Thursday, November 11, 2010

Have you forgotten your Achievements?

One of the things I talk about frequently is setting goals for myself, and whether or not I meet them.

People think I'm organized because I do this, but my Mom knows better.  I love my spreadsheets, I like being able to track my work, and I actually kinda like making to-do lists. 

My problem, as I've addressed many times, is one that I believe I share with a lot of writers.  It's a specific kind of time management issue.

"Of course I can…"

In my attempts to pare down my email to a manageable amount of e-to-dos, I went through a good 20+ FundsforWriters newsletters.  There were two themes that the brilliant C. Hope Clark addressed in her opening comments.  One is something I have little patience for: People asking for handouts and who refuse to educate themselves.  We are so lucky, blessed, fortunate to live in a day and age where we can sit at home and learn!  I have a ton of books on writing, the business of writing, markets, etc.  And now I can just hop on Google and get even more information.  FOR FREE!  So, I have no patience for people who can't be bothered to help themselves.  In fact, they make agents and editors grumpy and, therefore, indirectly make my life and the lives of people I care about more difficult.  They can go suck it.  They don't deserve publication. (That's my opinion, not Clark's.)

Believe it or not, that's only a small digression.

The other kind of people Clark addresses are those of us who are constantly doing more than we are physically capable of.  Or, at least trying to.  (And occasionally succeeding beyond the laws of physics.)  People like us will spend hours reading these free articles online to better our craft, to discover markets… and we want to contribute to them and help others out!  Not only that, there's often a chance to get paid - and therefore validate all the time we spent.

In fact, people like us often have guilty consciences and are experts at rationalizing.  "I need to give back…"  "I need to find even more paying work so I don't feel bad about making less than my spouse/significant other…"  "I can become a better writer by trying this market…"  "Doing a 'quick' fun project like this is good for the soul!"  "This publication will look great on my résumé/cover letter/query letter…"

We're over achievers.  And damnit, we're good at it!  I can look back on weeks where I had multiple articles due, a convention scheduled, and I got dinner on the table for my Husband-of-Awesome - and one of those dinners could have been on the cover of Gourmet!  Ok… maybe I crashed and burned for the following day or so and couldn't get out of bed… but look what I did! 

Of course I can do it again!

Because we also aren't always that good at enjoying that moment of accomplishment.  (Unless we're in the throes of writing - then we're so deep in the moment you may need to physically shake us to ensure we'll leave a burning house.)  When it comes stuff we must do, we accomplish a task and move on.  That's all fine and well to meet goals, get published, finish a project… but when you've got an imagination as big as most writers have and, like most writers, set goals that only a very few human beings may ever reach (who, of course, only met those goals on the way to their own super-big secret goals) … you can see where this is going, I hope?

Tonight I posted a happy squee on Facebook about a great review on a short story that Christy and I really worked our arses of to do.  I threw it around most of my social networking links and then some! 

And then I went back to fretting my email down to < 100, getting 2 submissions out (because I didn't do one yesterday), and "crap I forgot my blog post!" and "I still haven't gotten to the Broad Universe web pages or the Bay State Equine Rescue web articles, God-I'm-an-awful-person-because-people-are-depending-on-me!"  Oh, and there's those two short stories and one poem that have been nagging me to get them written for quite some time…


You know what I did today?  I'm telling you because I need to stop and appreciate it.  (And I bet that a bunch of you need to do this for your days, too!)
I finally caught up with a neighbor that's been a friend to the Wooldridge family long before I was a part of it.  He's going to be 92 tomorrow and his wife recently broke her hip, but is ok, just on a cane.
I sat down with my webmistress for some long-overdue updates.
I wrote about 1500 words on my WIP over lunch at my favorite deli - eating healthy.
I had lunch with my Mother-in-Law who really needed some companionship.
I loaded several wheelbarrows of wood to the front porch. (Raah! Feel my muscles!)
I did necessary housework: dishes, cat-tending, fire-tending
I helped half a dozen students with their work, and a few tutors with theirs.
I made a yummy dinner.
I not only got my email down to < 100 inbox letters, but <75. (From 170 beginning of my day… or more!)
I finalized a whole lot of stuff for the Broad Pod.
I started organizing 2 Rapid Fire Readings.
AND I promoted a pretty fabulous review that I'm really proud of… which I'll even post below this because, really, it's a great compliment to the work Christy and I did.

And you know what, that's a fucking lot of stuff!  About half of it I did without thinking of the time/effort, and more than half wasn't even on my to-do list.

Am I still conflicted about the stuff that I didn't do?  Well, yes, but I have a feeling that that will be a constant state for all my life.  That line of contentment I will always get closer to with the more I accomplish, but will never ever touch. 

And, in my mind that can argue anything, I'm further conflicted in knowing that, "Shit, yeah, I can get a lot more done than most people in a day," and learning where to stop myself so I can not let anyone down when I overbook myself not just beyond a normal-person's ability, but my own capabilities.

One thing I can change, though, is the negativity and the uselessness of only doting on what I didn’t accomplish.  I can also continue to approach that horizon of knowing how much I can schedule for myself successfully. 

Just like I have no patience for people who can't be bothered to educate themselves, I also get irritated by people who will only see the negative.  If you fail, turn it into a lesson.  Make use of it.

And for goodness sake, give yourself credit! 

And you, dear readers, what are some of the things you fail to give yourself proper credit to??  :)  Please share in the comments!


And here is me being proud of Chrisy's and my accomplishment - and the collective accomplishment of all the authors and editors from BAF3: In All Their Glory. 


It isn't until "The Last Gate to Faerie" by Trisha Woodridge and Christy Tohara that we start to see real bad-asses and tight writing. This is one of the few stories in the anthology in which the character’s emotions are palpable and the stakes vivid and real.

Nancy is a mortal female trapped in Faerie, which has been decimated by nuclear fallout. She’s trying to get back to Worcester, Massachusetts, and her fae husband and baby, but the gates keep closing. And Nea’Kal, the faerie overlord hell bent on revenge, is not about to let her get away.

“Their toxic world had only slowed their damned breeding. Humanity gave nothing to Earth save wars and pollution. Poisoned. They poisoned the Earth, her children. Poisoned him. They needed to be exterminated.”

Ms. Woodbridge and Ms. Tohara succeed in capturing
Nancy’s desperation as she and the half-breed pixies, trolls, Sidhe and even a purple haired squirrel spirit try and help. And the villain, Kal, is well-drawn, providing him with ample motivation for his ruthless pursuit.

Full review on:


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