Monthly Archives: November 2015

My Own Ruler for Measuring Success

If you do a bit of googling (which you’re probably doing anyway), I’m sure you will find plenty of articles about success. It might be tips for how to succeed, stories of how someone else already did, or inspiring tidbits for those who aren’t feeling motivated.

This isn’t really any of those.

I had a conversation recently about how success is measured. I made this absolutely crazy statement about how I don’t equate money with success, and I got some major side-eye followed by an outright rejection of my theory. No, they said, they definitely wanted to get paid and get paid well in order to consider themselves successful.

I get that. I mean, money shouldn’t be everything, but it kind of is. If you want a new car or a nice house, you must have some way of paying for it, right? And nothing is cheap these days. So in this sense, yes, money is how you know you’re successful.

But what a terrible cage that puts you in. If you make good money but you hate your job, then you’re successful? If you make good money but you never have time for your family, then you’re successful? If you make good money but it’s killing you in the process, then you’re successful?

Don’t get me wrong, I like making money. I’m not interested in working for free, because I have bills to pay, children to feed, and Doctor Who merchandise to buy. But I don’t think it’s okay to be a slave to the almighty dollar while sacrificing everything else that’s important in life.

I’ve never had a lot of money. (I mean, seriously. If you know me, you know that I have never had money.) As a freelance writer, I’m sure not raking it in. But I do feel successful. How is my success measured?

 

I get paid to do what I love.

I get to work from home, which means I am always here for my family.

My clients come back to me for repeat business, which is a huge compliment.

My husband has done nothing but support and encourage me in this endeavor.

My stress levels are pretty low.

My schedule is flexible.

I’m happy.

 

For me, all of this adds up to something that is worth so much more than a six-figure job. Would I turn down a multi-million dollar book deal? Heck, no. But I don’t need one to know that I’m successful.

 

Measure success

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Filed under Family, Finances, On Writing, Work, Work-at-Home Mom

Writer’s Log, NaNoWriMo, Day 20

I long for those days at the beginning of the month when my inspiration was high and my fingers were a blur over the keyboard. I rejoiced every evening as I updated my word count on the NaNoWriMo website, and it told me I would actually be done before December. It motivated me to return to my word processor and annoy my husband with the constant clack of the keys. (It didn’t really annoy him. I don’t think. I mean, he comments sometimes on how fast I’m typing, but I think he’s being supportive. Right?)

Now, as the middle of the month has come and gone and my word count has gone stagnant, I feel that I might have marooned myself in NaNo land. I took a few days off, ostensibly because I had a wisdom tooth pulled, and surely that’s reason enough for any sane person to set the laptop down for a bit and do some Netflix binging. People do it for less.

But the writing experts aren’t lying when they say you should keep a steady writing habit. I do this most of the time, and I really do feel that it keeps the creative juices flowing. It might also keep my mind churning with awesome story ideas when I’m supposed to be sleeping, but that’s a side effect I must endure.

My short sabbatical has turned into an entire week. A week! One quarter of the month has been lost to days of only eating soft foods, a tiny bit of freelance editing, and a few (okay, several) spontaneous naps on the couch.

This is why, even though I absolutely DO NOT feel like writing, I’m doing it anyway (and my husband is asking me why my clickety-clacking is going so slowly tonight). I might not be writing anything important or particularly creative, but there are words appearing on my screen right now. And I’ll take what I can get.

Writer's Block

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Our Christmas List is Growing Up

I’ve been working on Christmas since last Christmas. No, I don’t put my tree up the day after Halloween, or even the day after Thanksgiving. I’m working on the gifts.

A couple years ago, we started doing our shopping the day after Christmas. It might make it sound like a drawn-out, stressful thing, but it has a lot of advantages. It lets us peruse through clearance sales, buying nicer items than we might normally be able to afford. If I want to do some handmade items (and I usually do), I actually have the time to enjoy making them. We also get to slow down and pick out gifts that are meaningful, instead of just, “Oh, crap. I don’t know what to get you. Here’s some lotion.”

I sat down this evening to look over our Christmas list and I realized something: My kids are growing up. The careful lists I keep (coded for what has yet to be bought, what has already been bought, and what has been wrapped) used to be full of dolls, blocks, and other random toys. My kids still have some toys on their lists, but they’re swiftly moving away from the primary-colored plastic Mega blocks and toward finely painted Schleich figurines. More and more gifts are electronics, or accessories for them. My oldest daughter (who is nine) has items on her lists like earrings, a knife, and new boots. Yep, she’s a replica of myself at that age, but it’s strange to see it happening to someone else.

I admit that in some ways it makes me yearn for their younger years. You know, when they didn’t talk back, argue about when they take their showers or what they watch on television, or bring home a surprising amount of drama from school. I can’t help but miss their more innocent days.

On the other hand, it is so awesome that they are finally a bit independent! They are absolutely brilliant (my six-year-old has a gargantuan vocabulary!), and I can have meaningful conversations with them. As far as the Christmas gifts go, it’s nice to know that if I buy them a $30 gift, it’s probably going to last them a few years instead of getting shoved under the bed and forgotten in six months. I think it is so awesome that my nine-year-old wants a pocket knife and is interested in going deer hunting.

As I watch my children and their Christmas lists evolve, it’s nice to reminisce about my tiny babies while I share deep thoughts with my about-to-be-big kids. I’ll go buy the boots that are almost big enough to fit me, and the chapter books that nobody wants to have read aloud to them. And I’ll enjoy it just as much as I always have.

My Christmas Wish List on an old typewriter

 

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November 19, 2015 · 9:22 pm

NaNoWriMo Word Count: Zero

Hello and Happy NaNoWriMo!

Last year was the first time I attempted this great feat.  I achieved a whopping 17,000 words.  I was pretty disappointed in myself, to be honest.  I really thought I could do this.  I had a good idea for a book, and I was excited about it.  So where did I falter?  You know what?  I don’t even remember.  I just know I didn’t get it done.  I finished the book much, much later.

So I’ve had some qualms about signing up this year.  Do I really want to make this commitment and then let myself down?  Haven’t I been just so completely busy already without piling another 50k words on top?  But then again, I have another great idea for a book.  Shouldn’t I just do it?  But on the other hand, it’s already getting late in the evening and I haven’t had a chance to write a single word.  That big zero at the top of the NaNoWriMo page is not just taunting me, but making outright fun of me.

Hulu has the old Bob Ross shows now.  (Don’t worry, this is going somewhere.)  I used to absolutely ADORE this show.  I watched it all the time as a little kid.  It turns out that Bob is just as hypnotic as he was back then.  His soft, even voice makes it seem like even I could pick up a brush and a gigantic paint palette and create a beautiful scene of trees on the water.  It’s just a bunch of simple little paint techniques that don’t seem like much of anything when you look at them individually, but when you stand back and put them together they make something beautiful.

Hmmm.  That sounds like something familiar.

And Bob starts with a certain type of canvas, but he tells me I can use any kind of canvas I want.  And I don’t have to paint the happy little trees right where he puts them; that’s completely up to me.  And sometimes, he says we’re going to get a little crazy and put a few extra plants over here in the corner, and just see how they look.  It’s all just whatever I want; no big deal.

Okay, Bob.  I get it.  I can paint my own beautiful scene with my words.  They might not seem like much by themselves.  I have to stand back and look at them all together.  And it’s okay if I don’t have all of my decisions made ahead of time.  I can throw in an extra scene here or there and just see where it takes me.  No pressure.  It’s all just whatever I want; no big deal.

Time to start writing!

written on an old typewriter

 

 

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