The first six months of 2015 have come and gone, and that means it's time for a status check on the New Year's goals and resolutions. Periodic checkpoints are important for gauging progress - otherwise it's easy to let these goals slip from sight, and soon the year is over. So in the spirit of holding myself accountable toward reaching these goals, here's my mid-year report.
1) Finish the first draft of my memoir.
Key metric: Chapters with the bulk of their content completed (i.e. the main stories I want to include in the book) by the end of July shutdown. July-Dec: Editing, editing.
Status: First, I've quantified the metric by setting a target overall word count of ~100,000 words. I picked this target based on benchmarking of similar memoirs. I've also established a framework of 50 chapters of about 2000 words each. The book is divided into Parts I and II.
In addition to a word count goal for content, based on research I have found that I need a book proposal, chapter summary, and completed first three chapters. That will sure help with a boost of motivation if I'm fortunate enough to be accepted by a publisher at this stage. I don't know that I will, but I might as well start getting the rejection letters out of the way!
With that said, here's where I am at:
- All 50 chapters have topics and most of their content.
- Word count: 96, 639 words.
- Book proposal about 40% done
- Chapter summary about 30% done
- Sample chapters done with content, just need editing.
Based on this new information and not needing a completed manuscript prior to submitting query goals, I've modified my yearly goal to the following (side note: it's perfectly OK and recommended to modify targets as new information becomes known):
- Target word count: 100,000-120,000 words (ultimate word count is around 100,000, but word count should drop after editing)
- Book proposal complete
- Chapter summary outline complete (may tweak later as editing occurs)
- Sample chapters edited
2016 can then be spent primarily editing all of the above and submitting query letters/proposals.
How will I achieve these 2015 targets?
- Weekend work. I can spend usually at least 4 hours/weekend writing
- Japan travel. I can write some while on the 13 hr plan rides and at airports.
- Travel days / time-off: Every time I take a trip to Japan, I get 1-2 days off.
- Christmas shutdown: 1-2 weeks of no work during Christmas time. Some will be spent traveling to/from family, but there will be downtime as well.
- Seeing my core family (brother & sis-in-law, parents, younger sister, older sisters and their families) several times this year. So far I have seen my mother, sister, brother-in-law, 2 nieces and 2 nephews so far this year, and it's only January. Plans include (in chronological order):
- Visit to see my sister in February. I've seen her 4 times so far this year, including a week long visit here where we made all kinds of memories. My goal is to see her at least three more times this year.
- Celebrating my oldest sister's 40th birthday in Las Vegas with her, her husband, another older sister, and her husband. I've never been to Vegas so it will be interesting to experience a new place. Done.
- My college friend's wedding, which is near my sister so I will get to see her as well Done.
- Celebrating the same sister's birthday with my mom and sisters for a girls' weekend in Asheville, NC. Done - it was fun. I need to think about what I want to do for my 30th next year.
- Spending a long weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, husband, and sister this summer. I love hanging out with them, and want to be proactive about making that happen. Done!
- Thanksgiving with my parents in SC Should happen. I also saw my family for a day trip to Knoxville in July.
- Christmas with my husband's family in AR Should happen, aided by all the frequent flyer miles I've been accumulating on my trips to Japan.
- Probably another visit to see my brother around the holidays Maybe during winter shutdown.
- Sending birthday cards to all those whom I can't celebrate with in person. I know it feels so nice when I get cards on my birthday. It's a simple thing to do to remind those I care about that I love them. I sent cards to my dad, my stepmother, my friend Katie, and my brother so far. Remaining this year are my grandmother, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, and sister.
- Continuing to be a part of my little sister's life, and witnessing her journey toward recovery. I will help where I can, but I acknowledge every recovery is different. Yes - she is doing amazing and so is our relationship. We text and/or talk almost every day. I do my absolute best to pick up whenever she calls and to be there as much as I can. I've seen her several times this year, and each time our relationship benefits. I have another visit planned this fall, and maybe around her birthday in December as well (might take her skiing for the first time!)
- Dates with my husband, spending dedicated time for conversation and reflection. Also, hiking, particularly some overnight hikes. Something special to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary this year. Every year I realize more and more how blessed I am to have my husband. We average about once every other week. It's been fun and we both agree it's a great venue for sustained conversation.
- Be more caring and helpful at work, and invest in relationships with my coworkers. Continued technical competence and learning is important too. One of the most rewarding experiences I've had was mentoring a new engineer who became my replacement. I'm also trying to be more social - one thing that I did to help with this was plan and host a going-away dinner for a favorite manager. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but it was well worth it. Recently, I've been encouraged to seek promotion, and after some reflection, I believe that I can learn the skills to do well at the next level. It's scary, and I don't 'feel' ready, but nonetheless, I'm going to go for it.
- Continued involvement in our church, particularly our small group. Small group has disbanded as the leader has left our church. But there's rumor of a step study starting soon that I really want to join. We've now been going to this church for six years. I no longer volunteer in the nursery, so I'm going to begin helping out at Celebrate Recovery by cooking the meal about once a month.
- Switch to a project-based role in my department in May/June. Work days will be much more predictable and less chaotic than they are with my current production-based role. Done, and it's definitely been nice to have more predictable days. I'm learning new skills in this role.
- Work less when possible. I spend too much time at work. We don't need the money, and it doesn't make me more productive. My goal is to take at least 15 vacation days in 2015, which will require me to use some of my overtime for vacation time, instead of getting paid for it like I did in 2014. I have worked less overtime so far in 2015 than I did in 2014. I try to leave work at a reasonable time - some days this is not feasible, but when I have a choice I am more often choosing to put a "comma" on the day and leave. This has helped me actually become more productive during the time I am at work when there is more of a fixed end than an open one. I have switched my overtime bucket to earning comp time instead of more money.
- Begin planning a trip for 2016 to Napa Valley with my husband for our anniversary. Haven't done anything toward this yet except consider Sonoma Valley as well.
- Train for and run another trail race. Not a big deal if I don't do this, but it would be nice. Been slowly doing more off-road running as the weather is getting nice (did one yesterday, in fact). I haven't picked a trail race yet, but I might just run the one I usually do in November.
- Possibly going to court again to testify on my sister's behalf The hearing has been scheduled in October. I'm not going to worry about it right now, but I know He will give me strength to do what is needed when the time comes.
- More Japan travel, including a hike to the summit of Mt. Fuj! Looks like there will be several trips to Japan this year. I've already been on two. It's starting to get a little old, but it is an interesting experience to have longer trips in a different country. Mt. Fuji looks like it will happen in a few weeks.
Overall, I think the mid-year report is a good one, and that there is a positive outlook for the end-of-year. My book has progressed more this year than in any year so far - I'm really starting to feel the momentum. I'm also starting to feel more trepidation as this means I'm getting closer to possible publication, but I keep reminding myself of the purpose of the book, which is to show what God did in my life. It's just one story, but maybe someone needs to hear it. I'll keep moving forward in faith.