POINT OF VIEW: Setting Goals (And Making Them)

I am both immensely thrilled and a whole lotta stressed today as I write this.

I set myself two missions at the start of this year – one, to get into the Science Fiction Writers’ Association (SFWA, pronounced Siffwuh) by writing and selling a qualifying short story. And two, to take steps to snag an agent for what I hope will be the next step in my writing career.

Well, missions one accomplished.

This week I got not one but four rejections from the major sci fi magazines to which I have submitted. I know, that’s totally not where you thought this was going, right? Well me neither. I told myself to buck up:

This is good news. This is progress. This means I can submit them somewhere else. And I can self publish the one that just finished its rounds. Woo hoo!

Plus the rejection emails were all personalized, or at least sounded so, with the editors suggesting what I might do to make the story better or how much they did like it, but…

So, that’s all good, right?

And yeah, I know that old saw about how you’ll probably get 100 rejections before you get one acceptance. I figured I was at 16, so hey, also progress. Right?

But it’s still hard for me to stomach a rejection, let alone four at once.

Then something unexpected happened.

I got a contract.

Sometime in 2020, my short story “Across the Transom” will be published by Galaxy’s Edge. The editor there, Mike Resnick, read it and saw something he liked enough to pull me out of the slush pile and publish me in a major sci fi magazine.

It took me back to 2014, when Anne Reagan and B.G. Thompson picked up my first short, “The Bear at the Bar,” for a Dreamspinner anthology, and started everything that has come since for me as a writer.

So I am on top of the world. Dancing. Breaking open the champagne, right? Or at least I should be.

My second mission is also on track. I finished my “Redemption” novel on the day I’d planned, on July 31st. I have 20 days to second draft it, and then it goes to the editor, and so far I am o schedule to wrap it up in time for “Pitch Wars” next month.

So why do I feel like an utter mess?

Short answer – I’m a writer. We have the unique ability to make sewage out of lemonade… well, okay, bad example – I guess everyone can do that.

For most writers, self-doubt and uncertainty are our natural states. If we were full of self confidence, we’d be politicians or rock stars.

But it’s more complicated than that. I’m not a full-time writer, and my “regular” work needs my attention too. it’s been a crazy couple months, and my work is not always getting the love and time it needs. My writing time is far from the only cause – there are also a number of unrelated factors and demands on my time that have contributed to my current state. I feel myself falling farther and farther behind.

Most of us folks who do this writing thing do it part-time, sometimes late at night, sometimes in the bathroom (yeah, I said it), and sometimes in stolen moments in line at the post office. But “real life” makes its demands on us too, and sometimes those demands can be debilitating.

On the day when I achieved one of my long-held goals, I had a bit of a meltdown, a freak-out about not being able to get caught up.

My poor, long-suffering huband Mark held my hand, and then almost immediately went into proactive mode, vowing to help me cut out things I don’t need to be doing and to get me back on track.

Writers, get yourself a Mark (or Megan or Robin) who will support you in what you need to do. I swear, it makes all the difference in the world.

So today I got up an hour early and cleared the decks. I will drop some things, and work as quickly as I can to get a foothold again.

In the meantime, I’ll continue my forward march toward my writer goals, hoping that eventually they will bring their own rewards.

‘Cause hey, that’s what a writer does too. 🙂

To my writing friends, how do you deal with it when life kicks you in the ass, and you really just want to write?

3 thoughts on “POINT OF VIEW: Setting Goals (And Making Them)”

  1. Congratulations on the sale, from one GE author to another. As for your question, you just deal with it. It’s the same for all of us. We never have the time we want for writing; something always rises up to get in our way. But you’ll do it anyway, because you’re a writer, and some of those obstacles will find their way into your work. Just remember to do what you can, as best you can. It’s not a competition; there are no quotas, no deadlines (unless you have a contract!).

  2. I am rooting for you and admire the commitment. Writing is the best thing I know and wish it was my full time pleasure. Instead, life has its obligations and tasks that are needed, but that doesn’t stop me from writing in bed until 3 or 4 in the morning… sometimes secretly at work, in the bathtub, or at school when I should be studying for boards.

    So three cheers for you and all you are accomplishing. You are pursuing your passion and that’s beautiful. Take many deep breathes and make what you desire happen.

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