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Monday, March 26, 2012

About Those Goals ... (March Madness Check-In, Day 26)

I couldn’t help but recall Mother’s warning. “Never mind what you intend, Janni,” she’d cautioned. “A journeyer’s path is neither clear nor straight, and the Land may have other plans. You cannot know where you’ll end up.”




"Guys, I can do this!!" - Four week old kitten scales the leg of a jean-wearing human. Photo © Laura Sheana Taylor.

Welcome to the second day of the very last week of March WIP Madness! Just five more days until the month comes to a close. Can you believe it?

And what a month it's been! Ups, downs, challenges, the unexpected ... and of course, the goals we started out with. What did you set for yourself? What did you intend to accomplish?

Now for the tough question: What have you actually done?

... Okay, deep breaths. Relax, I mean you no harm.

The truth is, I'm a big believer in the idea that if something hasn't gone as planned, then that's the way things were supposed to happen. I'm not talking about the unexpected change of plans like I discussed last week. I mean on the larger scale. Maybe a story isn't ready to be written. Maybe there's more work to be done before you can even think of that other goal on the list. Maybe you need to encounter or read or watch just the right thing to do your work justice. Or maybe something else of equal importance has to happen first.

My point is, we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it if we haven't been making our goals. The fact that we have goals, that we signed up for this month of Madness in the first place, means that we are doing something, taking charge of what we *can* control, and making the most of it when we can't. And that's what matters.

(Not that this is an excuse to slack off, mind. This is March Madness.)

I love participating in monthly goals posts. I think they push me to do more because they help me stay focused and accountable. I may not always manage to get everything I wanted done, but I don't lose sight of what I want to achieve, either. And doing it this way, as part of a community? Whether it's once-weekly or thrice-monthly, or even just a twitter hashtag, the fact remains that it's done together, and we can all encourage each other.

My own goals took a major turn. There was a lot more that needed to be done for the sake of the story, to tell a better story. I'm not going to manage one of the items on my personal March WIP Madness Goals list, sending out queries, because I need to make these changes, first. No, it's not what I started out with, but I am sure glad it happened the way it did. Now the rest of the week will be pushing to get as much of that as I can done.

So, Wipsters, how about you? Are you where you expected to be with your goals? Any major twists or turns? Remember, we have less than a week left in this challenge, and we have each other for encouragement and support. Let's make it worth it!

And remember to check in with Denise Jaden tomorrow for more encouragement (and prizes, too)!

48 comments:

  1. Go, go everybody. I've had a good March Madness. Finished the first draft on my WIP and now my goal is to get to page 150 of my manuscript for book mapping by March 31st. I'm at 82 as of this a.m. So I may make it.

    You are all awesome!

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    1. You go, too! That's fantastic, JRo. Wishing you speed and success.

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  2. OMG, Laura, looks like your goals and mine met up for a drink. This part of what you said is exactly what happened to mine:

    "There was a lot more that needed to be done for the sake of the story, to tell a better story. I'm not going to manage one of the items on my personal March WIP Madness Goals list, sending out queries, because I need to make these changes, first."

    But it's so close I can taste it. So much so that I really, really wanted to revise a little this morning, but I managed to restrain myself. The WIP is staying in time-out until the end of the week.

    The good thing is I've been otherwise busy these past few days working on my reading goal. I read another great book yesterday afternoon: IF I TELL by Janet Gurtler. Couldn't put it down. Then I started JELLICOE ROAD last night, so I think I'll make my goal of 8 books!

    Then there's life. Our house closing is today and we move on Wednesday, so I'm going to keep that book close as everything else finds its way into a box. We're taking down our computer server today, but I should be able to check in from my phone as life gets (more) crazy!

    Good luck on those goals, everyone!

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    1. "OMG, Laura, looks like your goals and mine met up for a drink." -- I've been snickering over that all morning.

      Happy moving! And hopefully you can get more work done before the month is out.

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  3. I have to agree with this statement, too: "There was a lot more that needed to be done for the sake of the story, to tell a better story."

    Although I finished my wip, there is still so much more to be done. But my goal was to get the basic story out of my head and into a manuscript, which is what I did. Now I need to go back and shape it into the real deal. I will do that some time in April.

    Happy Monday, everybody!

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    1. Linda, I think the fact that we're willing to stop and make those changes because we want the story to be better matters so much. For those of us aiming for traditional publishing, we'll have to be able to handle making changes as the agent and editor tell us to. Better than just deciding it's done and refusing to change it at all.

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  4. I had one large goal (write 20k on my WIP), and two smaller: write a synoposis of another WIP that was out with betas, then do agent research for queries.

    I realized fairly soon that my beta WIP needs some work. It was getting to one of those pulling-my-hair out stages, so I tossed it in a drawer for now. So no need for a synopisis or agent research.

    As for the big goal - I've written about 14k. I'm going to try to write 1k each day the rest of the week and I think I might actually make it :)

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    1. Sometimes a break is what we need. Yay you on the 14K! Good luck on the last six!

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  5. Hey hey! My biggest goal change has been on the writing front. I was going for finishing up the second draft. Um. No. The story is changing in leaps and bounds and this last week I've been in that thinking state-where you have to take a break from the actual writing to let it all simmer (or maybe fester depending on how good the idea turns out to be...hah!).

    But, I seem to be establishing a pattern...write during the week, blog and read during the weekend? Er, I think.

    And yes, I totally agree on changing as needed. I know we can I know we can! Awesome post. Gooooo Wipsters.

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    1. I admire you for *having* a pattern, Deb. :) And yes, I agree about having to sometimes let things percolate while you work on something else. Or, um, get up from your keyboard and start cleaning the house ... *blush*

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  6. I am totally with you on that one. I find my writing needs time and if I try to force it too much, the story suffers. Things need to gel.

    Yesterday was a "gel" day, I guess. After a wicked bout of insomnia, I was useless. My WIP sat lonely and untouched all day yesterday...except in my head. I was still revising in my head. Little "aha!" moments that I hope I remember, since I didn't write them down.

    So today, after I interview NY Times Best-selling author Heather Graham, I will plunge back into revisions and kick some booty! Can't wait to share the interview too!

    Go, wipsters, go!

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    1. I love those "aha" moments! But I'm at the point where I keep a pen and notebook with me all the time because of them.

      Hope your sleep has been better. That *really* sucks when it happens.

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  7. Laura, I completely agree with everything you said. "For the sake of the story," right on!! I may not have achieved everything I wanted to in the beginning of March, but I have achieved pride in what I've written. It's a rare moment, folks.

    Isn't that what really counts? Taking pride in what you HAVE accomplished and knowing that what you've produced is the very best.

    Go, JRo!

    "So I think I'll make my goal of 8 books!" Woot, Kiperoo!

    Super job, Linda!

    You can do it, Jennifer!

    "The story is changing in leaps and bounds" That's awesome, Deb!!

    Go, Mary Ann! Sometimes the Ah, ha! moments are exactly what we need. Gelling is productive. :)

    Will check in later, wipsters! Need to get out of the jammies and begin some rewrites. :)

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    1. Yes, you go, Candy! It's important to be pround of what you've done. Can't wait to read those 50 pages when you're ready to send them!

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  8. LOVE that cute picture :)

    Good morning. I ended up derailed after four days of the flu. Not fun. But this morning I feel much better and was able to wake up and write.

    As to my March goals, I've kept fairly close to accomplishing all that I wanted, and it's more than I managed to accomplish the previous two months. I also enjoy the month goals and being held accountable in a supportive group makes it seem less daunting. I don't seem to hold my own as well when I'm making that journey by myself. I'm so glad to have joined up.

    Go wipsters!!!

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    1. Thanks, Marie. I love I Can Has Cheezburger. They're such a great source of cute and hilarious phoros. :)

      That's great to hear that you've been able to stay on track with the goals. I think that this is why community matters so much for writers. Have a wonderful rest of the month!

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  9. I agree, I think things always turn out, even when they don't *turn out*. I took a few days off to visit some family, but I'm back in the swing of goals today! Perusing through blogs and I'll get some writing done this afternoon!! :D

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    1. That's the spirit *exactly*, Cortney! Go you! :D

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  10. "There was a lot more that needed to be done for the sake of the story, to tell a better story."

    Yep. Today I must tackle the changes that need to be made in the last 50 pages of the historical. I've spent the past couple of weeks working out the scene changes in my head, now I must see if I can pull them out and put them on paper.

    Here's to a fabulous week, Wipsters!!!!

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    1. Hope it goes well! It seems to be a running theme today that almost everyone here has needed to take some time to let things percolate. We care about our stories. That's vital. Best of luck with the rest of the week!

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  11. This has been a month for me to prove my diligence. It's not over yet, so of course I've still got a few days of pushing through to go. And I'm finding it especially hard the last couple of days. surprisingly, my motivation is fairly high, but now it's a lot of family/life stuff getting in the way. I think it'll be another day of little sprints today, but I'm determined to try and get at least 2k.

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    1. Yep, real life. I can understand *that* challenge. May you be able to be productive despite the challenges today!

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  12. I joined the party yesterday, but I had a very successful weekend with my story. I started my new writing blog, and began to post there, got the first 10k words out of my head, and will use the remaining days in March to complete another 5k and go over my previous work just to tidy it up a bit.

    I'm also going to continue to ponder what I read on lstaylor's blog about the tense of her piece.

    I've loved my story as 1st person present, but what if that's not the BEST pov??

    Lots to ponder!

    Kelsey Macke

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    1. Marie, hope you're feeling better!!

      Angelina, *cheering* you on!

      Go, Cortney, Go. :)

      Denise, diligence is good, and you can do 2k, easy-peasy. :)

      Kelsey, welcome aboard :)) One of my favorite SCBWI friends writes a lot of POV posts on her blog. She's published many times and has a lot to offer! http://www.mollyblaisdell.blogspot.com/

      Okay, a bit of #wipmadness rappin', as promised...

      "So, I woke up dis mornin'
      and jumped outa bed.
      I got these shiny ideas rattlin'
      'round inside my head.
      Pik me! Pik me! the plot bunnies cry.
      But, I be revisin', ain't fallin' for their lie."

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    2. Welcome, Kelsey!

      I hope you can figure out the tense issues yourself. I loved mine, too, but realized that both commercially and story-wise, changing it was best. Great success so far!

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    3. Oh, Candy, thanks for making me laugh. Great rap!

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  13. You're so right, at least we HAVE goals!! This week is all about introducing and weaving through an analogy, which means a lot of writing of the past drafting and moving ahead. Overwhelmed? Yep! Gunna try? Yep!

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    1. I hear you, Girl. I'm currently embracing some accidental allegory that I think will serve the story well, and also making the evil uncle evil-er. ;) And it's daunting. But we can do it!

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  14. After a momentary setback, I'm jumping back into March Madness with the goal of finishing the short story I'm writing.

    I achieved my first big goal (finish draft #3 of the WIP). I decided to postpone my second goal, because I'm not quite ready for it (draft synopsis and query letter). My third goal involved writing multiple short stories on each of my novel ideas to figure out what to write next. I've only started one of the short stories but I'm almost certain this is the story I'm meant to tell.

    I think as writers we train ourselves to aim high - sometimes too high - because writing a novel is such a huge endeavor. The only real way to reach the finish line is by trying and failing repeatedly until we get there.

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    1. That's wonderful to hear that you accomplished that big first goal, Beth! And as I said to Angelina above, it really does seem like this is a running theme, folks needing to let things percolate right now so that when we *are* ready to go for it we can.

      And March Madness is all about aiming high. Think of how much can be done even if we only achieve half of what we set out to do!

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  15. Love the photo and the message: I think I can.

    So far this month I'll taken the leap of faith to tackle this revision. I'm almost at the halfway mark. I continued on even after the answer to a proposal was turned down. Also when I found out my book wasn't selected to have audio tapes made of it. I mean, I've been down and admit there was times this month that I thought, "Why am I continuing to do this?" But then again there's been other bright spots like the re-release of my first book Earrings of Ixtumea with a better home: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007OUHYH6

    Mandy at YA Books Central sending me a package of galleys I've been wanting. Getting positive feedback from others around me. This biz isn't for the faint of heart that's for sure. One thing I promised myself is not to rush through a project, especially if I want that so-far elusive agent. I need to continue on and persevere.

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    1. I agree, Kim. We all have to keep on keeping on, right? Sounds like you're doing just that.

      I thought the kitten suited. ;)

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  16. I've had an unexpected week. I wish it had been only related to my story. As a result, I'm a week off track, but I'm determined to keep plowing through. I received edits from my editor yesterday, so I'm switching gears. It all counts, right? :)

    I enjoy reading about everyone's progress.

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    1. It definitely counts, Alison! Especially when real life gets in the way. Go you!

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  17. Okay...well, it looks like I had to put on the brakes to do some research, but it's a good thing, really. I don't wanna go too far into it at the moment, but I have a line on an agent. However, I have to do some marketing research first. So I'm scouring companies for new releases in my genres. And then I have to write a letter of intro and such. Very promising and the agent likes my voice and is interested, even though it's not something they normally rep. So, must like my voice a lot, I guess. ;) So, how's that for things not going as planned? ;)

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    1. Oooh, good luck with that, Daniel! That sounds amazing, and *definitely* fits. I've used up my free spins with agents and when I start querying again, I'll definitely be querying cold. But hopefully when I start again, I'll be ready.

      What genre? Just trying to think if I can help with suggestions.

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    2. Sci-fi romance, epic/military/space opera in style and scope, but there's some other bits making it difficult to find similar stuff without having to look into the separate genres as well. I can shoot ya a sample if you want a good idea of what I'm looking for.

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    3. If you like, but I can't promise I'll look at anything before the month is over. :)

      Have you read Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar series? Fantastic stuff. Worth checking out.

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    4. I have not. I'll have to look it up. And I sent chapter 1 your way, in case you get the chance. Course, the email might explain why I'm having issues. ;)

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  18. 1000 words for me today.

    I am on pace to hit my goal, although the last couple days have been slow.

    Way to go everyone!

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    1. A thousand words is still pretty great, Brandon. And everyone needs to slow down and let things percolate a bit (a common theme this week, it seems). You've definitely made amazing progress this month. That's awesome in my books. :)

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  19. My goal overall was to be more productive and I've been more productive than I have in a long time. When plans changed with regards to my MG WIP, I just kept writing, though focusing my energies on another WIP. I didn't want to stop because I hit a roadblock. And I know that I'll eventually gain new perspective and new grounds on the MG WIP.

    I've accomplished most of my other goals. A week left to Script Frenzy and I'm prepping away. Read The Games of Thrones for the marathon event downtown, engulfed The Hunger Games this weekend and I'm already halfway through Catching Fire. I found that as long as I've stayed creative in some aspect, I've succeeded.

    Thanks again to March Madness for keeping me *sane*. Go figure. ;-)


    Cheers,

    Tonette

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    1. Tonette, I swear, it's because we're all in the eye of the March Madness storm. As long as we're here and all mad together, then it's all good (and it's the rest of the world that seems crazy). Looking good!

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  20. This struck a chord for me: "Maybe a story isn't ready to be written." When I was struggling with a story a couple years ago, I finally came to realize exactly that. It was tough to accept, because at first it just seemed like a cop-out, like I was giving up, not trying hard enough, yada yada. I really believe we often DO need to push through when the going gets tough, but honest evaluation (and serious soul-searching) sometimes tells us that it just isn't the right time for that story.

    But I digress, lol. Not a lot accomplished today (well, not a lot of revising... I got tons of paperwork/email/odds-and-ends taken care of that I needed to have done before month-end, so that's good, and it frees my mind to focus on revisions). I should have a couple hours tonight & hope to get through another chapter. Thanks for your post, Laura!

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    1. You're still getting stuff done, Shari, and that's what matters! Wishing you more productivity as the week winds to a close. :)

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  21. Love the photo, Laura. Optimism goes a long way towards success in this business. I posted on my blog about not getting a clear view of my ending yet and how disconcerting that is, even though I know it always happens at this point in my mss. I'm plodding along in a fog, but I'm still plodding, so that's good, isn't it? Admittedly, I didn't get much done today... an hour's worth this morning and then was out all afternoon and have had family visiting here this evening. I'll do another hour now, and then that's it for today.

    I've also been participating in Seekerville's "Speedbo" this month (it's much like our March Madness), and I won a synopsis critique there on the weekend, which is a real morale booster.

    I saw via Twitter of Angelina and Denise's successes so I think this turned out to be a good writing day for both of them. Way to go, gals!!! Just five days left for us now. Keep at it, wipsters!

    Carol

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  22. I'm the accidental March Madness participator who posted on Twitter about not meaning to enter the #wipmadness.

    Seeing the excitement, enthusiasm, and support motivated me to get going on something new without actually *meaning* to.

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