Tag Archives: organization

Working in the New Year


I said I was starting my “job” the first of the year. Yep, that means today. I’ve actually gotten a lot done! (It helps that I went to bed at 10:00 after one lovely tot of Zaya with my husband – the downfall of having gotten up at 5:15.) I’ve finished an editing project, written two blog posts for my January blog tour (I’ll post the schedule when I have it – there are some good posts coming!), cleaned the kitchen, organized my office, and made a new sign for my office door:


But I wasn’t so much thinking about today. I was thinking about this bright shiny wonderful baby new year we have on our hands. A newborn, sweet and innocent and full of promise. Nothing has happened yet to taint it in our minds. There are no memories at all of anything ending in 2013. It’s a package with just the barest corner of the wrapping paper pulled back. What’s inside?!

My husband and I started Ross James Publishing at the end of December. At the moment it’s just a way to consolidate all of our books into one place and one separate bank account (so don’t send me your manuscripts please!). Plus it sounds cool, don’t you think? (Ross is my grandmother, who just turned 99 and is going strong, and James was my father-in-law and is also my father’s name.) Mostly, I think it makes me feel like “going to work” is a legitimate thing. I have a desk, I have a door with a semi-official sign, I have a brand new bank account with a little money in it, and I’ll even have business cards. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I’ll go to work.

Now, this is a little bit of attempted psychiatric self-deception, I realize (the “going to work” part). I’m a creative person, and for the vast majority of my life been a type-B personality (you can see my post on that here). But vision and passion change a person, and I am being changed. I accomplished a tremendous amount in 2012, even getting a pretty late start, so I’m feeling confident that I can do the same in 2013.

A lot of people would say I’ve “found myself,” but I am a firm believer that there are seasons in life, and we make choices as to how to live those. For thirteen years, I homeschooled my kids. For ten or eleven of those years, that was a good amount of work. Now that my son is about to graduate from high school and is driving, it’s not even a part-time job. We also have had a business for the last twenty-plus years, and that’s taken a lot of time and emotional energy. But again, that’s less than a part-time job for me now, and we’ll be transitioned completely out of it soon, probably before this month is over.

So now, ’tis the season — for me. It’s not like I’ve been holding back on myself. I didn’t discover this passion until November 2011. But over the last year, even in the midst of a lot of stupid health stuff, it’s been building. The clean slate for 2013 looks bright and full of promise.

There’s a lot happening this year. Two graduations and a wedding, a move to an as-yet-undetermined new city/state/possibly country. My trip to Uganda in February, which will be 95% work and very little play. I got a fortune cookie about a month ago that said, “Success is a planned event.” I now have that written in big letters where I see it when I’m at my desk. I believe that. And I’m planning!

How about you? Do you see this coming year with excitement, or are you pessimistic? What is the one dream you’d love to see come to fruition in 2013? Are you planning for your success?


Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing

The curse of the to-do list

First, confession. I am not an organized person. I am a creative, cluttered person who writes to-do lists and loses them, who has brilliant ideas and forgets them, and who has sterling intentions and gets distracted. Ask anyone in my family (especially my husband!) and they will confirm it.

The wonderful Calvin & Hobbes by Sam Watterson

The wonderful Calvin & Hobbes by Sam Watterson

So, with three books out now, a fourth scheduled for release in early 2013, a fifth being written, and a long 2013 goals list, I’m starting to panic. (Oh, let me add that I decided to clean up The Hoard of the Doges a bit — there are some typos and missing words, and that drives me NUTS after all the proofreading I did!) I haven’t had a “full time job” since I worked full time in our own business, about 17 years ago, other than a few months here and there to fill in or fix a crisis, so now that this writing endeavor is becoming full time and then some… Yeah, sometimes I have a bit of a freak out.

And here’s the thing about project people like me. I can set up a day planner or a calendar system or a to-do list (I can even set up the Teux Deux app on my phone) better than just about anybody. It’s perfect. It’s organized. It’s darn near pristine. It is a work of art!

And then I pretty much forget about it. The “project” was setting it up. Doing something – anything – day in and day out is definitely not my strong suit. I wait until I have 3 hours worth of ironing to start (hey, pop in a movie and iron away – it’s a pretty good workout!); I wait until every flat surface in my house is covered with papers and magazines and (inexplicably) my son’s size 13 basketball shoes before I go on a tidying frenzy; I don’t do much marketing until I spend about 20 hours over 3 days doing it.

So here’s the thing. At the ripe old age of 47, I need to grow up. (Bummer.) If I am to follow my vision and continue to be an author going forward, and if I am to actually write, produce, and sell books, I’ve got to start treating it like a full time job. I’ve got to dedicate time and stop surfing the internet (I do research for my husband ‘on the side’ which is a bit of a conundrum). I’ve got to guard the time I have as if I was working for someone else. I’ve got to focus, day in and day out. I’ve got to be the employee I always looked for and valued in my own business.

And that really pushes against my nature. There’s a reason that we’ve been self-employed all these years. There’s a reason that I homeschooled my kids. There’s a reason that I have thousands of dollars worth of art supplies sitting around. I’m not disciplined and organized and able to compartmentalize my life. I’m not the 9-5 type. I’m not the dedicated employee of my dreams. At least not naturally.

But now I realize that I really have to be. This isn’t so much a New Year’s Resolution post/thought as it is a “What Color Is Your Parachute” one. (I remember reading that book in my twenties and being completely flummoxed!) I am, albeit accidentally, now living my dream. I have found my passion. I can see books out in the distance as far as I can see. But my current state of laissez-faire about the hours in my day isn’t going to get me where I want and need to be. It certainly won’t allow for much more to be added to my plate, because my plate is currently looking more like one of those soggy paper plates that collapse as soon as you put the pot-luck spaghetti casserole on it.

I’m not good at following through on boring daily stuff. (Yes, I do brush my teeth. And I journal. Other than things that my family depends on, like cooking and grocery shopping, those are literally about the only things I do every single day.) But I have to grow up now, because if I don’t, the death of my dream will fall squarely on the embarrassing fact that I was… okay, let’s just put the word out there… lazy. Unmotivated. Unable to take what is truly a driving passion and harness it.

There would be some benefits to actually getting a handle on my daily schedule. I would probably get my nights and weekends back (or mostly). I could probably put an end to the panic attacks when I am supposed to be doing something — or think I’m supposed to be doing something — and I’m not able to. I might even be less grouchy about editing. Okay, no. That’s a bit optimistic. But you see my point.

So, after, well, 47 years, I’m going to try. I mean really try, not the “oh, this planner is really cute, and I’m sure I’ll be soooooo organized if I buy it and put everybody’s birthdays in it!” kind of try. This is the announcement of actually trying to force myself into a full-time job mindset. The upside is, my job is being a writer. How cool is that? It’s way better than any job I’ve ever had (mom and wife don’t count). I don’t have to have any employees, I don’t have to pay for an office, I don’t even have to get dressed in the morning!

I’ll let you know how it goes. I got my (latest) day timer inserts for 2013 yesterday, and dusted off my old red leather case. I have a marketing calendar, and I’m pretty much done through February. The rest of December will be doing the things I already have scheduled, going on a much-needed vacation with my family, and Christmas, and I plan to be gentle with myself. But we’re having a family meeting during that time, and I’m going to make the announcement: I now have a full time job. Hopefully they’ll all be on board!

How about you? Are you the creative, cluttered, disorganized type, or the to-do list lover? Are you thinking about a change of perspective for 2013? Maybe we can encourage each other over tea!

NOTE:  Several commenters have taken this post as being hard on myself. I’m really not. I am pretty happy with myself overall, but I have now identified something that can keep me back from where I want to go, and this is meant to (start to) address that. As a 5th generation Floridian who grew up sailing, I’m pretty laid back. That’s not going to change — it’s not possible! But I think everyone can improve, adapt, adjust, and possibly exert a tad more discipline on ourselves, without changing into Mr. Hyde. Thanks for reading!


Filed under Publishing, Self publishing, Writing