Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Resolutions Past and Present (Stephanie Kuehnert)

In 2010, I made the really lofty goal/resolution to write two books or at least finish one and have a solid start on the other.... This ended badly. 2010 was an incredibly stressful year. It was one thing after the next and I'd never had bigger doubts about my career. I'd spent the previous two years promoting my books and not writing nearly enough. I couldn't seem to find balance and enough time to write, but worst of all my writing didn't feel good. I was convinced I'd lost my mojo, especially when my book derailed roughly 3/4ths of the way because it was way too big and I had way too many loose ends to tie up.

In 2011, I had one goal: be less miserable and stressed than I was in 2010. I also really wanted to finish that damn book. Two out of three ain't bad. I finished the damn book (and found a way to turn my misery into inspiration for further writing as I discuss on Nova Ren Suma's blog here) and I was less miserable even though I wasn't less stressed. Weird combo, I know. 2011 was still a really tough year personally (a lot of loved ones going through hard times) and professionally, but for the most part, I kept my head above water.... Except for August and September. I was kind of a wreck during August and September when it all came to a head, but I had good friends to lean on, and that I've learned, is key. Also, the professional stuff, though it was stressful, it wasn't awful. I went through an agent search this year, which while difficult, ended with me signing with the person I think is a great match for me and my books. She gave me the final push I needed to get my book submission worthy. I also took on the added professional responsibilities of teaching a YA Fiction class and writing for ROOKIE, an online magazine for teenage girls. ROOKIE is pretty much as big of a dream as getting my novels published and the students in my class have been amazing, so despite the extra workload, which has cut into my book-writing time (something that generally makes me severely cranky) and made my social life completely non-existent, I've kept my spirits up.

After I (finally!) finished the first book I started in 2010, I went back to examine the other book I'd been planning to write back then, which is dangerous new territory for me: magical realism or as I'm calling it The Modern Myth YA. I spent a lot of the summer and then most of NaNoWriMo grappling with it (as explained in this blog) before finally finding my footing on a writing retreat after Thanksgiving (as explained with pretty pictures in this blog). Of course I came home from the retreat to a pile of freelance and teaching work, which I only just unburied myself from late last night. This morning I tried to write, but struggled. I have a friend visiting from Asia for the month. She's one of my oldest and dearest friends and since she mostly lives abroad now, I rarely see her. I'm not honestly sure how much writing I'll get done over the next couple of weeks because a few years ago after losing three friends to sudden illnesses and accidents in quick succession (a thing you really don't expect in your late 20s/early 30s), I made a life resolution to put people before work and this fall I haven't really kept to that. So I'm going to for the next couple of weeks and that's fine, right? (Yeah, I need reassurance on these things because I really am kind of a workaholic.)

It may not be until January that I get back into serious writing mode, which brings me to a new year and the perfect time to set new goals and resolutions. My main resolution is the same as last year: I would like 2012 to be better that 2011 was. To achieve that goal I would like to:

1. Find balance between my book writing, my freelance work and other jobs, the business/promo side of writing (ie. blogs, social networking, and email), and my social life, but since this has been a goal since 2008, just as important is...

2. Not beating myself up when I can't find that balance. With all the jobs I have both because I adore them and need them all to make ends meet to do this writing thang, my daily life is akin to that of a juggling tightrope walker. I need to get used to that and not panic when one of the balls falls because as long as I'm still on the tightrope it's all good. Or maybe I need to come to terms with that fact that for me balance means doing things in chunks, having a week that is writing, a week that is doing my other jobs, a week that is socializing, or something. Though....

3. I really would like to find a routine where I write at least 5 days a week even if it is only for a couple of hours. Finding a way to put that first on a more regular basis would definitely help 2012 surpass 2011.

4. I also need to beat myself up less/worry less about how good my writing is or about things I can't control like that book I spent so long on being out on sub now and *gulp* who knows if it will sell and if it doesn't who knows what that will mean for me... <--- Yes, those thoughts must end. I've struggled my way through three books, I can make it through a fourth.

5. And *spoken very quietly* I really would like to get through that book this year. I've come to terms with the fact (or I'm trying at least!) that I'm a slower writer than some of my peers. I'm going to have to work my way into this book, then I'll speed race for a while until I hit that point where I feel like it sucks and it will never work. I'll get all angsty over that for a while, but I will figure it out. Then I will finish. And revise. And finish. And revise at least one more time before it is good enough to go out on submission. There is nothing wrong with that taking all of 2012. Sure, ideally it would be awesome to finish by the beginning of October so I get a new project prepped to do NaNoWriMo the way I want to do it next year, but I don't want to make my goals so lofty that 2012 is a repeat of 2010. I am very wary of even numbers after all. So, one year, one book--a book that I'm roughly 40 pages into and have a relatively solid idea about where it is going (um other than some murky stuff in the middle)--hopefully it will be doable. I haven't blocked out specific deadlines for myself yet because it's too early to do so, though first 100 pages done by the end of January would be awesome.

But above all, my goal is to just write (I'm totally on board with our new YAOTL blogger Anna's post from yesterday!), be kinder to myself, make the effort to spend as much time with my loved ones, and remain hopeful that things will continue to improve. Those are my resolutions for 2012 and also life in general. What are yours?

3 comments:

  1. Love this post, Steph! Balance is as important as it is difficult to achieve. And why is it easier to be kind to others than to ourselves? I wish I knew.

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  2. I know what you mean about being kind to yourself. I try to give myself credit for whatever I've accomplished that day writing. Some days, it's easy to feel good about what I've done because I've drafted so much new material. Other days, I don't get much on the page. But if I've figured out a plot problem or come to some conclusions about characters, that can be every bit as important--maybe even MORE important--than ten new pages. Here's to two fantastic writing hours each day in '12!

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  3. "my goal is to just write ... be kinder to myself, make the effort to spend as much time with my loved ones, and remain hopeful ..."

    These work for me, too!

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