Hello friends and welcome to the very first Thursday blog post of 2022 here at Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
I feel like I could say this every year, but it is especially true of this last one: 2021 did not go at all the way I expected.
At one time I had aspirations of completing the Nexus (laughable in retrospect), reading 22 books (a pittance to some, but a mountain to me), and consistently blogging.
Well, one out of three isn’t… bad… Okay, it’s pretty bad.
But that’s okay! Because I did something in 2021 that I definitely did not expect: I became a professional, published author. I signed up as a freelancer with Bryant Street Shorts, a romance imprint with the subscription service Scribd. I wrote six novellas in just as many months, and I got paid for my work.
Holy shit, if that’s not worth skimping on a few New Year’s resolutions, I don’t know what is.
2021, though exceedingly challenging, frustrating, liberating, amazing, and unexpected all at once, was a year of monumental growth for me. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of given the opportunity and motivation.
But I’m not done yet. As much as I have loved my freelancing gig and plan to continue writing romance novellas in the coming year, there is still so much more I want to accomplish, particularly as it relates to my personal, passion projects. The fantasy novels that have been percolating in my brain, some for years, and, unfortunately, took a back seat while I through myself headfirst into the novellas.
And that’s what got me thinking about what goals/resolutions I should set for 2022. Now, admittedly, I have a horrible track record with resolutions. I always get way too ambitious and usually give up on everything, instead of eyeing one or two realistic goals to take on. That being said, I don’t necessarily think that ambition should be discouraged. As long as it’s pushing me to achieve more than I did before, even by only a modicum, then it’s still serving a purpose, right?
To that end, I’ve decided to split my goals into three categories:
- Do or Die – self-explanatory. These are things I must get done this year if I want to retain any sort of respect for myself.
- Nice but Not Necessary – Things I probably could and should do, but I won’t be totally humiliated if I don’t.
- Preposterous Pipe Dreams – Things that are so ludicrous, perhaps even outside the realm of possibility for someone in my position, yet still fun to think about and aspire to.
So, without further ado: Kerry’s 2022 Resolutions!
Do or Die
- Write 160,000 words towards fantasy projects.
The biggest thing I would like to accomplish this year, as alluded to earlier, is a return to personal writing, and by that I mean my fantasy ideas. Originally, I had planned to draft an entire novel this year, but the thing is… none of my standard novel ideas (aka: not the cluster fuck that is the Nexus) is ready yet. I’ve got one simmering right now that still needs half a year or more before I’m ready to commit to it. Which is fine. I have the Nexus to work on (that will likely be true for years to come) and at least that project, though lengthy and time consuming, is fun to work on, because I have no expectations for it.
That said, as much as I enjoy writing that particular story, I am clear eyed and realistic enough about the industry to know that its not the most likely vehicle to advance my writing career, which, to be clear, I really, really want to do. So, I don’t really feel like spending an entire year on a project that may never see the light of day is the best use of my time.
And that’s the thought that led me to my Next Big Idea.
This year, I’m going to write an urban fantasy novella, the first in a planned series.
The concept, codenamed Wonderland for now, is one I’ve been ruminating on for a few years, but only in the last 10 months have I started to consider it as a novella series rather than a novel. The structure I would like to pursue is more like a monster-of-the-week TV series, which is obviously more short form. I had a lot of fun writing romance novellas this year and I think the shorter word count lends itself well to my writing style (thin as hell). And while this may not be the idea that launches my fantasy career either, it scratches the itch of wanting to work on something new while also not being too much of a time suck.
So, this is how I envision my word count breaking down (in any order of completion):
- Story Path #2 of the Nexus: 50-60,000 words
- Story Path #3 of the Nexus: 50-60,000 words
- Wonderland #1: 40-48,000 words
Honestly, even looking at it now, I know it’s a big ask to make of myself. It will mean working every damn day. It will mean not giving up even when I’m tired or bored or busy. It will mean taking what I said about attacking this year with gusto deadly seriously. I can do it. I will.
- Write 8 novellas for Scribd
Last year I started freelancing in April. I wrote six novellas in eight months. It was a wild ride that exhausted me to my very core, and I loved every minute of it. This year, I’m upping the ante. My plan this year is two novellas a quarter, with every third month off to catch my breath.
Each novella has a target word count of 35,000 words, so if I have my math right, between freelancing and personal writing, my goal for the year is almost half a million words.
I think my heart just stopped looking at that.
But I’m not going to ask for luck. I’m not going to say “hopefully.” I’m just going to get after it.
Nice But Not Necessary
- Finish every book I start this year – absolutely no DNFs.
This is an odd one, because usually my approach to reading is that I just don’t have time to slog through a book I’m not enjoying. However, the plain truth of the matter is my taste is notoriously difficult to satisfy. And I think that is to my detriment. I’m tired of being embarrassed that I haven’t read a lot, I’m tired of not understanding references in writing circles, and I’m damn tired of worrying over whether or not I’m going to know enough books to have comps to my own writing whenever it comes time to query. There is something to be learned about writing from every book pick I pick up, even if I don’t like them. So, I’m reading cover to cover this year. How many I finish, well…
- Read three books a month
Last year I set a goal of reading 22 books for the whole year, and only ended up with… six? I think? So, maybe this goal belongs in the below category, especially since my favorites are epic fantasy. But I don’t want to set my sights lower because then I’ll somehow find a way to not even meet that goal, so at least if I am high maybe I’ll read ten books this year and that will be an improvement Right?
- Figure out how to sell my novellas on my own
My exclusivity period with Scribd only lasts twelve months, and after that I am able to vend my novellas on my own (through Patreon, or what have you). I think this is totally rad and especially cool of Scribd, but the thing is… I haven’t the faintest idea how to go about it. Part of the reason I’ve never seriously considered self-publishing before is because it seems like so much work that I don’t know how to do and am kind of afraid to learn? It was easy to make the choice not to pursue back when it was still just a hypothetical, but now that I actually have written work available to self-pub… I don’t know, it seems like leaving money on the table to not do it, right? So, I guess I’m going to have to learn about e-book formatting and cover art, and how to run a Patreon. Gulp.
Preposterous Pipe Dreams
- Dabble in podcasting
I’ve mentioned wanting to this maybe once or twice before, and I still kind of laugh about it because… I can’t imagine anyone tuning in to listen to what I’m sure would just be an audio version of this blog, but I also think it would be kind of fun. I mean, I’m published now, right? That means people might take what I have to say seriously. They shouldn’t, but they might.
- Release a serialized novel
This idea started with the Pillar Verse I briefly wrote in last year (remember my Short But Sweet vignettes?) and I sometimes return to it when I’m laying in bed dreaming about what other sorts of writing endeavors I could undertake to help build my career. I could release a chapter a month to Patreon or something and it wouldn’t be edited as a completed novel would be, so it would be a bit of a mess, but that’s okay because it’s a fun thing to do with the writing community. Right? I don’t know. I doubt I have time what with my other more realistic goals, but… the idea has merit. Sometimes. Maybe. Does it?
Well that’s a total of seven goals, ranging from the ludicrous to the outrageous. I’m under no illusions that I’ll accomplish even half of them, but that’s not the point. The point is the motivation. The point is the seizing the desire of the moment to propel myself to greater heights, even if they aren’t as high as I imagined.
But, if I’m being completely truthful, my only real, true goal is just to have fun writing again. At times in years past, at the lowest low points with my mental health struggles, writing was the complete opposite of enjoyable. It was a slog. It was painful. It was exhausting. And it was the source of a lot of internalized guilt.
I am pleased to say that I’m so much better today than I have been at any time in the previous three year. For the first time in a long while, I feel like I’m in a really good place, with the strength and determination I need to climb the mountain before me. And, more than that, I’m excited about it.
I hope you all are excited to come along on the journey with me.
Until next time friends. May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.