Sunday, January 01, 2012

Thoughts on the First Day of 2012

I'm pretty sure the practice of making New Year's resolutions has gone out of style. Everyone knows that promising you'll quit smoking/lose weight/exercise more is pretty much going to fail. By the end of January you're back to your same old habits.

I haven't made resolutions in years, but I usually set goals. Last year I had a huge list of things I was going to accomplish in 2011. I know this because I dug out that list today to evaluate how I'd done. The answer was not very well. My ambitious list was made up with the assumption that I'd retire half-way through 2011 and thus have plenty of time to work on being a writer. However, when it came down to it, I realized that my financial status was such that retirement in 2011 was out of the question.

That wasn't the only disappointment I had. I entered two writing contests, hoping to do well enough in them to validate that I had talent as a writer. I didn't do well in either of them. I almost gave up at that point. After all, I've been trying to write a publishable novel for what? eight years? or is it more? But I keep coming back to the fact that if I don't write, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the rest of my time on earth.

I put that novel aside and started thinking about what I would write next. I had this idea for a time travel science fiction romance adventure story. Yeah, that's not really a genre, but think Diana Gabaldon with spaceships. It would be a major challenge because I've never written anything like an epic fantasy novel, but the idea is intriguing.

And then I got sucked into the whole idea of indie, or self-, publishing my work. After all, even if I wrote the best book in the world, the odds of finding an agent and making a sale to a Big 6 publishing house were slim at best. And publishing moves at a snail's pace. Even if I queried tomorrow and got an agent this week, it would be at least a year before my book hit the shelves of your local bookstore. And reality says that it would take a lot longer than a week to get an agent. With indie publishing, I could upload it to Amazon and Barnes and Noble as soon as the book was done.

I've read a lot of information on indie publishing and the consensus seems to be that to be a success, you need to write series so the reader has a next book to start reading as soon as they finish one where they've become engaged with the characters and the setting. And you need to have a lot of books. So the time travel romance went on the back burner while I sketched out a sequel to the book with the problem.

But I wrestled with writing cozy mysteries. Was it really the genre I wanted to write? Or could I write women's fiction with a Christian slant like Judy Duarte? After thinking for years that I wanted to be a mystery writer, I wasn't sure any more. I started submitting chapters of the first mystery to a critique group and realized that the book was in worse shape than I thought it was, making it even more difficult for me to figure out where I want to go from here.

So, in contrast to last year, my list of goals for 2012 is very short:
1. Write 15 new pages every week.
2. Continue to revise and submit chapters to critique group.
3. Resume healthy eating.
4. Consciously track spending versus income and develop realistic plan to achieve retirement.

In order to accomplish #1, I signed up for a class which requires you to write 3 pages a day every day in the month of January. I'm hoping that by participating I'll be able to get in the habit of daily writing without the excesses of NaNoWriMo that tend to drain me for the next month.

I also signed up for a Margie Lawson class to help me get a more positive attitude. I went to her site originally because I've heard great things about her Deep Edits class, but I probably need the January one more right now.

And, just in time, Holly Lisle made a post to her blog that gave me some encouragement. Yes, even multi-published authors sometimes have a This Book is Wrecked moment or seven. Knowing that it happens to other writers and that there are ways to fix it has given me the strength to keep trying for a while longer.

And I'll reevaluate sometime in the spring to figure out what I'll do next.
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