2015 Goals: February Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

After spending a few weeks researching prospective agents, I finally got brave enough to send out two query packages. This is the first round of queries I’ve sent out since hiring an editor for my manuscript. It’s also the first run of a revised query letter.

I wish I could say all the revisions paid off instantly, but nothing involved with writing is instant! I’ve already received a rejection letter, which was actually very polite and even nice! While rejection sucks, receiving any sort of response is a win. This one in particular didn’t leave me feeling like a failure because it told me to keep trying, (this agent just didn’t feel like the right fit for my work).

While I wait for the second agency to respond, I’m busy working on the next round of queries I’ll be sending out in March.

2. Start writing Lineage.

On the shelf at the moment, as per my plan!

3. Submit poetry.

February turned out to be a pretty great month for poetry!

Back in January I submitted three haikus to local haiku competition and they ended up getting ranked as Outstanding (a status given to only 45 out of more than 600 entries). My haikus were put on display at a cultural festival and were also published in an ebook. All the details can be found in my recent post, A Haiku Victory!

In other haiku news, I quietly completed National Haiku Writing Month via NaHaiWriMo’s Facebook Page. The daily prompts were incredibly challenging (for example, the word “nuclear” was a prompt), but I loved every minute of it. I ended up writing more than 50 haikus by month’s end. Stay tuned as I’ll be posting selections soon.

In addition to NaHaiWriMo, I continued my involvement in the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. I didn’t miss a single Wednesday Poetry Prompt.

As for my black out poetry submission, I’m still waiting on the results to this challenge: WD Poetic Forms Challenge: Erasure Poetry. Regardless of how this one turns out, I’m still very inspired by this form. A new collection is already in the works!

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

When it came to poetry and queries, I’d say I was pretty darn focused this month!

5. Be flexible.

As always, I’m staying open to opportunities and inspiration wherever they may be hiding.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

Rejection Isn’t All That Bad

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The results for the 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge are in and I can honestly say the best poets were selected. The winner wrote some great poems all month long as did the four runners-up. In fact, two of the top five were among my favorite throughout the challenge. I am so happy to see them get the recognition they deserve!

My name was not among the winners list, but I’m still really proud of what I accomplished. Not only did I complete the challenge, but I discovered a true passion for the haiku form. For me, finding this passion is better than winning a competition.

Despite ending up in the slush pile, I am proudly adding this experience to my rejection file. While it’s instinctive to wallow (rejection is not exactly a pleasant feeling), the ninja writer in me is just motivated to push even harder and try again. In this case, my word of the year – persistence – is definitely flexing it’s muscle!

To celebrate both my newfound passion and another rejection, I’ll be constructing a chapbook for the haiku collection I created for the challenge. My muse and I are busing working on design and layout elements, so stay tuned!

The haikus continue to flow, along with senryu (haiku-ish poems dealing with human nature). The Wednesday Poetry Prompt on Poetic Asides keeps me inspired and my journal full. To close things out, here’s my most recent attempt at senryu:

scuffed with age
her wedding band sits beside
a cold cup of tea

 

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Goals: January Status Report

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1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

I’ve been quite busy on this front! My list of prospective agents continues to grow as I peruse the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino. I now have 14 literary agents on my list and I’m currently personalizing my query letter to align with their individual interests.

Towards the end of January, I participated in a Twitter Pitch event launched by a literary agency. My twitter pitch was not favorited, which means I can add another rejection to my growing collection. I don’t view this as a bad thing as gathering rejections is just part of a writer’s life.

2. Start writing Lineage.

Poetry, work, and query packages were the priority in January, so Lineage has been hanging out in the background. This isn’t a surprise to me as I don’t really plan on sitting down to write this thing for another few months.

3. Submit poetry.

This is another area where I was busy!

I entered three haikus in a local competition. Every year the downtown area plays host to a Japanese cultural festival. For this year’s festival there will be a haiku exhibit where winning poems will be displayed. I’ll know by February 14th if I made the cut.

I’m also holding true to my goal of hanging out with the Poetic Asides community via Writer’s Digest. Every Wednesday there is a prompt and invitation to post a poetic response. I use this opportunity to practice writing haikus and to read through the work of other poets. I love everything about this community of writers and the inspiration that comes with it. I’m happy to say I posted a poem every single week during January.

Lastly, I’m still waiting to hear on two competitions I entered back in December 2014: WD Poetic Forms Challenge: Erasure Poetry and the 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Results aren’t expected to come through until February, so I guess we’ll wait and see!

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

I stayed relatively focused. I wrote something almost every day and worked consistently towards pitching The Muse. My knitting habit and a nasty cold may have stolen a few days, but otherwise, my writing stayed front and center in my life!

5. Be flexible.

I’m finding inspiration everywhere. After a long hiatus, I’m back to walking to work in the morning. The silence of the world just before dawn has inspired a ridiculous amount of haikus.

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And let’s not forget the word of the year:

Persistence

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How are you doing with your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

2015 Writing Goals

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A new year means setting new writing goals! Even though 2015 has barely begun, I’m riding a huge surge of energy and excitement. After a bit of a lull in 2014, my muse and I are more than ready to jump back into the writing game with a renewed sense of motivation and determination.

I’m keeping my list of goals relatively short and open-ended so I don’t find myself in a corner should life circumstances change. At the same time, I’m looking to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to reach a new level in my writing.

1. Work towards getting The Muse published.

This goal can work on two different levels. I’m looking to pitch The Muse to agents and small publishers. Maybe I’ll get a bite and maybe I won’t, but I’m going to try!

While my focus will be on the traditional route of publishing, I’m not closing the door on self-publishing. As I work my way through the query process, I’ll also be researching self-publishing options as Plan B.

The big picture goal is to get The Muse in print, one way or another! It’s a polished draft that’s been through the ringer thanks to beta readers and my fantastic editor. It’s about time this thing got out to readers!

2. Start writing Lineage.

As I wait for responses to my query packages, (rejections or maybe otherwise!), I’m planning to make some headway on the sequel to The Muse. In 2014, I laid out the basics for Lineage, but much more work needs to be done. I need to finish notes and create a more detailed outline, (I’m not pantser!)

Ultimately, I’m hoping to start the first draft sometime in the summer. Sooner would be better, but I’m smart enough to realize my day job (which involves going for National Board Certification) is going to be very busy during the first half of 2015.

3. Submit poetry.

Last year, poetry started to play a much larger role in my writing life. I’m writing a lot of it in a number of different forms. This is a medium I want to continue to explore so I’m narrowing my usual writing submission goal to poetry.

I plan to get more involved on Poetic Asides via Wednesday Poetry Prompts, Poetic Form Challenges, and Poem A Day Challenges when they are offered. It’s a great community of writers that both encourage and inspire.

In addition, I’m looking into joining haiku communities online. I fell in love with the traditional and modern haiku form during the 2014 November PAD Challenge and I want to continue to grow as a haiku poet.

4. Don’t give up or get distracted.

Sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat, so I’m setting this goal to remind myself to stay on track. Between the day job, other creative pursuits, and life in general, it’s easy to get sidetracked. If I want to see my work in print and grow as a writer I have to work at it every day.

As I set out to query agents, I have to brace myself for the inevitable onslaught of rejection. There will be days when I’ll want to give up. Rejection is tough to take, especially when it hits in large quantities. The theme of Galaxy Quest will be my mantra: Never Give Up, Never Surrender.

5. Be flexible.

I set this as a goal last year and learned quite a bit from it. I liked being reminded that creativity is a fluid process as is writing and life in general. While my goals have some wiggle room worked into them, I’m also aware that things could change. Wherever the path leads, I’ll be open to following every curve.

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In keeping with a tradition in my writer’s group, I’ve chosen a Word of the Year to guide me as I work towards my goals. I decided to go with a word that I’ve heard countless times among writers and just about anyone else going after a dream:

Persistence

The only way to get I what I want is go after it with hard work and a stubborn mindset. Thankfully, those are two things that are hardwired into my personality.

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What are your 2015 goals?

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c.b.w. 2015

2014 Goals: Year In Review

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For 2014 I set five goals plus one “invisible” goal (which turned out to be the most successful of the bunch!). I didn’t accomplish as much as I originally set out to do this year, but I ended up learning a lot about myself as a writer and my status within the publishing process. Things don’t always go as planned, but ultimately, I ended up exactly where I needed to be for the next phase of my writing life. Taking that into consideration, 2014 turned out to be a pretty great year!

1) Pitch The Muse.

This goal is probably the best example of overshooting just a little bit! I started the year thinking I had a clean manuscript, but as the rejections started rolling in, I realized there was more work to do.

Hiring an editor to clean up my manuscript turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have made. Kristen Fairgrieve whipped out that red pen and gave my writing a good polish!  It’s amazing what a fresh pair of eyes can do for a fifth draft.

Once I got the cleaned up draft back, I still had to go back in a fix a few things here and there. That process took longer than I would have liked, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I’m trying hard not to beat myself up over that fact.

2) Outline and start writing The Muse: Lineage

All the extra and unexpected editing on The Muse downgraded this goal to a lower priority. However, the work I did on The Muse gave me a clearer sense of where I want to go with Lineage. The basic storyline is constructed, but I still have to fill in some of the smaller events on the timeline.

While it may not seem significant, the playlist for Lineage is largely completed. Music plays a huge role in my novel writing process, so this is a big deal! I have tracks that inspire arcs both main characters and help with plot development.

3) Submit writing.

I walked into this goal knowing my focus wasn’t on submitting as much writing as possible. With so much of my attention on The Muse, this was a goal to keep me going on my poetry. And it worked! I participated in two poetry challenges and submitted my work to both.

In April, I participated and submitted work in  April Poem A Day Challenge (on Poetic Asides via Writer’s Digest). I didn’t win on any level, but I enjoyed the process.

The latter part of 2014 was devoted to the 2014 November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge over on Poetic Asides (via Writer’s Digest). For this challenge, I went with a goal of writing 30 Haikus in 30 Days. This was no easy feat as many of the prompts had no relationship with nature (the traditional theme of haiku). Nonetheless, my muse enjoyed the double challenge. I learned it’s a lot easier to jump into the PAD Challenge with a theme and form to guide the writing process. Shortly after writing this post, I submitted my manuscript of 20 poems to the end of challenge competition.

4) Continue to build author platform.

Overall, my year in social media went pretty well. Facebook continues to be my favorite platform as the interaction is much easier for me to manage. As for Twitter, I’ve got a lot to learn!

Facebook likes went from 350 to 386

Twitter followers went from 542 to 549

Thanks so much to everyone for clicking those follow and like buttons! Your support is greatly appreciated.

5) Inspire others.

I hope I was a positive presence in 2014!

The invisible goal:

6) Be flexible.

Keeping myself open to opportunities and inspiration turned out to be my best kept goal of 2014. Having an open mind is what paved the way to hiring an editor (and learning a lot from that experience). Sure, it meant having to rethink Goal #1, but I ended up with a much better finished product.

The willingness to try new forms of poetry has opened up an entirely new side to my muse. The idea that haiku can be so much more than 5-7-5 has me creating and experimenting in ways I never thought possible. The same can be said of black out poetry, which has my muse working overtime (and going through Sharpies at an alarming rate).

Of course, the bigger outcome is the fact that I don’t feel limited by my goals. I like and need the organizational aspect of setting goals, but I also need the flexibility that creativity requires.

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How did you do with your 2014 goals?

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c.b.w. 2014