Trying to get myself back into the swing of writing focus for the new year, I came across this blog about making new year’s writing resolutions from Firewords, an online literary magazine I’ve started following.
All too familiar, to me, the setting of writing goals, only to fail to reach them, becoming afraid of targets, then needing them again, re-setting, and sometimes succeeding in keeping some of them.
I spent the last few months of 2017 concentrating on trying to sell my completed novel RIDING THE HIGH ROAD. This has involved endless drafting and redrafting of enquiry letters and synopses of various lengths, researching agents and their client lists, tweaking to meet their requirements. I have also entered several novel competitions and have been researching outlets for some short stories I have in store, ordering back copies and subscribing to e-mags to see where I might fit, before submitting. During this time I have written one new short story – it is easy to let the tasks around selling and submitting take all the time I have for writing.
So in the spirit of New Year, I do feel the need for some fresh resolution after the inevitable December distractions. And the main one is that I want to commit some time to new writing. Having spent the best part of a decade on one book, I feel a slowly rising excitement that I am now free to explore where I want to go next with my writing. I am resisting launching straight into another novel, though I do have some ideas mulling, as I want to experiment a bit, to explore new subject matters, take more risks and to push at my boundaries. Hoping this will result in being able to place some new stories and further the germination of ideas for the next novel.
It’s hard not to get bogged down in the endless submission round; easy to get dispirited by the polite standard rejections. None of my stories have been accepted, but I have had one positive rejection from an agent (there is such a thing), saying my submission stood out from the pile. Best of all, one agent has asked for the whole novel manuscript and am still waiting to hear back from her. But I need to push on until I get a definite offer, and I plan to start on the small presses, using Mslexia’s excellent Indie Press Guide, as well as submitting to more agents and competitions.
So I’m pleased to discover the urge to keep writing hasn’t been killed by this soulless process, that I can find a new excitement in the idea of pushing it forward, batting back the fears that I have nothing to write about. I am resolved in 2018 not to let the submission work take over completely, and to timetable space in my writing schedule to focus on new creative writing.
And perhaps the advice from Firewords : ‘Accountability – Telling someone about your resolutions can actually make you more likely to stick to them’ will work with this public announcement. As long as it goes with their caveat: ‘Go easy on yourself – Beating yourself up or giving up completely if a goal slips is often easier than persevering and getting back on track. We’re all human, and it helps to remember that fact when we are trying to achieve something that not a lot of people manage.’
As for my December distractions, they started with a Christmas card lino cutting workshop where I created this card, inspired by the woodcuts I saw in the Ravilious and Co exhibition in Sheffield. My husband bought me the book for Christmas providing further distraction and desire to take up more lino cutting. But the writing will have to come first!
Happy Creative 2018!