I’ve been neglectful in taking myself to task for my progress (or lack thereof) of my 2012 literary goals. I think my much slower progress this year is due to 2 things. 1 : I made too many goals and they were rather ambitious in scope and 2: I overestimated the free time I would have in 2012 in order to work on them.
Three things happened in January that affected this. First, my day job got more demanding than I thought it would be. My boss required more from me and especially during the “off” hours–I was asked to work 2 nights and every Saturday morning for a few months. It took a toll on both my home life and my writing time. Secondly, the first circumstance unforeseen, I had increased my volunteer time with my local chapter of RWA. I was now on the board as co-director of Programs for the chapter and had little idea of the time commitment involved in that. Thirdly, my two boys started baseball season in February (it starts early here because it gets too hot in June for the kids to play). And what Saturdays and afternoons my job did not absorb, shuttling the kids around to baseball practice, games and pizza parties manage to soak up the rest.
Are these excuses? Sure. But significant ones. To say that these months have been frustrating would be an understatement. The time I did not have to work on my writing I spent obsessing over the next time I’d get hole myself up in my bedroom with the door barricaded to eek out a few hours with my manuscript.
And that was the other impediment to my progress: the manuscript of Violette, which I had thought only in need of a minor re-write, ended up needing extensive revisions. This book has been a great learning experience for me–I’ve learned a lot about my process (Pantsing is not a good fit for me and I won’t do it again!) and about the craft itself. But this book took way too long to write and I have so many other interesting ideas buzzing around in my head that by the end, I longed to be done so I could move on. Yet I couldn’t walk away until it was as perfect as I could get it (for now). BUT, the success was in the process so that was a win in and of itself.
So all this to say that, while I did make progress on some of the goals I laid out on January 1, 2012, many languished.
It’s the middle of may and it’s long past the time for the first “measuring up” of the year:
1. Finish Violette Final Draft and Polished 1/15/12 Done 5/2/12
I’m thrilled to say that I have now begun the query process for Violette. My goal now is to become represented by an agent so that the book will go out on submission while I’m working on the next one.
2. Plotting/prep/research for Project #2: Rutherford’s story (Lily)
This did not happen as scheduled. I am in the pre-planning (GMC + W plot) stage for Commander Rutherford’s story (which, like Violette, I am naming after the heroine, Lily). After GMC + W plot (I’ll explain that stuff later), come the scene planning and note cards. Once scenes and notecards are complete, then I write the 2-3 page synopsis. After that, fast draft. I hope to have all of this and the fast draft finished by 6/30/12.
3. Develop proposal package for all Violette sequels.
I’m putting this on hold temporarily and making it contingent upon my success for acquiring representation. Hopefully my future agent, should I manage to get one, will be able to shed some light on the necessity of this.
4. Plotting/prep/research for Project #3: Steampunk Thuria
Again, this did not happen because I was still in the throes of Violette during that date (though I did finish the unpolished final draft in early March). My revised plan, I think is to set the Lily fast draft aside just before we leave on our family vacation (early July) and begin the plotting of Steampunk Thuria during the 2nd half of July, so that I won’t be doing any heavy/intense writing during the RWA conference. Once August hits, I’d like to bang out the fast draft of Steampunk Thuria during that month and have it done by 8/30/12.
5. Enter partial of Rutherford’s story and/or Steampunk Thuria in Orange Rose Contest 2012 4/15/12 Done (Entered revised Violette instead) 4/14/12
Self-explanatory. Because I didn’t have projects ready, I entered the revised Violette instead. I entered a previous (and RADICALLY DIFFERENT) draft last year and the feedback from it was invaluable. I will also be taking this same submission and entering it into The Catherine contest, which is similar.
6. Enter at least one manuscript in the RWA Golden Heart Contest 11/15/12
This one remains to be seen. Ideally, I would love not to be able to accomplish this one because I no longer qualify (which would mean I would have signed a contract). But if not, maybe I’ll have more than one submission to put into this. Who knows?
1. Attend RWA National Conference in Anaheim, California 7/28/12 and one other writing conference (Emerald City RWA or Surrey International Writer’s Conference) Registered, 1/15/12
Not only do I have all the arrangements made, but I’ve also, being a member of RWA PRO, opportunity to pitch to one agent and one editor at National. I’m fortuntate that the conference is in my backyard this year and hope to get a lot out of it!
2. Read 1 book on craft per month (Craft Books reading list)
I’m not completing craft books though currently I’ve got bookmarks in The Writer’s Journey (halfway through) GMC (1/3 of the way through) and several different online courses on craft. So I’d count this one as a success.
2. Write 100 x 100 (a minimum of 100 words per day for at least 100 days in a row. My Chart). Starting: … until …
I ran into big time trouble with this one. I was going strong and almost made it a month before I realized that, while hacking into my manuscript, I was deleting more words than I was writing so that even though I’d worked three hours on the manuscript, I had a net gain of less than 100 words. Sometimes a negative net gain! This got to the point where I figured I needed to start this goal up again while I work on new stuff. Thus, this goal has been put on hold until further notice.
3. Maintain my shared writing goal calendar weekly with my fabulous crit partner
This I’ve managed to accomplish using Google calendar. We put our goals in each week and our daily word counts, to make ourselves accountable to each other. If you have a writing partner, I highly recommend setting up a way to be daily accountable to each other!
4. Maintain the pyramid (knowledge, time and enthusiasm) while writing. Record all writing sessions on a spread sheet and monitor hourly rate.
See notes regarding Goal #2 (100 X 100) and copy here. Same exact issues here. I’ll revisit this when I’m in the drafting stage.
1. Read 2-3 novels per month (2012 reading list)
Though I have not been maintaining the reading list on my blog, I have been updating my reading on Goodreads. I just finished One Week as Lovers by Victoria Dahl, and an as yet unpublished novella by Tessa Dare (that is awesome!) and am now reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. Reading novels really helps when I’m not feeling that my writing is terribly inferior! I hereby resolve to update my reading list.
2. Carry a notebook wherever I go. Done
I have one notebook for each project. I at least one around wherever I go. Into that notebook go my ideas, snippets of dialogue, pre-novel planning, pictures for inspiration, research I’ve garnered, ad infinitum. Once I fill up that notebook, I set it aside at home somewhere convenient (if I’m still working on the project) and start another blank one. I have three full notebooks for Violette. They are filed away on the shelf in my writer’s corner (in my bedroom). I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this stuff once it crowds me out of house and home, however. This tool helps me a lot so I’ll keep it up.
3. Get out into nature at least 1-2 times per month.
Sadly I’ve not had the time to do this. However, this past month I’ve been spending much more time in my garden. My poor rose garden has been sadly neglected and needs lots of help. I’m hoping to make big improvements on this goal during the summer, when the weather is nicer, the days are longer, and I have much more time because I have no day job! Plus, it’s good for the kids, so I look forward to planning these excursions.
4. Go on a writer’s retreat.
So far in 2012, funds have been a little tight, preventing this. Maybe in August before I go back to work? I need to plan this strategically so I can get as much out of it as I can.
5. Keep healthy.
Did not stick to this one as much as I would have liked, but I’m in the process of making significant changes to my lifestyle.
Progress Towards Publication Goals
1. Draft Query Letter for Violette In progress
I’m refining the blurb right now. I have the last paragraph completely written and plan to change the first paragraph to fit the person I am addressing. So blurb is all I need. This week it will be done and polished, hopefully. I’ll send out 5 queries over the weekend. Depending on my responses to the query letter (i.e. what the rate of requests for partials is), I’ll make adjustments accordingly.
2. Develop spreadsheet and/or use QueryTracker to track query progress In Progress
I’ve developed the spreadsheet, divided my list of prospective agents into A (dream agent) B (don’t know a lot about them but want to know more) and C (last resort, probably not a good fit but might be worth trying before giving up entirely). Partial requests and full requests, along with results, are all being carefully tracked.
3. Query 5-10 agents per month
Soon, probably starting beginning of next week
4. Practice pitch for Violette and related projects
Going to work on this with my fabulous writing friends as soon as my blurb is perfected.
5. Pitch to agents/editors at conferences and RWA meetings
Stay tuned. Pitch appointments set up for Nationals!
In conclusion: I need to stop avoiding these goals like the elephant in the room. I’m going to revisit my original list and alter as needed and make them work for me or toss them out.
Phew. That took a while but I think it was worth it. Even if no one ever reads this but me, it has been of great value in settling my mind and organizing my thoughts about what I need to work on and what I need to accomplish towards my dreams. So if you’ve read this far, I commend you.
As for the review of these goals…well… hopefully the next one will come a little sooner. To be continued…