Monday, December 30, 2013

Water Under the Bridge: A Year in Review

Two thousand thirteen has been a year of ups and downs in every area of my life. Writing, running, career, family, it's all been a roller coaster, but what a ride!

I had several pieces published both online and in print. You can read the flash fiction that won runner up in the WOW! Summer 2013 Flash Fiction contest, "Planning, Peppers, and Push-up Bras, or Daddy's Three Essential Rules of Success" here:  http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/58-FE1-Summer13Contest.html. I also won an honorable mention through WOW! in the previous season for "Blonde Curls and Scurvy Pirates." No publication, but at least an on-line mention and a gift card! I was also published in an on-line literary magazine called PaperTape, and you can read the story, "Of MITCs, MUTBs, and Malicious TFs here: http://papertapemag.com/  (you'll have to scroll to the bottom), and if you want to buy Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories, and read, "One Mile Shy of Death's Door" it's on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Spirits-St-Louis-Missouri-Stories/dp/0989568598/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388434232&sr=8-1&keywords=spirits+of+st.+louis+missouri+ghost+stories. There are also lots of other cool ghost stories in there, too.

On the business side, I was elected President of the local chapter of the Missouri Writer's Guild and (I think) did a decent job at that. We grew in numbers, had some great speakers, and learned some new information. I also continued to serve as newsletter editor for the state MWG board. That's not a hard job, simply a time consuming one. Currently I'm on a committee to help suggest names for the board for next year. I worked with a couple of small presses in St. Louis and will continue to next year. I've decided when I retire I either want to work for a small press or own/co-own one. It's a lot of work but a lot of satisfaction in helping people get published.

As for running (whimper!) I ran, I got injured. I ran, I got sick. I ran, I got injured. (See a pattern?) I put in a total of 690 miles for the year. My reasonable goal was 500, my stretch goal was 750, so I met the one and was a few short of the second. Considering I came into the year injured plus had to bow out of my marathon because of a severe ankle injury, I'm pretty proud I made it past 500. I ran my first trail race and DID NOT FALL (Inconceivable!) and really enjoyed it. I'll do that race again. And I also one first place in my age group a couple of times. I didn't break my 5k PR of 28:27, but considering my pattern of illness and injury, I'm not surprised. That's what next year is for, right? I did bring my mile time down to 8:27, which for me is WAY cool, but I know is no Olympic record, but still, three years ago I just about died running a 12:12 mile.

School Fall semester? I survived. Next?

So, goals for next year?

Finish my novel Shadow of Redemption. Get it edited professionally. (I've already sent the check!) Get it accepted and professionally published. (No, I'm not self-publishing. I'm not frowning on the practice by any means, I'm merely saying I don't want to go that route. I don't have the time and I would rather sacrifice a little of the profit to have other people do some of the work.) Possibly get the publisher to look at sequels or spin-offs (which I have outlines/drafts of both). I'm going to apply to Clarion http://clarion.ucsd.edu/ and/or Clarion West http://www.clarionwest.org/ and try to get accepted to one of their programs. They are highly prestigious science fiction and fantasy workshops and with that kind of experience under my belt and on my resume, I can go into any pitch session/ write any query letter and add an extra gold star to my name.

I also want to use this blog to review books. One of the things I haven't been doing enough of is reading books. I also like to support other authors. So...the logical thing to do is to use my blog as an excuse...ahem...reason to read more and support other writers who write good stuff. Win/win!

As for running, I'd like to run one more marathon and beat a 5:30 time. Nothing earth shattering, but for me that would be an accomplishment. I'd like to run a 2:20 1/2 marathon, a 55 minute 10k, and a 27 minute 5k. If my body is able to withstand 1,000 miles next year, that would be awesome, but I'm going to listen more to what my body is telling me so I don't push to the point of injury. THAT would be a huge accomplishment: one year with no running injuries.

I'm also going to take a few education tests to get certified in more areas in case other jobs pop up. I'd really like to work with high schoolers/adults at the career center, but someone would have to leave for that dream to come true.

I also have made the personal commitment to de-complicate my life. (Yeah, yeah, after those three previous paragraphs?) No, seriously. I've come to the point in my life I realize I've branched my horizons in too many directions and I need to start focusing or I'm going to tear myself apart. That's what happened this last semester and my emotional and physical selves took a beating. It wasn't pleasant and my relationships and work suffered for it. During the semester break I've been considering what I NEED to do, what I WANT to do and what is REQUIRED that I do, and I am taking steps to try to protect myself from that disaster again.

The key for me is self-forgiveness. I always feel guilty for saying "no" or not doing things I know I can do. Just because I can do them doesn't mean I have to! Where did I get that crazy idea? Running around like a maniac woman trying to put out this fire here, that fire there, gets nothing done, pleases no one, and is inefficient. Focusing on a few things and doing them well, while also giving myself downtime to enjoy life will make me more productive (and easier to live with!)

And that, my friends, is the 99th Revision I've written. The next one I write will be next year and number 100. What's in store? Who knows. But that's why stories, and life, are sometimes so much fun. Until next time. ;-)