Reflections on the Old Year

On New Year’s Eve 2014, I wrote a list of goals that I wanted to achieve in 2015. It totaled over forty items, spanning four sheets (single-side) from a small, ruled notebook. I sealed that list in an envelope and scrawled “TO BE OPENED ON DEC. 31, 2015” across the front and the seal of the envelope. I tucked the sealed list in a journal and went about my business.

Yesterday, I opened that envelope and went through the list, checking off those things that I accomplished and making notes otherwise (e.g., maybe I accomplished part of a goal, or the goal needed to be modified during the year). Sadly, I didn’t check off most of my list, though I was proud of those things I did (the year wasn’t a total wash!). Among those was:

–Established a business banking account
–Found an accountant that specialized in small businesses
–Set up my author website
–Did book signings at independent bookstores
–Guest blogged on a site
–Got new glasses & a fresh supply of contact lenses
–Regularly exercised 3 times/week
–Wrote more handwritten letters, which of course led to
–Getting new stationery 🙂
–Got a new winter coat (not that I’ve had much occasion to wear it, what with temperatures being in the 60s & 70s for most of November and December 2015)
–Got more involved in my college alumni association and local chapter of the alumni club.

I also achieved some goals that I hadn’t listed, such as having my sports articles published in major, national publications such as Sports Illustrated (via The Cauldron on Medium) and Ms. magazine, and other articles published elsewhere around the web WOOT!  I was fortunate to make some cool connections with some like-minded folks in both the same and different industries, and I’m looking forward to our collaborations in the upcoming year.

I tried some new things and failed (applied for writing grants and submitted short stories to two publications), but got positive, valuable feedback that will set me up for success when I try again (and I was actually encouraged by The Powers That Be at each organization and publication to try again. How cool is that?).

Even those goals that weren’t accomplished were valuable. For some, they were only partially completed (I wanted to publish four books last year, but only did two: The Bastille Family Chronicles: Dominic and Stormbringer. That’s still better than zero. I also released BFC: Dominic and a previous book, Blizzard, in mass market paperback formats.).

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This a speculative fiction novel (a new genre for me!), written under the pen name Tai Daniels

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This is the second installment in the Bastille Family Chronicles series

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Now avaolable in mass market paperback, only on my website, tiffscribes.com

For others, they gave me an insight as to the work that was still to be done in order to check them off my list. Some goals were too vague, and some were too specific and didn’t allow for the twists and turns of life.

Still others became no longer relevant in retrospect, and these uncompleted goals are the ones to which I’m paying more attention. Their lack of relevancy to my life is forcing me to closeer inspect them and discover alternate routes that may be better suited to my needs.

Oprah Winfrey is often quoted as saying “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” While some of my goals weren’t reached due to personal error, others weren’t due to circumstances beyond my control. There may be a reason for this, and that reason may be that Goal X isn’t what I really need–or, upon reexamination, what I really want. Not reaching those goals may have been a divine form of protection, and it’s up to me to figure out if this is true, and the way forward if it is indeed true. And for those unrealized goals that were my fault, having a long, hard look at some harsh truths is the best way to garner progress. As the Twelve Steppers say, admitting a problem is the first step. 🙂

Though 2015 didn’t shape up to be all that I hoped it would, the year ended up a lot better than 2014 was, for which I am truly grateful. I’m excited and optimistic for 2016, and I’m looking forward to opening the sealed envelope of goals that is now inscribed, “TO BE OPENED ON DEC. 31, 2016”.

Happy New Year, all, and thanks for stopping by.

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Higher Levels, Bigger Devils

I love basketball. I get geeked for the start of NBA season, and March Madness is my personal holiday. I read sports-oriented publications, and I stan for Bleacher Report and its app, Team Stream.

Since its inception, I have enjoyed the online publishing portal Medium; specifically, its sports section, The Cauldron. While all and sundry can post their thoughts on Medium as a whole, certain sections such as The Cauldron are invitation-only, and if you’re selected, you have to show and prove.

I have never written about sports in an “official” venue, and never played sports a day in my life (unless you count high school varsity cheerleading, which many do not). Still, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and apply to write for The Cauldron.

My first article was rejected; no problem. As a writer, I’m no stranger to that. My second article was accepted, and has been getting good buzz. While I’m pleased, I’m also nervous. Medium reaches an audience vastly larger than my deliberately limited, personal social media presence. Suddenly, my ideas were exposed to a totally different audience…and along with the praise, came the trolls.

WHOA. What…who…WHAT?! To think that my six-minute read about granting NBA media access credentials to bloggers would strike nerves…it was interesting, to say the least, and at times amusing. And, I have to admit, kind of heady: that my words would make such an impact, become part of an ongoing conversation, and basically be  taken seriously (which is infinitely preferable to being considered a joke). That’s part of why writers write: to make that impact, to drive conversation, to call attention to an issue.

I’ve had people comment just to say they won’t read the article (huh?). I’ve gotten complaints that I didn’t take a firm stand on one aide versus the other (I did that on purpose). All this reminded me that when you strive for greatness, you catch more flak with each success. Or, as my late grandmother used to say, “Higher levels, bigger devils.”

Many of us say we want success but aren’t willing to pay the price. Part of that price, especially as a writer, is public exposure, and belief that someone out there wants to hear what you have to say. The flip side of that is opening yourself up to attack by those who aren’t feelimg what you have to say, or disagree with your right to say it. One article (so far) isn’t much of a down payment, but it’s a start. And the bill will only get bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.

On the Level (NaBloPoMo day 30)

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s blog count: 31

Total blog posts: 31

A phone conversation and a random YouTube interview intersected at a common point today.

I was on the phone with one of my sorority sisters, who is also a writer, albeit a bit earlier along in her career than I. We were discussing a writing conference she’d recently attended, and she asked me if I ever thought about pursuing a traditional publishing contract. I replied been there, done that, and given the current state of traditional publishing, I’m cool with the DIY route (self-publishing).

Later on this evening, I watched a 2012 interview on YouTube of NBA player Anthony Davis (“The Brow”), the star of the New Orleans Pelicans. Since the interview was for/by the Wall Street Journal and was during Davis’s rookie year, the focus was on his finances: how to deal with having such a sudden and large influx of money, how Davis spends it (or not), what the NBA teaches them about financial management during its Rookie Transition Program, etc.

One of the things Davis was asked, concerned the perception of the people in his life about him, since he signed his NBA contract after being picked number one overall in the 2012 draft. He spoke wistfully of having to end some friendships after he went into the NBA, because these people just wanted money, notoriety, etc, from him–the opposite of what a friend should do or be. He also spoke of keeping trusted advisers around him, including a financial manager and business manager, to keep both his bank account and sanity on track.

I thought about his words as I re-examined my own life, since I self-published my first book back in July of this year. While most of the people in my life have been supportive, there are those who have not. I’ve always had a good sense of “friends” versus “acquaintances”, especially as I grew older. And, for anyone who is a member of any type of extracurricular group (social, community-based, professional, etc),  the distinction is further delineated among “friends/sisters/brothers” and “members of the same organization”. There is something to be said for keeping your personal circle very small. At least it becomes easier to determine if someone is stabbing you in the back.

I am even more cognizant of the phrase “Water seeks its own level.” I never really understood that until a few years ago. It means that as you progress and succeed, you’re automatically going to gravitate toward those who are moving in the same upwardly mobile direction as you, and attract the same. I am noticing this in small waves; in the past month alone, I have been in contact with people and organizations that are more in line with the vision I have for my writing as a business.I’m getting requests to connect on LinkedIn that are mind-boggling.. Yesterday’s blog post was retweeted by the very author about whom I wrote (to which I responded with a fangirl squeal). And, in a moment of synchronicity, this same author had a tweet on his page that said:

Likewise, I’m remembering an old adage my grandmother used to say: “You can’t fly like an eagle if you’re surrounded by turkeys.” In order to succeed, you have to surround yourself with like-minded people. That’s not to say you should ignore everyone who is not on the same path with you, but you have to understand that your path has to be walked by you; no one else can do it for you. And sometimes, that path must be walked alone, or in the company of those other than your originally planned companions.

2015 is going to be a busy year. I hope to see some of you on the journey.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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Still Chillin’: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 14

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 0

Today’s blog count: 15

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 15

Yep, you guessed it: I’m still on a mini-writing hiatus. I will probably kick myself later on, but right now I’m just enjoying myself.

Plus, NCAA college basketball season started tonight in the United States, so… 🙂

Perhaps it’s best that I am taking this little break. I was approaching a point in my NaNoWriMo novel where I had no idea where I wanted the story to go. These past two days have allowed me to let that conundrum marinate in my head and allow an organic solution, versus one borne of the pressure of reaching my daily word count.

Although I must say, I miss seeing the little graph spikes on my word count tracker inch up every day. 🙂

There are still two weeks left, and I’m almost at 25K, so there is still time for redemption. I’ll get there.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Still on E: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 13

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 0

Today’s blog count: 14

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 14

 

It’s 11:34 p.m. ET and guess what? I have not written one single, solitary word today. And I’m cool with that.

I didn’t even realize it until I looked at the clock. Which is telling, in and of itself.

I guess my mind realized that it needed to rest. After taking my grandmother to her doctor’s appointment, I haven’t done anything significant other than making a large wok full of homemade chicken fried rice (it is GOOD),  reading (Thieves’ Paradise by Eric Jerome Dickey), watching NBA basketball (YEAH, BULLS!), Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. And playing Bejeweled Blitz and Mahjong. And checking the Bleacher Report app. And drinking wine.

And I have enjoyed every minute of it.

I’ll get back on the good foot this weekend but for now, I’m feeling a lot better, mentally. I hope that you all are still persevering with your writing (novel, blog, or both). See you in the hunt.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

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Out of Gas: NaNoWriMo/NaBloPoMo day 12

Total word count goal: 50,000

Total blog post goal: 30

Today’s word count: 1,032

Today’s blog count: 13

Total words written: 22,198

Total blog posts: 13

 

I ran out of gas today. I started rather late today after a looooong day of errands and exercise (and NBA basketball!), and didn’t start writing till around 9 pm EST. I started writing during halftime of the Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers game, and picked it up during time-outs and the Houston Rockets-Minnesota Timberwolves game (which is being played in Mexico). I wrote more dialogue and more speculative fiction stuff; in fact, this novel is shaping up to overlap between genres. Which will be interesting when it comes time to publish it; I’ll be checking lots of boxes when categorizing it.

Anyway, I only managed 1,032 words today, and I wanted to write my blog post before midnight (in accordance with NaBloPoMo). But, on a positive note, this is my 100th post on this blog. YEAH!

I have to be up early tomorrow, so I’m signing off. I hope all are doing well on their books, or blogs, or both.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Death and Dying: Building A Character Through The Ultimate Adversity

The words are coming in dribbles, for both Camp NaNoWriMo and Clarion Write-A-Thon. Maybe a spurt or two.

Perhaps I am affected by the agonizing wait for The Decision 2.0, if only to see who my beloved San Antonio Spurs will smack down in next year’s NBA Finals. 😀 And yes, I am rooting for the demise of the Miami Heat (although I love me some Pat Riley), because I’m petty when it comes to NBA hoops (although I will root for Shabazz Napier, whose style of play I enjoyed throughout his UConn career); plus, I’m very partial to four-year players).

ANYway…while working on the Camp NaNoWriMo project, I figured out the form of betrayal (mentioned in a previous post) that will catapult my character into the rather unlikeable person he becomes in subsequent books (albeit only mentioned in passing). Death has a way of doing that; not my character’s death, but the effect of death on his life.

What is it about death that completely bends and alters a character, much as it does a real-life person? Is it the finality of it all? The unknown (because everyone does not believe in any semblance of an afterlife)? Depending on the manner of death, it could be the suddenness, or even the lingering; each manner has its pros and cons. It could be the tallying  of life’s balance sheet and coming to the conclusion that you may just end up in the red. Or the realization that there is still so much to do, even if you’ve done a lot.  That effect is more pronounced in the taking of a life, be it accidental or intentional. No one ever recovers from that, unless you’re an assassin or psychopath, in which case it never mattered in the first place.

No one ever fully recovers from grief.

I’ve had death touch my life more than I preferred, so this may be yet another way of me working out some long-buried angst. Writing is much less expensive than psychotherapy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to researching diseases of the 1940s. I’m also reading City of Beads, the second installment of the Tubby Dubonnet novels, by author Tony Dunbar.

Thanks for stopping by.