Thursday, October 18, 2012

RoW R4 Week Three - Wednesday Update

I'd like to start out by apologizing to all of my Round of Words in 80 Days friends for my abrupt absence over the past two and a half weeks.  Life has been hitting me hard.  If you'd like to know more about my situation, you can find a link to this post here.

Needless to say, my progress in RoW has been as scant as my blog posts.  I've gotten little to no work done toward any of my goals, but I'm ready to turn things around this week.  The loss of these first 17 days has caused me to reevaluate some of my goals, and to make one significant change.

As I, and likely many of you, prepare for NaNoWriMo, an assessment of my writing situation was needed.  My RoW plan called for my preparation toward a brand new novel.  However, the loss of time, and reflection upon my current situation in my writing career, has driven me to go rogue.  Typically, NaNoWriMo "requires" that the 50,000 words be in a brand new project.  Instead, I'll be using my 50k to finish last year's NaNo novel.  I'm currently at between 60,000 and 65,000 words, and I'm sure that the completion of the draft will require at least 50,000 more, so my NaNo goal is to finish "Mage Rising" (working title).

I'm sure I could use all the motivation I can get to push through the month of November, so if any of you are participating, please friend me!  Under the "Connect With Me" sidebar, I have a link to my NaNoWriMo profile, so look me up when you get a minute.

As far as the rest of my RoW goals, I've made little progress, so I'll leave updates on those to my Sunday update.

How are your goals coming?  Accomplished anything crazy?  Leave me a comment so we can share in your glory!

Life at a Crossroads

As much as I hate cliches, I have to admit that I'm beginning to feel like I've been living in the middle of one for longer than I'd care to admit.  It's true... I'm stuck at a crossroads.

The worst part isn't that I can't make the decision, but that I'm still staring back at that crossroads after the decision, trying to decide if I made the right one or not.

I've posted a little bit about this in previous posts, but I'd like to share a little of my current personal situation with all of you.  I've been working in a management position at a local non-profit for over two and a half years now, and for the majority of the last two years I've been very unhappy.  I don't want to go into details, but suffice it to say that the company hasn't been meeting my expectations, and vice versa.

Meanwhile, my wife has been on-again, off-again about going into the military.  We currently have two daughters, aged four and six.  Circumstances kept my wife from joining until now, but most if not all of those circumstances no longer apply.  Five months ago, my wife came to me, finally sure that she was ready to join, and was seeking my blessing.  Because of her fluctuating desires, I told her I'd support her if she could prove that she was really committed.  Over the next months, she proved it.

Fast forward to September 12th, when my boss issued me a 90-day performance improvement plan, essentially a "ship up or ship out" ultimatum.  Later that same week, my wife came to me again, decisive in her desire to move her ship date up from March to October/November.

Part of the reason I hadn't been freaking out about her leaving was the length of time before her ship date.  I still had six months to get used to the idea, and suddenly we're looking at her leaving in weeks instead of months.  I soul-searched, and told her I was okay with the expedited date.

What's not to like, right?  I get to stay home with my kids, give them the attention they need, and I get to finally embark full-time on my writing career.  Well, this has to come at the sacrifice of proximity to everyone I care about outside my wife and kids as I follow her cross-country (or further!) to let her live her dream.  All along the path of preparation, I have many family members complaining about her decision to me, I believe to try to get me to change her mind.

These past few weeks have been very difficult for me, and I'd fallen into a bout of depression, at least until a couple days ago.  I withdrew from everything, including writing, work, family... I was an introspective hermit.  It always amazes me how, when you get down on yourself, you withdraw from all the things that will make you happy.  It makes me wonder why God would design us that way.

Back to the crossroads.  I'm nearly certain I made the right decision, but those other paths look so inviting.  To visualize, it feels like I could have turned left or right along the edge of a dense forest, following the sunlight and clear flowing streams, but instead I chose the dark, lonely path through the forest.  I know that, eventually, this path should open up into a beautiful meadow, but it's hard not to doubt my choice as the darkness closes around me.  I just have to stay as positive as I can, and look at the path ahead as an adventure, and not a mistake.

Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt so uncertain about a decision you made?  How did it turn out?  What did you do to weather the storm?  I'd love to hear other people's stories on this subject.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 1, 2012

RoW80 Round 4 Goals

Round 3... Check.
Round 4... Here we go again!

Now that I have successfully completed my first Round of Words in 80 Days, I'm looking forward to taking slightly larger steps into the world of writing during Round 4.  I'm going to be adding more areas to my life, and striving to make small progress as often as possible toward each of these goals each week, no matter how difficult life might be.

My writing goals for Round 3 were aggressive, asking myself to finish my first draft of my 2011 NaNo novel, which still had 60,000-70,000 words left to be written.  I'm now at just shy of 62,000 words out of an expected 110-120,000, so I still have much work left to complete this goal.

1. My goal, for this WIP, is to write another 20,000 words, reaching 82,000 (due 12/19).

I will also be participating in NaNoWriMo this November, with every intention of winning.  In order to do this, I need to complete the following goals:

2. My 2012 NaNo novel concept fleshed out (10/7).
3. Character sketches for main characters designed (10/14).
4. Outlines of first ten scenes written out (10/21).
5. Any additional preparation work for NaNo novel completed (10/28).
6. Write 50,000 words toward NaNo novel (11/30).

I also want to keep up with my blogging responsibilities, which I have really begun to enjoy (when I have the time!)  The last couple weeks of Round 3 I faltered a little, but I'm hoping to start strong in October, so I have a little more leeway in November, should I need the extra time for NaNoWriMo.

7. Write an average of 3 blog posts per week throughout the eleven and a half weeks of Round 4, for a total of 34 posts.

Reading is an area I'd really like to push forward on, as it's one of the few joys in my life, and it's such a shame that I do so little reading.  During Round 3, I managed to finish one book, and read the first third of a second book.  Here's my tentative goals in this area:

8. Pick three books to read after completing Battle Royale (10/7)
9. Finish reading Battle Royale (10/14)
10. Finish reading first chosen book (10/28)
11. Finish reading second chosen book (12/9)
12. Finish reading third chosen book (12/19)

My physical fitness needs some tuning up as well, so I'm going to focus more on this aspect of life more as well.  My week-to-week goals may vary based upon my schedule, but I'd like to make the following goals by the end of Round 4:

13. Reduce weight to 220 or lower.
14. Be able to run a 7-minute mile, and a 27-minute 5k.
15. Be able to complete 25 push-ups in 1 minute.
16. Be able to complete 45 sit-ups in 1 minute.
17. Be able to complete 1 pull-up.

Housework was a goal that I worked on in Round 3 as well, with mixed results.  My wife and I are on better terms on this, as I am making more of an effort, but I still need to try to pull more weight in this area to take some more pressure off my wife, especially since she's substitute teaching multiple days a week now.  Here's some goals I'd like to achieve:

18. Spend at least 8 hours total getting the yard and garage ready for the winter (10/31).
19. Take care of dirty (and clean if applicable) dishes at least four nights a week.
20. Make a family dinner once a week.
21. Run at least one load of laundry each week.
22. Help with bedtime for the girls at least three nights a week.

Now that I've expanded upon the categories from Round 3, I would like to add some additional goals to my list.  These rules may be subject to change as the round progresses, but these should suffice to begin the round:

23. Invite someone over for dinner once a week.
24. Contact my real estate agent to discuss starting the process of putting the house up for sale (10/15).
25. Pray every day, even if only for a minute.
26. Read an average of one chapter of the Bible per day, for 80 chapters total (12/19).

Also, my current day job position is becoming precarious, and while it wouldn't be the end of the world if I was fired, I'd feel much better about myself if I could keep it until my wife leaves for the Navy.  Here's a rough list of goals, and approximate due dates:

27. Revamp all site cleaning checklists to incorporate changes due to quality concerns (10/1).
28. Finish rough draft of 2013 annual plan goals (10/5).
29. Complete annual review of crew supervisor (10/8).
30. Complete third-quarter performance review of all employees (10/15).
31. Finish rough draft of 2013 budget (10/19).
32. Perform onsite quality audits of all external contracts monthly.
33. Perform onsite quality audit of corporate office weekly.
34. Finish all 15 store cleanliness audits (12/19).
35. Complete fourth-quarter performance review of all employees (12/19).

When I read through this list, it does look somewhat daunting, but it feels good detailing exactly what I want to do over the next three months.  Another author (whose name I simply cannot remember at the moment I'm writing this) has a motivational tool involving money.  She allots $7.50/week to go toward her goals.  The percentage of the $7.50 equal to her goals that she makes at least good progress on goes into a shopping fund, while the rest goes into a fund for the political party she doesn't like.  I'm not sure I'll be following this exact model, but something similar should work well for me.  (If I'm lucky, I'll have saved up enough money by Black Friday that I can buy myself something fun!)

If you somehow managed to make it all the way through this monstrous post, thanks!  I'd love to hear about your goals for the round as well, and if you'll be participating in NaNo this November, so we can friend each other!

Best wishes to all of you.
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