At the start of this year, some writer friends and I chose a word as the theme for the coming 12 months. Mine was LEARN.
With everything that’s gone on in the past few months, I’ve been doing a fair amount of learning, not just about writing but life in general. Learning how to make work from home, well, work. Learning how to deal with two of us working from home and therefore being in each other’s space a lot more than usual. Learning how to fit creativity in around added stress levels (there has been a lot of ebb and flow).
Here we are at the halfway point in the year. In some ways, it feels like the last six months have dragged on beyond belief, and in other ways it feels like it has flown by. But it’s definitely a good time to check in on the goals I set myself at the start of the year.
- Don’t sign up for any challenges with arbitrary goals, e.g. word count goals
Okay, I briefly did sign up for one. In April? No, I think it was May. It was a 500-words-a-day challenge, and I managed it for a little while but ran out of steam about halfway through the month. I’ve been doing a lot of “authoring” (what the #6amAusWriters group calls any non-literally-writing writing business) this year, so making sure I don’t get caught up in challenges has definitely bene important.
- Submit stories to four anthologies or short story competitions
I’ve just got beta reader feedback back on what will be my third submission for the year. This will be going to Globe Soup’s 2020 Summer Short Story Competition. I signed up for this because I was feeling uncreative, and thought that the push of having to pay the sign-up fee before finding out what country was the theme for this year might have given me a good push. It turned out to be a country I know nothing about, so I don’t think the story is my best work. But still, it’s something I wrote. The results come out on July 22, so we’ll see.
I’m also working on a short story for the Scarlet Stiletto Awards, which are run by Sisters in Crime Australia. The rules are that all authors must be female-identifying, as must the main character in the story, and the story must involve a crime or mystery element of some sort (they are a crime-writing organisation after all). There’s a cross-genre category, so I am trying my hand at a fantasy mystery involving a stolen dragon egg.
- Finish the first draft of Facing the Music
I guess I need to readjust this goal. I sort of consider the first draft finished, even though it isn’t complete. I made a spreadsheet with a short summary of every scene and the characters involved a little while ago. I realised I had a lot of filler scenes, and a lot of the plot has changed in my mind since I wrote the first draft. There didn’t seem to be much point in writing the ending and pretending I’d made all those changes before I had.
So once I finish my Scarlet Stiletto submission, my plan is to come back to this. I’m going to go back through the original spreadsheet and make a new one, getting rid of unnecessary scenes, adapt the ones that need adapting, and then start working on new content. Eeeeee!
- Listen to two episodes of a writing or publishing podcast each week.
- Complete Ingram Spark’s self-publishing short courses (there are three and all take under 2 hours to complete)
- Complete self-publishing course on Australian Writers Centre.
- Complete at least one other short course on self-publishing/book design (e.g. through LinkedIn Learning)
Given my spiel at the top of this post, it’s a shame the active learning goals I set myself have fallen off the radar a bit. To be honest, I’d completely forgotten these goals.
Having said that, I did do Bryan Cohen’s 5 Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge in April and I intend to participate again in July. This was why I was hoping to have A More Complicated Fairytale re-organised by July (see below). I have updated the blurb in the lead-up to the current challenge, so we’ll see if that affects sales.
I’m still booked in for Ellie Marney’s self-publishing boot camp, which was rescheduled to October, but I’ve still got no idea whether that will be offered online or whether I’ll be expected to travel down to Melbourne for it (and whether I’ll be willing to make that trip if it comes to it).
I’ll have to have a good think about how to work these other goals into my schedule.
- Give A More Complicated Fairytale some love.
I have registered with Thorpe-Bowker and have an ISBN assigned to A More Complicated Fairytale so that I can publish it outside of Amazon. I had plans of doing that in July but with July upon us, that might not happen yet. I need to finish re-formatting the paperback and still commission a cover before I can start publicising it. Still, progress is progress!
In the process of reformatting it, I’ve also been reading it for the first time since it was released in 2016. There are scenes I’d entirely forgotten! While I am sure that I could write the same book but better with the skills I’ve learned in the intervening time, I’m sticking to just lightly editing it. I don’t want to change it too much from what people have already read, but wow, past-Emily used a lot of weak and filler words!
- Self-publish Operation: Sugarplum as an ebook once Christmas: Australis exclusivity period ends.
I’m actually intending to do this around Christmas time. Maybe late November or even early December. I could do a Christmas in July type release, but I think actual Christmas would be better. I’ve also got a sequel in progress that I’d like to have ready to go not too much later, maybe January/February. Fingers crossed I have that one ready by then.
- Compile short stories that don’t get accepted elsewhere into my own collection (if some do get accepted, maybe this could be pushed out until other exclusivity periods end).
I said in my January 1 post that this goal would depend on a number of things such as whether any stories got accepted, how many I actually wrote, that sort of thing. At the moment I don’t really have enough for a collection and if I’m planning to get back to novel-writing after my current WIP, then I think this will have to wait a while. I can have it as a long-term goal.
So that’s where I am at the moment. Looking over everything now, I think I’ve actually had a pretty decent six months writing-wise. Given everything that’s going on in the world, it would have been easy to never pick up the metaphorical pen at all.
Here’s hoping for another six months of fair-to-decent progress and some finished WIPs!