Thursday, December 17, 2009

Taking Stock

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Anyone who knows my history regarding packing whether for a day trip, my book bags for school, or that 6-12 week stay at my mom's a year ago after her hip surgery and stroke that turned into 6 months, would totally ROTFLOL at the sight of that pic heading my blog post. I'm currently anticipating packing for a 2 to 3 week visit to my mom's just after Xmas which I intend to keep inside sane boundaries but that is only tangentially related to what I really want to talk about here.

The weird way my mind works took me in another direction after my initial reaction to seeing that pic of a cat sitting inside the harness of a humungous backpack on icanhascheezeburger.com. Sure I briefly flashed on memories of packing a year ago and the snickers and head-shaking of certain others about the amount of stuff I transported 300 odd miles and then on the current plans to pack for this year's more typical holiday visit but then I started making an analogy with the a slew of other overflowing, overstuffed, and over-committed elements of my daily life. Like my todo lists, my projects list, my closet and drawers, my library account, my bookshelves, my clothes hamper, my WIP story world (120+ characters & 120+ years), my TBR piles (To Be Read and To Be Reviewed), my electronic files, my dreams and ambitions. In fact just about everything except my wallet and bank account which contain zip--in essence neither exist.

Ever since NaNoWriMo closed November 31 I've been doing a lot of thinking about all that, taking stock of where things stand as opposed to what I intended when I set certain things in motion. Like this blog for instance. When a post like last night's book review takes me ten hours to prepare and as I work on it I am faced with the list of reviews-in-waiting in various stages of production and remembering my determination throughout November to keep my fiction writing on the front burner after November 31st, I have to wonder if I've got my priorities in proper order.

I justify the book reviews and blogging as support for what I claim is my true passion: to write my own stories, essays and poems and get exposure for them and maybe in the process generate some income to support my story (and needle & thread) habits and maybe contribute to our getting into our own home again where I can hope to have an 'office' that is not in the same room where Ed sleeps.

The book reviews serve multiple purposes: they draw visitor's to Joystory which has the potential of making it worth monetizing; they brought me opportunities to do reviews for review copies of books and to host giveaways which are great fun as well as bringing the page views; the emotional support from the sense of belonging to a worldwide reading community; and the requirement to analyze and put into words what I've learned about my craft from my encounter with another's work.

That last is the one most important in regards to my own work and thus the one tipping the balance towards justifying continuing to write and post reviews, even to continue to blog. But if I can't also give a similar amount of my time and energy and creativity to my own WIP? The balance tips the other way. Or ought to.

When was the last time I spent ten hours writing my stories outside of November?


This screenshot shows less than a third of the reviews in progress in my files. This is my note taking ap, WhizFolders Pro, in which I do all note taking and draft work for all writing since I got it nearly two years ago. Each of the items in the list on the left is a review that when clicked on will open in the window on the right to view or edit. The color code I'm using: Red = books begun but not finished before due back at library; Green = books I'm currently reading and in my possession; Yellow = books still in my possession which I've finished reading; Magenta = books I've finished reading but that went back to the library before I finished the review; White (not shown) = reviews mostly written but needing a final polish, fact check or links.

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