Because I Cannot Be Disuaded

At the end of each year, it has become my tradition to review the goals I set and see how I did, and then to create new goals for the new year. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now, and I find it helpful for keeping my focus throughout the year – usually. Life happens when you’re making plans for something else, right? So, let’s see how I did:

1. I will get an agent this year. Period.

Well, I tried. I did begin to submit to agents again, and while I had favorable comments, I haven’t landed one just yet. So, we’ll be seeing this one again, I’m certain.

2. I will finish at least three novels this year, including rewriting The Afterward, finishing Namesake, and a third novel (yet to be determined).

That was very ambitious of me! And I did pretty well. The Afterward has been revised, I finished a novel called “The Year I Went Invisible” (though it needs a great deal of work still). I wrote (and sold!) two new short stories, and I’ve started a new novel that is moving along nicely (it doesn’t have a name yet, though). While I didn’t actually write three two new novels, I still feel pretty good about my accomplishments.

3. I will continue to look for opportunities to promote my work and to participate in at least one writing-related event each month. 

I came so close on this! I did find new places to market my work! And I took full advantage of every opportunity! I managed to be involved in 10 events this year! And for some of them, I was even paid! This one might be tougher with only one new book coming out this year, but hopefully, I’ll find some new resources as well.

4. I will attend two writing conferences or workshops to benefit my own writing.

I have to cheat a bit on this one, but to me, it still counts. In April, I was one of the presenters at the Writing for Charity event in Provo, Utah. However, I took full advantage of the times I wasn’t presenting and attended as many workshops as I could fit in during the day. Then in September, I joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization and attended their three-day conference in Denver. It was amazing, uplifting, and something I very much needed to do for myself and my heart.

5. I will offer four writing workshops  during the year.

And here, I exceeded my goal significantly. I began teaching for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program again after not having taught for them in over 12 years. It is a wonderful, rewarding experience, and I look forward to the classes and my students each week. This coming spring, I will be teaching a class on Flash Fiction, and I have gained so much insight by reading in this area, so I’m very excited to share this with my students.

And so for next year? Well, I’m continuing to try to stretch a bit, but I’m also trying not to set myself up for failure or disappoint. Let’s be realistic: I have a full-time job; I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and the giant furless mommy cat in my family. I have responsibilities and demands – but I also have a need to write, so I’m trying to find that balance between the real world and my writing ambitions. My family is supportive and willing to compromise (which is easier now that my baby is 19 and only lives here on school breaks), but I need time with them, too. In that realm of balance and ambition, here are the 2015 edition of my goals:

1. I will submit to no less than 5 agents each month.

2. I will write a minimum of 7,500 words each week.

3. I will participate in a minimum of 10 events which allow me to promote my books.

4. I will attend at least one writing event where I am NOT speaking or presenting.

5. I will continue teaching creative writing courses through Lifelong Learning.

Now, I’m adding a new twist: I have printed off my goals and stuck them to the wall next to my desk so that I can see them each day. I am inviting you to ask me at any time to provide a public update on these goals, which I will do. I’m inviting any encouragement, support, chastising, or harassment that you may feel is appropriate throughout the year. And I will thank you now, in advance, for doing so.

Here’s to the new year: may we all follow our dreams and continue to flourish and grow!



Public Declaration

A particular list serve that I belong to has a long-running tradition of making goals and publishing them on our list for all to see.  The list is comprised of more than 300 children’s writers and illustrators, and many of us credit this practice with helping to advance our careers. I decided this year that I would go one better and post my goals on my blog.  This makes them public in a whole new way, with a whole new group of friends and readers available to help hold me accountable to the promises I make here.

I’ve spent a number of days thinking about these goals, and I feel that they are attainable, but that they will require effort and commitment.  Thus, without further ado, here are my 2008 writing goals:

# 1 – Finish my s/f novel and have it sold before the end of the year.  This is going to require a bigger commitment to writing time, and also to marketing time.

# 2 – Obtain an agent with whom I can work amicably.  Having worked with two agents previously, the second half of this goal is more important to me than the first.  Not just any agent will do.  I’d rather go on representing myself than to have a bad agent/author relationship like I experienced previously.

# 3 Increase my marketing effort for my existing books and secure more book signings, school visits, and teaching opportunities.  While the royalty checks are great, the money making opportunities provided by these activities could be worth as much or more than the books.  More money earned this way means less time teaching basic grammar (not that I don’t like my job, but I’m a writer first, not an English teacher).

# 4 – Revise my earlier novel which received some favorable feedback from editors when I first wrote it.  I’m a much stronger writer now than when I started, and I still believe in this story, but I think I can rewrite it with a better voice, a sharper plot, and a more credible ending.  I’ll have this finished by the end of the year.

So there they are – my writing goals for the coming year.  Feel free to ask me about them, and to hold me accountable if you don’t see me commenting on them from time to time.  I feel a renewed energy with this new year, and despite its looming challenges (my father-in-law’s declining health for one), I am optimistic about the direction this year is going to take.

I wish you all a bountiful new year filled with blessings and love.