This time of year people are considering resolutions and setting goals for 2016. A writer’s goals may be quite different than, say, an average Joe or Jill. Of course, losing a couple of pounds and eating more greens are good things to work on. However, a writer might strive for more meatiness in their prose than fiber. More time to write, getting a literary agent, or getting that book, poem or short story published would top most writer’s wish list. And like a smoker vowing to break the habit each year for the past five years, there's only so much time in a day, literary agents don't take everything sent them, and getting published can be difficult. It is good to have goals. It is good to have focus and direction.
One of the fun things the Nebraska Writers Workshop does at its annual dinner is pass out blank index cards and ask each person to write their goals for the coming year. But first, the collected index cards from the previous year are read and the group tries to guess whose goals they were. Also, it's an opportunity to review and see which goals were achieved.
My goals for 2015, written at the end of 2014 were:
1. Complete two short stories.
2. Finish the manuscript for the third novel.
3. Secure an agent.
4. Publish, or self-publish my novel.
5. Play softball as well as I used to play two years before.
(What? A writer can't play softball to relax?)
I didn't fool anyone as soon as number 5 was read aloud, they knew it had to be mine.
As for the other four goals--three out of four isn't too bad.
I completed two short stories: You Can Go To Hell and The House on Zed Street. I started a third short story, but set it aside. The stories turned out well, and I am sending them around to magazines and entering each in contests.
I also finished my third novel, the thriller: Keeper of an Ordinary. And that's where number three came in. I sent queries and sample chapters to any many literary agents as I could find. No takers, but some nibbles. Oh well. This is when number four kicked in and I self-published Keeper of an Ordinary. I am extremely satisfied with how it turned out. In fact, it turned out so well 2016 is devoted to writing the sequel to Keeper of an Ordinary.
And number 5? I had taken 2014 off from league softball due to chronic knee pain. But I really missed playing ball. The short spring season was the test. I limited my playing time to one night a week rather than two nights. Besides, Wednesdays are workshop nights, and writing is the priority. I did play a couple of Wednesdays when the team needed me. And was I, like my stated goal, as good as I was in years past? The answer is yes. I played infield, second and third base pretty good, and batted around .750. I ended the season with my chronic knee not paining me so much.
The point then is to set realistic and attainable goals in life and your endeavors. A goal should be a step forward, as life is a series of steps ahead and not giant leaps. Giant leaps certainly do happen, but often a giant leap is the result of many normal steps down the road.
My goals for 2016? Well, as I noted, I am working on the sequel to 2015's Keeper of an Ordinary. You could safely bet this year's goals are a couple steps forward from last years. Good luck with your accomplishing your goals. Cheers