Friday, January 8, 2010

The Dark Side of the New Year

I’m one of the first to wax on about how wonderful new years are, with all that shiny promise (365 days of it!) stretched out ahead of us. Anything is possible. Diets, exercise, love, health, happiness! It’s pretty darn fantastic, actually.
Usually my expectations include writing-related goals. But with those particular possibilites there is a dark cloud hovering nearby in the form of one simple, lung quaking word.


(Insert crashing, ominous organ music here.)

It’s simply impossible to avoid. For my writing life, the new year brings paperwork, spreadsheets, and filing. I keep two folders for receipts—one for household, one for writing (obsessive?). I have an Excel spreadsheet for writing expenses, too, because when I try to add up all those receipts with a calculator it’s not pretty (am I the only one who gets through one stack only to hit a wrong button and have to *&^&# start all over again?). January 1st rolls around and I need to create new excel sheets—and so far I already have several purchases including OVRWA dues (filed under “dues”) and JB’s new book & Mary’s new book (“Research”) and postage for some books I mailed out last week (“postage”).

Does January first bring out your inner organizer, too? I always have to create new files for all my writing. “2010” subfolder “New Writing” already has in it three new proposals, my current work in progress (which was dragged over from 2009), and a brand new project. All last year’s paperwork has to be sorted through, filed, and packed away. Tax info has to be filled out, checked and double-checked so that the nice people at the IRS won’t see fit to do an audit.

In truth I’m a very organized person (the Virgo in me?), but I admit, it’s organized chaos (I can get others to verify this). I’m not so picky that I mind. As long as I know where everything is, I’ll be just fine as I seek out those new possibilities—like that brand new project sparkling with promise.

How about you and your possibilities? Anything special you’re planning this year? Do calculators give you fits?



Dru said...

I use Excel for all my tasks involving organization. It make it easier to sort and calculate.

Use a calculator, I would have go find one. Besides, if you screw up one digits, like you said, you have to input them all again.

I wasn't planning anything special this year, until the word "Malice" was mentioned to me.

Have a good Friday.

debbie said...

This fellow Virgo thrives on organized chaos! My desk may be cluttered but I know exactly where everything is. The basement is another story. When THAT gets organized, it'll be a New Year's miracle!

My 1 resolution for this year has been to start running. It's time and I'm very excited about it. Plus, I have a long-time fellow former high school band friend who is willing to run with me. Fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about making an error using a calculator--usually manage to do that on something like the ninth of ten items! Then I forget and Clear All instead of just clearing the entry--or don't realize it until it's too late.
Carol Brown

tweezle said...

Aahhhh! Calculators make me shudder - especially when there are long lists to add up. I don't envy you a bit. :)

I love a new year. New starts, new promises.... Every year we all make a list of things we want to accomplish. At the end of the year, we check off all that we did, and really become amazed at how much we actually did accomplish. We do this every year, and instead of beating ourselves up for not doing that one "important" goal, we feel good about what we got done, and hope for more accomplishments for the next year. :)

kiki said...

I have no organization skills in my life, funny I worked as a CPA and was very organized there but my house and mind well that's another story.
On another note, I'd like to thank Heather for pointing out the Cozy Chicks, more books to read (I'm one of those that loved your book from the Barnes and Noble book club). I think I'm just to busy doing this like this to get organized.

Katie said...

I only use calculators for class. organization...HA!! I try to keep the boys and my school stuff organized, it doesn't always work well.

misa ramirez said...

I have no idea what a Taurus is supposed to be like, but I suspect it's not super organized. I'm a Taurus, and though I try, I don't often succeed in super organization. This year holds hope for me. Hope that my writing career will thrive in many ways: Hasta la Vista, Lola releases in less than a month, hoping middle grade book series will sell, working on difficult women's fiction, next Lola Cruz book, articles and online classes... It won't be a slow year, that's for sure.

On top of that, I always strive to be a present mom, participate at my kids' schools, and help us all be healthy and happy. Healthy cooking is at the top of my list of objectives this year (as it is every year!).

Hoping to go to Nashville for RWA National this year. Road trip across Texas. I think I'll keep plenty busy!

Calculators only give me fits when I have to pay bills!! HATE bills.

Sheila Connolly said...

I hang on to a very old printing calculator, because I never trust the numbers on the newer ones, even after I've gotten the same answer three times in a row. (Of course I have a lifetime supply of paper rolls for the thing, even though they're getting yellow and brittle.)

Theo Epstein said...

You write off mysteries on your taxes as "research"? Shenanigans!

Mason Canyon said...

I just wish I was half as organized as you are. As for calculators - when I use one I wind up re-checking and re-checking about four times to make sure I didn't put in a wrong number or hit the wrong key.

Rhonda said...

Heather - you're a writer after my own heart. Go check my blog for some tips; maybe they'll help you, maybe not. Love all you ladies' books and Cozy Chicks is a great blog.

Laura Hinds said...

Dear Heather,
Love your blog post here today! I am a Virgo too, with the additional oggliness that goes with being born at the stroke of midnight.

I am so compulsive about organizing that I do keep hard copy files, PC files, back ups on thumb drives, and even occaisionaly email something important to save to an offsite friend to keep for me (a copy of course).
Calculators- still use one- especially my Solar Powered (read Green) calculator. It never lets me down, even on cloudy days.
Now- onto books and organizing: the most important thing I do come January is get out my new lovely journals to record books I've read by author, by date read and including page count and how much I liked it (or not).
My library acct is checked daily and library books sorted by due date. Books I need to review for MyShelf get priorty.
Ok- have just totally identified myself as a major Book-Aholic! If there is a 12 step program, I don't want to know!
Since I'm obviously lacking in reading material if I have time to write all this-- well-- you know-- a box of books is my slice of Heaven!

Amy Desrosiers said...

Do people still own calculators? I know I have a calculator function on my laptop, and of course Excel, but a hand held small box with number keys?! Maybe in the box buried in the basement along with the rotary phone and answering machine.
I am starting running again too Deb - way to go! My goal is to do a 5k (yes I did a marathon a few years ago, but baby steps). Good luck on all those resolutions!!

Linda said...

I'm a Virgo too, and I am somewhat organized, but it is something I could definitely improve on. I don't mind using a calculator because for now anyway, I use it for simple tasks...not long lists of numbers. Even for my simple tasks though, I always feel the need to at least double check my calculations. And as for this year, my plans are to write a lot more than I did last year! Happy New Year Heather!

Maggie Sefton said...

Heather---Your post is the inspiration I need to start organizing the expenses for the new year. As a former CPA, I know I should have started using the handy Excel spreadsheet for writing expenses, but just didn't take the time to set it up. Excuses, excuses.

This year, however, I'm finally gonna get those household expenses on Excel and that will encourage me to open a 2nd spreadsheet for writing expenses. Last year, when I read your post, my Inner Guide kept nagging me that I needed to do it, too. I kept ignoring it. Now, I've gotta do it. Thanks for the needed kick in the pants, Heather.

jbstanley said...

I need a calculator. I don't do math. :)

I also love organizing (borderline Virgo here). My poor kids! I am always saying, "Aren't you ready to donate that?"

Mary Kennedy said...

OMG, Heather,after reading about your organizational skills, I tried to channel my Inner Accountant, but she laughed and ran away. I am the most disorganized person in the world, I save little notes on pieces of paper and they're scattered throughout the house. (Well, the ones the cats don't eat. Little pieces of paper always attract them) Joan Rivers said she does the same thing...she writes down one-liners, funny bits of dialogue on tiny pieces of paper and puts them in lovely porcelain ginger jars that are artfully arranged her house. And then every day, her assistant collects them, types them and organizes them in folders. It sounds delightful, but since I don't have an assistant, I guess my "notes to self" would stay in the jars forever.

Helen Kiker said...

Organization is my middle name. My big problem is that I am also a pack rat so I have more than a year's worth of projects to be organized.


Kiy said...

I am in love with Excel. I have every list I've made since 1998 on it - including packing lists for trips and moves. I even have my grocery shopping list on there, my stitching list, all Christmas cards and gifts (given) for at least 10 years. It's insane. I use it more for organization than record keeping now, but back in the day ... yeah, calculators where my personal challenge. And hey, I thought it was just me!

Good luck,

Heather Webber said...

So glad I'm not alone with the calculator. And I can't believe some of you don't have them! My math skills are sadly lacking without one.

I definitely think I need to take organization lessons from some of you too (you know who you are). Wow.

I'm off to try and get my desk in order...

signlady217 said...

My sign-Aquarius. I taught high school math (algebra and geometry) for many years, also art and home economics (retired now), but I'm what you would call "old school"--paper and pencil work great for me; calculators are to speed up the processes you already know how to do, and yes, I do use them. (My brother makes me crazy, he does this stuff in his head!)

I write lists and manage to keep them organized, but don't always get them done! I seem to want to reorganize, make new starts, etc., around September (traditional "back-to-school" season) rather than the New Year. For some reason that works better for me. Either way, this sounds like it's shaping up to be a great and productive year for everyone!

Lindy said...

Organization? My word for this year is "PROCRASTINATION!" During the Olympic games one year I asked my students what they could get a gold medal in, and I told them I could go for a medal in cookie baking. It is an Olympic year again, and this time my medal would be in procrastination.

Lover of Books said...

I hate calculators! :) I hope to be better organized and clean better. :)

Bella said...

but organizational skills? I'm pretty good at that. not great, but I know where my glasses are, lol

Anonymous said...

Thanks Heather for linking this wonderful blog to your FB page! I'm loving it here already.

As for organization - I am very neat and have it together about some things but not others. For example, I love my clean house; made beds, clean bedrooms and bathrooms, not too many kids toys littered about. However, my garage is a different story entirely. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't even know all of what is in there. And my car definitely reflects that I have rwo small children! LOL

As for my plans for the new year: Lots of reading, much more novel writing and hopefully getting published (FINALLY) myself!

Happy New Year to you and the other cozy chicks!

Loni Emmert said...

I love thinking about getting organized and planning to get organized but never seems to happen. I do get a lot done during the thinking and planning process. I could not live without a calculator! I have one at home, one in the desk at my office at work and always the handy ones in my computers! (I'm not good at math!) Cheers to a wonderful new year and new decade!

Heather Webber said...

Oh my gosh, my car. We don't even want to talk about that. I'm determined to clean my office today. There's no math involved, so I should be good.

Book Lover, I love your photo!
And welcome to the new commenters! I hope you keep coming back.

ChristyJan said...

I love organizing. I can remember as a young child my Grandma would have me come and dust her furniture and I would spend hours sorting and organizing her bookshelf into alphabetical order.