Looking back, moving forward: 2017 Writeolutions

Maybe it’s my OCD talking, but year’s end always strikes me as a good time for cleaning. As long as I’m packing away the holiday decorations, why not go a bit further and start the new year organized? While tidying my office recently, I unearthed a folder crammed full of writing-related material I’d forgotten I’d saved. Reams of advice on plot, character, and genre that I’d printed a decade ago; early notes for Blue Karma; scraps of the various short stories that ultimately evolved into Syzygy.
Funny, and oddly heartening, to see how much progress I’ve made since escaping my undergraduate creative writing program. I’ve gone from an insecure dabbler who could barely draft a page without tearing it up in a fit of self-criticism to a disciplined writer with an award-winning debut novel and a queue of future projects who is confident enough to teach novelcraft at the college level.
I used to pore over writing advice, but what I really needed was the courage to put words on the page myself.
I’ve had a few discouragements in my writing life the past few weeks, so perspective on how far I’ve come gives me extra motivation for next year’s writing goals. Because I enjoy symmetry a little too much, I’ve got seven for 2017:
  • Publish Syzygy Pt 3. Barring any unforeseen disasters, Retrograde Motion launches on January 31! If you enjoyed the first two installments, hold on to your oxygen helmets: it’s about to get real.
  • Finish Syzygy series. Only two episodes remain in my after-Earth saga. I hope to release part four, Escape Velocity, in early summer and part five, Right Ascension, before winter. (Maybe I’ll compile a special omnibus edition for the holidays, with all five episodes in one!)
  • Complete research and outline for next novel. I’m excited about my upcoming project, a historical fiction novel set in the 10th century, but I won’t let myself start work in earnest until I finish Syzygy. (Manuscript monogamy is the only way I make any progress!) If I can stick with the program for the last two installments, I should have a bit of time to begin drafting my next full-length work before 2018 arrives.
  • Write at least one new short story. Remember the miserable time I had at the start of 2016, crafting pieces for a cli-fi anthology? I recently wrote a 5,000 word sci-fi story for another collection and surprised myself at how much I enjoyed both the process and the result. It’s a great exercise in economy and afford a mental break from my work-in-progress without stalling too much time.
  • Submit to at least one anthology or contest. It’s easier for me to write short stories when I have a subject and a deadline. In 2017, I plan to find at least one interesting call for submissions and put in a piece.
  • Blog at least twice a month. I started out strong on the blogging resolution last year and fell off a bit as the year wore on. Life happens. My goal for 2017 is a bit more reasonable. In the first quarter, you can expect at least one book review, another installment of “The Science of Syzygy“, and a special multi-part post series that examines the mechanics of compelling romantic subplots (if you love reading or writing a good ship, this one’s for you).
  • Explore the use of Wattpad as part of my authorial platform. I joined this community just a few weeks ago and posted the first few chapters of Blue Karma as an experiment. They got some positive attention, so I plan to expand my offered works in 2017. The first two books of Syzygy will appear on Wattpad in weekly installments starting today. Sign up and read for free, right now!

Hopefully these signposts will guide me through the next twelve months of my authorial journey. I’ve still got a long way to go but, as Hemingway observed, “we are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Bring on a new year and new adventures!

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