2013 Goals Post: Samhain Edition

The period from the equinox to now has been dominated by writing not connected to fiction. This reminds me a little of Neil Gaiman’s remark about the day that he realised that he was spending all his time replying to email rather than writing.

November, obviously, is going to be different from that – there will be a lot of writing, but again not on the projects I started out on at the beginning of the year.

So the question for the annual update will be whether I want to set a lot of whole year goals again, or perhaps review goals at the half year for relevance.

This update is going to abbreviate consideration of my original goals, because although many are still relevant the reality is that I am not actively working on most of them.

1. Finish Bluehammer

No work on this recently, and none on the horizon.

I still really like this setting but I am having some serious doubts about the way I am telling the story, and indeed about the story itself.

The problem I have with letting go of this story is down to the sunk cost fallacy: I have spent a lot of time on the Kissiltur trilogy, starting in 2005, and it’s still not done. What I need to remember if I decide to let it go is that working on this story has been valuable in itself – the writing has improved over the time I’ve been working on this, and even though in its current form it is not a very successful story, writing it has taught me a lot about story structure and chapter linkage and characterisation and world presentation and many other things.

I’m not quite ready to abandon it yet, but I am on the point of giving up on it (even temporarily) as a better use of my time than continuing to feel guilty about (not) fixing it.

2. Execute the Song plan

Last time I said that I would come back to this in October, but I have done no more work on this story. I will reassess the plan in the new year.

Unlike Bluehammer, this still feels like there is a compelling story to write. I just need to write it.

3. Submit one novel.

There won’t be anything to submit this year, so abandoning this goal for now.

4. Start looking for an agent.

Last action: construct query tracking system.

No further work on this over the last few weeks. Knowing that there is little point in querying agents until you have a completed novel has rather taken the wind out of my sails.

However, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen (one of the craft books I bought at Wordstock this year) has a few suggestions for organising a query tracking system and I will be using that as a starting point.

5. Establish a daily writing practice.

Next action: break down tasks into two day chunks.

This has not been a difficult thing to manage since I’ve been working on small tasks.

The planning for the NaNoWriMo writing has brought up the usual issue of tracking work on a large slab of writing. I have broken it down by act like I did with Song, and at least the acts for this story are a more consistent length. Still, this is going to be something I always have trouble with I suspect.

Next action: plan NaNoWriMo work

Last action: make time during the day to write

This has been very hard. The whole cycling to work thing is, as I mentioned last time, good in principle but disastrous for my writing in practice. And I like my job, but it is a demanding place to work so doing anything but working at lunchtime never seems to actually happen.

Except, as noted elsewhere, during November. And people at work know this.

Next action: write NaNoWriMo draft.

Last action: define writing priorities

I haven’t done this. I will re-examine it in the new year. Running roleplaying games has to be a primary target, sadly.

Roleplaying

Last action: run next story arc for A New Dawn to completion

Nearly there – last session of this story arc is tomorrow.

Next action: plan next set of sessions for A New Dawn. Or abandon entirely… one of those.

Last action: write more Animal Agents scenarios.

No further play in this setting since our weekends have been largely consumed by football. We’ll come back to this I hope.

Blog

Last action: determine continuing posting schedule.

Sticking to three a week for now, since it still seems to be working. We’ll see whether that holds into November.

NaNoWriMo

Last action: plan NaNoWriMo writing

This, at least, I can say that I have done: I have a story, characters, and an outline that I like. Now I just need to write it.

Next action: write NaNoWriMo story.

Overall

I’m not happy with this last period. I’ve used my writing time for the wrong things and although I’ve done a decent job of staying on top of the things I’ve taken on, I probably should not have taken those things on in the first place.

What I’ve done in this week leading up to NaNoWriMo is to assign particular tasks to particular times of day: blog posts in the morning, outlining the NaNovel on the way in to work, and then¬†plotting A New Dawn on the way home. That time allocation seems to have helped in keeping me focussed on the work in hand, so I will try applying that more broadly.

Because I have to do something.

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