Janet Sumner Johnson
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My Year in Review

Jan

04, 2016 |

Filed in:

Writing

Happy New Year!

With all the Christmas rush, I have been absentee the last couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to miss again. Because this is the time of year where I hold myself accountable for the goals I set at the beginning of last year. And if I don’t hold myself accountable, who will?

So here we go. My goals from last year and my assessment:

1. Write 5 days a week.
I started out well with this, then wow. A big fail on this goal. BUT, if you consider all the non-book-writing things I wrote, perhaps I didn’t do so terribly. That said, I hope to do better this coming year. But I realize that for me, this type of goal will always be a fail, because I hate being tied down. I do much better when I assign myself a project to accomplish, as you’ll see in the next goal . . .

One page of my crazy edits

One page of my crazy edits

2. Finish revising my 2 WIPS (Works in Progress).
WOOT! TOTAL WIN! Granted, I now have more revising to do on WIP #2, BUT I finished 2 other rounds of revisions on it (2 other MAJOR rounds of revision), and this next round won’t be so terrible. WIP #1 is now on submission. *curls up in fetal position*

3. Finish a first draft of a new book.
Okay. Total fail. I just started yesterday. But in my defense, I didn’t expect the majorness of the revisions for WIP #2. Plus I wrote a bonus story for PB&J SOCIETY (hoping you will all love it!), and a bunch of other PB&J-related things. The next book just didn’t happen. However, it is STARTED, so finishing the first draft at the very least is this year’s goal.

4. Write at least two picture books.
Sigh. Nope. I did take a PB class, but I was so busy, I mostly skimmed through it. Turns out that when you have a book contract (which I didn’t have when I made these goals), you suddenly become much busier. While I would like to do this again, I realize debut year will be full of too many other things.

5. Attend at least one writing conference.
And Hooray!! Another accomplished goal! I will definitely be keeping this goal. I am attending LDStorymakers again as an attendee (my husband will be presenting!), and I will be presenting at the MD/DE/WV SCBWI conference in April. So check and check! It really is good to plan a goal that you have already facilitated the accomplishment of.

And there you have it. Not a great showing, to be sure. However, life sometimes mixes things up for you. It is somewhat surreal to realize that last year at this time, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had no idea I was on the verge of signing my first book contract . . . which changed the course of my whole year.

So while I didn’t accomplish all the specific goals I set for myself, I DID accomplish some pretty major things. And I am a firm believer in being flexible. Yes, I could have killed myself to accomplish every one of these goals above, but I feel pretty proud of all I accomplished this past year.

Now it’s your turn. Please tell me what you accomplished this past year so I can celebrate with you! 🙂

Speak up:

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When Things Aren’t Roses and Kittens

Mar

03, 2014 |

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Uncategorized

So I’ve been revising . . . revising a work that I have revised A LOT. And I want to tell you something:

It has been hard.

I’ve spent a lot of time just staring at the screen, begging my characters to do something, because I had no idea what should happen next. I have spent a lot of time not staring at the screen, lost in deep, deep thought as I’ve reconsidered, oh, pretty much every scene. And then reconsidered it all again.

And mixed in there, there’s been a bit of typing, babysteps of progress, and slowly, slowly I’m getting through.

I’ve asked my husband more than once, “Why do I like this again?” Because in those moments when the plot feels impossible, and the characters feel flat . . . things can seem a bit bleak.

But then I came across this quote from Muhammad Ali:

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit.
Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”

-Muhammad Ali

True champions push through the hard times. They don’t stop just because things aren’t roses and kittens all the time. True champions realize that the reward is greater than the pain.

I will never get one of those belts with the ginormous gold buckle on it. And I may never even get a publishing contract for this book. But when I finish, when I get to that point . . . I will be a champion.

Because I was stronger than the doubts and the fears that tried to hold me back.

What are you battling against right now?

Speak up:

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Celebrities with NO Make-up, Writer Edition

Oct

14, 2013 |

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Uncategorized

I’m sure you’ve seen them. Those picture-articles titled something like: “What Celebrities Look Like With NO Make-up!”

I believe they are supposed to make us feel good, because even the Stars don’t look like Stars all the time!* Which brings us to the logical conclusion that if we had our own personal make-up artists and wardrobe consultants, we, too, would look like Stars. Right?

In fact, this whole idea inspired me to share such a comparison of myself:

 
 
Now, I know these pictures look like a before and after for some weight-loss program, but you should know:
  1. I weigh approximately the same in both these pictures. If anything, I weigh less in the not-so-nice picture.
  2. These pictures are taken less than a year apart (the not-so-nice one being taken last winter, the nice one being taken yesterday).
  3. I am wearing make-up in both of them.
So all these things being equal, what is the real difference between these two pictures? Why is one extremely not-so-nice, and the other so much better?
 
The answer? Effort.
 
In the not-so-nice one, I am not sure if I took this picture or if my husband did. Maybe it was even one of the kids. Clearly the photographer gave no thought to getting a nice picture. Snap, and it was done.
 
In the other picture, I took 21 pictures, adjusting something each time until I got a picture I liked. First the lighting wasn’t right, so I tried some different locations. Then the angle of my face bothered me. Next it was my smile, then where my eyes were looking. After 20 little tweeks and nudges, I decided I was satisfied. In short, I put forth a lot of work and effort to get something that I felt was presentable.
 
This, dear peeps, is why we revise. Why we get beta readers and critique partners. Why we read and re-read our work and make changes until our eyes bleed. Because seriously, can you imagine sending that not-so-nice picture to an agent or editor?
 
I thought not.
 

*And I’ll give us all the benefit of the doubt that we like those Stars better for it, and feel the indignity of what the paparazzi subject them to, because who would like having their picture taken in all their worst moments?

Speak up:

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