And so I’ve done it! At the risk of having someone point out some sneaky glitch that may have craftily escaped my careful and meticulous attention – which would be most helpful, by the way – Romantic Shorts is once again up and running at full speed. Updated, linked, and cobwebs removed, it’s all set to begin again.
The relief is beyond satisfying. The sense of accomplishment is quite gratifying. And my overall impression of the quality of the site is much higher that I remember it being previously. Reading page after page, story after story, with the fresh eyes of a long break and a stronger soul, I’m feeling very proud of all of us! We’re really building something quite remarkable. Yay us!!
Now, finally, it’s time to brew the coffee, pull out the favourite blanket, and spend the rest of the winter reading through manuscripts. I’ll be starting from the bottom of the pile. Some are woefully neglected, and I’m fighting some serious remorse and guilt over that. Their authors deserve recognition of both their talents and their patience; I’ll be trying to set that straight with them as I go. With the great luck I’ve come to expect, their stories will all be of the best quality, and I’ll at least be able to hide my shortcomings behind some good news!
First, just a couple more cartwheels. Then off to work!!
In an effort to find some kind of normal in my life right now, I sat down this week to examine exactly what it is I do all day every day and to find a way to improve my efficacy. Figured it should take about 15 minutes.
Okay, realistically, a couple hours. An afternoon, tops.
I am now on day five.
My goal was to somehow, find some digital miracle that would tell me exactly what needs to be done every day. Automatically. No rifling through stacks of files and papers every day trying to decide what’s next. When I started Romantic Shorts almost two years ago – it canNOT be that long, but yes, I checked, and it is – I had the good fortune to bump into a publisher from Chicago online. (Lesson learned, I now do my utmost to keep track of the many wonderful people who spend so much time helping me along – alas, I do not know her name.) She spoke to me on the phone for more than two hours, talking off the top of her head, giving reams of advice and warnings. It was probably the single most productive conversation I’ve ever had.
The highlight of the mounds of information I gained from her expertise, was her idea on how to fight the A.D.D. that has always plagued me, leading me to the beginning of project after project, yet never allowing me to focus on any one in particular long enough to accomplish anything. So many great ideas. Such a tiny attention span. It is indeed a curse.
She told me to draw a bicycle wheel. In the hub, I was to write/draw/cut and paste the object of my focus. In this case, it was my website, RomanticShorts.com. In each of the spokes, I was to write in all of the tasks involved in bringing Romantic Shorts to life. That took a fair bit of time to compile. Eventually, I had a comprehensive list, sorted tasks, colour-coded for my unique Type ‘A’ personality. And finally, in the tire area, I was to list all of the reasons I wanted to do this. The finished product looked like this:
Staying on track is easier with the right wheel.
The idea was that any time I had some time – 5 minutes or 6 hours – I could go to my Focus Wheel and put some work into the task/area that both needed the most attention at the time, and that fit the time available. With this simple tool, I was able, for the first time in my adult life, to work with an idea long enough to see growth and the passing of several milestones. The feeling of accomplishment is more than a little satisfying.
But reviewing my schedule this past week brought about an enormous revelation:
I have outgrown my focus wheel.
While much of it still applies, my efforts have now become far more reaction-based. I am no longer making up things to do. There are definitive areas that require my attention. Regularly. Daily, weekly, monthly, hourly. And the list-junkie that I am, needs some structure.
Enter Google Calendar, the miracle digital tool that now emails me a to-do list every morning at 5am. (How did they know?) And so I am now learning a new routine, tweaking and growing as I go.
And so far this week, I can’t say that I’ve conquered my to-do list any better than I ever have. But I must admit, I am far more aware of all the things I didn’t get done today.
Ah, this, too, shall pass, I’m sure.
But seeing as how this post was on yesterday’s list, I’m feeling a little better now that it’s done!
Do you have any suggestions for staying on track and getting things done? What’s your secret? How important are routine and scheduling to you as a writer? Feel free to share your thoughts below.
So much of the past year and a half has been saturated with change.
A major crisis with son number one brought my focus to Romantic Shorts and finally funneling some serious energy into a productive and worthwhile venture.
But that direction has been plagued with the most ridiculously obscure distractions. I expected challenges; I would be too much of an idealist to think otherwise. But the challenges that I expected to stop me in my tracks were the related problems: things that actually had something to do with what I was working on.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Learning the lessons of website design, online marketing, social networking, e- and digital publishing, advertising, and branding had me spraining tired old brain cells on a regular basis. But never – surprisingly! – did these things stop me. I’ve been pushing through and succeeding where I never thought possible. My self-confidence is soaring, my pride is humbling, and my hope is now unlimited. (The challenge in such emotional satisfaction, however, is in not being able to share these accomplishments with friends and family who feel neither the surprise nor the importance of my feats. This is supposed to be a compliment to me.)
The challenges that have pestered the most – often not only stopping me in my tracks, but causing a great deal of sidestepping and backpedaling – are the most unexpected, annoying, and frustrating interruptions! (Not that I haven’t benefited greatly from them – I just take issue with the timing…)
A ceiling repair that should have taken two or three days to finish, turned into a three month renovation that had me working in a construction zone, using the dog crate as a desk.
A challenge to my husband to find the perfect house – he goes into search mode every spring, finding many options, but ultimately taking us all through a process we’d all rather avoid – resulted in his proving his resourcefulness to the max. From the day he found the house to closing was three weeks. It took me four months to find my eyeglasses after such a fast and furious packing job!
And as incredible good fortune would have it, we were somehow able to hang on to the old house, keeping it as an investment property. Which had us spending the entire summer – one that should have been spend enjoying our new digs – covered in paint, plaster and dust as we completed an entire home renovation to be able to rent it. (Now, of course thankful for the previously-mentioned ceiling repair that gave us a nice head start!)
All in all, of the last eighteen months developing, planning, and creating Romantic Shorts, eleven have been spent amidst the most intrusive environments imaginable, against the distraction and stress of hard physical labour, the marital bliss of the renovator, five children who perpetually insist on being fed and attending activities outside of the house – like school and such – and all the while, dreaming about new and inventive ways to pay for the whole mess.
The fact that I’m still here is an accomplishment in and of itself.
But to have come this far with Romantic Shorts intact is astounding!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that Romantic Shorts will succeed. It will become everything I’ve always dreamed it could be.
The catch is that it won’t likely happen according to my timeline.
Add a little romance, a little sexy, and a little naughty to your break. Choose your mood and reset your imagination. Our romantic short stories are just enough to get you through the afternoon. And if you need us, we’ll be here for you again tomorrow