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The WriYe Blog Circle – Jan

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nullWhat is your one main goal for this year? Call it your writing resolution. Not two. Not five. Your main and only one. And why is it your goal?

I fell off this particular horse a long time ago, and I haven’t been very successful about getting back on. So that’s the goal.

See, life and work and health issues have kept me from writing. And I didn’t so much fight them as build a sad little blanket fort and let it happen. 2014 proved to be profoundly shitty, and I was really, really unprepared to deal with it.

I set a tiny, tiny goal for WriYe. Only 120k, 10k a month. A decade ago I would have laughed at so tiny a challenge. Right now, though, I’m soft and sick and weak, and all I want is to make it to the end. I want to be a writer again. It was my favorite part of myself, and in my soft, shuddering weakness I let it be taken away. I want it back, I want myself back. I want the hum of stories in my ears like spring cicadas. I want to go to the place in myself where stories come from and not find the door locked and barred.

I just want to be myself again.

Books – A Personal History

I love books. I mean, I fucking love books.

You could probably have guessed that, what with all the talking about books I do. Books have been my entire life. Books were constant companions, fast friends who could always be trusted. Books took me to the moon. Books took me to Narnia. Books took me to Middle Earth, to Xanth, to small towns in Maine. Books took me places that never existed. Books took me to the distant past, the distant future, and even to distant planets. Books didn’t have limits. Books went on endlessly, uncountably, forever and ever, amen.

I came up in what is politely called lower-middle class. Less politely, I was raised white trash in the South. I didn’t have much, but I did have parents who were avid readers. They were table top gamers, and eavesdropping on D&D games was my first glimpse of what stories could do. Sitting at the top of the stairs, unable to see my parents and their friends, I was carried on wings of words to a place where cruel kings and devious dragons fought weary warriors and clueless clerics. Their voices painted my dreams with a world of impossible odds and the capricious roll of the dice.

My mother would read to me and my siblings before bed, a tradition I grieved for when we became ‘too old’. I have never finished the story she stopped in the middle of. Long car trips every weekend meant audiobooks, sonorous voices lulling us into behaving with elaborate fantasy worlds. My father invented epic sagas starring our teddy bears, who had had very interesting lives before retiring and coming to our house to protect us.

Then I learned to read. My elementary school didn’t have a library in the traditional sense. The aging brick building was surrounded by those temporary trailers, all bedraggled and sinking into the clay mud. They were already old when I was a girl, and were still there when I went to visit as an adult. One of those trailers was the library. There was an elderly woman who worked there, stamping cards with a rubber contraption. I devoured. In the third grade, my teacher’s dementia lead her to frequently forget me. I would sit in the back of the classroom, hidden behind a bookshelf with a children’s encyclopedia. To this day I don’t know my times tables, but I read the whole thing.

I couldn’t get enough books. I was a quiet kid, a loner with poor social skills. I hid behind books, a tactic that still serves me. Lunch? Book time. Recess? Outside book time. Gym? Under bleachers book time. Math? Hidden book time. Books were my friends. Books were my shield. Books filled my life. I huddled in a cocoon of ink and paper, waiting and praying that eventually, I would burst forth a beautiful moth. I prayed to books; to an unseen and unnamed deity of yellowed pages and dust motes, who silently prowled a Valhalla of infinite bookshelves. I prayed, and devoted my fumbling fingers to becoming a priestess of that being. I prayed, and was blinded to everything but my quest. I prayed, and I was shielded and protected by books, armored in vicarious experiences and weapons forged of words.

To;dr: I fucking love books.

TenXer – Track Your Stats

So, I’ve been puttering around with tenXer for a little while now, and I’ve decided I like it. I use the iPhone app, cause it’s wicked convenient, but you can stick to their website if you don’t Apple. 
TenXer tracks the data you input, and the information it gets from the websites you sync it to. You can use it to set goals for yourself (It tracks “Time At Work” automatically) and either manually input your progress (“Words Written Today”) or use the location tracker to automatically update a stat (“Time Spent at Petting Zoo”). Then it displays all of this in a colorful chart. 
Why am I telling you this? Because I’m a gamer. And any gamer can tell you how important your stats are, but most writers can’t. Let’s use a lowbie mission- Nanowrimo. 
How many words do you need to win? 50,000. Which even the newbs can tell you means 1667 words per day. Pop that into your quest log, and now we need some stats. How many words can you write in a day? And how long does that ‘day’ need to be? What do you need to make sure you finish that day? How many fire arrows does it take to kill the Lich Liger, and who has the healing potions? 
You don’t know. (It’s twelve, and Sequestria, the half-elf Mage. Newb.) 
This is where tenXer comes in handy. (Not against the Lich Liger. You’re on your own there.) Because if you keep track of things like how many words you write a day, and how many Red Bulls you had to have, then when it’s crunch time you have a better idea of what your finisher is going to end up being. 
You can track any quantifiable information in tenXer. Anything with numbers. I like to track kills, and keep a death count. Once, I counted the number of times I used the word “muffin”. Why? Because I take dares to easily. The important part is, tenXer puts all the numbers together and figures out how close I am to the goal I set. 
Because numbers are awesome.