#IWSG: Empty Yesterdays
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
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December 6 question – As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
I strive to live by the motto “No Regrets.” I know. It’s cliché. As is YOLO which is also very 2011, but I like it more the older I become. And not in a “I’m gonna do this dumb thing and use YOLO as an excuse” way, but in a way where I strive not to put things off or pass up opportunities because—without getting into religion—“You Only Live Once” is a true statement. I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m nearing the end and regret not going for something.
In one of my favorite musicals, The Music Man, the main character says, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to make today worth remembering.” Such powerful words from Professor Harold Hill!
I’m sure you’re wondering, “Isn’t this a blog about writing?” I’m getting there, I promise. I needed to explain my philosophy on regrets, in order to say that I wouldn’t backtrack into 2017 to do something differently. Sure, it’d be great if I could pop back to the beginning of June 2017 and actually rewrite the novel I meant to revise over the summer. Here’s the thing though, if I could go back in time, would it change anything? Or would I follow exactly the same path? Given the choice, would I want to change anything? More importantly, should I change anything? Doesn’t that mess with the fabric of time?
I had goals for writing in 2017. My biggest goal was to rewrite my thriller Alias over the summer. It was my first summer off after my first year of teaching. I had travel plans (that ultimately fell through due to finances), but otherwise, I planned to sit in my new, organized, conducive-to-creativity office in my new-to-me home and write, write, write, all summer long.
I hadn’t expected the absolute crash that was going to take place the first few weeks of the summer. For the first time in maybe as long as a decade, I had nothing to do. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nothing. I crashed hard. Is stress detox a thing? I think I went through it. I didn’t get my office organized (and it’s still not). It’s currently referred to as the Room of Requirement, where all the knick-knacks from moving in the early spring reside. I can get to my desk, but the clutter is a hindrance to my productivity. I look around and think, “I should be organizing this stuff instead of wasting my time writing.” The self-deprecation and self-doubt is strong within me.
After I crashed, it took another week or two to build my momentum back and switch my creative brain back on. By then, summer was half over. I’m not telling you this to tell you I regret any of that time. I needed that month of being a sloth for my mental and physical wellbeing, but by the time I got back on the horse, it was almost time for me to go back to work. I started the school year with a tinge of bitterness about my day job. I’d just gotten into my writing groove!
No, I did not rewrite my novel and get it out to beta readers and then to polished status over the summer. No, I was not able to enter #PitchWars. No, I did not write a query or a synopsis. No, my back up plan to rewrite this novel during NaNoWriMo didn’t pan out either. These were all goals I had and goals I didn’t even come close to touching.
I could wallow in my despair over these losses, or I could celebrate the things I did accomplish in 2017.
I invested time into networking on Twitter and have established a wonderful and supportive group of writer friends.
I’ve posted at least one blog a month on my personal blog.
I rebranded and started a website for the local writing group I administer.
I organized some of those local writers to vend at a festival and made marketing materials for the group.
I learned a lot about my own writing by critiquing for others.
I found the courage to post creative writing on my blog, not just writing about writing. This includes about 6k words on a serial romantic short story, as well as some flash fiction. I didn’t just post it, but I promoted it and opened myself up to comments.
I sent my first chapters out to multiple people for critiques. (SCARY!!)
I started another romantic short story during NaNoWriMo.
I did MAJOR plotting on Alias. Instead of rewriting it as is, I’ve developed the plot and characters more in depth AND (the biggie) decided that it will work best as a trilogy, so I’ve been re-plotting one book into three!
I stood in front of a panel in a room full of writers TWICE this year and pitched novels. The first time was Alias (pre-trilogy revelation) in a workshop to help make the pitch better and received decent feedback. I realized a few weeks later that pitching it was so hard because it was essentially two stories in one. Thus the trilogy epiphany. The second time was my urban fantasy Phoenix Rising in front of a publisher and his editor. My heart was beating through my ribcage, but he requested the first three chapters and query when I finish revisions!
I’ve chased a half-dozen plot bunnies.
I was asked to sit on a panel at the local college to talk about writing (specifically NaNoWriMo), alongside successful, published English professors.
I entered a scholarship competition for an SC writer’s conference, and although I didn’t win I (1) entered and (2) received a phone call that my entry was a close runner-up and was offered a discounted rate for the conference. I was unable to attend, but it is what it is.
I plan to enter the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition before the end of the year.
I wrote a song and added instrumentation to another. I competed in a songwriting competition in October.
There may be things I’ve forgotten. Not a single one of these things was on my writing goals at the beginning of 2017. Typing that list and looking back over it though, I can’t say that 2017 was a failure. In fact, I would call it a huge success. I may not have succeeded in the things I set out to do at the beginning of the year, but I broke down personal barriers like fear by putting myself out there and took big steps in plot development. I also wrote words. They were not necessarily the words I’d hoped to write, but I’ve realized that’s okay.
I don’t feel like I have any empty yesterdays, and I hope I feel the same way when I look back at the end of 2018.
Speaking of 2018, I do plan to rewrite Alias Book 1 and Phoenix Rising this year. I’m starting with Phoenix Rising because of the request from the small press publisher. I want to finish the short stories I’ve started and look for anthology/contest submissions. I plan to keep up my Twitter networking and blogging, start joining Writer’s Associations, and continue going to fandom Cons with writer emphasis. I’m also looking into other writing conferences/retreats and even graduate certificates in writing to hone my craft. I want to write something new during NaNoWriMo 2018, instead of working on revisions, and I definitely have plenty of plot bunnies to chase. Alias Book 3 doesn’t have a draft, and I have a companion novel in my head for that series as well. I want to start querying before the end of 2018.
These are some of my goals. I hope to reach at least one of them, but if I can sit down at this time next year and type up a list like I just did for 2017, I’ll be happy. Even if revised drafts of Alias Book 1 and Phoenix Rising aren’t on that list.
Please share some of your goals for 2018 with me!
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