Assigning an intention for the new year is a trend I’ve watched my friends and acquaintances participate in over the past couple of years. Like the yoga practice this trend emulates, these intentions usually center around a word, like “2018 is going to be the year of less” (less stress, less stuff, less … whatever). Or “in 2018, I’m going to spend more time reading actual books and less time on my cell phone.” (<– That may be a thought that I’ve kicked around from time to time.)
I’d like to denounce this as a bunch of new age hooey, but I’ve been writing down my yearly intentions since 2015.
2015 was the year of networking. And it was – at the tail end of 2014, I won the Hugh Holton Award for promising new writers from Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter. I decided to take that shiny designation and travel to Printers Row Literary Festival in Chicago that summer. That’s where I met folks like Lori Rader-Day, Julia Lightbody, Clare O’Donohue, and Susanna Calkins. These writers have been incredibly generous with their time and their expertise over the past few years. It was a weekend well spent.
2016 was the year of actual. I actually finished a draft of Dragonfly. I found out that a short story of mine was accepted for publication. (It was also the year we lost Carrie Fisher and there was some election that occurred. I’ve banished a lot of those memories to the darkest recesses of my mind, so … yeah. That’s about all I have to say about that.)
It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek (but not really), but despite the aforementioned governmental tides of 2016, personally and professionally – 2017 was my year of awesome. The recap is here. Briefly, the runner-up for the Claymore award at Killer Nashville; my first publication; the connections I was able to foster over the year. Incredible and invaluable.
What will 2018 bring? I’ve started referring to 2018 as the year of measurable progress. Oh. God. What the hell does that even mean? This is what I’ve jotted down; in 2018, I want to:
- Create a sustainable / measurable writing routine.
- Finish edits to Dragonfly so I can start querying in earnest.
So, gut check: I’m embarrassed when I think that I’ve been writing Dragonfly for an untold number of years. (A quick check of my computer tells me that a first draft dates back to 2012-13. I think it goes back even further than that …) And I’m also embarrassed that I’ve been editing the damn thing for over a year now and that I’m not finished yet. Now, keep in mind – editing isn’t an everyday occurrence and that’s probably my Waterloo. But life gets in the way. I’m a mom and I’m a worker bee in the everyday world. I also happen to like my husband and do things like visit my family and read books.
I can understand when writing gets derailed by a puking kid that needs my attention or when work is crushing me with the deadlines that result in a paycheck. But the tail end of that last paragraph? All of those things are true – but they are also excuses that don’t take into account the fact I have more arcane knowledge stuffed in my head about the UK’s Royal family than is probably healthy. (But may secure me a spot on “Jeopardy” someday.) I can also tell you the unusual moniker belonging to Kim Kardashian-West’s youngest daughter. Folks – I don’t even watch the Kardashians. WHY DO I KNOW THAT KIMYE’S CHILD IS NAMED CHICAGO??
So 2018 is the year of measurable progress. And yes, that means more books and less time scrolling on my phone. It means using word trackers to try to gauge how many words I’m averaging a day and how I can increase my word count over the course of the year. (J.T. Ellison is the author who turned me onto word trackers. She also does an amazing job of doing an “annual review” that discusses the same things that I’m talking about here … a recap of the year before and action plans for the next.)
In terms of Dragonfly, it means that I’m aiming for the current round of edits to be done by April. Then it goes to beta readers. (And then I have to figure out what comes next … baby steps, people!)
I’ve also sketched out some goals and identified some potential opportunities I may want to pursue to help me achieve my publication goals for Dragonfly. One of them is trying to consider whether I want to participate in Pitch Wars. (Read more about PW here.) Another is leveraging my existing writers group to polish some existing short stories that I have with the goal of finding homes for these stories – an ongoing attempt to make myself more marketable and attractive to future agents.
Measurable progress. Not perfection, friends … because at the end of the day, we’re all only human. But one foot in front of the other in achieving our goals and dreams.
Thanks for being part of my journey!