December 31, 2009

The year that was

2009 has been an interesting year. I have no idea how it went by so fast but maybe that was because it was interesting.

This time last year I made resolutions and now, inevitably, I'm thinking about what I want to achieve in 2010.

Last year the resolutions were something like lose weight, keep the exercise routine going, write two books, stay off caffeine when I can, do things that make me happy and have fun.

So how did all of that go?

Well, on the things that make Mel happy front I did quite well. I did a lot of sewing, rediscovered knitting and crochet, took some non writing related classes, took a non writing related holiday (though with a fellow writer so there was writing talk *g*) and dropped another day in the day job. Friends has babies (and I was there when one of them arrived), friends hit the NYT list, the family was relatively healthy and many good books were read.

On the stay off caffeine, well, there were ups and down. I have pretty much accepted that there are times in my life when I'm going to be on the caffeine. I have for most of the year been off it or only having a cup of green tea or two a day. There have been times when I've been drinking coke (or even now and then coke zero because, I'm sorry but coke works on the caffeine front but does little for the operation-make-butt-smaller). Balance, people. I know I sleep better off the caffeine but sometimes something's got to give. I need to work on learning to love green tea more and slanting the balance in that direction but whatever.

On the exercise front, things started well and slid into what can only be described as a big fat heap. From January to April I was doing heaps of cardio, doing my pilates and doing Nia. April or May sometime I got sick and work got busy and things started to slide. And I started to notice that my shoulder was pulling up sore after Nia and pilates classes but not too sore so I ignored it (note to self, don't ignore it!)
Then I dropped a day at work which happened to be the day of my regular pilates class and my Nia class was put on hiatus and the shoulder started getting sorer even without exercising and hmmm, here we are feeling unfit and flabby and waiting to find out whether the shoulder needs surgery. Bah humbug to that.

On the writing, that too was interesting. Trying to sell a book is never an easy proposition. Trying to sell a book in a major economic downturn is an even less easy proposition. Some stuff happened. Some work stuff happened and for a lot of the year the writing was slow and kind of torturous (though, I did keep trying to write) because I was letting the stuff mess with my head. Now sometimes the writing will be slow and torturous but the thing is, for me, I try and treat this as a job. I have an agent and she is out there trying to sell my books and has been doing so for some time now without being paid a cent so far, so I need to produce books for her to sell. Which means I have to focus on the writing part and stop worrying about the stuff part (which, for a virgo, is kind of like saying 'stop breathing').

Writing the books and making them as good as I can is what I can control and is the fun part. I don't think for a second that I've found the perfect solution to keeping that in mind and I know there will be "Mel freaks out" slow and torturous times again but hopefully I can pull myself out of them faster now. I'm happy to say that I did finish one book this year (because at times that felt unlikely). A book that was a bit different again to what I'd been writing but it seems to have been worth the grief it gave me because my agent loves it and I'm doing the final polish write now so it can make its way out into the world in January. At which point I will be doing the mental equivalent of sticking my fingers in the ears and saying "la, la, la, I can't hear you to the publishing worries" and writing the next book. Because for me, one book a year is too slow and I'm much happier when I'm producing.

So, for my benefit (and maybe for anyone else who it might work for), a reminder of what worked:

1. Writing sprints for the first draft (and for character free writing and for synopsis sketching). Write or Die is a godsend and Dr Wicked would be deserving of the Nobel Writers Sanity prize if there was such a thing. I need to do quick and dirty first drafts and just get out of my own damn way. Writing sprints let me do this. I can, indeed, focus on nothing but the writing for fifteen minute or twenty minute chunks and produce and shut the nagging voices of publishing doom and the internal editor out for that time. Write or Die might be my new writing motto.

2. Giving myself the time to do the other stuff the muse like. Playing with the pretty fabrics and yarns. Watching a series of Grey's Anatomy if that's what the muse wants (and man, I just now realised that I've been obsessed with Grey's for the last month because my hero is a healer and McDreamy is my favourite hot doctor *headdesk*...quick on the uptake, not).

3. Writing every day (or six days a week at least). Keep the fingers moving and the momentum eventually comes. Of course, when it comes time to revise "writing" includes thinking about the book, talking about the book to crit partners and noodling about the book in notebooks.

And now, cos this is getting long, let's put the actual 2010 resolutions in another post.

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