goals

Going Backwards to Go Forwards: 2018 Goals and Life After Humanity

LifeAfterHumanity-SliderI’ve been in a really weird headspace for about the last month. It started with the lead up to Christmas, and continued, with a few brief breaks, over New Year’s. I seemed to shake it off for a little while, but it would sneak back, insidious and subtle, and before I knew it, I’d spent another day unable to do anything.

I’m still not exactly sure what the cause of it was, but I suspect I let myself get overworked and overwhelmed in December, and by fussing when I should have surrendered, inadvertently prolonged the mood. Yesterday, I had an afternoon of forced doing nothing. I showed up too early for an appointment, and had nothing to do but sit and read. It was glorious. Today, despite having had a busy morning and a full on afternoon babysitting, I feel full of light and energy, and I’m finally ready to face my last years goals.

I’ve been putting it off and putting it off because I have a really hard time admitting failure. And I knew that I’d fallen short of my goals. Luckily, I’d forgotten what those goals were so when I was stewing in my bad mood, I wasn’t beating myself up as much as I might have otherwise.

2017 Goals.
▪ 8 books published.
▪ 1 year entirely supported by writing.
▪ Investing in my work (marketing/learning)

How did I do? Well…

  • 3 books published —Uprooted, Wing Commander’s Curse and The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert.

So not great! However, I remembered this goal as ‘8 books written’ and I did slightly better on that front—Life After Humanity, Dead Wrong, Wing Commander’s Curse, The Charity Shop Rejects, Gentlemen Don’t Murder, and Morgen Prince. I also revised Banging the Supernatural, which I think gives me a total of seven books written—and if you count freelance projects I ghost wrote for clients, I can add four more.

I realised in November/December how difficult I was finding balancing my freelance work with my own writing and family commitments. I made the decision that once I’d completed my current freelance projects, I wouldn’t be looking for more. In fact, I’ve launched a serious job hunt. I think having a regular schedule and taking some of the financial pressure off, will mean I stress less and have more mental energy to give to writing. Unfortunately, job hunt is practically synonymous with stress and uncertainty. Here’s hoping that the short term uncertainty pays off with long term productivity!

  • 1 year entirely supported by writing.

Success! I did expand into dog-walking and babysitting, but I supported myself throughout all of 2017 primarily by writing, mostly freelance work. I find it really reassuring to know that if necessary, I’ve got this as a fallback.

  • Investing in my work (marketing/training).

Actually, I did make headway in this direction, too. Not as much as I’d like, of course, but overall, I didn’t really need to beat myself up as much as I did.

2018 goals.

I’ve only got one 2018 goal, and I’ve already mentioned it—publish a book or story a month throughout 2018. I’ve got January and February covered, but I’m already behind. I’ve only just started on the story I intended to write in December, but I’ve suddenly realised that’s okay.

In 2017, I struggled to write in January. I started the new year enthusiastic but tired, and my creative project quickly got overwhelmed by doubt and a freelance project I was working on.

In 2016, my January got taken over by school and cold and being sick. Can’t remember January 2015 either, but I’d be surprised if I got anything done. And I know that January 2014 I struggled to write anything at all.

This is a really obvious trend. So obvious that I really need to acknowledge it, take some pressure off, and celebrate what I have managed to achieve. Even if it doesn’t feel like much. Even if it’s a step backwards.

And speaking of backwards…

Life After Humanity (Thorns and Fangs #3) releases in one week!

Life After Humanity came about in a really backwards way. I wrote it as the second book in the Thorns and Fangs series, learned a hell of a lot while editing Thorns and Fangs, pretty much rewrote it a second time, submitted it to NineStar, and was in the early stages of reworking it when a writing friend helpfully pointed out the series was missing something, and I realised Life After Humanity was book three, not book two. It was on hold while I wrote Uprooted, and the ways that Ben and Nate developed in Uprooted meant that I had to rewrite Life After Humanity a third time (or possibly fourth time)—and it became something entirely different. There are things I miss from the earlier drafts, but this story leads into Dead Wrong in a really powerful way, and makes the series really hold together, so I can’t regret the changes too much.

I do regret that I didn’t see what was missing sooner, or that I didn’t plan the entire series before jumping in and getting started writing. But I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just let that go. After all, a big part of Life After Humanity is Ben stepping back to get his life straightened out, even though that means putting his relationship with Nate on hold. I support sideways moves or even a step back to regroup when friends or family members need to figure out life stuff. Why is it so hard to give myself the same permission?

I am really nervous to see if readers are willing to allow Ben and Nate a step backwards. I think it’s necessary for their development individually and together, but it’s not something you see a lot of in typical romance. Luckily, I think my readers appreciate atypical romance…but we’ll see! In the meantime, stay turned for sneak previews, where the central plot of Life After Humanity came from, and more.

Happy Birthday, Supes!

According to DC comics, today is Superman’s birthday. I was not initially a Superman fan. I assumed that his almost invincible powers meant I would be entirely unable to relate to him and wrote him off as boring. Instead, I enjoyed Superboy. Kon, the half-human clone of Superman, is a trainwreck in teenage form, particularly in his 90s incarnation. His bad decisions and inexplicable fashion choices won me over, and I really enjoyed the perspective of a third -generation hero, struggling to find a place in the world separate from the legacy Superman has created. Through Superboy’s interactions with Superman and with Clark Kent, I got a different view of Superman — a well-intentioned guy who struggles to provide guidance to his younger “cousin” but is perpetually out of his depth — he is as confused by Kon as Kon is impressed and intimidated by him. It is hilarious. And, it is honest. Superman’s powers do nothing to help his interpersonal relationships — in fact, they alienate him from most people. And Superman cares a lot about people. He is literally unable to have what he wants most just because he is Superman, but he remains hopeful and encourages others to do the same. Even if DC has forgotten it in recent incarnations of Superman, that hopefullness and his ability to inspire it in others is probably his greatest power — though I will admit that given the choice of one of Superman’s powers I would probably still go with flight.


 

Last day of the month! Time to look at my February Goals and plans for March.

February Goals:

  • write Uprooted. 74k out of about 100k. Incomplete draft, with a lot of work ahead!
  • read 2 books. Ended up reading 17 books — and 2 of those books were compilations with 7 novels in them. So you could say I actually read 31 books.
  • blog. I took 2 weeks off, then wanted to get back into the swing of twice-weekly updates. I succeeded!

March Goals:

I have a lot of real life stuff happening in March. For a start, this is the end of the school year in Japan, so I have Graduation on the horizon and lots of end of term responsibilities looming. I’m also hoping to arrange a farm visit through WWOOF Japan, but that is taking time to set up and producing some amount of stress. Most importantly, I have a friend moving in to my apartment to live with me. I’ve already started organising/preparing for these events, but I still have a lot of work to do. My focus is divided, and I’ve been on a writing hiatus for a week now as I concentrate on getting stuff done. I don’t think I’ll be in a good place to write until later this month, so for the moment, my goals are:

  • getting March and April blogs posts done in advance!
  • reading more M/M romance.
  • reread Thorns and Fangs.
  • new Uprooted outline.
  • continue experiments with dictation and write up blog post.