First things first: Happy New Year! For a lot of people, 2018 wasn’t so great, so I hope 2019 is great for you.
As I said in my January 1 post last year, I’ll keep my New Year’s Resolutions to myself. Personally, I think making resolutions—which I think of as being general lifestyle adjustments—is a fine way to start the year, although unrealistic resolutions can only lead to failure, which, let’s face it, is a bummer. Don’t set yourself up to fail. On the other hand, don’t be too easy on yourself either. Make the resolution something you’ll be proud to have achieved when you look back at the year. As I said, I’ve got a few of these.
Goals, which are more specific, are different from resolutions, in my view, and that’s the subject of this post. As I said last year, goals should be realistic and achievable, but ambitious. I didn’t get everything done I wanted to do in 2018, but that’s okay. I did a lot, and those goals I didn’t complete will be rolled over into 2019, with a few more items added.
Last year I linked to an article on goal setting that I think is still worth looking at, so I’m going to share it again: Personal Goal Setting: Planning to Live Your Life Your Way.
But I’m going to offer another link, too, because for people who are busy—and who isn’t?—achieving goals is probably a question of time management. I’m dependent on two tools, neither of which I use as effectively as I could: a calendar and a to-do list (I use the Google version of both, and they’re on the same screen on my computer). But I definitely could do a better job, so I’m keen explore this page: How to plan the week by creating your Week Map. Take a look and let me know what you think. Will this work for you?
Now, for my 2019 Writing Goals. (You can see my assessment of my 2018 Writing Goals here.)
- Finish my novel in progress. This was one of the goals I didn’t achieve in 2018, but I knew it was a stretch. I did make substantial progress, however, and I currently have a draft of 110,000 words. (That’s long, but not extremely long, for a literary novel.) In a residency I did at the end of the year, I did some restructuring of the novel and identified some gaps, so I know more or less what needs to be done. And I’m starting the year with another residency, so that should get me off to a good start. I’d like to finish by the end of the summer.
- Query agents with the finished novel. I also didn’t get this done last year, because it depends on the novel being finished. If I finish the novel by the end of the summer, I’ll query agents in the fall. (I don’t currently have an agent. I did have one, but we parted ways last year. My forthcoming books are with small presses, and agents usually don’t get involved because, frankly, there’s not enough money involved for them to invest their time.)
- Launch my debut novel. I should probably put this one first because it’s going to happen one way or another. The publisher now has the official publication date scheduled for May 14, 2019, although advance copies will be available before that. There is still a lot to do to get the book out: cover, galleys, circulate review copies, etc. But, barring catastrophe, The Shaman of Turtle Valley will be published by Braddock Avenue Books in 2019. Along with the launch comes a flood of marketing efforts—readings, interviews, appearances, etc. Fortunately, a publicist will be lining those things up, but I’ll necessarily be part of them.
- Prepare my story collection for publication. In 2018 I signed a contract with Press 53 for the publication of my third collection of short stories: House of the Ancients and Other Stories. The aim is to bring that out in the spring of 2020, probably around the time of the AWP Conference in March. That means that by the end of 2019 we will have selected a cover, done edits on the stories, solicited blurbs, and done all the associated work of getting a book ready. Not inconsequential stuff. (I signed a contract with Regal House Publishing for a novel to be published in fall of 2020, but my guess is that we won’t turn our attention to edits of that manuscript until early 2020, although I might be wrong about that, since they told me they want the book ready six months before publication date.)
- Submit a story to literary magazines. One of the stories included in the new collection—maybe my favorite—is not yet published. Before the book comes out, I’d love to find a home for it in a good literary magazine. That’s one of the first efforts I’ll be making in the new year. As long as I’m working on the novel, I probably won’t take time to write any other stories, but I’d love to place the one.
- Write an essay. Last year I said I wanted to dabble in the essay form, and I claimed partial victory there by reading some essays. Not good enough. This year I want to write at least one personal essay and submit it for publication.
- Write one or more book reviews. I did a couple of book reviews in 2018 and I do like writing them. Plus, I think it’s part of being a good literary citizen—whether the reviews appear in literary magazines, book review journals, or just on a blog or Goodreads. It all furthers the cause.
- Update my Literary Magazine Rankings. I didn’t list this as a goal last year, but it’s definitely part of my writing work. When the new volume of Pushcart Prize winners comes out in early November, I’ll update the rankings and post them. If this is new to you, check out the 2019 Literary Magazine Rankings.