Writing Objectives For the New Year
A while back, I mentioned that I wanted to turn this into more of a writing blog than what it's been, which is largely a dumping ground whenever I need to go off on a hyperbolic rant about whatever video game is currently pissing me off. (Speaking of which, to whoever designed the entrance to Queen's Tower in the new Prince of Persia: I suspect you believe that your work is so awesome it warrants having to play it 37 times. You are mistaken.) I've struggled with that, obviously, because while my thoughts about writing are interesting to me, I'm not convinced they're interesting to the other three people that ever read this thing.
Well, this is the year I suck it up. Writing is the most interesting thing (to me) that I'm doing in my life, and if I don't write about what interests me, I won't write at all (Q.E.D.).
2008 RecapWriting-wise, here's what I feel I accomplished last year:
- I finished (which is to say, did enough drafts on to feel that I was comfortable letting other people read) two short stories: "Burning Man" (which was not so much a short story as a novelette that I crammed down into 8k words to fit within the Viable Paradise application guidelines), and "Nayda," a flash piece I wrote for the Apex Halloween contest.
- On the bright side, "Burning Man" worked and I got accepted to Viable Paradise, which, as early career achievements go doesn't totally suck. I applied because two of my favorite genre authors/bloggers (John Scalzi and Elizabeth Bear) were teaching, and as a consequence got to meet them (as well as several other awesome pro writers, editors, and VP alumni), hang out, and have them tear my work to shreds. It was awesome.
- Didn't really make a serious effort at NaNoWriMo. This was largely because of my sudden change of employment -- the new job demanded a lot of my attention, and I felt I couldn't afford to devote the time I needed to put in to crank out 50K words in November. This is really just a bullshit excuse, but the experience was very useful: I am starting to grok the idea that I need to partition off time to write if I want to get anywhere with it, rather than just doing it whenever I have free time and am not overwhelmed by the desire to play World of Warcraft.
Next up: 20092008 was a pretty good year for the writing career. For 2009, one of the things I am going to do differently is have formalized goals. That way, I can check back throughout the year, see how I'm doing, and apply effort as needed to any neglected initiatives. Then, in 2010, I can measure how well I did!
Here are my goals, in (roughly) priority order:
- Finish my "Evil Overlord" homework assignment from VP and find somewhere to send it out. For those who know nothing about VP, this is the major assignment from the week-long workshop. You are given certain parameters and asked to write a 5k word story within those parameters. My Evil Overlord story is currently 11K words and about halfway through second draft. Anybody know of a good market that looks at unsolicited genre novelettes?
- Critique at least 3 pieces every month. My VP class has more or less bonded for life, it seems, and we regularly swap stories to crit. I have been a little remiss since early November, though I critted a bunch of stuff the other night. 3 stories or partial novels a month doesn't seem too arduous. This might be a softball goal, in fact, but since this is my first year doing this, I'll let it slide.
- Write at least one more piece of flash fiction. Short fiction is hard. I have a natural tendency to sprawl; a short story about a guy in a fish market is apt to bloom into a deep examination of his perception of his place in the cosmos. All well and good but I also need to develop the chops to write to length, and to tell a complete story that fits into a smaller box. Fortunately, I already have an idea for a "prose poem" style flash story that I will probably start while rewriting the VP homework story, just as a palate cleanser.
- Finish 2-4 short stories of reasonable length and send them out. And by reasonable length I mean 1K-2,500 words. Possibly as many as 5K. Again with the "learn how to tell a story inside a small space." Jay Lake claims he used to write a short story a week, so even I should be able to hit this mark.
- Write the novel I was going to write at NaNoWriMo. It seems like a good first novel to write, since there's a high likelihood that the first novel I finish won't be the first one I sell, and it's not one of the Big Ideas I'm so attached to that I'm paralyzed trying to write them.
- Speaking of which: sell something. Anything. For the love of God, Montressor! I'm how old now? It ain't like I've got a lot of time left to HAVE a fricking career. Better get the ball rolling.
- Put "Nayda" up on the site. Not a lot of markets out there for election horror flash fiction, so I reckon it's a good candidate for starting the free story bank. (Maybe I should hold off and do this for International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day.)
- Volunteer at ArmadilloCon. One of the things I learned this year, which I really never quite understood, was just how important fandom is to the industry. I mean, hey. I'm a geek. I knew there were cons, and I knew people went to them. I just didn't comprehend what they were for. Having been to 'dilloCon '08 (and WFC the year before), I now recognize that I need to get more involved. Speaking of which, it would be nice if I could get to at least one other con, maybe one of the bigger ones (WisCon?) that isn't in Texas. Not going to make that a formal goal, though, because I'm iffy. (FlyCon, alas, you do not count.)
Non writing related goalsWhat the hey. "Not the most important" doesn't necessarily mean "not important," so I'll throw in a couple of other things I'd like to see happen this year.
- Move the blog over to WordPress. I mean, seriously, Google, isn't it about time you embraced OpenID? I guess I can let people use it to login to post here, but I'd sure like to use it to login to my own account, and whatnot. Plus, WordPress will give me a host of other options. Besides, all the cool kids are doing it.
- Publish a !@#$% card game. Billionaire or Infected, I don't care at this point. POD has gotten cheap enough that for a couple hundred bucks I can print a few dozen decks to give to friends, sell through BoardgameGeek, in local shops, at cons etc. etc.