because sometimes I miss the subtle reminders.

I read Paolo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage right after I read The Alchemist. The novel follows the journey across the Camino de Santiago. I finished the book in one day, and I said  then that I was going to have to do it someday.

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the burial site of St. James. I think somewhere inside of me I’ve always known that I would do some sort of pilgrimage. There’s something about communing with one’s soul that I just know is a big part of who I am.

At any rate, life goes. And two years later, I haven’t thought much about the book or my initial desire to walk across the northern coast of Spain. Until Coelho’s books went on sale for $.99 on digital readers, and I bought another copy of the book. The reading was a gentle reminder of the desire, but it still seemed like something for “some day.”

Then, Friday night I became entranced by the Discovery Channel’s Out of the Wild. On the show, a group of nine people are left to find their way out of a remote Venezuelan area. It was an epic journey–one that I have zero desire to take. The funny thing is that as a result of watching that on Netflix, the movie The Way came up as a suggested film.

So, I watched that last night, and I think I’ve pretty much decided. So, the goal is one year from now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about setting new goals lately. I finished a draft of a second book, ran a half marathon, made it on a train trip to Vancouver…pretty much knocked everything off the list.

Some of the new ones are very obvious: rewrites are in order. But I need something physical. And I need something spiritual. I think working toward this is perfect. I really want the journey to be the end of a journey not a desperate run away to find something–myself, presumably. I want it to be a celebration of process–physical, mental and emotional. And while I know that I could do it when I’m older as many people do, I think I want to do it while it will be as easy as physically possible.

So, there we go. Or, there I go. Just putting it out there to hold myself accountable.

oh, the 30 before 30

After much debating and trying to figure out if I would actually have 30 things and reading countless other “30 before 30” lists, I’ve decided two things: 1. I’ve done a good job with lists thus far. 2. Why not?

I turn 29 next month, and I’ve started writing out the list. I have 18 things right now. Initially, I struggled because I thought I would ask various people to do certain things with me, and the answers have been a resounding “NO.”

So, in true me spirit, f— it, I say. It will be more meaningful to me if I do it alone.

I’ve learned, though, that it’s a hard list to make. There are things that I put on it and then think I should be doing that anyway. So, it’s definitely a work in progress.

Stay tuned….I think I’ll publish the list either when it’s done or the week of my birthday, whichever comes first.

in 2011, I …

…will turn 29! A fact that makes me very excited because it will be one year away from 30. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world (or only girl—yup, still girl) who is excited to turn 30. But so be it.

…might possibly join Or maybe eharmony. Or maybe both. Why you ask? For two reasons. One, I think filling the profile will be downright funny. Two, my mom would be happy. I like making my mom happy.

…will post the list of rules that has been saved as a draft here for a couple of months. Rules. Yup, I’ve got ’em. Along with questions. There are two, you know.

…more likely than not disappear at some point. Someone will ask me if I’m okay. Probably through multiple platforms. I probably still won’t respond. For a few days after I resettle into my normal life, I’ll have this small twinge of guilt, but eventually I’ll realize that I don’t care. If I cared, I’d stop doing it.

…will cry at a baseball game. There’s just no way around that one. I’m predicting that it will involve Clayton Kershaw, but really I’m not a psychic.

…will dream of my grandmothers. I will share the sunrise with my grandmother sitting on a dock on a lake in Central California. She’ll tell me that she loves me, and I’ll know that everything is perfect in my world.

…will meet an angel. He/She will hand me a book or tell me something or give me a hug at the exact moment that I need it. And everything will change.

…will be grateful. The beauty of my life will continue to overwhelm me. All of the little things in life will be awe-inspiring and people will think that I’m childish. That will make me smile.

…will not make detailed plans. Ever. I just can’t do it. I’ll make decisions when I want to about what I want to. I won’t worry about where the money will come from or how I’ll pay my bills. And I’ll always be okay.

…will find a way to push myself. My brain or my body will be put to the test.

…will laugh an awful lot. Mostly at myself. Sometimes at you, but mostly I’ll find humor in everything I do and everything that happens “to” me.

shaking off the blogging cobwebs with…

… new goals.

I took an intermission from the first draft whose word count appears at the side of this blog to outline a new story idea. Well, the outline and character sketches followed a book I read about doing that exact thing so it turned out to be around forty pages. I guess I was a little disappointed in myself for not starting the rewrite on the first draft of my first story simultaneously, but I realized – a little – that I expect a whole lot from myself.

It turns out, though, that it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. Now, I feel like I have a great distance from my first story. And, I’ve enrolled in an online class that specializes in mystery writing, which is the genre of the second story.

So, the new writing goals:

1. Write 5 pages a day of the third draft of the first story. (I did 3-a-day on the first draft, and it worked brilliantly. Since this draft is all about character revising, I think 5 is perfect.)

2. Complete the mystery writing course. (Yup, that simple. It’s already been great to have other writers read my outline and ask great questions about it! I’m supposed to end with a complete outline and the first couple of chapters written. It should coincide nicely my first goal and I should have some good working drafts by the end of January.)

I’m not entirely sure why I write these here. I’d like to say to keep my accountable, but really I hate disappointing myself to begin with so here or in my head–it’s all the same.

15 & 30

Somehow the 15th became the marker for the significance of the number 30.

I finished the draft of my book on July 13–just as I had promised myself. And I made another pledge to start again with the new one on August 15th. The first is by no means done. It still needs a lot of work. My first two readers have finished reading through it (including my mom who cried). I picked it up last night when my mom told me she finished, and I read the last three chapters, and I have to admit that it made me cry, too. (Coincidentally, I remember the first time I really thought I could write. I was 15 and we had to write a short story that made my teacher cry. I thought to myself that perhaps I could actually do something with my words at that moment.)

All of that is an aside, though, from the real reason for this post.

15. I did start on Sunday as I promised myself. I’m changing strategy this time to prevent some of the issues that I had with the first one. It will be one month of pre-writing leading up to writing the draft.

30. I’m using Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days to do the pre-writing. Her definition of “draft” is actually all of the outlining and research. It’s presented in such an organized way that I decided it would be a good place to start. And, already, there is depth to the characters that I did not know existed in my head. That made me extremely excited for the process all over again! And after two days, I’m already well over 2,000 words into this “draft.”

30. When I was younger, I had the idea that I was going to retire at 35. After years of working in jobs that ensured that would not happen (but definitely not regretting the jobs), I did a little re-evaluation. I want to semi-retire every ten years. So, the new goal is that I will not work for my 30th year of life. Seriously. I want to travel while I can climb trees and scale rocks. What does this mean for me now? I have about two years to get out of debt and to save enough money to make it feasible to not work. Part of the plan is to work myself as hard as possible for the next four and a half months to eliminate the debt. Then, I’m going to regroup and figure out the saving part. It really made me realize that no experience is without merit because the last year of my life definitely showed me the least I can survive on.

That made me think I’m probably one of the few people alive who is excited to turn 30!

july 13

And I made it.

I set a goal of finishing the first draft of this novel for three months after my 28th birthday. And I made it. I finished the core writing about three weeks ago and worked for the past week on editing for basic sense, comma issues (just because they drive me nuts!) and use of active verbs.

I handed over the first copy for someone to read this evening. My writing “friend” (I guess I should call him) received the copy at 8 p.m. this evening just as I promised three months ago.

It feels good. I’m tired. I can’t deny that. My brain is exhausted. And I’m a little physically worn out, but it feels good to be done. At the very least, it feels good to not be the one reading it anymore. So, I’m happy about that.

And what next?

Start again. No, really. I already have the basic plot structure written out for my next book. I think I’m going to give myself a couple of days to cleanse my brain from this one, and then really get to work on character sketches and a more detailed plot outline. I need to look at a calendar, but I think my goal for the completion of that is going to be right before I go back to teaching so I can write the draft once the school year starts.

And even writing that down gets me excited. So, I’m happy about that. I feared that finishing this one would satiate my desire to write, and then I’d be really bored for about a year, but I’m excited that I’m excited to start again.

Yes, it does it feel good. It feels very good, indeed.

Moving Past the Post-Its

So the big non-secret is that in the past ten years I have written out the plots, settings and character sketches for three major stories. I say major because they have the potential to be novels. Or movies. Or TV miniseries. Just kidding on the miniseries, but that’s the amount of thought that has been put into these stories.

One came from lucid imagination. I dreamt the characters, and they started interacting. I put them in situations and they started responding. I simply wrote it out. That one is the oldest. It’s probably close to eight years old. It’s also 72 single-spaced pages.

The second came in college. It has a fabulous timeline. It’s part fantasy of mine and part fiction. The character is amazingly stable, and the story sits in a half-completed state.

And the third came to me in a dream. I dreamt the entire story. I dreamt the characters. The location was eerie though. I had no idea where it came from or where I had seen it before. I didn’t think I had. Then, one day I was doing research for a shorter posting I was writing for one of my blogs, and there appeared this picture on the PBS website. A picture of my dream. So I pulled this out. My sketches. Not of the place exactly, but of the layout of the town. And all the beautiful characters on the pages. Then, there was the plot.

My…umm…biography of sorts is about 20 chapters in. That has gotten the most work in the past two months. It’s easiest to see the progress on it, I suppose. And I will admit that the handbook I am partnering with a friend on sits with its first chapter written, begging for more.

The truth is I love to write. And I would love to create a schedule for myself. I really would. It just has never worked out in the past because I tend to jump from project to project or I share the stories prematurely and then feel that they are no longer mine.

But I realized as I provide my students every day with a very deliberate method, schedule and checklist for their own writing that it would not be that difficult to do it for myself. Well, minus the sheer exhaustion (as one students said to me today, “Ms. Sosnowski, don’t you EVER get tired?”). But I figure if I can take 2 hours a day to craft positive comments and constructive feedback for my students, another 20-30 minutes to work on this reflection of my life, I can simply steal moments here and there to start with this creative business again.

So I’m starting with the last one. Only because I truly thought it was a sign when I came across the pictures of my dreams…

And as one of my students said to me one day, “Wow, you’re like a real writer.”

Nope, not yet, I said.