a weblog for readers and writers

Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Resolutions Worth Writing About

As I took my son for a walk through the neighborhood — the winter weather temporarily rising from the 20s to the 70s — there must have been a hundred discarded Christmas trees lining the curbs. Possibly enough to heat the entire city for a day!

It made me realize something: the holidays are over.

(What, did you detect an environmental message here?)

The holidays are over, and that means it’s time to get serious about getting back into the work of writing. Time to dust off last year’s New Years Resolutions, see how we did, and craft a new set of reachable goals and resolutions.

I think the important thing to remember when it comes to New Years Resolutions is to keep them within your control. I don’t mean to limit yourself to what you can accomplish -- we should all strive to go beyond, to reach further, and to break barriers so that we can reach our goals. What I mean is that we should define our goals and then resolve to do all that we can within our power to make them come true -- not make a goal outside of our control the resolution in itself.

Here’s an example: for several years one of my top New Years resolutions was to get a novel published by one of the major publisher. In an industry where only about one out of every 30,000 (yes, that’s thirty thousand!) submissions is accepted by a major publisher, I’m as likely to be hit by lightening or win the lottery. So when the end of the year would come and I hadn’t published a novel, I’d failed at my resolution despite my strong resolve.

Now I frame my resolution in a way that I can accomplish it. I instead resolve to do everything I can to polish my work, submit it professionally, and to keep my manuscripts from ‘sleeping at home’ by always having my work in the hands of an agent, editor, or publisher. I resolve to have another query in the mail as soon as I get a “no thanks.” And I resolve to keep at it.

Rather than “get published,” resolve to send a polished story to 20 literary journals and magazines. Instead of “finish that novel,” resolve to spend a set number of hours each week working on the novel. Instead of an elusive “go to more literary events,” resolve to go to at least one event per month — even if you have to travel to do so. Concrete resolutions make the abstract goals obtainable.

Having said that, here are some of my resolutions for 2008: to actively promote my novel, TRACKS, and to find it a home with an agent or publisher; to actively promote my children’s book, The Flightless Goose, due out later this year; to write at least five days a week; to send out at least one submission each month.

What are your New Years Resolutions worth writing about?


Anonymous John said...

Specific resolutions are more likely to be successful than the non-specific, e.g., I will lose 20 pounds this year rather than the more general I want to lose weight.

January 16, 2008  

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