Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Year's resolution

Happy belated New Year everyone!

After a relaxing vacation, I’m finally catching up to the “real world” and getting back on track. Bills are paid, projects are prioritized (deadlines…not so much), and the house is back in order. Although there are still remnants of our suitcase explosions in the closet.  Since we weren't home for the holidays, Christmas kept coming for my son as family visited us for the New Year. There is an entirely different explosion (of Legos) in his closet. I am now ready to take on 2014 with gusto. And a “To-Do” notepad. This is because my husband presented me with a challenge.

A few days ago, my husband and I had a chat. We talked about our goals for the new year and what we would do to reach them. Obviously, my goal was to sell more books. And just as obviously (being an engineer), my hubby asked for metrics. Trying very hard not to roll my eyes (“metrics” has never been a strong part of my vocabulary) I vaguely jumped into various marketing strategies, hoping benchmarks and milestones would somehow find their way in. But, after many years together, I knew how futile my efforts at subterfuge were. And soon enough, he started in on his lecture on sensibility.

First, a note on his “lectures,” which are conversations we have when my life starts to get off-topic. They’re not really lectures at all, I just call them that because I get miffed that my brain cannot seem to function in such an organized way and so I have to hear it from someone else. He knows it irks me, and assumes (most times rightly) that it will go in one ear and out another. Yes I’m terrible that way. It should be a goal to listen more because I have never managed to attain the New Year’s resolution that I be more organized. Anyway, this particular lecture nearly had me in tears. This lecture touched my heart so deeply. This lecture epitomized why he’s my husband. (I can hear you…"What? What?! What did he say?!")

Okay, enough cliffhanger here. The content of our discussion was quite bland and very board-room planning. He basically discussed a need to schedule my week in a consistent manner so that I set aside time to take care of the house, and have a designated time for my part-time job. Now, here’s the kicker.

I don’t have a “real job” that pays me an hourly wage or salary. I have been looking for part-time employment, but with a school-aged child, it is difficult to find a decent job that is willing to schedule your hours around a school calendar. I recently gave up my physical bookstore, so I lost the income from that venture. I still have my online shop, but let’s face it – you know you’re going to get a better price on Amazon for just about anything, so that’s where you’ll most likely shop. Thus the search for part-time work.

But that wasn’t the work my husband was suggesting I make time for. He was referring to my writing, and all the work that went along with it. This is the part that brought me to tears. Let me tell you first of all that he wasn’t thrilled with my small-business adventure in bookselling, but he supported it (and drilled me with metrics the whole five years). I had assumed, when I began my adventure as an author two years ago, that of course he would support me but he wasn’t any more thrilled about this adventure than the first one. In the course of our conversation, his “lecture,” it suddenly became clear that he truly wanted to see me succeed.

He gave me a list of metrics – goals – to shoot for: more “product” in the form of more stories and possibly a sequel to my first novel, a specific time frame every day where all I do is sit and write (no Facebook, no email, no other squirrel to distract me), a better balance between “stay-at-home-mom” and “home-business-mom.”  These were all goals I had for myself, but I never really bothered to flesh them out into something tangible. My hubby told me to write down a schedule, make a to-do list, and create a project timeline to manage every project I do. And this time, I will listen. This time, I will have metrics that I can show with pride to my family.

My idea of organization and planning almost never match my outcome, and I have never been able to properly use a project management program. But while my metrics may not look like something understandable for an engineer, you have to start somewhere, right? It’s the same with writing. All the ideas in your head won’t go anywhere until you get them out, one word at a time.

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