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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Taking Stock of My Year

Taking Stock of My Year

hourglassIt may seem strange to want to evaluate my year in June, but as an ex-school teacher, I still think of years in terms of fall to summer. And I’m fast coming up on my one-year anniversary of quitting the profession.

I had big plans for this year. Recently, I felt discouraged because I didn’t achieve all my goals. Some of them, however, were outside  my control. I couldn’t make them happen. (Where’s Riley and his voice of command when I need him?) One goal felt like it should have been within my control, but I still didn’t make the progress I wanted. More on that later.

I realized, maybe it would be better to make a list of what I did get done – from July of 2014 through June of 2015.

  • 12 School Visits
  • 9 Skype Visits
  • 7 Library Events
  • 5 Book Festivals
  • 8 Book Store Events
  • 3 Presentations at School Librarian Conferences (NJ, MD, PA)
  • 1 Book Club Visit
  • 1 Manuscript completed
  • 2 Manuscripts revised
  • 1 First Draft approximately 3/4 of the way done

I also (unexpectedly) picked up a part-time faculty position at a local community college. I taught 2 classes so far, and I’ve signed on for 3 more classes this coming summer and fall.

I became a moderator of a Facebook group for writers, and started a local critique group.

I read countless books I wouldn’t have had time to read if I’d been still teaching, and I got into the habit of regular exercise.

That last one is connected to the goal I thought for sure I could control: losing weight. Exercising 3-4 times per week (a change from the big ZERO of the previous year) and moderating my diet, I thought the weight would just drop off.  And, right at the start, I did lose 5 pounds. And then I stayed there – without budging — for months.

In spite of the disappointing news from the scale, I know I’m stronger. I have more endurance. I can go longer, get my heart rate up higher, and not come home with cramped muscles and swollen knees and ankles. (Dare I tempt fate by saying this? I haven’t had a sinus infection all year. I think my immune system is stronger.) A recent doctor’s visit and blood work proved that my overall health is good.  It’s just that my age and my genetics are working against me. My doctor’s advice: “It’s good that you’ve increased your activity. But if you want to lose weight, you’ve got to step it up even more.”

AGI Book Fair 2Dang it. I wanted it to be easy. But then, I want all my writing goals to happen easily too. And we know how that goes. So, in my first year of being a full-time writer, things started off slowly (like my exercise). Next year, I’m going to step it up. But I also have to accept that some things will always be outside of my control, and I need to rejoice in all the accomplishments that I’m not directly working toward, but which happen anyway.

Like that hill I used to have to walk my bike up that I can now take without switching out of 5th gear. Or signing my book for students at the Scholastic Fair in my former school — something I didn’t expect to happen.

 Goals are great, as long as I don’t forget to appreciate the scenery along the way.

12 Responses to Taking Stock of My Year

  1. Johanna says:

    Dianne, I think of my year in those terms too. Beginning in September, reaching final days in June. Sounds like yours has been good (with only the smallest of disappointments). Have you tried yoga? It can be so helpful for long term exercise goals, or at least I find it to be effective. As always, I’m impressed by how quickly you write! Good luck with your summer writing.

  2. Tiana Smith says:

    I hear ya on the whole losing weight thing. I finally started running again, and then I injured my knees and now have to stop exercising for four weeks. Sigh. I’m thinking of doing some kind of group class thing to see if that pushes me harder without injuring myself. Good luck with all your workout goals 🙂

    And those are awesome stats for all your visits, signings and edits, etc.! You should definitely feel proud 🙂

  3. Considering most people over thirty don’t exercise at all and I’d I’d say you’re doing awesome.
    You had a lot of events this past year. Congratulations!

  4. Julie Dao says:

    That is one heck of a productive year, I think! I’m so impressed by your productivity and diligence, and really look up to you for that. I’m going to start writing full-time (a short six-month experiment) starting in July, so I’ll have to try to make every day count.

    And I think that exercise really depends on your mindset. Most people view it as another mundane chore, but I think if you find something you truly enjoy, it’ll be exercise AND fun for you. Have you tried any group classes, like Zumba? Sometimes having an exercise buddy is good too, to help keep each other accountable.

  5. Amymak says:

    Dianne, WHAT? You had an AMAZING YEAR! Reading that list was awe-inspiring. I’m really so, so impressed. I think you need a nap 🙂 I think in terms of school years too – and maybe I should list my accomplishment out because I tend to be too hard on myself, too, always slightly disappointed I don’t “get more done.” Sheesh. Good job, girl. And keep up your fitness regime!

  6. Joanne Fritz says:

    Just reading your list of accomplishments tired me out! What do you mean, thing started off slowly?!? Dang, woman. You rock! In that same time period, I completed one rough draft and revised a different manuscript.

    I admire you for your exercise goals too. I walk but I don’t bike. (Of course I’m also older than you!) Try going without wheat for a month and you’ll lose weight. Seriously. My husband lost 10 pounds that way.

  7. J E Oneil says:

    You’re still on the school schedule 🙂

    It sounds like you’ve done quite a good job. Losing weight is just a nightmare. Five pounds is better than I can do!

  8. I think you’ve accomplished a lot. And you now have a new part-time job that takes time. So don’t be so hard on yourself. I found that I couldn’t lose more weight while eating right and walking 50 minutes a day. Then I put my computer on a table work station and stand all day. The pounds have come off almost too easily and I can’t believe my weight now. Maybe you should try that. Even if you don’t lose more weight, healthy living is so good for you.

  9. Sia McKye says:

    Now that’s the way to look at things. We tend to focus on all we didn’t do and those things become huge in our mind. I’ve always thought it important to switch focus onto what you have accomplished. The results oftentimes surprise us and, I think, helps one to put what wasn’t done perfectly or on target into perspective.

    Getting into shape is more important, I think, than the focus on losing weight. The weight loss will come so long as we keep our expectations within reasonable realms, lol! I have a hill I wanted to conquer without sounding like an overworked locomotive, wobbling like I was about to lose a wheel (that would be my bad knee). It felt great when I did and it made me more positive in tackling other areas in my life.

    You’ve accomplished quite a bit this year. Congratulations!

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  10. Holy cow, you accomplished a lot! 2 manuscripts revised plus nearly two first drafts written??? To me that is a lot of work. Kudos! And double kudos for looking at what you did instead of what you didn’t.

    I totally hear you on the weight thing. I have found diet is the only thing that actually leads to weight loss. Sigh. I want it to be easy too. Or is it funny that easy would be running miles and miles to avoid dieting? I guess I love food too much.

    And here’s to hoping for both of us to do more next year!

  11. Angela Brown says:

    Cheers to you for taking a moment and taking stock. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much was have actually accomplished until we stop to smell the proverbial roses and see – really see – the strides we made.

  12. It’s easy to think you’re spinning your wheels. I get the same sensation all the time. I think is helps a lot to make a list of your accomplishments also, because it reminds you how much you have accomplished.