Monday, May 23, 2011

Crossroads, Forks and Detours: Goals Reevaluated

I'm approaching another end of a quarter and am reevaluating my priorities. I do so every 3 months. I've decided to work up a mini-fix for the month of June because this quarter has been a wild one. I'm only 2 months into the quarter and it feels like it has lasted 6 months! I must step back and regroup so I can strengthen my focus. Basically, I'm de-cluttering my mind of useless stuff so I can tackle the important events coming up this month.

This quarter I started strong with an R&R out the door and the rest of the story to revise. It's been about 2 months since I sent the R&R out and I am in "wait mode." So much of this business is about waiting and being patient, but while writers wait we must do only one thing: write some more. So I finished the rest of the revision, sent it off to my CP, and tackled her critique 3 chapters at a time. I have three more chapters to go and I'm finished this round. That's on the table for the first part of this week.

While I revised this book, I entered another contest (which still requires an entry LOL), learned I finaled in the Fab Five, and attended a great workshop. I returned home in mid-April ready to work my tail off. Then the first detour in my road occurred. Sick kid. Mono. She's been home for about a month and a half now. I've got to admit, it's put a cramp in my writing style. You see, I am a bit spoiled. She's a teenager who drives so I was used to the days being mine to do my work. I had to work around her doctor appointments, caring for her, organizing school work, and canceling a lot of her "life" till she got well.

But as Nora Roberts says, glass balls are more important than rubber ones. My daughter's health, my daughter period, is glass. Fragile, precious glass I cherish. Writing will always come second to my child. Always. She needed me. I was there for her. I still am. I managed to revise a bit more, but a week after my child's diagnosis, the skies opened up and all he!! broke loose in Alabama. 28 tornadoes in 1 day. The most terrifying day ever. I don't think I'll ever forget the sirens, the dark skies, the sudden pop above my head after an eerie silence, or the complete sense of helplessness.

We were lucky. We didn't suffer any damage or injuries and I'm so grateful. But my writing did suffer a setback. Not just because of the time lost, but because my heart was aching. I was sore. Sad. I just wanted to reconnect with my friends. Talk. Sleep. Be still. Pray. And so I did. I gave myself permission to take a bit of a break.

I took a look at the crossroad in front of me and went left instead of right. I enjoyed the journey. I played with a new story idea, came up with plot points, index cards, and just had fun. I ignored the revision for a bit. And that was great. I reevaluated my future writing projects. I relaxed. Well, I relaxed for me. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a "relaxed" kind of gal. In the midst of all of this there was still the sick kid, still the doctor visits, still the desire to create, still the household to keep up, still the new diet to cook dozens of meals for......... and so the relaxation was more of a pit stop here and there punctuated with bursts of work.

Of course, my part of my idea of relaxing was to take a break from revisions and plan a new story. In the midst of story boarding my next novel, I managed to snag a couple of great editor and agent appointments at the RWA National Conference. Usually Nationals are in July, but this year the conference is June 28-July 2. I have very little time to prepare for it because of, oh, the above paragraphs. But that's okay. I can pull it off. I plan on pulling this off after I finish the first draft of my next book, and after I tour two more colleges with my darling teen (who is slowly mending despite another minor health setback).

See, this post is just a rambling thing about LIFE. Life is happening. All The Time. And somehow, we writers, we must continue to write despite the many distractions. And the only way I know how to do that is to have a plan. A map. Of course, the map can't prepare us for every detour and crossroad that comes our way, but it can give us a place to refer to when we get a little lost. And sometimes a new map needs to take the place of the old map.

That is what I am doing this week. I'm gearing up to make a new road map. I'm reevaluating my goals, my priorities, my ongoing "to-do" list.

How often do you reevaluate your goals? Do you tweak them regularly or only change them once a year?


Sharon Wray said...

I used to keep plan and lists, but distractions became the norm instead of the occasional. Now I just write when I can using my laptop, my journal, my phone's recorder, or my Alphasmart. I always have one of those three things with me. You never know when an idea will strike, and for me it's almost always while I'm driving.
I hope your daughter gets better soon!

Anne Gallagher said...

Going through everything you've had on your plate, it's a wonder you just didn't lay down and take a long nap. So kudo's to you!

I used to map everything. Short range goals, long range and everything in between. Now I'm sort of flying by the seat of my pants. Like you, my daughter is sick again, and that just throws everything out of whack.

I'm still waiting for partials to hopefully turn into fulls, and that involves patience, which I'm slowly running out of. (Will divulge a secret on my blog on Friday.) So I can't really go forward until they come back one way or the other.

I know what the end goal is supposed to be -- published -- and I'm not sure how to get there exactly anymore. My map is lost. So I'm just going to take a left hand turn and see where it leads. You know.

Hope your daughter gets better. Mono is an awful thing to have. It never really goes away does it?

Christine said...

Hi Sharon: Yes, I do think distractions are the norm! I try to write at home or at the coffee shop. I keep a journal with me as well. Somehow it does all get done, but I think scaling back my expectations right now is the best way to go. Smaller tasks with easier payoffs.

Thanks for the support!


Christine said...

Anne, I have been juggling that same thought about publishing. I even considered just backing down a bit, reading more and focusing on my craft. I just want to write stories and enjoy the process for now. I do have to get ready for Nationals so I will make a mini-list of what must be accomplished, but it all doesn't have to be perfect. And that's what I have let go of--good enough will have to be good enough this month.

And sorry your daughter is sick!! It does throw things out of whack! And yes, mono pretty much doesn't go away. It stays in the background waiting for the person to think she's ok then it rears up and bites again. Nasty business.

I'll be glad when darling teen is well again.

And now? Back to my writing. Time to turn on the timer :-)

Christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KarenG said...

You have been through a lot. I often reevaluate my priorities, esp. at turning points like New Year's, my birthday, and often when things just aren't going that well.

Katherine Bone said...

Wow! Christine, you've been through so much lately. But I love your attitude. Make lemonade out of lemons, as the old saying goes. The more sugar you add, the sweeter everything gets.

I've been greatly saddened by the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri today. The death toll keeps rising, which emphasizes even more how lucky we really were over here in Alabama. ;)

So much suffering going on in the world. Japan, here with us, flooding along the big Mississippi and now Joplin. My heart goes out to everyone affected.

How do we regroup when life veers us off the main highway? We get out the map and navigate our way back. Simple as that. Gotta have a readable map though. LOL! That'a always my problem. I've got a piece of the map and am on a treasure hunt to find the rest.

Blessings to you and Anne as you help your daughters get their good health back. Nothing can sideline a writer more than worrying about loved ones. ;)

As for me, I'm way behind. But I'm using every hour I have to draw something positive from. Life's too short, isn't it? If I've learned anything in the past month, it's that. I'm on a mission to make every minute count.

Christine said...

Hi KarenG: Yes, a constant state of reevaluation and reworking while understanding that the sands beneath will shift again! Despite that truth, I am grateful for the ability to walk on the sands and navigate a new course of action. Scaling back is sometimes the key. And I believe that is what I need to do in order to get ready for this month.

Then anything I accomplish over and above my scaled back expectations is bonus material :-)

Christine said...

Hi Kathy: I've been thinking a lot about the folks over in Joplin MO. It's so close to what happened here and we were incredibly lucky it wasn't worse. My heart goes out to the community. You're right. Make every minute count. And that doesn't always mean fluttering around and being busy. Sometimes it means being still. I've decided to surrender to the moment and see what happens!