Scorecard: Second Week

Two weeks in. Had a holiday in the middle of this one, so…how’d I do?

  • Edit one chapter a day: Mostly check. 5 days out of 7 isn’t too bad.
  • Write a new short story each week: Done. First draft of “Wednesday” is complete and ready to submit to litreactor. Draft of second story is coming together.
  • Critique two stories each week: Check. This has become the easiest one to do.
  • Find a new agent to query each week: Nope again. I might need to drop this one, till the editing is done.
  • Polish and submit a new story each month: On track. Hope to get feedback on “Wednesday” soon, and then will revise and start submitting. Also got a rejection back for one of the stories I’d submitted, so I need to send it out again this week.

Scorecard: First Week

Last week I set some goals to keep me on track for a productive summer.

So, how am I doing?

  • Edit one chapter a day: Check. I’m working through the novel backwards this time, to keep it fresh for my editing eyes.
  • Write a new short story each week: Not complete, but new story (working title: Wednesday) is halfway done, and I’ll wrap it up this weekend.
  • Critique two stories each week: Check. By the time the new story’s done, I should have enough points to post it to the litreactor workshop for feedback.
  • Find a new agent to query each week: Nope. Need to set aside some time next week to do this.
  • Polish and submit a new story each month: Check. I’ve currently got three short stories making the submission rounds, one of which I submitted for the first time this month.

The Plans of Mice and Writers

Novel broke 79,000 words this morning. That’s 5,000 more words than last week, putting me back on my desired schedule.

So waking up that half-hour earlier has been worth it. I’ve been getting in 250-400 words in that extra 30 minutes, making it a lot easier for me to hit 1,000 words by the end of the day.

Writing at lunch hasn’t worked out as well for me. I’ve often got errands to run and chores to do in that hour, and even if I try to carve out 30 min for writing, my mind’s so busy with other things that I end up just staring at the page.

Fortunately, I’ve done much better with writing at the end of the day, especially since I’ve got the morning kick-start to relieve some of the pressure.

So, I’ll keep up the new habit next week, and try to use the weekend to catch up from the week I lost to flu. My goal is still to finish by the end of this month, so I’ve got some cranking to do.

Goals for 2015

Now that my traditional New Year’s Day Hangover has come and gone, it’s time to set goals and plans for the future. What do I think I should be working toward in 2015?

  1. Submit my NaNoWriMo novel to agents: This is actually several goals in one. I’ll need to finish the first draft of the novel, then do a revision or two, then get feedback from beta readers, do a few more revisions, and do another round of reader reviews and revisions before it’ll be ready to submit. It might take me the rest of the year to get it ready, so there’s also the patience I’ll need to cultivate to see it through.
  2. Write another novel: Because you can’t stop with just one.
  3. Sell one short story: This one’s been on my lists for several years now, but I’m not giving up on it just yet. I am broadening its scope, though: I’ll count the goal as met if I make a sale for a story as a self-published ebook. I’ve got a good backlog of unsold stories that I think there’s a market for, if I put in the time to find it.
  4. Open retirement account: I’m getting too old to not have one of these. Unfortunately, between doing freelance work and working for small companies for the last few years, I don’t have a 401K or IRA setup to stash money in for the day that I (maybe) retire.
  5. Double meetup group regular attendance: I’ve been running the San Diego Functional Programming Group for 4 years now, and we’ve never gotten above half a dozen or so regular attendees. For 2015, we’re narrowing the group’s focus from functional programming in general to specifically programming in Clojure. I think it’ll give the group a cohesion it hasn’t had previously, and I’m lining up talks months in advance so more people can plan to attend the ones they’re interested in.
  6. Build a machine-learning tool worth talking about: Could be a toy system, or a little open-source library, or even a production-ready deployed demo, but it needs to be something that applies machine learning techniques to a real problem, and solves it. Something I wouldn’t be embarrassed about giving a talk on at the local meetup.

2014 In Review

At the end of each year for the past five or so, I’ve written up a set of goals for the coming year. Not resolutions, or habits I want to establish that might help me achieve some vague goal, but concrete targets to aim for over the next twelve months.

Here’s what I wrote down as my goals for 2014:

  • Get 100 regular users for
  • Find a permanent place to settle
  • Live abroad for the summer
  • Have one short story published
  • Post to the blog on a weekly basis
  • Keep the same job through the year
  • Open a retirement savings account
  • Learn Haskell

So with the year wrapping up, how did I do?

It’s a mixed bag: definite success for three of the goals, complete failure for the other five.

In the success column, we can put “find a permanent place to settle” (my wife and I bought a house in April), “post to the blog on a weekly basis” (with the exception of the holidays and NaNoWriMo, I’ve been posting thrice weekly for a good while now), and “keep the same job through the year” (I was developing a bad habit of switching companies every year or so, making our taxes more complicated and my resume look like I’d been playing employment hopscotch; this year I stayed with the same employer the whole way through).

I failed at everything else, though.

For a few, it was because my goals changed: rather than open a retirement account, we opted to payoff the credit card; instead of pushing for more users of, my business partner and I shuttered the site this summer to work on smaller projects.

Sometimes accomplishing one goal conflicted with another: buying a house meant we didn’t have the cash to try living abroad for the summer, and focusing on work-related skills while I stayed with my employer for the full year meant not spending time learning a new programming language (Haskell).

And for the last, I simply couldn’t do it. I submitted several short stories to be published, yielding a nice collection of rejection letters, but no sales.

So: 3/8 or, a 37.5% success rate. That’s a fine batting average, but doesn’t say much about my ability to set and accomplish goals.

Of course, not everything I ended up striving for is captured in that list: holding our monthly spending to a budget, winning NaNoWriMo, paying off the debt incurred from the sale of our previous house, taking ASL classes, taking cooking classes. So priorities shifted, and goals were pushed back or shelved.

Perhaps what this really reflects is poor judgement on my part at the beginning of the year about what will be important to me over the course of it?