Cow Tipping and Goal Setting

The cow got tipped.  Anxiety and the fear of becoming invisible (in a bad way) kept the aspiring writer from full-heartedly pursuing the end-all-be-all business plan.  Finding and fulfilling new roles (when the career that was your mission and purpose for so long has been set aside) is enough of a challenge.  I let myself off the hook and took up gardening as I eased into the daily writing routines.  You – who chase dreams outright or in your head and heart – please excuse the the lengthy absence as the cow picks itself up, dusts itself off, and begins striving once again to interrupt a mere fraction of your day to enlighten, entertain, or poke at status quo.

The Writer’s Business Plan.

Nixed except for some basic goals for the first year.  Outlining methods, to include a marketing plan and platform will be renewed when there’s something of substance to get pushy about.  Suffice to say there was a wealth of information on the basic “how to” provided online.  My favorites are listed here for those that would like to begin work on their own.

There were a plethora of books, too many to list.  Check into it for yourself if you’re on a mission.

The Writer’s Goals.

Keep in mind that a goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream.  Here are the modified goals (having tried on several for size and pitched them when they became stifling or a source of negative self talk) for this baby-writer.

1. I will write every day in my Scrivener created Writer’s Journal, using it as a taskmaster and single place to ensure this happens.  Each entry will follow no particular rules as to genre (creative writing, journaling, observations, thought, ideas) but will be purposed toward a single mission – to find a voice that best suites my writing.

2. I will read no less than 80 books in 2015, with a near even mix of non-fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional Indie or unconventional read.

3. I will explore memberships in professional writer associations (SFWA, PNWA, etc) in addition to SCBWI membership and develop a plan for membership into those organizations which best suit me by the end of 2015.

4. Based on finding my voice, and landing on a few projects that I can stay committed to, I will develop project goals and plans for submission and publication no later than June 2015.

That’s it.  Enough said.  Now we can commence with the grazing of new books, writing resources and practices, the romance of writing, and the overall beauty of the pastures.

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Sighting

They were shapely when they first appeared,
spry and plump with meaning, swift in flow,
sniffing at my eyelids, primed to go.
I stopped moving, still, as each one neared.
Hoped to lure their wild before they feared.
Flanking them in ink, but moving slow,
freshly fallen idea flakes of snow
sprinkled me with shivers as I peered.
Witness to a miracle each time
words caress my head and spring my thought.
Bounding lines, the speeding of my heart,
playing into pens of perfect rhyme.
Form and verse exploring, nearly caught,
out of nowhere, prancing herd of art.

The Business of a Mission

A writer who wants to be published needs a business plan.  I’ve been pondering “next steps” as I work to wrap up my 18 year career in the next two weeks and transition to the next career of full-time writing.  That’s actually a sentence laced with hefty meaning and depth, because my career thus far has not been the average eight or ten hour-a-day J-O-B.  It’s been a mission.  A rewarding CAUSE – with the added benefit of a paycheck.

I’m not leaving my job because I dislike it.  I’m not leaving my job because writing is more important.  On the contrary – writing books is absolutely overshadowed by the importance and impact of my current position.  So, why am I leaving my job to write?

A more apropos question is: “Why are you leaving your job and becoming a writer?”  I’m leaving my job for the following reasons.

  1. It’s emotionally and mentally fatiguing and I’m losing stamina.  In many careers that wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Experience trumps speed in many cases because it often results in a more accurate and quality product or outcome.  So even the most energetic and speedy folks need experienced co-workers or leaders they can seek with questions, advice, or to study the differences between “shiny” and “speedy.”  Youthwork, however, requires energy that lasts.
  2. I have reached a peak.  I feel like my contributions thus far have made a difference, will continue to make a difference, and any more I have to give would perhaps feel like punching the clock rather than changing the world.
  3. I’m away from my partner – my “One,” and although the plan to work this far away for a time was a mutual decision, the time has come and we want to be HOME.
  4. God has put me in a position (with laser accuracy as usual) where I have a supportive spouse, am relatively debt free, and we can financially meet our needs while living in a community that fosters writing and the arts.  It’s like He’s offering me that trip to Disneyland and all I have to do is put on my Mickey ears.
  5. Finally, I have confidence that others will be able, not only to carry my piece of the mission forward as well or better than I , and moreover they will carry it further, at this point, than I could manage.  That gives me cause for celebration.

I’m becoming a writer because I can finally enter into this new endeavor without the pressure of wanting to “leave my mark.”  I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to meaningful ventures.  Now, just knowing that I’ve been blessed to be able to make a difference thus far, I’m off the hook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to write meaningful things, but if I’m not the best at it for a very long time, I’ll be happy and content to just work on my craft daily, and strengthen my skills.

What does all this have to do with a business plan?  As I pondered my motives for writing in the coming years, I still waver between refining my craft and breaking all kinds of records for how quickly I can get published (traditionally) and start selling books.  It’s habit.  I regress to what I’ve always known – if you don’t know what to do next, just pick what needs done AND DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.  I’m not a competitor at the expense of others.  But I’ve always relied on that edge to feel good at the end of the day/week/month about what I’ve accomplished.

Writing is going to be another thing entirely, and if I’m going to accomplish anything (refining or otherwise) I need to keep my head in the right place.  So I need a business plan, a set of goals, to stay focused on what it is I’m doing while “successfully unemployed” during the next two years.  So if you, like me, are a newly reborn writer and want to expand or clarify what it is you’re actually moving toward … if you ever ask yourself, “what the heck am I doing?” … stick around as I explore how to form a business plan when your first, most immediate goal isn’t profit.

I Do

Amor de Palabra Word Love

You touch me like none other.  You share the deepest secrets and engage me – draw me in and wrap around me.  I am swallowed and willingly, I submit.  You make me strive for a stronger, wiser me and, as you speak luxurious language into my soul, I want to kiss you.  I touch your pages with my lips, and swirl my tongue in your cavernous complexities.  You sip my insecurities and I am fool enough to trust your power.  My eyes trace your outlines as your stories tickle my mind.  Laughter.  My skin tingles.  You whisper mysteries down my spine.  Together we probe the meaning of life and love.  Our shared experiences laid bare, you crack me open more fully and pull mysteries from that place I never knew existed.    I let you reach that question inside of me; we dive into the unknown and surface over and over again.  When all is said and done, you betray me.

Those opening lines, our first paragraphs and pages as an item, we held so much promise.  I was attentive; I was there for you.  But you grew more tame and the passionate point and direction, while still there, is now mottled and muffled.  You changed and became something different from my original intent.  I try, with a word here and a sentence there, to revive the initial lofty image.  You grabbed me, sweet concept, and you tousled my hair with your  worthy story craft.  Then you left me altogether and sent your doppelgänger to finish me off.  But there is something you did not consider, dear words on the page.

As our affair grew hazy I fell out of love with you.  And the delicate pages that resulted, a labor of love finished (albeit less lofty than intended), have now charmed me into matrimony.
—————–

This flash fiction was inspired by a wonderful work on writing by Annie Dillard.

“The page is jealous and tyrannical.  The page is made of time and matter.  The page always wins.”  Annie Dillard, “The Writing Life

Flow Engaged

Cotton Candy

There’s a swish and I’m disengaged.  It’s that moment between wakefulness and sleep, when I can still hear the crickets or the podcast, but I don’t feel the rest of my body.  That moment when my inner self tells me, demands me to rest.  I rarely listen.  I fight my own parts, surreal and tangible, and instead grope at one last thing.  I work all day and tend to chores and “have to” items when I get home.  What ever happened to that swirled fabric of space/time, wrapped around us like cotton-candy, that we used to call “free time?”

In my aged writing state, there’s a different sort of existence that happens nearly every day.  It comes when the ocean of fatigue begins to swallow me, and I fight tooth and nail, to regain the surface.  That one-more-thing is waiting, I know it, like an inflated raft marked “good book,” or a piece of driftwood known as “write something.”  It would feel so good to just let the waters have me, yet I want just one more thing in my head, or out of it.

It’s at these times that, if I’m smart and lucky, I can write like a pro.  There’s enough energy to hold real still and let my fingers do the talking, as my creative energy flows to the keyboard without the daily grind inhibitors or the analysis corruption that happen when I’m fully awake.  That’s when flow occurs for me.  It’s not good for my heart health, but perhaps it’s less harmful than cigarettes.

Time to Write

To open my mac now, with the sounds of playing children and laughing families mingling with the smells of barbecue and wood burning stoves … all of it wafting through my window, well it feels so weird.  “Time to write” – what a foreign concept.

Continue reading

Poetry versus Prose (Act One)

I can throw my thought pieces on the page, shuffle and shift them, rap them out like Tupak, or shape them like a slam – and I’m done.  Then it becomes the reader who must make something out of them.  If I’m skillful enough, the reader wants to make the effort.  If not, they skip or delete.  For me, that’s poetry.

When I write in sentences, I have to think harder.  Continue reading