Monday, January 01, 2007

Trifecta ...

Happy New Year! May it bring joy and success to you.

It is the triple-whammy of new beginnings: a new month, a new fiscal quarter, and a new year. Beginnings are great. Review the past. Learn a little from mistakes. Move forward with confidence and optimism.

Let's take a look at what I set out to do for the last fiscal quarter.

* Have web site live by October 9th.
Completed on time. It's always nice to have a goal you know for certain can be done.

* Submit two new stories by December 30th.
Okay. Now I start to eat crow. One story was finished. It took six months from start to completion. Agonizing edits, sections rearranged, darlings killed, on and on. But done and submitted. The second story is going into the ash bin. Time to start anew.

* Catch up with word count for Two Year Novel Class.
Not even close. Excuses to follow.

* Critique one story a month on the Forward Motion Writer community.
I did one for October but didn't follow up for the next two months. Another 'F'.

* Complete second draft of SF novel.
Didn't even complete the edit, never mind the re-write. F-

Overall, rather poor effort. The investors are nervous, or bored. Some have fled.

There are excuses. The holidays certainly take up a lot of time in many little ways. The night job is the big killer. I can't get into a routine as there is no one block of time when I can sit down at the keyboard regularly. But, that isn't going to change and it's time to suck it up and figure it out.

To be continued ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I haven't done critiques in FOREVER. Heh...and I don't plan to, except for the occasional pal who sends me an email saying, "So, whaddaya think?"

I've got, at most, until the 16th to avoid working on the 2YN. Then I just have to, because I'll be out of excuses.

I know it's hard to work in 15-minute bursts, but have you tried it? I wrote a whole novel that way. If you can tell yourself, "Okay, I've got fifteen minutes here. I can do about 500 words in fifteen minutes," and then sit down, you'll find that you actually have longer than that. But yeah, waiting for a big block of time is fruitless.

Good luck! You can do it, Todd. And I saw you're going to a con in February. Is this a place where editors and agents are? Could that be the shove you need?

January 1, 2007 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Never tried isolated 15 min bursts. More like 15 on, 5 off, 15 on, etc. Since my computer can take a good 10 minutes to boot up, I may have to resort to pen and paper. I'll give it a try. This month, everything gets a try.

As for the con, going to go with low expectations. Mostly to network, meet other writers, attend some intereting sessions. Anything else will be gravy.

Mmmm. Gravy.

Thanks for the props, Cheryl!

January 1, 2007 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Camille Alexa said...


And a Very Happy to you as well. I would say of your fiscal q. review that you ought to be a little more forgiving toward your own best resource (yourself). Nobody who puts forth genuine effort gets that many Fs in one semester; and F-? You're your own personal TA from the bowels of Hell. Who but one's self would dole out F-minuses on one's own efforts?

And as for low-con-expectations; sometimes, the gravy is better than the beef. Come, make friends. Most of us don't bite unless you ask very, very nicely.


January 2, 2007 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

"You're your own personal TA from the bowels of Hell." Nicely put. :-) I like it.


Thanks for the kind words. If the post came across as rather harsh it was more to motivate myself not flagellate (my, I do seem to be spending the ten cent words tonight.)

Believe me, I gave myself quite a few mulligans in December when, after working until 3am, I chose a nap instead of writing while my daughter was in school. Now that things are getting back to simply busy, I've got to buckle down.

And I certainly didn't mean to imply that meeting new friends at Boskone would be of little value. On the contrary, it will be my highest priority.

January 2, 2007 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

I hear yeah on those word count thingies. Keep at it, time will come. Nothing is wasted (even if you toss the story, you know the lessons that story taught). And definately do not (repeat, do not) compound word counts adding the missed targets to the next quota. That pile gets too high too fast. Get those scraps of paper together (you are writing thoughts when you get them? Even if you have to kill them later write them down, it's brother of a better idea may be right behind waiting to get out). Having a standard time to write is a Very Good Thing(tm), but you can get by without it.

I've never tried writing in 15 minute bursts. I've done reading that way. Might have to try that.

Cons are great places. Especially when you have someone you want to meet. Several other blogs have great tips on what to do at Cons:
Theresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden,
Tobias Buckell, in his serialized "Getting Past Being Joe Blow Neopro" has some great tips for attending cons.

My best advice for Cons, go to the panels you like, want to hear, but sign up for the coffee/beer klatches, look into the bar, the con-suite, and open parties. Much more happens in those places than on the panels. Be prepared to stay up late. All cons are different, find the ones that most appeal to you (takes time, money and research).

And be a nice person. Nothing beats being a nice person.

Oh, and budget for purchases. You're going to make them. Having some external, "I can't buy everything," switch can help.

January 2, 2007 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...


Thanks for the tips. I'll check out those links.

Yes, a budget. High on the list for this year.

How do you all budget your writing expenses? What do you plan to spend on? I'd be more interested to know about your categories (e.g. pencils, books, gin and tonic, etc.) than dollar amounts since we all have different priorities on that score.

January 2, 2007 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Steve Buchheit said...

Huhn, I guess I've never budgeted that part. I'm fortunate to have a good day job that covers a lot of costs. Depending on how far you want to go there could be categories for gas (travel to cons, publicity, and/or agent/publisher), etc.

Working in the print business, paper and pens are easy to come by. While I'll write a page or two longhand, my hands won't tolerate more than that. Most of my hand stuff is either notes (little scraps of paper everywhere) or sentence restructuring. I write everything else on the screen (then there are also the moments exemplified by Toby on West Wing, "Paper is for wimps.")

Then you'd have books (I'm using the library more and more), computer (hard and software), postage (and envelopes), paper (ah, office snarfing, how we love thee), red pens (hard to find in the office (I buy a pack at Marcs every "back to school" sale), internet connection, celebratory items.

I'm planning on going to Confusion. So for parking and room, two nights ($200), registration (dang they pulled a fast one on pre-registration, $45), food and drink (3 days, travel and there, figure $60-$100), gas ($35 or so)… Why am I doing this? Oh yeah, because it's worth it to see other people who enjoy what you want to do. I try to keep my spending in the dealers' room to below $100. I don't by rare books, so that helps. Also, I tend to know what books I have, what books the library has, and what books I'm looking for. If I use the ConSuites and open parties and bring my own stuff, I can cut down that food and drink cost dramatically.

January 3, 2007 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Southern Writer said...

I read your short, Paper or Plastic and adored it. What a great imagination you have. Do you work two jobs, or just one at night, and take care of your daughter during the day? Don't worry about how many words you write, just make sure they're all good ones.

January 6, 2007 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Todd Wheeler said...

Thanks for the praise for the story.

I have three jobs:
- Writer
- Stay-at-home-dad
- Night-crew at a local Trader Joe's

I think that's enough for now. ;-)

January 7, 2007 at 8:17 AM  

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