Tag Archives: Writing Goals

2016: A Checklist

  1. Get divorced
  2. Sell the house
  3. Move home
  4. Clock my last day working as someone else’s employee – be it when I leave my current job to move, or 6 months after I move in with family and save as much of my salary at a new job as I can to afford a period without steady income
  5. Formally start my own business (website up, registered as LLC – to be done only after I am divorced and back in the state where I will be living for the foreseeable future)
  6. Finish updating my wardrobe (a process I started last spring, and am about halfway done with)
  7. Figure out the proper make-up to go with my various magic lipsticks (file this one under shit my mother should have taught me, but couldn’t because she’s not that sort of woman)
  8. Find at least a couple scents to start my “perfume wardrobe” (perfume/added scent is an aspect of femininity I specifically eschewed because my ex mister gets migraines easily, sometimes triggered by fragrance, and specifically asked that I not use perfume)
  9. Finish writing Anything But a Gentleman (even if it means re-writing from the top yet again…god forbid)
  10. Write at least one non-romance short story, because the ones I’ve written previously are what I consider my best work, and I never meant to stop working in that direction
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Baby It’s Your Call; No Pressure at All

I have been thinking a lot lately – the last few months, since the drastic change in life-course appeared on the horizon – about what I want to do when I have absolute freedom to build my own life. What do I want it to look like; what do I want it to be.

Perhaps the most important part is that I do not want to remain a 9-5 slave in the employment of someone else. I can work very hard and very dedicatedly, but the only times I am happy giving that much of myself is when the work is for myself. I dislike giving the best of me to someone else for a paycheck when I know they are not really utilizing my talents to the fullest. I would rather work for myself, because I as an employer of my self would understand how to best use my own talents. So foremost on my mind has been considering how to pimp out my various talents and expertises for a cash flow.

Funny thing: fiction writing doesn’t even make the list.

I have 4-5 different ideas and schemes in mind (and intention to implement all of them – the whole many small streams make a sustainable river income idea), some of which do involve writing – but not fiction.

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that fiction writing is slow (for me, anyway) and the return is not guaranteed – nor is it guaranteed to come right away. But a lot of it is inclination. The things that energize me, that make me excited to do with other people, that make me feel my entrepreneurial and innovative oats to sow, are not fiction writing. Fiction writing is personal. It is for myself, and if others enjoy it and give me a little money for it, great – but I cannot write for the money, and I don’t want to make myself hate writing because it’s not paying the bills. I realized, texting with a friend last night, that probably part of the reason writing has been so un-joyful for me in the last couple years, is that I had focused on it as a means of ending my day-job, and I was upset at myself for not being able to produce fast enough to keep up with the plan, and upset at the uncontrollable nature of selling. I was forcing myself to write because that was the plan, and it wasn’t enjoyable or inspiring. Sometimes you can only realize your dreams when you let an old dream go.

I am letting go of the idea of making my income writing fiction. I have a lot of other talents and skills that can be exploited without the use of an external employer to keep a roof over my head and food in my son’s mouth. That is my real dream. If I let go of novel-writing as the means of attaining that dream, I can make it a measurable and quantifiable goal with a probability of success by using those other talents and skills as the basis. And I can keep writing as a hobby, an artistic expression that I do for myself because I can’t not do it – and I can still publish the things I finish, when they are ready, and let my work find its audience. Maybe someday I will have enough work and enough audience to re-think the “day job” side of my work life. And maybe I won’t. But this way I don’t have to feel bad if I don’t, and I don’t have to despair that I will never get out of desk-job hell because my writing isn’t doing what it “should” be. I can have my dream – and my writing.

Sometimes wildfires are necessary to clear out debris and detritus.

We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn – burn, motherfucker, burn.

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2015 Goals

Let’s evaluate how well I achieved my 2014 goals:

I am setting a few goals for myself for the year.

  • finish A Yuletide Wedding (prequel/companion to A Christmastide Courtship)

  • revise the novel I finished last spring that I know needs so much work

  • write the 4 companion short stories/novellas that go with Courtship and the other novel, so I can close those loops in my imagination and move on to other character sets

  • finish one of the other novels I have started…either the one I was working on last summer and abandoned before DCon, never (yet) to go back to, or the one I started during NaNo that is still at the forefront of my imagination

Boy, 2014 was an epic fucking fail.

I think I’m going to be more modest with my goals for 2015:

  • finish A Yuletide Wedding (prequel/companion to A Christmastide Courtship)
  • revise Anything But a Gentleman
  • publish AYW
  • rework the ebook files and covers for my three currently published works and republish them

Bonus goal: write anything else. Don’t care what. Don’t care if it’s new, old, related to one of the things I have finished or not.

I am holding Anything But a Gentleman from publication until i have its two companion novellas written and can publish and publicize them together. Perhaps antsiness to publish the main book, once I get it revised, will help inspire me to write them.

Perhaps this year I will not fail so abjectly at the modest tasks before me. If nothing else – I can’t do WORSE than I did last year.

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Looking Forward/Looking Back

2013 Year in Writing

Novels finished: 2

Stories started: 4

Previously started stories touched but not finished: 2

Stories started in calendar year 2013 finished: 0

Books published: 1

Estimated words written, new fiction: 100,000

All in all, not too bad for a year which continued the heavy workload at my day job and also saw my honeymoon, my first DragonCon cosplay crunch, the horrible and debilitating first trimester of my first pregnancy, and the continuing drain on my energy through trimester 2.

2014 in Perspective

I begin 2014 in a state of waiting.

My life is going to change forever sometime in mid-spring, and while part of me feels like I should be desperately working to achieve a few writing goals in the last months I am yet childless, the truth is…I do not have the energy or mental capacity to pursue any goal relentlessly. (The second trimester energy surge is a lie! A brutal lie told by true believers who are simply too un-self-aware to recognize that their energy is merely more than it was during the first trimester but nowhere near what it was before pregnancy! I, at least, have empirical data to prove that I am still only at 75% capacity.)

Now that the stress and flurry of tasks relating to publishing a book are almost done (in direct work, I need to send review copies out to the few bloggers who reviewed one of my prior books, as a thank you for those kind and/or instructive words as much as for particular hopes of more publicity…and I still have to re-do the covers and files for the Twelfth Night novellas), I am planning to refocus on writing. I think I will have to go back to doing it in the mornings before work–I’m just too drained after work to try in the evenings–and that will mean forcing myself to go to bed early, perhaps earlier than is really comfortable for me (8 o’clock versus 10).

I am setting a few goals for myself for the year.

  • finish A Yuletide Wedding (prequel/companion to A Christmastide Courtship)
  • revise the novel I finished last spring that I know needs so much work
  • write the 4 companion short stories/novellas that go with Courtship and the other novel, so I can close those loops in my imagination and move on to other character sets
  • finish one of the other novels I have started…either the one I was working on last summer and abandoned before DCon, never (yet) to go back to, or the one I started during NaNo that is still at the forefront of my imagination

Looking at expected word counts for the various pieces, this would put my desired production for the year somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 words – an eminently achievable goal if I can stay focused for the winter and early spring, and get back into the groove of writing not too long after the baby comes (preferably before I go back to work from maternity leave!). If the work were to be split evenly across 50 weeks of the year, that would be 3000-4000 words per week. Even splitting it across only 37 weeks (giving myself a full 15 off for baby) yields 4050-5400. Those are realistic weekly word goals, if I actually put my ass in the chair four or five days a week for an hour or two of focused writing time.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found more general resolutions to be better than really specific ones (goals are not the same as resolutions!). So this year I am giving myself only two, or really it’s maybe one and a half since the second is a reprise of my 2013 resolution:

Don’t panic.

Finish it.

Finish it

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NaNo 2013 Prep

I have decided I definitely want to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. Definitely going with the new story, because the other stories going just don’t excite me.

I am hoping that my mental acuity continues to return this week, as it has seemed to be doing for the past fortnight, such that by Friday (at which point I am officially in trimester 2, at week 14) I have my brain and energy mostly back. I feel I should…I am getting bored with sleeping for more than 8 hours at a time, even when I think I need it.

Prep work this year mostly involves me consciously not bothering to write (fiction) until November.

It also involves me hopefully slapping together half my Ren Faire costume this week (which obviously cannot involve a corset this year and so must go in a direction entirely different from anything else in my wardrobe), as well as finishing the spencer jacket I started forever ago that I need for my cover photo shoot, so I don’t have much sewing to distract me in the coming weeks.

It probably should involve me coming up with a better sense of the big story, and I have been contemplating the actual plot (as opposed to the opulent set-up), but to be honest I just don’t know what happens yet. I am getting some inkling but no big moments to start threading together, no definite decisions from any of the characters. I don’t know what my conflagration is yet.

Mostly, at this point, I am pysching myself up to the challenge. I can do this, I will do this, I will enjoy doing this. My mind will be my own again, my body will be compliant, and I will be so obsessed with what I’m writing that I will WANT to keep working on it above all things. It doesn’t matter that I have to start working more hours at my job again because I can’t afford 38 hour weeks anymore; it doesn’t matter that I get exactly 1 day off at Thanksgiving or that my mother in law will be here that last weekend; it doesn’t matter that I lose one weekend to my husband being off and another to the annual Ren Faire expedition; it doesn’t matter that I also have a book to finish prepping for publication this month; none of that matters because if I am *actually* using my time wisely I can write a book around it. I just have to want to badly enough. I just have to try hard enough. I just have to cunt up and DO it.

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What Does “I Want to Be a Writer” Mean to You?

I had an interesting comment from an old friend yesterday via email. We were touching base after a long (a too-long) pause between correspondence, and she mentioned that she had subscribed to the blog (despite not being a romance reader or a writer herself, two of my main foci) as a loose means of keeping tabs on how my life was going. And then she said “I had no idea how dedicated you were to being a writer back then” [then = when we worked together and lived in the same town].

I had no idea how dedicated you were to being a writer back then.

The comment fascinated me, because what it tells me is that the phrase “I want to be a writer” is so varied in its meaning that it is almost meaningless without further context. It can be said by someone who has never written anything but just likes the idea of being a writer. It can be said by someone who has just started writing and has yet to be crushed by all the things they will have to learn and fix about their writing style before it becomes naturally graceful. It can be said by someone who has been working for years at their craft but not been published. It can be said by someone with the ambitions of a hobbyist or a professional.

There are layers of meaning encoded. When someone says “writer” do they mean someone who writes (regardless of quality) or someone who writes quality work? Do they mean someone who is recognized outside of their own self-presentation as writing? Someone who has been published? Someone like the guy in Sideways who spends so much time talking about his writing that everyone knows he is a writer even though he can’t get published? Is it more of a self-defining moment: I mean, does one simply self-declare “I AM A WRITER!” when one feels as though one has attained whatever deep-seated definition of “writer” exists inside one’s own lexicon of English?

I understand my friend’s confusion. I have spent a great many years downplaying my writing. I don’t talk about it first thing when I meet new people, or at least not my fiction. As I’ve mentioned before here, I used to write and sometimes ghost-write web articles, and I maintained an online open diary type blog for about 5 years before professional considerations necessitated its deletion.Web writing – non-fiction opinion/review type stuff – is the only thing I might mention to someone I do not know well. Then my fiction writing becomes this weird confession when I do realize I’m friends with someone whom I didn’t tell this to right away: “Sit down. I am afraid I have not been completely honest about who I am…. Are you ready for my truth bomb? Here it comes: I want to be a writer.” It’s always an anti-climax, because there is no follow-up to the conversation, or at least there never was before.

“Have you published anything?”

“No.”

“Can I read any of it?”

“No, because I have this problem finishing things. So I have 10 novels started, it’s about 200,000 words so far, but, no, you can’t read any of them because the actual stories don’t exist yet.”

This is why I use the phrase “want to be” and not “am.” Or why I always did before. I think now I would feel comfortable with the present-tense. I have finished many things and no longer have that finishing issue. I have made plugging doggedly away at my writing part of my life, in a way that it was not all through college and my early twenties. I used to be terrible about either waiting for inspiration or utterly free time to write, and terrible about not sticking with my stories until they were finished. I can pinpoint the time and place I finally started finishing things (2007, two years after graduating college) and the time and place I finished my first novel as an adult (2008, and it was fanfiction). It’s been a long road since to convince myself those were not flukes but the start of a new pattern. Now I keep coming back and working on stories until they are done, even when it’s hard and not inspiring, even when it takes me over a year and a half to do it.

But I am still just a failed/aspiring writer for my family. My stately grandmother, bless her heart, has denigrated “cheap novels” one too many times in my hearing to get to read my romance. My mother gets to read it, and on her own I would probably tell her what I’m doing, but I feel like I need the validation of sales numbers before I show my dad this project, and I am not going to ask her to keep secrets from him. For the same reason I haven’t told my brother and sister-in-law, who would be disinterestedly curious at most, nor my husband’s mother or sister who would probably be vocal in support of me out of loyalty and, well, if they’re going to trumpet my name to everyone they know I sort of feel like there should be something worth trumpeting. A catalog of professional books instead of just two short pieces that are obviously self-published.

I am not sure why I am so compulsively private about my art with people I know, when I can share it with the world at large and have no issues. I don’t think this is unusual, however. I guess what it comes down to is that I am not good at all the pretenses of being a writer; it’s simply something that I do, and will keep doing because it is part of who I am and the thing I am most dedicated to. All my other hobbies, including sewing, I do for specific and finite ends, and because I enjoy the process and the creation. Writing is not a process I always enjoy, but even less do I enjoy not writing. I keep going because the alternative is anathema to me.

I keep writing because…I am a writer.

And L, this was NOT the post I’m dedicating to you…just inspired by you. 🙂

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A Strategic Victory I Almost Overlooked

I had occasion today to read back through a correspondence I had with another writer a few months ago. The context was why I started with Regency romance (as opposed to a time period I am less familiar with or a fantasy setting I would have to make up), and my comment was that I wanted to focus on something I knew “until I could set a pattern of finishing things.”

It occurred to me as I read those words that…I feel like I have hit the point where finishing is no longer a question. It might have taken me close to two years to get to this point, but I have written two novels (that still feels great to say!) and feel much more confident in my ability to keep a project under control and pointed at that end zone.

Finishing is no longer a state of being I look upon with despair for never knowing it. For that, I am proud of myself. I have accomplished at least my first goal as a novelist.

Finishing DFL is always better than being the DNF.

Now I just have to make a habit of not being dead fucking last….

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