Thursday, December 30, 2010

How'd I do?

As it is so close to being 2011, I thought I should dig out the letter I wrote myself at the beginning of 2010 to see how many of the things I resolved to do, actually came to fruition. So here goes...

Dear Me,

2010. Wow! How did that manage to creep up on me? I swear, every year seems to be getting shorter and it is getting harder and harder to achieve everything I want to achieve in each one. So, in an attempt to organize the chaos that is my life, I am going to put on paper some of my goals for 2010. Perhaps having them written down will focus me more towards actually making them happen.

But before I go ahead with 2010, I think I should reflect for a moment on 2009 because the successes and failures of that year are certainly going to color my ambitions for the future. I went into 2009 with only one concrete goal: to get published. And in October, I was. Okay, it wasn’t exactly what I’d been aiming for which was to have my novel, Assignment 9, accepted for publication, but even the little 800 word story that wound up in a barely-read women’s business magazine, so badly formatted that it made little sense anymore, counts. Right? Right! Published is published. And then I had another story accepted for an anthology coming out in March 2010, so I felt that I had achieved my goal.

So in 2010 I want to build on those successes. I want to publish more, and publish widely. Done! I published 18 stories in 2010, in a wide variety of publications. I want to get my stories into some publications that people actually read. If I can get paid as well, then that’s just gravy! Done! Okay, so I'm not in a position to give up my day job, but with the royalty check I got last week, I've made $37 US as a writer in 2010. Hmmmm.. . Sounds kind of lame when I think about it. Some of my friends are setting themselves goals as to how much money they would like to make, but I don’t think I’m ready to do that yet. Maybe in 2011. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to be a year of as many rejections as acceptances as I get a feel for the marketplace and where my particular style might fit into it. But at least I’m prepared for that. My approach is to aim high, submitting first to the most prestigious or highly paid market that looks suitable, then to move down as the rejections pile up, re-writing on the way if necessary.

I haven’t abandoned my ambition to get my novel published either. In 2009 I joined several different novel review forums on WDC as well as rather audaciously seeking help from a local YA author, and have completed an extensive re-write of Assignment 9. And three more since then... It is out with a publisher at the moment, and I have my eye on a contest to enter it into as well. Fingers crossed 2010 will be Assignment 9’s year to shine. Even if nothing else gets accepted, if this book finally manages to make its way out into the world, I will be more than satisfied. Well, it didn't get published, but it did make it to the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which I think is pretty good. To be in the top 50 of 5000 entries isn't bad. But it's not published either.

Staying with novels for a moment longer, my other book, Holding it Together, has been somewhat neglected for over a year, but with Assignment 9 being out in the world now, I plan to focus my attention onto this one. In the Novel Focus Group, my turn for being read and reviewed comes up again in April and I would like to have a new draft ready to go by then. I’m taking the book and a great swathe of critiques I’ve received for various chapters with me on holiday next week. Without internet or cell-phone coverage to distract me, I hope to make some significant inroads into this rewrite while I’m away. I just hope the kids will leave me enough peace to do it! This one has become my trunk novel. I've done extensive rewrites, the most major of which changed it from a third person narrative to first person from dual perspectives. But it still doesn't work. I think I'm too close to the story and the real-life characters on which it is based to ever make it into a working novel. But... Never say never!

The review groups I am a part of are so incredibly helpful and supportive that I cannot ignore them. I intend to continue being an active reviewer of other peoples’ work. I have learned so much from reviewing, and can be much more critical of my own work as a result. And when one of the stories or books I’ve helped with gets published, it feels fantastic to have had a hand in getting it to that point. It’s not quite as good as being published myself, but a close second! Done. I've remained very active in my writing community and to date have given almost 900 reviews! Hopefully they're helpful. But more importantly, I've made some wonderful friends through these groups, and I value their input into my work and their support when the rejections start getting me down immeasurably.

Because I am committed to these groups and want to give reviews that are as helpful and well thought out as possible, I am going to make a weekly schedule for myself, outlining which group, and what pieces I will review each day of the week, ensuring that I also leave time to actually write myself. I have taken a rather scattershot approach to reviewing in the past, and have often found myself struggling towards the end of the month to get through everything I have taken on. I had this happening for a while, but have slipped a little since doing NaNo. Must try to get back on schedule...

I would like to participate in NaNoWriMo in 2010. Did it and won! I didn’t in 2009 because I thought I was going to be at a conference for a week in the middle of November. As it turned out, I didn’t end up going and could have done the NaNo thing after all. So this year I will get myself prepared and will attempt to write an entire book in a month. Given it took me almost twenty-five years to get the other two done, it will be a miracle if I do. But hey! I believe in miracles. At least sometimes. I have at least two ideas for novels tripping around my head, so I’m sure one of them will make an appearance in 2010, NaNo or no NaNo. And you know what? The book I ended up writing was something completely different. But I like it anyway. And those other ideas? Who knows what they might have been or if they will ever get written.

With two children’s picture books completed and ready to go to a publisher, I would like to see these in print in 2010. And I would like to continue to collaborate with the very different artists whose work I have been privileged enough to be associated with. Dave Boyle is such a prolific painter that should our Jessie And The Witches garner the success we’d like it to, I foresee more Jessie adventures in our future. Okay, epic fail here. Dave and I sent out our MS a few times, but got nothing but rejections. And the other artist I work with left his paintings by a leaky window and they got destroyed. He said he's re-do them, but I think they were fairly low on his list of priorities because I've seen nothing yet...

I have grown so much as a writer in the last twelve months. I would like to continue to grow, tackling genres and subjects that are outside my comfort zone. Done. I wrote Sci-Fi, Horror, Romance - a whole novel's worth in fact, YA, Literary, Experimental and so much more. I have thousands of stories to tell, and I look forward to putting them down on paper and sharing them with the world. I may even take another stab at poetry, something I have almost a phobia about. In fact, I am going to ensure that I write and submit at least one poem in 2010. I don’t think I can call myself a writer unless I’m willing to push myself to write poetry, however bad it may be to begin with. And it will never get better unless I practice. Again, fail. I tried. But I'm not a poet. And if I'm honest about it, I don't really like poetry. Not to read or to write. So I'm not beating myself up about it.

With all those writing goals to take care of, I’m going to struggle to find the time for my day job! Or my kids. But I tend to work best when under pressure, and I am far more productive when I’m busy. So it looks as if 2010 is going to be a busy year! Stop musing about it, girl, and get on with it! Am I going to have to kick you in the pants already? It’s only January!



Not bad. A few things I could have pushed a little more. How about you? Did you manage to achieve many of your goals in 2010?

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