Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Subtle Changes of Life

My goals have changed a lot over the years, including where I want to go with my career, living arrangements (house vs. apartment), and what my a successful writing day looks like. A few years ago I was only working "part time," no paid time off, so one of my goals for writing included getting myself to a point where I could pay my bills with my writing. I still haven't gotten paid for a single word I've written, but that's beside the point.

Today, I have the day off. I requested it off to deal with some errands that could only be done during the week, while I normally work. And I'm getting paid for my time off. Obviously, that's more than a subtle change, but to me it came about in a significant but small way. It's huge, yes, but following the course of my life from my perspective, it was almost inevitable.

With writing, things have changed a lot, too. The book that I'm querying right now got conceptualized, drafted, revised, and edited in about 14 months. I pushed for that. I wanted to be able to show agents and editors that I can write a book in a year. That meant that "success" in each day of writing required a minimum of 1500 words, and near the end, closer to 2500. I hit those goals consistently, and I edited and revised on schedule.

Not so with the book I'm working on now. Because of the time I had to spend on my day job when I didn't get paid time off, and because of many other aspects of my life that I simply couldn't control, creativity almost didn't happen at all. For nearly six months. I even "won" nanowrimo last year with a story that was utter crap. I'm proud of the accomplishment, but I'm SO happy that I'm done with that project. It was stupid and bad and deserves to be shut away somewhere.

As some long-time readers/listeners know, I had a story workshopped on The Roundtable Podcast earlier this year. That's the story I'm working on now. The first draft has reached my minimum word goal of 60k, and I still have a few more chapters to write before it's drafted. But this will only be draft .5. The "complete" first draft will come after I let the ideas drift around in my brain, then I have to rewrite about 15k words and let it sit again before I can start the real revisions. It's going to take a while. Definitely more than 14 months from concept to query.

But I'm making progress. And I've achieved this, so far, with a "minimum" daily goal of 500 words. Which I consistently miss. I just upped it to 625 because I need to keep stretching myself again. Get my brain working where it was a few years ago. But I'm very proud of the progress I'm making. And even though life is changing in other subtle ways, too, my focus on writing and success is staying true to the goals I set when I was 14.

The journey won't look the same for each of you out there, and it won't even look the same for me next year. But I'm rolling with it. Not giving up, despite how often I feel like that would be the "best" thing I could do.

Words, words, words. Shakespeare's most brilliant line. It's how Giles feels a good deal of the time when he's trying to sound clever. His ego is definitely smaller than it was a few years ago. More changes, see?

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