This year has involved learning more about my capabilities.
In some cases those are pretty good. Finishing Family Blood and the daily screenplay challenge in October had their difficulties, but I was able to do them, and I felt good about it.
I also planned to start the next screenplay right after Family Blood, and I was not really able to do that.
I needed a debriefing, for one thing, where I could get my head out of one world into the next. That took some journal writing, and research, and honestly, writing Family Ghosts would still be easier now than anything else, though I still believe that it will go better because I have done other things first.
In addition, sometimes I need to do non-writing things. That has mainly involved reading and video games.
I have mixed feelings about the video games. It doesn't feel productive, but if the point is to take a break, then refreshing my skills in Mappy and Dig Dug is a big change from writing.
For reading, I had several books that I was intending to read, and one I checked out by mistake, and one I had been reading forever and kind of hated but decided I would still finish, and I realized I was also really close to 100 books for the year. What if I just really focused on that?
Some of them were still just going too slowly though. I have currently completed ten books in December, which has only been possible because some of them were comic books and some were children's books, but I still want to read two more.
This would not be an issue if I did not have a social engagement tonight, or if I were not working extra hours right now. It would also not be an issue if one of the books weren't so pointlessly repetitive, or a different one - despite having interesting information - had been written in a more interesting manner, or if I had not played any video games at all, but only read. Still, I did read a lot.
I had decided once that life was too short to read annoying books, and I might have served myself better if I had stuck to that with two of these books, one of which I have already finished and one of which is still in progress. I was just feeling stubborn about them.
I am not ruling out reading two children's books tonight (my sister the kindergarten teacher has a wide selection) and then reading some in one of the other three books, but letting their completion happen in 2015. Regardless, there have been three trains of thought associated with this, and I want to get those down.
One is that challenging myself is good, but within reason. I love reading and writing, and they are both important to me, but burning me out won't help. The most pages I have ever written in a single day was, I think, 28, but then I didn't write again for a week. I have had weeks where 14 and 15 pages days were really common and I was able to keep going. Those weeks are ultimately more productive. It's important to build in breaks and recreation. That is especially important to remember while in the time of the year for my job where overtime is encouraged.
Two is that I know part of my frustration is that I am behind the schedule I want. I have books in lists arranged by things I want to learn, and timelines in mind for when I want to learn them. I am impatient for some of the things I don't know and the insight that I don't have yet. I am really impatient for the thing that I write that will ease my life financially.
If I gave up all reading or writing or exercise or any of those other things for a while, I might progress in one area, but I might also go bonkers. Caring about more than one thing makes me a better person and writer. And while my self-imposed deadlines aren't exactly arbitrary, they generally aren't world-enders.
The other thing is that I have realized that I have read a lot of Newberry winners, but not so much with the Caldecott winners. As I do care about art, and I have been impressed by the strength of many images in things I have read this year, that seems like something to work on in 2015.