Nancy: January Accountability Thread

It’s now February. Of 2018. February 2018. I need to sit with that for a minute, because I really can’t believe January 2018 has headed for the exits. But here we are, on the first Monday of a new month, and you know what that means: it’s accountability time, people!

As I prepared today’s accountability post, I scrolled back through previous posts on this thread, and realized I just started doing the First Monday accountability posts in June 2017. I recently heard the past year described as feeling as though we lived it like dog years – that 2017 felt like seven long years. So maybe it’s no surprise I thought I’d been tracking my accountability for well over a year, but nope, this is only the ninth time I’ve shared my monthly goals.

Perhaps a bit more discouraging, though, was rereading my post from a year ago, in February 2017. That post was all about changes I was making in multiple areas of my life. I’m sad to report that in some of those areas, I took a step forward and two steps back (for example, the professional changes re: the day job – but more on that in a future post). And when it comes to writing, the goals I was setting a year ago are eerily similar to those I’m setting today, including that fact that I’m still working on the kickoff novella and book 1 of my romance series. BUT – and this is important – I actually did make some amazing progress. I did an extensive study course with Lisa Cron, after which I planned and wrote a big chunk of and worked with a coach on my women’s fiction book. I continued discovering Nicky O’s world (future Nordic Noir book), also using Lisa’s theory of ‘the third rail’ in story, which forces us to dive deep into a character’s life and connect with the emotions driving every decision and action the character takes.

Which brings me back to the novella and book 1. After all I learned in the first half of 2017, I went back to those books and starting tearing them apart and rebuilding them. I firmly believe I’m a better writer today than I was just a year ago, and my stories will be stronger for taking all this extra time – so much extra time – to deepen the emotional impact of them. And so, with that in mind, I give you my January progress and February goals. And yes, I’m still working on goals associated with the long-completed but oft-revised novella and novel.

January Goals with Outcomes

I was going to list the goals I laid out in last month’s post, but when I realized I’d made progress toward each goal but hadn’t completed any of them, I decided just to report that: no goals completed in January. There are Reasons. (Aren’t there always!) My time for much of the month of January turned out not to be my own. Life threw down challenges. I had to shift my priorities. Shit happened, as it so often does.

There is a silver lining, though. As I mentioned in my January 15 blog post, I laid out a release schedule for my Victorian Romance series, then worked backwards for each book so I’d know when I’d have to finish the first draft/subsequent revisions for each one. While things will get tight during the second half of this year, I’m actually doing fine (better than fine!) for meeting the release plan for the first few books. Cue chorus of angels.

And now, onward and upward with a plan for February that might actually keep me on track.

February Goals

1) Finish the damn website. TBH, I didn’t even look at the damn website in January, except to pop over there early last week and realize that my host has made my ‘new’, nonfunctional site live. Which is NOT supposed to be the case. Grrrr. So, while fighting with tech support on that front, I’ll also have to buckle down and try the one last thing in my arsenal that might fix landing page and newsletter sign-up capabilities on my site. And I’ve engaged a person – a live person whom I actually know IRL! – to step in if I can’t solve it really soon.

(If I may offer one piece of assvice to all non-techie writers out there: DO NOT believe anyone who tells you that you, too, can build your own website with bells and whistles and landing pages. Be more like Jeanne, less like Nancy. Hire a professional from the beginning.)

2) Finish the revision of book 1 of the Victorian Romance series. I actually did finish a revision, it’s just not the revision. I’m up to my eyeballs in round 2 of the complete, deep-dive revision. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a also a round 3. Regardless, I’d like to have this into the hands of my gadfly reader (will read all the books of the series for me) by the end of Feb, then turn it over to an editor in March.

3) Turn over the VR novella to a professional editor. I coulda shoulda woulda done this in January, but with so much other stuff going on, it just felt overwhelming to arrange the sample pages submission and then go through comments to determine the best fit with an editor. And besides, I made teeny, tiny, subtle changes in the novella as stuff came up in the book 1 revisions. Because of this, I actually don’t regret sending this to an editor last month. Serendipity!

So, let’s talk about you. Did your January go better than mine? Any progress you’d like to share? Do you need a hug to help you move past January and embrace a new, hopeful attitude for February?

12 thoughts on “Nancy: January Accountability Thread

  1. There are several contests on the horizon for me, and an agent who has told me to send Chs 1-3 when I get them done, so I need to get crackin’. Chapter 1 is pretty solid. Chapter 2 needs some revision (along the same lines as your Lisa Cron/Story Genius stuff — digging deeper into the emotion), but Chapter 3 is a train wreck. Aside from that, my goal is to finish my first draft. I’m still missing most of the second half (okay, ALL of the second half) of my book.

    My goal is to get that draft done by 3/1. With my sister and her kids visiting mid-month, it’ll be a bit of a cramp to do that, but this coming week is pretty wide open and I’m trying hard to say no to time-consuming things like volunteering at school (however, picking up desserts at the grocery for an event at my kids’ school isn’t time-consuming and it alleviates the mom-who-should-be-volunteering guilt I’ve felt since leaving PTA).

    I created a schedule for me to get the book done in its entirety by the end of May, but I’m already off-schedule on that. However, my husband has thrown down the challenge that I won’t get this book done in 2018, and not only do I want to prove him wrong, I want to prove him REALLY wrong, hence the May deadline. So while I have an aggressive time frame to finish (which I’m still going to try to keep, because I know I won’t get much writing done once the kids are out of school this summer), I’m also playing loose and being willing to change out things in my schedule for the sake of getting stuff done.

    • Those are all great motivators, Neen. I’m rooting for your May completion. And maybe you can prove your husband REALLY REALLY wrong by getting a big chunk of book 2 done in 2018 as well!.

  2. I’m chugging along, I’m pleased to say, hitting my extremely modest word count almost every day so that now I’m more than 1/3 finished. I’m really thrilled that book 3 of the Never Ending Trilogy is going much better than book 2. I’m having more fun with it, the problems are more obvious, and I’m resolving them more quickly. When finished, which will be who knows when, it will be far from flawless, since this trilogy is Conflict Light. But there’s some. Enough for me, anyway.

    I have nonwriting goals I’m ready to start on. I had other plans for January, so I’m not behind on them. But I signed up for Mark Dawson’s very expensive Ads for Writers course, which I’ve not given much attention to because the first lecture is called something like “Building your newsletter.” So I need to get a newsletter. And then I need to put the widget on my web site so that if anyone ever goes to my web site, s/he can sign up for my newsletter, when I get it. And then I need to start on the Mark Dawson course. So that’s me for Feb-Dec 2018. Accountability in a nutshell!

    • I’m right there with you on the website and newsletter. It’s the widget situation (one that links to a very fancy back-end with a supposedly idiot-proof newsletter management system) that has stalled my website for so long. I’m trying to work with tech support this week (if we don’t resolve it, it goes to the RL website lady next week), and while doing that, I’m going to figure out what free thing I can use to lure subscribers, and write content for the auto-responses they’ll get when they sign up.

      Eventually (read: some distant date in 2019), the novella will go perma-free and book one will be free or reduced price, all linked to newsletter subscription (plan subject to change depending on the market at that point). But I also want to have free stuff to send on a regular basis – first chapters, outtakes, meet cute scenes, whatever. So much to do! First, I might have to look into some cloning technology, as I think I’ll need at least two more of me to get through my to-do list before book release in the fall.

  3. I won’t grow up! I won’t grow up! Accountability! Shmacountability!

    Ahem. I’m mostly ranting because it’s another month without very much tangible.

    I’m thinking about branching into some free-lance articles, maybe. I don’t know. It’s been a lot of fun taking pictures this month, and I think the fallow period has been good for my creativity. However, I’m not ready for it to end yet. I made a public commitment to a “make a thing a day in February” and I’ve made zip. Well, nothing I’ve posted. Unless you count the pictures on Saturday. And quite frankly, now I’m too busy wallowing in guilt to go do anything.

    OK, getting off the computer. I have no goals for February, except to get some more pictures of the ice candles, and possibly one (or two?) more ice-related events. OK, and write one short story. But honestly, if I can’t fulfill a haiku a day, what makes me think I’m going to keep my promises here? UGH!

    Yes, jerkbrain talking here. Boy, I can’t wait until spring. (Which is officially next month, so I’ll have to put up or shut up then.) BLARGH! February can suck it!!!

  4. We talked about my progress last week, so I won’t bore you with that.

    What I will share, instead, is that I gathered up all the receipts for websites and editors and x, y, and z, and the number made my eyes bug out. As in, I spent significantly more on this thing that is, at this point, a hobby, than I did on having breast cancer last year.

    So there are two sides to that do-it-yourself/hire-it-done decision.

    • One of the things I told myself when I decided to sign my most recent day job contract was, “You may now feel free to spend whatever is necessary (within reason, of course – and I’m a Virgo, so very reasonable that way) to support the business side of the writing and free up more time for the creative side of it.”

      Turns out, though, some Virgos (ahem) are detail-oriented control freaks who have trouble letting go. So for me, it’s not only about writing the check, it’s also about trusting someone else to do things EXACTLY as I want them to be done. Because I am a total PITA that way.

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