Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG: The After

Oops! First my introduction:

I’m Donna, a social worker in my day life, three time divorcee (still dating the last ex), and mother to five children. I’m over fifty years old and looking forward to the empty nest syndrome. I’m an expert procrastinator so writing is more a hobby than dedicated obsession. I have several published short stories, have completed a women’s fiction trilogy, and have many unfinished works of various lengths in fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, erotica, romance (dark, no HEA) and thriller/horror. I read and write in adult fiction with only occasional forays into non-fiction and YA/NA. Lastly, I’m an excellent critique partner, although my blunt feedback and snarky comments might be offensive to some.

Welcome to my blog!

The first post of 2015. How exciting; the last year has gone by so fast. As Roland Deschain (Dark Tower series; Stephen King) says: time is speeding up. School starts earlier than when I was a kid, the seasons are shorter - even though the calendar dates have not changed - and the weeks fly by like nano-second's on the geologic clock.

Christmas has come and gone, and New Years resolutions have been contemplated and possibly posted to make them official. Are you excited? Inspired by the start of a new year, a virtual blank word document of writings to come? Or are you already behind, seven days into the new world? Have you been anxiously awaiting the first Insecure Writers Support Group of 2015 (hosted by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh and this month's helpers: Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard,  Chrys Fey and Michelle Wallace ) so you can send those new year's insecurities into the blogosphere and know that you are not alone in your End Of Year transitions?

Me? Nah; I learned a long time ago that goals and resolutions were made to break, and feel guilty over. Ya know, I’m this glass-half-empty girl, so long term plans have an expiration date – whether I know the specifics or not. I've had so many upheavals in the past year or so: change of job, relocated, availability to family, changes in lifestyle and finances. I never know what is next for me in my day life or writing career. 

But I am surrounded by people who consistently plan for The After. Sometimes I’m a member of the
collective, sometimes I dig my heels in and refuse to participate - at least pro-actively.

My working family plan for their retirement: how many years until they can retire, how much they have invested, how much the monthly pay-check will be at what age, how soon to pay off house/car to live off the fixed income. Is that nagging medical problem worth filing a disability claim? Should I up my life insurance or obtain extra pharmacy/health care coverage?

Of course my very young family members are thinking about starting that retirement fund: 401k or IRA? How much can they afford to invest now and still comfortably raise a family? Should we allow for occasional WANTS in the long term NEEDS assessment? Do we invest in life insurance or gamble on health care? Is my credit report more important than my daughter’s extra-curricular school activities? Will having a college savings account deny financial aid?

And how about the writing community? The novel is written, the critique partners and beta readers all give a thumbs up it is ready for submission, the query guidelines have been adhered to, and the waiting has started. Do you write on a new project? Visit that dusty project that never seems to go anywhere but is too good to trash? Take time off to catch up with family and friends? Take a vacation or clean up around the house? Watch NetFlix until you’re so bored your Muse has to rescue you?

For me, there is always an After to THE END of . . whatever . . How do you cope with The After? After The End is written? After the end-of-year sales statement has been received and the meager income figured into the taxes? After Christmas presents have been opened and liked or disliked; after the book lunch has posted on the last date: after you click send on that query; after whatever planned celebration/event has ended? After . .  happily or not.

I'm in limbo right now; not sure where my future will lead for writing, career, family. I'm kinda okay with this lack of a plan - I'm a pantster as an author, and have always had the "luck o' the Irish" when it comes to real life destiny. Not that all my endings have been Happily Ever Afters, but they have normally been on the acceptable, even satisfactory, side. I've been UP, but rarely depressively DOWN; nowhere near a devastating bottom. Life just seems to go along in a stable consistency for me.

How about you? Does January bring a sigh of contentment and a month of new possibilities? Or are you already lamenting the months to come and all you have not yet adequately planned?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm an even-keel kind of person as well.
I've never planned far ahead. (Although I do much better now.) I have no idea what will happen after April and the release of my last book. But I'm all right with that.

Hart Johnson said...

All those changes would put me into a state of discombobulation, too. Sounds like you are coping pretty well, but it is certainly understandable that you are in a bit of limbo. I ALWAYS start something new, but it takes a special push to get me to FINISH anything. You know--DONE--like spit polished and ready to go... I really need a push for that part.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I never get to the after. I'm constantly working on lists and plans and the next project.

DEZMOND said...

Christmas ain't yet gone here, since it is Orthodox Christmas today :)

Pat Hatt said...

i have ideas a plenty and just keep trucking along, but what happens happens at my sea

Yolanda Renée said...

Love the planning, love the possibilities, and yeah, I'm a glass half full, always!

Chrys Fey said...

January is a time for new possibilities for me. I love to create goals, not resolutions. Goals help me to focus on what I need to do.

After I finish a book, I immediately start working on a new one. It's the best thing I can do for me, otherwise I probably wouldn't start something for months.

IWSG Co-host

Julie Flanders said...

I'm a fellow glass half empty girl and I totally suck at planning. Every year I make a resolution to plan better and every year I fail LOL.
Happy 2015 to you. :)

SittieCates said...

I find that The After is a scary thing. I guess it's because we don't know what happens next.

I'd like to focus on new possibilities no matter what I'm seeing or experiencing at the moment.

A Beer for the Shower said...

I'm a master at planning the after of our novels! ...Life, not so much. 401k? What's that? Isn't that something for people with money? I once had a guy tell me I should be saving 15% of my earnings for retirement, and I laughed, and I said you're assuming I have 15% of my money to spare. I don't. I don't know very many my age who do in this economy.

dolorah said...

Alex: your music is becoming more important, and I'm sure the "next" novel will do as well as the trilogy.

Hart: yeah, I need that push too.

Diane: that is a scary cycle.

Dezzy: oh, Happy Christmas :)

Pat: sounds like it all just comes together for you and the Cats and that is nice.

Yolanda: very forward thinking for gals like us :)

Chrys: nice to have a plan and be able to stick to it. Hurrah for you!

Julie: I wish you lots of luck and finished projects this year.

Sitti: the only way to move forward is to focus and jump right in. Advice I need to take myself.

Beers: There are two of you for motivation, splitting up the celebration and hard work. Bravo. 1% is even hard for me to save - unless its for my last box of wine before the next payday :)

David P. King said...

January is such a chill month for me (sometimes literally). Winter is actually my most productive season for writing. Partially because I don't have any outdoor activities/chores to worry about.

I was in limbo most of last year and finally stepping out of it. So it will for you as well. Wishing you a Happy New Year, Dolorah! :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Donna,

I just love your attitude. Kind of just go with the flow. That way you don't drive yourself INSANE! Like I have on SO MANY occasions. But the insanity is wavering a bit. Gearing up for an exciting year. The next three weeks or so will be AMAZING. At least I hope so.

Jumping into the next week and heading south. Checking out Atlanta and South Tampa as possible new cities for me to move to. I know I had mentioned NYC, but I lost the contract on my coop... someone else offered more and the jerk took it even after he had accepted my offer.

SO, now that winter has hit HARD, five degrees today, I'm thinking again. The south may be where I want to end up. We shall see. I know me. The minute I get back to NYC for the SCBWI conference I will want to move back home again. It's a vicious cycle.

Thankfully I don't have to decide until next fall. I have a lease on this place until Nov. 2015. I WILL post pics soon. I just want to get it back to normal (take down and pack all the Christmas stuff. LOL) Hopefully on Monday's post.

I wish you all the best this year, Donna. I know you will survive.. You ALWAYS do! And that, to me, is very reassuring!

Thanks again for the book. I hope to start it tomorrow. I just need to finish up the book I am reading now for Dianne Salerni. I promised to do a review last month and I am so far behind. LOL.

Have a great rest of week! Hugs....

VR Barkowski said...

I don't plan life. It's unpredictable, and when I've planned, things inevitably go to sh*t. Unexpected moves, unexpected deaths, unexpected financial hardship, the occasional windfall, nothing ever within my control. Experience has taught me you can't plan for life, the best you can do is live it and not be afraid of change.

Writing goals? Now those I love, but only because I frame goals where I'm in control. I will finish Project A by years end, rather than I will have a publishing contract by years end—that's not a goal, it's a crap-shoot.

Happy New Year, Donna!
VR Barkowski

Christine Rains said...

I lament and hope at the same time. It's tough because things just keep rolling on even after The End is written. Here's hoping 2015 is a great year for all!

Stephen Tremp said...

Happy New Year Donna! I'm so glad 2014 is over. 2015 holds much promise and I'm jumping right in. Great things are going to happen. Health and prosperity to you and yours!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I'm looking forward to the whole new year. I have some plans, and some plans to pants some of them. :) Happy 2015!

Weaver said...

My baby turns 25 this spring, and I'm STILL waiting to be an empty nester. *sigh* Happy New Year, Donna!

Nicki Elson said...

You're so wonderful with words. The beat of this post was so fun to read.

Normally I'm all over jumping into the next "thing" upon completing something else, but over the holidays I always let myself totally chillax with no worries about anything. I REALLY enjoy that, so having to start up again in January always kind of bums me out. Plus it's really freaking cold around here.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I do like new years... except how fast they seem to be coming around these days. (I love the quote you included)

dolorah said...

David: I love the months I have an excuse not to go outside :) You and Michael have been so busy writing, and then promoting; you deserve a bit of time off. So, when is the next big seller?

Michael: yeah, I predict you will be back in NYC soon. You and that city are soul mates :)

VR: as a control freak with no real control of my day life myself, I empathize with your perspective totally. Your brevity inspires me; I will always cheer you on my friend. Conquer and revel in changes this year.

Christine: Happy new year. Best wishes for all your endeavors :)

Steve: you sound so enthusiastic I can't help but be encouraged.

Tyrean: plans to be a panster, I like it, lol.

Donna: life dreams, right?!?

Nicki: yep, sometimes ya gotta chilax. Expecially in freezing weather. I promise not to discuss my CA 60 degrees this winter :)

Lynda: tomorrow, tomorrow, all good.

Anonymous said...

I always keep busy. If I'm not writing or between edits, I promote and plan the next project. I love the beginning of a new year and have goals in mind.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - I'm rather like you .. I'm usually on the up part of the balance - maybe not perfectly .. but ok with that ..

Good luck with all the distractions going on around you - maybe shutting the door and writing helps hugely .. enjoy 2015 that's the main thing for now .. cheers Hilary

Lisa said...

I love this post! I wish I was more like you and didn't worry over every little thing. I'm making progress in that department, but you made me laugh with your attitude! Thanks for brightening my day. I don't make resolutions either. I make lists! Good luck in this new year...

Lisa said...

Forgot to say thank you for commenting on my blog!!

Carol Riggs said...

Nicely honest post, and it does sound like you're a pantser of life along with a pantser for your writing. :) I'm looking forward to this year, since my book FINALLY comes out, altho I'm thinking I'll believe it when I see it, at this point. LOL

Al Diaz said...

Once upon a time I used to make plans and have a long list of things to do in the year but I always ended up not doing anything at all. I forget it very quickly. That's why I stopped doing it. I do have my deep-down moments but I have learned to manage them pretty well. The After...hmmm, I have a cottage in limbo, want to drop by? We'll have drinks and talk about dragons and dwarves. :)

Arlee Bird said...

See you around in limbo maybe since I hang around there a lot lately.

Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

I tend to fail when I make solid plans, so I try to do plot points and reach them when I'm ready.

Georgina Morales said...

I'm like you, I don't make specific plans other than, you know, "working harder" or "publish more". I tend to concentrate on whatever work I have at hand, so for example, right now my plan is to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of march. Then I'll concentrate on my short stories. And in between, I'll keep submitting the stories I've already finished. It's good to know what works for you and how to make the best of it, so good for you!

Best of luck this 2015!!

dolorah said...

Media: I wish I could be that organized. Good for you!

Hilary: distractions is the right word for it.

Lisa: you're welcome :)

Carol: congrats; it will finally happen this time.

Al:thanks, I would love to. A nice glass of mulled wine, and since I'm not a virgin I know I would not end up as a snack, lol.

Lee; I'll enjoy the company.

Debra: good plan

Georgina: simplicity does seem to work best for us both.

Nick Wilford said...

Good to hear you're still moving along. You've got a good attitude considering what you've been through lately!

Unknown said...

It's good to hear you let things flow and don't plan or worry too much. That's good for your blood pressure. I usually have a plan, a roadmap to where I want to go, but the car breaks down a lot or I drive off the road, so I rarely get to The End. I hope to do better this year...

Caryn Caldwell said...

Love what you were saying about how there's always an After after The End. It's so true. You'll never really know what kind of story it is until it actually ends. Until then, it's all just part of the plot arc.

Happy 2015!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Donna, nice getting to you know you better. Wow, you finished a women’s fiction trilogy. That's super. I already broke my writing resolution four days into the new year :(

Unknown said...

I forgot you had moved! I have been gone too long. I'm too busy to think about the end when it gets here I'll deal with it.

Cherie Reich said...

I'm quite the planner when it comes to writing. Real life, not so much. I play that more by ear. Best wishes with everything!

Tammy Theriault said...

I actually did a calendar and guess what?? I didn't stick to it! I'm not surprised in the least! hope this year treats you well :)

Deniz Bevan said...

I tend not to stick with writing plans for very long either. I draw up a schedule, and it works for a few months and then either life happens or I get bored with the schedule and it stops working (things like getting up at 5 am to write).
Now I need a new one because I'm far behind in editing!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Donna! I hope 2015 is the year you achieve many of your hopes and dreams, both in your writing and in your personal life. I've been enjoying a long holiday but am starting to look forward to working at teaching again, on a lesser timetable thankfully. I"m pretty fired up about my writing so have freed up some more time for that.

Happy New Year!

Denise :-)

dolorah said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. Hopefully I have returned a visit for all your fabulous comments.