Thursday, 1 December 2016

End-of-year check-up

Goals check: AKA Things I forgot to do

This year has been big. Busy big. Lots of unexpected pluses big. Lots of hits and misses big. BIG. So big I didn’t do my usual mid-year goal check.

In my usual tradition, I’ve left it to the almost last minute to look at my goals, when I have about three clear days between now and the start of School Holiday Hell. So anything not done now won’t be. And I’m okay with that.

A photograph of about 12 books
Last year's TBR pile.

Set up writing room

Done, done, done! New desk, new desk chair (which has since broken and I’m using a dining chair), and a bookshelf!

Pluses: Not spending anywhere near what I did last year time-wise or cash-wise at the café. Have perfected ninja sneak down the hall to avoid waking the child (mostly). I can play my music and sing badly. Able to do housework during breaks away from the keyboard.

Minuses: Am doing more housework than I should because it’s a distraction. The internet’s connected: great for research, not so great for distraction. The trail bike noise from next door’s still loud – but not as bad as it was – and remains a distraction.

A photograph of two shelves filled with books
This year's TBR shelves. I have a book addiction problem.

Read more

I have read more books that I did last year, but my TBR pile has grown, not shrunk. It’s like an alien that doubles in size every time I touch it. I read one book, two more appear from nowhere.* The bookshelf/containment unit is already near-full.
*Bookstores/library/borrowed from friends.

Finish current YA novel

First: finish the first draft. Second: leave it for a couple of months. Third: rewrite, rewrite…
First: has been rewritten twice this year – once off the back of the mentorship, and I’m reworking again now following feedback from my beta readers. And I have a deadline for Some Thing which is right at the end of the school holidays.

Also… I’ve rewritten my second YA MS, got into a national program, and will tackle it again after reworking the first MS. I went through a patch of switching between them, but the protagonists’ voices began to sound the same!

Work on MG series

Edit/finish the first book. Write the next couple. Plan the rest.
Finished the first, but it’s probably due for a fresh look. Wrote half of the second, vaguely planned the rest.

Look into manuscript assessments
Gain some experienced feedback into one or two manuscripts. Take it from there.
Done – through a mentorship and feedback from beta readers.

Submit, submit, submit!

Manuscripts, short stories, competitions, industry opportunities. I just need to do it, dammit! Let’s say… three a month. And keep my submission spreadsheet updated.
I’ve kept the spreadsheet updated, but there hasn’t been much to update. But I’m counting this as a pass, because the reason the subs dropped off was because I had a couple of major programs I was involved in (see below), plus surgery. All up I submitted/applied for/entered… (checks spreadsheet) 14 times. Huh. More than I thought!

Build on pitching/synopsis skills

This is a weak point for me and one I’m working to improve.
Still working on it. I’ve attended pitching and synopsis-writing workshops, and the skills are definitely getting better.

Do more exercise

A write 2000 words, walk around the block schedule might work.
Ahahahaha. Nope. I did start walking, then rolled my ankle in September. And apparently the injury was worse than I thought because I kept walking and am now booked in for an ultrasound on my still-buggered ankle this arvo. Fingers crossed it’s not the ‘you’ve torn the tendon and need to stay off it for weeks’ diagnosis, or whatever scary Latin term the doc used for that was.

Other things that happened this year:

To be completely honest, I was worried about how I’d go after finishing my Masters last year. I was feeling pressure – and still do – to make the writing thing happen because I’d taken a risk in writing full-time. So I’m happy to report that Good Things have happened this year.

Shortly after going through last year’s goals I found out I’d been offered a Maurice Saxby Mentorship through CLAN for my first YA manuscript. Over two weeks myself and three other mentees visited publishers, libraries and bookstores and sat in on author and illustrator talks. We were completely immersed in the publishing industry and learnt about it from every angle. I also had a mentor read through my manuscript and give me feedback.

In April, just before starting the mentorship, I was offered a place in the ACT Writers Centre’s HARDCOPY national professional development program – for my second YA manuscript. This too was an amazing program, with two three-day stints in Canberra – the first a Masterclass and the second dubbed Intro2Industry. We met publishers, agents, booksellers, sales reps, authors… and the other writers in the program were incredible, warm, talented. All the good words. For a group that was pulled together from around the country, it was uncanny how well we all got along.

I had my first creative piece published. I’ve had two writing-related non-fiction pieces published, plus several pieces on the internet.

I’ve developed a strong network of friends through writing, and have swapped manuscripts with several to gain feedback.

This network has also supported me through a difficult period when a major rejection, surgery and issues with my son all hit at once, and I’m constantly touched, humbled and grateful for the messages, emails, and conversations of encouragement and acknowledgement, as well as those who booted me up the backside when I needed it.

So, all up, didn’t meet some goals, exceeded in others, and feeling pretty damn happy with how the year's turned out.

My new goals:

Finish this rewrite by the end of January.
After that, reassess.

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