Well…This is tough. Tougher than I thought it would be. It’s not been a normal year. But we get up, we pick up the pen and we find words to put to paper. It’s what writers do. Almost a reflex.
And now, it’s time for everything to change again.
Last time, I took a quick look back at my writing life in 2020. Today, I’m going to look ahead to this year. 2021.
A few months back, I stopped by one of my favorite blogs by the Scottish/Canadian horror/fantasy writer William Meikle. This particular post was about raising your sights as a writer. Now, I know it’s trite. That saying, “How can you hit a lofty target if you don’t aim high?” But somehow this piece rang true. He says it more elegantly than I could:
Prior to 2007 I spend most of my time writing for the UK small presses and had a lot of material published there. But the money, and chances to make more, only really started when I lifted my goals higher.
Sounds good. Please, do continue…
…if you’d told me almost thirty years ago that I’d make it as a full time writer I’d have laughed and gone back to dreaming about it.
Raise your sights.
I did it.
So can you.
Get to it.
That stopped me dead in my tracks. And it got me thinking about aiming higher. In the end, it’s true: How could I ever hit that higher target if I’m aiming at the horizon? Maybe if I aimed higher I would hit higher? I mine as well at least try, there’s nothing to lose in lifting my sights.
So, in that spirit, I will aim higher in 2021. I might not hit that higher target, but I will at least aim higher. Here are a few ways I intend to do that. Importantly, they are all essentially things I have not done before.
- Edit and polish my story.
I have been doing a lot of writing lately. A lot. So, now it’s time to transition into editing. I haven’t really edited on this scale before, but it’s part of growing, changing, aiming higher. So, lots of my writing won’t be focused on word count this year, but sharpening what’s already there. As a result, my updates on Twitter might slow down. No biggie, I could do with less social media anyway.
I will also be transferring my writing to Scrivener instead of Word. This is a big step and I will let you know how it goes.
2. Get a Pro or Semi-Pro (Short Story) sale with tales full of voice.
So, I don’t like to set up goals I can’t control. And this one goes a bit against that, but it also goes with it. Let me explain.
I have felt blocked by not having a professional or semi-pro magazine sale. To explain briefly, there are ranks of speculative fiction magazines (as determined by who exactly?). Some magazines are “pro” and some are “semi-pro.” Pro magazines tend to pay higher rates to writers and generally have more notoriety than semi-pro ones. So, my goal is to place one story with either type of magazine. That’s still out of my control, but it’s a good general area to aim for and would give my writing a lot more attention.
The focus of these stories will be “voice.” Writing with voice is a big topic of conversation amongst some. I’ve heard it described as “rhythm” or “confidence.” But really, it’s simply that: writing in your own voice. Just writing as you uniquely are. That’s all. So, that’s the part of this goal I can control.
3. STRETCH: Start a newsletter.
This is a stretch goal, meaning I’m not sure if I will do it or not. Admittedly, I have been a bit torn over this one. I feel it’s a bit much right now, but some think it’s a good thing. In the end, there’s no way for people to get more engaged in my writing then stopping by my blog or Twitter feed. So, having a newsletter would let people engage on a deeper level, “you know, really get to know me.” And some people just prefer some old-school email.
So, I hope to start a simple newsletter this year. I also plan to have a place on the blog to sign up some time this summer. It will start small, but should grow over time. And it will have some exclusive content—because otherwise, what’s the point?
So, that’s what I plan to give a shot this year. It’s new stuff—which is exciting and scary all at the same time. Now, it’s time to get going.