Monday, December 30, 2013

Ready for the New Year

I'm back home again after a Christmas break that was mostly spent reading. I got through about four books in the few days at my parents' house, which was nice. I don't seem to let myself just sit and read much at home. There's always something I should be doing.

I discovered that the little blue box I drive (a Ford Focus) might be bigger on the inside. I was worried when I saw that one of the presents under the tree for me was a huge thing covered in a red sheet rather than wrapped up in paper. The sheet turned out to cover two boxes, one a container with two swivel patio chairs and one a patio storage box (in flat pack, with assembly required). I accused my parents of coming up with a scheme to make me visit more often because I was sure it would take multiple trips to get it all home, especially considering that they also gave me a sewing machine and I had a huge suitcase. But it all fit, and without even having to lower the back seats. The storage box fit sideways in the trunk, with room for my suitcase on top. The chairs fit upside down on the back seats, with room for the cushions under them in the space between the arms and the seat and the bases on top. The sewing machine went on the passenger seat floor. And I managed to unload it all at home. The storage box is still in the garage because I'll have to clean off the patio a bit to situate it, as the stuff that will be stored in it is currently sitting where it will go. That will have to wait for a warm day. But the chairs are on the patio and set up.

I'll need to finish clearing out the office to have room for the sewing machine, and I'll probably pay a visit to Ikea to find a table for it. Now I have an incentive to finish cleaning out the office because there are a few things I want to make.

Normally I find myself energized and eager to work after the new year, but I came back from Christmas feeling all motivated about writing. Some of that may be due to looking at my progress for the year and realizing that I don't seem to have done much. The amount of time I spent writing this year is way down, and I didn't write an entire book this year. I did revisions on book 7 and got that ready for publication, and I did revisions on the new book for my editor. I did a final pass on the book that's currently on submission. Otherwise, I started a book that still needs to be finished and I wrote a novella (or more)-length story that needs a lot of work, either a lot of editing or a lot of fleshing out. And then I started a screenplay that still needs to be finished. Next year, I really need to make an effort to dedicate a certain amount of time to writing and get more stuff produced.

I think another thing that triggered my eagerness to work was looking at real estate. I discovered that the town where I go to church has started redeveloping its old downtown area, with a lot of new stuff that still fits that old, turn-of-the-century look. They're building new houses that look a lot like Craftsman bungalows, and they're situated around a park and near the farmer's market. I love old houses, but around here they tend not to be well located, and I know they require a lot of upkeep. My 1984 house is driving me nuts, so a 1917 house would probably kill me. But a new house that looks old and is in a good location would be cool. Then I saw the prices they're asking and saw pictures of the interiors, which have no "old house" charm. Then I checked the listings for things in my neighborhood, and I can get a lot more house for a lot less, even if it looks 1990s instead of early 1900s. I can trade a fake-old look for still being in walking distance of a library, plus having more than $100,000 more money to use for other things. Not that I'm planning to sell this house anytime soon. It needs a lot of work done to be ready to sell, and once that work is done, I imagine I'd enjoy living in it more. But that did start me thinking about where I am financially, and I know that if I want to improve my circumstances, I will have to work more. Fortunately, having the option of self-publishing means that working more can improve my circumstances. I'm not just writing more things to be rejected.

On the up side for the year, I did get a book published and sell a book to a major publisher. That new sale was a long time coming. There are other cool things in the works. I made more money this year than in any other year since I've been self-employed, and came close to matching my highest salary from when I had a day job (and I may just make it, depending on what might come in from Amazon by the end of the year). I'd love to say that working less led to more money, but this was money earned on work done in the past ten years.

My reading was also down this year. I guess I can blame the knitting because I was doing that instead of reading while watching TV. Otherwise, this was the year of lots of home repairs. That took a lot of time and mental energy. There are more repairs to be done, but maybe they won't be in emergency mode and I'll be more in control of the situation instead of waiting for a contractor someone else hired.

And I intend to get a start on my productivity by working on my screenplay today.

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