Welcome to my first blog post for 2019.* January’s speeding by, and I still haven’t taken down my Christmas tree. It’s pretty droopy, but even so, I hate to see it go. I had vowed to take it down by Martin Luther King day, but that’s tomorrow, much too soon. Here in Wynantskill in upstate New York, we’ve had practically no snow, but this morning I woke up to nearly a foot of fluffy white powder, so I’m clinging to the holiday spirit just a little longer.
Speaking of vows, I’ve made all kinds of resolutions for the New Year, and most of them involve my writing. My emergency brain surgery just before Halloween put things in perspective—a near-death experience has a way of doing that. I’ve been taking a hard look at my priorities, because I’m 77 years old, and who knows how many years I have left?
A recent workshop by Jeanette Grey helped me clarify my goals. She’s a member of the Capital Region chapter of the Romance Writers of America, which meets monthly. Like Jeanette, many of the members have published multiple books, and I’m in awe of their work ethic. In the romance genre, authors often turn out a book a month and accumulate devoted fan bases and steady income streams. I know I’ll never be that prolific, but it’s inspiring to be around writers with such self-discipline.
My own novels focus on suspense, not sex. Years ago, I had a New York agent who advised me to try my hand at the romance genre, because it was a relatively easy market to crack. I gave it my best shot, but by the time I’d written a few thousand words, I became bored and depressed. I can and do write steamy erotic scenes, but they’re not my forte, and I much prefer murder and mayhem. Still, I learn a great deal from the romance writers, and I value the connection.
But I digress. Jeanette’s workshop was called “Goal-setting for the chronically disappointed writer.” ** She began as follows:
Think about your career. What are you angry about?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What do you resent?
- What do you beat yourself up about?
After exploring the negatives, we moved on to the positive things we could do to address the sources of our disappointment. I
tackle similar issues in my own workshops*** on conquering writer’s block and banishing the inner critic, but Jeanette’s approach is more structured, with lots of lists, action plans and charts.
I was inspired enough to create my own to-do table in Word, then fill it with all the things I could or should be doing and columns for progress notes and comments. I highlighted key cells in colors—green for my website, pink for my prose/poetry memoir project. (Word has dozens of color choices, but I found I had to stick to the palest hues so as not to render the words illegible.)
My top priorities involve building my Creative Crone brand through my website, but as I write this, my Internet service has gone AWOL for some inexplicable reason. Practically everything in my to-do chart involves going online, so in the meantime I’m forced to fall back on actual writing—or more properly speaking, typing.
Speaking of typing, one of the first signs that something was seriously wrong with my brain was confusion at the computer keyboard. I could still type words, but I couldn’t figure out how to find and use the command keys for delete, shift, enter and so forth. Another alarming symptom arose when I was walking my dog, stooped to bag his poop, and inexplicably tipped over sideways. Not tripped, but tipped. I was sufficiently alarmed that I got in to see the doctor promptly the next morning, and twelve hours later I was in emergency surgery for a subdural hematoma, the same type of brain injury that killed my mother. Here I could launch into a long story, but that’s exactly what I’m doing in my prose/poetry memoir, which has the working title SUBDURAL.
So I’ve narrowed my writing priorities down to the essentials:
Finish SUBDURAL. Then land an agent and publish with a traditional press.
Meanwhile, build my Creative Crone brand through my website and social media. Market creatively through special offers, maybe even merch, like tee shirts and tote bags. I plan to launch a Creative Crone Community. But I’ll talk more about that in my next post.
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Have you made New Year’s resolutions, either for your writing or for life in general? Are you keeping them? I’d love to hear from you.
*Technically, this isn’t my first blog post of 2019, because on January 15, I published a guest post on Kathy Pooler’s website, The Memoir Writer’s Journey. My topic: “How a Near-Death Experience Jump-started My Memoir.” Check it out at www.krpooler.com/memoir-writing. Both
**Some useful links:
Jeanette Grey www.jeanettegrey.com
Capital Region Chapter, Romance Writers of America www.cr-rwa.org
Romance Writers of America www.rwa.org
***I’ll soon be offering two workshops at the Arts Center of the Capital Region:
Empower Your Writing through Day Dreams Saturday, February 9
Discover the Poet Within Saturday, March 9
To read full descriptions and to register, visit www.artscenteronline.org. Don’t delay: classes may fill up, or they may be cancelled because of low enrollment. Late winter in the Northeast can be dreary and depressing, so why not jumpstart your creativity while you impatiently wait for spring?