As 2011 draws to a close, I have been spending some time thinking. The last year has brought something new to my life, and I still haven’t quite come to terms with the fact that I am officially a novelist. A multiple novelist, if you count my terrible NaNoWriMo novel. I have always written, but I never believed I had the stamina, talent, or drive to complete an entire novel. So I’m still slightly shell-shocked.
Not only that, but it is surprising to realize the level of passion I have discovered for writing. I go on kicks sometimes, where I develop an incredible hunger for information and skills, obsess over them for a while, and then move on when I plateau. Past kicks have included Greek mythology, freshwater aquaria, pottery, weaving, beading, origami, CAD, theater costuming/make-up, astronomy, grant writing, chinchilla care, sewing, and cooking. I still maintain some skills and knowledge in these areas, but I no longer pursue them with the single-minded intensity that I did.
There are very few things on that list that lasted longer than a few months. I know the list isn’t complete; the fact that I struggle to remember what consumed my life for weeks or months at a time is a testament to how quickly I move on once I am bored. However, I got serious about writing in November 2010. I am not bored, although I have read 25 books on the subject and have another 20 on my shelf waiting to be read. I have completed one novel, and despite a few weeks when I thought the well had run dry, I have a new story that I am, if anything, more excited about.
I can say with certainty that it isn’t going away. There are only 2 other things in my life that have had this level of staying power – playing the oboe and wildlife rehabilitation. One is my career, and until this year, there was nothing that even came close to interesting me as much as wildlife. In fact, I was a little frightened by the fact that I could not envision anything else I could spend my life doing. That’s dangerous, because it is such a physical job, and such a financially precarious one as well. One thing goes wrong, and I’m sunk. I don’t worry about it too much, because I have some good evidence that I am where God wants me to be (that’s a whole other post), but I still recognize the danger. I don’t know if I can make money writing. So far, I have not sold anything. But I can see myself continuing to pursue storytelling for the rest of my life. That means no matter what I end up doing career-wise, I will always be able to find joy.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. I find that using an artificial point like “Jan 1” to motivate change just becomes an excuse to delay real change. For example: I know I should reduce my caffeine and sugar intake by controlling my soda intake. I don’t want to do that right now… I’ll wait until New Years! That way I can have it now and prepare myself to give it up. And then by Jan 7 (OK, sorry, I should be honest. Jan 2) I’ve given it up, because I wasn’t committed to my resolution. I don’t want to give up soda.
But I do see the value in goals, and also in sharing those goals. Since this is a blog mainly following my development as a writer, here are my writing goals for 2012:
Attempt to sell King’s Mark. There are several ways to go about doing this, but the first (and most likely to succeed) is to acquire an agent who knows the business better than I do. Thus:
Goal 1: submit to agents until I have either run through my list of agents or I have convinced one to represent me. I will limit my list to agents of good repute that I believe I want to work with, and not become so focused on obtaining one that I allow my standards to slip
Attempt to sell my completed short stories.
Goal 2: submit said stories to appropriate markets until I have either sold them or run out of places to send them. I will focus on submitting first to markets that have a reputation for providing feedback for rejected stories first, regardless of pay, in an attempt to improve my craft.
Develop my skills and expand my available “product.”
Goal 3: Write and revise a second novel, namely “Thieves of Moirai”
Goal 4: Make it through my shelf of writing books, DO NOT buy any more until I’ve read the last one…
Goal 5: Complete the half-finished short stories on my hard-drive.
Avoid burning out
Goal 6: Read for pleasure, get outside, spend time with friends & family, etc.