Setting Goals

At the beginning of every new year I sit down and write out some goals for myself — things I want to accomplish, things I think I need to do.  Most of the time they get forgotten, but a couple of years ago I came up with this list of writing goals.  I keep a copy of it taped to the wall beside my desk as a daily reminder of what I hope to accomplish as a writer. 

Have I managed yet to double my income as a writer?  No.  In fact, I’ve made no income as a writer, but I don’t let it get me down.  I have, however, stuck to my goal to write for at least one hour everyday (most days) and I have written quite a bit of work that if I would develop a back bone I could submit. 

No matter how much I write, though, there’s still this nasty little voice inside me that says:  they won’t like it, they won’t buy it, they won’t read it — why would anyone want to read THAT?  I tell it to shut-up and leave me alone, but like all bullies, it’s pretty persistent. 

Still, though, I keep trying.  I’ve had successes in the past, and I’ll have successes again – it’s just about developing my confidence and refusing to give up. 

More than anything I use this list of goals to remind myself that I have to keep trying in order to keep growing.  It’s also helpful whenever I start listening to that little voice as though it’s telling the truth, to weigh what I have accomplished against what it’s telling me I haven’t.  Pursuing goals is tough, hard work and it’s tempting sometimes to want to give in to that little voice that’s telling you you’re wasting time.  Having a visual reminder of what’s important and why has been a huge help to me. 

This little list could be adapted for any goal.  Feel free to ‘borrow’ it and make it your own if it’s something you feel can help you achieve yours. 

Wishing you much success in whatever you pursue.


 Writing Goals for 2010

  • I am going to become a successful writer this year.
  • I am going to be making enough money writing that I will double my income.
  • I am going to do what I’ve always wanted to do, and what I was born to do – write. 
  • My focus will be short stories and personal essays.
  • I will target magazines and on-line publications that publish these forms of writing.
  • I will publish my children’s book and write another one.
  • I will spend at least one hour every day writing, but more when I can manage it. 
  • I will make whatever personal sacrifices I must to achieve the above goal.
  • I will make writing my main priority, second only to family, in my life.  Work and school will become third and fourth.
  • I am a writer and I am successful.

The Last Oracle, James Rollins

The Last Oracle
Author: James Rollins
Published:  2008, Harper Collins, New York, NY

This is the first of these books I’ve read.  And, it will be my last. 

I was given this book as a gift; the blurb on the back of the book sounded very interesting so I had fairly high hopes starting into it.  It’s an espionage thriller with a plot involving bioengineered autistic children, a threat to annihilate all the world leaders and replace them with one puppet controlled by an evil military regime, and mystic ties to an ancient civilization of oracles.  Unfortunately, it’s just over-blown pulp fiction.

Rollins is an adequate writer; he keeps his story moving along in a nice, formulaic style.  He has pretty good research backing up his plot, though it’s not as in-depth as say, Dan Brown’s.  (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons).  Rollins, a considerably better structural writer that Mr. Brown, but lacks Brown’s creative imagination.  His characters are merely wooden stereotypes.  I think the most interesting one so far is the obviously twice-doomed Monk.  Everyone else is just flat and uninteresting, even the children the evil Russians have experimented on.  Which really, is quite sad, because you’d think with children involved, the emotion would be ramped up.  Oh, and don’t forget the animals. 

This book, as I’m presuming is the same with the others, was clearly written with the idea of a movie deal in mind.  I can just see Nicholas Cage in the role of Commander Gray Pierce (are your eyes rolling?), Rollins’ steely eyed, square-jawed, university degree-d hero.  Then add a big guy like The Rock to play his sidekick, Kowalski; a petite, little known blonde actress to play the smart,  bookish though very attractive Dr. Elizabeth Polk, and a host of other lesser-known but recognizable actors to play the other assorted characters that overrun this story.

It’s your typical spy/thriller with lots of guns, swords, globe-trotting, ties to ancient history and racial stereotyping.  Only the Americans are good enough/smart enough/resourceful enough to save the day.  But wait!  He does throw in an American villain or two — just to keep things kind of realistic, I guess. 

The problem, for me, is that I could have liked this book if only some effort had been put into making me want to like it.  it’s an interesting concept, but I’m reading it now simply to see if it plays out the way I’ve imagined it will.  I’ve seen enough of these kinds of movies to have a pretty good idea of the outcome. 

If you like books you can read with your eyes closed, then this one’s for you.

It’s Friday!

January 15th already!  We’re already half way through our first month of the second decade of 21st century.  Amazing.  There’s that whole time thing again.  It just seems to get away from me, and there I am turning in small circles wondering what just happened. 

Truthfully, these first fifteen days have been pretty good ones.  I’ve made some personal resolutions that I — so far — have managed to keep.  I don’t know how many people have read The Secret, or any other literature about the Law of Attraction, but I got interested in it a few years ago and picked up a few books on the subject. 

At first, I was skeptical, but as I read more I came to realize that it’s not a wierd and kinky cult, or fly-by-night gimmick someone dreamed up just to make themselves rich.  It’s a philosophy by which you can control the chaos in your life.  A way to bring harmony and happiness into your life. 

I’ve dismissed some of the wilder claims — like if I want to have 20/20 eyesight — all I have to do is think I have it and the universe will grant my wish.  Physiologically, that is nonsense.  I’ve worn glasses since I was a kid, I’ve got bad eyesight, end of story. 

However, when it comes to establishing a sense of balance in my life I’ve found the teachings of  The Secret and the Law of Attraction very useful.  It’s a pretty simple concept really.  Think positive, act positive, believe in the power of yourself and your abilities and your life will be a positive life.  And it’s true.  I find that when I focus only on things that have positive energy, that make me happy — even in the tiniest of ways — I feel so much better about myself that I then start feeling better about everything else around me. 

By feeling good about myself I can start to focus on the good in others.  Even in people I am in conflict with.  It allows me to look at them objectively and try to see what is good about them — and believe me, there is something good about everyone — even your worst enemy. 

Simply, it’s a live and let live philosophy.  I’ll concentrate on what makes my life worthwhile, what makes me happy, what brings me satisfaction and you concentrate on yours.  And, hopefully, we can coexist in harmony. 

An old friend of mine, one whom I think of often and wish well constantly, used to tell me all the time “it’s the power of positive thinking, Kath, just think it and it will come true”. 

Well, Sandi, you were right.  All those years ago, young and naïve as we both were, you were so much wiser.  It took me 30 years to get what you were saying, but I finally figured it out.  I hope your life is what you dreamed it would be.  Mine is getting there.

For more information about The Secret follow this link: http://www.thesecret.tv/

Monday, January 11, 2010

Well, it’s the official start of the 2nd week of the new year.  It feels like the 2nd month! 

What happens to time as we get older?  There just seems to be so much less of it the older I get.  No matter how organized I try to be, how much I try to simplify my life, how much prioritizing and goal setting I attempt it just all gets away from me and I’m left rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

I’m up (or try to be up) every day at 5 a.m. so that I can get some writing done.  I’m lucky if I get a few scratches down in my journals and manage to post to this blog once or twice a week.  Where does that time go?  I know that I’m not just sitting staring, slack-jawed into space because I can feel my heart racing as I anticipate the day ahead of me. 

It seems that I am perpetually living in the future.  As I write this I am already in the middle of February contemplating the Family Day weekend.  I have already been to Calgary on Feb. 4th and 5th and am wondering when, exactly when, it will be that I have time to go looking for the new vehicle I need.  Spring Break is coming up — at the end of March — maybe there’ll be some free time then.

Time is a very tricky entity.  When we were kids it moved so slowly and leisurely it drove us nuts.  We, who wanted to move at a lightning pace couldn’t stand it — we were forever lamenting that things took so long.  Then, one day, I can’t exactly say when it happens, time catches up with us.  For a brief time we live ‘in the moment’. 

Everything is beautifully synchronized — we can manage every detail of our lives and our kids lives and work and manage a home and have fun and it’s all so good and we think we’re on top of the world and nobody has ever been so totally in control of their life as we are at that illusory moment in time. 

And then. . .

it passes.  Time speeds past us and we’re left spinning in its wake wondering just what on earth has happened to our ability to manage our lives.  In my 50’s now, I am constantly playing catch-up.  I get up earlier in the morning than I ever dreamed I would.  Ten years ago had someone told me I’d be getting up at this time every day to write, work, take care of house work, send emails, check Facebook, journal — you name it — I’d have said they were crazy. 

As a kid, or, even as a young adult, I can remember sleeping in til 10 or 11 o’clock on a weekend, getting up and managing to accomplish all sorts of things and still having time to just ‘be’.  To sleep in past 8 o’clock on  a weekend seems utterly irresponsible now.  How could I possibly, when I have so much that needs doing and so little time to do it in? 

I actually find it depressing to admit that I am often in bed by 10:30 on a Saturday night — but if I’m not I don’t have the energy to get up and try to wrestle my next day into submission.  Any ‘spare’ time that I might delude myself I have, time that I might like to sit and read a book in, or take up crocheting again in, or pursue my photography hobby in, is generally taken up by all the stuff that has somehow managed to get away from me.  If I want to do any of those things I have to schedule them in, or worse cheat myself and deliberately play hookie from all my other obligations.  And then where does that leave me?  Scrambling to find more time to try and make up for lost time.  Forget about just ‘being’! 

Anyway. . .

as I sit here trying to get this rambling thought down semi-coherently I’m beginning to worry about what time it is, because I still have to go get on the treadmill, have a shower, make lunch, change the laundry.  .  .

Enjoy your day, make the most of your time — it really does go by in a heartbeat.

Thursday, Jan. 7/010

It really feels wierd writing the date like that! I wonder if I should just go ahead and start adding the 2 – it’s only one more keystroke, after all.

Just as a strange little aside — Tim and I watched 2010, the sequel to 2001 A Space Odyssey, on the weekend. I didn’t want to watch it, but he kind of forgot to change the channel and before I knew it I was sucked into sitting there watching what was perhaps the MOST boring, pointless movie I’ve ever seen. (Not that the first one, 2001, was really any better.)

My thoughts after the movie were that here was this vision of the future that showed us on the brink of war with the Russians while the destruction of the planet was imminent. Technologically, things looked a little more advanced than they do in reality, but not glaringly so. Of course war was averted, and earth winds up with two suns — a kind of gift from the sinister/benevolent monolith (it wipes out a planet to give birth to some new ones and the new sun. All very symbolic and rather stupid.) Anyway,. . .

. . . in comparison, what’s going on here on planet earth seems a lot more dire than it did in this hoaky little movie.

Movement around the globe is slowly becoming more burdensome, racial, religious, economic and environmental tensions seem to be ramping up to disastrous levels, while our obsession with technology (in particular games and entertainment) continues to grow.  None of these things appear to be related, but I wonder.

Going back to the theory of 2012, where the world is destroyed through our own negligence (as predicted thousands of years earlier by an ancient culture using human sacrifice, hmmm. . .) perhaps the powers that be (those with the $ that control our sad, ignorant little existences) know that the end is near and they have engineered this crazy scheme to keep us all corralled in our own countries.

Problem with that hair-brained theory is: what the hell for, and why would they care? More than likely they’d be like the big Russian in 2012 who was out to save only him and his fat kids. Philanthropy, it would seem will remain an idea exclusive to those who cannot afford it.  

And, much as I admire President Obama and all that he stands for and hopes to accomplish, why is it that the Americans suddenly allowed a black man to become their leader?  Or, more correctly, why did the secret society that controls the world (oh, come on now!  we’ve all seen the movies and read the books that tell us about this secret organization made up of the richest, most powerful people in the world that controls EVERYTHING, don’t try to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about) let him be elected?  The answer is simple — because it’s not going to matter!  In a couple of years the earth will be destroyed and we’ll be nothing but a galactic nightmare.  Unless, of course, the Chinese manage to build those arks. 

Hey, isn’t there a big dam project going on in China? 

Seriously, I choose to believe that President Obama was elected because people realize that skin colour is irrelevant, and because they recognize the need for change. 

I do believe we are being discouraged from too much global travel, but for more practical reasons — to keep us safe from terrorist attacks, to curb fossil fuel use, to help keep our economies strong by forcing us to spend our vacation dollars at home. 

Racial and religious tensions are no more an issue today than they were hundreds, even thousands of years ago — but at least now we don’t burn people at the stake or keep them as slaves.  (Well, maybe that still happens – just not in North America.)

And our obsession with technology?  Well, that’s what a creative, curious intelligent species does — it invents, and because we’re all about instant, self-gratification, it only makes sense that we focus on things that entertain the masses. 

While in the background the really serious, sinister work takes place. . .

Just After Sunset — finished

I finished Just After Sunset by Stephen King right before Christmas.  I have to say I loved it.  Mr. King has re-discovered that old familiar voice we devoted fans of his love to hear. 

The stories are smart, funny, poignant and relevant.  Even the final story, as disgusting as it was.  The thing with King, when he is at his best, (and I would have to say Just After Sunset is representative of some of his best work in a long, long time), is that he draws you into the story effortlessly.  Once there, you feel as though you know these characters, these situations.  And that’s because you can relate them to your own experience, your own deep, dark thoughts and hidden fears.  It’s a fun ride.

Of the thirteen stories that comprise this collection I’d have to say my favorites are: 

Harvey’s Dream
The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates
The Things They Left Behind and
The Gingerbread Girl

Each of these stories touched a personal chord within me, that made me sit back and think: “yeah, exactly” or made me shudder with the very real possibility that there but for the grace of God . . . 

I particularly liked Willa, because I could see myself in her.  The practical, logical, let’s just face this situation for what it is attitude she has, and, of course, it’s a nice little love story.  The writing in this one is tight, clear and unsentimental, but at the same time very evocative of the emotions people in such a sad situation would experience.  Highly recommended.

The Gingerbread Girl is just a great survival story.  It’s exactly what we would imagine we would do in a situation like that.  (Whether we could pull it off like the heroine in the story is doubtful, still the imagination likes to think we could.)  I just loved this one.

Ayana has shades of The Green Mile all over it.  It’s a gentle story about kindness and paying it forward and just what that costs.  The writing is superb.

The Things They Left Behind, although a little ‘out there’ for me was wonderfully written and a take on 9/11 that I hadn’t read before.  King captures beautifully that sense of hopelessness some of the survivors of that terrible day experienced.  It’s a tale of atonement and personal guilt when neither is justified. 

And, although I didn’t mention it in my favorite’s list I’d have to say the end story, A Very Tight Place, has stayed with me.  It’s full of the usual themes, guilt, fear, hatred, madness, over-wrought emotion, violence and the imagination’s desire to do nasty, nasty things to people we can’t stand or understand.  Suffice it to say it’s a great, satisfying, albeit yucky, read. 

Anyway, I hope you’ll give this collection of short stories a try.  If you’re a die-hard fan like me you’ll love it.  If you’re a newbie I think you’ll be surprised at just how wonderful a writer Stephen King is. 

Post me and let me know what you think.

Jan. 4th, 2010

A new year, a new and open road.

A new year, a new start.  Don’t we all say that just after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve?  Even if we don’t speak it out loud, it’s in our hearts.  Everyone wants a new start, a do-over, if you will.  A chance to shed our sins, our failures, our disappointments and our bad selves.  Like the New Years’ baby we want a future filled with bright promise and adoration. 

Unlike the New Years’ baby, though, we’ve got a lifetime already lived — which we tend to find wanting, hence the New Years resolutions — and, generally, we’ve come to find that adoration is reserved specifically for babies and movie stars. The one by default and the other because we’re envious.  Add a new resolution.

This year, I’ve resolved to be happy with who I am, and with what my life is.  It’s a pretty good life, on most accounts.  I’ve got a family whom I love and who loves me in return.  I’ve got great friends to share my stories with, and who accept my sometimes-strangeness with kindly laughter.  I have a decent job that — most days — makes me feel like I’m contributing something to the world, rather than just taking from it.   I love my home, money-pit though it is, and am grateful to live here.  There is so much abundance in my life, and sometimes I forget that. 

This year, I resolve not to.