Sunday, 22 January 2012

When more is less

After an intense month of writing I am just coming up for air. Every year I tell myself I must send out more work than I did the previous year. But why do I let myself be tyrannized by numbers? With the demands of the day job it's not realistic to keep increasing my output - or at least, not without sacrificing other things.

I am not a very accomplished pianist. To be honest, I am not even a competent one. I had lessons for a short while, until it became too much of an expense. Since then I've been noodling around on my own. Except, I haven't. Last year I hardly touched the piano because I was trying to meet my self-imposed writing targets. Now I realise how much I've missed the relaxation of tinkling away to myself. I'm also cross that I've become so out of practice and can't manage tunes I could play a year ago.

Of course it's fantastic to have stories published. And being paid for them still seems nothing less than a miracle. But I notice that in my case, increased output doesn't necessarily lead to more acceptances. And if I am focusing too much on numbers, then I lose some of the enjoyment of writing. So although it's nearly the last week of January I am adding some new resolutions.

1. I will be happy if I only submit one story a month as long as the stories I do send out are absolutely my best work.

2. Concentrate on the markets where I tend to do well, rather than waste time trying to fit my writing to magazines that don't suit my style.

3. Write what I enjoy instead of always thinking of what is commercial.

4. Don't lose touch with other life enhancing things, e.g music, friends, and spending time in the great outdoors.

How is your January going so far? Any resolutions made, broken or revised?


Old Kitty said...

Oh Joanna! I like your number 2! (Did that sound rude?!? LOL!) But seriously! I can't remember the blog post now - but I commented on someone's blog - I think the question was what people did to gain back their self-confidence or something and I replied by not renewing my subscription to a certain mag - I kept sending this mag my stories for their competitions and call for submissions and never ever got anywhere and so I stopped buying this mag. Now I know that they had good reason to reject my stories because my stories were/are beyond crap but it was me stopping the subscription that gave me some kind of relief. It's like I don't have to be rejected by them anymore! Yay! Happily one of my stories I sent them got 3rd place elsewhere (a small online competition LOL! I won £50!) but I just felt a little validated.

Anyway, am I rambling? Yes I am!!

Oh I hope you find lots of time to tinker those ivories!! Now that's really rude-sounding! LOL! Oh and slang for piano is Joanna, I think!

Take care

Old Kitty said...

p.s except your name is Joanne! LOL!
SORRY!!! Yikes!

Take care

Anonymous said...

Sounds good! I'd love to learn piano (if I ever have space for one), but that's way off in the future... My non-writing New Year's resolutions are to try to be as mentally and physically healthy as I can manage, including getting fit and socialising more.

The writing resolutions include passing my MA, writing more in general, entering at least 7 competitions and being more adventurous in my writing. It's going ok-ish do far and I hope to stick to them all. We'll see!

Joanna said...

I like your resolutions, Joanne. They make a lot of sense.

I have recently rediscovered the piano. I stopped lessons because my teacher moved away and I couldn't cope with the prospect of starting again with someone new. I had such a good friendship with the old teacher and the lessons became my one bit of socialising each week. I had reached grade five with her, but found I didn't want to take any more exams. The pressure was so great and my exam nerves were horrendous. My hands shook so much I could barely play! So recently I started finding tunes I liked and just learnt them in my own time. I'm probably not playing them as accurately as I would have done with the teacher's guidance, but it doesn't matter at all. I've realised that enjoying the music is the important thing.
Playing piano gives me a good break from writing, especially as I tend to sit at my laptop for too long and get very stiff. My hands are beginning to seize up at the end of the day and I have to use a wrist support now.
I agree with you that it's also best to write what you enjoy. I'm sure the best results come from doing just that.

Patsy said...

If you're giving up other things you enjoy to such an extent that the writing seems a chore, then pushing yourself to up the word count is probably counter productive. Better to do less, but enjoy it and make the work as good as you can than aim for quantity above all else.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I love the piano, but have to admit to also not being as 'practiced' at it as I should be. I have decided that while I may know the notes, I don't have the talent...But I admire you for continuing to look and move ahead with good solid goals. As for me, I am doing the same thing, I just have to 'reinvent' some of the things that sounded good at the start of the year.

I hope you've had an enjoyable Sunday!

Teresa Ashby said...

Your resolutions sound spot on! I think to write what you enjoy is so important x

Louise Wise said...

Wish I could play the piano - any instrument really!

Your resolutions are very sensible, and I think I'll borrow them for my own!

joanne fox said...

Kitty - well done on that £50 prize! It's true that you can get on a bit of a treadmill of doing something, and we all most definitely need to give ourselves a break sometimes.

Hayley, good luck with all your writing projects. Especially being more adventurous in your writing - that's a task I could benefit from too.

Joanna, I already feel better in myself for getting back to 20 mins piano practice every day. I'm only playing for myself, so it doesn't matter how bad it sounds. It would be lovely to play better, but even at my inept level it just seems to add something to my life.

Patsy, I can never stay away from the writing for long, so I don't know if I will actually write less. I think it's the pressure I put on myself to send out X amount each month that is the problem. I will now think more of quality and targetting things more effectively.

Kim, I don't consider myself to have any musical talent at all! But it's something I enjoy, and that's what matters.

Teresa, sometimes we do forget to enjoy it! And it is so important really isn't it, otherwise what's the point?

Louise, thanks for visiting, and you are welcome to my resolutions!

Sorry this has rambled on - had to have a big catch-up after so many problems with accessing my comments.

Anonymous said...

I do so agree that writing has to be a pleasure, not a chore. Therefore writing to numbers doesn't work for everyone. I am giving myself some slack and doing lots of reading, which is never a waste of time.

joanne fox said...

I have rather a blind spot with numbers Maggie, and becoming too obsessed with them certainly never works for me! You're right - reading is always useful and generally a pleasure too.

Celia said...

I can still play pieces I thumped out aged 6-16 but cannot for the LIFE of me read music easily or properly any more, despite the fact I played 2nd violin (vile-din) in an orchestra until I was about 17. How can you forget such basic things even before you hit 40! Now I'm past that I feel there isn't a hope in hell for me ... But keep bashing away, Joanne, it will come back!

joanne fox said...

I do enjoy it Celia, music is such a tonic isn't it. I don't know how much I will ever improve though. Never mind, it's the fun that matters!