Hello, hello, hello.
2016 is here; 2015 is dead and decomposing out back. I’m here to bury that beast and lay out some solid plans for moving forward.
Last week I read a post by Troy L. Wiggins over at his blog afrofantasy.net entitled: “Set it Off: My Writing Goals for 2016”. Inspired by that I decided I needed to codify my own goals and purposes for 2016. Because I have to say, my handling of 2015 was not good.
Strangely enough 2015 was both the best and worst year of my short writing career so far. Two pieces of mine were published by a couple of serious, pro, real-deal fiction markets.
They are both free to read, so I hope you will.
That was the public face of my writing career, and hey – it was awesome. Unfortunately, behind the scenes I was doing little to progress my skills or career. I had the same few stories that I continue to believe in and send out on submissions and I wrote exactly 2 new pieces. One was finished in the summer and received an amazing personal rejection from it’s first market and is out there now, trying to find a home. The other was written on New Year’s Eve. Well, I had 300 words written and a couple weeks of thinking about it before NYE, but come noon on NYE day that’s all I had and a midnight PST deadline I wanted to meet before the story’s target market closed for submissions.
So I sat my ass down and wrote. And at 10 mins to the new year my time (EST) I had added 4000 words to those first 300. Then I did the toasting in the new year with my son, put him to bed, and spent the first 90 mins of 2016 editing the story and submitting it.
That’s it. 2 stories written in 2015. I mean, I wrote more, but nothing that got finished. And frankly, I didn’t write a whole lot more. For that reason, I can’t help but look at 2015 as something of a personal failure as far as my being a writer goes.
HOWEVER. I am going to focus on those small success – publication in two great markets, an awesome rejection letter (after making it to the final selection process for another great market) and the fact that I ended 2015 writing a story and started 2016 editing one. I had a deadline I wasn’t going to miss and I sat my ass down and wrote until I had a story I was proud to submit. That’s what I’m using to set my focus and shape the lens I will view the world through for 2016:
- I can write.
- People have paid me for the privilege of displaying my writing in their magazine.
- 1 is true despite what I often let myself believe and 2 will happen again if I let it.
I’m also going to take inspiration from something writer and podcaster of wonderful things Mur Lafferty has said she will be doing in 2016: making a friend of failure. External failure that is. If I fail in 2016 it will be the failure of rejections and flops and laughing critics and I will embrace all of that as proof that I am doing the only things I can control about my writing career: I am writing stories, I am finishing stories, and I am putting them out there in the world. Let them fail out there if they must, but I will not spend another year of letting them fail while still inside me. Because those failures become festering wounds that eat away at oneself. The external failures? Them I’ll wear as badges of honour.
Let’s talk goals then, shall we?
In 2016 I will strive to:
- Write and finish at least 12 new short stories. That’s one a month.
- Submit the hell out of those stories. If I won’t submit it, then it doesn’t qualify as one of the 12 finished stories.
- I will submit to every pro-rate paying anthology with open submissions to which I am not demographically unsuited/unqualified. (i.e. not any of the X Destroys Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror sorts of anthologies or special issues. Those are great projects, but only for me as a reader, obviously)
- I have 4 finished Empire & Animal stories totalling about 23,000 words or so. I will write enough new E&A stories to get the total into the 60-80,000 range. I will then decide on either trying to submit it somewhere or self-publishing it.
- I will get a novel-length story manuscript written and polished.
- I will make at least 1 blog post every week in 2016. I’m kind of tired of paying for this blog to sit here as an embarrassing reminder that I’m not doing anything for my career. That will stop. I may never be a great blogger, but dammit I can find something to write about every week to put up here. As a minimum that really shouldn’t be too hard.
So there we go. Do I think I will accomplish all of that? I don’t honestly know. Best laid plans and all that jazz. But I do honestly think I am more than capable of meeting all those goals. If I just get the heck out of my own way. I have had more than enough reasons to not focus on my writing the last few years. A lot of things have not gone my way and life has not been easy, but I can either keep letting life and my responses to it keep me down, or I can choose to be the person who knocked off a story in a day and let writing be the thing that helps me weather the storms, instead of non-writing being the thing that drags me further down.