Monday, December 17, 2012

Keeping Things in Perspective/Don't Stop Me Now

I've never been one to look at the past. You can't change it, there's no do-over, so learn from the lessons it has brought and keep moving forward. That being said, I heard one of my favorite songs the other day on the radio and because I was in a singing mood, went absolutely crazy in the car -- one of my most favorite and best places to sing! The volume was up so loud, people waiting in line at the red light rolled up their windows. I didn't care.

The song "Don't Stop Me Now" is by Queen (one of the best rock and roll bands to come out of Great Britain) and every time I hear it, it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Add to that, I read a few posts by the lovely Stina Lindenblatt last week about Writing a Business Plan for 2013.

Now some might say that "We're writers, we don't need no stinking plan -- we're artistes." Yeah, that isn't going to cut it anymore. Even if you're going the traditional route, you still need a plan. How many books you're going to write, how many short stories, if you go the self-pubbing route, there's a whole mess of stuff you need to learn how to do (even if you pay someone to format your books and do your covers you really should at least know the basics of how to do it), traditional route brings queries, synopsis, finding a pub house or an agent.

And let me tell you how much I hate learning new stuff. When I was a chef at The Stone House Club our big days were Easter and Mother's Day. Every year the owner's wife would make the petit chou. (cream puffs)It's not really all that hard, it just takes an inordinate amount of patience if you want the puffs to come out light and fluffy. I mean, who wants a flat, lifeless, cream puff right? I never wanted to learn how to do it because frankly, I just didn't want to. That was Ginny's mien, she loved doing it, and so why should I? Well, one year she was very sick and couldn't do it. Guess who had to take over. I spent 5 days before Easter that year making batches of the stuff, and just couldn't get it right. Over and over, into the mixing bowl, to the oven, dumping batch after batch into the garbage. They just weren't as good as hers. Until, I adjusted my attitude about how much I hated the stupid recipe, relaxed, and gently reminded myself that people were counting on me. The final batch of puffs were fabulous.

You may ask, what the hayzoo do Queen, 2013 writing aspirations, and cream puffs have to do with anything.

And the answer is, it's all in your perspective. I learned a long time ago, that if you don't love something, it won't love you back. That goes for cream puffs, formatting, raking leaves, painting ceilings, or washing the car. You have to give your whole heart to whatever it is or it will end up being flat and lifeless.

Which is why I'm a writer. I LOVE it. There's nothing in the world I have ever wanted to do more and because I've worked damn hard at it, there's a joy in my heart that I've never actually had before. Now some people say I've become self-actualized. (Big fancy psychologist term that just means I've come into my own.) I've become the person I've always wanted to be.

And sure, there's a whole lot of stuff I just hate about writing -- formatting, writer's block, sales slumps, bad reviews --  but that never outweighs why I love it. It's all in my perspective. Sure my writing goals for next year are crazy nuts (2 more contemporary romance novels, 3 more Regency romances, a few novellas, and I have even been thinking about jumping back into the query pool to go looking for an agent). Yes, they're big and lofty, and just trying to wrap my brain around 500,000 perfectly publishable words is a little daunting. But, I can't think of anything I would rather do.

No, my goals might not be met. And I learned that even the best laid plans can go astray. But I also learned that if you love something that much, even when the bumps in the road become mountains, just stay strong and carry on. Even on my worst days when I'm crying into my keyboard, I wouldn't change my life one bit.

It's all in your perspective.

As Freddy Mercury says

Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time. I'm having a ball.

Tell me -- What are some of your goals in 2013? What do you need to keep things in perspective?

And the link above is for those of you who can't view this from my blogpost. I'm still technically deficient. Something else I have to learn.And please do watch it at some point. If you aren't singing by the end of the  song, well...I guess my goal to make you super-sonic didn't work.


Also, after the tragedy of last Friday in Newtown CT, can we all say a prayer for those poor people. A day like that will surely keep things in perspective for me.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Because if you're doing something and you don't love it, it really shows.

Liza said...

Amazing post and thank you for the song! So happy to read the "self actualized" you!

Anne Gallagher said...

Alex -- Yes, it does. Those cream puffs were horrendous.

Liza -- Love that song. As for self-actualized, I'm glad I finally am. It took a long time.

Sarah Ahiers said...

My love for Queen is as deep as the ocean. FACT.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Thanks for the song. I do love me some Queen!

SA Larsenッ said...

I think my four kids help me keep life and my goals in perspective.

Ryan said...

I love Queen, but it's got to be Bohemian Rhapsody to get my crowing.

Perspective is a hard thing for me to keep a hold of. I look at what I want to do over the course of the year, and I get the shakes and have to lay down. But, my wife's teaching me a lot. She's helping me to learn to live one day at a time, just the way a novel is written, and I'm doing my best to keep up with it.

Thank you for showing me that it is possible to keep your perspective in light of all the troubles that may appear in a year.

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- FACT! They are just so awesome.

Stacy -- A little rock and roll never hurts.

Sherrie -- Four kids! You have your hands full of perspective.

Ryan -- I think the secret is to not look back, only forward. And one day at a time is very sensible.

Johanna Garth said...

Such a great post for me this morning. Just got a rejection yesterday that was making me sad, but reading this reminded me I'm at my work-happiest when I'm writing and that puts it all in perspective.

Carol Kilgore said...

Last Friday totally puts much into perspective.

Such a great post. It expresses my own views about getting it together and keeping on. I've been thinking a lot about my 2013 goals over the past couple of weeks. Mine are not as lofty as yours. In fact, I'm trying not to overreach because that is usually my downfall. I did fair to good this year, but I need to do better.

Merry Christmas!

Eric W. Trant said...

Wildly inspirational! Things are well here, before you ask, because I know you will, and we are getting along alright this Christmas season, and thank you for asking. ;)

On your post, I must say: Absolutely. I read a couple of books recently that are not aimed at writers, but can help writers. They are aimed at SMALL BUSINESSES and startups, which is what your writing is, if you want to succeed.

The best one I read is Here's the Pitch by Martin Soorjoo. It is a generic pitching book aimed at lawyers and startups, but is directly applicable to writers v. agents. It even discusses the importance of the elevator pitch, and the difference between showing and telling. Plus, it is a short, fast-paced, no BS book without a bunch of hullabaloo. It's the Cliff's Notes version, which is all we need.

The book focuses on how you convince someone to buy your idea or product. Or book, if you're a writer. See how that works?

Finally, don't define your success by achievements. Define it by effort. You are trying. That is all you can do. Fate alone found a home for every masterpiece ever published. Blind luck. So don't define yourself by whether you get lucky and find an agent. Define yourself by whether you try, and put yourself out there where others will not.

You are already a mad success to me, and to 99.9% of the writers out there. Only the 0.1% have done more than you, and those are the published authors we know and love. Those are the ~lucky~ ones.

- Eric

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