Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Back, Moving Forward

My new scarf. Thank goodness I live in the tropics.


After discounting 2013: Year of Learning to Knit, I've yet to decide on a new blog title. All suggestions are appreciated, preferably by, um, Tuesday.

In the meantime, I join millions of others in looking back over the year of 2012, and wondering where the hours went and what I was doing while the hours were going there.

Way back in Week 1, I set modest goals for 2012: Year of Learning to Write, and I am proud to say that I stayed true to most of my endeavours, but acknowledge that my laziness got the better of me at times. So how did I do? Let's see now...
  1. Start and maintain a writer's blog. I'm not sure how I reached Week 52, but, by jingo, I did.
  2. Read one classic piece of literature a fortnight. I read at least thirty novels of various styles and genres over the year, and about as many 'how-to-write' books. To me, the two complemented each other nicely, that is, the 'how-to' books provided me with a better understanding of what I should be stealing from the literary masters.
  3. Write at least 500 words a day. I doubt I wrote 182,500 words during 2012, but I did draft an 85,000-word YA story (which is unlikely to ever see print, I fear), 51,000 words of a travel memoir, and lots of gumph in between, so I forgive myself.
  4. Complete one short story a fortnight (preferably one I've already started). I failed this one miserably. Those unfinished short stories are still pining for attention.
  5. Enter at least one writing competition a month. I entered six competitions, and won none. How could that happen?
  6. Submit at least six pieces for publication. This was a psychological and physical test. I submitted four small pieces, received two encouraging rejections, and two go-away-fool rejections. And I lived.
  7. Commence at least one writing course. No, I was very lazy and didn't do this, snivel, snivel.
  8. Establish a support network (of some sort). I attempted to establish local connections and have so far failed (such is the nature of a small island and my own lack of persistence), but the support I've encountered in the blogosphere has been most humbling.
  9. Maintain a tracking system for all of the above. It's all under control, folks. I know exactly what I'm doing.
  10. Learn and have fun! Not only have I revelled in the reading and writing challenges I set myself, I have met some fantastic people who - poor souls - think a little bit like I do, share similar dreams to me, and are brave and proud enough to open their hearts through their writing and their websites. Thanks a billion times over. (You know who you are.)

So at the end of it all, what did I learn about writing, if anything?

I've learnt it's more about heart, and less about technique.
I've learnt an original story and true characters will trump well-executed composition.
I've learnt verbs are the key.
I've learnt that to be a writer, one must write... a lot... and be incredibly courageous, or crazy, or both.
And I've learnt that one can never stop learning, about the world, about oneself, and about writing.

Happy New Year


  1. < Standing Ovation >

    Bravo, bravo! You did remarkably well in achieving your goals...heck, even listing them is more than I do. Mine are more like, "I dunno...write."

    Erica, you've become an integral part of my support group. You've got a great head on your shoulders, you're a peer to watch, encourage, learn from, and study help to keep me focused, which is not one of my strengths.

    I entered about as many comps and received an honorable mention on one. That was a little bit of a rush, but as all rushes go, subsided quickly. Still plucking away to be that award-winning writer! We'll all do it together.

    I don't have a suggestion for your blog (Eureka Gets Published)...that's a personal decision...but it would be nice to see "Erica" somewhere in the mix. :o)

    Whatever you decide - I'm right there with you! Whither thou goest...

    Congrats on such a wonderful year. I think you were exemplary!

    1. Ha! I just saw the caption on your "scarf." Love it. Oh...and thanks for removing comment verification - it's "on" automatically with Blogger when you set up your site. I didn't know mine was on either.

    2. You're a champion, Mike. Well done on the comp accolade. Small wins are not to be sneezed at, and I think you've coined it with, "I dunno... write." It really is the key and it's tougher than it sounds.

      I can't wait to watch Monty come of age. If you need an objective reader anytime during the year, you know where to find me.

      Whither thou goest? Really? I'm planning to explore treacherous waters so you'd better bring a life-jacket.

    3. Putting on my wet suit now. Flippers. Goggles. Scuba gear - check. Oh yeah...and swim wings. Can't go anywhere without my swim wings. :o)

      I hope to have Monty ready for a reading in a couple of months. He's still resting (and so am I). But I will look to you for sure.

    4. Ha ha. That I'd like to see.

  2. What a wonderful and thoughtful year in review. You're one of the smartest writers I've met online. And I mean that sincerely. I've thought that since back in the WD prompt days. I have learned a lot right along with you as I've read your posts (I think I started reading your blog at least 6 or 8 months ago).

    I agree-- writing is a recipe of technique and skill mixed generously with dedication and heart, and perhaps a sprinkle of unabashed courage to think we have something to say that others might want to read. I truly hope you continue to post-- whatever you decide for a name.

    Hmm going with the egg theme-- Cracked Utopia. That's actually a name I threw around for a project I was working on.

    1. Yeah, I think I'm pretty smart, and then my delusions are realised when I attempt the NY Times crossword. But seriously, thanks. How cool is it to draw on the strengths of others through the www? When my analytical brain needs a dose of heart and spirit, I head on over to your place and am never disappointed.

      Ah, the ol' WD prompt days. They seem long ago, but boy, I learnt alot doing them. I'm finding the novel to be a whole different beast though.

      'Cracked Utopia' is brilliant (and apt). I think you should hold onto it. Excellent titles are precious. You have inspired me, but darn, I'll be hard-pressed to come up with something better.

  3. Eggie, Jules, Swifty and Big Joe (I know he lurks around,

    It has been a great pleasure to have watched you four grow as writers and to hopefully I am learning something as well. You guys are great and I feel as connected to you guys as anyone in the writing world. I do envision great things for all of you and I am inspired by you guys, and will be here for you in both the writing life and real life. Y’all are writing warriors and I only hope that I can achieve a measure of success, just as you guys have and will.

    I like Cracked Utopia as well….Better than what I would have suggested. “All the King’s Words.”

    1. That Joe is abit of a lurker, isn't he? Seems you've been doing some lurking yourself, Robbie rubber band, hijacking blogs everywhere.

      "...both the writing life and real life." It's like that isn't it? (The Writing Warriors Secret Life - aarr.)

      I have no doubt success will hit you over the head. I just finished a Jack Higgins book and thought, 'Boy, I hope Shakers pushes on with his book,' (after thinking, 'I wish I was ex-CIA so I could write cool political thrillers'). Seriously, if it takes ten years, get that baby out, dude.

      Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush popped into my head when I read "All the King's Words" for some reason. Hmm, great title for a political thriller. Can I borrow it?

      Maybe 2013 should be my year of deciding on a genre.

    2. Yes, please take it. “All The King’s Words” is yours, free of charge until you make a million dollars then I would like a referral to your publisher. So use it as you wish and that is a great title of a book.

      I could see you as a techno-political thriller writer. You have seen the world, you know people and you have a great mind. You really done need any experience, just a twisted imagination so I think you are as qualified as Tom Clancy was when he started. Actually I don’t think he had traveled much outside of the Baltimore/DC area. So that makes you more qualified than him, make it happen Captain!

      As far as the blog hijacking, I had about ten free minutes between kids, dogs, family and wife so I had to cut and paste. I hate to do that but I was time limited and I promise to keep the comments fresh from now on. Just so you know, you were the original blog I posted on and then thought since I was talking about Joe, Julie and Swifty I should hit them up too. Our little band of writers. I love it!

    3. Eggie,

      You want an idea, here you go. Right from the internet, through me and straight to you.

      Take this story as the prompt and write about what happens next. Call me in 120,000 words. Make your sister the 007 super spy, include five different places you have visited and one really important sentence spoken by the King and my dear you have something cooking.

      Dang that is cool, Im digging it!

    4. Ooo, spooky. I accept your challenge, Shakers, especially as you've provided plot points for me. (I was in Amman when King Hussein died. I bet he said something really important that day.)

      I'll let you know when I reach 100k words, inshallah.

    5. Yea!!!!

      I can’t wait to read it, wait a tic...

      I fear that I have awakened a sleeping giant that will be in direct competition with me...opps.

      Maybe I should not say anything more…like how cool it would be if you went Pulp Fiction on the book and weaved four different story lines together ultimately meeting in Amman on the day the King died…Or what if Iran and the West were actually allies in a war verses a different more dangerous foe like freedom…mix in some high level intrigue, crooked leaders, flawed characters and a chase scene through the souk and I think you will be cooking with grease.

      Here is another quote with a link for a different perspective in the Middle East.

      I love this quote: “An Arab movement, newly-risen, is looming in the distance,” a French traveler to the Gulf and Baghdad wrote in 1883, “and a race hitherto downtrodden will presently claim its due place in the destinies of Islam.” A year earlier, a British diplomat in Jeddah confided that “it is within my knowledge... that the idea of freedom does at present agitate some minds even in Mecca...”

      Full story here:

      I will sit back and allow you to work your magic, I am afraid I have said too much.

      As-salamu alaykum

    6. Slow down, buddy, I can only type so fast. The well floweth over.

      1. Pulpy fiction - no worries. 2. The war against freedom - Orwell would be proud. 3. I chased a flawed character through a souk once.

      Interesting article, and some outstanding comments as far as web comments go.

      Direct competition? I thought you were offering consultancy services?

    7. You are correct again, there is no competition between us. I do sincerely hope that you become an international best seller with the franchise of “All the King’s Words.”

      However it is not fair to compare us either. You are a combination of Mark Twain and J.K. Rowling while I am the combination of a 3rd grader who writes with a crayon and Rainman.

      I never stood a chance!

    8. (That deserves a lol.)

      I would never underestimate the creative genius of Rainman, or 3rd graders for that matter.

  4. Yeah, I agree with the venerable Swift - put your name somewhere in the title. And yeah, I need to follow my own advice.

    Damn girl, but that list of your is impressive. As for the local support network...have you tried Meetup? It worked for me, but then again, I live in the 5th largest city (that still has only one major sports championship banner).

    My favorite part of this blog...
    "I've learnt it's more about heart, and less about technique."
    No wait, this one...
    "I've learnt an original story and true characters will trump well-executed composition."
    Or better yet,
    "I've learnt verbs are the key."
    On second thought...

    1. Have you moved from Montana to Phoenix? (Did you mention that in your roadtripping post and I just forgot? Don't feel flattered - I forget a lot of stuff.) I love that part of the world. Both, actually.

      I looked up Meetup: a ladies club for the troops, a poker club and a wing chun group. Ha ha. Assertive action required.

      My name in the title. Hmm, that's a novel idea. What about you? Are we looking at Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreampen?

  5. Ha! Your blog title quest rings true to my (first) IWSG post coming up on Wednesday. Part of me says that yes, your name should appear (if not be) your blog title. But I do love clever titles.

    I wish you a boatload of success and calm waters upon which to sail it.

    1. IWSG took me awhile (International Whale Saving Guys?). Seriously, I don't know how you lot keep up with the blog world. I'll definitely tune in to AJC's for your Wed post.

      'Calm waters....' Well, I'm certainly all at sea at the moment.

  6. Well, Erica, I "learnt" a lot about writing, too, this year and have greatly grown because of it. Congrats on the goals you've accomplished and I wish you even greater success in the new year.

    1. Thanks, Demetria. I'm preparing for a turbulent 2013, so I'll be popping over to your place often for some spiritual calming.

  7. Wow! You've had a busy year. Good for you!

    I've heard an author's name is their brand (part of it) and that our website/blog titles should at least include that name. Same for email addresses and Twitter handles.

    Best wishes for 2013. :)
    - IWSG #137 until Alex culls the list again.

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I'm looking forward to learning a thing or two from you over the next year. Here's to a creative 2013.

  8. I just read your sidebar "The Year of Rejection"-- there's a lot of wisdom in that, Egg. Here's to rejections and maybe, just a few acceptances.