This time last month I was beating myself up a lot, for failing so miserably to meet my production goals for 2009. Having made those goals on New Years Eve, 2008, I promptly spent the first six months of 2009 with my thumb up my butt, then scurried to crank out some stuff mid-year, then lapsed back into a slump as work issues and Army training took their toll.
I’d probably still be beating myself up, except for the fact that I won at Writers of the Future. That single achievement, right there, sort of makes everything else melt quietly away. For 2009 at least. It wasn’t even on my goal list — because whether or not you win a judged event is 100% not within your power — but getting the win certainly made me feel like 2009 had gone from being a rather frustrating and underwhelming writing year, to my best writing year ever.
Now, I look ahead to 2010. And I can already tell that 2010 is going to stretch my (meager) discipline far past its ordinary operational envelope. I guess that’s a good thing, because I need that kind of ass-kicking. I need to have my cage of complacency rattled. I need to go far beyond my comfort zone, and try to put a stake through the heart of my “hobbyist” self and see if I can’t re-animate at a professional output level.
Scares the crap out of me, if I do say so. But I’m also excited. 2009 stretched me way beyond my comfort zone — in ways unrelated to writing — and I managed to best all challenges in that regard. Had a whale of a year, in fact. So it seems 2010 should be my time to step up with my fiction.
NOTE: some of this is cribbed from last year, as it still applies and/or needs to be done.
BRAD’S OFFICIAL 2010 WRITING GOALS
1) Finish one whole (90K+ word) novel by the end of February.
2) Finish another whole (90K+ word) novel by the end of July.
3) Finish 12 new short pieces and get them out to market.
A very short list, and actually less ambitious — in terms of total word output — than last year’s. I’m not sure why, but I don’t feel too hyper in that regard, for this year’s goals. Probably because of the WOTF win, and now I am not so hung up on wanting to break in anymore. What I’d like for 2010 is to actually prove to myself that I can write successive novels in relatively compact timeframes, and have enough room in the year for short production, as I’d really love to crack one of the major professional short SF&F markets.
Of course, you can’t have a “do” list without there being a “do not” list to go with it!
BRAD’S OFFICIAL “DO NOT” GOALS FOR 2010
1) DO NOT get on the internet and “surf” before the day’s writing is done!
2) DO NOT allow writing-related internet activity to replace actual writing!
3) DO NOT substitute reading about writing for actual writing!
4) DO NOT play any video games before the day’s writing is done!
Again, a short list. But this is why I say my discipline will be stretched far beyond the normal operational envelope. I am a web surfing addict and I love to spend time on writer blogs and reading about the craft or business of writing. I also love old video games like TRON 2.0 and MechWarrior. All of these things can devour hours, days, even whole weeks of free time — time I know damned well I ought to be spending on my fiction, but somehow always find an excuse to waste anyway because, you know, it wasn’t like I was getting paid to write.
Ooops. Ruh-roh! Can’t use that reasoning anymore. The win at WOTF is going to bring in some serious cash — for a short story — and I can’t allow myself the cushion of thinking of my writing as an oh-well-someday-maybe kind of thing. It’s here. It’s now. It’s happening. What transpires from this point forward is entirely up to me, and now I am scared to be one of those WOTF winners who you read or hear about once, when they win, and then poof, they’re off the radar again. Sometimes forever.
Nuh-uh. Nope. Don’t want any of that. Want to dig my crampons in and advance to the next peak on the mountain.