Monthly Archives: December 2009

Time flies

I don’t usually reflect and take stock this time of year, usually I’m too busy, but I had a quiet couple of days recently and spent some time wondering, Where did all the time go? It seems to have flown by this year faster than ever before. This was the year I was going to get something done (AKA finish the damn book). What happened? What did I DO in the past year?

Looking back, I realize I spent most of the year pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And learning.

I took a screenwriting class that completely changed how I look at writing a novel. Boy, did I need to change how I look at writing a novel. Nearly a year later, I’m still trying to wrestle my story into a structure that makes sense. With as much as I’ve learned, I’m constantly amazed by how much I don’t know about how to write.

I wrote 34, now 35, blog posts over here. Plus the six posts I wrote on another blog. Fewer than in prior years, but I also spent a good bit of time creating not one, but two new multi-page blogs in WordPress. Great fun and mentally invigorating, but that was a huge learning curve for me.

I started using Twitter, another learning curve and very much outside the comfort zone. I’ve encountered some fascinating people, made a few new friends and gained valuable insight into certain aspects of publishing and marketing. I feel like I have spinach in my teeth half the time over there, but I’m trying not to dwell on it.

Let’s see, what else consumed my energy, other than the day job (as if that’s not enough)? There were the months I spent worrying I might have throat cancer (I didn’t). There was continued angst about selling and moving out of my house — until I realized I could refinance the damn thing (I did), followed by endless paperwork and monitoring mortgage rates and worrying that something would go wrong before closing (nothing did). I tell myself I learned to stop worrying (I didn’t).

There was the trip to Minneapolis and the wrenched knee, which still hasn’t quite healed. And a nasty bout with pneumonia, preceded by what I’m pretty sure was the flu. No learning curve there, but definitely exhausting.

If I’m to be honest, there was also a significant stretch of time when I struggled with whether I have what it takes to become a published author and whether that’s even what I want for myself. For now, the answer is yes, but I suspect that’s going to be an ongoing debate.

And while all these things were either unavoidable or somehow important to my personal or professional growth, none of them had anything to do with putting words on the page. Not directly. With all the things I did this year, the one thing I didn’t do enough of was write.

What a waste of time, you might think. I disagree. I’ve always believed that things happen when and how they’re supposed to happen. Sure, you need to work hard and you can focus your efforts and try to steer so you’re going in the right direction instead of running straight into hazards. Absolutely, you need to do that. But things happen. You can’t force them any more than you can avoid them. You may not believe that, but I do.

So this past year might not look particularly productive on the face of it. But every event, every fleeting yet educational moment was a necessary prelude to what comes next. I’m exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do. And I have a very strong sense that the coming year is going to be one of great change and accomplishment. 

What about you? Are you satisfied with your accomplishments of the past year? What were they? What are your hopes and dreams for the next twelve months? Do you, too, feel a sense of impending events, of things beyond your control? Or are you more concerned about odd behaviour (perhaps yours?) during the eclipse of the blue moon this New Year’s Eve?

Stay safe this weekend and have a very Happy New Year!


Filed under deep thoughts, goals, holidays

‘Tis the season

Wishing you peace and joy and laughter. And safe travels, whether you’re running out to the store for that one last thing or going halfway around the world to be with loved ones.

Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

If you get a quiet moment, and I hope you manage at least one of those, go take a look at this blog post over at Murderati. It has some truly awesome pictures of what happens when people explore the creative possibilities of snow.



Filed under holidays

What is this platform of which you speak?

Platform. Seems you can’t delve deeper than three paragraphs into the internet these days without someone telling you how important it is for writers to have a platform. I’ve been thinking about this lately and it has me more than slightly worried. Because I don’t have one. I’m not even sure what it means. Sounds like something from which one could get pushed.

But the experts are insistent. Writers need a platform. Agents and editors will want to hear about your platform. The time to build your platform is NOW, before you’re published. Building a platform takes time. If you wait until your book comes out, it will be too late.

There are a lot of writers who have pretty clearly defined platforms. Some form a group blog with other writers who have something in common — usually they’re all published in the same genre, or by the same publisher. But I’ve never been much of a joiner and can’t really see myself doing that. Not to mention, you know, I’m not published. Sort of a prerequisite. Yet everyone says a platform should be established before the product.

Some writers are experts in a particular area or have an interesting day job or unusual background. But I’m really just sort of . . . average. I’m neither old nor young. I live in suburbia. [yawn] I have two kids and a dog and a cat, but so do a lot of other people. The day job is drier than dust and involves mostly confidential financial stuff. No one wants to hear about that. I’m an excellent cook, but others are better. I don’t have an advanced degree in metallurgy and haven’t travelled to the ends of the earth. Or even Europe. There just isn’t any fascinating subject about which I’m knowledgeable.

I’ve written a few blog posts lately that have apparently been of interest to writers. But that feels awkward as a platform, since I don’t have all that much to offer other writers in the way of experience or advice. I’m delighted if other writers want to read my blog but, in general, they’re not who I’m talking to when I write blog posts. Except lately. But, you know, not always.

Can you tell I’ve been agonizing about this? Well, I have been. To the point where I’m not sure what the hell to write over here anymore. Sure, I do an occasional post about writing, but I’m just as likely to write about the cat. And anything in between. There is no consistency, no common topic, no single thread that binds it all together. Who is my audience? What do I have to say? What is my platform? I feel like I’ve failed before I’ve even started building. But I need to build it NOW.

And then today all this angsty indecision came to the boiling point of ridiculous when I realized I’d pretty much convinced myself that, lacking a platform, I shouldn’t be blogging at all.

Um, wait a minute.

The fact is, I’ve been writing blog posts here and elsewhere for more than three years. I think I’ve gotten to where I don’t completely suck at it. Three or five people keep coming back to read them, anyway, so I must be doing something right.

I’m a writer. My job is to connect with readers. My audience is anyone who wanders over here and decides to come back, for whatever reason. What I have to offer are my words and my voice and my outlook on life. And that’s it.

That’s my platform. Well, my definition of it, at least. It’s not fancy or impressive or even particularly original. And I’m fine with that. Right now, after years of building a thing I didn’t even know existed, it feels pretty solid to me.

It’s going to have to be enough. Because probably the next post is going to be about the cat.

Unless anyone has a request . . .

[Don’t you just love the virtual snow? Enjoy it while it lasts.]

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Filed under blogging, marketing, social media