Half a Year Check-in: Thinking Beyond the Words

Silhoutted against an orange and pink sunset, a runner races a low-flying plane.

This year, I did something I’d never done before with my writing: I set goals.  I had taken one of Bob Mayer’s classes, and he stressed the importance of goals.  Most writers start writing a novel with the goal of “get published” and never think beyond that.  I didn’t for a long time.

But this is the time of thinking beyond the words to what’s going to get me out there.

I started 2012 thinking that I would have my contemporary fantasy/thriller Miasma done by now, and I’d be working on a second book.  Then I ran across a local critique group, and well … my world building needed more world building.  What I thought was a lot of world building for me was not even enough to be adequate.  Too many indie writers toss their books out before they’re really ready, so I had to go back and revise.

My muse hated it.  It was bored, and it’s been a struggle to get through yet another revision of this story.  I had struggled through massive word count issues with this book, got it to completed draft, and submitted it to agents.  But when an agent gave me a personal response with comments, it hit me that everything I did to get the word count up had hurt the book a lot.  I wasn’t sure how to solve the problem, and I took the book through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel.  Even with that, it still had problems that have been challenging to resolve.

After going to ConTemporal last month, it made me rethink what my actual goals are.  Originally, I’d started in short stories, but the market changed a lot.  I kept hearing that agents wanted to see writing credits that were in the same genre family, and none of the paying magazines were taking what I was writing.   At the time, I saw magazines that didn’t pay and made it sound like they were doing the writers a favor by publishing them at all.  I also thought some of the problems I was having making novels work were habits from short stories (some of which is true), and I was having trouble managing the time between short stories and novels.  So I put short stories on hold and haven’t really been published in years because I’ve been working on novels.

That didn’t set too well with me.  With novels taking so long to write, I still need to get visibility.  I decided to take a few weeks off the novel and do short stories and articles, some of the result of which has been Sand Dollar Wishes (my grandmother died the day after I wrote this story), a short story called Death Seer in submission to anthology, and Balancing Writing and Blogging, which was accepted at Vision.  A fourth is waiting to be critiqued and submitted by the end of the month.  As shocking as it sounds, I’m not going to worry if the magazine pays or not.  I want my stories to be out there.  Pay is nice, but being out there is more important to me.  I can either not be published and hoping for payment, or be published and be out there.

These are my revised goals for the rest of the year:

  • Get stories and articles submitted where ever they fit.
  • Go to at least one more science fiction convention this year.
  • Try to figure out how to apply my revision successes with short stories to a novel so it can get done faster.
  • Figure out how to balance writing a novel with getting out short stories and articles on a regular basis.
  • Do more to promote myself — but in ways that are me and aren’t going to be the constant marketing that a lot of writers are doing.

For the last one, I’ve been making an effort to get one of my publications into my blog posts now that some are available for you to read.  I’ve also been changing up my signature line on some writing message boards to give visibility to these stories.  I’ve also included links to specific blog posts.

Where are you at in your half a year mark?  Has anyone done short stories and novels together?  How do you balance them?  Post your comments below.