2016 Goals

Happy New Year! How am I starting the New Year? By looking back on my 2015 goals ofcourse!

The last update I had done was way back in May. So I will update each goal for an end of the year report and what’s ahead in 2016.

Here it is. The last day of March already.

Freelance full-time
(Feb)Still would like to do this but exploring options right now.
March – Still wanting to do this and thinking either by the end of the year of next spring is my goal to make it happen.
May – This month I plan to actually do some writing for two content websites. I’ve worked with them before but it has been a while. I plan to write 2-3 articles for each.
End of Year – No real progress with this. I have basically changed jobs so hoping this new venture with the same company will bring me satisfaction and I can take building freelance work slowly.

Debt Free
(Feb)working to dwindle down the smallest student loan which should be paid in March. Two more to go and then the car. This goal is pretty much on track.
March – The IRS wants more of our money for taxes so this will hinder paying this off until April.
May – Got the IRS their money and also knocked out another student loan. 2 more to go. Both are $2800 so should be relatively fast. Then it is just the vehicle.
End of Year – Down to about $1K on the student loan(just one left). Have spent too much on the credit card but we will get that paid off by February. Then it’s onto paying off the car notes as we got a second vehicle in October.

Save at least $3K
(Feb)I haven’t started saving this yet.
March – no change. Haven’t started saving.
May – Sadly no savings.
End of Year – nope. No where near $3k.

(Feb)Have written very little. Have to do more.
March – Have done a few blog posts and have an idea for Camp Nano which will start in April. I have a goal of 15,000 words.
May – Failed Camp Nano. Had less than 3K words. But I am working on a novel idea and a short story.
End of Year – Writing has been a struggle for me for quite some time and I’m not really sure why. I just have to make myself do it. So I have an idea for a book that I plan to write. Right now I am still outlining it but hope to have a complete idea of what I want to write. That way when I write I already have an established plan.

(Feb)I’ve drawn a little bit and bought a drawing book that I’ve yet to open but looks promising.
March – I try to draw everything – at least something. My new project is work on one comic for a week and then post the best drawing of it.
May – I haven’t drawn much. Have plenty of ideas but just can’t get them out of my head. ARRGGHH!!!
End of Year – Still not drawing as much as I would like. I have a ton of comic ideas and hope to at least get down how I want to draw the characters consistently.

Lose Weight and RUN!
(Feb)have gained a pound. Must tighten up this even if it means doing a diet like Atkins to get started just to see some progress.
March – Not much progress here. I did buy a stepper exercise thing that I enjoy using and am gaining some stamina. Now that it is better weather it will be time to get out more. That is if the pollen doesn’t dictate otherwise.
May – Have lost 9 pounds but haven’t started running yet. The goal is to do a 5K by September.
End of Year – Maybe a 5K sometime by May. Still haven’t started running or losing weight.

Organize and clean house
(Feb)House is still an utter chaos but have started working on a plan.
March – The living room is now in order. This weekend we will shampoo carpets, wash curtains, and rearrange furniture.
May – Downstairs not bad – The big stuff is done but still plenty to do.
End of Year – Developing an action plan for de-cluttering and organizing our whole home. It may take a few months but it will be worth it. No more band-aiding the clutter problem.

(Feb)While I haven’t had a lot of progress, I hope the next update to have the clutter under control and to have lost 5 pounds. Baby steps are better than no steps at all.
March – Not too many updates and not where I’d hope to be. But that is the whole reason for doing an update is to remember these goals and to work on them.
May – I feel good about where I am. Ofcourse I would like more progress on the writing and drawing but I feel the more I do to organize our home, the more focused I can be on other tasks. Here’s hoping for a great May.
End of Year – While I didn’t meet any of my 2015 goals, I do feel like I am on track for long term progress. I will be hopefully blogging more in 2016 as well as moving forward to some other pet projects.

Here’s hoping everyone much success in 2016!

A Creative Mind

It seems lately that I have more projects than I have time and energy which means none of these many ideas I have swimming through my head are getting completed. I like to think of myself as a reasonably creative person. I do love crafting, drawing, making digital art. writing, etc. Sometimes all of these creative outlets compete with each other for my time at the same time. It’s frustrating and then always makes me feel like I have too many interests and should narrow it down a bit. I get this way about blogs, too. I will whittle down to one or two blogs then I get an idea, so I start another blog. Before I know it, I have six blogs again. The same cycle happens with my core interests.

What I need to decide is what I truly want to pursue and what is just really my mind telling me I can do. For example, when I’m reading a book all I can think about is writing. When I’m playing a video game all I can think about is making a game. I have tried to do several projects at once, but none of them are completed.

A Plan

I’ve always hated the idea of planning, but now I see that it can be an effective tool in not only getting stuff done but keeping you on track. For the rest of 2015 I want to concentrate on those areas that I feel are my future. I want to use computers less but know that whatever job I have computers will be a large part of the job. So using computers less might not be an option but a better way of phrasing what I want is to use computers differently. What I mean by that is to use the computer programs I want to use. The happiest time I have using a computer is when I’m working with digital design programs. With my communications background, I have worked in this medium before, so it’s not like starting at ground zero, but it’s pretty close since technology has dramatically changed since then.

I’m thinking of creating a mission statement and posting it everywhere so that I’m reminded of it daily. So that I move forward daily to that goal. I am not sure if planning with work for me all the time, but I have to give it a try and hope my mind cooperates.

Daily Writing Goals

Writing it hard, but I love it and want to do it. I’d love nothing more than to make my living with words. If I continue at this pace, it will never happen. I have set a goal of 500 words a day on anything I want to write. It could be a blog post, short story, or (really dreaming here) a novel. It’s a small goal but very attainable. I love reaching it everyday as it makes me feel like I am moving closer to my dreams.

Once 500 words a day becomes comfortable, it will be time to increase the word count ever so slightly until I reach a pretty impressive words per day count. I hate to plan to write about a certain topic because then it seems I have nothing to say. An addendum to my goal is to make a small outline for blog posts and larger outlines for fiction writing. Learning to code has really helped me re-learn the value of planning.

Now that I have been doing the 500 words a day for a few weeks I want to sharpen the goal so that I move forward on certain projects. There is a short story contest with a deadline in about a month. I have the idea and a rough first draft. With some polishing and additions, it could be a fun story. Also there is a children’s book idea that I would really like to do. It’s important to me to finish some writing projects before the end of the year. I need to show myself that I can finish and follow through on goals.

Now to just keep the pace and write on. It feels good to write, so I just need to remind myself.

Full-time Job

First let me just say that I love my job; I just find that at this stage of my career I really want to do something completely different. After months of wanting and hoping for a chance to switch to a different capacity, I was given the opportunity, so in truth it’s like I started a new job but with the same company. I have so much to learn and truthfully will take me a few years to get where I was in my other capacity in this new one, but I wanted to make the change and am not regretting it one bit.

It is work, though, outside of the home. It interferes with a lot of other things I want to do. The rest of this year I plan to make a real go out of moving some of the plans forward to see where they take me. It’s sad that I didn’t have this job 15 years ago when I would have been thrilled to rise up in the ranks there. Now, though, I have so many other thoughts and sadly a corporate job is not an any of them.

As I transition to something else at some point in the near future, I wonder what. Do I continue learning my new capacity as it seemed I wanted to do this job longer than I might actually do it. It is fun, and I just need to find the right avenue for me. Scary since I had so much trouble grasping this on my own but now after a corporate-sponsored boot camp, I can learn more on my own with the basics now understood.

I will probably post more on this later this week since it helps to sort out my thoughts by writing.

My point of writing this was one of should I continue to pursue something that isn’t my dream anymore but could be? I see now that I should have just gone for this career 15 years ago getting my food in the door anyway I could. Lessons learned I guess.

Pax South 2016!

We have impatiently been waiting for news of Pax South 2016 as we knew it would be in San Antonio again. Last year we got tickets in July (it seemed like we did), so with no July announcement I worried it was going to be pushed later in the year.

Well now the dates for Pax South have been announced. The dates are January 29-31,2016. Tickets will be on sale soon. Now is the time to start stalking all things Pax.

We had a great time at Pax South 2015 and living in San Antonio made attending so easy. I’m hoping this year there will be more of everything. I’d love to hear some big announcements or some top secret gameplay. One thing that was truly enjoyable at Pax South was the indie game presence. I was exposed to a lot of games that I would have missed out on. Hopefully more of our friends will attend this year, too.

Rae and I hung out in the handheld lounge and racked up on hundreds of Street Passes. It was so fun and relaxing. I could do that every weekend.

Not to brag but San Antonio is kinda awesome. You should really check it out. Fun stuff, great food, and great hospitality. I see why Texans have so much pride. It’s well deserved!

Hope to see ya there! Get your tickets early!

Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards honor the best of science fiction and fantasy. They are given out each year at WorldCon – which is the event to attend if you are a fan of scifi/fantasy. It’s also great for writers, too. This year there was a bit of a controversy surrounding the nominees. It has been reported multiple places, and I dare not do the whole story justice by hashing it out here but will try.

There are some folks who felt the Hugos were given to those in inner circles. A conspiracy if you will to cherry pick nominees even though nominations are open to all WorldCon members. So one group set out to make sure that there were some well deserving names on the ballot. This did not sit well with the establishment. Words were said. Accusations thrown around for months. It was pretty ugly especially coming from a community known to be very welcoming of new writers.

The awards were given out this past weekend. When a member votes, they can either vote for a nominee or vote No Award which basically says no one in this category is worthy of the Hugo. This year No Award won five categories – a record for the Hugos. Sad really. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face. No one wins and who is really hurt? Those five empty winner slots and the fans who had filled the auditorium or watched online to see how the voting went.

The award ceremony itself was very venomous as joke after joke was made to this one group of people. It really was like being back in high school as this was the kind of antics you would expect from stupid teenagers and not grown professionals.

As a journalist, I have been amazed at how the media has written about this story. Some articles are balanced but even those seem to sensationalize the story. I have been glad that my husband has been so interested in this. It’s been a big story that we get to talk about. When I was an active journalist, we never talked much about the news so getting to share this story together has been kind of fun. With a lot of news stories especially controversial ones that affect people’s lives, I wish it would not have gotten so big or the name calling so loud. I guess it’s easy for people to forget they are talking about real people sometimes.

We are attending WorldCon next year, and I’m already excited. I hope this story does not have such a negative impact next year. Maybe the backlash from this year’s WorldCon will put a stop to any future shenanigans around the Hugos. Stop thinking in a her mentality and vote for the piece or work. Who cares who nominated/endorsed it? If you like it, vote for it. Maybe that should be the campaign for next year’s Hugos – Just vote.

I can’t get away from writing

My first blog was an experiment. I wanted an easy way to update my website without having to upload a webpage every time I added content. I loved blogging. It was easy, and you would see the results instantly instead of having to ftp changes. I was hooked.

I soon turned my whole website into just a blog and upgraded to WordPress. Before I was using a very simple blogging program that used a file system(read: simple text files) to store blog posts. As I wrote more, I found blogging communities and other bloggers. It was too long after that I learned of opportunities to make money with your blog. I joined every paid blogging site I found and loved making some extra cash for our family, but there was a price.

I was writing paid blogging post but also needed other posts in between them, so it was just paid post after paid post. I was writing a lot and running out of things to say. About a year into this, I was burned out. I no longer looked forward to paid blog posts as it was just getting harder and harder to write.

I gave up paid blogging and continued to blog with no set goals or schedule. I was averaging a new blog post every six months. I thought a nice break would re-engerize me but it didn’t. I still could not bring myself to write.

That was really hard since I loved writing but found it impossible to do. Would I ever write again?

My husband is writing a book which I am thrilled he is doing it. He’s an amazing story teller, so I am sure he will find success. His interest re-ignited my love for writing. Last NANOWriMo(National Novel Writing Month held in November) I wrote 50,000 words. Thrilled with myself, I was finally feeling that my writer’s block was gone. While I have written a few more thousands words since then, my writer’s block isn’t completely gone and probably never will be. But that’s OK. I know that I can write and still enjoy writing. If I set small attainable daily goals then I can get into better writing habits.

It seems that everything I want to do involves writing. There are blog posts and books that obviously need to be written, but there are other projects. I want to write crochet patterns and computer programs. While those are really more technical writing, it will still be hands-on-keyboard-writing. Sometimes I love to just type on a keyboard to hear the sounds of the keys.

Writing is a passion of mine. If I just remember that and remind myself that I really do enjoy the process of writing, I can hopefully keep it up.

Meet the Teacher Night

Tonight we attended yet another meet the teacher night. My little girl is going into the 4th grade. That doesn’t seem possible. This year will be the teacher’s first year of teaching. She was at the school when she did her student teaching, so she must have made a good impression. But also the school district did hire 800 teachers over the summer, and since they are only one of several school districts in the city, maybe they couldn’t be choosy. But after meeting her, I am sure they are confident in her abilities. I joked with Rae not to ruin teaching for her.

This made me think back on Rae’s past teachers. Her kindergarten teacher was a veteran teacher. She was kind but there was just something about her that seemed worn. Her first grade teacher was also a vet with 19 years under her belt. She was best in the morning. By the time the 2:45pm bell rang, she was screaming and just generally annoyed with most of the class.

Rae’s second grade teacher was younger with maybe a few years of teaching if that. She was awesome, and Rae enjoyed her class. She always seemed to have a lot of patience with her students. Rae’s third grade teacher had some experience. She wasn’t mean but she just didn’t make the same impression that the second grade or even the first grade teacher had. Isn’t that amazing how some teachers you remember forever while others just fade from memory? I believe Rae will always remember her 2nd grade teacher. If tonight is any indication of the coming school year, I think she will always remember the 4th grade as well.

Graphic Artist? Me?

Right now we are binge watching Mad Men on Netflix. We are nearly done with season five. This show – I love it. It took about a season and a half to really get sucked into it. Watching the show reminds me so much of my time in television. It’s similar on many levels. Maybe it’s because of watching Mad Men or maybe I am ready to admit to myself that I know what I would love for my next job to be. Graphic Art and/or Design.

Unfortunately I feel that a lot of graphic design jobs would be more layout like newspaper or ads than something else. Although I wouldn’t mind that. It’s just those jobs are few and far between. Newspapers are sill around, right? However, businesses will always advertise, so maybe it’s more web ads than print ones that are being sold now.

Either way I have felt a calling to this for a while. I just wish I had started putting together a portfolio then. Still while this may add something else I want to learn, it’s something that I feel is where I really want to be. My husband is supportive but has reservations about a new career, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve done graphic work before and really enjoyed it. In fact if it hadn’t been for working with PhotoShop cleaning up graphics, I never would have went back to college. So I’m not starting over; just rediscovering I suppose.

I plan to do more graphics and start posting more since I haven’t had any of this work experience in quite a few years. Still it will be fun and challenging also it’s an interest I’ve had for years. It will be nice to finally pursue it with direction.

I am a Writer

I hate to admit how much I enjoy writing. Why? It’s hard to explain because – well – I’m really not sure. If I really give it some thought, I believe it has more to do about my past than my future and maybe by admitting that I can actually move forward.

My first job out of college was at a television stations, and I loved it. I worked in TV for seven years. At different times I did different jobs. Most of my titles required writing in some form or fashion. It was enjoyable. The only real problem was the pay – it sucked. I wanted to make more money, so I went back to college majoring in computer networking.

Now – years later – I find myself dissatisfied with working with computers. I just drives me crazy to sit in front of a screen for eight hours. I can’t take it anymore and am ready to switch to a different line of work. But what? Practically every job these days is tied to a computer. Especially writing. While I do own a typewriter, I do not see me pecking out anything of substance. Writing is more than just writing. It’s planning, thinking, and researching. Researching is a broad term which could be Googling information to staring out the sunset from the back porch. Research to me is also inspiring. I love it but find when I sit down to write, the words do not come. Possibly the reason for this is not acknowledging that yes I do want to write.

I’ve switched jobs and am now in software development. I have really no working experience, so it’s really scary that my employer is paying me to do something I barely know how to do. When I feel overwhelmed, I just think of writing code as just writing. The syntax is basically the style guide that must be followed or expect rewrites. I just ache to write, but I need to focus on other things like development. If I could combine both then that would be perfect. I fear development is not for me although I spent a long time thinking it was. I’m not sure a well written program would bring me the same satisfaction as a well written story. If I am serious about writing then I need to write more. Write in my free time and drive away the distractions.

I plan to write at least 500 words a day. It could be a blog post or a story, I also need to read about writing more. I find when I read more I want to write more as well. We have a shelf full of great writing books.

On this blog I will post a daily update of what I’ve done. I may move to a weekly update if I can prove to myself that I can write without daily accountability. This post will serve as today’s word count of 500. Tomorrow I might work on a children’s book idea and maybe some humor writing as well. I don’t want to schedule too much because I always fall behind and that leads to frustration. This is an exercise in gaining good habits.

More to come tomorrow!