Image by Timothy K. Hamilton (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
One of my friends asked on Facebook the other day, What, for you, was the best thing in 2012, and what are you most looking forward to in 2013? As I composed my thoughts for a reply to him, I was struck by what a very fortunate year I’d had—and how I basically felt the same way after 2011.
The economy is a shambles. Everybody seems to be becoming more and more polarized, to the point where it’s hard to maintain friendships with people with differing political views. Local teachers haven’t gotten a real raise in too many years to count (and the profession continues to be under attack by the legislature), and for us personally the end of the payroll tax reduction and a rise in our property taxes means our mortgage payments are going up as our take-home pay goes down. And online, most of my friends seem to be bidding 2012 a hasty adieu, with prescriptions not to let the door hit its ass on the way out. So I was honestly a little surprised to realize that, apart from the financial and political realities, this had been a pretty good year. I detailed that in a blog post three or four posts ago, so I won’t rehash it. But now the questions comes up, what do I hope will come of 2013? And since my focus here is my writing journey, specifically what do I hope to achieve as a writer in 2013?
My friend JT makes a compelling argument that being goal-oriented tends to make us fail to enjoy the moment and fail to celebrate our accomplishments. He’s got a point: every year—hell, every month—that I remain unpublished feels like a bit of a failure to me. How can I call any year a success when the number one goal on my list remains unmet? I think JT’s point is a good one and I don’t have a counterpoint. Nevertheless, and while keeping his warning in mind, here are some things I would like to make happen in 2013:
Finish the novel I’m working on, preferably by March if not sooner. I’ve got a new YA story I’m terribly excited about, after spending way too long piddling about and starting stories that didn’t feel compelling to me. I’m not a fast writer, unfortunately—largely because I’ve got a lot of commitments—but I think a March goal for a first draft is do-able, given that I’m pretty well underway with it now.
Participate in a Codex contest in which I actually finish writing whatever I’m supposed to write before the deadline. Codex is an online writers’ group for “neo-pro” writers, which basically means writers who have achieved some small measure of external validation but haven’t necessarily taken off yet, career-wise, or haven’t been at it for terribly long. I became eligible to join last year, and participated in my first contest in September. Alas, while my participation did net me a new short story to shop around, I finished shamefully past the deadline. There are some insanely talented and successful people in the group, and throwing my writing up against theirs, with the right frame of mind, sounds like an exciting opportunity to grow and learn.
Write a half dozen flash pieces. This one should be pretty achievable. I wrote several flash pieces this year, and the stories that have been my closest call, sales-wise, have been flash pieces. This is so different from where I was a year ago, but I’ve gotten rather comfortable with the structure and confines of short-short fiction.
And in the category of stretch goals:
Revive this website. In 2012 I ran up against something I was intellectually aware of, but that I hadn’t experienced directly. No matter who you are, no matter how well-intentioned, there are people who don’t like you. And when you share yourself online, you are opening yourself up to people combing through your writing, looking for things they can use to hurt you. (That’s probably a good lesson for an artist, anyway.) Last spring, I had cause to re-examine what I had posted here, and quite frankly, I was kind of proud of the body of work I had built. But knowing there was somebody ill-willed looking over my shoulder made me feel self-conscious, and I found myself reluctant to talk any more. Well, enough of that. I’ll call it a win if I make 2013 the year that spiteful little people don’t get to silence my voice.
Write a half dozen short stories in the 2k – 3k words range. This is probably more a goal for the second half of the year. Being a writer of novels as well as short stories is a bit of a balancing act. Between flash fiction and my novel, and revisions on all of that, the first half of the year is probably spoken for. I will certainly write some longer short stories, but six of them? Who knows, but it’s worth a shot. (I know that would be a laughably small goal for some other people, but it’s not for me.)
So anyway, that’s where my head is right now. Are you eschewing goals altogether this year? Resolutions? If not, what are some of yours? Maybe we can cheer each other on!