This year, I reached a goal: I finished the first draft of a novel! Obviously, this isn't the first time I've done this, but I struggled for a long time to actually come up with a story that I could turn into a full length piece of fiction. Last year's NaNoWriMo kicked my butt, but it also got me moving again. I struggled a bit after that because, even though I "won," I didn't have a complete story. I hit the exact word count, then stopped. But as someone with practice, I knew that was something I could do.
This year, though, I set out to draft a full book. It has a lot of work that still needs to go into it, like ten thousand words that need to be cut out and replaced with a better opening. Continuity needs to get hammered into place, scenes need a LOT of refinement, and the plot itself needs to get overhauled so that it all makes sense. But I have something to work with! And even though it didn't end the way I originally planned, I feel like it's an ending I can work with and work toward as I move all the pieces into place.
My goals for next year are a little different than last year's. My plan is to learn to write short stories. I'm going to finish this current book and start another one, and I'm going to query it, but my focus in between that project is to get at least three short stories published in SFWA qualified publications.
Unlike the goals I set as a younger man, I'm going to be flexible with these. They're difficult to achieve, which is important because I need to stretch myself to get better at what I do. But if it turns out to be "impossible," then I know how to adjust my technique to make sure I still accomplish real, difficult goals without simply "failing" to rise to a challenge. With the short stories, a lot of that comes down to the market (once I learn how to write short stories well). I can't control what editors want, though I can improve my work to make it desirable. So obviously, the number I set is mostly to give me something to aim for. It's not something I'm simply going to bend on if I feel like it's getting too hard. But we'll see what my goals look like in a few months, too.
Be safe this New Year's Eve. We'll have a new episode up next Tuesday!