Editor’s Note: Being at a family member’s house who happens to live on a different timezone means, you will wake up on your timezone. That’s just how it is. And when you attempt to be quiet because you are the only one awake, every sound will be amplified 10 times over.
Goals vs. Resolutions
Another day I will try reflecting on 2015, but right now is not the time it seems. Throughout life we all from time to time will say, “This year will be different.” This year I resolve to do this…” “My New Year’s resolution is…” In previous years, I have tried instead to create goals, not resolutions. Resolutions are so empty and often lack true commitment. Here is how Google defines Resolution:
Resolutions seems like the kind of thing you can only make at the beginning of the year, while that isn’t true, tradition has made it seem that way. With goals, you can and must make a plan if you want any kind of success. I attended a health webinar once where the speaker said we should plan for what we want to accomplish. It immediately seemed like something with a project plan and due dates. What if we take those resolutions and do the same thing?
As someone argued in a meme I saw, why wait until a New Year, why not start Monday. Since New Year’s Day is on a Friday this year, I will start Monday.
This year I have to get healthier or I will die. Maybe not this year, but how much damage can you do to your body and it fully recover? As you get older, your recovery time takes longer and longer and if you are too close on some health issue, you stay there and eventually go over the line if you don’t change. I eat too much and not enough of the things that are truly good for me. So eventually I will probably develop things like diabetes and high blood pressure, things that perhaps right now are hopefully still preventable if I make the necessary changes in my life. I got a Fitbit Charge HR for Christmas. While I wouldn’t use a defibrillator on someone based on Fitbit’s heart rate tracking, it has shown me my resting heart rate is probably higher than it should be from carrying the extra weight my body has.
I am sure some would say, I should have put these before health and they are right and I thought of them first thing this morning but the health goals have weighed on my mind a lot lately along with my faith goals. I want to pray more. Often, deliberately, thanking the Lord for all of the many blessings in my life. I have so many blessings in my life and while I know there are struggles I will face this year, I want to face them “prayed up” and with the moments and issues of the day in the Lord’s hands. I will have so many decisions to make in the coming year, big ones, with people depending on me. I want to make the right decisions. I need to rely on the Lord to be sure I make those right decisions.
I want to be a lot less selfish. I feel I was selfish in 2015. I didn’t give as often. I didn’t share as often. I wanted too many material things when all along I had the things I needed. There is a big difference between want and need. As I have talked about before, we have to realize we have the things we need and that is the most important thing. God provides what we need. Wants are often selfish and empty things. I appreciate the things I have. God has been good to me though nothing I have done or could ever do has earned the grace God have given me. Things done is love can never be selfish. This year I will love more
So I just have to make my project plans for these goals. And for my Faith goals, I must live my faith more than I speak of my faith. I have to make plans and not resolutions. Hopefully these are goals I will stick with. If I do, my 2016 will be the best year of my life. Happy 2016!
This isn’t exactly about writing, instead it is about my methods of writing now and in the past. It is time I break away from the past. But you may get a couple uh huh, I have been there out of it.
I have been writing off and on since high school. My first works were screenplays and poems. I wanted to be able to tell a full story with characters completely thought out and I thought perhaps as a screenplay this would be easier for me. I am a visual learner and I see things in my mind’s eye so to speak and I get desperate to put them down on paper and have others see them as I do.
Say you woke up early this morning and you see the sun rising. It is so beautiful how the mist in the air is making so many different shades of red and yellow blend in the sky and there are streaks of clouds that look like cotton candy as the sun glows behind the clouds that are getting in the way of the sun rise. The fluffy clouds of red and pink look edible against the blue sky. And there are beams of light from this mixture of sun and clouds going off in so many directions. If only you could reach them. So you get your cell phone out of your pocket and you take a picture. When you look at this picture it looks nothing like what you saw. Sure, the sun is there and the fluffy cloud and you see some colors but you don’t have the emotional attachment to it that you had when you saw it with your eyes. Writing at times is like that. You are trying to take the pictures in your mind and put it into words. And you are hoping some how you make an emotional connection with your reader and they will see what you see or they get their over version of it that is just as good if not better.
I have a habit of getting stuck in the minutiae of writing. When I was all about pen and paper, it had to be a certain pen and a certain type of paper I wrote on. When it was a typewriter, it had to be a typewriter with an amazing font. I used a manual I some how found for a bit but the letters were a really old typeface. They looked much like the old newspapers of the early 1900s. Then I found my pride and joy. It was an electric IBM typewriter that had such a modern looking font. I loved typing on it. I managed to do a lot of writing with it. I never published anything I wrote. Instead it circulated around and around with a group of friends and extended friends but my writing was never at the level of quality I wanted it to be. Sure, all of the ones I had read my writing said it was really great, but none of my friends are writing critics. What do they know? And my fear of rejection and my life as an introvert prevented me from sending my writing off to magazines back when getting published in a magazine was a “thing”. My early writing fit two kinds of genres, science fiction and teen angst.
I wrote two screenplays (which I never published) about a character who wanted to be a Rock Star. “Life in an American High School” and “Life in the American Fast Lane”. The first was about our main character being in an after school Rock band and falling in love with a girl completely out of his league until a series of events give him a chance and then they graduate. The second was about after high school. The band some how gets seen by a producer who brings them out to L.A. to work on a record and potentially they have a record deal.
My science fiction was all over the map. I was inspired by magazines such as “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, “Asimov’s Science Fiction”, and “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine”. I was also into mystery. But my Science Fiction style is comedic stories as inspired by books by Douglas Adams; Hitchhiker’s Guide series, Terry Pratchett’s books, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series. And it is also influenced by Piers Anthony’s Incarnation series, Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale –Sold series, and of course Robert Heinlein. Any book by Robert Heinlein is a good book in my book. So all of that lead to a book series called “The Life and Times of Johnny Rockstar” about a kid in a post apocalyptic time who eventually winds up being a music superstar in what is left of the world. Music has always been my other passion and it seeps into everything I do in one way or another.
And then life happened. I had to put my writing and musician dreams aside and work for a living, figure out my path, who I wanted to be. And strangely that is still a mystery to me. I do not know who or what I want to be when I grow up. And on the outside I have grown up and on the inside it is a battle between responsibility and dreams. What do I want to be and what do I want to do? As we go through life we will reinvent ourselves multiple times if we want to stay relevant.
So a couple of years ago I decided to dust off my writer’s brain and resurrect it from its banishment. But as live has gone on, I have developed procrastination. In fact, I put the “pro” in procrastination. And maybe you are like me. You get the urge to write but when you sit down and you type and it all seems like garbage, you find something else to do with that creative energy or worse the time vacuum that is Social Media sucks away the marrow of your writing bones and takes you into the future where you land hours later and unable to go back to your original creative moment.
And the minutiae of writing has kicked back in. I needed to have just the right environment to “write” and my old MacBook was too old to be productive. It was limited because it had an old OS on it and was stuck in a time eight years ago. So I desired a new machine. A friend generously gave me a fixer upper PC and I slowly added new pieces to make it interesting and useful for many things. I also bought Scrivener 2 for Windows because so many raved about how great it was for getting you organized and for moving things out of the way of creativity. So I bought a copy (after I found a great deal on it) and loaded it up and for a few weeks yes, this motivated me to write. But my last book I wrote completely in Google Docs. I loved that I could edit it on any device that had Internet access. But when I got ready to convert it to an ebook for Amazon, it was a challenge as I didn’t follow Amazon guidelines exactly and I made a very picture heavy book with the images all in the wrong format. If you want to read about those adventures, visit this link to my old blog to read about “Adventures in Writing a book and then Publishing to Amazon” where I used Calibre for the conversion and some HTML hacks to get it all to look decent but it still could have been better. I highly recommend Calibre if you are using Microsoft Word to create your writings. But if you have Scrivener, it will do the same thing and but is a bit of a learning curve.
And perhaps like me you have bought the ten thousand books on the art of writing, or read great books like The Art of Work by Jeff Goins and You Are a Writer (so start acting like one) also by Jeff Goins. And perhaps you have seen all the books by Kristen Joy like “Author’s Quick Guide to Organizing Your Non-Fiction Book“. Her books are simple and short. The advice is probably the same you would get from a hour and a half chat with a creative writing professor but it is good practical advice if you are the type who listens to good practical advice. I am not. Also if you give Kristen your email address she will try to sell you every writing book and course under the sun. So you have been warned.
So where am I now? This is the start of my true Writer’s Journey. I broke down and spent money I didn’t have and bought myself a refurbished MacBook Pro 13 inch with 8 gig of RAM and a 256 Gig Flash based hard drive. This thing is fast and I am very happy with it. But then I had to buy Scrivener again (albeit with a discount) for my Mac. So I am going to try and push myself to write “1,000 Words A day”. I have to make this investment in my writing. I have things to say both in the nonfiction and fiction realms. I love teaching others through my nonfiction and I want to tell amazing stories with my fiction. It is time. I have no excuses. I must manage my time better. Hopefully you are inspired. Hopefully you are ready to go out there and start writing. Hopefully I am too.