Because I Cannot Be Disuaded

At the end of each year, it has become my tradition to review the goals I set and see how I did, and then to create new goals for the new year. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now, and I find it helpful for keeping my focus throughout the year – usually. Life happens when you’re making plans for something else, right? So, let’s see how I did:

1. I will get an agent this year. Period.

Well, I tried. I did begin to submit to agents again, and while I had favorable comments, I haven’t landed one just yet. So, we’ll be seeing this one again, I’m certain.

2. I will finish at least three novels this year, including rewriting The Afterward, finishing Namesake, and a third novel (yet to be determined).

That was very ambitious of me! And I did pretty well. The Afterward has been revised, I finished a novel called “The Year I Went Invisible” (though it needs a great deal of work still). I wrote (and sold!) two new short stories, and I’ve started a new novel that is moving along nicely (it doesn’t have a name yet, though). While I didn’t actually write three two new novels, I still feel pretty good about my accomplishments.

3. I will continue to look for opportunities to promote my work and to participate in at least one writing-related event each month. 

I came so close on this! I did find new places to market my work! And I took full advantage of every opportunity! I managed to be involved in 10 events this year! And for some of them, I was even paid! This one might be tougher with only one new book coming out this year, but hopefully, I’ll find some new resources as well.

4. I will attend two writing conferences or workshops to benefit my own writing.

I have to cheat a bit on this one, but to me, it still counts. In April, I was one of the presenters at the Writing for Charity event in Provo, Utah. However, I took full advantage of the times I wasn’t presenting and attended as many workshops as I could fit in during the day. Then in September, I joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization and attended their three-day conference in Denver. It was amazing, uplifting, and something I very much needed to do for myself and my heart.

5. I will offer four writing workshops  during the year.

And here, I exceeded my goal significantly. I began teaching for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program again after not having taught for them in over 12 years. It is a wonderful, rewarding experience, and I look forward to the classes and my students each week. This coming spring, I will be teaching a class on Flash Fiction, and I have gained so much insight by reading in this area, so I’m very excited to share this with my students.

And so for next year? Well, I’m continuing to try to stretch a bit, but I’m also trying not to set myself up for failure or disappoint. Let’s be realistic: I have a full-time job; I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and the giant furless mommy cat in my family. I have responsibilities and demands – but I also have a need to write, so I’m trying to find that balance between the real world and my writing ambitions. My family is supportive and willing to compromise (which is easier now that my baby is 19 and only lives here on school breaks), but I need time with them, too. In that realm of balance and ambition, here are the 2015 edition of my goals:

1. I will submit to no less than 5 agents each month.

2. I will write a minimum of 7,500 words each week.

3. I will participate in a minimum of 10 events which allow me to promote my books.

4. I will attend at least one writing event where I am NOT speaking or presenting.

5. I will continue teaching creative writing courses through Lifelong Learning.

Now, I’m adding a new twist: I have printed off my goals and stuck them to the wall next to my desk so that I can see them each day. I am inviting you to ask me at any time to provide a public update on these goals, which I will do. I’m inviting any encouragement, support, chastising, or harassment that you may feel is appropriate throughout the year. And I will thank you now, in advance, for doing so.

Here’s to the new year: may we all follow our dreams and continue to flourish and grow!



Illogical Assertions

Another blog posted on this site warns readers that “Anime Encourages Murder.” It is a blog sponsored by a political group trying to elect a religious conservative to the Senate.  What this really is, if we are honest, is more fear-mongering by the right wing, noisy, religious conservatives who don’t think that most of us are capable of making decisions on our own or in our own best interest.  They are adept at twisting logic to fit their political agenda, professionals at distorting language to serve their ideological purposes, and convinced (in the most psychotic of ways) of their own moral and ethical superiority.

Let’s apply logic to this one particular statement and show how ridiculous this really is.

First, let’s talk Anime, which is the Japanese animation art form that has gained commercial success in the United States and other countries.  You might know it from Pokeman, Naruto, Kapa Mikey, or other kids cartoons on cable TV.  As with any other art form, Anime has a darker side, too.  There are Anime porn movies, Anime snuff films, and Anime slasher movies.  And you can find these here in the U.S. at any FYE store if you are an adult and are so inclined.  But as with any art form, the fact that it exists does not mean that your average human has an interest in owning it.  Nor does it mean that view this will cause you to lash out and begin committing anti-social crimes.  Even if you look at A LOT of it, you won’t necessarily decide you have a sudden urge to take a Samurai sword to your neighbor.  The desire or urge to commit crime stems from other factors, some biological, some psychological, some chemical.  This assertion, to me, sounds like the great uproar in the 1970s and 1980s that  said rock and roll led on a direct path to promiscuity.

Next, look at how logic fails in those two examples: you conveniently ignore individual choice and accountability.  If I choose to take a Samurai sword to my neighbor (which, by the way, I would NEVER even consider), then a relative group of influences may have led me to think about it, but ultimately, the choice to take action is my own.  I’m responsible; not a comic book, not rock music, not a DVD of “Kill Bill” (either volume I or II), the blame is my own. 

Even within our justice system we hold the individual responsible for his or her actions regardless of the circumstances.  If “the voices” told you to do something, if you were “just playing WWF Smackdown” with your friend, or if you just wanted to see what the inside of a skull looked like the criminal justice system doesn’t care.  The system looks at the person, not the excuse.  If your mom and dad weren’t the optimal role models, the judge is not going to care – once you reach an age of self-determination (making choices for yourself about yourself and your behaviors) then you are accountable for those decisions.

As individuals we each make choices about our influences as well as our actions. Attempting to pick a segment of the universe such as music, video games, anime, or naughty magazines and trying to blame the world’s woes on that is not only short-sighted, but illogical.  Look at these broad statements for what they are: an attempt by an individual or group to gain self-importance or worth by finding a target upon which to lay the label “evil” or “bad.”  Don’t fall for it.