Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009 Goals

Just about every study out there on the subject says that people who write down their goals are not only more successful but WAY more successful than those who don't. So why don't more of us take New Years resolutions or just plain goals seriously?

I'll be spending some time this week working on mine, and I'll make sure that I enumerate the steps I have to take along the way and when they should be accomplished in order to reach the larger goal.

Muy successful romance writer Emilie from my local group says that we can't include things like "I will sell a book" on our goals because we can't control  a publisher's actions. Yet the last time I did this... I sold a book! So this year I'll make selling TWO books a goal. If I write it down the universe will take note.

And I'll be making goals for many different areas of my life. Someone sometime years ago said one should draw out a square and divide it into nine equal parts. These are the pieces of your life that you should pay equal attention to. They are: your contribution to the world; hobby; leisure; family; play time; personal growth; work; relationship; friends.

To tell you the truth, there are a couple or three of these things that don't really play much part in my life. For some reason I thought "spirituality" was a part of that square up there, and I think it needs attention, too. Maybe spirituality underlies all those subjects; I don't know. But I'll be attending to my own square of priorities.

Some things I want to get done: First, the Amazons index of every Amazon who ever poked her nose into the modern-era Wonder Woman's universe. I hope to have it done by Jan. 15.

I have a guest room. Well, actually it's a guest room/comics library/eBay packing office/Brad Pitt shrine/Christmas storage/cat's vista viewing area/gym. Thank goodness for murphy beds, right? But right now you can hardly get into the thing and it's only something like 10x10. January goal is to straighten it up and get those comics sorted to the point where I can start getting rid of them through eBay. By March I want to have two bookcases cleared so I can have a window installed for a cross-breeze, which the room sorely needs.

A lot of my goals will be clearing/cleaning my house. Selling $X of paintings. (I might have just sold one last Saturday!) Selling those two books. Selling that short story (which only has one rung of reading left before they decide if it'll go in the magazine or not). Getting some house painting done. Getting some rooms shaped up. Taking good care of the yard. Pampering my cats. Eating healthy and moving even healthier. Feeling good about myself.

What are your goals? How do you feel about goals?

And as long as I'm yapping here, I'm going to reprint an email I sent to terrific Wonder fan Martin Gray over in Scotland. The current run of Wonder Woman is FABULOUS (why aren't you reading it???), such a relief after such a long, long time since we've had decent stories. Anyway, she's currently going up against a very evil new baddie named Genocide and I had a few ideas who Genny might actually be:

"Okay, it's hard to look up specific things when I don't have the issue here at the office with me. But...

"Athena is dying. She's filled with DESPAIR, which seems to be a hallmark of Genocide. The other gods don't seem to be nearly as affected by doldrums as she, not by a lightyear. As Genocide increases in power, Athena decreases.

"Diana says that Genocide is a god.

"After the attack she mentions the god-stuff to Donna. Right after that (I think) she mumbles something about Olympus. Thus I tie it into it being a god from Olympus and not any of that red herring 'I sense the gods are back' stuff Hippy was spouting at the beginning.

"Diana makes a big deal out of how genocide is a better warrior than she. Lessee. Who in the DCU is a better warrior than Diana?
"1) her mom
"2) the goddess of war
"3) forget Ares; he's always been more the god of hate than war

"I think Genocide was built somehow using Athena as a base. Which is one reason why Genocide went after the lasso: not only is it a terrible weapon (which we'll probably be seeing more of), but the subconscious core that is Athena knows that it can keep the truth of herself alive in there. When Diana eventually grabs it at the end of the arc and forces the truth out, Genocide will slough off and there will stand Athena, whole again.

"At which point she'll set things right that Zeus has screwed up. She'll probably also do awful god-revenge things to Dr. Morrow or whatever his name is."

Pshew! Got that off my chest. Everyone have a great new year, and if you agree with my Genocide theory, keep it under wraps so everyone else can have fun figuring it out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Painting step-by-step

Third post and I've already missed a week. Oh well. In that week I got a painting (above) done, sent an Applesauce and Moonbeams query to Tor in NYC, a "Nothing to Lose" submission to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine ("Australia's Pulpiest SF Magazine"), and loaded the first two chapters of Amazon Magic to the British website, youwriteon.com, where it has already gotten two good reviews and one idiotic one. Imho of course. For some reason I feel rather worldly.

The painting is of the trees in Alamo Square Park above the "Six Sisters" of San Francisco. While everyone else was posing in front of the famous backdrop of houses, I was madly shooting pictures of these magnificent trees.

I recently finished Bob Rohm's The Painterly Approach, where he reiterates what I've heard so many times in the past few years (but NEVER in college! Why is that?): that it's essential to make your value sketch before the painting. (Why is it when workshop instructors tell this to the class I'm the only one who does it? It only takes a couple of minutes and my painting improved 1000% once I started doing that.) Bob uses four values, sometimes five, and so I thought I'd try to concentrate on that just to simplify things.

He also emphasizes warm and cool contrasts, so this is also something I incorporated, with the upper large trees being warm and their bases cool, contrasting with the cool sky and warm grass respectively.

This is what I'm trying these days in my painting. When I took a week-long workshop with Tony Couch, he set aside one morning to lecture just to the beginners of the class. I decided to sit in anyway because my watercolor paintings were worse than bad and I didn't want to face them any more. In that morning I learned more than four years in UNC-CH's school of art.

One of the things Tony did was to make a long, long list of the various factors artists have to control. We were all sort of slumping on the floor when he finished. "We have to keep all that in mind? And paint a decent picture at the same time?"

He explained that it's like driving: once you learn a facet it becomes automatic. Thus you set out to conquer one or two of the aspects (like value and temperature) at a time so you don't have to really think about them anymore. Then you move on to the next.

Even experienced pros do this. In Bob Burridge's very funny and surprisingly informative newsletter, "Artsy-Fartsy News," he tells us of working exclusively in new colors that he wants to master so that he can learn about them and have them in his arsenal to use as he moves on.

Life seems to be about always learning.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

High Priority!

Why is it that we let Ordinary Life interfere so much with the Important Stuff?

As the end of the year approaches, I realize that I haven't finished that book I started... in 2007. At least now I know who my characters are, what their motivations are, the theme, supporting cast, etc. Before I was fishing around for a lot of stuff, which makes things extremely difficult to write. It's a bumpy ride reading the 150 pages that have been written as things switch from motivation to motivation and characters change their minds about who they are.

But I don't want to get back to that book until I get the books I've finished polished. It's not like they haven't been polished before, but now they need that polish-polish. That perfect polish.

I've been reading Applesauce and Moonbeams and can now announce that except for a few final word-tweaks it's perfect. Absolutely perfect!

Except for those first three chapters. They read like I had something stuck up, well, some place anatomical, when I was writing them. So they must be re-written.

After that I can go back and do those tweaks that Amazon Magic needs, the comments from my crit group.

None of this should have taken all that long, but things kept Coming Up. I prioritized them ahead of my writing. (Or my art! I have a painting that's been almost-finished for two months now sitting in the studio waiting for me to finish it. Today. Yes, today. But those bulbs need planting in the back yard!! The living room is a wreck. That pile of things need to go on eBay before Xmas. I'm out of groceries!)

Once I attended a workshop where, as we were settling down, the speaker had us list the ten things we HAD to do each day. The workshop was to show us how we could fit writing into our schedules. We dutifully wrote the "must do's" down and then the workshop began.

Halfway through she had us drag out those lists. "Where is writing on your list?" she asked us. Only one or two people in the hall had included it.

So we have to have our priorities actually ON our list of priorities in order to tackle them. Well, that makes sense. And they should be in the top two or three things.

Anthony Robbins says that one should make a goals list and then break those goals down into steps. Martha Beck's The Four Day Win says that those steps should be HALF of what we think we can easily accomplish. We must work on those steps each and every day, no excuses.

And that means putting the priority for those goals at #1 or #2. (Family comes first, remember.)

Not that long ago... well, maybe last year... I took Margie Lawson's online course, "Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors: Allow Writing Productivity and Creativity to Soar." I figured this would give me tips around my procrastination (which of course is fear of screwing up perfection). Unfortunately the course is so densely written that it takes severe hunkering down to sort through.

Sorta like my first three chapters in Applesauce and Moonbeams.

I've bought a timer. I'll set it for 15 minutes today, maybe another 15 minutes later on. Bit by bit I WILL get through that rewrite. And the other one.

My goal is to Finish the Damn Book (as the phrase is in RWA) starting with the New Year.

How about you? Procrastination getting you down? How do you deal with keeping your personal goals a priority in a rush-rush world?