Tag Archives: writing

How I Got Back On Track With Writing Resolutions

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014.  (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

My quivering computer awaiting my first words of 2014. (Photo credit: Sandra Bell Kirchman)

At the end of 2013, I am sitting at my computer, wondering how to sum up the year and whether or not I should set some goals for 2014.

Why did I fail to reach so many goals in 2013?  Was it because I took too big a bite, trying to do NaNoWriMo, and an online magazine column, two novels, three blogs, and a book of flash fiction stories?

Was it because of my body betraying me in a number of poor health ways?

Was it because I couldn’t get organized and had a mess on my desk and a clutter in my head?

As I ponder, I decide that each of the above reasons had something to do with falling woefully short of my goals. A small something.  How did I arrive at that somewhat startling conclusion?  Because I have really wanted to accomplish something in the past…a number of somethings…and ended up finishing them ahead of time.  Each of these goals had been as big as 2013’s targets.

"Witchcanery" by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Editiion, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

“Witchcanery” by Sandra Bell Kirchman, First Edition, pub. 2007 by FantasyFic

The key here was “wanting.”  I really wanted to accomplish them.  So did that mean I didn’t want to accomplish my writing goals for the past year?  No.  I definitely did want to finish my Nano entry and ended up in emergency instead.  The entry was the sequel to my published novel Witchcanery.

I had, in the past, had customers (fans) who made me promise that I would write the sequel to Witchcanery before they agreed to buy it.  They had read the dust jacket and wouldn’t even start such a “fascinating book”–their words, not mine–unless I agreed to do the sequel.

So the sequel had been in the works for several years and I had promised myself that 2013 was the year Witchcanery, Baby! would explode into being.  (As you probably know, you have to complete 50,000 words before you achieve the NaNoWriMo goal.) I got as far as 22,000+ words before Mother Nature pulled the plug on me.

And seconds after writing those last words, I received an epiphany.  There is a difference between “wanting” and “being dedicated to.”  And therein lies the difference.  I have been dedicated to accomplishing many things in the past, and EVERY SINGLE ONE was accomplished.

These goals ran from marrying the man I love, to finishing, editing and publishing my first book (which happened to be Witchcanery).  I have wanted many things in the past (and many of them were important) things like pierced ears (ouch!), continuing my volunteer work, losing weight…some I achieved or received…others I did not.

What's my priority?

What’s my priority? Photo credit: Stuart Miles | Freedigitalphotos.com

Now, here’s the kicker.  I felt fulfillment for EACH dedicated goal I achieved. Not many of them gave me real satisfaction if I achieved them.  I wanted a couple of writing courses, which I acquired after a small struggle.  I was sorry I had spent my money on them.

So what does this discrepancy mean to me?  It boils down to one thing for me.  It’s the difference between needs and wants, as simple as that.  And something I have know about since I was in my 20’s.  If I perceive it as a need, even subconsciously, then, being the survivor that I am, I will make sure I accomplish it.  If it’s only a want, I will prioritize it as to how badly I want it.  Even then, there is no guarantee I will get it.

So I’m sitting here, feeling a tad smug for having figured out what went wrong in 2013 (and quite likely how I messed up with my goals in other years).  I have a chance to right all the wrongs, like Ebenezer Scrooge after the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Proposed bookcover for "Witchcanery, Baby!"

Proposed bookcover for “Witchcanery, Baby!”

So the first thing I will put on my list for 2014 is completing Witchcanery, Baby! You want to know what happened there?  I was trying to complete it in 2013 for the wrong reasons…because fans wanted this sequel, because I had written in some parts for friends whose husbands had passed, and it was very comforting to them.  So I had to finish it, right?

Wrong!  It’s like dieting.  If I try to lose weight because my husband wants me to, or my kids, or my best friend (for some strange reason), then it’s not for me.  Body weight is personal…so is writing.  If I finish a story because I NEED to, then I have the write…er, right…of it.  And now, all the other reasons don’t matter.  I know I need to finish this story.  I can hardly wait for Dec. 31, 2014 to find out if it worked.  I’ll keep you posted.

So, how about you?  What keeps you from accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions or any goals you decide to earmark for completion?  Here’s a post by Daphne Gray-Grant that I just read about using the right word when making goals.  I think it might help.

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Aside

Thought you might be interested in how I revise my drafts.  I have a few writer friends whose opinion I value.  I ask them to read the draft and then post their comments (on another forum).  I consider their comments, … Continue reading

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I Believe in My Writer Self

Sandra Bell Kirchman’s office

I am a member of the Mastering the 15 Habits of Great Writers workshop.  Today is Day 2 and brings with it the word BELIEVE to meditate on.  This isn’t your ordinary BELIEVE but an opportunity to believe in myself as a writer, deep down in the very core of my being.  That, of course, is where I have the problem.

I can accept the concept that I am a writer (although it is still a little shaky).  This workshop has done wonders in encouraging and supporting me in that regard.  But the belief part is a little trickier, because it is a leap of faith and involves what defines me.  I have dozens of examples of my writing, so it isn’t that.

Here’s the kicker.  I have trouble believing in my core being that I am a writer, partly because it comes easily to me.  Don’t get me wrong…great writing doesn’t come easily, just writing.  I have this very bad habit of discounting anything that requires little effort on my part, and there are a few.

Because of the meditation I have done today, I have come to the conclusion that I am discarding belief in many important aspects of the definitive me:  writing, editing, English language, public speaking, being of service, enthusiasm, support, and so on.  The things that don’t come easily to me seem to rise to the top as the ones I prize:  knitting, cooking, singing, visual arts, dog training, and so on.  However, taking a look at the two lists, and pretending that I am not me for a moment, I see that the first list is the one that nurtures me; the second is merely a list of wants.

Tools of the writing trade

With that revelation, which just happened today, I believe I can move forward.  It’s no good discounting a trait because it comes easily.  I should welcome it joyfully because I don’t have to struggle so much to be me.

Fortunately, Jeff Goins, the writer who is facilitating the workshop, has also provided a way to help put my belief into practice.  Tomorrow morning, all of us in the workshop need to get up two hours earlier than our usual time and use that time to just write.  No checking emails, or wandering off to read blogs, or scanning the news.  Just write.

One of the members of the community shared that this reminds him very much of his baseball career, in that practice is what makes the difference between being okay and being great.  Out of that, I put together that committing myself to do is believing.  How about you?

How to feel good about yourself even when your manuscript is rejected

One of the hardest parts of being a writer is the fact that rejection is part of a writer’s life, moreso than just about any other profession.  (Of course, artists, dancers, actors, etc. might disagree.  For them, keep reading.  Here’s something that will help everyone.)  And unless a writer goes entirely to self-publishing (and even then there is rejection from the number of sales you don’t make), rejection is just part of the job description.

Another rejection slip - Image by Graur Codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No one likes being rejected.  When I first started out as a writer, I got rejection after rejection.  Like a puppy, I never gave up hope.  I would wait for the postman to deliver the mail and eagerly sort through it to find a hopeful acceptance.  Most of the time, there was nothing.  It took a long time to get a response from a publisher or magazine editor.  Then the day came when the publisher’s/editor’s masthead envelope arrived.  With trembling hands, I would open it.  Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, it was a form rejection.  The other .1% was a personalized rejection or a standard rejection with a personal note scribbled on it from the editor.

The .1% I prized.  It meant that I was getting closer, but I was still missing the brass ring.  For a few moments, I felt crushed, discouraged, of lesser worth.  Then I would think of the manuscript I was working on at the time.  This helped me regain my enthusiasm, and, my light not quite as bright as before, I would go back to my writing again.

And that’s the crux of the matter right there…what rejections do to a writer, actually any person.  As a writer, until we learn to recover from this consistent rejection quickly without losing face, self-worth and enthusiasm, we won’t make it to the halls of glory.

Here’s something to help.  I used to pin this anonymous tip up near my typewriter (and then word processor, and then computer).  Whenever I got a rejection, I read it.  It helped me enormously.

The $20.00 Bill

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill.  In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”  Hands started going up.  He said, “I am going to give this to one of you, but first, let me do this.”  He proceeded to crumple the bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?”  Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he continued, “What if I do this?”  He dropped it on the ground, and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.  He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.  “Now, who still wants it?”  Still hands went into the air.

“My friends, you all have learned a very valuable lesson,” the speaker said.  “No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it, because it did not decrease in value.  It was still worth 20 dollars.

“Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel that we are worthless, but, no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you and to those who respect you.

“The worth of our lives comes not in what we do, or whom we know, but by who we are.

“You are special, don’t ever forget it!  …  Always count your blessings, not your problems.”

I think that about sums it up, don’t you?

The Story of the Awesome Kally

A yellow ?

Image via Wikipedia

Who is Kally?  Aka Kally, aka Kallysti, author Stephanie Ciofalo is one of the FantasyFic writers.  I should say she is one of the very talented FantasyFic writers and also one of the administrators at the FantasyFic.com site.  I am also proud to call her a colleague.

Kally is really an amazing person.   She has more energy than a pack of chimpanzees and a most delightful sense of humor.  Add those to her writing talent, and you have a woman driven to write (which means she will be successful) and yet is still able to laugh at herself.

This lady, a fantasy fiction writer, has invented a world that is unique.  I have never seen anything closely resembling it in any literature I have read.  Mind you, I haven’t read even all the classic fantasies, never mind contemporary ones, but I still think I would have heard of a world like this during shop talk.  She has peopled it quite naturally with the most interesting men and women (and children) you would ever hope to meet.  They are natural and true to their own culture in a way that is masterfully overseen.  No, I don’t mean author intrusion; I mean making sure that the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief is never broken.

I don’t want to tell you about this world, because that is Kally’s province, but believe me when I tell you this lady just might hit the bestseller list with at least one of her books in the series she is writing.  Just my opinion, but I’m keeping an eye on her.

Stephanie Ciofalo

Author Stephanie Ciofalo - aka Kallysti

The unusual thing about Kally is that she didn’t start out to be a writer.  She didn’t think she had that much skill at it in the beginning and went to college to get a geology degree.  Then when she started playing EverQuest, then EverQuest II, she started writing fan fiction about her character in the game and the characters of her friends.  This is how she met her husband, and they had an interesting courtship online by writing these stories together.  People liked them (the stories, I mean – although they liked Kally and her hubby-to-be as well).

Encouraged about her writing, Kally joined FantasyFic in 2007 and proceeded to blossom (writerly-wise) like a magic rose under the summer light of two suns (her world has two suns, I believe).  She wrote material that just blew me away.  Of course, I encouraged and helped her.  She was one of those delightful writers that is polite about critiques and suggestions.  (When I was editor at Warcry and Silky Venom, I would only critique if people asked me to – for safety reasons :P).  For Kally, however, there was no looking back.

If you’d like to see some examples of her writings, visit her at her site, Stephanie’s Stories, where she is currently talking about the things she has written.