R is for results

Results are the outcome of everything that we do.

I follow a training program for running, I get results: I can run farther, and my thighs start slimming down.

I spend hours writing instead of frittering away time on the Internet, I get results: thousands of words added to works in progress, new stories to submit.

On the other hand, not all results are good. I stay up too late watching Battlestar Galactica on Netflix with my husband, and I get results, too: I’m exhausted the next day. Do it two or three times in a row, and I become an incredibly grumpy person who has trouble focusing on anything.

Again, it gets back to choice. Results are cause-and-effect. What I choose to do affects what results I achieve.

So what results are you looking for this week?

Even oatmeal has a consistency

Consistency tells us what something is made of or what it’s similar to. We speak of things being like paste or as thin as water. Consistency is how things hold together.

When we strive for consistency in our habits, that’s what we’re after — for our behavior to hold together, to agree with what has come before, to be connected. And often, what we want is to be consistent in a good way — if my habit is to check my e-mail, visit the Forward Motion board, check out Twitter and Facebook, and maybe take a gander at Web comics before I get down to work, I might be incredibly consistent, but I won’t be productive. That’s not a useful consistency.

This year, I’ve striven to achieve consistency in submitting my work, and I’ve been pretty good at it. I figured that my stories do no good sitting on my hard drive; no one can buy them there. This year, 160 submissions; last year, 40. That’s good progress. (I might even get another 6-7 out this week. If not, they’ll provide a good start to next year’s tally.)

Getting the stories out there is a good step, and I hope to continue that practice during the coming year. I also want to expand my consistency — I was pretty good (until the last quarter) of keeping tabs on tax income & expenses this year; I could be better. I finished some old work and started some new; more needs to be finished.

And then there’s keeping my desk clear . . . the less said about that, the better right now. However, I have excellent motivation on that: my husband gave me a lovely tetsubin (Japanese ceramic-lined cast-iron teapot), teapot warmer, and teacup and saucer for Christmas, and they will look beautiful sitting here on my desk. I hope to have a picture of that up within the next week or so (although, to be honest, the rest of the office is a bit of a hazard area as well).

I’m not setting this as a 2011 resolution. Just laying out my journey — this is what I’ve been working on, and where I think it might go next.

Consistency. It’s a good goal.

planning plus blogging equals plogging

First of all, just so you know, I’m experimenting. I’m trying to build a blog that I want to maintain and others want to read. There are as many ways to do that as there are successful blogs. Those of you who visit me now are going to experience my growing pains, but you’re also going to have the opportunity to influence what I do, based on what you react to, what you look at, and how enthusiastic you are. Isn’t that exciting?

  • I may post photos (such as John Scalzi does from time to time, or Jay Lake does with his moments of Zen).
  • I may post polls or contests (though those will probably wait until I’ve got at least a couple dozen people reading regularly and commenting at least sporadically).
  • I may post links.
  • I will post reviews of videos, books, blogs, or anything else that catches my fancy (Thursdays).
  • I will post my Q & A sessions (Fridays).
  • I may post poetry — haiku, sestinas, centos. Or not.
  • I will post snippets when I have something new coming out, so you know what sort of thing to expect.
  • I may post about things going on with my family and my life. (For example, my son has wanted a new cat for a couple of years, and I imagine that’s going to happen pretty soon — and that may lead to pictures.)
  • I will post thoughts about writing process, editing, epiphanies related to how I work, and productivity.
  • I may post other things I haven’t thought of yet.
  • I will not post links to quizzes, political or religious diatribes (any discussion of these will be in relation to a particular work of fiction or history), or my latest score in some Flash-based game.

Any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment!

reading time

I come from a family of readers. My parents’ living room had a bookcase my dad had made to cover one wall. It must have been twenty feet long and ten to twelve feet high (cathedral ceiling), and even so, there were shelves where the books were two deep, plus other bookcases scattered around the house. I married into another family of readers, and books flow back and forth, borrowed, returned, recommended.

With this family background in mind, it should come as no surprise that our kids love books. I would have been surprised by any other result, in fact.

Our son at three could recite Green Eggs and Ham from memory. Our daughter at nine months would sit up and carefully turn pages in books, babbling with varying tones as if reading them. For a lot of the summer, bedtime was mostly an advisory number, with the understanding that if our son got into bed by then, he could stay up reading pretty much as long as he wanted. Now that school’s back in session, he generally only gets to stay up late reading on Saturday nights, and even then, not indefinitely.

So it should not surprise me that our daughter wants to go to bed with a book and have me leave the light on. She doesn’t have school (although she does get up early for daycare); thus, my feeling is that if it keeps her in bed and quiet until she falls asleep, I’m all for it!

Yes, my attitude is almost certainly influenced by the fact that my parents never let me stay up to read, whether I had anything to do the next day or not. I’d sneak out of my room and read by the light filtering down the hall. I got caught, of course, but it was worth it, just to get a little farther in the book. So much time wasted on early bedtimes when I could have been reading!

Now, of course, I rarely have the energy to stay up late reading, so I have to sneak it in at random intervals, and I just can’t read as much as I used to. How about you — do you stay up to read? Or do you make time elsewhen in your schedule?