January 2021: Writing Goals, and How Do I Feel About Them

On the 5th of January I posted a writing schedule for 2021. According to my schedule, I have one short story to write this month, and half of a novel.

How am I doing, you might ask?

I am working on the short story Phoenix House, and on the novel Truthseeker (was Finders Seekers). I might be a bit behind on my plan because of reading so much Expanse books the last week or so, but that’s okay. I’m still shooting for finishing Phoenix House this month, and we’ll see how I do on finishing the first draft of the novel.

I’m still aiming for my self-set due dates. But they are not carved in stone. I’d never be able to hold myself strictly to a tight schedule, to meet a specific arbitrary date just because it’s a goal. And I’ll tell you why. It all comes down to my experiences in the corporate world.

I’m an aerospace engineer, so I’ve worked in large corporations. I’ve seen some people there that are so dedicated to the corporation and its goals that they strike me as not-quite-human. All they talk about are their current projects, and they use all the corporate buzzwords they can. They don’t discuss home or family or hobbies. They don’t laugh at jokes. I even noticed a couple of them once in an off-hours class teaching skills applicable to both work and home (7 Habits): they couldn’t fathom applying the skills to anything other than gaining more efficiency at work. Their answers in the class discussions were all strictly applicable to the workplace, as if their manager or manager’s manager were sitting right behind them, taking notes.

It’s certainly not everyone that’s like this, thank the gods. It’s not even most. They are a minority in the workplace. But there’s been enough of them over the years that I’ve gotten creeped out by it, so I tend to rebel against trying to reach some ultimate efficiency, or to accomplish my goals by a date I’ve set for myself. Goals and milestones are adjustable. I like being flexible. Otherwise why work for myself?

To me, life and family come first. I embrace spontaneity in my life, along with my goals. If I’m fascinated with a story I’ve read and I want to read more in the series, I’ll go do that. Because I enjoy it. If I want to go hang out at Starbucks some mornings, or go for a walk, or go do something else for a bit, I’ll go do that. And then I’ll get back on track again afterwards. My stories and goals will be at home waiting for me.

I’ll still meet my schedule. Being flexible doesn’t mean I get to put off a due date from the end of January to the end of the year. That won’t work. But I can be human and enjoy myself. I can be free to be me.

Because I’m not a robot.

How I Handle Depression

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This post is opinion only; do not take this as professional advice.

My opinion here is regarding depression that comes and goes, over a day or a few. There can also be a more long-term depression that needs medical help. There’s no shame in taking medication for depression; it can be a medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure or asthma. Take the medicine and be well.

With everything going on in politics, with layoffs, and with ongoing Covid-19 quarantine, this is unfortunately the perfect time for depression to be rearing its ugly head. I thought I’d share some thoughts and experiences with depression, in the hopes that my experiences and coping mechanism may help someone else.

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Legal Name, Pen Name, and Name Changes

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my birth name for decades. No offense to my parents or family. First, middle, last all go together nicely. Sometimes the sound of it would just grate on my ears. Sometimes it’d be only mildly annoying. Most of the time I’d feel like it’s a name that suits someone living on a farm out in the country: a perfect name for me, if I hadn’t escaped that life by getting a degree and settling into a career in the city.

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Writing Schedule for 2021

I am starting from zero books published, so although I have quite a few story ideas and partially written manuscripts, I have not actually finished either a short story or a novel yet. So, I have no idea how long either will take.

That being said, one must start somewhere. I decided to nail myself down to a schedule for 2021, and if I can’t stick to it I can always adjust as I go.

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