Friday, 31 December 2010

another writer looks back at the year and also ahead to the new one


I've started this post about 5 times, deleting and re-doing it, unsure of how to really talk about my writing year. Thing is, it's impossible to do it without mentionning Mum. I veer away from blogging / facebooking about Mum, or about anything really personal - it's all part of my love / hate relationship with the idea that we have 'digital doubles' - the side of ourselves we choose to show online. And that I don't think I can get the words right, they will be too dramatic, or too casual, or not natural. But in leaving it out I feel guilty, and dishonest.

Overall I can't judge the 2 things together, only to say that I can't judge them apart. I can't say 'this happened/didn't happen' because of what I was going through. Even for an analytical person it's hard to detach enough to know how you've reacted to such a loss when it's still close by, and when really - you're still in it. But I do feel changed. And thankful.

And I feel hopeful.

I have high hopes and good feelings for 2011.

2011: my writing goals (don't like that word, or resolutions, or aims... can't think of a better one now though. Suggestions?)

- to write and publish something other than short stories. Although I will keep writing and publishing short stories, but I want to stretch myself and write some non-fiction. I have a few ideas for articles and places that might take them, nothing big - I'm new to it and will start small - but I've wanted to dabble in article writing for a while and it's time to add another string, I feel.

- to make good use of my agent contact. One of the most out-of-the-blue and lovely things to happen in 2010 was the offer to send some of my work to a literary agent. This is the kind of thing that you dream of happening - and although I'm not being rose-tinted about it - I know it doesn't mean that when I send something along the agent will love it and want to sign me and that will be the start of something - I am aware of how infrequently you get a chance to converse with someone in the publishing world, and I don't want to let that chance slip away. (If the agent in question reads this, please know that when I say 'make good use of' I just mean 'seize', in a very professional and normal way.)

- be less distracted by the internet. Always something I battle with, any time of year. Not much to be said about it - it's simple - get offline and write.

- and when I suddenly get a good idea, or have a breakthrough moment - don't decide NOW is the time to put the washing in, make a cup of tea, phone a friend, have a bath... odd, this one, only something I've become aware of recently - I can have a really good feeling about something, then just swan off. This is weird, Teresa: stop it.

- make progress with the 3 main projects you are working on right now. 2 books and 1 short story are edging forwards at a very slow speed. Let's speed it up.

I think that's all. It has taken me 3 hours to write this post, I've been doing things in between, but still... It's a hard thing to do though, looking back and looking forward.

I'd like to champion the present too - it never gets enough attention.


Anonymous said...

I prefer the word 'intentions' to resolutions, and plan to make a few of those for 2011 in the next couple of days. I like your goals though, they seem feasible too. The days around New year's eve is a good time to reflect on the year that was, and set intentions (or goals) for the next year, I also believe in living in the present. This is something I struggle with, even more so after my mum passed away in 2008.

I wish you a great 2011!

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Sending you lots of good wishes for a steady and positive 2011 - and a hug. Thank you for the suggestion to run a blog about the novel as it works it s way to publication - you are a good ideas person!

Anna Cathenka said...

Only just read your last two posts, Tree. Both very touching and honest. Hope 2011 is a good year for you, you deserve it to be. Keep up with this blog too, please, it is always an interesting read. xxx

Teresa Stenson said...

Sara - I like 'intentions' too. Much better than 'goals' which feels too sporty. Sorry to hear you lost your Mum too. Let's make 2011 The Year of the Present, with splashes of healthy reflecting and forward planning.

Vanessa - yay! I feel very proud, and if I don't write anything all day at least I had that one idea that has taken flight. He he. I'm really looking forward to reading about the pre-publication stuff, and I'll be linking to your blog later when I write a new one.

Anna - thank you banana. All the bestness for you this year too. Sainsbury's caff for lunch soon? :)

Dan Purdue said...

Happy New Year, Tree! Glad to hear you're feeling positive about 2011. I hope it exceeds all your expectations. We'll all be cheering you on from the sidelines, too.

And good call on the present - it's so 'now' right now.

Teresa Stenson said...

HNY (that's cool) to you too, Dan. Wonder what the year holds in store for your writing too?

The present is very on-trend, though not as on-trend as those Chinese sky lanterns.

Miles said...

Great post Tree. I also have suffered from Internetitus, as you well know.

You and I both have addictive personalities that compel us to document and observe things, sometimes honestly, sometimes judgementally and sometimes hilariously (AMIINIT?)

I like what Joss Whedon said about writing projects, that every day he listens to whichever one is crying our for attention and feeds it.

It doesn't matter if you spend SOME of your day online, after all over 50% of a writer's day is spent thinking, not writing (okay, more like 90%) but as long as you are feeding your projects, in whatever order, gradually, work is getting done and you're being a writer. Or being writer ;-)

One thing I absolutely have learned is that AS SOON as I have an idea, whether I'm walking or sitting around or watching a film, I note it down and I feed it to one of my writing projects. I have the novel, a feature screenplay on the go and several shorts, so when I have an idea for a story moment or dialogue, I know which project to 'feed' it to so it doesn't get lost.

This means that instead of having so many ideas that it flummoxes (great word) me, everything I think has a place to go. I used to try and put all my ideas into one project, but now I realise that's the way to get confused and daunted.

Anyway, hope that helps. Your blogs always keep me on track somehow. I guess it's knowing that someone I admire is working hard as well, which makes me want to do the same.

Love xxx

Teresa Stenson said...

Thank you Miles for such a thoughtful and useful bit of commenting. I love the idea of always 'feeding your projects' - that's a brilliant way to go, especially as I sometimes get overwhelmed by the different things I've started working on.

Please, at this point, do not take me for one of those types who brags about never getting blocked because there are so many ideas! in the world! and their minds! The projects are just a culmination of being writer :) for about 5 years. And also being very easily distracted.

The feeding-idea is a healthy and productive way to see things, and it's related to eating which i LOVE. Thank you Joss, thank you Miles.

Miles said...

Thankyou dear. I'm always looking for new, helpful or interesting ways of looking at the writing process in order to understand it more as I go, and Mr. Whedon is one of the reasons I kept it up in the first place.

In fact this has been my screenwriting bible for a while now:

Novels are a completely different pony, as I have been learning. But the deeper I go, the more I am in love with the process. Now I can't NOT write, but I still have days where I write next to nothing. Sometimes you have to let things brew.

Like a good fart.

Me heap good writing person with the metaphor and the nnngghey.