The Beauty of Seasons.

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Found via Pinterest.

It’s September 1. Windows are open, A/C is off (for now). I hear the rustle of leaves as some begin making their descent back into the earth. Facebook is filled with photos of kids going back to school. The wide open space of summer is winding down as we get ready to begin the turning inward that fall and winter bring.

Fall is my favorite. I like it more than January 1 for clean slates and hunkering down to create and accomplish the life I dream of having. No matter how old I get, I will always ride this back-to-school energy. I stock up on notebooks and pens. This year, I bought an awesome new planner (undated) that I am starting to use today. If I was going to create my own planner this would be it. It’s the perfect balance of goal setting and dreaming, of intentions and accountability.

After getting our girls back up to school, I went through and cleared out the house. Threw away over-stuffed files, old clothes. Went through the junk drawers, the fridge and freezer. Everything has a home in my home now and my life is so much easier.

As part of stepping lightly into a more structured routine, I signed up for an on-line writing course that starts on Monday. I am finishing up revisions to my novel-in-stories and revising my agent query letter (which seems to be harder to write than the novel!) My other WIP is waiting patiently in the wings, ready for me to dive back into that world.

I have my yoga and meditation practice to both ground and uplift me—two things I desperately need in this heated political climate.

When I lived in Arizona, I loved the weather, the blue skies, the palm trees, having a beautiful in-ground pool in our backyard oasis. But. Once I moved back to the midwest, I realized how much I missed the change off seasons. I missed it on every level—physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. The changing of the seasons stirs something within me, something primal and deeply rooted. They mimic the ebb and flow of my energy, my creativity. There’s the whole cycle-of-life that mirrors our physical selves as well as our emotional selves. I naturally tend to look outward at spring and revel in the warmth and wide open days of summer, then I naturally yearn to start retreating in the fall, stoking the home fires of my creativity, of my soul as we head into winter where the cycle begins all over again.

I’ve already seen a few leaves tinged red at the edges. The sun is setting earlier. And I am ready for the change of seasons. The change of energy and focus. How about you?

 

Mid-year Check-in

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

Photo: Karin Dalziel via Flickr

January found me wanting me to make yet another resolution to get more serious about my writing.

Usually this involves a detailed list of projects I want to start, finish, revise and submit by certain dates throughout the upcoming year. It ends up being a fairly grueling schedule that sucks the fun out of writing before I even begin.

This year I decided to try something different. At the end of the year, I participated in an online “Renew & Review Writing Challenge” with Jill Jepson. It helped me to look over the past year to see what worked and what didn’t in my writing life. It also helped me to clarify what I wanted my writing life to look like for the next 12 months. What I loved was how we focused more on intentions rather than goals. Goals are product, intentions are process. Goals are future, intentions are present. It just really resonated with me.

When January rolled around, I took a four-week hypnosis workshop at my yoga studio designed to align us with our resolutions for the new year. I showed up each week with the intention to show up to writing practice and life, to all aspects of it:

My writing life will continue to flourish in 2014 by showing up daily to my creativity and writing; being comfortable with not always knowing what comes next; allowing myself to play; giving myself permission to succeed or fail; being present to and grateful for the process.

These intentions held a much more fluid space than the rigid goals I’d normally set for myself. I showed up to my writing and yoga practices, letting one nurture the other. I listened to the meditations from the hypnosis workshop each night, letting the words flow into my subconscious, letting them work their magic.

It all worked. We are halfway through the year and I have a new relationship with my writing life. In six months I have:

–       Finished revising my novel-in-stories

–       Wrote an agent query letter

–       Began rewriting a second novel

–       Jotted notes for a YA novel

–       Participated in a 4-month apprenticeship for elephant journal in which I wrote 19 personal pieces, edited close to 60 and gained an in depth knowledge of social media

–       Became an elephant journal columnist once the four months was up

–       Started my own writer Facebook page

–       Rededicated myself to building a Twitter audience

All of these accomplishments are great. Seriously, I am super proud of myself. But it’s not even the main point. The main shift I’ve experienced is a more fluid relationship to my writing, to showing up to my work. Much less angst and reprisals. More joy and compassion.

And I think that is filtering into all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I can’t wait to see what the next six months hold.

How about you? Any intentions or goals for the summer? For the rest of the year? I’d love to hear about them.

 

 

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I didn’t exactly jump on the Resolution Bandwagon this year. I dipped my toe in but that’s about it. Now it’s the last day of January and I can’t let the next eleven months slip away without a vision or a plan. But before I can look ahead, I need to briefly look back and acknowledge what I accomplished in 2012:

1. By far, my biggest accomplishment was finishing and submitting my novel. Regardless of the outcome I can now say “I’ve written a novel.” That is huge.

2. I started rewriting my second novel.

3. Started writing an online Book Club column on a local community news website.

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4. Read 52 books.

5. Posted book reflections on all 52 books read in 2012.

6. Expanded my platform to include Twitter. (@KimHaasWrites)

7. Filled numerous notebooks with morning pages and writing practice.

8. Set up a submission tracker spreadsheet.

9. Revised several short stories.

10. Made new connections via blogs.

11. Incorporated more photos into my blog posts.

12. Tried to honor the ebb and flow of my creative process. 

So, not a bad year. Now, what do I want in 2013?

1. Publish my novel-in-stories which means find an agent or self-publish.

2. Finish rewrite of new novel.

3. Polish and submit short stories.

4. Blog more consistently.

5. Create/share/sell more art & collage.

6. Attend a writer’s conference or retreat.

7. Work through Priscilla Long’s book, “The Writer’s Portable Mentor.”

8. Create and follow DIY MFA program. 

9. Finish flash fiction collection, “Ripe.”

As I look at my list I see some problems with vagueness. What does “more” mean? For my blog it means add one craft or process post a week in addition to Quotable Tuesday and Five on Friday. It means to post every other Wednesday for my book club column. I need to create a timeline (self-imposed deadlines) for submissions, agent queries and my rewrite. I saw an old list that had me finishing the rewrite this past October and a revision by today. Always looking for that balance between stretching but doable and completely unrealistic.

So, that’s my look back and look ahead. How about you? What did you accomplish in 2012 and what are your aspirations for 2013? is there a way we can support and encourage each other? I’d love to start a submission challenge group. Anybody interested? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

Five on Friday

1. I like these ideas for setting blogging goals in the new year.

2. Maeve Binchy’s writing secrets.

3. Tips on preparing for a new year of writing.

4. I am intrigued by this challenge to be more thoughtful in our use of technology. To be more real.

5. The importance of mastering “the art of being still” for a writer.

Five on Friday

1. Interview with Molly Ringwald. Much too short in my opinion.

2. Tons of best of book lists for 2012.

3. 1001 books to read before you die.

4. Daily Goals Board– I may have to make myself one of these for the new year.

5. In honor of the Powerball mania that swept the country this week. How to spend that money if you’re a book lover.

Emerging from Creative Hibernation

I’ve been in what I like to call a creative hibernation. I don’t believe in the dreaded “b” word. Creative hibernation feels like it is just a part of the process. I do that sometimes. I hunker down and I always think, “This is it. I’m done writing.” Not out of a hissy fit or anything. I just don’t feel the urge. Nothing is stirring in my subconscious. No characters lurking, beckoning. The only way I know it’s not for real is that I feel this sliver of terror that I am no longer a writer. If I really didn’t care, I really wouldn’t care. So, I’ve come to take these periods of hibernation for what they are. Creative hibernation. A time to recharge. Relax. Read. A lot. Then, slowly I start getting antsy. Restless. Then I become downright irritable with myself and everyone around me. That’s when I know it’s time to hit the page again and the relief I feel is overwhelming. Of course I’m a writer.

One of the things that sent into this particular hibernation was more than just part of my creative process. Part of it was this rejection I got. It really hit me hard. Usually, I just roll with it. It wasn’t the right editor/journal. time, whatever. Send it out again and move on. But this one… this one I let my hopes get up. Way up. Like sky high up. It was the novel I submitted to a contest back in March. I heard on October 8 that I didn’t win. Not only did I not win, I didn’t even place, even though they had a record number of honorable mentions. That really hurt. Seriously, I read the list of winners at least five times thinking I must’ve missed seeing my name. Once I realized that I had not missed my name, I sat back and cried. Yep, cried. Later in the kitchen I told my husband and cried again. He said all the right things. Hugged me. Encouraged me. Finally I said that I appreciate what he’s saying but that right now, I needed to wallow. So I did. Apparently I wallowed for forty days. And forty nights. And now I am done.

One of the things that pulled me out my funk was a dear writing friend, Laura and she doesn’t even know it. The other morning I checked out the novel she wrote and self-published this year. I read the first six sample pages on Amazon and found myself reading it like a reader, not as a former member of her writing workshop. Her writing had gone to this whole new level. I added it to my wishlist so that I can buy it for myself after Christmas shopping is done. In the meantime, I was so inspired by the work she had done, by her writing, by the faith she showed herself by self-publishing and marketing it via all forms of social media and is hard at work on her next novel that I snapped out of my own self-imposed creative pity party and printed out the 87 pages I have of my WIP. I pulled out “The Writer’s Mentor” by Priscilla Long, a book that I have to repress the urge to underline almost every single sentence in because, I swear, she is talking directly to me. I gathered a notebook for my writing practice, a book for my lexicon, my laptop, morning pages notebook and came to the bookstore.

I’ve been working for two hours. Wrote and typed a new scene. Created a word trap for my WIP. As I strolled the bookstore, (after I wrote) I came across a book that intrigued me for its structure. It gave me an idea for a structure I could use in my novel, something I have looking for for a long time.

My plan is to come here Monday-Wednesday this week from 9-12. That kind of structure works for me. It gives me a time to be at my desk and it gets me away from the TV, housework, internet.

My plan is to keep working with Long’s book, work on my WIP, blog and tweet on a more regular basis, stay connected to the social media community of writers, submit my other novel to another contest, research and submit to an agent and just keep showing up. Just keep writing. Keep working.

Weekly Goals

I read two posts today where writers were setting goals for the week and thought maybe I should start doing that again. So, here I am, setting some goals for this week:

– Write two hours a day minimum (morning pages, writing practice, type up pages from notebook)

– Post on my blog Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

– Visit and comment on 8 blogs

– Post last discussion for “Gone, Girl”

– Post photo of mini art journal spread Sunday

My method of choosing goals changes depending on what phase of writing I am currently in. I may go by word count when I am in the first draft stage and my goal is to just get the draft down. Later I may choose to spend x amount of hours per day revising or maybe revise one particular scene. How about you? Do you set goals? If so, how do you go about it? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? A combination of all? I’d love to hear from you.