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It’s like the countdown on New Years. I’m sad that the end has come and I’ve been thinking about all the truths in my last post about not living in the future. I’m content with the way the year turned out. I will always slip in “I wish I could’ve done more/finished more novels” but the truth of the matter is that what I’ve accomplished isn’t something to discount or minimize.

I’ve written 3 books in a year and there are more to come. I’ve never written anything more than a 20-page paper before this and here I am, sitting on 3 manuscripts that need to be edited, rewritten and flushed out. I had no idea what each month held in store for me but I stuck with it. It may not have felt that way but no one can maintain a break-neck pace in anything; I took breaks and eased off when I needed for as long as I needed, but I was always chomping at the bit to get back into it.

Looking back, I can’t believe the spectrum of genres I attempted. Of course, 12 is a lot but my year went as follows:

July: Antobiography- technically not a novel but it’s been so stuck in my creative mind I had to purge it

August: Western- a success! There has to be at least 2 more to follow this story line.

September: Hard Boiled Crime- by this point, my voice was too well-established to follow the highly stylized format.

October: Horror- I just couldn’t write graphic scenes. Not my style.

November: Sci Fi- my first attempt at abstract thought with highly political undertones. I’ll return to this one, I’m intrigued by it.

December: Steampunk- I had no idea what I was doing so lots of research is needed. I loved the idea though so I’ll finish this one too.

January: Literary Fiction- More trouble with adult themes and language. I saw an improvement. This is definitely another one to finish in 2013.

February: Choose Your Own Adventure- It started off romance (of course!) but I had no interest in writing bodice rippers so I gave myself a pass to complete a novel that’s essentially a collection of short stories. Genius! I’ll be doing another one in this genre, for sure!

March: Adventure- All I could think of was The Land Time Forgot. I don’t think I’ll work in this genre again… at least for now.

April: Chick Lit- This surprised me. As much as I love reading them, I had no interest in writing one. I’ll skip this genre too in 2013.

May: Mystery- The same as April. Maybe this was burn out so we’ll see what happens in 2013 but even with all the “Murder, She Wrote” I watched I never felt inspired.

june: Fantasy- Now this is a scintillating gem. I will certainly be returning to this one. I have at least 4 more books to write with this story line. I think it’s my best, most original work to date.

Sometimes the struggle was a overly complicated storyline. Other times it was the genre. Still other months life got in the way. Well, you know what? This is what happens. These challenges are what life is all about. There were times when I flirted with the idea of throwing in the towel and just fade away but I always returned. No I don’t want to admit how awful this last month was for my story (I wrote practically nothing) but it was still an important 30 days.

It’s taken a long time and a lot of struggle for me to come to the point where I’ve accepted my shortcomings when compared to the goals I set for myself last June. Did I follow through with the journal? No. Did  I write 12 novels, each at least 50,000 words? No. Did I write a short story a day if at the half-way mark I wasn’t going to make it? No. There’s more to life than sitting at the computer, typing like a crazy woman. This isn’t my career. At the end of the day, nothing depends on my success.

So, I encourage any and all of you who have a burning passion to accomplish a dream to go for it. The results matter but they won’t be as important as the lessons you’ve learned about yourself. Go ahead and be daring. you have no idea where that road will lead you. Surround yourself with people who believe in you because trust me, their belief will rub off on you and you’ll begin to believe in yourself. Once that happens, wonderful things are destined to occur.

Thank you so much for all your kind words, thoughtful comments, love, support, encouragement and interest in this project. You’ve all been instrumental in my successes and in my struggles, you’ve been lifelines that have pulled me through. I can honestly say that without you, making it to the end would not have happened.

Maybe I’m crazy but I’ve decided to take another run at this but this next year will be interesting because there will be editing and rewriting- I’ll be polishing my works to submit for publishing. I’ve set up a new blog as this one is now finished although I’ll still keep this one up. The link is:

http://another12novelsin12months.wordpress.com

I look forward to seeing you over there.

Sincerely,

Sandra O’Driscoll

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(I tried posting this yesterday but my internet was on the fritz and couldn’t get it completed until today)

I think I’m procrastinating. Today was a tough day to get going to do anything. I’m doing research for my plans involving world domination and the resuscitation of the prehistoric Card Catalogue but really I’m stalling. With 2 days left of this project, I’m in count down mode. I want to keep plugging away at the story, and have been but my brain is already in re-write mode for July.

I’ve come a full circle with this project. It seems like it was yesterday when I was sitting in the same exact seat as I’m sitting now writing a post a few days before July 1st. When I stop and think about it, I can’t believe I’ve ben through what I’ve experienced in the span of 366 days.

There was:

1. an autobiography completed in July

2. a western written in August

3. an unpredictable workload at work for almost a year

4. the end of each month resulted in a story idea that was probably new (I had some plots before hand but some developed as I wrote- very exciting!)

5. of the 9 story ideas, there are 3 stand-alone novels to finish

6. I’ve ended up with 2 novels that are each a part of a different series (one of them has at least 3 books, the other has at least 5)

7. I created a new hybrid sub-genre (at least that I’m aware of- Im sure someone’s tried it and it just wasn’t popular enough to print)

8. I apartment hunted

9. I job hunted

10. I found a job, transitioned to the new place and quit my old job

11. lost my new job

12. enjoy a forced vacation

13. am moving on

As great is it is to have goals and to have something to look forward to in the future, it’s important to stay rooted in the present. I’m sure I missed out on so many little victories or a sense of accomplishment for all the positives in my life. I mean, it is pretty spectacular achievement to have created a hybrid sub-genre, even if it is a little delusional. I’m I end up being the eccentric person living in her own little world, that’s fine by me. I’ve spent enough time being sad, stressed, upset, angry or any other negative emotion to realize that life does not become more satisfying with the more you have or the faster you make to the next good thing.

Life isn’t a Super Mario Brothers game- you can’t zip from coin to coin and fly through the finish line to make it to the next level. If the cliché “everything happens for a reason” or “when one door closes another opens” feel over-used, I stop and think of all the people who for some reason have daily struggles that I couldn’t even begin to sympathize with. It snaps me out of my loop of negativity when I think that there will always be someone out there who would gladly trade me for one of my worst days.

So I’ll continue to have my dreams and ambitions and of course I’ll occasionally lose myself in my wants and get frustrated with the way my life is going but with a different perspective, life takes on a whole new meaning. So what if I didn’t finish all my novels? I started a new one each month and even if I didn’t write too much, I could see where it might go and I’ve remained engaged in the creative process. For someone who hasn’t been required to write anything for over 6 years, that’s a substantial achievement.

I don’t want July 1st to come. I want to hold onto the last shards of June and continue with my stories. Unfortunately it’s been too little too late most months, I think the average monthly word count (discounting the completed novels) must be hovering around the 3,000 mark.

There are so many questions I can ask myself and there’s always introspection to be done that most probably will reveal characteristics and traits that I would much rather not know about. I already know enough of my flaws (don’t play cards with me- I’m a bad loser and an even worse winner), do I have any redeeming qualities at all?

I thought I was strong but I’ve allowed a surprising number of events to kick me around this year. It’ not as bad as the 80-pound weakling beaten to a pulp but there was a sucker punch or two that has left me reeling. Teetering on the line between Cry-Baby Land and Tough-Girl Universe, there were times when I stumbled into Cry-Baby Land.

I wish I had completed more and put more effort into my writing, I certainly feel like I’ve let all my WordPress friends down as they encouraged me. I feel like I’ve given up some times but always looked forward to the beginning of a new month and a new story. Maybe it really isn’t expected to have finished all the novels because that is a crazy writing schedule to carry on top of life and work and I’m not versatile enough to be able to write a roughly 100-page novel in 12 different genres. There has to be at least one that just won’t work. Apparently there are quite a few more.

Maybe my expectations are too rigid; I would have been happy for and a teeny bit jealous of anyone else in my position. So my stories didn’t really work out. So I had to back away from the project sometimes to give myself a breather. And I’ve finally learned when to call it quits because something is just not working. For anyone else, I’d applaud their wisdom, encourage them to continue on and be their tiny voice of optimism when needed. Why can’t I be that kind and supportive to myself? Instead, I stand over my poor little hunched back as I slog through writer’s block or antipathy for the genre that month with a wicked little riding crop.

I should be thrown in prison for self-assault and abuse! No wonder I haven’t been able to succeed I wanted to. It’s time to focus on my successes and the few stories that I’ve started but still are sticking with me. It’s been a much more enriching and rewarding year than I ever could have imagined. Sometimes the near-successes are more important that the complete successes.

…but not the Hannibal Lector kind. Have no fear.

I’ve been working on my story as the last week of June comes whipping around the corner. It’s now or never and with resumés sent out to do their work and school application replies eagerly awaited for, now is the perfect time to get lost in a monster story. Who cares if it’s juvenile or poorly written or any of the other criticisms that could cripple a writer. This week is a gift to me to finish a story that’s been anchored to my imagination for almost 3 years now. It’s time to get it out and let it breathe.

I personally think it’s one of the most original, creative works I’ve ever (possibly ever will) come up with. I let my grandfather read it and he loved it. How can I disappoint a Octogarian by leaving it unfinished? That’s just cruel. I had hoped to have it finished by his birthday but seeing as grandpa’s turning 80 in Wednesday, that’s a wee unrealistic.

The story is plodding along and the style is pretty convoluted but for now I don’t care. I want to know what happens to Ollie and the gang. There’s quite the cast of characters, by the laws of probability, there has to be some zinger of a secret (or two or three…) somewhere. But who has the skeleton in their closet? What family is secretly on the other side? What’s going to happen because I already know this isn’t a stand alone book.

I feel like I’m on the Harry Potter track but then isn’t every book about good vs. evil in some way? Some are just more subtle than others. Mine couldn’t be more blatant than a gym full of cherubs and hellish imps playing dodgeball. There is a twist, though. Oh don’t you worry. I can’t write novels that are so conventional. Just ask me about my Sci-Fi attempt. That’s a nightmare in abstract thinking. It still gives me a headache.

So, with my head full of monsters and Boris Karloff, Bella Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. on my t.v., I’m settling in to tell my story. I’m hoping it’ll suck my readers in as well and give them a little thrill. Who doesn’t like a little bit of Halloween in June?

Just a quick little hello before I trundle off to the gym to kick-start my workout regime. I finally got a restful sleep last night which hopefully means that this baloney about work is finished and I can start to resume a normal life. With my better sleeps came… DREAMS ABOUT THE STORY! That’s right! My subconscious is starting to work again and had written the bridge between what I currently have and my planned story line. This is a huge break through! But do you think I can remember the dream? Not on my life but I’m still encouraged. It means my imagination is working again.

So it’s off to the gym I go to get my heart pumping and the blood moving before coming back to write!

No I’m not retiring but I’m getting a feel for what it’s like. I’m only 4 years into my career and I had my first taste of being let go. It’s confusing. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. But most of all, I hate the fact that I’m not busy doing something. Three days into this “vacation” and I’ve already got cabin fever.

I know I neglected myself over the past 2 years and that’s unacceptable for my line of work. I’m like any other professional that relies on strength, health, and vitality. You wouldn’t want a firefighter to rescue you from a burning building if they were overweight and stressed out, would you? That’s no way for anyone to work and be able to do a good job. My integrity and work ethic has been pushed to the limits. I’ve been doing my best for so long but when I need to, I can’t allow myself to relax the stranglehold I have on my job performance requirements. It’s so hard to maintain that when you’re tired.

Maybe I haven’t been eating as well as I should be. Actually, I know I haven’t. A box of Timbits does not constitute a well-rounded meal. They, themselves are round, that’s about as close as I can get to justifying that choice for supper. Then there’s the issue of my sleeping patterns. Atrocious. Let’s leave it at that. My biggest problem though, is the gym. How can I take care of myself when I’m stagnant? Dancing is all well and good and my job keeps me on my feet and moving all day so that’s a bonus, but there’s nothing that compares to going to the gym and working out my frustrations in the pool or on the raquetball court. I need to sweat it out. Pure and simple.

No wonder I haven’t been able to sit down and write. I haven’t been able to take the time to look after my body so what makes me think I’ll be able to sit for extended periods of time to focus on the story and actively engage in the creative process? When your body is sick or tired or not functioning properly, the rest of you is affected as well. It’s unfortunate it’s required me to get to this point to discover that.

As everyone reminds me, when a door closes a window opens. Perhaps this window will lead to something drastically different that I’ve been to nervous in the past to initiate or perhaps it’s more of a corridor- I’ll resume my career after taking a small break to look after myself and get my feet back under me.

It feels like there’s nothing for me to do but that’s a lie. Between the writing and the gym my day could easily be consumed and what is more motivating than seeing a healthier me emerge and the satisfaction of a story evolving right before my very eyes? Growth and change take on a multitude of different forms. You have to appreciate the situation for what it is, not for what you’ve lost or what it could have been. As much as I would love to, there’s no going back, I can only go forward.

At some point in time, every woman is “Daddy’ Little Girl.” Some grow out of it, some don’t. I may have a close relationship with my Mom but I’m still a Daddy’s Girl. As far back as I can remember my Dad has always been the smartest, handsomest man who would do anything for me.

He loves motorcycles. So, when I was very little, I loved motorcycles too. Until one day when I was 5 I fell off my very own kiddie dirt bike. I ran inside crying and swore never to ride again. There was never any pressure for me to get back on; thankfully my sister has that passion covered. So Dad and I have never really bonded over wheels of any kind. I tried to be interested but curiosity can only last so long. It hasn’t stopped me from sidling back up to those death-on-wheels machines every few years. Maybe this time I’d be ready? Well, a few years ago Dad took my sister, her friend and I out for a New Years ride around a dirt track and I fell off again. This time I tried claiming I slipped in mud but my eagle-eyed sister pointed out there were no skid marks. Busted. Obviously we’ll never bond over chrome fenders and ridiculously awesome gas mileage.

Dad is a genius. I’m convinced he’s comfortably ensconced somewhere between Mensa’s minimum requirement of an IQ of 130 and Eintstein’s brilliance. My awe and conviction that he has the answer to everything has never dissipated over the years. Me on the other hand, I’m a few points shy of being accepted into Mensa and it annoys the crap out of me. My Math skills maxed out at about grade 3 or 4 so once I came up against long division, Dad had to help me. Some nights we would spend hours on my Math homework, he patiently going over the same material while explaining why it was what it was. I still have no idea how he managed to answer “why” questions about the logistics of Mathematics. And talk about breaks! When I asked for a break to get a snack he’d blithely continue on teaching me…Stats. I was in grade 5! The only probability I cared about was my chances of getting to go outside to play.  Then in high school, for my last year he lived in upstate NY and my Mom, sister and I lived in CT but every weekend he’d make the 5 hour drive to spend a day or two with us and during exams he would make that trip during the week some times. He’s my hero.

Then there’s the traveling. We moved a lot when I was little and I loved it. There were quite a few father-daughter trips like the time we went to Paris and London to celebrate my 13th birthday and on the way to London he bought a ticket the crew was raffling off for charity for the cockpit jump seat during take off. I spent the entire flight there talking with the co-pilot. There were other trips and we have some of the same countries on our “to see” lists so I hope there will be more to come. Perhaps this is our common ground.

Beyond all this, the stuff that makes my Dad who he is, he’s one of my strongest supporters. I’m incredibly lucky to have friends and family who love me and have supported my various crazy endeavours but Dad has always been there for me whether it was a baking misstep when I was 10 and put baking soda instead of baking powder (or was it the other way around?) in our dessert muffins to this past Friday when I had my first experience being let go from a job that was to be the pinnacle of my career. He’s let me make my own mistakes, has supported me as I tried to develop my career or build a practice and hasn’t questioned my decisions. So in short, I have the best Dad I could ever ask for. It doesn’t hurt that his Dad jokes are pretty awesome too.

Bubba, you have set the bar high and my standards are pretty strict. No wonder I’m still single!

Dad and I- England 2009

My favourite things about Dad:

1. Flowers for no reason

2. He has no problem walking Yesterday. In the fall. When she’s wearing her bright pink coat. That’s love.

3. He’ll drop anything to help his daughters and close friends.

4. He has a big heart.

5. Dad jokes. My other favourite inherited trait.

6. Chicken soup. The only thing that makes me feel better when I’m sick.

7. I know he’s the father that every kid secretly wants.

There are countless more but these are the best of the best. Happy Father’s Day.