End of Quarter 2 – Progress Report

28Jun09

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Fallen Giant by Duncanh1 (Flickr)

Fallen Giant by Duncanh1 (Flickr)

I’m starting the report in reflective mood: perhaps a little negative, but with a clearer picture of both my capacity and desire for work than I had at the beginning of the year. It’s been an odd year – a lot has happened, and with Bellaboo growing out of her ‘baby’ phase into a delightfully cute toddler, balances have shifted around to the extent that I feel I have much more time that I can *choose* how to use, rather than being tied to the intense dependencies of the baby.

I anticipated that this change would happen, but what I didn’t anticipate was the level of demands that arise just on the day-to-day that eat up my time, nor that I would encounter a set of personal issues that have put me back in counselling therapy.

As a result, I’ve achieved less than I hoped I would. However, what is undoubtedly a massive benefit that by far outweighs the slower progress is that I feel I am settling into a good routine of working and playing, that I am holding to my two intentional words for the year – COMPLETE and ENJOY – and that I feel I am making good progress.

Not only in my writing and in my business, but in personal terms as well, I feel more settled than I did at the beginning of the year, and whilst my passions for writing and sewing will continue to drive me, I feel less crowded by other demands on my time, and that I am able to pay more attention to the big rocks and as a result I am getting more done.

It seems counter-intuitive to do less to do more, but actually I’m doing less of the stuff that really doesn’t matter – the sand, if you like, and so I have more time to work on the big, important stuff. Half the battle has been seeing my way clearly through all the attention grabbing clutter – mental and physical – that fills my life, as I guess it does for most people, and by disconnecting myself from those distractions, I’ve set myself free.

It’s an exhilarating feeling, and I just hope that I can keep it up. I just have to keep reminding myself that I am incredibly lucky: I get to spend my days doing the things I love the best, and with the people that mean the most to me. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

And so, to the meat of it …

1) Writing

Standard tasks:

– maintain schedule discipline of write/edit/submit a story every other week – I have a total of 12 stories in ‘finished’ inventory, and have clocked up 43 submissions this year. Sadly, no acceptances, but I keep the faith that they will come.

– maintain current crit group commitments – on track

– complete the “How to Think Sideways” course – I’ve fallen behind on this, but I’m planning out the next month to catch it up

 Anneth: I had hoped to have this out on the submission rounds by now, but a round of critiques has highlighted that I still need to make some changes, so it’s pencilled in for another rework in August, and then out on the submission rounds in Q4. It’s a bit frustrating, but I think worth the effort to polish it up to its very best before I send it out.

 Serpent of Colchis: edit completed in Q1 as planned, it’s now in the hands of my ‘Novel Club’ critique group over at FM Writers. I’m bracing myself …. whatever the comeback, the edits won’t get worked through until late Q4 this year, possibly even early next year, depending on how everything else goes – if I don’t get to it before Nanowrimo comes along, it won’t get touched until after the ‘Sere’ project is finished in first draft.

 Disconnection – the planned rewrite was completed at the beginning of May, so obviously the edits haven’t been started yet. Those now look like they’re dropping to the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Contain This Hour – this one is coming online. I’m spending the next few weeks catching up the HTTS course, and then I’m working on the Anneth edits, and thenI’ll be writing the revised-concept first draft of this novel. I have nothing scheduled yet for the edits: I’m going to wait until I’ve finished it, and then prioritise it into the list.

The list I generated back at the beginning of the year is pretty much out of the window at this stage – I know I’m not going to do half of what I hoped, but equally I’m not beating myself up about it. I’ll continue to schedule things along a timeline, because if I don’t set myself deadlines then I know I won’t perform: however, I’m considering them more as guidelines and not beating myself up about missing out on them – planning is an iterative process, after all ;).

In terms of outline priorities, the rest of the year looks broadly like this:

  • July – HTTS
  • August – Anneth edits
  • September – ‘Contain This Hour’ novella revised-concept first draft
  • October – ‘Serpent of Colchis’ edits
  • November/December/January – ‘Sere’ first draft
  • February – ‘Disconnection’ edits
  • March – ‘Lest Ye Be Judged’ edits
  • April – month off!
  • May – Storyteller of Akal rewrite
  • June – Sere edits
  • July – Contain This Hour edits
  • August – month off!
  • September – writing – new novel idea codename Ziggy Stardust
  • October – Storyteller of Akal edits
  • November – new novel idea, based on expanding short story

Textile arts/craftingfrom a business perspective, this is more or less where I want it to be right now, though I have branched out to an Etsy shop this year. There are a couple of objectives I want to state, though they feel a little nebulous at this stage.

– try 1 new stitch, technique or craft I haven’t tried before each month – done

– stick to my ‘buy handmade’ pledge I haven’t been buying much of anything, but what  I have bought has been handmade

– stick to my ‘wardrobe refashion’ pledge on track – haven’t bought any new clothes for me or the children this year – NCT sales, charity shops and ebay have kept us kitted out in fine style at next to no cost. It’s all good.

– do at least one of Marysa’s lovely courses at the Otter Bindery – the timings just haven’t worked out for me so far, but I’m retaining the intention …

For next year (2010), I’m thinking that with Bellaboo starting pre-school, I’ll have more time on my hands, so I’m going to gear up for doing a couple of craft fairs, and will also get myself organised and apply for full membership of both the Embroidery Guild and the Surrey Guild of Craftsmen.

This is pretty much on track. I’m withdrawing from Etsy for now, simply because I don’t have the time to market myself effectively there, so it’s a waste of time and money when I’m drawing sufficient business from the galleries. I’ve spent a bit more time and attention on smaller, ‘stock’ items to try and draw people in – I’m not sure it’s working, but I’m certainly drawing a fairly steady stream of low-level income to supplement the commissions, so I’m happy that sort of activity is more beneficial than the Etsy adventure.

Personal – not so much here, though with so much going on in the above two, one of them must be:

– REMEMBER I HAVE A FAMILY

– I will take at least 2 weeks holiday this year – I’ve already taken 1 week off over Easter, and enjoyed it, and we’ve got 4 weeks of holiday booked over the summer, one way or another. I will do my best not to work at *anything* on these (1 of them is camping, which pretty much precludes writing and sewing, so I’ll be forced to meet my pledge like it or not 😉 ).

– I will try at least 1 new thing with at least 1 of my children every month I haven’t really been doing this, but we have been spending time together, so I think it counts … I’d rather not be doing things just for the sake of novelty …

– I will work through the “How to talk/how to listen” book – SHAME! I still haven’t opened this book …

– go to bed before midnight at least 4 times a week – I’ve got that nailed now, I’ve been forced to accept that I need more sleep, I simply don’t have the stamina I had 10, or even 5, years ago.

– Books/Reading

– I will read at least 20 books this year, and I will (try to) not buy any more books (excl below) until I’ve caught up my backlog hmmmm. I’m just not very good at ‘not buying books’, although I am using the library more than previously ….

This year, I have read:

  1.  
    1.  
      1. Crystal Line – Anne McCaffrey
      2. Tortilla Flat – John Steinbeck
      3. Perfume – Patrick Suskind
      4. Mainspring – Jay Lake
      5. Escapement – Jay Lake
      6. We Never Talk About my Brother – Peter S Beagle
      7. Far Bright Star – Robert Olmstead
      8. The Painted Man – Peter V Brett
      9. Wolfblade (Wolfblade trilogy) – Jennifer Fallon
      10. Warrior (Wolfblade trilogy) – Jennifer Fallon
      11. Warlord (Wolfblade trilogy) – Jennifer Fallon
      12. The Nameless Day (Crucible trilogy) – Sara Douglass
      13. The Wounded Hawk (Crucible trilogy) – Sara Douglass
      14. The Crippled Angel (Crucible trilogy) – Sara Douglass

Given that I’ve got another trilogy waiting for me to start in on it (The Tears of Artamon, Sarah Ash), Jay Lake’s Trial of Flowers, Margaret Forster ‘Over’, Kate Atkinson ‘Not the End of the World’ & Stephen Hunt’s ‘Rise of the Iron Moon’ sitting in my tbr pile (and a lot of holiday coming up, apparently 😉 ), I think I’m going to trounce this target!! I’m wondering whether I should write reviews of all the books I read as well …. I think it would be worth the extra time, no?

– I will catalogue the existing collection on Library Thing – this still stands at its previous measurement of 8/32 shelves done, with 3 cartons yet to be unpacked. No progress ….

– house and garden

– grow more fruit and veg this year than we did last year – stick to the planting and maintenance plan – on track, though the weeding is killing me, and a good downpour to save me watering & refill the water butts would be appreciated ….

– reduce waste again to 1/2 a bin bag every week – on track, and the council’s decision to introduce wheelie bins in September and food caddies will pretty much take us down to nothing – what we do have will, sadly, be the few bits of packaging we can’t recycle.

– take another 5% off our total energy usage for the year – so far, we’ve only cut it by 2%, but of course over the summer we use everything much less, so I’m hoping we can catch up on the target …

– declutter and redecorate loft, improve my workspace – decluttering is done, redecoration is not started

– list and sort out all the little leftover jobs now the refurb is finished – list is done, and in progress, but good weather isn’t conducive to interior work, so it’s slow progress – will probably pick up once the garden season is over ….

– and last but not least, get my BMI back down to 22. It’s completely out of control since Bellaboo arrived, and I don’t think I can call it baby fat any more. It’s just fat. It must go. GAH! Nothing doing here, although I have got exercise back into my life recently – combination of WiiFit and a weekly dance class – I’ll be starting another 2 dance classes in September, and I need to get some strength training into my routine as well. But BMI is refusing to move … I’m hoping that as I clear mental clutter, I’ll start being able to shift the barriers stopping me giving this the priority it needs.

 

All in all, it’s been a tough but generally productive quarter – I feel decluttered and positive and ready to move forward, so I’m hoping that the momentum will keep going even over the slower pace the summer holidays will necessarily dictate.

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4 Responses to “End of Quarter 2 – Progress Report”

  1. 1 bonniers

    Wow, you keep a comprehensive list and seem to know where you are in the world, even if it’s not where you’d like to be

    I tried working up a detailed list like this last year, but I found myself spending more time maintaining the list than I did working on the items on it. And the pressure got to be incredible. But it sounds like you’ve managed to turn it into a really useful tool.

  2. 2 Erin

    Wow, that’s quite the progress, and an amazing set of goals.

    I’d disagree with the writing being impossible while camping (notebook, pen, what else do you need?), but I don’t want to encourage you to break your pledge. 🙂

    • I will take my notebook camping, but given I’m going with a group of girl-friends (no husbands!!), past experience tells me that much time is spent around the campfire with wineglasses in hand, and not much time is spent in intellectual endeavor 🙂

      • 4 Erin

        Oh, well, yeah, I can see how *that* would be different, then. Maybe some morning pages?

        Enjoy the camping, regardless!


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