In 2011, the first year I decided to take a serious stab at this writing thing, I had two goals:
1. Finish and shop my first novel (with all the attendant fantasies)
2. Make enough from writing to pay one month of pre-school tuition (I don't know why.)
They were modest goals for the space of a year, and I was happily able to achieve both, so I've decided to kick it up a notch for 2012.
While I was ultimately unsuccessful in placing my novel, I've learned over this year that it was the better goal because it was a goal that depended entirely on things I had control over. Goal number 2 on the other hand relied on other people to like what I'd done and be able to use it. I can't control that and could very well have been setting myself up for failure over an arbitrary number.
To that end, I've tried to develop concrete goals entirely dependent on things I can do to further my writing career.
1. Write and submit 4 short pieces.
I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it's my current priority to be a novelist so that's what I plan to spend most of my time working on.
2. Finish my urban fantasy WIP before November writer's conference.
I had the first twenty pages critiqued by an agent at the last conference I attended and it was a very encouraging and helpful experience. I can't stress enough how important it is to seize the opportunity to have publishing professionals look at your work. She was very enthusiastic about my writing and the concept, which was a much needed ego boost after a string of rejections for Novel 1. She also spotted things I never would have thought to look for about story structure and how to write about religion if you don't want readers to get too stuck in their own pre-conceived notions of the beings your discussing. I really REALLY want to have that experience again on the final product before entering the query market on this one.
3. Finish revisions on my paranormal romance novella.
I'm really proud of this story, but I need to be very careful in revisions because the two lead characters are people of color. I'm nervous about accidentally allowing my privilege or unknown biases to unfairly portray different cultures or look like I'm using token characters I don't care about, so this revision process will have to be even more thorough and extensive.
4. Develop my on-line presence
This is not a writing goal, per se, but it's become more and more important for writers to have an on-line presence. It's not just a good way to build an audience, in just the little I've done so far it's allowed me to connect with some amazing people I never would have heard of otherwise and it's led me to information that's contributed immeasurably to my development as a writer.
5. Call myself a writer when people ask "So what do you do?"
I genuinely believe this will be the hardest goal I've set, and the one I'm most likely to fall short on. It scares me. It makes me feel funny in my tummy. But it's silly that I can't do it. I write, which should be enough to claim 'writer', but I even make some money from writing now and still can't say it. That needs to change. Other people can't take me seriously until I do.
So that's it. I'm excited, but a little bit scared for 2012.
Happy New Year!