Because I am, you know, the uncrowned Spreadsheet Queen.
I began my love affair with Microsoft Excel as soon as it hit the market, using it in various day jobs. It was the tinkering with it for personal use that led me to understand its arcane inner workings. I love the formulas, the conditional formatting, the logic tests. I even make Gantt Charts! (You don’t know what a Gantt Chart is? Stick with me, Grasshopper.) I have my three favorite Excel Workbooks open at all times. In fact, here’s a shot of my screen as I draft this post.
I use a treadmill desk and keep track of my walking goals daily. I’m part of a Writers Who Walk Facebook group and our goal for the year is to walk at least 1,000 miles. You can see from the screenshot below that I’m at about 780 miles so far for 2015, or 78% of the goal. As we’re only about 67% through the year, conditional formatting shows that green Yes! I am on target. Actually I could do zero walking until October 12 before we hit the red No.
To Do List
I keep a running To Do List. If I don’t finish tasks set for one day, I move them to the next. My list is rather shockingly empty this week – and thank all the gods for that! I’ve finally caught up on a slew of things. Some days I have twenty task on there. I delete as I go, so you can see that “spreadsheet post for tomorrow” listed for Tuesday will vanish very soon. I love deleting!
The Progress Count workbook is where I really geek out. I’ve been using some version of this workbook for easily twenty years, with continuing refinements along the way. The first tab is Priorities, where I track my deadlines, all of which have interconnected formulas. That is, start dates for the next project are calculated off the projected finish dates of others.
I track every step – drafting, cooling (which usually corresponds to crit partner reading time), revising, and all stages of editing for my publishing houses. I preserve these histories, too, and use them to project my finish dates. Right now this tab only projects out about six months, though in the past it’s been as long as two years.
The next tab is Commitments, in which I use all of those dates to make Gantt charts, like this one.
I love these because the let me visually process what I’m loading my plate with – especially those dreaded periods of overlap. I also plug in workshops I’ll teach, as you can see. There’s another chart with release dates, too, for visualizing that periodicity.
Then there’s my Overall tab, which counts my daily word count on everything. This is the origin page, which spawned all the others. I track how much I write – including blogging like this – on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Those are the numbers from Monday, as I hadn’t yet reset it for today. The Words Today section counts from all the ensuing tabs, which follow, one per work in progress.
For example, here’s the tab for THE PAGES OF THE MIND. I finished drafting it, sent it to my editor and now I’m working on developmental edits. Over to the right of the page you can see my revision goal, which is predicated on pages/day, instead of wordcount. I count the words added anyway, for my overall goals.
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Another pic from the RT Convention. This was an amazingly lovely and delicious dinner organized (and chauffeured) by Alexandra Haughton. Also attending were lovely friends Carolyn Crane, Tamsen Parker and Megan Mulry. Love my writer friends! Spending time talking with them is one of my favorite things about conventions.
But so is meeting readers.
Which I’m not sure readers understand. This morning I saw a Facebook post from a reader who’s become a friend. She attended RT for the first time this year and commented that she came back with far fewer pics of her with authors than she’d thought – mainly because she hesitated to ask to take photos with them. She and I had lunch at the convention and she’d asked then what the etiquette was for approaching authors, asking for autographs, photos, etc. Apparently there was a newbie session where people outlined “The Rules” for this. It made me think of a time that a gal pinged me online and said we’d ridden in an elevator together and she’d been excited, but didn’t introduce herself because she wasn’t sure if she should.
Both of these things kind of hurt my heart.
Naturally I don’t – and can’t – speak for all authors, but the primary reason I go to reader conventions is to MEET READERS. I *want* readers to say hi, to ask for my signature, to have their picture taken with me. It’s flattering as all hell that anyone would want to. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m in a public space, I’m available to be approached. Maybe don’t stalk me to my room, because everyone knows that’s creepy which is why no reasonable person would do it, but otherwise PLEASE SAY HI.
Which brings me to another kind of weird thing that happened to me at RT. Several times, in fact. I should preface this with saying that I’m not good at faces. I don’t know why, but that’s always been the case. I’m the person at the table who has no idea what our waitress looks like. I remember names reasonably well and can associate them with Twitter handles and even bits of personal history, but I am terrible at recognizing people. Which means I sometimes introduce myself to people multiple times.
I’m sorry. I really am.
Still, I’d rather re-introduce myself than have no idea who a person is. So, I often use the gambit of saying, “Hi, I’m Jeffe Kennedy,” offering my hand to shake, which usually prompts people to either a) introduce themselves in turn, or b) tell me that we’ve met before. Both responses are equally good and, when I inevitably apologize for the latter, it’s almost always just fine by them.
But this year I seemed to have crossed some threshold where I got a different response, always from other writers. I bet it happened three or four times, maybe more. I introduced myself and they said, “Oh, I know.”
It was really disconcerting.
In one case, the other gal actually rolled her eyes. In all of them, it wasn’t said in a happy, excited-to-meet-you way.
On the one hand, this bothered me because in every case, I never found out who the other person was, at least not immediately. On the other… I dunno. It kind of hurt my feelings. I mean, the implication of was that of course everyone knows who I am, right? Which is so not true. It’s lovely to be recognized, but far from everyone does. Besides, assuming everyone knows who I am would be unforgivably egotistical, wouldn’t it?
This bothered me enough that, when I got home, I emailed an author friend who’s WAY more famous than I am to ask if this had ever happened to her. And she said it had, many times. It hurt her feelings, too.
I’m still not sure of the take-home message here. I mostly wanted to put this out there. Being recognized for achievements can be a weird thing because I think most of us still feel like the same person inside. I’m the gal who works from home, Tweets too much, hangs out with cats more than people, and interfaces with a keyboard all day. And who never knows which one is our waitress. I don’t feel like a particularly special person. At a conference, I want to meet other writers. I want to meet readers, bloggers, reviewers, industry folks. That’s why I go – to talk to people.
So… this might have been a little ranty. Am I wrong here? What should I say when this happens?