Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year, New Writing Goals

I haven’t posted about writing much lately. So, you can imagine where my brain is at. Other stuff. But reading my sister’s blog got me thinking about resolutions and new year ideas. My sister is a romance writer. She’s been setting writing goals for herself like: finish writing a book, start writing another book, send out queries. She also tries to write everyday, no matter what. I think she sets a daily goal of a 100 words.

I don’t generally set strict goals for myself, especially for an entire 365 days in a row. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals hidden from view. Sometimes hidden from myself. If I start a novel, the unspoken, or implicit, goal is that I'm going to finish it. If I start a story, I aim to complete it. These goals aren’t always met (I have a problem finishing things), but I’m getting better.

And just because I don't always achieve my goals, that doesn't mean I can't come up with a few for this year:

•I’ve started writing a story based on a true story I heard over the Christmas holidays. I’ll finish that in another week or two and hand it off to Liz to read for an initial review.

• I’m joining a writing group. Ms. X is still busy writing her second novel on a deadline, so her restless students have convened beyond her reach and will be meeting every other week to critique whatever works were handed out during the prior meeting. I’ll probably hand out the above as-yet-unfinished story to this writing group for feedback.

• I recently received more feedback on my novel, A Little Disappeared. The critique was from a thirty-something female who had a mostly positive reaction. She had some reservations about the first and the last chapters. I never felt as strongly about the opening of the book as I did about what came after, and here was ancillary evidence that indeed the chapter warrants another look. So, add that to my list of goals: revise chapter 1.

• Ms. X may hold another class in the summer. If I attend, I will need to write a hundred pages of my next novel. Or significantly revise the last novel I workshopped with her, American Standard. I currently don’t have plans for either. So, perhaps, it’s time to start making novel-centric plans for this winter/spring. If I want to attend her workshop. If I’m indeed invited back.

• Over the weekend, when I wasn’t watching movies, I sent the first three chapters and a synopsis of A Little Disappeared to a small press, Two Dollar Radio. I’ve been considering forgoing agents and heading straight to publishers. Smaller ones, those that don’t care if your stuff is agented or not. Those that agents probably wouldn’t send stuff too, forgoing them for the six major U.S. publishing conglomerates. I haven’t heard back yet. But I plan to continue marketing A Little Disappeared in its current, or similar, state to agents and publishers. Trying all avenues before I begin the arduous, possibly odious task of restructuring it as two full-length novels (one adult literary, one young adult) as per Ms. X’s exegesis.

• I have a bunch of short stories that I’ve already written. They are mostly not finished. A few are in a state I would call complete, possibly publishable. I will continue to look at these older stories as candidates for revision with an eye toward publication. I will continue to (sporadically) send out the handful of stories that I think are finished.

I had considered taking about a year off from working on any novels, and concentrate on short pieces, trying to get something else published to get my name more established. Making my road to getting a novel published a little easier. But after struggling to revise dusty stories and fall in love with new stories, I miss novels. In fact, the steps to conceive them, write the drafts, and revise them have floated to the surface of my internal writing infrastructure, usurping the shorter pieces. I guess I’m a novelist first. All other writing second.

Thanks blog, for helping me prioritize my goals for the new year. I’ll check back in a year to see how I did.


Cynthia Sherrick said...

Hey, good luck with all your writing goals! Great to hear you're hooking up with a critique group. Should be fun. :)

Robin said...

Dell -- a thoughtful look ahead to your writing year. Like you, I also work on many short pieces (my poems, for example) and enjoy the chance to create in a small space. I have so many ideas floating around in my head and need a place to deposit them. Happy New (writing) Year! Your sis, Robin

Dell Smith said...

Thanks guys. Good luck back at cha. We'll convene next Christmas to see how we all fared.

Liz (made in lowell) said...

Thanks blog indeed! I love learning about all the leaps you make forward, all the things you figure out about yourself.

Liz's Mom said...

Whatever you decide to write is fine with me. I love to read your work, and it is interesting to see how you make your decisions.

Dell Smith said...

Thanks Liz's Mom. I hope you like my writing, because I count you as one of my essential readers!