The internet has Alex J Cavanaugh to thank for Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s a monthly opportunity to vent your fears, insecurities, and whatever else writers get weird about, and get to know others that feel the same way.
For the first couple of weeks of the year I’m going to have to try real hard to not start every post with some sort of ‘this is the first time this year that blah blah blah…’ or ‘this is the best (or worst) thing that happened this year.’ It can be a hackneyed way of doing things, but at least for me, it’s heartfelt. One of the few holidays that really impact me on an emotional level is New Year’s.
Every year I find some time to reflect, see what I’ve done, what I’ve not done, dream of what may come, and predict what seems likely given my past performance. It’s this weird time of despair and optimism. Where I wonder if this is the year I quit dreaming and grow up, or if this is the year I actually begin to live the dream.
2011 felt like a pretty productive year for me, until I stopped to see what I actually accomplished. Which was close to nothing. I managed to submit a novel for publication, see it rejected, submit it again to someone else, and not hear back. I wrote a novelette, and novella, and a short story… I have half a draft for a novel, and another short story that I can’t really call done because it’s too horridly awful.
That doesn’t seem like very much. All that combined puts my word count for the year at close to 100k. That feels about typical for me. But that is nowhere near the productivity I would like to have. By my math, that averages out to around 250 words a day. Not so much, that’s about a single page’s worth of text.
That sort of failure to produce is exactly why I at least try to make resolutions around writing, around goals. I mentioned yesterday some of the writing things I want to get done this year, and I need them, because without setting goals, I will achieve nothing. I’ll end up here in 2013 lamenting that I didn’t do what I hoped to.
And that’s my worry now. I did spend close to a decade of my life talking about writing, and researching for a novel I never wrote. My big moment of realization came when I, per chance, had a professional, published author, a guy nominated for a Pulitzer, offer to read over some of my stuff and give me some helpful tips.
I jumped at the chance to let him read some of my stuff. I had nothing. Nothing! I recall running home and writing a three page story about a college professor fretting about the world ending, then rushing back to his office the next day and handing him my crappy story. The poor guy very politely went over some storytelling basics with me, and gave me a book on the craft of writing that I still savor to this day.
And if I’m not diligent, I’ll spend the next 20 years of my life turning out stuff at a snail’s pace. Not because I can’t do more, in which case it wouldn’t bother me as much, but because I didn’t make good use of my time. And that, well, that bothers me.