While 2017 was a better year than 2016 in many respects, when it came to my writing it was a rather stagnant year. In looking over my goals for this year, I see I did not meet a lot of them. None of the goals were lofty and unachievable. In fact, I believed these all to be reasonable and something any writer would put on their own list. As the year went along, I determined some weren’t really a goal I wanted to work on after all as my own philosophy began to change.
Historical Fiction Book: Honestly, this has been a story which has often been the bane of my existence. I love it, then dislike it. I’ve certainly banged by head against the wall more than once while I’ve worked on it on and off over the years. I have re-written and changed it so many times it barely resembles my original idea. For example, it was going to be multiple POVs. Then I cut it down to two before cutting to one POV. This was due in large part because over the years I have realized I am most comfortable with writing one POV.
While I am once again back to feeling this may be a project to put on the shelf semi-permanently, it did teach me a lot. It taught me just how contradictory research can be and how at the end of the day errors will be made no matter how diligent my research is. I also learned there is such a thing as too much research which crowds out my ability to focus on the fiction aspect of historical fiction.
In terms of actual storytelling, I learned I need to really rein in my ideas. I suspect this will always be an area which will be a work in progress. The more I write the better I should get at recognizing what does and doesn’t make sense.
I also learned I need to trust myself when it comes to the characters. I found myself backing off having characters do things which would make them to unlikeable at times. This is a silly way of thinking. People aren’t always one way or another.
Submitting More: I thought after taking some time off due to personal reasons from submitting due I would want to get back to it. It’s been awesome getting those acceptance emails and seeing my work in both print and online. Those published works make up for the dozens of rejections and the hours spent cleaning up work to make it suitable for submission.
But I have learned this year my heart does not lie in short stories and spending hours writing them. I’ve enjoyed the new ideas and research done. However, since my primary goal has always been to write and publish novels, I need to devote as many hours as I can to that. I’ve always been a novel reader and still am. Novels take plenty of work and with my deliberate pace and lack of desire to write short stories, something had to give.
I don’t know if this will ultimately backfire for me career wise. One of the big things I heard over and over when I began writing more seriously is it is important for beginning writers to try and get as many short stories published as possible in order to help them to get a novel published. The more I write and the more I think about this the more I question if it ultimately matters. Writers should seek publication because they believe in their story. Not to build a resume.
Going forward the only kind of submitting I want to focus on is sending out book manuscripts. I’d also want to consider self-publishing and the work involved with that.
Advice: One of my resolutions was to scale back the amount of writing advice I read. This took some time, but I decided to unsubscribe to many of my favorite blogs. I know I’ve had a couple of posts of blog recommendations. I still stand by those people and believe they produce a lot of helpful content. For me personally, I need to stay away from noise. Also, things always change. Information which was fresh a couple of years ago may very well be outdated.
I realized, too, I should only go after information as it applies to a particular stage in my career. For example, it makes no sense to learn about query letters or approaching an agent when I’m not at that point. As I get to those stages between my Writers Digests, countless writing books, and blogs, I’m confident I can find information on any subject I want when I want it.
Writing Conference: This goal was made before I determined it was a good idea to move because my husband and I wanted to be closer to our friends. It was also made before we decided to go on a couple of vacations.
But not fulfilling this goal did not bother me. Much like the advice thing, I realized I should only attend conferences and workshops which I feel apply to me. When I look around and see the programs, I see a lot of the same topics pop up, none of which excite me or are applicable. Why should I potentially waste time and money to not learn much?
2017 NaNoWriMo: This is one goal I am truly proud of achieving. For the longest time I wasn’t sure I would participate. Then a new idea came to me and November was a great time to get a good start on it. It felt good and I even found a possible new writers group because of participating. I got what I wanted out of it and for that I am extremely glad I participated.
Letting Myself Go on the Page: This is one of those goals which I think will always be a work in progress. In 2017 I still found myself holding back on the page. Actually, I was holding the characters back on the page something which goes against my own philosophy. Once again, I will definitely be putting this goal on my list in the hopes I will figure out a way to relax and let go.
2017 was a mixed bag for my goals. That’s okay as sometimes we don’t achieve want we want. Oddly enough I have not beaten myself up for it. Not yet, anyway. I do wonder if this year will wind up being one of those years I reflect upon and realize it was a transition year into becoming the writer I’d like to be.