Well, it’s December 31st, my dear imaginary reader! Happy New Year’s Eve!!
I hope that wherever you are—you are safe, happy, and surrounded by the people who bring you joy.
Like many of you, I’m a big goal-setter. Every day, I get up and develop a list of goals that I want to accomplish before I go to bed. I have lists of goals for everything…my personal life, professional life…short-term, long-term….
I need goals.
Without them, I feel out of sorts…like I’m sitting in a restaurant without a menu. I simply HAVE to have lists of goals. Goals make me feel good!
How else am I going to measure the depth of my failure? Eh?
So, for me, New Year’s Eve is kind of special. It’s the day for goals and resolutions! It’s a day where I can set the standard by which next year will be judged.
Will it be a spectacular success? J Or a dismal failure? L
As a writer, I have three goals for 2014. If I can accomplish most of them, I think it’ll be a pretty good year.
Here they are….
New Year’s Resolution #1: I want to read more bad books. Every self-help writer’s guide says the same thing; in order to be a writer, you have to read a lot and you have to write a lot.
Thanks to www.audible.com, I listen to two books a month.
I also go to the library and randomly select books to read.
The problem is, if a book doesn’t IMMEDIATELY capture my attention (and I mean IMMEDIATELY. I’ll literally give a book three sentences to hook me), I put it back on the shelf.
This is bad.
As a new novelist, I need to learn from ALL books—especially the ones I don’t like. How else can I figure out what works and what doesn’t? Further, there are a lot of books that start off crappy, but turn out to be brilliant. Look at the Fellowship of the Ring!
So, for New Year’s Resolution #1, I want to try to read three books a month. Further, if the book starts out bad, I want to stay with it for at least a hundred pages. After that, back to the dusty bookshelf!!!
New Year’s Resolution #2: I want to stop resisting people’s criticism of my work. I just got the proofs back for my novel, Riddle in Stone. The copyeditor tore it apart. Rarely did I have a page without at least one comment or change.
Seeing this, of course, was painful.
I thought I had written a fairly solid manuscript. I edited it several times before I sent it to the publisher.
And here this nameless person had audacity (AUDACITY, I say! AUDACITY!!) to change my brilliant prose!!!! For example, on several occasions she stooped so low as to change “there” to “their” and “clinched” for “clenched.”
Maybe I WANTED to misspell those words! Maybe I was trying to be creative and use some sort of literary juxtaposition or something! Maybe I was trying to convey something deeper to my reader than your tiresome correctly spelled words!! How dare she question….
Yeah, I know….
She was right.
Page after page of corrections. She was right on all of them.
Even so, I made the revisions kicking and screaming. Every time I pressed the “accept” revision button, a little part of me cried out, “Yeah, but….”
But nothing. Her edits made the story better.
If I am going to become a novelist, I need to stop resisting other people’s feedback. I made a ton of mistakes on my manuscript. The wonderful copyeditor was good enough to find them. I should be thankful.
I also need to be thankful for the feedback people give me about my characters and plot. I need to be open to the fact that I can learn from others and that I don’t always get things write. I mean right. DAMN IT!!!!!!!
New Year’s Resolution #3: I need to be happy with who I am. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I need to be happy with what I accomplish.
Over the past thirty years or so, I’ve been trying to get published. It’s been a lifelong dream. And, thanks to a great many people (including my agent, Joelle Delbourgo, and my publisher, Diversion Books), I’ll be an author in February.
I should be happy. Ecstatic, even!
But I'm not.
I’m terrified that people won’t buy the book. Or, worse yet, they’ll buy it and hate it! HATE IT!!! I have this vision of me asking my wife, “So…what did you think of the story?” And she responds by saying, “Let’s have stir fry for dinner. You like stir fry, don’t you? We haven’t had stir fry in awhile. Let’s have stir fry!”
I’m not going to be a bestselling author. I’m not going to be Tolkien or King or anybody of literary merit.
But I wrote a pretty good story. Not brilliant…but good.
I want to be happy with that. Good is okay....
I'll work on brilliant in 2014.
Hopefully 2014 will be wonderful for all of us.
Happy New Year, dear imaginary! I hope to see you in 2013....