Looking Back and Rolling Forward

It has been so long since I’ve last written that unless you are among those who keep up with my blathering on Facebook, you probably thought I’d given into the woes of a frenzied day-jobbing writer and drowned myself in a vat of jagermeister at the pub.

No dice. I’m still here. Jagermeister doesn’t drown you, although it does cause one helluva hangover.

More importantly, the book is finished. By “finished,” I mean the tale is written in its entirety. Of course there’s miles to go before I sleep and before Manwhore makes his public debut.

I think the best way to catch up on what’s been going on during my blog hiatus is to steal a Year In Review from one of my oldest (old as in ‘been cracking each other up in the blogosphere forever,’ not old as in geezerly because she’s actually younger than me) friends Golfwidow. I have done a very similar type of “year in review” the week before New Year’s pretty much since I’ve been blogging. But I was still finishing Manwhore up until December 29th, and thus still on very strictly enforced “no writing anything else” house arrest.

I cut some of the questions to keep this from being the longest blogger comeback post in the history of the internet, and I obviously didn’t get it posted before 2012 exited stage left. Better late than never, and it is a great way to cover a lot of ground I’d probably never get back to otherwise.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’ve never done before?

Finished the first draft of a novel.
– Was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and received my first-ever contributor’s copies in the mail.
– Attended a writer’s conference.
– Started cooking things that required more than opening a package or boiling water. Yes, I’m a woman in her early 40s. Don’t judge.
– Attended my first gay wedding.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more this year?

Yes and no. I resolved to maintain my workout regimen, write and market a shit-ton of short stories and essays, and finish my novel.  And this would all happen while I worked an average of 50 hours a week. Yep, piece of cake.

For the first half of the year, I hit the gym, wrote two short stories, and networked my happy butt off. The novel, which was at the not-quite-halfway point at that time, was ignored. If you’ve got a Manwhore sitting in your laptop and you can ignore him, you’re doing something wrong.

What I had done wrong was overextend myself in the first place. I’d love to say I fixed that by taking a hiatus from work to focus on all my other lofty goals. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t be sitting here on my comfy couch writing this. I’d be standing on a street corner wearing everything I own and holding up a sign that says “will write for food and shots of jagermeister.” So instead, I let everything else go to focus on the book. I stopped blogging, I stopped reading blogs, and I stopped tackling other writing projects. I lived and breathed my job and Manwhore.

Since it is finished, I can say my most important 2012 resolution was kept. But now I have lots of catch-up and cleanup to do in 2013. My ass doesn’t need its own zip code, but it misses a good workout. My “non-manwhore” writing muscles are rusty. And truthfully, I am both exhilarated and exhausted.

So my 2013 goal is to “keep it real.” I will edit Manwhore this year. I will turn him over to other readers. I will research and query agents. I will learn about self-publishing so that I can move onwards and upwards with or without an agent.  But I will do this all in gradual and reasonable chunks, so that I have time to take care of my body and survive that gosh-darn work thing without stumbling around looking like a Walking Dead extra.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

My beloved grandfather passed away on January 3, 2012. I was actually still blogging regularly then and wrote about it here, but because the anniversary of his death just passed it is heavy on my mind and I wanted to mention it here. Love and miss you, Grandad.

4. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

A less frenzied schedule – more time to take better care of myself, be in the moment with the people who matter and write the random things that bring me joy.

Oh, and the Steelers in the playoffs.

5. What date(s) from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 28th – I attended my first-ever writer’s conference. I walked in as an exhausted writer who was struggling to cross the finish line of her novel. I walked out full of hope and inspiration. It was also that day that I made the decision that I would at least give seeking an agent my best shot before just assuming my only road to publication was doing it all on my own.

December 29th – I typed the last word of the last sentence in the last chapter of Manwhore. Much squealing ensued.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing. The. Book.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to hit that mark without majorly slacking on every other goal I’d set.

8. What was the best thing you bought?

Our used truck. We had no choice in that matter, really. Our van died in July, we needed wheels, and we had a flea-sized budget to work with. But both Lee and I have fallen a little in love with “Vroom Boogie.” Also, the laptop I am writing on at the moment. It is my new BFF.

9. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My niece Jordyn. Her horse suffered a serious injury, and the love, compassion and care she has shown him on his road to healing has been nothing short of amazing. At 15, she pretty much spends every moment she’s not in school or doing homework tending to Jaxx. Under the guidance of his vet, she’s learned how to do things that would make many adults squeamish.

10. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I am really trying to not let things I can’t control depress me. But appalled? Every damn extremist on both sides of the fence during the election. And asshats who shoot up schools.

11. Where did most of your money go?

Vroom-Boogie. Laptop. Treading enough water that the mortgage company didn’t knock on the door and say “keys please, bitch.”

12. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope. I’m admittedly run-down and feeling my age for the first time in my life. But I worked a job that would turn a Zen Buddhist into a screaming tweaking psycho-banshee and wrote a book on the side, so I think that’s to be expected.

13. What made you really really really excited?

I think I might have mentioned that I. Finished. The. Book.

14. What song will forever make you think of 2012?

“Damn It Feels Good to Be Me” by Uncle Kracker with Kid Rock. Every time I’d feel overwhelmed, behind, stressed, broke, just not good enough or some combination of these, I’d listen to this song until I started believing it.

I listened to it a LOT on Monday mornings.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder:  Happier. This time last year, I was preparing to travel to West Virginia for Grandad’s funeral. Tonight, I am writing a blog post celebrating the fact that I. Finished. The. Book.

Thinner or Fatter: A little fatter. But it could be worse, given that in order to carve out the time to finish the book I kicked any personal care regimens that didn’t involve jumping in the shower or discovering new and creative ways to hide sleep deprivation with makeup to the curb. Since I am still thinner than I was when I started my fitness journey in 2009, I’m considering it a fixable setback and still an overall win.

Richer or Poorer:  About the same. Which is to say I think I work way too hard to be this damn poor but I eat, keep the lights on and don’t have bill collectors calling me so it could be worse.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercising.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Letting politics and peoples’ reactions to politics piss me off and watching the Steelers lose football games.

How did you spend Christmas?

We did our traditional Christmas morning at my parents’ house. I enjoyed the day, but not as much as I usually do. My cat Sylvester had gotten out several days before and we had not been able to find him, in spite of mad searching on the part of Lee and I as well as some of our friends. I enjoyed being with my family and loved that we were able to get my grandmother out for the day, but I was heavy-hearted too. At one point, my parents’ dog Otis climbed up into my lap and looked at me, and I struggled not to burst into tears. Otis is little, chunky and black. My cat is little, chunky and black. That was all it took.

The happy ending to this story is that we found Sly three days later. He was home for New Years.

How did you spend New Year’s?

I rang it in at Hawley’s Pub as I always do. One of my dearest friends was able to make the trip to be with us, which upped the awesomeness of the night. On New Year’s day, I did a lot of napping and snuggling with Sly, and Lee and I went out to dinner.

What were your favorite TV programs?

Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Borgias, Shameless,  Hell on Wheels and Boardwalk Empire. That’s a shit-ton of TV for someone who complains about not having time. But all of these shows come on Sunday nights and have relatively short seasons, so I’m still only sucked into the boob tube once a week. Well, unless two of them are running at the same time and then I have to play catch-up …

Best book you read?

I’m pathetically stumped. I actually did a LOT of reading this year. It is just that nothing hit me with the force that 11/22/63 by Stephen King as well as the entire Game of Thrones series did in 2011. So I’m drawing a blank.

Musical Discovery and Best Film

Ok, ok. I have to crawl out from under my rock, because I’m drawing blanks here too. I finally watched “The Raven” and loved it, but that’s old news. This whole exercise is hitting me over the head with just how much I have had to incubate myself to be my novel’s bitch by the wee hours of the morning/dark hours of night and my job’s whore during all the hours in between. It can put the hammer down now – I get it.

What did you want and get?

Two short stories accepted for publication. My new laptop. Sylvester’s safe return. A finished draft of a book.

What did you want and not get?

Financial security and less stress at work. An extended beach vacation. The Steelers in the playoffs.

What did you do on your birthday? How old were you?

My birthday was a Monday this year, so I took the day off because birthdays are not meant to be spent going to meetings and cussing at difficult computer software. I worked on Manwhore all day, and had a few beers at Hawley’s with my family that night.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

“Look, bitches, I got out of bed and showed up. What more do you want?”

What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less working and more writing, exercising, cooking and generally enjoying life. Fewer money woes.

What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I discovered that Anson Mount kicks ass.  And I’m not just talking about the fact that Hell on Wheels in general and his character Cullen Bohannen rock. I haven’t seen a celebrity put as much genuine personal effort into a cause as he put into Hurricane Sandy relief in, well … ever. I’m sure there are many who have done similar things that I just wasn’t aware of. But Anson’s concern and committment really hit me. Cullen Bohannen sticks to one-liners like “Yup.” The man who plays him has a lot more to say.

Best lesson you learned in 2012?

Slow and steady wins the race. Really. I discovered that too much multi-tasking not only makes me bitchy, it causes me to do everything half-ass.  The novel I finished writing this year still needs editing, but it is a damn good read if I do say so myself. And it is only good because I finally admitted that I had to “stop the presses” on everything else I COULD give up for a while to get it done.

Best memory?

I can’t pick just one! A great early spring weekend at the beach with my mom, niece, aunts and cousins. Lee’s excitement at a new job that he really loves and that we both hope becomes something permanent. Coming home to find my box of contributer’s copies from Chicken Soup had arrived in the mail. Attending Steve and John’s wedding. Some mornings or afternoons spent writing where I found myself laughing or crying at something that had traveled from my brain to the screen. Convincing my grandmom to try reading and having her discover a love of books. Some great nights at Hawley’s with friends and family. Some awesome summer afternoons spent lounging at the parents’ pool with some of my favorite girls. Our girls-only (all holes no poles) football gatherings for Ravens-Steelers games this year.

I could go on, but you get the picture. For me, 2012 was a year of both feeling more boxed in and limited yet more wild and free than I’ve ever felt in my life. I proved that I could create a booklength story and tell it from start to finish, could live in the brains of characters who were very different from me and tell their tale from their perspective. But to do so, I sacrificed a lot of living. To be a novelist with a demanding “other” job, that’s what I had to do.

But now it is done, and I won’t be taking on another booklength work for a while. This one still needs lots and lots of love and attention to make his way into the world. And so do many other things I’ve missed.

In other words, I’m baaccckk!

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About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Hawley's Pub, Memoirs, Personal Development Mumbo-Jumbo Stuff, Steelers, Uncategorized, Work, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Looking Back and Rolling Forward

  1. Wow, an epic post for your grand re-entry to blogging! You’ve accomplished BIG with finishing your book. While you do have lots of work ahead (I know of what I speak), you’ve done something a lot of people dream of but never do. Remember that. And, for what it’s worth, I really enjoyed editing my book on my own and the editing process with the editor I hired. I learned a lot.

    Good luck on all that follows… 🙂 And if you ever need to talk to anyone who has been through the process, you know I’m here!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Thank you Lorna! I plan to begin editing in February, after I’ve “stepped away” from the draft for a full month and given myself fresh perspective. I appreciate your support and will definitely be interesting in hearing about your experience as I dive in … it feels good to be back!

  2. Marcia says:

    Wow! What a year, Pam! Congratulations on finishing your book!!! And in between you had some fun! You really accomplished a lot this past year and you should be so proud of yourself. I think each year ahead will be an easier year of work than 2012, simply because you already survived the worst! One of things I love most about this update is your personal fashion concept. LOL I had days like that when I was working, too. Gosh, you’ve learned a lot, accomplished a lot and I wish all great things ahead for you – including more $$. SO glad you’re back!

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