Writing Goals and Gym Rats

Fountain pen   It’s 2015! A new year with new challenges and goals. Mine are all set, and I’m already working on them. Some are work goals (always comes back to the money, doesn’t it?), some are personal (get rid of a few pounds), and some are, you guessed it, writing goals. Yes, writing is a hobby, but I find that I accomplish little without something to work towards.

I heard a story when I was young about a boy whose father told him to walk in a straight line through the snow. After several yards, his father told him to turn around. The line of his footsteps wandered from side to side, and even drifted off at a forty-five degree angle at one point. His told him to try again. After several more yards, the result was the same, and the boy, feeling defeated, began to cry. After a third failed attempt, the boy’s father convinced him to give it one more go, but he pointed to a fence post at the edge of their property and told the boy to keep his eyes on that point until he reached it. The boy thought that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard, but fearing punishment if he failed again, he obeyed. When he arrived at the fence and turned around, he saw a straight line of footsteps reaching back to his father. That’s exactly what goals do for me.

So what are they, these lofty plans I have? First is to get Mammon ready to query. That’s the big one. I’ve got most of my initial beta readers’ comments back, and I’ve got some work to do. Nothing huge. It could probably go out like it is, but too much effort has gone into the story to send it out with obvious weaknesses. Then, I’ll have to do some research and determine which agents look like the best fit and write the dreaded query letter. I’d rather listen to a continuous loop of the collected works of Miley Cyrus sung by Justin Bieber than write a query letter. It doesn’t help that the expected response to a query isn’t just no, it’s hell no, or even worse, silence. Nothing. Finally, I’ll do a synopsis of the book, just in case somebody lets a positive response slip out. I wrote the novel. It’s about three hundred pages on Word with a twelve point Calibri font. So why does telling the story in three pages seem like such a feat? Still, though, this goal is the one I’m most excited about. Every rejection will bring me closer to an agent and the Pulitzer Prize!

A second goal this year is to have my first novel, A Simple Man, ready to put on Kindle. It should be almost there, but almost ain’t perfect, so it will involve some work. I’m not one hundred percent sure that’s the path I’ll take, but I suspect it’s going to be the best one for that piece. I’m leaning that way for a lot of reasons, most of which I’ll address in a later post.

I’m also going to be ghost writing a nonfiction book this year. I was asked about it in November of 2013, but several things, including my health and my position at work, made the timing bad. Now, though, it looks like things are moving forward. We’re meeting next week to set goals (there they are again) and establish a schedule. Writing nonfiction is a different process than creating fiction, and it’s one I enjoy. Taking large amounts of information on a given subject and making them accessible to the average Joe can bring a lot of satisfaction. Doing it in the author’s voice should be a good challenge.

Platform building is another goal I’ve set for 2015. Writing well and telling a good story is no longer the key element to getting published, it seems. I’m told it’s all about the available audience, so I’ll continue blogging – which is a lot of fun, it turns out – and tweeting (not so much fun), and Facebooking with an author page, and building an author site, and so on, and so on, and so on. You can help! If you like what you read here, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I wish I had come along when writers went to the beach or the mountains with crates of whiskey and shot at anybody who disturbed them. That would have meant using a manual typewriter, though, so I’ll do the platform building and smile.

And then there’s that last writing goal. It’s the one that makes me want to just forget about all the crap I’ve gone on about up to now. It’s the one that’s going to be keeping me awake at night. It’s the one that makes me glad I spent four years at The Citadel learning about self-discipline. My next tale of horror and human depravity is ready to be birthed. It’s like Rosemary’s Baby, screaming and clawing to be released onto the unsuspecting world. The working title, I think, is going to be Are You Using Your Soul? And it will have to wait. My goal is to have a rough draft done by the end of the year, but other projects have to take precedence right now. Damn it.

It’s a tall order I’ve given myself, I think, but little goals aren’t much worth having. Work will have to come first (the paying gig), and I know I’ll have days when life gets in the way, but I’ll keep pushing forward. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth my poor  wife will endure, I’ll love every minute of it. Somehow, it seems like I’m constructing a writing schedule much like a gym rat’s workout schedule.

  • Monday – fiction and legs
  • Tuesday – blogging and upper body
  • Wednesday – nonfiction and arms
  • Thursday – editing and cardio
  • Friday – research and twelve-ounce curls

Ah, Friday.

2 thoughts on “Writing Goals and Gym Rats

  1. Your goals for 2015 are making me tired just thinking about them. I have a few myself. I want to finish writing my non-fiction autobiography. I’m not sure about the publishing route at this time, I am mostly writing this one for me to help with the healing process. I will write and illustrate a children’s book. I have one picture almost finished and another one started, but haven’t written the story yet. At this point I think the story is going to be determined by the pictures I draw but all of the pictures will have a sweater loving giraffe doing something. I think the hardest part of the illustrations will be to make the giraffe face look the same in all the pictures no matter what direction it is facing. Plus I want to be more diligent with my blog, instead of writing a post every 6 months or so, I hope to start again writing at least twice a month. Oh yeah, I forgot that work gig stuff, gotta do that too this year. Seems like every hour of the day is taken up with something. May all your 2015 goals come true. Let me know if you have find a time in there to sleep at least a little.

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