Long-term goals

Warning: Long, rambly post ahead…

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about the future. In a few months I’ll be quitting my current job, which I like a great deal, and starting a new one, which pays a lot better. In time it means the end of my financial troubles, and I am 100% it was the right decision, but I was surprised at how little enthusiasm I felt. Some of it was pure shock, of course, since the job was not even one I applied for (I asked my former boss for a reference and she gave me a job instead), but nonetheless I found it strange.

 

Having thought a great deal about it, I think it is for the same reason that I decided not to go into the field of linguistics, even if I do have a master’s degree and did apply for a PhD once (though certain things I’ve heard about the work environment at the university wasn’t without importance, to put it that way). It’s not because I don’t like linguistics. It’s not because I don’t like what the new job entails, because I really love some parts of it, and I really like my former/new boss too.

But with regards to my dream, of what I want to be? It feels like a step back. I’ll work longer hours and have a full work week – but of course that’s not even close to true. For the past year I’ve worked two jobs, and after Christmas I’ve worked on translations every spare hour I had, in addition to dancing. Let’s just say there hasn’t been any time for writing, and whenever I had an hour to spare I was too stressed or too tired to get anything useful done. So really, considering I can finally settle in just one job and still pay all my bills, and won’t have to work in the evenings – it’s a huge step forward.

Still, it made me think about what I really want. With my writing, linguistics, painting and those things. Do I want to keep it as just a hobby, something in which I dabble every now and then? I guess it’s obvious that since I’m actually asking the question, the answer is no.

My dream wasn’t just writing books. My dream has always been to be able to have my interests as a job. Writing and illustrating my own books, if not full time then at least almost full time. Make a name for myself. Painting pictures from my books that people actually will buy. I also dream about having a video blog about language (mostly), and (this is very, very, very much at the “what if” stage) perhaps even go to linguistics conferences as myself/my own company/whatever you call it, instead of representing a university, and do the research I want to do, not what attracts the money. I even have the name.

I am 32 years old now. If there was ever a time to start making dreams into reality, it is now. And I’ve realised that I cannot treat my dreams as just dreams, or as if I need to wait for luck to come my way before going after them. I need to start acting and start making them a reality. Really, other people can make far wilder dreams come true, why should I (or you) be different? I’ve also realised that I cannot treat writing and painting and conlanging as if they exist only in their little bubble. I won’t be able to write if I’m worried sick about having enough money to put food on my table, or if I work myself into the ground to get that money. So I have made a list of things I need to do in order to make the dream a reality. Not necessarily right now, but sometime in the future; the end goals of my smaller, more specific goals. (As you probably can tell, I like goals)

  1. Become financially independent. I saw this mentioned on a “how to save money” blog I came across a few days ago, and the idea really clicked. I am horrible at saving, but the idea of saving enough money so that I won’t actually have to work… that’s tempting. And hard work. But it would allow me to not work full work weeks, and thus have more time to write. Step one is to repay all my debt. I’m not counting my student loan here, because it’s so big, but all the rest. Step two would be to save enough money to have a buffer, so that I won’t have to take on more debt if there’s any unexpected expenses, as well as for dance expenses. Step three would be to save enough money for a full year off work. That’s more than a few years into the future, and it will be hard, but there you have it. Of course the real step one is to become more frugal even if I’ll have more income.
  2. Finish the damn book. No explanation needed, I guess.
  3. Look into other, little ways of gaining extra money for writing that still allows me to write my own stories. One example is Patreon, although you need at least some fans already to make it work, or short e-books or something like that.
  4. Do point 3, only for painting. This also involves becoming good enough at painting to be able to create something people would want to pay money for. My current benchmark is getting a picture accepted to Epilogue.net, but hopefully I’ll become good enough to raise that bar.
  5. Look into the video blog thing. A friend of mine really liked the idea, but I have to figure out how to make it work. I always envisioned it as a two-people blog, however, so I need to find someone to help me out. Hmm…
  6. Improve the website and the galleries and, well, all that. Start using Twitter more. Use my art instagram account more. Blog more. Comment more on the stuff of others. Get more active on deviantART and other art sites, as well as on Wattpad and other writing sites. You know, that magical web presence thing that everyone talks about.
  7. Never forget why I am working towards those particular dreams.

So there you have it. It might seem overly ambitious, but how would you ever fulfill a dream if you didn’t work towards it? I don’t believe in that kind of luck (though I hope…). And the fact remains that a writing career isn’t very lucrative unless you’re really good. Besides, a career won’t do you any good anyway if you don’t have the skills to back it up, unless you are a couple of really well known authors whose names I won’t mention.

Well, this became too long as usual, so I’ll stop. Tomorrow I have most of the evening free, so I’m planning to re-write an old story of mine. I rather liked it, but it didn’t work then, and I wrote a new ending on the bus today. I’ll upload it to Wattpad as soon as I finish it!

I’m not dead

Well, here we are, around three months after my last update. I never intended to be absent for quite so long, but I never really did anything worth mentioning here. I did do some editing during March (thanks to Cicilie, mostly), but it was mostly trying to pick up where I left off and realising that huge things needed to change. I also had big plans of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I think I wrote around 1.5k in total, soooo… Nope. Didn’t happen.

I have done plenty of other things, but they didn’t feel natural to write about here. With four blogs it doesn’t take long before you feel like you’re constantly repeating yourself, which unfortunately have led to my not really updating any of them. Since last time I’ve focused on getting my health back on track, more seriously (and successfully) in the past week or so. I’ve run my very first half marathon (after three weeks of absolutely no training – how much worse could it really get), and even if I walked a lot of the distance, yes, I did cross that finish line and have the medal to prove it (but on another computer, so I can’t upload it now). I did a showcase with my dancing group on Saturday 2nd, which went okay. I’ve finally started reading again, at least a little bit, and once I’ve read two more books plus the one I’m reading now, I’ll finally allow myself to buy books again. I’ve had a rule to finish all the books I own before I can buy new ones. It’s worked really well – some books ended up at the used bookstore because I didn’t really want to read them, but that’s fine. I’ve taken up running again. I’ve applied for a two-year course (part-time) in business economics, which I think will be interesting. I’ve spent quite a lot of time at work or in meetings (sort of related to work). I’ve cleaned my apartment from ceiling to floor, getting rid of quite a bit of unnecessary stuff.

But. There are also quite a few things I haven’t done.

I haven’t continued working on my conlangs, even if I do need quite a few more words before I write the second draft of Rogue Sorcery (for the place names). I did some work on them in March, but there is still a LOT to do. In that vein, I haven’t continued my worldbuilding either. I haven’t written anything new, apart from the one chapter for Camp NaNoWriMo, and I haven’t edited anything old. I haven’t painted (apart from, I think, a quick sketch a month or so ago) or drawn, I haven’t made any of the maps I wanted, nor have I played any of my instruments or written any songs or done anything remotely creative that I might write about here.

Perhaps I needed some time off from my creative pursuits (which felt more and more like chores) in order to get other things back on track. I needed to get back into dancing, to work out more, to clean and tidy my apartment, to get all those boring little things off my mind. I needed to allow myself some time to do nothing or watch trashy TV series (I have now watched more World’s Strictest Parents and Toddlers and Tiaras than I ever want to watch again), time to spend with my friends, to go for walks, and to spend enough time randomly browsing the internet to realise that yeah, might be fun to do something productive again. I think that’s been really necessary for me now – to move painting, writing, editing, conlanging, conworlding etc. from the “should/must do” category to the “want to do”. At one point I simply had too many things on my mind, fighting for attention.

So what now?

First I’m going to finish those two books that I have left to read, plus the one I’m nearly finished reading now. Then I’m going to take a week or two (or three) before I buy new books, to simply re-read old ones. And perhaps do some conlanging. Then I’m going to finish the maps, and work some more on the culture and history of the country in which Rogue Sorcery takes place. And then I’m going to re-plot the whole thing. Again. But it’s necessary.

That’s the plan, anyway, but you never know what will happen, so we’ll see. I’ll try to update this more often too!

Oooh, and by the way, today it’s exactly four years since I submitted my Master’s thesis. How time flies! I remember how happy and exhausted I was that day, when I finally could hand in the thing that had caused me so much frustration, after two years of extensions and delays and mental illness and whatnot. I never expected that I would work in an office, happily doing accounts and sending invoices and answering the phone and so on. Things don’t always go according to plan, and I will perhaps never know whether I made the right choice. The road to a PhD is still open, though, at least once I get a paper or two published (who knows when that will happen), but I still debate with myself whether or not I should continue with linguistics or keep working with economics and finance. Guess I should just get that paper written, and then we’ll see. There’s no point in worrying about it, anyway.

Writing projects 2014

Oh, my how this blog has died. I just looked at the info in the Blogger interface and saw that the last update was October 24th. That’s a long, long time ago. But then again, after October is November, and we all know what that means – NaNoWriMo. I think I updated my Norwegian blog a couple of times during November, but it was such an immensely productive year, NaNoWriMo-wise, that I didn’t really have time left for blogging. In addition, I’ve struggled to find out what to write about here and on my Norwegian blog – I don’t want one to be merely a translation of the other. And so, as I always do, I’ve just postponed the issue.

Anyway. NaNoWriMo was a massive personal success for me last year. I wrote more than 160k, which not only broke my previous record, but smashed it to bits. I rather like my stories, too. I wrote two novels (book two and three of my currently unnamed series) and 20k of a third one. Very pleased with that. I had intended to finish the third before the end of the year, but alas, I hardly touched a computer during my Christmas break, and before that there was just no time. However:

The third NaNo story was finished today, clocking in at 55k. It is particularly satisfying for this story, since I’ve struggled a great deal with it. I’ve had the idea for years, and I’ve actually written a first draft twice before. Only the beginning (kind of) remains from those earlier drafts. I’ve never really found a plot that engaged me – but now I think I do. It involves elves, monsters, magical forests, mad queens and sneaky assassins. There’s also a sprinkle of love, a tiny hint of betrayal and a dark past. I’m always in love with a story I’ve just finished, but I do think this one has potential. At least I hope so.

Over to the topic of this post. 2014 seems to be the year of overly optimistic writing ambitions, and I’m not ashamed of it. I will say that I’ll be overjoyed if I manage even half of my goals, but how wonderful wouldn’t it be to finally have written all the stories that’s in my head? I also need ambitious goals in order to break the barrier and actually write those three second drafts that I’ve delayed for ages.

Anyway, here’s the list* (please ignore the hideous titles):

– January 1st to February 15th: Border Forest (1st draft): DONE
– February 1st to March 15th: Rogue Sorcery (2nd draft):
– February 1st to March 15th: Article based on my MA thesis**
– March 1st to April 15th: The Exiled Prince (1st draft):
– April 1st to May 15th: Forgotten Sorcery (2nd draft):***
– May 1st to June 15th: The Shopkeeper (1st draft):
– June 1st to July 15th: Natural Sorcery (2nd draft):
– July 1st to August 15th: New beginnings (1st draft):
– August 1st to September 15th: Border Forest (2nd draft):
– September 1st to October 15th: Noirinu Athiar/Foen Eiunei (1st draft):
– October 1st to November 15th: Inadhra (1st draft):
– November 1st to November 30th: The Academy (1st draft, NaNoWriMo novel):
– November 1st to November 30th: Apprentice Sorcerers (1st draft, 2nd NaNo novel):
– December 1st to December 31st: The Misplaced Dragon (1st draft):****

Extra stories (if somehow this list isn’t enough:
– Secret Society 1st draft
– Chamiroun 1st draft
– City Wizards 1st draft
– Mining Camp 1st draft

*I know that most dates overlap; that’s on purpose in case I write faster than planned one month and not the other.
**Not fiction in the slightest, but it’s good to have the deadlines there. Not sure how I’ll juggle two projects in one month, but if I can write two and a half novels during one month this should absolutely be possible.
***Just realised that if I follow this plan, I won’t actually write any first draft in either of the Camp NaNoWriMo month. Might have to reconsider the dates, but it would be nice to alternate between first and second drafts. Mostly because I’m not used to rewriting and editing anymore, so it might be too much. As if this whole list isn’t already too much…
****Yes, I realise this means one novel per month, plus an extra one during November, plus a huge article, as well as four “bonus” stories. Would be cool if I succeeded, but I’m not expecting it.