Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great Expectations

On Monday I wrote about my tools to battle back the world pressing in and battling the demons of doubt and despair. Part of the reason I'm so tough on myself right now is I have set the bar very high this year. And another large part of the reason I am driving myself so hard is I've redirected the focus of my writing energy.

This is the first year I have taken a sabbatical from entering contests. I love contests. They give me deadlines. They validate me as a writer. They provide useful feedback. Last year I was a Triple Finalist and winner of the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. I've experience lots of high moments with other contests as well. I love contests so much I decided to help my Southern Magic Romance Writers out by coordinating the Linda Howard Award of Excellence this year.

So why have I sworn off contests? Easy answer: they focus my energy only on the first three chapters of the book and, in some cases, the synopsis. And I have a different goal this year. I want to polish and hone three full manuscripts to the best of my abilities at this point.

I want to take what I've learned during the last two years and implement that knowledge. I want to revise my full manuscripts with my new writing eyes. Eyes that see things differently. Eyes that understand what is expected of the manuscript's promise. And eyes that are HONEST about the quality of the writing.

I also want to take two monthlong online courses that will require me to expend my energy in learning more about the business side of the publication industry and more about the craft of writing a complex novel.

My critique partner says I'm harder on myself than anyone else. She's right. I wouldn't be where I am as a writer and as a person if I didn't push myself to succeed. But I also strive to have a balanced life. A life that includes hanging out with people who aren't writers, spending time with the Physicist on the Veranda, and building my relationship with the College Kid as she transitions from home to the world.

So if I want that balance and I want to achieve all of my goals, I must say no to something that isn't necessary to my life as a writer. And as much as I crave the validation of a contest final, I know in my heart that my time is better spent shaping my novels into amazing stories and generating new stories and building strong bonds with my family.

Have your personal and professional goals changed? Why?


Anne Gallagher said...

Good for you for figuring out what works and what doesn't. There's an interesting article today on Writer Unboxed that explains a lot of what we're trying to do to ourselves, to push ourselves harder but failing at other things.

I'm on a writing break. Haven't written for at least two months and it's so refreshing not to have to stare at the blinking cursor and pray for words to come.

I'm hoping once I get my "real life" straightened out, the words will come back. I have a character who's been whispering to me for some time, but I keep blowing her off. Hoping when I do let her in, she'll be the fun I've been missing.

Christine said...

Hi Anne: Welcome back to the Veranda. I've been wondering how you are doing. Sounds like you are taking a well-deserved break and feeding your muse with energy and love. You'll know when you are ready to write again. That character will refuse to stop knocking at your subconscious!


Anne Gallagher said...

I don't know what happened, but you ended up not being on my blogroll, which is why I haven't been here for so long. It happened to some people last year too. I must hit the wrong button or something when I clean up.

Life has been interesting the last year or so, but I'm rolling right along. I was writing like a fiend up until March, but then I really had to step back and get some priorities straight. It has been nice not writing, but now I'm starting to miss it again so I know I'm almost ready to start up again.

Hope everything's going well with you.

Christine said...

Hi Anne: The Internet is an amazing machine--when it works LOL. Glad we're back together again. And wishing you the best of luck in all your endeavors.


Patricia Bradley said...

You're right--it's all about balance. And that's hard to find sometimes. My goal: I'm doing a I'm doing a NaNoWriMo in May. Maybe that's a I've set a goal of writing 50k by June 1 to finish a book due September 1. That'll give me 3 months to polish.

Great post!

Christine said...

Patricia, that is a fantastic goal!! I love how you're using the NaNoWriMo to jump start the books!