A Mess of Small Goals

2014-(white)TheHandandtheTempestTitle&Progress2

Man did April blow up in my face.

If you follow this blog, you’ll know I had an incredibly clean, specific plan for April. A plan that started with a content edit of War of Exiles, the book I’ve been working on since 2005 through various phases of my writing career. A plan that was so clean and so simple that I should never, ever have expected it to go smoothly.

Because, hey, we’re writers, right? Writing comes first… until work and life come first. Without getting into it, I had a family crisis that thankfully resolved itself, but before I knew that, I was preparing to move and resigning myself to fail at paying my mother’s debts like I promised I would a year ago. No big. No problem. Just an epic personal failure and a disruption of my life plans.

Of course, the crisis being a dud was nice, but the effect is, I’m starting the content edit for War of Exiles way later than intended.

The odd thing about it is how incredibly guilty I feel. I’ve already opened up a lot more than I usually do with my posts, so I’ll keep leveling with you here; I feel like a lazy scumbag because I haven’t started the edit yet… despite having perfectly good reasons. The reasons being the crisis, the fallout (compiling and sending a bunch of story files from my ancient iMac to myself because that’s Writer Priorities right there), the second fallout (trying to catch up on work hours I missed because of the first fallout) and maybe a matinee of The Winter Soldier somewhere in there (shut up—it was essential).

The thing is though, those were perfectly legitimate reasons… to not write. So why am I beating myself up about it? As my friend and fellow writer, Justine Manzano, put it in an email, “I love how you say you weren’t diligent enough because you were working.”

And why is that, when I clearly see how unrealistic that guilt is, my reaction is still a distracted grunt and, “Damnest thing… You write today, btw?”

I really don’t have an answer for this one; this is absolutely not one of my workshoppy, peer-counsel posts.

All I can say is, I’m… actually glad that I reacted to that guilt… with pressure.

Is that horrible? I have no idea. But regardless, I’m making absolutely no effort to change that writing pressure reflex, even though it sucks. Because, to put it into the most mature terms I can think of, every writer… wants to be that Lvl. 99 Master of the Iron Quill. I used to be completely incapable of writing anything if there was any noise in the room… until I forced myself to work through the cars blasting music outside and the party going on upstairs. That’s Lvl. 5 nonsense of course, but the point is, if I ever trip, I should hit the floor with red correction pencil and the final page of a manuscript in hand.

And, as obviously unrealistic as that is, it’s always better to strive for that than shrugging and thinking, “Meh. I’ll get to it next week,” isn’t it? Or do I have this all wrong? This is the profession where you compound super unhealthy mannerisms like staying inside and shunning the real world with totally unrealistic personal standards, isn’t it? Phew. Thought I was in the wrong place for a minute.

At any rate though, through a mess of small goals, I’m finally ready to start the content edit of War of Exiles (the Project Progress Bar at the top right of the page has already been changed—that’s commitment).

To summarize, I finished March with a solid short story outline for The Hand and the Tempest with lots of extra plot details and a much looser novella outline I’m planning to expand on after the content edit of War of Exiles is done. Of course, I have to own up and say that March wasn’t as productive as I was hoping and, as it always goes with writing, I wasn’t able to finish a large project in the tiny, unrealistic window I gave myself. But I promise to continue striving for “Still not good enough.” : )

~~~

I will be busy with the novel, but I’ll keep taking time out for posts (and I promise I’ll get back to the usual, workshop content in the weeks to come). Although not necessarily in this order, another Games for Writers is coming up along with a post about compiling old notes (because, seriously, all of us with the notebooks and the sticky notes everywhere, amirite?). There may even be a third issue of Red Comics, that web comic I put together whenever I seriously, seriously want to procrastinate.

So maybe pass by again or subscribe. But no matter what you do, thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “A Mess of Small Goals

  1. I gots me a mention! LOL

    I want you to know, you had me at “…every writer… wants to be that Lvl. 99 Master of the Iron Quill.” Because it is so damn true (and also, fantastically awesome)! We bust our asses for that recognition. I said what I said, but the truth is, you have to put some pressure on yourself. Writing is not an easy career. You do not have a boss shouting at you about that deadline or co-workers who try to stab you in the back for their piece of your bonus. You have to be all of those things for yourself. And the minute you start getting lax, you just stop writing.

    So, if this is the life you’re going to choose to live for yourself, I think it’s better to be the guy who beats himself up over missed deadlines than the guy who finds time to do everything but write. Because that second guy can’t get anything completed, but people like you and me who set the goals – they’ll have that finished product in their hands one day. ;)

    1. Thanks for the comment : ) And especially for the confirmation that I wasn’t just being incredibly hard on myself. Or, well, I was, but that’s basic writercraft right there. : ) We are supposed to let that guilt soak right into our pores, aren’t we? : ) I kid, but I also leveled up today and finally managed some writing while working. And man does that sound professional or what? : D I promise I wasn’t slacking on either front–really–but it was another challenge I’d set for myself and finally met today. And I couldn’t have done it without the weird, constant drive to hone one’s craft that writers literally live on.

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