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I stumbled upon this post via Facebook. http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/journal/debut-author-lessons-hate-mail/ It reminds me a little bit about when I used to post my stories for critque on an online website and the very first story I ever wrote, got a less than great review. I suspected the person didn’t honestly know what they talking about because they kept using literary terms that when I looked them up, didn’t jive with the context they used them in. Since the other critques were helpful and more positive, I took it with a grain of salt but I was still royally upset for several days. I know people won’t like everything I write for a variety or reasons because as a reader, I don’t like everything I read including works by my favorite authors.
Each Saturday it is my hope to post an entry called Weekly Musing. In those posts, I want to discuss some topic that has been bubbling inside me. In trying to come up with this week’s musing, I struggled to find such a topic. This despite the fact I have a list of about 42 topics to choose from but none of them jumped out at me. I was in the process of updating my goal list for the next 5 years when I realized that could be a source of discussion as well as a list of commandments I’ve given myself.
Before I started writing, I never believed in 5 year plans. That always struck me as something born from a corporate culture. Something your manager asks you at your yearly performance evaluation or in an interview. But I reconsidered that position last year and constructed a 5 year plan. It is a fluid document and indeed it has changed and evolved greatly from the first draft. I believe I must have amended the goals for 2012 at least 10 times before the end of the year.
I was looking at it the other day and realized several of my priorities have changed. The more I learn and grow as a writer, the more I let a whim or thought dictate my work, the greater the need to revise my goals. Many of the goals repeat themselves over all 5 years: keep learning, complete rough draft of Project X, revise draft of Project Y, start research for Project Z, attend conferences/workshops, etc. The most important one of my goals, though, is to KEEP LEARNING. A theme I have read and heard about time and time again, even from established authors about to come out with their umpteenth book. It’s a good thing I genuinely enjoy learning because if I didn’t, the thought of evolving as a writer might be off-putting.
My goals for this year are simple: join the local writers group (done), start attending the local chapter of the PNWA (done), revise a story that has been a thorn in my side for over a year (thankfully done!), workout an outline for a possible novel (done), continue research for my book set in early 15th century Wales (work in progress), do an outline for said 15th century Wales book (not done), and as a way to torture myself, participate in NaNoWriMo and spend the entire month of November producing what will probably be a horrendously crappy rough draft of said Wales book.
Subsequent years I have a lot of goals revolving around drafting, researching, revising, outlining, and, fingers crossed, publishing my work. But in an effort to not overwhelm myself, I’ve scheduled looking into publishing to at least 2015. Personally I feel I’m not ready to look into the business side of writing. I’d rather just concentrate on learning and getting better.
Now for the list of commandments I came up for myself last year. I originally started off with 10. Seemed to be a good historically sound jumping off point, but it has blossomed into 12 commandments. The idea for these commandments arose from nuggets of advice picked up from a variety of sources. Some I actually came up with on my own. My list of commandments are as follows:
1) I shall write to express, not impress.
2) I shall write the rough draft with the door closed but will keep the door open for revisions.
3) I shall trust my instincts.
4) I shall not get bogged down in negative thoughts about my talent.
5) I shall write for the sake of writing, not for money or fame (although the money wouldn’t be that bad to have).
6) I shall not be discouraged by negative reactions to my work. Not everyone is going to like what I write. I certainly don’t like everything I read.
7) I shall realize that not every idea will work and need to realize when to just let a piece go.
8) I shall have my own work schedule and timeline and will not allow myself to feel like I am behind.
9) I shall have patience with myself (by far the hardest commandment!).
10) I shall not compare myself to others. I have my own voice and perspective to share with the world.
11) I shall not fear nor feel shame in my ideas and how I choose to express those ideas.
12) I shall write with LOVE.