Writing Goals for 2013

Royal KMM ”Magic Margin” Typewriter by Twylo, on Flickr
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I am resistant to making resolutions for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is that they are so often too difficult to keep.

"Well, make better resolutions!" is the answer. To which I reply, "Still easy to ignore."

What’s needed is not a resolution, but a goal. But not something nebulous. A SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).

Now, I’ve tried this before. And failed.

"But, this year will be different!" is my utterly predictable reply. And I even believe it as I’m typing this. This year is different. Really.

Last year, 2012 (for those of you not keeping up) was a good one for me, writing-wise. I applied for Viable Paradise and actually got in against my expectations. And I met so many wonderful writers, there, and learned so many things.

As part of the "graduation ceremony," we (the VPXVIers) took a solemn oath: "I, state your name, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will write, that I will finish what I have written, that I will send it out — to paying markets only — until Hell won’t have it! And I will tell everyone that VP is the best workshop evah!"

This was a binding oath. Uncle Jim had us hold our hands up and everything, so I’m fairly sure that it’s binding in all fifty states and potentially Guam. Dire consequences await if I don’t keep the oath.


My point is this: I have only submitted once. Ever. To a non-eligible market. And got a very encouraging personal rejection. (A case could be made that submitting to Viable Paradise and being accepted counts as an acceptance, but I had to pay them, so I don’t count it.)

This year, dammit, that changes. I have a bunch of short stories finished or partially written that just need editing / finishing or slight rewrites. I know what one of my main problems is because I’ve heard the same critique over and over: "This needs more conflict." I mean, you don’t have to hit me over the head with a brick but about four or five times before I finally get the point.

I have ideas for several more stories floating around in my head. The existing ones are languishing on my hard drive right now in various states of unreadiness. I have one almost ready to go (my eye problems earlier in the week have kept me from finishing it), and since it is the story that came out of The Horror That Is Thursday™, it seems fitting that it should be the first(ish) story out the door for me.

I have given this a lot of thought.

My immediate goal (Goal the First)  is this: Submit Legal Aliens to paying markets starting no later than Monday, January 7th, 2013. Keep submitting it until it either sells or Hell Won’t Have It.

Goal the Second: Meanwhile, edit/write more and submit those to paying markets. I’m going to submit one every two weeks on a Monday at first, and let’s see how that works out. I might do better. I won’t type the alternative so as not to give it power. :) This means that I have to submit different stories on January 21st, February 4th, February 18th, March 4th, March 18th, April 1st, April 15th, April 29th, May 13th, May 27th, June 10th, June 24th, July 8th, July 22nd, and August 5th. I’m going to stop, there, because I’m getting tired of doing calendar math and because I may find that I do more than that and that I have to revise my goal. Note also that this goal is about new stories. Any that are rejected during the interim can be submitted immediately to the next available market without regards to it being Monday or whatever.

Why this specific goal? Because I know I can write a short story in less than two weeks. Heck, I can write one in five hours. With motivation.

My long-term goal for 2013 is this: Make every effort to sell a story – any story – by at least two weeks before WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. Why? Because if I sell a story to a qualifying paying market, I’m eligible to join SFWA (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) as an Associate Member. Why? Because as an associate member of SFWA, I will be (Note positive verb choice!) eligible to get into the SFWA parties at WorldCon. Why two weeks before? Because it takes them a while to process new applications, and I want to give them plenty of time to add me to the rolls before I go to Texas. :)

Oh, did I mention? I’m going to WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, over Labor Day weekend. Sent in my check on the 29th.

Another short-term goal (Goal the Third) is to read more short fiction. I write short fiction, but I seldom read much of it because I’m usually either on Facebook, YouTube, reading a novel, or whatever. I think it helps to see successful, published stories because I often think, "I could write a better story than that."

Well, do it. Then submit it.

Another short-term goal is to participate in Codex more. This is a hangout for writers who have attained a certain level, such as selling stories or successfully completing certain workshops. I got in because of Viable Paradise. The first five Fridays of the new year (starting tonight, January 4th, 2013), Codex is doing the Weekend Warrior contest. Four prompts will be posted. We’ll have 55 hours to write a story of 750 words or less, inspired by one of the four prompts. It doesn’t even have to be speculative. But they probably all will be. And because Names like Ken Liu and Samantha Henderson and Vylar Kaftan (to name three of many) often participate in these, all submissions are anonymous: all the entries are attributed to pseudonyms. I could tell you mine, but then I’d have to kill you.

Another goal is to blog about my successes and failures here. I used to blog a lot. I mean a lot. But I kind of quit doing that when Facebook got shiny. I want to get back into that. So . . . we’ll see. Facebook is still terribly shiny. :)

I have entered all these short-term goals into my Google Calendar with reminders. It will hound me. I have announced publicly what I intend to do, so you folks will be witness to my shame if I don’t do them.

There’s also a novel lurking in there, somewhere. But I’m not ready to state any goals associated with it, just yet. I have to let it percolate a bit. So I’m going to get started on these goals and think about the novel.

Yay! Onward! 2013 awaits.

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