Writing Goals for 2009

Yayyy! I get to start off 2009 by setting up my goals again. Hooray!

Just think–around this time last year, I had no clue what the year would be like. My hubby and I had just started working on our house, stripping out the carpet and painting the walls, while we interviewed real estate agents who could best sell our house in the quickest time. In fact, I’m pretty sure–yes–around this date, I sat in what was our office and bemoaned the fact I hated painting, I hated having my life in disarray, I hate home improvement altogether.

Interesting how life can change from year to year.

I’m pretty sure this year would involve another move at some point. But this time, it would be a lot less stressful–at least, that’s what I hope. But this post is not about the fun of moving. This post is what I didn’t get a chance to do around last year–setting up my writing goals for 2009.

Believe it or not, I got a lot more accomplished in 2008 than I thought. Which is a more optimistic way of saying that when 2008 started, I didn’t think I would get anything accomplished at all. I figured by the time we moved to Madison and I adjusted from being a stay-at-home mom to entering the workforce on a part-time basis, I then would be able to figure out how I would do my writing schedule. And indeed, during the first half of the year, there were times when I only were able to work on writing five, maybe ten minutes a day. Sometimes not even that.

But once we got to Madison, things got settled more quickly than I thought. In fact, around July I was able to seriously take a look at where I was in my writing. So let’s bring that up:

Willow: Finish reading by Fall 2008, start edits by Winter 2008.
Well, technically I finished the readthrough on January 5, 2009. But at least I never specified exact months. So as far as I know, I can easily say start edits by Winter 2009. Okay, yes, that’s cheating. But frankly, I don’t care.

Short Stories/Essays/Poetry: Polish 5 stories and submit them. Write 2 essays and submit. Polish 2 poems and submit.
Let me take a look at what I did accomplish in 2008:

I wrote 5 new short stories and 1 poem, ready for revision.
I submitted 3 short stories, one of them being “She’s All Light”.
I had 3 short stories published (all in the beginning of 2008).

I also had a partial recap posted for the Agony Booth. (Southland Tales). So that can be applied towards an essay.

Critiques: Do one a month. Find a writer’s group.
Ha! It’s a miracle I even remain on some on my writer’s lists. However, I not only did I find two writers’ groups, I also joined up with a Wiscon book group.

Contest: I’ll give myself a break. Enter 1 contest, fee or non
“She’s All Light” was sent to the Writers of the Future Contest at the end of September.

Craft: Attend the Wisconsin Literary Festival in October (I don’t know when the Midwest Literary one is–the website seems to be down). Plan to attend Wiscon in 2009.
I attended the Literary Festival, and was somewhat disappointed. They didn’t offer as many writer workshops as I thought. Seeing that it was more of a Book Festival, I’m not all that surprised. Wiscon I’ll talk about it in a bit.

Looking at what I did accomplish in 2008, I’m pretty happy. Granted, it wasn’t that much of a productive year, but I could have done worse.

Looking ahead to 2009, I can tell it’s going to be a novel-heavy year. Weeping of the Willows is ready for its second rewrite. I managed to get it down to 50 chapters, and I want to shoot for a second draft that’s at least 150,000 words. I’m hoping that will cut down the amount of time spent working on it, because I no longer have the luxury of a stay-at-home status to write.

But I still need to get some short stories circulating out among the markets. I happen to be working on one right now, though it’s not for a market per se. I’ve also been seriously thinking about the advice Neil Gaiman gave on the Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast about writing every day. I’ve been trying it out, and while I don’t always write something new everyday, I have been managing to write out a whole story a week since 2009 started. All right, yes, that means so far I’ve written two new stories, but maybe there’s something to this ‘write every day’ advice.

I’m thinking with all my energies going to Willow, this would be a good time to churn out stories that are relatively short, easy on the word count, and don’t require all that much. Of course, this brings me to my next hurdle, the Writers of the Future Contest. I confess–I’m really having fun writing stories for it. Maybe it’s that Honorable Mention I got the first time I submitted something. I’m curious to know how high I can get. Semi-finalist? Finalist even?

The Contest’s deadlines are quarterly. If I can revise four good stories this year and send them off, what are the odds that I reach the Finalist stage? Don’t know until I try, I suppose. But time is the factor here. Again, I don’t have as much time that I did when I lived in Chicago. I’ll have to budget my time wisely.

So let’s do this:

Willow: Begin 2nd draft in February 2009. See if I can do two chapters a week for completion by Fall 2009.
Short stories: Freewrite a story each week. Revise four stories to send to Writers of the Future. Submit rejects to other markets. (This means that while I’ll be writing more stories, I won’t be submitting as much. A bummer, because I want to get more of my work circulating out there–but I think Willow takes higher precedence, so I don’t mind putting submissions on the back burner. And at least this way, I’m getting something out.)
Essays: Although I’m not going to work on any essays this year, I do want to do a full recap for the Agony Booth since that is so much fun to write for. That would probably happen in latter portion of 2009.
Contests: Focus on submitting a story for each quarter of Writers of the Future.
Critiques: With all the writing I’m doing, my email critters lists have taken a very low priority. Conversely, I’ve been working more with my face-to-face email groups. I’ll have to keep doing that, I guess.
Conferences: There are actually several conferences I’ll be doing this year, but seeing that it’s getting late, I’ll reserve those in my next post.

So there you have it. More writing, most of it concentrated on Willow. If all goes well, who knows? Maybe the beginning of my 2010 goals will be “sending Willow off to publishers & agents…”

LaShawn’s New Year’s Writing Resolutions for 2008–or rather, for the rest of 2008…

So I’ve been wondering why it’s been so hard for me to get back into the groove of writing. Not that I haven’t been writing…considering all that I’ve been through, I’m quite proud I was able to finish revising my short story. It’s just that I feel aimless, wandering, distracted. I sit down to write but instead, I start to play video games. Websurf. Post in some forums. I don’t get it. I would’ve thought that by now I would be knuckling back down into writing, but I’m not.

Then I realized, the reason why I’m not doing anything is because I haven’t done any planning on my writing since…since September? The last time I set up writing goals was the beginning of 2007. It is now halfway through 2008.

That’s a long time.

Well, better late than never. Let’s look at what I had done in 2007. Let’s see, the first thing I wrote for my 2007 blog was: “I always face the new year with a hint of foreboding. It’s less this year, but it’s there. A full 365…well, okay 362, days that will come. Anything could happen in 2007. Anything at all. Good or bad. It freaks me out, not knowing the unknown…”

Wow. Is there a way to reach into time to smack myself? Sister, you weren’t kidding! And by the way, I hope you like cheese. Lots and lots of cheese…

I went on to wonder: “I should be more optimistic. After all, 2006 was a year full of surprises for our household. Daniel having two febrile seizures, my sister-in-law and my mother getting married, hubbie getting a job. It’s been quite a year. How will 2007 follow that up? Will it be nice and quiet, giving us a chance to adjust to normal life? Or will it be full of pitfalls? Will we wind up living on the streets? Will someone in our family wind up in the hospital? or even die?”

Nice and quiet, my ass.

Actually, I can’t really complain all that much. 2007 was good to us–it just got stressful at times, starting in May when we put a new roof on our house. I did go to the Midwest Writer’s Conference on scholarship; that was a great time. And I potty-trained Daniel, which was a real biggie. It was only in October that things went KABLOOEEY!

So let’s see what I had down for writing goals in 2007:

Willow: Finish rough draft by end of this year. Spend 14 hours or write 2 chapters per week. (With Daniel going to daycare starting this month, my hours should increase.)
Well, that goal got met in July. So hey, I just realized it’s been a full year since I finished writing Willow. Huh.

Short stories/Essays/Poetry: Write six stories, five essays, three poems and submit them. Spend at least 10 hours on 2 other works (short story/poem/essay).
Let’s see: Looking back for the year, I wrote 8 short stories, 1 poem and 3 essays. Out of the stories, three got submitted: “Crimson” was the only one to get published. I have two stories out making their rounds to publishers (one is actually submitted to the Writers of the Future contest, but that won’t count for 2007). I just finished polishing “She’s All Light” and hopefully, that will be going out soon. The others are waiting to be polished.

All 3 essays got published, though one of them was more of a newsletter article for MOPS. And I haven’t done any poetry revisions, so I have not submitted any poems.

Critiques:Do 2 critiques per month for my email writing lists.
Yeah. That didn’t happen.

Contests: Enter at least 1 entry-fee contest and 3 non-entry fee.
Hmm, trying to remember. I did enter a story into the Speculative Christmas contest that had an entry fee of $5, so that counts for the paid. I also submitted a story for the Verb’s “Here’s Looking at You” contest. I can’t remember any other contests, though.

Craft: Take at least one class in writing. Go to two workshops, one free, one paid. There’s an Indiana workshop that I can try getting into for free (that can be part of the contest goal). There’s also the Midwest Literary Festival. I want to save money to go to the full-day seminar they have the day before. There should also be free workshops at Schaumburg library.
I didn’t make it to the Midwest Literary Festival, but I did go to the Midwest Writers Workshop. As far as classes go, I didn’t get around to it. But that’s okay. What I learned at the MWW made up for it. Wait…the scholarship! I wrote that the scholarship did count towards the contest. So that makes 2 non-entry fee contests I entered. And I did win the scholarship (though it never got published…wait, what am I talking about? It was a small excerpt of Crowntree. It did get published! Score!)

Consider going to a fantasy convention? Windycon maybe.
Hmmm. Windycon may be out of the running now, but Wiscon is now possible. Perhaps maybe even more preferable.

Reading: Read two books a month, one fantasy, one other genre. Every other month, read craft book, like Stephen King’s On Writing.
Can’t recall how many books I was reading in 2007, but I think I stayed up on it. I didn’t read as many craft books as I liked to–mainly because I find it easier to just write. Prose’s book doesn’t count–I read that in 2008.

So looking at this, I can say that I had a pretty productive year for most of 2007. The question is, how do I make 2008 just as productive, especially since half of 2008 is gone?

Well, let’s look at the state of things. I haven’t done much ‘writing’ since October 2007–just revisions on “She’s All Light” and reading of Willow. Currently, I only have two stories floating out, so I need to get more out there. It’s nice to run out of stories to get published, but it also means that there are stories sitting on my hard drive that aren’t published. I need to get cracking.

The problem is, I’ve been ‘revision mode’ for a very long time. I want to get creative. I want to do some ‘fun’ writing. Some fun flash writing. Work on some stuff that’s not so serious. Then I can tackle something a little more heavier. If I could get five stories out the rest of this year, I would feel good.

Then there’s Willow. I need to get back on a schedule of reading that. At this rate, I won’t get to actually editing this thing until the fall, maybe winter, and that could take another whole year. Ugh. But then again, it might not be so bad, especially since I chopped the book in half.But one thing’s for sure–each day I don’t do a read-through adds another day it will take longer to finish. So I think my first couple of priorities is to get reading on Willow, and get some more stories out. Long term, I want to finish reading Willow and start working on edits by October of this year.

I think the main thing as far as critiquing goes is to find a writer’s group here in Madison. I’m mainly looking for a group that will challenge me and will also include other people who are serious about publishing. Luckily, I have a couple of leads, so I don’t think I’ll have a problem meeting this goal. At least, I hope I won’t.

As for essay writing, I’ll keep it at three essays to write, edit and send out, and for the poetry, I’ll bump the goal to just two poems to send out. I’m also thinking that I should work on these things now since I’m a little fried on the short story revision. Switching to non-fiction or poetry for a little while would be nice.

So let’s see how the goals for 2008 shape up:

Willow: Finish reading by Fall 2008, start edits by Winter 2008.
Short Stories/Essays/Poetry: Polish 5 stories and submit them. Write 2 essays and submit. Polish 2 poems and submit.
Critiques: Do one a month. Find a writer’s group.
Contest: I’ll give myself a break. Enter 1 contest, fee or non
Craft: Attend the Wisconsin Literary Festival in October (I don’t know when the Midwest Literary one is–the website seems to be down). Plan to attend Wiscon in 2009.

Well, alright then. Now we got some goals to work towards. I now feel all set to work!

Tomorrow…

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