Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Writing Goals For 2014

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Happy New Year!

Back in 2011, when I was just getting serious about indie publishing, I started posting an annual list of writing goals that I would try to accomplish in the ensuing year. “Goals” in this sense are things that I can accomplish through my own efforts and perseverance, as opposed to “dreams” which require the cooperation of others (for example, having a novel sell madly well) .

So here are my writing goals for 2014:

1. Revise and polish the existing first draft of my next novel, The Red: Trials. Publication is tentatively scheduled for May.

2. Write and finish two more Zeke Choy stories, bringing to an end the cycle that began with “Nahiku West” and continued in “Out In The Dark.” If I can pull it off, the last story will be long, maybe a novella.
3. Write the initial draft of another novel. I’ve been debating what that novel should be, and though I haven’t decided yet, it will almost certainly be a sequel to something. Maybe this one?…>>

4. Write at least three pieces of short fiction that are not part of the Zeke Choy cycle.

5. Write at least three nonfiction posts that I feel comfortable marketing to high-circulation websites. (Nonfiction is very hard for me.)

That’ll do it. This is already feeling far too ambitious.

Writing Goals For 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

In 2011 I started posting a list of writing goals for the ensuing year, and at the end of the year I started doing an assessment of what goals I’d met, or failed to meet. Here’s my assessment of 2012, published a few days ago.

I’ve come to like this goal-setting routine. It helps me stay focused on doing the work, but diversified in the kind of work I’m doing. It also lets me realize that I really am accomplishing things, because when viewed on a day-by-day basis, progress can seem painfully slow.

In the context of these posts, a goal is defined as something I can control and complete through my own effort. This is opposed to a dream. Dreams depend on the cooperation of others, or of fate. Dreams are out of my control. I might dream of being on a bestseller list, or winning an award, or getting a movie deal, but those aren’t goals, so you won’t see anything like that listed here.

So with that understanding, here are my writing goals for 2012:

1. In March, publish my first adult science fiction novel in TEN YEARS!! Yeah. I’m excited. You’ll be hearing a lot more about this later in January.

2. Write the sequel to the novel referenced above. Bonus points: publish it before the end of the year. Can I do it? Time will tell.

3. Write and finish one additional Zeke Choy short story. Bonus points: finish two more stories.

(You’ll notice how I frame these goals so that they’re relatively easy to meet, while adding a degree of difficulty through the bonus points. This way I have a good chance to succeed, even if I don’t succeed stupendously. Clever, huh?)

4. Write and finish three other short stories.

5. Write and finish a completed draft of a third Puzzle Lands book…

(Oh boy! I hesitate to include #5 because I don’t know if I can do it, or even if it’s worth doing given the low sales this series has had, but I love these quirky books, and I’d really like to continue with them.)

And that’s enough commitment for me! I’ll check back here at the end of the year and assess how I did.

What are your goals for 2013?

Writing Goals for 2012: The Assessment

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

At the beginning of the year I published my writing goals for 2012. It’s time to assess how I did:

1. Re-publish my Puzzle Lands novel The Dread Hammer with a new cover, and publish the second book in the series, Hepen the Watcher, in ebook and print versions.

Done! The Dread Hammer was re-published in February, and Hepen the Watcher was published in March. My flirtation with the use of a pen name is over for now, and I’m glad to have both books out under my own name. I see these two fantasy novels as a quirky and interesting addition to my science fiction list.

2. Finish two original novels.

Technically, done! At least if “finished” refers to completed drafts. But there are caveats.

When I wrote this goal, I was 20,000 words into a new novel. Let’s call that Novel A. Things were not going well, and in March I took what I had and converted it from third person to first person point of view. Things went better after that, and by April 30 I had a first draft. I set it aside for a while, and then toward the end of May I did some edits…and after that I abandoned it.

Novel A is problematical. It reads fine, and it’s a decent story, but on reflection I think it’s just not a “Linda Nagata” story. It doesn’t have any edgy complexity to it. Ironically, I suspect for that very reason this could be my most popular work, but probably not with my usual readers. Then again, what do I know? At this point, Novel A needs a few background scenes, and then an appointment with an editor. This would be easy enough to do. What’s really holding me back is that this is not a stand-alone book. It needs a sequel — more likely two — and right now I’m not enthused about writing those. For the first time in my career I am flirting with the idea of persuading a co-writer to work with me — though I’m not at all sure that would be a good idea either.

And Novel B? Here’s how I feel about Novel B: 😀

Novel B came out of nowhere. It’s not a book I planned to write. It wasn’t anywhere in my goals for the year, but it demanded to be written. I started on it in early June, sent a draft to beta readers in October, applied their suggestions, and will be sending the nearly final draft to a professional editor in just a few days for a last look-over. Novel B will be published in March.

So, again: 😀

3. Finish four pieces of short fiction.

Fail! I finished only three short stories, though I did get to sell all three to good markets.

Update, December 31: In the comments one of my most supportive readers, Willy B, took me to task for calling this a fail, and then pointed out I had four days to write another short story … so I did. I finished a solid draft last night, and even though I still have to read it over and (I’m sure) fix it up, it IS a finished story, so I’m switching this from “Fail” to “Done.” Thanks, Willy B!

4. Consult with a professional editor on the potential and direction of my long-evolving novel The Wild, and either bring it to fruition or put it away permanently.

Done! I did consult with a professional editor early in the year on this many-times-rewritten fantasy novel, showing her the opening chapters of the last complete draft, as well as the new opening, written in a new style, that I’d done in 2011. She agreed that the new opening was better and more active…but you know what? I’ve finally moved on. I don’t want to rewrite the book again, not at this time in my life. What I’ve decided to do instead is to serialize the older version here on my blog — one chapter every Friday, beginning on January 4.

Bonus Points:
These didn’t happen. In last year’s goals I talked about possibly starting a third volume of Stories of the Puzzle Lands, as well as contemplating another book in The Nanotech Succession. On the plus side, I did make some vague notes on each, and I even started plotting a sequel to my novel Memory, but no bonus points for me this year!

How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals? Or exceed them?

Next Projects

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Today I’m contemplating both what I want to work on next, and what I ought to work on next. I don’t really want to look back at my January 1st goals right now, because I suspect I’m drifting well off that track while also falling behind.

Once, I had great discipline and focus, and I would work on only one project at a time, refusing to consider another until the first was done. I don’t seem to work that way anymore. In theory flexibility is good, but I’m not so sure that’s true in this case…

…because right now I have four projects in mind – and that’s leaving out three others that I’ve contemplated working on.

First, what I ought to do: the novel I’ve been writing on and off since September now has a sort-of complete draft. I need to expand and revise until it’s sufficiently whole to hand off to a beta reader.

Next: Last fall I wrote a novelette set in The Nanotech Succession story world, and featuring the character Zeke Choy from The Bohr Maker. It’s scheduled to be published at Analog in the fall. I want to write two more stories involving Zeke, so it’s past time I tackled story #2.

Third, I want to start plotting another Puzzle Lands book.

And fourth, I want to start plotting an entirely new novel using some ideas developed in recent short stories, and see if that goes anywhere.

I post this stuff here because putting it out in public may provide some motivation for spending more time on writing and less on peripheral things.

One thing’s for sure though: * I Must Write Faster *

Writing Goals For 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Last year on January 1st I published my list of writing goals for the year, and a few days ago I assessed how I did. Some of my goals were less successful than I’d hoped, some more so, and some simply changed over the course of the year. Overall, I think I did fine, and I enjoyed having a list of concrete goals to work toward.

Recently, Dean Wesley Smith blogged on the difference between goals and dreams and I highly recommend you read what he has to say. In short, a goal is something you can control and complete by your own perseverance, while a dream is something that depends on the cooperation of another, or of fate…which is why you won’t see any sales goals in the list below. I can’t control sales, but if things go well, I can produce books and stories.

So here are the writing projects I’m hoping to do in 2012:

1. The Dread Hammer, published in 2011, is the first book in the series I’m now calling Stories of the Puzzle Lands. Early in 2012 I plan to re-publish it with a new cover, and shortly after that publish the second book, Hepen the Watcher, in ebook and print versions.

2. Finish two original novels. Of the two I have in mind, neither are related to anything I’ve done before or to each other. One is already 20,000 words along and one is in concept stage.

3. Finish four pieces of short fiction, with short fiction being defined as any story less than novel length (but trying really hard for true short stories 7500 words and less).

4. Consult with a professional editor on the potential and direction of my long-evolving novel The Wild, and either bring it to fruition or put it away permanently—though I’m not sure the latter is possible. This is definitely the book I can’t let go of.

Bonus Points
If I get these first four goals done, I’ll be happy, but a really productive year would include initiating two more books, at least in concept if not in actual word count. One would be a third volume of Stories of the Puzzle Lands. The other is just a vague notion, hovering well out there on my mental horizon, but maybe it’s time to contemplate another book in The Nanotech Succession.

And that’s all I’m going to commit to!

I’ll check back here at the end of the year to see how I did. In the meantime, what are you planning for 2012? Let me know–I love to hear from you.

Writing Goals for 2011: The Assessment

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

Last year, on January 1st, I published my writing goals for 2011. At the time I knew I was being pretty easy on myself, but I thought it was better to put up a target that I had a chance of hitting, then to lock myself into misery and failure. So here’s the result:

1. Publish my indie novel, The Wild, in both print and ebook versions, and PROMOTE!

Didn’t happen! In fact, 2011 started off with massive failure. Reader feedback on this novel was so unenthusiastic that I decided early-on not to publish it. But I haven’t given up on it. Expect to see The Wild involved in my goals for 2012.

2. Complete a draft of a new novel.

Done! In fact, I drafted, revised, and published The Dread Hammer by May of 2011. Over the summer I drafted the sequel, Hepen the Watcher, and have that nearly ready to publish. I’m also 20,000 words into another novel, and have a rough outline on a fourth that I’m looking forward to working on as soon as I’ve cleared some other projects. So novel writing in 2011 was a win! I also managed to write two pieces of short fiction, which wasn’t even on my list of goals last year.

3. Release ebook versions of Limit of Vision and Memory.

Done! I also published two of my old short stories as ebooks, and late in the year, put out a collection of all my previously published short work, titled Goddesses & Other Stories. So putting out ebooks was a win.

4. Release print-on-demand versions of Tech-Heaven, The Bohr Maker, Deception Well, Vast, Limit of Vision, Memory, and my YA novel Skye Object 3270a.

This was a win because I changed my goal along the way. I decided there wasn’t enough demand at this time to justify POD versions of Limit of Vision and Memory. When they start selling in better numbers, I’ll reassess. But all the other books listed above are now available in print.

5. Finalize and market my first screenplay.

This is a technical win. I did finalize the screenplay, but it never got past the west coast agent, and by the time I had any feedback on it, my interests had moved entirely to novel writing, so I didn’t pursue it.

6. Write a second screenplay.

Nope. Didn’t happen. The idea I’d been toying with for a second screenplay is now on its way to becoming a novel.

7. Keep up with this blog

I’ll call this a win. There have been quiet periods, but I did much better at blogging in 2011 than I’ve done in past years. I see this as a very casual, random sort of blog. I hope that works for you.

8. Meet lots of great people in the reading and writing communities!

If “meet” means “meet online” than this is a win. I’ve also become part of a local writing group for some actual face time with other writers.

How did you do this year? Did you meet your goals? Or exceed them?