As I write this post, I’m riding on the California Zephyr through western Colorado, going to my parents’ house in Massachusetts before heading out overseas on an adventure that I have no idea where it will take me before the end of the year. It’s an interesting time to make New Year’s resolutions, because so much is up in the air at this point, but two things are for certain: I will continue to write, and I will continue to publish.
A lot has changed for me since 2010. Around this time last year, I was still in query-writing mode, looking for an agent, and getting a little desperate for work. I eventually found work at an alarm company, which lasted through the summer until I realized it wasn’t helping me advance towards my long-term goals. And as for the query-go-round, I made the tremendous paradigm shift into indie publishing around the same time, eventually publishing three novels, three short stories, and one novella. Sales haven’t been spectacular, but they have been earning me a trickle of money that amounts to a few hundred dollars by now. Not quite a living yet, but if I keep at it, it might just become that.
My dream since 2009 has been to make a full-time living telling stories that I love. With all the opportunities made possible through ebooks and indie publishing, I have great hopes of accomplishing that within the next few years. However, I do think it’s going to take time, which is why I’ve decided to go abroad to teach English for a while. It’s the perfect kind of career for young people going through a transitional time in their lives, and I think I’ll find it a lot more enriching than bouncing around dead-end warehouse jobs until the writing starts to take off.
I can’t foresee exactly where this path will take me, but I can take accountability for the things within my control. So with that in mind, here are my resolutions:
1: Independently Publish At Least Two Books in 2012.
This shouldn’t be too hard. Journey to Jordan is already in the queue; all I have to do is make a final self-editing pass and figure out how to insert the photos. Besides that, I have the direct sequel to Bringing Stella Home, Heart of the Nebula, which I should be able to revise, polish, and publish before the end of the year, perhaps as early as summer.
Besides these projects, though, the queue is conspicuously empty, which is why I’ve come up with the following resolution:
2: Constantly Work on Producing New Material.
This is a big one–in the past, I’ve taken time off from new projects to work on major revisions, and as I mentioned in this post, it’s slowed me down a lot more than I would like. I’ve never been able to juggle two projects for more than a week, but this is a skill I should probably learn if I’m going to do this professionally.
I hesitate to put a concrete number like “four completed novel drafts before 2013” because this is an aspect of my writing process that I still need to explore. If I peg myself to a number, I could as easily find that I’ve set it too low as that I’ve set it too high. The important thing at this point is to learn the self-discipline.
3: Read and Review a New Book Every Week.
This is a tricky goal that I’ve tried and failed at before, but I really feel that reading voraciously is going to help my writing more at this point than working on craft or attending conventions. Those are good too, of course, but there’s something about reading and analyzing other works, both inside and outside of your chosen genre. I’ve been slacking off on this a lot lately, and if I’m not careful, my writing will get worse because of it.
With my Kindle ereader and low-priced ebooks, I have a lot of reason to be optimistic about this goal, even though I’ll be on the go for most of the year. It’s like having an iPod for books–and with the sampling system, I don’t have to worry so much about whether or not it’s worth buying the book. Simply download the free sample, and if I’m still interested by the end, click and continue.
4: Experience at Least Three 10k Days.
This ambitious resolution comes from a post I wrote earlier in reaction to this post here. Basically, I want to boost my productivity and break through some mental barriers that have been in place for the past few years, and pushing myself to do a couple 10k sprints will hopefully help to reset my stride at a much higher rate.
At first, I was going to say “three consecutive 10k days,” but with all the uncertainty accompanying my travels and new TEFL career, that doesn’t seem like a good idea at this point. If/when I’ve saved up enough money to take a few months off from everything else, then I’ll set a goal like that.
5: Attempt to Write a Novel in a Week.
This is more of something I want to do for fun, just to see if I can. Apparently, Michael Moorcock used to write novels in three days, and while I’d like to try that too, a week seems like a more realistic goal. At 40,000 to 50,000 words minimum, I don’t even have to break 10k/day to do it.
So those are my writing resolutions for the next year. As always, I’ll continue to write for this blog, hopefully with a lot more book reviews in the coming months. In the meantime, though, this post is getting long, and I’d better get back to writing.
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to 2012 and all the possibility it brings!