests the other 4-5 stories I've got on tap for that universe and/or expresses interest in that odd zombie romance that's brewing. Then I'll have to sit down and examine my time and my goals and figure out how much I can give to The Pseudonym without derailing my science fiction and fantasy. Wouldn't that be an interesting pickle?

Seriously, all of my writing goals beyond finishing a draft of THUMB have to wait until I hear back about PPR in February. Because I don't want to work on any assumptions there, and there are several different ways it could pan out to impact my writing. So I'm going to post my actual, official goals sometime in February. That being said, there's a science fiction short (total word count could go as high as 20K) that I've been kicking around for a while and really want to write as it's a fun, unique idea and I think very saleable to several excellent SF markets. I would like to get that done and submitted somewhere by the end of the year.

And, no matter what happens with PPR in February, I can state one very concrete and acheivable goal. I want to continue the process examination and keep applying what I learn about myself from that. I hope that by the end of the year, I'll know even more about how I write that I can craft goals and establish a more disciplined routine in 2009 to increase my writing output without sacrifcing quality.

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