Saturday, January 01, 2005

Saturday, January 1, 2005
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and mild


First and foremost, I wish everyone peace, joy, and abundance for 2005.

Second, I hope you had an enjoyable time welcoming the New Year.

Third, I hope you’re not suffering from an excess of good cheer this morning!

I don’t miss the hangovers, that’s for damn sure. I still drink, but I try to only drink in moderation. Considering how much I drank in my twenties and even into my thirties, it’s a big improvement.

And, more importantly, the quality of my work is higher.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so I’ll use sub-headings and then readers can scroll down and read what they want.

Not only was this much more difficult to work on than I expected, but making it public is even scarier. Now I have to actually step up to the plate and follow through. But at least I know I have support in order to do so.

Deep breath.

Here’s what I came up with:

1. Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?

I want to work in a variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction. I want to write whatever interests me and be paid well enough to have both financial security AND financial freedom.

2. Where are you with your writing now?

I am doing an ever-widening variety of writing, but I need to raise the income level.

3. What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?

The biggest priority is to revise and market the first hockey book, Clear the Slot.
Once that is done, I need to get back to work on Periwinkle.
The two most important projects to work on/finish at least in first draft form are Ransagh and Intricacies of a Labyrinth.
Depending upon the time and the paid writing gigs, the following are also waiting in the wings to be completed and demand attention:
Change on the Fly
The Curse of the Moon-Faced Clock
The Cooking Cure
There are others, but these are the priorities. The Other Project is on the back burner for now.

4. What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?

Continue with the serials
Write 3 novels
Write 1 article per week
Write 2 short stories per month
Write 1 or 2 plays over the course of the year
Expand the business writing
Expand the workshops, coaching and manuscript critique areas of the business
Write columns
Investigate radio work
In addition, there are three far-reaching publications I want to crack: Glimmer Train, Espresso Fiction and Woman’s Weekly. The latter is for the wrong reasons -- I don't like the publication, but I want the money -- and I want to see if I can be enough of a craftsman to write what they want without feeling like a prostitute.
I also want to find homes for all unpublished stories/articles that are sitting around unsubmitted; either that or decide which need to be “retired” and do so.

5. What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? (Note: There is no need to post this information, but you should have a figure that you feel comfortable with in your own notes).

I broke this down into X dollars per year, X dollars per month and X dollars per week.
I prefer to keep these numbers private.

6. What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?

Limit the backstage theatre work
Market the business writing more aggressively
Widen the audience
Research more markets

7. Each month, pick one step and work on it.

January is about marketing.

8. What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as “writer”?

I do. That’s no longer a problem.

9. What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals (such as improving spelling, grammar, and a general widening of skills)?

A copyediting refresher.

10. What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?

Not be afraid of working in unfamiliar genres or crossing genres.

11. What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?

Figure out e-mail schedule to stay on top of the mail without wasting the most energetic part of my day on the e-mail.
Schedule filing and organization time so that I stay on top of it all
Don’t forget to leave room in for fun – too regimented a schedule and I start to sabotage myself.
Build up more physical stamina so that I don’t wear out so quickly at the keyboard.

12. What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?

More aggressive marketing, especially for the serials and the business writing.
Polish the business package/portfolio
Build my prospect list and go after them
Create a direct mail piece for the serials and send it out
More ads/direct mail in general
Utilize libraries and reading groups

13. How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?

4-6 hours on creative work
2-3 hours for business/marketing/research

After all, if the bulk of the energy is not used on the creative work, there won’t be anything to market.

14. With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?

Food writing
Research Shakespeare’s life
Research the court of Henry VIII

15. What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?

I’d like to explore painting.
I want to revitalize my interest and expand my abilities with photography
A long term goal is to learn to play the piano.

Non-writing goals that will fuel the writing:

Pay down debt
Buy a house


I’d like to clear the year’s deadlined work by Oct. 30, so that I can have a go at National Novel Writing Month and enjoy the holidays, even if it means double issues during August and September for the serials.

From this list:

Market more aggressively
Build up the business writing
Revise and market Clear the Slot
First draft of Ransagh
First draft of Intricacies of a Labyrinth
First draft of Periwinkle
At least one new full-length play in draft
Write columns
Explore radio writing
Do more photography
Pay down debt
Buy a house
Crack three so-far uncrackable markets

Buy a house
Experiment with both painting and piano
Develop the craft to write poetry

Try Kindness first
Write every day
Remember to balance freedom, discipline and creativity

1 month’s worth of episodes: The Widow’s Chamber
1 month’s worth of episodes: Tapestry
1 month’s worth of episodes: Angel Hunt
1 month’s worth of episodes: Cutthroat Charlotte
Literary Athlete – second column
Trailblazing Tarot – second column
Lindisfarne article
Outlines to
The quarterly newsletter out
Devon’s Random Newsletter
Direct mailing for serials
10 query letters – Elsa’s Sweater
10 query letters – Dixie Dust Rumours
10 query letters – Jill Moves
10 query letters – Captain Marbury’s Ghost
2 short stories
4 articles
Re-read Clear the Slot, research problems and make notes
60 pages of Ransagh
Finish preparing course material
Sent out copywriting direct mail
Market website
Build Cerridwen’s Cottage website
Ink in My Kitchen -- 2 recipes
Library Letters out to Westchester libraries

That should keep me busy, to say the least! :)

Spiritual Ancestors:
A few days ago, I asked the question, “Who are your (and my) spiritual ancestors? Not mentors, but figures from the past who actually influenced both work and life.

I thought about it, pondered it, and realized that, although not all of them are positive, I do have fifteen:

Louisa May Alcott –since I was in grade school, her life and work have been an inspiration and driving force in my own life.
Harriet Beecher Stowe – I “discovered” them the same day, and they are still my strongest influences.
Emily Dickinson – her complexity, simplicity and clarity are something I strive towards, but have yet to achieve. I have, however, chosen a different life.
Shakespeare – I first read him when I was eight, believe it or not, and have been hooked ever since. I’d stay in the tech part of theatre longer if there were more jobs on Shakespeare plays out there.
Virginia Woolf – sometimes I’m crazy about her, sometimes I’m annoyed with her, but she’s always fascinating and inspirational – especially her diaries.
Jack Kerouac – not one of the more positive influences, but his inspiration was the driving force behind Roadkill, the first play of mine to be produced in both Edinburgh and Australia.
Hotspur Percy – some girls fell for rock stars; I fell for Hotspur. First from Shakespeare’s depiction and then from what I learned about the actual man. Although I think he would have worked my last nerve in real life, he’s had a lot of influence on me from afar, and I’ve learned a lot about history and personality from him.
Florence Nightingale – her stubbornness always fascinated me, even after I worked on that horrible off-Broadway musical.
Hatshepsut – female pharaoh of Egypt. I always discover something new in the serenity of her room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I can use in my life.
Abigail Adams – she should have been the first female President. She had more common sense and intelligence than most people in her time or ours.
Ethan Allen – yeah, I was surprised about this too, but his recklessness and independence have definitely been an influence.
Jean Lafitte – the pirate. He was more complex than most bold figures and his intelligence is what made him able to get away with so much, both good and bad.
Mildred Wirt Benson – the original ghost writer behind the Nancy Drew books, and the author of the Penny Parker series. She taught – and teaches me – the joy of words, friendship, creation and loyalty, and her work got me hooked on juvenile series fiction.
Eugene O’Neill – obsessed with his work and his life for years, I finally got fed up with his self-indulgent drinking, whining, and dependence on the women around him to run the world so he could do whatever he pleased. Instead of wallowing in his sense of not belonging, he should have embraced it. Once I did that, my life improved enormously, and I hope I’ve managed to avoid some of his traps. Not that I have his talent, but it’s so easy for a person to fall into the traps of a spiritual ancestor instead of learning and making a different choice.
Christopher Marlowe – for every bit of influence Shakespeare has on me, Kit is there providing a sly, dry counterpoint. It keeps things balanced.

These are the figures that have a continuous influence. They’re quite a tribe, and I appreciate them!

An artist friend, helping me sort through photographs in order to figure out which ones to submit with which articles, suggested that I put together a book of my work. I wouldn’t even know how to start. She says I capture the inner spirit of place well – I find what’s otherworldly and touching about a place.

I do prefer photographing places to people, and I’m strongly attached to the spirit of place. I don’t like being photographed myself – I do feel invaded, even when the photographer is a friend of mine trying to capture something specific. On some level, I think it is true that you capture a piece of someone’s soul in a photograph, and I think I don’t like to be pinned down like a butterfly in an exhibit that way.

But places – people move through places and don’t really see them. I like to communicate with them. If my photography can communicate the place’s essence – or at least the essence that is revealed to me . . .

I have to think about it. One of my GDRs this year is to go back to photography. I think I need this year to play before I think in terms of practicality.

I was, however, touched and thrilled that this person, whose artwork I so admire, finds my visual experiments moving.

A poet friend and I discussed inspiration. He was moaning about inspiration and how the Muse abandoned him, blah, blah, blah. I snapped that I don’t have time to wait around for the Muse – I have to be able to call it up whenever I need it to get the work done. He mournfully said, “No, you don’t have to wait because you’re always inspired by the world.”

I don’t know if I’m always inspired, but I do have an intense curiosity. Thank goodness for that, because I’m naturally so shy and reticent and such a hermit that if my curiosity didn’t drive me to find out more about just about everything (except math and anchovies), I’d be absolutely agoraphobic.

And there are plenty of times when I feel about as inspired as wilted lettuce.

But I have put time into doing the craft, and when the art falters, you have to turn to craft. You can add in more art later, sort of like testing a new recipe and making an adjustment. But you have to have the base on which to build. By working on both the art and the craft, the work actually gets done.

Speaking of which, I have a hell of a lot of work to get done today. I want to do a coherent draft of the Lindisfarne article and work on the Hereafter storylines. Of course, I’ve put down the Hereafter folder with all my musings down somewhere and can’t find it . . .(sigh).

It’s a finite space. It’s here somewhere.

To work, to work, so I can start crossing items off the To Do List.

This is the first time since I began my career in the theatre twenty-four years ago, that I have not worked on Christmas and on New Year’s. It’s a HUGE milestone for me. It means that not only am I taking my transition seriously, but the people around me are respecting it.



At 12:59 PM, Blogger Angela said...

Happy New Year Devon and Congratulations on the milestone! I'm glad the transition is being respected. I've been pondering the spiritual ancestors question too but I haven't come up with any. That 'to do' list looks daunting but you'll be marking through items in no time.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Pandora Nicollet said...

Your questions are so thorough and thought-provoking. I hope you don't mind if I (privately) crib them and use them to generate a better g d & r list.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Debra Young said...

Happy New Year to you, Devon, and a big thank you for the way you have inspired me since I started reading your blog. I've been pondering my plan for 2005 and have worked out a number of writing goals, but I appreciate the way you've laid it out in GDR so if you don't mind I'm going to sit down and work out my thoughts and plans in that format too. I like the clarity of it and it is definitely inspiring! Wishing you great success in all that you do.


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