Wednesday, January 04, 2012

ROW80 - Status Report #1 - Embracing My Goals

Wow!  Time for my first goals update, already.  That went fast, in a whirl of living and renewing my friendships with characters and ideas; giving myself permission to voice things I have long felt, but held within; and reaching and stretching toward my's been a cool ride.

So, here's where I've gotten to on each of my goals, and then, after, my reflections for the next days....

Round of Words 80 Goals - Round 1, 2012:

I will write at least 10 essays and/ or photo essays, and post them publicly.

These may be completely original works, recurring themes, unfinished pieces from my blog's drafts folder, or pieces pulled from my writing notebooks.  It will require an average of one completed and posted essay every 8 days to achieve this goal (and, lookee, here's number one, nearly finished; and I am halfway through another in my blog drafts file.....that's two working, with no sweat at all!)

Since my original goals post was an essay, I have completed one tenth of this goal.  Another essay is nearing completion, and will then just need editing before I post it.  I have another essay (possibly with photos) in progress for Tiny Buddha, and a developing idea for a fourth, which I may create some preliminary notes for during the next few days.  Since this one will be a photoessay, I will also need to locate and edit some pictures before completing that one -  that may take a little longer, because I have a photo backlog.  A few other ideas are simmering in my mind.  I'm not rushing them; they'll be ready, eventually.

I'm feeling very confident about this goal  -  I have no shortage of material or ideas, and enjoy plumbing them and fleshing them out.  I'm finding having a few working at a time, in varying states of development, works better for me than a linear approach - the ideas for one tend to inform the others, and bring new inspirations, too.

I will submit at least one essay or photo essay apiece to Tiny Buddha and Sunday Surf.  

These don't have to be accepted to count; only written, polished, and submitted.  This goal is based on my desire to share my truths with audiences who might find value in them; these seem like good places to begin to do that on a larger scale.  I may decide, if I get on a roll, to submit more than once, or also to other blogs, carnivals, hops, or whatever else tickles or inspires me.   I will need to complete a submission on average every 40 days to attain this goal.

As I wrote above, I have read the submission guidelines for my Tiny Buddha post, and have begun the first draft, with 1386 words written so far.  The topic is an emotional one, for me, and I know that that is coming out as dross around the points I am trying to define.  It helps me to allow this process to  play out; if I don't, I tend to carry that emotional angst, and it alters my ability to perceive clearly.  So, while I can't say how long it will take me, or how many words, I an committed to allowing myself to say what I need to and how I need to say it, and, once I have found the place where I can deal only with the points I want to bring forth, I expect things will flow well and perhaps quickly.

The Sunday Surf  submission may or may not be the one I am currently developing in my head, the photoessay about New Years' 2010 and 2012.  I suspect (rather fittingly), that I will know more about this by Sunday.

I will complete the rough draft of my unfinished NaNoWriMo novel, Chameleon's Dish. 
When I began NaNo this year, I really had no idea where my writing was leading.  The beginning was a series of essay chapters, all springing from Hamlet quotes, with a very loose framework of fiction wrapped around them (some of these may be perfect fodder for the first goal, above).  The main character and the skeleton of her story appeared about 35,000 words into the challenge.  
I've mostly left her hanging, lost in time and space, and working at survival, since December rolled in.  I wrote over 60,000 words, but Tisira needs to make it home (or does she?)  At least, she and her loved ones deserve resolution.....
And by rough draft, I do mean rough, in the NaNo sense of things.  I can edit it all in later rounds, this one is just for getting the basic story down where I can see it and play with fingers will hopefully fly like Hermes' feet, inspired by lives that must speak through me to have their stories told....I owe them that much!

I renewed my acquaintance with Tisira and her family.  I located the various sections of the last two chapters, which were tossed here and there sort of willy-nilly -  just as NaNo was ending, my Sweet L'il Lenovo arrived,and I began switching files, and working on the novel in odd places....anyway, I located the fragments, and, although they aren't yet all physically reunited, I have reread the last two chapters, doing some in situ editing and formatting as I went along.

I resumed my partnership with, too, and spent some pleasant time the last two   nights being, once again, thoroughly surprised by the things that seemed to have just been waiting to happen, although I had no idea they would happen that way.  I wrote 1590 words Monday night, and 1256 words last night, for a total of 2746 words since beginning  ROW80.  The story (in the middle chapters) is heading in some surprising directions, and I am eager to see where it will lead me over the next days...

I also got to remember just how much I love these characters and how the various elements of several of my passions are weaving through and around each other.  I'm grateful to have these people and their stories as part of my life again.....

I will submit at least four pieces, queries, or proposals to for-pay markets (like Elance, for example).  
The pay doesn't need to be much; but there should be money involved.  For over two decades I  have dreamed of making a living with the words that are always with me, the imagery and emotion that are part of every moment, the lessons I have learned or failed to learn, the fantasies that have made my world a more wonderful place to live.  
It still scares the shit out of me, to put myself forward this way.  I was raised to not look for compliments or toot my own horn.  But, if I do not, who will?  Who will know I have this burning desire, if I don't say so and back it up with action?  All I have is the rest of my life.  Submitting some effort at earning every 20 days seems like a not-too-daunting way to make that dream a reality.
I may choose to substitute an idea I've had for a private writing enterprise for one of these submissions.  I'm not really ready to talk about it yet, but the idea has been with me for several years now.  I would need to roll out a completed offer and post it publicly before I could count it.

This has, in fact, proven the most uncomfortable of my goals to work on.  There's something about putting myself on display that makes me feel as though I am trying to set myself above others.  It's bringing up a lot of emotion in me, and triggering doubts and fears I can't quite put names too, yet.

Rather than try to subdue or ignore these feelings, I am moving forward slowly, paying attention to them, because I have found it useful to go deeper into my emotions, and give myself time and space to understand them.  Not only is that good for my writing; it's great for the rest of my life, too!

So, I have gone back over to the Elance site, and made a cursory search of postings, adding 18 to my Watch list.  I am expecting to winnow that again, tonight, then perhaps once more, before selecting one job to write a proposal for.  Hopefully, there'll be more to report on this front by Sunday.

I have also searched for listings for erotic fiction  -  during my goals post, I realized just how important a part of my life my private erotica is, and that, if the purpose here is to pursue my passions, my passion
for passion could be a perfect place to start. ;)  It might be impossible to get hung up on putting myself "out there" if I am busily weaving sensuality to share...

There are some fascinating erotica markets out there, and I am really excited about creating a list of several to look into more fully.  Eden Mabee, a dear lifelong friend and fellow ROW80'er (and the one who introduced me to the concept), suggested
 Susie Bright's blog, and I plan to check that out this week, to.  More updates on that, Sunday, I hope....

I haven't written anything down yet, but I have been spending some time pondering my personal writing enterprise, and directions I could take it.  I plan on jotting some notes soon, either in Springpad, or in a trusty spiral-bound notebook.....and I am gearing up to investigate marketing opportunities and/or platforms, payment collection methods, and possible initial expenses for this venture....

I plan on having more to report on that front on Sunday, as well.  If things are still looking feasible in a week or so, I will probably first discuss it on my Facebook Writer Page , so feel free to take a look there, first, if you're interested....

All in all, I'm feeling pretty positive about this goal.  It may be a while before I feel comfortable, but this type of discomfort is usually a sign of big growth, for me, and I welcome that. =)

I will update, keep current on a weekly basis, and add writing samples to my Facebook Writer Page (Shan Jeniah Burton, Writer).
I started the page in the summer, when I made my first foray into Elance, and was looking to network more fully.  Life intruded, and the page has been ignored for months.  I will resurrect it, update it, and use it to recount my Various Adventures in Writing Land.  Both the successes and missteps will be valuable to me; and they might be to others, too......

I imagine this goal will be the least labor intensive, requiring only random pieces of time as I have them to spare.  It's more about returning that long-neglected orphan of a page to a state of kemptness and usefulness, and about publicly and unapologetically proclaiming myself as who and what I am -  Shan Jeniah Burton, Writer).

This one has been lots of fun.  I'm only just beginning to realize all the cool things I can do with the page, and, although it may take a while to figure them out, I plan to upgrade it little by little.

So far, I am remembering to post to it at least a time or two each day, and I have added one excerpt from Chameleon's Dish and one of my favorite blogposts to date, I'm THAT Mom.....  ,     I plan, over the next week or so, to post more of my favorite posts there.

I will also be posting updates there for my ROW80 goals, and track any submissions, contests, or other writing there.

I plan on spiffing the place up with some photos and favorite links, because the place doesn't seem to have a lot of character, yet........and I definitely do!  It ought to reflect that, I think....


So those are the goals, and my progress to date.  I feel like it is a good and solid beginning, and I am enjoying the challenge, each day, of seeing how far I can move toward these goals.

I am not pushing or forcing myself.    I am honoring myself, and fulfilling my need to write -  not as much for the goals as for myself, because I need this, for myself.

I'm doing it for joy, not obligation - as I mentioned in my goals post, doing it because I "Have To" doesn't work for me, anyway.

Neither does the much-offered advice to "Place Butt in Chair", on some regular schedule.  There is too much going on here, most days, for me to stay still for long.  The nature of our lives is spontaneity.  Jim is back to work today, and the kids and I have indulged in hometending, Mastermind, and making food (oatmeal and frozen pizza, so far).  I've been hauling lots of firewood, as it has been cold enough, the last two days, to have daytime as well as nighttime fires.

  Much of the wood we're burning, this winter, came from the huge hardwood beams of a barn built in 1913.  There are large, crudely forged bolts, black with age, and  joints have been cut into the beams.  They are solid pieces of history, and they set my mind to imagining the lives of the trees that provided them; the men (I am assuming it was men) who planed the beams and raised them; the animals who sheltered there....

For me, the simple tasks often seen as distractions from writing tend to feed my writing.  With my hands sunk deep in a sudsy dishpan, the sweetly aromatic steam rising up to meet me as I look out the window to more firewood and bicycles, and Gus, the old Dodge pickup truck that was the first thing Jim and I ever bought together, and which carried us around the country for years.  Gus hasn't gone far, these last eight years or so, but, this spring, we're fixing him up, giving him a fresh coat of paint, and preparing him for what may be our biggest adventure yet....

I've found that I can stay up all night to write, at least sometimes, and that there is something about being very sleepy and yet attentive, that connects me more fully to my own depths.

So I write in short bursts during the day, as life and other goals permit, and in longer stretches at night, after the house settles down, and people are asleep or engaged in quiet activities.

Doing what works best for me feels great!  I feel that I have a direction, and the endpoints are marked on my map.....but, as anyone who has ever driven anywhere with me will know, and as my children would be thrilled to tell you all about, I have a tendency to wander off course.  And the wandering always leads to an adventure of one sort or another, like the time the road I was following suddenly ended in a body of water!

Eventually, by a variety of means - asking someone, looking again at the directions I carry, retracing my steps, striking off in what I think may be the right general direction - I always find my way to the destination, although it may take more time and miles than I had anticipated.

For me, it truly is about the journey.....the exploration of my own depths along the way, the paths my mind wanders when left to its own devices...and the times when I reread some passage, and find Truth there...

I'm excited about what the next few days will birth, and where I will end up - but also about what scenery I will see, what experiences I'll have along the way....

Somehow, I've wandered off course, again, and unintentionally written my second essay.  So, that means I'm one-fifth of the way to achieving my first goal! =D

Now, I'm off to do some more living, which will lead to more writing......


Judith said...

Shan - I just loved how your goal discussion meandered - quite productively! - into the completion of another goal. It seemed real, natural, and unforced.

I tend to be on the left brain/anal-retentive side when the subject of goals comes up - not that I always meet them - I frequently blow them off - but I still maintain this fairly rigid approach, which requires me to rebel!

At any rate, reading your post reminded me that there's more than one way to think about a goal, more than one way to get there and staying in touch with yourself and your experience is an excellent approach.

yikici said...

Shan, I agree with Judith totally and in addition to that it seems you are very sure of your progress and where you want to get to -which is great; however, it does seem like you may have taken on a lot (goal-wise) but with your sure-commitment I sense your will prevail and suceed. :)

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Judith -

Thank you for your kind comment. I tend to be deeply intuitive - I don't care for rigid goals, which feel like a prison, to me.

For me, any goal needs to support my passions and interests. Goals are tools in my service, the same as my pens, notebook, car, shovels, and my computer (sweet and lovely a tool as it is, it's still a tool).

If you are inclined to poke around elsewhere on this blog, there are many, many examples of how naturally life and learning flow here (and how I translate these living, breathing, passionate moments into the dry and lifeless language of schoolspeak....).

It seems, these days, that my whole life is based upon spontaneous, rich, flowing living.

And that suits me, and everyone else here, just fine.

I realized I was writing an essay (and, no, I really wasn't trying to; it was more like I was thinking and feeling into the keyboard) about halfway through.

At first, I wasn't going to "count" this one, because it was, in my mind, "too easy", and, if I end up writing essays for every goal update (that's pretty likely, really!), that would have me finishing those essays in record time.

Somehow, that felt like "cheating", until I reminded myself that these goals are my own tools, created by me to meet my purposes. I also get to define them.

If it looks like I can do 10 essays quickly, easily, and well, then I can add some essays (or other writing) to my goals list as near 10 essays.

There's really no losing in that, and nothing to rebel against, either.

I hope that you are able to breathe and enjoy the process without getting too clenched about making yourself meet your goals. =)

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Yikici -

Someone else said that, too.

For me, it isn't about prevailing, because this isn't work. it's happy,self-indulging play.

I'm bot as much setting myself tasks as I am giving myself permission to play, and indulge in my passions more fully.

It would be hard to explain, if your life is very different than ours, but my life is not a demanding one. Most of my time is spent in activities that support our children's passions, and my husband's.

Now, as the children are growing, they are more and more able to pursue their own interests with less direct help from me. happily, they are also more able and willing to help out with hometending, and that has left my with stretches of time when nothing else is being asked of me.

So, some of these will be my writing time, my time to play with words, ideas, and images.

I am thinking, actually, that I will probably be adding some goals as time moves on. There are so many, many ideas percolating in my mind, waiting to be born.

I'm off to check on my onion stock - another thing I've given myself permission to do is play with food!

Thanks for taking the time to comment! =)

RevolutionaryVJ said...


I am both impressed and inspired.

Thanks for sharing all of these amazing goals with us!

I just discovered and am loving it. I am not sure how I ever managed to get any kind of quality writing done without it!

Hope you have a lovely, creative weekend!

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Revolutionary VJ -Wow! That is a cool name!=) -

Thanks for your comment. You brought me a nice smile on a sleepy and cloudy early evening....

I'm glad my goals provided you with some inspiration. As far as sharing them , you are more than welcome. I like to share!

I go through phases with It's a great way to do a "test mile" when I'm not sure I have the energy or inspiration to really get into writing, and, it gives me visible progress all along the way. It works really well when i have a specific timeframe in mind for completing something - I like to see my word counts go up!

I also really enjoy the analysis features....I've learned a lot about my writing by taking a few minutes to review the analysis at the end of each session.

Then I can copy and paste my new words right onto the endpoint of my novel chapter, which is easy-peasy.

I live with a 7.5 and 10 year old who have never attended school and whose imaginations and creativity are fully embraced and doubt it will be a chaotic, untidy, creative, snuggly, surprising, passionate, and lovely next few days. Our "weekend", though, won't be here till Monday and Tuesday, when Jim has his days off - we are on a chef schedule rather than a school one! =)

I wish you the delight of being surrounded by the magnificence of your own words breathing life. =)

Morgan Dragonwillow said...

I decided to come back to the beginning of this challenge and see what your goals were before moving on to the current goals/progress. I can see we definitely have some things in common and it will most likely be an adventure knowing you.


Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Morgan - I had the same feeling when I saw YOUR post! =D And that sweet little pink-clad beauty on your Facebook page - oh! SO lovely. Such life in those dark eyes....

I'm glad you joined the ROWing, and are embracing your dreams - and so I can get to know you! =D