When this post goes live it will be December 31st—so, Happy premptive New Year, if that’s when you happen to be reading this!
I’ve always been good at making goals, it’s sticking to them where I’ve always fell flat. Not that I haven’t tried. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who made a list of goals and stuck with them until they were accomplished, but, up until recently, consistency has been my greatest enemy. Notice that I said “up until recently”: 2017 has been different. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it or write you a “10 Tips for becoming more consistent” article that would make get my name published somewhere, even if it was buzzfeed (why do you have to have standards, Rae?). Maybe I’ve been getting better at believing the mantras that I repeat to myself. Maybe I’ve just been repeating them for long enough that I’ve tricked myself into believing them. Maybe something just finally clicked in my brain. Maybe it’s the ever encroaching 30 year mark (I’ve been told there’s a switch in your brain that gets flipped at 30 and, magically, you start “thriving” or something). I don’t know what it was, but, while in the past there was always this thing at the base of my skull that was very convincing and always found reasons not to stick with anything, now there’s something else, maybe that thing’s mama smacking it upside the head and telling me that doing that thing I’m avoiding will take less than 10 minutes and I’ll feel better in the long run having done it.
At the beginning of 2017, I had intended to set goals for myself, my writing, my reading, and this blog, but I never got around to it. I did attempt to do a 365 project with blackout poems and the whole instagram thing, but I found myself burned out around May (which is a hell of a lot longer than all my other 365 projects have lasted). It didn’t help that I found myself in a depressive hole around that time, as well. So, I checked out, I binge watched Father Brown and wondered why I can’t stick with anything. That was when the mama of that thing who was whispering to me from the base of my skull not only smacked her child upside the head, but me, as well. She seems to have unstuck me with a force I wasn’t expecting. Half way through May, I started sitting at my computer every day and writing—world building, character sketching, & outlining a story I had nearly given up on. I finished the first draft of the first book of The Eyes of Texas series in early September. It was the first first draft I had ever completed and it shot my confidence up like a rocket. Maybe confidence isn’t the right word—self-esteem? Self-love? Self-acceptance? I don’t know, but now everything feels lighter, brighter, rose tinted, and possible. I am a lump of clay that only I can shape and mold. For the past two decades, I’ve been neglecting that clay, if not beating it full of anxieties, fears, paranoias, and defeat. It’s time for that to change and I think I’m finally in the place where that can happen.
In January of 2017, the only goal I had managed to come up with was to release anything that was holding me back and preventing me from being happy, being free. I forgot about that goal constantly, eventually entirely until writing this post. Maybe the was the key: setting the goal and then forgetting it (like a soul crockpot, or something). Here it is, December, and, while I’m not actually sure that I’ve released all that much, it feels like I’ve released a decades worth of tension from my shoulders. I think the real key is that I’ve learned what it means to truly forgive myself, pick myself back up, and continue moving forward. In the past, when I’ve fallen down, I would just lie there, letting the waves grab hold of me and drag me out to sea. It’s the reason I would get lost out there so easily. I think Anne Bonny finally found me, righted me, and set me straight. Brigid has finally set her torch in the lighthouse so I can navigate these familiar, yet somehow still foreign waves. Or maybe her torch has always been there and I’m just now seeing it, hearing her call, feeling that strength to start fighting, really, truly fighting.
But this wasn’t supposed to be some sort of therapy session. I apologize. Let’s get back on track.
I want to keep moving forward with releasing the things that don’t serve me and I’m ready to start embracing and recognizing the things that do. I want to jump back into instagram and I want to try and start a youtube channel. I also want to be more active on this blog and possibly Bat Wings & Skeleton Keys, but I’ve learned over the past year to take things slow and not to try and mimic the pace of those who don’t have a creature at the base of their skull who needs to be shut out and ignored.
I definitely want to start writing up reviews again, even if they’re not deep or thought provoking and just my rambling thoughts. I really do love talking about books, plus talking about the books that I read helps me to better process them and to retain the information for longer than if I just read it and toss it aside. My plan is to sit down and write a review within the week after I finish a book. Shouldn’t be too hard.
As for prompts: I’m still going to do them and the story helpers, I really like those, as well, however, I’m going to structure them a bit differently this year and see how it works out.
So, basically, the Monday prompts are going to be focused on creating/establishing a character or a setting. Not so much coming up with a story right then and there, but rather focusing in on who this story is about or where it takes place. Character creation and development is so important to me and something that I love the most as a writer and something that I think isn’t pushed enough. On the opposite side of the pendulum swing, setting is something that I tend to gloss over the most and need some practice actually sitting down and focusing on. Both play a large role in what makes a story feel real and tangible, so, let’s work on putting real energy and focus into building those two aspects.
Now, on Wednesdays, I’m still going to post story helpers, but, rather than using the story helpers to shift your story and keep you on your toes, they will, hopefully, give work as a prompt for the story that your character or your setting from Monday will exist within. I’m not entirely sure if this is going to work, but we’ll see.
I wrote the first draft of the first book of The Eyes of Texas series in three months and I’m hoping to replicate that again with the rest of the books. My goal is to get the first three books, and maybe the fourth (though the fourth book is most likely going to be closer to a novella), to near publication ready before I start querying agents, and, with enough focus, consistency, and determination, I’m hoping I can get at least the first draft of each done by the end of the year. I think I can do it. I know I can do it! I will do it! Huzzah!
Though I surpassed my goodreads reading goal this year, I’m still a bit convinced it was a fluke…also, I read a lot of graphic novels in the beginning, so, I’m going to shoot for 25 again, just to be safe. If I reach 30 again in 2018, then I’ll bump my goal for 2019 up, but, for now, I’m going to play it safe.
I also want to read more books that are on my bookshelves, especially some of my Eyes of Texas research. As well, I want to continue checking out books from the library. I checked out a lot of books this year and I definitely want to continue that trend.
My goal for female authors in 2017 was 10. I didn’t meet that goal. I’m determined to change that in 2018.
I saw a few people using bingo cards to challenge their reading at different points this past year, and I thought it looked like a really fun idea. Then I thought, “Oh! I should try and make one for writing goals, as well!” I’m sure I’m not going to black out either of these cards, but it’ll be fun to see what I can manage to do. Plus, I’m hoping it will be a good way for me to not fall into a slump, since I won’t be able to say, “I have nothing to read/write.”
Though some of what is on these cards is specific to my personal goals (especially the writing one), feel free to take some ideas from them or just steal them altogether (I made some with my personal goals taken out here & here).
That looks like a lot when I put it into text, but I think I can do it. And if I can’t, then that’s fine. I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to accomplish these things, and I’m the only one who will be let down if I don’t. And if I decide in March that something just isn’t worth continuing, then I can just stop doing it. I’m excited to see where this year takes me.
So long, 2017, thanks for all that you gave me.
Welcome, 2018, let’s see if we can top 2017.