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Monday
Jan052009

The Thing with Feathers


I was looking for a quote on resolutions to kick off this post, but I got distracted by re-reading and snickering over my favorite 'demotivating' posters at the ever-fabulous Despair, Inc. Here I am again, and now I can't take any of the absolutely lovely sayings of Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, and the like seriously any more today. Go visit Despair, and you'll see what I mean.

Though I love a good bit of snark, I'm not a cynic, especially not when it comes to goals and dreams. I have a couple of resolutions that I'm keeping to myself for the moment, but I have some writing plans that I wanted to share. Here are a few of my goals for 2009:

1) Read 100 books.

I usually read close to 80 (and I do keep lists), but last year's unique circumstances only allowed me to get through about 40. Life's too short for numbers that low; assuming I live another 50 years, if I only average 40 books per year for the rest of my life, I will have only read another 2,000 books.

Depressing: I'm sure I could go on Amazon and find close to that 2,000 that look appealing right this very minute, and that doesn't take into account all of the treasures to be published in years to come. I like the number 5,000 much, much better. We'll see how it goes.

I believe very strongly that a writer must read as much as possible. The more you read, the better you'll write. Patrick, when reading this, will want to interject something here. Be patient, honey; "wait for it" (sorry--inside joke).

2) Sell a novel. I really don't mind which one.

On this very day one year ago, I mailed out ten query packages to agents and publishing houses. Over the next several months, I received eight rejections and had two non-responses; I still expect to hear from one of those, since the slush pile at that house is roughly 12 months deep, but the other I have written off completely. Flaky agent.

Then Anne came along, and I decided to concentrate on short stories for a while. I have enjoyed developing a new side of my talent; more on that farther down the post. But now I feel ready to get my books out to people again. The fact that David Farland/Wolverton has accepted me into his novel-writing workshop--to be held this April--has refueled my long-form-writing fires. I can't wait to go!

3) Have 5 short stories published.

I've already submitted two to new venues in the past couple of days. Both have been rejected elsewhere, but I have confidence in them and am sure that both will eventually find homes. More of their siblings will follow suit. I'm using Patrick's parking philosophy as I market them.

When I park my car, I generally look towards the emptier end of the lot or street, but Patrick gets as close to the door of his destination as possible, then circles outward. Though his approach runs counter to my instincts, it does tend to get results. So instead of starting at the bottom of the the short story food chain, I'm starting at the top.

For my short stories, I have a list of the SFWA-approved markets. To qualify for membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), one must either publish a novel with a company on their approved list, or publish three short stories with periodicals on a similarly exclusive list. It's a short list, my friends, made up of the top-tier magazines in my chosen field. I've started there and am now circling outward. I covet SFWA membership and am doing all I can to get it.

4) Keep Tuesday nights and Fridays as sacred as possible.

I can usually sneak an hour or so of writing in any given day, but larger chunks of time for writing are as rare as hen's teeth given my current situation in life. I do have Tuesday nights and Fridays from 9:30 to 3:30, though. It's not much time, but I am very grateful to have it.

I will resist the temptation to do other things on Tuesday nights and Fridays, fun things like visiting with friends or watching movies. Instead, I will write. Why? Because a writer writes. If you're thinking about writing or talking about writing or doing something else that isn't writing, you're not a writer.

Do you have any goals for 2009? If so, I'd love to know that I'm not the only one; let me know, and we'll keep each other accountable.

Oh, and just in case you didn't recognize this post's title, here's one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Reader Comments (16)

I think my main 2 are becoming better in Dutch (mostly speaking but also writing and reading) and getting a job.
I was working on a short story that turned novella that I've let fizzle off because it was vampire themed. Mind you I started working on it abour 5 years ago before vampires were trendy and now I'm letting it go until it's a unique topic again.
So I guess another thing would be to start up another story.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLilacspecs

Fantastic list. You're absolutely right--writers read and writers write. I don't think I've ever managed 100 books in a year (I keep lists too!), but that's a great goal. I'll be thinking of you Tuesdays and Fridays!

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Lyon

Oh the fabulousness that is you!

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Ha, ha! I finally delurked! Several things you said here spoke to me as a reader and a writer.

I'm not prone to depression, but one sure way to start down that road is to think of all the books I'll never get to in my lifetime. I've become much stricter with the books I do read, abandoning them if I feel like my time is being wasted. I seek out the "best books" that add something to my life. Escape, a chance to think, a glimpse of understanding, entertainment. I don't need profundity, but I do need a reason to keep turning the pages.

And I admire your writing goals. I'm trying to get back to mine.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie J

Those are much better resolutions than mine... I picked the usual suspects - exercise more, write more, etc.

But I like the one about reading more. I'll definitely try that one!

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVirtualsprite

I did! I got the reference! Yay me! I'm hoping we'll both get to keep our writing day sacred this year! I want to hear how it goes.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

One more. 5)Helping Mary with her college essay-thing situation. :D

January 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I made a list of 12 books that I've been meaning to read for awhile, but have put off in favor of fluffier, not as meaningful books. Your goal of 100 books made me wonder how many books I plow through in a year. I'm not sure. I think I'll actually keep count this year.

Best of luck as you strive to keep your Tuesdays and Fridays free.

January 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterswedemom

Very ambitious list. Exhausting, really. Am so proud of you. Glad we get another year of Thursday nights!
xoxox

January 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Happy New Year, Luisa! So glad to see you're full of spunk and determination, as always. You inspire me so many times.

And I love that poem about hope. How apt for new year thinking.

To help you on your way to 100 books, I simply have to share news of my weekly contests. Hop on over to my blog and see what's cooking :-)

January 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Bradshaw.

I love that poem--it makes me cry--and I'm excited to see you realize these goals. I wish you the best.

January 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosi

Love this list --and can so identify with the "so many books, so little time" mentality (especially since I'm a slow reader -- not incompetent, just ponderous I guess.)

I'm going to steal your idea to keep a couple of nights a week sacred for creating. (Mine will be spent painting). It is far too easy to let less-important items crowd the agenda.

January 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

G'day from Australia,

May I simply say (very quietly and unobtrusively) that as someone who had to go, unguided, through the process of completing a novel, finding a publisher and an agent, that I am totally committed to helping any writer, anywhere in the world, through this process.

My most important piece of advice to you?

Never give up. Ever.

It's not an easy process, but I see very great promise in your writing and I am more than happy to mentor you.

January 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdavid mcmahon

I love the demotivating posters. Hilarious. And I love that you made real resolutions/goals. I dind't have the heart to disappoint myself yet again so I opted out this year. You are amazing and do amazing things. I am keeping my fingers toes and eyes crossed on your publication stuff. The fact that you're out there submitting and working it speaks volumes on you attaining your goal. (but don't take too long to attain that goal since crossing my eyes gives me a headache :) )

January 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Wright

Luisa, I can't take it.

I can't find 100 books I really want to read. I am reading one right now that someone recommended to me, adding that it was "life-changing."

You know what? It's idiotic. It really is. And the only reason I'm going to finish reading it is because I think it will lend some credibility to the sentiment that "this book is terrible, and I knew it would be" which will be the theme of my review.

So, I like snark too, but, unlike you, I am also a cynic.

(Though, if pressed I'd have to admit that I think you optimists fake it. But you'd expect nothing less from a cynic.)

;-)

January 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPEZmama

I really should set some goals and write them down. I find there are lots of things I set out to do and actually do, but when done, they are forgotten and I feel like I am not getting anything done. I will have to build another chicken coop and a we will likely need another donkey shelter. And I finally got the stuff to fix my green house so hopefully I will get that done this year too. So many things, so little time.

January 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

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