I forgot this, too

Holly Lisle mentions a forgotten writing truth in her blog entry today; that little bits of writing, done regularly, rack up word count.

I’d forgotten that, too. When I started writing seriously for publication, and after publication, my daily goal consisted of: do something every day to move forward. It might be edits, or research, or writing, but the book in progress moved forward every day. Doing this, I was incredibly productive. I didn’t stress out over daily word or page count goals. I just kept going forward, every day, and the book would get done. 

Then somewhere along the way I started setting specific goals I had to meet. This in itself is not a bad thing, but it is when you have a life outside of writing that includes small children. Or any other major time/energy commitment. Some days I couldn’t get much done. By my previous approach (move forward daily), I’d be in fine shape, because good days balance out the bad ones over time. But with the goal not met, now I had failed. And failure instead of progress became the measure.  I kept trying to change the goal to make it reachable even on the worst day. I kept miscalculating. No matter where I set the bar, nothing seemed to work.

Except that thing I used to do that always works; just move forward every day. That’s it. That’s all. If I do that, I met my goal. It sounds like it’s not enough, but I finished a lot of books very efficiently that way, and I was never stressed about my progress or lack of it. 

I think I need to go back to doing what works and give up more defined goals. Thanks for the reminder, Holly. 

Oregon Senate Bill 767; just say no

Oregon Senate Bill 767 is going up for a vote. If you live in Oregon, this may eliminate virtual public schools as an option for your child by blocking existing virtual public schools from enrolling new students and new virtual public schools from opening in Oregon.

Taking away virtual school options can only have two outcomes; forcing kids who aren’t a good fit into traditional schools, or forcing families who may not be up to the task to home school on their own.

Virtual public schools allow accelerated learners to learn at their own pace under the guidance of teachers in a fully accredited program meeting or exceeding all state and federal guidelines, where the ability to transfer to a traditional school means all their work will transfer with them, for full credit. It means the same for students whose commitment to athletic pursuits or other special circumstances mean that they can’t attend a regular school.

Gifted children in K-2 who are not yet eligible for the G&T program that begins in 3rd grade should be of particular concern, since an advanced student who isn’t challenged is more likely to underperform.

We enrolled our oldest in Connections Academy, a virtual public school, when the mainstream kindergarten we originally enrolled her in wanted to place her in special education for fear that she wouldn’t test well. She has Asperger’s. Call us crazy, but we didn’t believe an advanced learner belonged in special ed. She proved us right by excelling in her Connections program, where she enrolled doing first grade curriculum and completed her year with straight As. And not only did she test well, she exceeded all state requirements.

Connections provided us with excellent curriculum, a caring and qualified teacher, an easy to follow program, and the ability to accelerate her learning further as the year progressed and she proved herself ready for more. The virtual school also provided social opportunities via the online clubs and forums, field trips, and regular group classes online.

I believe virtual public schooling is an education alternative that’s invaluable to students and families, and to the larger communities who benefit from well-educated children who grow up to become volunteers, workers, and even employers in those communities, and whose extra-curricular pursuits bring recognition to those same communities.

Not every child fits the traditional mold, but every child deserves the best possible education. Vote no on Oregon Senate Bill 767 and keep virtual public school doors open.

Did you know Clive Barker painted Pinhead?

I spent a little time last night touring Clive Barker’s artwork online. This happened because I follow Jo Leigh on Twitter, and she follows Clive Barker. I love Clive Barker’s writing, so I said, "aha, wonder what he’s up to" and went off to visit his website. Which is where I discovered that in addition to writing amazingly detailed worlds, he also paints them.

His artwork is fantastic in the truest sense of the word, and well worth taking some time to enjoy. I went through images, and read the stories behind the stories; how one painting made him look at what was really important in the picture, and then write about that.

It’s always interesting to see how somebody else’s creative process works, and how painting and writing can work together. I’ve never tried to join my visual art with writing, but living here is making me think about it. I wake up in the morning and see my easel. I remember being told my painting had a storytelling style (which amazed me because I didn’t think I had any style), and I am wondering if painting visuals will help me write about them, or see what stands out. Since I’m at an experimental stage, it’s a good time to experiment. 

 I know that learning to paint made me look at things differently, and that learning that a painting in process is supposed to be messy made me look at first drafts differently. It stands to reason that painting a scene or subject or character from a story will make me see things differently in the writing, too.

Have you ever tried combining writing with another art form? If not, it might be fun to try. And if you have no interest in it whatsoever, it’s still very cool to see Clive B’s rendering of Pinhead versus the movie.


Left behind workshops upcoming

PBW’s annual Left Behind and Loving It workshops are coming up and I’ll be contributing again, although I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do. I know I want to talk about creative life, but I haven’t decided if I’ll do an on-going thing on the same topic like I did last year with different angles covered each day, or if I’ll just cover creative living in a day or two. Either way, there will be books given away, because we downsized to move here and the book stockpile must go.

If there are specific areas of creative life you’d like to see me cover, let me know. And I’m open to other workshop topic requests. I may even do a test-run of the chat I’ll be doing in October for FF&P on True Lies (making speculative fiction believable and authentic).