New Years’ Noodling

I take New Years’ Resolutions semi-seriously; I treat it as a chance to stop and assess where I am as a writer. I don’t usually post about my goals, though, not because they’re private, but because I have felt that I’m not good enough at writing to possibly succeed at the wild goals I have.

The hell with that.

Last year’s goal: quit my day job and find out whether I want to be a freelance writer. It would be nice to make money at it, but I wanted to give myself half a year just to find out whether I liked it.

Goal: success. Also, I like it. Money: Spent it. Things started to pick up in November, but not enough.

This year: Break even as a freelance writer (that is, make enough money to live on).

I have established that I need to make about $1800/month to scrape by. Doing more than scraping by is highly desirable, but that is not the goal at this point.

I have also established that, fiction aside, I get ignored or turned down on what I bid at least 90% of the time, unless I have a track record with that market/client.

Thus, I need to be bidding on about $18,000 in projects, about 2-3 months ahead of time, in order to make that goal, unless I already have (paying) work penciled in.

The good news for January is that I already have $1900 in projects in. However, for February, there is nothing yet.

I have also determined that I am deathly afraid of pitching queries to magazines. This has got to stop. This year’s non-fiction goal includes mailing out at least one magazine/journal/newspaper/serial/website query per week. I’m going to arbitrarily assign the value of $200 per query to my bidding total, until I get a better idea of what the rates are, etc. Also, it sounds like the likelihood is high that I’ll pitch for a feature-length article and get assigned a tidbit-length article instead.

If you have good magazine article tips, let me have ’em.

I’m going to go back to writing a short story a week, starting January 1. I want to get 50 new stories out this year, and keep all unpublished stories in the mail until I determine I want to epublish them, at which point I have to epublish them to get them off my subs list.

Dean Wesley Smith has a good blog up on what he calls the “Race” and the “eRace.”

His article is more cogent, but I realize that you have no motivation to read it at this point, and I’m afraid I’ll space the rules, so I’ll put them up here:

Race: Short story in the mail – 1 point.
Fiction chapters/synopsis in the mail – 3 points.
Whole novel completed and in the mail – 8 points.

eRace: Short story available for sale online – 1 point.
Short story collection available for sale online – 3 points.
Novel (or novella, novellette – longer fiction) available for sale online – 5 points.

He’s been running this with various authors and says on the “Race” that when you’re at 50 points or so, you tend to sell regularly.  The “eRace” hasn’t been going for long enough yet to guesstimate.

(I’m at 32 points right now.)

I don’t know if I want to make any novel-writing goals for next year.  My brain is currently tied up with stuff that needs to be revised, so I may actually make a revision goal for next year:  all projects in the mail.

Here are the novels I don’t have in the mail:

  • Chance Damnation (ready to go)
  • Alien Blue (it was in the mail, but the few rejections left feel more like no-answer-forthcoming than anything else)
  • Death Watch (just finished)
  • Iron Road (first draft not even finished)
  • Slaughterhouse Jane (first draft finished…in LONGHAND)
  • Gods of Grey Hill (first novel, needs to have various ideas teased out of it and used for other novels [e.g., Chance Damnation] until there’s only one or two ideas left, and THEN rewritten.  Too Much Stuff)

Getting all those rewritten and out could take all year, but then I wouldn’t be dwelling on the one that got away all the time, which would be nice.

I really want to have Death Watch ready by the time Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference rolls around in late April, and the rest of these rewritten, edited, and out by November, so I can write something new.  I should be able to get Chance Damnation and Alien Blue back out by Jan 1.  The others….hooh.

I’m also writing at least one Choose Your Doom book next year.

And finally, a non-writing goal:

I want to stop getting involved in negativity.  It’s terrible as far as goal statements go, I know, but I am so far from being able to understand the problem that it’s hard to formulate a better goal.

I curse at people when I drive.

I seethe with jealousy when other people succeed.

I get wound up in the injustices of it all, and have days-long conversations in my head about things I can’t control.

I feel put upon and totally shut out other people’s opinions.

I don’t like it; I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of being the kind of person who can’t keep her eye on the goal because she’s pissed off about something.  I’m tired of being the kind of person who spreads anger and resentment around.  I’m tired of not giving a shit when I’m angry.

One of the first things I’m doing is disengaging myself from things that piss me off to no purpose.  I’m trying to avoid getting into discussions that lead to “you’re stupid” “no you’re stupid” arguments.  I’ve walked away from a couple already, and it made me feel both smugly satisfied and good (two different things).  I’m trying to figure out the prettiest, calmest ways to get places, so I don’t have to deal with bad traffic.

So…if you see me walk away from a discussion or ask you not to send me e-mails that add to the amount of snippy anger to the world, no matter how justified they may be, that’s the reason why.  I won’t ask people not to take it personally; I know that until recently, I couldn’t have.  Your opinions are important, but I don’t need to support anger, unfairness, and meanness in their expression – it just sets me off.

I’m choosing to have more peace in my life, and part of that is not holding a grudge when people don’t understand my choices.

It’s @#$%^& hard, though.

P.S. And I can’t say I’m trying to stop all cursing – just the kind that comes out of anger, eh?

4 thoughts on “New Years’ Noodling”

  1. This is a great post, really putting into perspective the amount of work we have to do to get by. The non-writing point is one I’ve been working on myself, though some people who know me might laugh to read it. Ultimately, you have to protect yourself and your muse, and anger is just, well, unproductive.

    I wish you the very best in meeting your goals! With any luck I can do 1/2 as well.

  2. Best New Year’s post I’ve read. Not only did you challenge me to do more, you’ve challenged me to not suck as a person. I’m amazed by how much you’ve done, and if anyone can make a living as a freelancer, it is you.

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