Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Year in Review: 2009 vs 2010

Last year I summarized my accomplishments and jotted down goals for 2010. Let's see how I did, shall we?

"Goals for 2010 include fixing up the new novel, writing a NEW new novel, moving to Santa Clarita, and getting a bicycle and using it as my main method of transportation (keep in mind I live in L.A. so this goal is actually insane... but I think it's good to have at least one insane goal per year)."

Hmm, yes, well, hmm. 

Three out of four ain't bad.  Okay, 2.8 out of three. I did fix up that novel; I did move to Santa Clarita (and I love it here except maybe for the commute).  I also got a bicycle, but saying it's my main method of transportation would be wildly inaccurate. I mostly use it to go to the library.

And now, inspired by Kristin Nelson's year in statistics, here's what I've been up to since January, numbers-wise (2009's stats will appear in parenthesis so we can laugh at my best laid plans):

Books Read = 62 (100) For shame. Almost a 40% drop!

However, I stipulate that my time spent commuting directly correlates to the diminished number of books read. In 2009 my commute was 40 minutes/day on average. In 2010 it was 2.3 HOURS/day on average. The defense rests. 

Audio books would seem to be the answer, but I find it a wee bit problematic to pay attention to plot intricacies while fearing for my life on the freeway. This year we had fires *and* flooding.

Of the 62 books I read, 35 were YA, 14 were "adult"/literary fiction, 11 were non-fiction (including memoir),  and 2 were about writing ("Sin and Syntax" and "Spunk and Bite"). I also read 4 friends' WIP manuscripts, which are fab novels-to-be, another friend's ARC, and I'll probably get through several more over the holidays, so maybe I can fudge my numbers and give myself a total of 70.

Scripts Read = 438 (316) DANG I WORKED HARD THIS YEAR. 100 + more scripts than last year!

Hats Knitted = 0 (3) For shame, part deux. (My husband: "Your knitting group is really cool. They don't really knit, though." Pretty much.)

This year I revised two novels and started a brand-new novel for NaNoWriMo. I promptly abandoned it at 30 pages, but I'm back on track again with a fresh idea and oodles of fun books for research. (Yes, I genuinely enjoy research.)  I also hosted a writing retreat in Palm Springs this March, got to help welcome my niece into the world in April (on my birthday no less), and visited friends and family in Illinois and Wisconsin over the summer.

In 2011, my goals are to research, write and revise my newest YA novel, contribute to, give audio books a real chance, and bring actual knitting back to my knitting group. I'd like to go jogging twice a week, and read at least 50 books, partially so I can surpass that goal :)

How did your year compare with 2009? Did you meet your goals?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Splendor in the Grass

About a week ago, Harmonic Feedback author Tara Kelly wrote an excellent post about what it's like to be a debut author, looking back nostalgically to the days before her project sold, when everything was still ahead of her, and anything was possible.

She theorizes that if you don't find satisfaction in writing anonymously, you certainly won't find it in being published. Writing for the pure love of it has to be what drives you. At least, that's what I took from the post.

In the past month I've read about publishing deals falling through, imprints closing, and the frustration of never-ending revisions. I empathize with writers who've made it through the submission process only to discover it wasn't quite what they expected. Of course, I'd love to join their ranks, but it's interesting to hear that the grass isn't always greener.

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on why we became writers in the first place.

Don't forget to celebrate every accomplishment, whether it's getting helpful feedback from an agent or editor, finishing a particularly challenging rewrite, brainstorming a new idea, or simply carving out the time -- day by day, week by week -- to tell your story.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recommended Read (and Holiday Gift): "Thieves of Manhattan" by Adam Langer

If you're making a list and checking it twice, and having trouble finding the perfect gift for the writer/aspiring writer/editor/publisher/book aficionado in your life, I have the solution for you: pick up a copy of Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer.

Not only is it a hilarious and clever skewering of every aspect of modern publishing, particularly memoirs, it also has at least two major plot twists I didn't see coming.

I really appreciate the fact that Langer didn't stick to one genre but let a variety of them (mystery, romance, revenge drama, old-fashioned adventure) unspool into a glorious mess; a mess that's perfectly set up from the get-go.

Writers who've been in the trenches a few years will recognize themselves, feel less alone, and be able to cackle with glee at the dead-on references to querying, literary reading nights, and insomnia and writer's block -- and the release of same. Also, it's in paperback so you can pick up several copies. I know I plan to. Happy shopping!