I love New Year’s Day. I see it as an opportunity for a fresh start, an excuse, in a way, to shake off setbacks and focus on ambition. And for this New Year’s, ambition is my watchword.
2011 promises to be an odd year for me. Last year, I had several original releases — The Dark-Eye’s War in February, Robin Hood in April, the new Magical Words “How To” in December, plus the Dragon’s Lure anthology with my short story, “The Dragon Muse,” in May. This year, with the exception of a short story in the anthology After Hours: Tales From the Ur-Bar (“The Tavern Fire” by D.B. Jackson), and a second short story to be published in Black Gate Magazine (“The Lost Children” by David B. Coe), I have nothing coming out at all.
I also have no new books under contract. The two Thieftaker books are written, and while I hope to sell additional titles in the series eventually, I have no guarantee that this will happen. I realize that many writers — most writers, really — live this way all the time. They write and they submit, with no guarantees, no long-term contracts; they work without a net. I’ve been fortunate in that I have had relatively few periods like this in my career. It is a frightening way to work, and yet I am also finding it liberating and exhilarating.
My goals for this coming year (I have nothing against “resolutions,” but for professional stuff like this, I prefer “goals”) reflect that. They are ambitious, perhaps ridiculously so. They will demand more discipline than I showed in 2010, and, perhaps more to the point, they will demand as well that I not give in to the insecurities, career angst, and stretches of malaise to which I’m sometimes prone. In fact, let’s start there:
1. My first goal is to remain focused, and not just in the sense that I put my Butt In The Chair every day. I also need to keep the fear at bay. My future as a writer may be uncertain, but uncertain isn’t the same as bleak. Not by a long shot. Every new project I intend to tackle carries with it the possibility of success; that’s the future I intend to embrace.
And now to specifics:
2. I’m going to write a short story with Stuart. We’ve been talking about this for half a year, and my other work (Thieftaker books I and II) has constantly gotten in the way. Stuart has been incredibly patient with me, and at last I’m ready to get to work. I think we can have it written by the end of this month.
3. I need to develop an online presence for D.B. Jackson, my pseudonym. D.B. has that story coming out on March 1st, and the first Thieftaker book coming out early in 2012. I want to have his website, Facebook account, Twitter account, and blog in place before the story comes out.
4. Along these lines, I want to write at least one and perhaps two short stories in the Thieftaker universe to help build buzz for the book release. My plan right now is to release the story (or stories) on the D.B. Jackson website with free access to D.B.’s readers. These are lower on my priority list though, and don’t need to be finished until late in the year.
5. I have a completed novel that needs one more substantive rewrite. It is close to being very, very good, and with some incredibly helpful comments from Edmund, I have a clear idea of what it needs. I want to do this last rewrite and then get it sold. I want the rewrite done by the end of February.
6. I have a middle reader book, geared toward 9 to 12 year-olds, halfway finished. I want to complete it, revise it, and send it out by the end of April. And I want to have it sold by the end of the year.
7. I have a new book idea — I posted about it here a couple of months ago — that I want to write, revise, and send out. I’ll be writing it under yet another ‘nym (as yet undetermined). I’d like to have it written by the end of August and sold by the end of the year.
8. And I also have ideas for two more Thieftaker books. I plan to write up synopses of both and pitch them to Tor sometime early in the fall.
In short, I’m hoping that by this time in 2012, I’ll have at least five books under contract. Told you my goals were ambitious.
9. This is where the whole realism thing starts to break down. I know how much time all the writing stuff I outlined above is going to take, but I am determined to make time for the other things I love, as well. I want to get out and take photos at least once each week. I want to play my guitar (much) more than I did this past year. I want to continue to get to the gym every weekday morning. And, of course, I will make time for my family. I just won’t sleep. Or eat….
10. In addition to everything else, I have professional activities that will keep me busy — copyedits and proofs on the first Thieftaker; revisions on Thieftaker 2; this blog, of course; my other blogs; conventions (StellarCon in March, a Guest of Honor appearance at JordanCon in April, maybe ConCarolinas in June, World Fantasy Convention in October); a teaching gig in January; etc. — and all the unplanned stuff that is bound to crop up and upset all of my plans.
But this is my agenda for 2011, at least for the time being. It won’t be easy, but I really do think it’s doable. And I would offer this bit of advice to you as you set your New Year’s goals: Ambition is good; don’t be afraid to set you sights high, to push yourself to accomplish great things. Just don’t set your sights so high that you set yourself up for failure. Now, some might say that I’ve done just that — in today’s market trying to contract five books in a given year is a bit insane. But as long as I get the work done, I really can’t complain. My job is to write what I’ve set out to write. I can’t control the market.
I know that Faith asked on Wednesday what your goals are for 2011. I would like to know if there is something extra you’d like to push yourself to accomplish. What is the one truly ambitious thing you’d like to get done this year?David B. Coe